December 23, 2010

New brakes = broke for Xmas

About a month ago I bought myself another car.  It's a 1990 Ford Fairmont Ghia.  It was only $2000 and looks pretty good for an older car.  It has climate control, electric windows...all the mod cons.  And so far its been a nice drive.  The electric windows don't actually work but the car dealer I bought it from is supposed to be doing something about that, in fact, it was a condition of the sale.  I haven't  heard from him in a while but that's okay, I'm going to ring him and be annoying today.  Not just about the windows though. There are a couple of things I need to 'discuss' with him.

On Wed the 15th I drove down to Sydney to visit with my Mother and Sister for the day.  It was my first long-ish (about 200km from my place to my sisters) drive in my new car and I was looking forward to it as I really enjoy long distance driving.  I left at 5am thinking I'd avoid the crazy Sydney morning rush hour traffic.  Unfortunately so did everyone else.  I obviously miss-timed it so I drove all the way to Sydney in fairly heavy traffic.  I got off the free way at 6.45am to find myself right smack in the middle of peak hour.  So I settled in and prepared myself for a long annoying drive through North Sydney so I could make my way over the harbour and over to Rockdale which is where my sister lives.

All in all the drive went reasonably well.  Until I got to the harbour tunnel which is when my brakes made a funny click and went all spongy.  That was a bit worrying but the brakes were still working well enough to slow the car down if needed.  But each time I depressed the brake pedal they got more spongy and it sunk closer and closer to the floor.  By the time I reached General Holmes Drive and was heading past the airport I was feeling decidedly panicky.  And then some moron cut me off, which is fairly common in Sydney.  So, as you do...I stomped the brakes.  They failed.  I even got a high pitched alarm and a nice little red 'brakes fail' warning light on my dash.  I aged thirty years on the spot.  

Luckily I didn't hit anyone and I made it to my sisters place alive but it was VERY scary during those last 15 minutes and needless to say when I finally pulled into her driveway I was a total mess.  I called my partner and told him the brakes had failed and we agreed I'd need to do something about it...just as soon as the panic receded a bit.

Obviously I couldn't drive home that night (as intended) with no brakes so I took the car down to a brakes specialist that my sisters partner recommended.  They were pretty nice.  They agreed to look at the car straight away and get back to me.  They looked over my brakes (while I sat at my sisters freaking out) and then called to calmly inform me that it was going to cost $790 (including GST) to fix them because of how much actually needed doing.  Apparently the master cylinder was gone ($300), the brake pads were all down to metal ($218) and the rear handbrake caliper ($200) had been seized up for quite some time but had had a nice metal tube inserted into it somehow to disguise this fact.  

So I rang my ever patient partner and he came up with some money and we got the brakes fixed.  This, however, meant I had to spend the night at my sisters.  With her and my mother.  I love my mother and sister but together they make a very...shall we say 'uncomfortable' experience.  It was hell.  And it only cost us $900 (including the $100 fuel I'd put in the car to get there).  Worst. Night. In.Years.

So...I'm clearly not happy about the whole thing.  The car yard sold me a car with dangerously bad brakes that had been deliberately dodgied up to hide the fact that they were dangerously bad.  They even gave me a pink slip (so I could change ownership with the RTA) for the damn thing...knowing the car wasn't actually road worthy.  They could lose their dealers license for that.  And today, when I call them to let them know just how unhappy I am that my brakes failed on the way to Sydney, and that they STILL haven't fixed the electric windows and the friggin thing now apparently has an oil leak, I'm going to point out that they probably shouldn't have given it an illegal pink slip and if they don't make me suddenly VERY VERY happy I might just decide to make their Christmas as difficult as mine is going to be after having to spend all that money. 

December 20, 2010

A cowl goes to sea

I know I promised ages ago that I would start putting some patterns up here for people to knit but I have been busy with other things.  But I have finally pulled my thumb out of my butt and written up a pattern that I'm going to give to you.  Absolutely free!  Cue excited squeeing here. 

