>Linda was thrilled by all your comments on her Best Of Show winner – apparently when it was announced onstage that this was her first entry in a juried show, there was an audible gasp throughout the auditorium :]
Mind you she has been producing stunning quilts for over 30 years :]

moving on with no attempt at a segue
today is “Nasty-invasive-pre-surgical-test-day” which is why I’m already up, all animals have had an unnaturally early pre dawn breakfast, and I’m on this dreaded beasty because there was surely no sleep to be had and I finished the current book at about 6.30am
I’m not going to share the details – you really, really don’t want to know – but some positive thoughts in this direction would be appreciated

… and before anyone weighs in with ‘what surgery? and why haven’t we been told ?’ … it’s major girly stuff, nothing life threatening, and happening in September. The humiliation today is to decide whether there needs to be additional surgeries carried out at the same time.
Should’ve been done months ago but the only person capable of overseeing today’s torture has been in England for 3 months.

normal life and blogging resume tomorrow


>Skiting about a very creative friend

>My very dear friend, Linda French of Centerville Ohio – after 30 odd years of quilting – finally entered one of her quilts in a major show – the American Quilters’ Society Expo in Knoxville, Tennessee this past weekend
and got Best in Show

Personally I’m not in the least surprised because I’ve known what a talented quilter she is ever since we first met while she was living in OZ in the early 80s

don’tcha just love it when your friends are suitably recognised for their brilliance, in spite of their natural reticence?

>I am a spoiled brat

>It’s been an odd week.
A week that has included some very, very good things … and some not so.
hack! splutter!
On the debit side was the hour I spent standing at the Top End Servo in the freezing cold – and rain – did I mention the rain? – inhaling petrol fumes while waiting for the RACV guy to arrive [ long story – tell you later ] and possibly as a consequence of which, I’m currently battling the common cold [ with a side order of FMS induced chronic fatigue ] which is my excuse for the appalling lack of blogging this week

cough! cough! argh!

For today though, one of the items perched very solidly on the positive side of the ledger:
a wonderful squishy care package from
my friend Lisette who informed me a few weeks ago that she was posting me up ‘a little something’. I naively assumed it was the recycled-from-being-used-to-wrap-market-purchases asian newspaper I’d asked her to save for a planned mixed media piece

so you can imagine how gobsmacked I was to find all this largesse at the Post Office

the aforementioned ‘small something’ which turned out to be four tiny maneki neko [ lucky cat ] beads for my collection. Each one less than a half inch tall!
but wait
there’s more
on the intervening weeks while patiently waiting to be conveyed into the arms of Australia Post, the cats had been joined by
25 grams of pure cashmere
all sorts of wonderful asian goodies
some fabulous green yarn from Yarn Barn and

oops … sorry … wrong photo … these are Sophie’s toes
now where was it ?
le piece de la resistance
from the dyepot of Emily Parsons:
Sophie’s Toes Sock Yarn

>Monday Miscellany

>Nearly four years ago I planted about thirty tiny Hakea seedlings. They were tender little things about an inch high with two leaves each, and while I’d love to be able to report that they were cossetted and protected and lovingly looked after, the truth is that they were planted and left to get on with it.
Those that survived my not-so-tender ministrations currently range in height from a measly six inches up to about a metre, and this week I finally got my first flower.This is a Pincushion Hakea … and if I hadn’t already used the ‘new alien life form’ angle a week or so back, this would’ve been a perfect excuse to trot it out. Maybe I could’ve identified it as a mislocated aquatic species … it does look sort of sea urchinish don’t you think?

Contrary to it’s outlandish spiky appearance, it is actually rather soft and delicate
unlike the current spinning

which may look to the casual observer to be the same as last week’s sacred alpaca
but not so
this is XCorriedale, and where the alpaca was a beautiful soft silky understated grey and white, this is plain prickly blah beige and somewhat akin to spinning with wire.
When I was just starting out, this was the stuff I was talked into having – almost a kilo of it – and obviously not best suited to a hat or scarf or any other garment that might end up anywhere that might be sensitive to prickles… but it was a good choice for a beginner, she wa sright about that. You just wouldn’t particularly want to wear the result.
I’m too cheap to get rid of it but I’m thinking that if I make it into socks they’ll probably wear like iron … or maybe another felted something … and I could always dye it a more interesting shade. It’s on track to turn out about fingering weight … I could probably use it as makeshift fencing wire in an emergency

gratuitous cute cat alert:
MissC in her little cat habitation – the only one of my furrbabies to sleep in a species appropriate designated place

>which would YOU choose, hmm ?

>I want you all to cast your minds back to the start of the week and the riveting saga of the spinning of the sacred alpaca …
Got that image firmly in place?
Righto … as it turns out, the enforced break from Tour De Fleece spinning due to a particularly poorly placed rusty nail, coupled with a certain reluctance to engage with a quilt project that is in active-procrastination mode, meant that I had absolutely NO CHOICE … none at all … but to knit.
A portion of the sacred alpaca has fulfilled all of its early promise and has reincarnated as
[drum roll please, maestro ]
yes … another cowl.
Improvised feather and fan, a little simpler than the Ice Queen and without the picot cast on-and-off which I really didn’t think would show up properly with the halo of the alpaca [ my excuse and I’m sticking to it ]

… and here we get to my current quandary… namely, if you were my elegant about-to-be-30 daughter-in-law* [ whose favourite colours are black, brown and grey ] which would you prefer?
The Ice Queen in black laceweight, or the slightly simpler grey one in my handspun sacred alpaca ?

* who was quite properly brought up to appreciate the effort in handmade gifts

>Basically I’m sulking

>Feel free to skip what will undoubtedly be a major whinge:

The Australian Wool and Sheep Show is one sleep away … and I found out YESTERDAY that David has a ‘client-free’ day tomorrow… In other words, he’ll be at home.
They swear there was a notice before the school holidays but funnily enough I’m not the only one who knew absolutely nothing about it.
Had I known two weeks ago, perhaps I could have organised a Carer for Dave.
Two days ? n’est pas possible

For the record, David hates crowds, mud, crowds, other people’s dogs, crowds, and large numbers of unpredictable woolly beasts … did I mention he’s not good with crowds ?
so taking him not really an option
and not only has it messed up something that I look forward to all year, but friend Jeanette won’t go without me so it’s buggered up her plans as well

I’m feeling a bit savage

I did take her out for a celebratory 50th birthday coffee this afternoon but it’s hardly a substitute for all the fibrey goodness that will be happening in Bendigo for the next 3 days

We won’t discuss the flat car battery, or the rusty nail that was introduced into my thumb* when I was moving firewood, other than to point out that these things are said to happen in threes, ergo I should be safe for at least the rest of the week.

To end on a more happy note, Sophie would like to show you the Ice Queen Cowl that I made for DDIL’s 30th birthday
yarn: BWM 2ply laceweight in Blueberry which I then dyed black[ish]
needles: KP Harmony 5mm and 4mm
modifications: minimal – left off the beads and changed one set of the decreases, but next time I’ll use a different picot cast-off.
Lovely pattern but made unnecessarily complicated.

* very small hole, tetanus shots fully up to date, hardly worth a mention were it not for the fact that it’s in the one spot that could stop me from spinning for a day or two … tragedy

>Lust at first sight

>Dateline: late 2007
The Place: The Salvos Op Shop, Castlemaine
The object of my desire: a plastic bag containing over a kilo of lustrous, soft, silvery-grey BWM Alpaca ‘laps’ for the princely sum of $5
$5 ?
for a kilo ?
I had no idea what the going rate for ‘ laps’ should be … and what were laps anyway ?

did I spin ? well no, not unless you count a brief flirtation with a drop spindle back in my art teaching days 30 years ago
own a wheel ? nyet
was that going to stop me ? not on your Nellie

and that’s where it started
A friend from quilting offered the loan of a wheel and a quick how-to, along with the [rather dogmatic ] statement that alpaca wasn’t for beginners … that, at the very least, I’d need to card it with something a bit more beginner friendly which she could supply. Arrangements were made and she sold me a bag of plain, pedestrian, beige Corriedale cross. I yearned for my gorgeous alpaca but in my heart of hearts I knew that she was right, the Corriedale was probably a better place to begin and I didn’t want to ruin my lovely find.

I acquired a wheel of my very own thanks to lovely Lisette and I was off… as has been chronicled before

Fast forward to this week and the current Tour de Fleece-fueled spinning frenzy.
That seductive alpaca has been singing its siren song every time I reached past it for another denizen of the fleece tub
and on Saturday I succumbed
I completely ignored the injunction to blend it with something easier to handle and you know what? Somewhere along the line my spinning skills must have caught up to my ambitions because the ‘sacred’ alpaca has been a delight to spin [ once I overcame my tendency to chronically underspin everything ]

First bobbin:
which was then duplicated – you don’t need a photo of that because it looks the same…
then the two were plied together – which takes forever
then wound onto the niddy noddy for skeining
washed and whacked into submission
dried in front of the fire
et voila
320 metres of lovely soft silveriness