Sea Foam Mobius (sort of) Cowl
By Evil McWeevil Handicrafts

The yarn..ooOOo
This mobius came about because I was trying to find the perfect pattern for some yarn that I had spun up with lovely ocean colours.  The yarn was a delicious blend of Merino, Angora (rabbit) and tencel that I received from Charly at Ixchelbunny called ‘twinkle bunny’.  Of all her blends, twinkle bunny is easily my favourite and rightly so as it spins and knits up so smooshily soft and luxurious. 

Finished size:  this is pretty flexible as it depends on how big you knit it. I stopped when mine was big enough for a cowl, but you might want to make yours longer.
Yarn:  my yarn is about equal to a commercial 4ply but you could easily use something else
Needle(s): I used a 5mm circ.
Notions: 2 stitch markers (M)
Gauge: I tried to make this fairly loose and lacy but that’s entirely up to you

Notes: The stitch is based on Seafoam pattern by Barbara Walker.
slip 1st stitch of every row purlways with yarn in front.
knit last stitch of every row tbl.

Using provisional cast on method, CO 46sts (or multiple of 10 + 6 for seafoam) + 8 for edging.

Setup row, K4, PM, knit to last 4sts, PM, K4

Before folding
1st row, Sl1, K1, K2tog, YO, SM, begin pattern with K6, *YO, K1, YO twice, K1, YO 3 times,
 K1, YO twice, K1, YO, K6*, repeat between ** to last marker (ending with k6), SM, YO, K2tog, K1, K1tbl.

2nd row, Knit to end, drop all yarnovers as you go except for first and last ones outside the stitch markers, which you should knit.

3rd row, Sl1, K1, K2tog, YO, SM, K to next marker, SM, YO, K2tog, K1, K1tbl.

4th row, knit to end slipping markers where appropriate.

5th row, Sl1, K1, K2tog, YO, SM, K1, *YO, K1, YO twice, K1, YO 3 times,  K1, YO twice, K1, YO, K6*, repeat between ** to next marker (ending with a K1), SM, YO, K2tog, K1, K1tbl.

The finished cowl
6th row, Knit to end, drop all yarn-overs as you go except for first and last ones, which you knit.

7th row, Sl1, K1, K2tog, YO, SM, K to next marker, SM, YO, K2tog, K1, K1tbl.

8th row, knit to end slipping markers where appropriate.

Continue with this pattern till piece is desired length and then, ending with a 7th row, take the bottom corner of your cast on end of the piece and fold it so that the bottom corner is now at the top and graft the two ends together.

Hey presto, you have yourself a mobius like thingo with a cute little eyelet edging. YAY!

© 2010 by Siobhan Colley of Soul Crafting by Shevi.. This pattern is for personal use only: no commercial uses are permitted.
Please do not sell this pattern or any items made as a result of using this pattern. Thank you.

December 13, 2010


Back when I first started learning how to knit lace I purchased some GORGEOUS mongolian cashmere yarn from Knitters Addiction.  I bought two 100g balls of laceweight in persian blue.  I bought the yarn knowing I would make lace from it.  And then when I purchased Victorian Lace Today (you can see a great review and some pics from the book here) by Jane Sowerby I found what I thought was the perfect pattern for it.  The Cap Shawl.

I did start the shawl way back when I first bought the book back in August last year, but unfortunately my first attempt ended in disaster.  The second time I started the shawl, it just didnt feel right from the moment I cast on.  The cast on was too loose, the stitches were waaaaaay too big and I decided I'd used a needle that was just too big for my tension so I frogged it again and didnt even lodge it as an event in my mind.  I was, however determined to make this shawl, so, in May this year (a year and a half since I purchased the yarn)  I cast on a third time.  And I actually finished it.  Finally. About a week ago.  YAY!

I attempted blocking it on Saturday but my blocking matts (an area of 192 x 128m) was just no where near big enough to stretch it out fully.  I took a pic anyway, because I knew everyone would want to see it, and because it looked purdy laying there and then just let it dry as it was without pinning it out.  I'll obviously have to purchase some more blocking matts (lots more apparently) so that I can block it properly and get a really good pic of it.  But in the mean she is.

Cap Shawl

December 10, 2010

Beautiful silks my ass.

175g pure silk singles
A little while ago I purchased some lovely red silk thread (made by a company called 'beautiful silks' apparently) from a destash. The thread was purchased specifically so I could knit it up into my sisters Christmas present. Clearly the silk gods are against me as I have had nothing but trouble with this stuff since I got it.

When it arrived, it was in a large 175g skein of single ply. It was a HUGE amount of thread and, understandably, I was pretty stoked.

Wound onto bobbins
in preparation for knitting
But when I put it on my swift in order to get it ready for spinning, I found that winding it up was going to be impossible. The little bit that I managed to get onto my yarn winder became tangled within seconds. So I decided to wind it onto a couple of bobbins with my spinning wheel. No problem, except that as it was winding onto the bobbins it was slipping around a lot and looking problematic in general. It didnt FEEL like silk, it has a sticky plastic-y quality and it wasnt behaving anything like any silk I've ever used before, but I ended up getting it all onto two fairly full bobbins and there it stayed while I looked for or designed a suitable pattern to knit with it.

After trying to knit it
So not long ago the knitting began, and as the yarn wound off the bobbin, it quickly became so insanely tangled that I had to give up.  I tried for more than an hour just get it moving enough to wind off even a metre, but nooooooo. It was stuck. And it obviously had every intention of staying that way. So in pure frustration, just to get it off the bobbin  (so I could use it to spin something worthwhile) I got out my trusty scissors. Yes thats right...I had to cut the crap off the bobbin.

And now I have this.  

A whole bobbin cut into short lengths.  Into the bin it goes.

I thought I'd be clever and Navjo ply the second half of it so that I could at least salvage something from this adventure, but unfortunately the same thing happened again.  So the whole damn lot has gone in the bin.

December 7, 2010

Please Mr Paramedic, dont accidentally kill me.

My experience in May this year alerted me to a previously undiagnosed allergy called anaphylaxis that I now have.  My allergy is to one component of the general anaesthetic most hospitals use to induce the state of unconsciousness required for surgery and to the antiseptic solution they swab your skin with when they're about to shove a needle into you.  The allergy I have is  the most dangerous type of anaphylaxis (of course...aren't I lucky?); the type that takes your blood pressure drop somewhere beyond terrifyingly low and has all the hospital staff wetting their panties 'cos they don't want to do the paperwork that confirms that they've accidentally killed you...permanently.  

Finding out about this allergy was a complete surprise to both me and the hospital staff but, luckily, I survived the experience and went on my merry way with the instructions to get myself a medic alert bracelet so I wouldn't have the same reaction again.  

So after my recovery, I ordered a medic alert medallion as instructed and I have been intending to build it into some kind of bracelet ever since I ordered it.  The beads for it that I ordered a little while ago arrived this morning and so this afternoon I finally got it built.  Here ' potentially life saving piece of beady goodness.

You too can have one of these fake pandora style, el cheapo looking, life saving, bead bracelets for only $60 (which is what it cost me to make the darn thing) :oS

I thought I should add that this bracelet only cost me so much because the medic alert medallion was over $35 plus postage, add to that $20 worth of beads and charms, plus postage and then the leather cord and little silver clamps and you can now understand why it cost me so much

I'm looking into making some pandora style bracelets with the metal snake chain style bracelet, which I'm sure will cost less to make than this monstrosity did.  If anyone is interested let me know and I'll make my research a bit more serious.

When the packaging department doesnt really think things through


Ok, maybe its NOT that funny but clearly I was in a juvenile sort of mood when I took this :oP

December 6, 2010

Evolution of the (blog's) soul

I have been thinking lately about how I blog and the effects that has had on my audience, or lack there of. Generally I've stuck to just updating on what crafty things I've been playing with. Also up till now I've kept things pretty impersonal, and that, to be honest is due to my love of my privacy with a teensy bit of internet paranoia thrown in for extra flavour and this has left my blog with no soul. Lets be honest, its been pretty lifeless lately. And I'm not happy about this.

So the time has come to pique my readers interest. I want my blog to have a bit more of a crunchy granola experience for my readers as opposed to the bland vanilla yoghurt you're getting now. Consequently, I've decided that I'm going to expand my blogging somewhat, extrapolate on the mundane quality of my life if you will.

I'm not 100% sure how this is going to happen, and of course I still intend to guard my privacy, but I think I can stand to show people a little more of who I am, and how my life is evolving...or devolving, depending on how you hold your head. I'm planning to just play it by ear for the most part and see how it develops naturally.

So what has been happening since my last post?

Just over a week ago I moved out of my large comfortable and mostly inexpensive apartment. I didn't actually WANT to move out of my apartment, where I'd been comfortable for over three years. I just couldn't stand living next door to the petulant, immature, insane cow living in the apartment next door any longer.

I know that sounds a bit harsh and judgemental but we're talking about the kind of person who, when told by their brother to turn their stereo down at midnight, during the week, cries and pouts and screams 'this is bullshit', then stomps around slamming doors loudly like a teenager (she's 32 by the way) having a tanty because they got grounded, then two weeks later when my friends two year old daughter has the audacity to squeal in my living room during the day (as two year old girl children are wont to do), turns their stereo up so loud (doesn't take a genius to figure out that it was some supposed to make some kind of point) that the air starts buzzing and my friends promptly leave (and never came back incidentally).

Now, don't get me wrong, I'm no killjoy, I like my music loud too when it's appropriate, and I never once asked her to turn it off, just down. I only asked twice and I stopped asking after the second stream of verbal abuse. Also, I'm not against the idea of having a quiet gathering with friends to just kick back and have some fun, but when its 4:30 in the morning and you and your friends are yelling at the top of your lungs and there is domestic violence afoot that can be clearly heard in the apartment next door I'd say that's a clear indication that things have gotten a wee bit out of hand. Anyone with half a brain knows that when you're living in a place that clearly has paper thin walls you behave like an adult and have some consideration for your neighbours. Am I right?

So anyhoo, now all my furniture is in storage and I'm 'doing it rough' as my partner likes to call it. We're sleeping on a mattress on the floor of his, admittedly very large, office for the short term with plans to turn it into a bedsit. This shouldn't be an issue as he has his own business and no one else uses the building. I have a roof over my head, a kitchenette, a toilet, somewhere to shower and somewhere to store my spinning wheel and fibre stash so I'm content for the time being. My partner and I are seeing it as a great opportunity to save money for a deposit on our own house. The best thing is, I'm no longer so stressed out from living at crazy bitch central that I cant sleep.

Merino/Soy - Nplied yarn
Pretty Bird - 340m
Speaking of my spinning wheel and fibre stash, I have actually had some time to do some spinning since I moved and I've managed to make some incredibly brightly coloured yarn. I'm not sure I love it as its just a wee bit too multi coloured for my liking, but who knows, the colours might pool nicely when its knitted up.

The navajo plying turned out
quite well if I do say so myself :oP

I have been working on my cap shawl a wee bit, and I think I have maybe two or three repeats left to go on the border before its actually finished.  I'm going to do some work on that this afternoon but its probably going to have to wait to be blocked because I want to get some blocking wires before I even attempt that part of the process.  Having said that, I cant wait to get it finished finally.  Its only been over a year since my first attempt at the darn thing (this being my third attempt) and I started this one in May 2010 so its still taken me a while to knit it.  I have no idea what I'm going to do with it once it is finished though, as I just don't go anywhere that would be appropriate for wearing it.  I guess I'll just put it in my wardrobe and let it sit there till I figure out what to do with it.

Well thats it for today's post.  I hope some of you at least will find my new posting style more entertaining, if nothing else.  Feedback is always welcome so please fee free to leave comments or suggestions for making the site more interesting (so long as its not pornographic :oP).

Catch you all on the flip side.