27 December 2008

Twenty years

Twenty years ago today I was in labor ... it went on for quite some time (32 hours); our planned home birth ended with an unplanned emergency Caesarian (because of my deformed hips and pelvis). But our gorgeous first child Rodger was finally born, and we were both fine, despite the bruise on his forehead from being stuck, and my row of stitches (metal clamps actually, yuck).

Wasn't he a sweetie at 2? Blonde with brown eyes ... he even won a Beautiful Baby competition!

Over the years we've got to know each other quite well. I home schooled him until the end of Year 10. We've gone through the Lego phase, the dinosaur phase, the catalog-itis phases, the lizards phase, the archery phase (he can still shoot an incredible score without having practiced at all, little toad!) ...

He's a lot bigger and hairier now, but he's still a sweet, smart, and funny guy. He's into indy / prog rock music, plays guitar, bass and drums (!!) - all self-taught - and loves huge mugs of milky tea, puppies, Red Eye, Kingsley's Chicken, pizza, anime, rock concerts in Sydney, Mac computers, and playing EVE Online with his dad. He's a good cook, especially when it comes to cakes! I'll always be thankful that he introduced me to Nine Inch Nails, Muse, Queens of the Stone Age, and Ratatat!

Tomorrow he turns 20 (now I really feel old!). He's not much one for big parties, so we're having a nice family meal, Mexican 'cos that's his favourite, with Summer Pudding for dessert (a treat I've never made before!).

And the best present of all - a few days ago Rodg was offered a place (in the first round of offers, too!) in the Advanced Diploma in Graphic Design at the Canberra Institute of Technology! Yay!!

This is the same degree that I did, 22 years ago, at the same campus! I was in the first intake of students who ever did the course, and they didn't really know what they were doing. It's a vastly better course now. I'm really tickled pink that he's following in my footsteps - he has natural ability, and I'm sure he'll do fantastically well. He starts in early Feb 09!

Happy Birthday my boy. I'm so proud of you, and love you to bits.

23 December 2008

Nothing door-to-door

Those awful marketing phone calls are bad enough (and I've been known to ask telemarketers if they can just 'hold on a sec' and leave the phone lying there off the hook ... for an hour - and yes, we're now on the Do Not Call Register), but I really really really hate being accosted in my own home. Whether it's people trying to sell me a new roof, cable TV, or spiritual salvation (which I have my own strong views on, thank you very much), I can't stand it.

I've had a homemade sign at our front door for years now, reading :

(In fact, my sign isn't so polite, I don't have 'thank you' on it.) It works a treat - sales people (of all types) walk up, turn around, and walk away. Good for me (less stress), good for them (they're not wasting their time or being shouted at).

Due to popular demand, I've designed some 'Nothing door-to-door' stickers and put them on my CafePress shop, so you can have one too.

38 puzzles and 13 days to go; we have a Christmas tree with no decorations on it, and not much else, LOL ... Merry Christmas everyone!

17 December 2008

Sunshine & Lollipops

Have cast on a cute little cotton summer hat for myself (Anchor Magicline, insanely bright colours). The Sunshine and Lollipops pattern by Canberra's talented machen/machen (beautifully designed pattern PDF too, great typography and lay out!)

Must say this Sony Cybershot handles reds better than my 2-year-old Olympus ... and low light shots sans flash (ISO 3200!).

Still, you know, working. Am pretty exhausted / fed up / cross / sick / PMS-ey today. Grrrrrr.

16 December 2008

56 puzzles on the wall, if one of those puzzles should fall, there'll be 55 ...

Still alive .... 56 puzzles (roughly 150-180 hours of work) and 19 working days to go - I got a 1 week extension for the main book, to 5 January, thank goodness! Can you believe it, it's up on Amazon already! LOL.

FIL is still in hospital, now in 'rehab' phase. He has a (probable) broken rib and some bladder/prostate problems (not cancer, but a recurring problem). He's pretty vile, complaining and generally carrying on. We don't see him every day - only so much stress a body can take!
Yesterday was surprising, in a good way - I actually WON something - our local shopping centre (Erindale) has a Christmas Prize Draw thingy happening - if you spend more than $20 at a shop, you get an entry form to put in the huge barrel, and they draw out a prize each day. Well - I won a Sony Cybershot digital camera! How cool is that?! I think it's the first prize I've ever won, apart from a pack of baby toys when my son was a toddler, so 19 years ago ...

OK, back to it. Have not got time (or the mental wherewithal) to read or comment on blogs, or do much apart from working and household chores, so please excuse my absence from - well - just about everything! 0_o

PS My finger has healed up nicely, thank you for all your kind wishes. I even got my Scissors Licence back!

08 December 2008

Clearly need my 'Scissors Licence' revoked

This is a bit gross, so don't look if you're at all squeamish....


I won't tell anyone if you don't read any further, it's OK.

OK, if you're sure?

This is what happens when you use your sharp knitting tool kit scissors to trim a toenail, and you're not watching carefully, and are generally overtired :

This is after 2 days, as well. You wouldn't believe how much it bled (or maybe you would). F**king painful, too.

Q3 deadline is tonight, am nearly finished the last puzzle for this batch. Work on Q4 starts first thing tomorrow. Am unspeakably exhausted. FIL is still in hospital, complaining non-stop and pissing everyone off. Christmas preparations = zero.

ETA : it's the middle finger on my left hand. Typing is a bit difficult, but I can still knit!

03 December 2008

Son Socks

A little knitting is happening, amidst the unrelenting work ... these are socks for my son (who turns - gasp - 20 this month!). Not birthday pressies, just long-overdue.

He chose this 6 ply Opal sometime last year (or was it the year before?!). Just a standard sock pattern; he has slender ankles and feet, so I figure that knitting a women's size, using 2.5mm needles with the 6ply yarn will work well. Knits up fast too!

We're having some fun and games with my FIL - he's nearly 86, has severe Asperger's and worsening dementia ... very difficult man. Anyway, he had a bad fall on the weekend, and yesterday was suddenly in cringing agony. I ended up calling an ambulance, as it wasn't clear if he was having a heart attack (severe pain in his chest on the left side).

In the end he's probably just badly torn some muscles - he needed morphine - and they've kept him in overnight to keep an eye on him. He's just in a bed in a corner of the Casualty Ward, so nothing flash, or restful. I've got to go see him shortly. Hubby did the main event yesterday. Sigh.

Hopefully he's getting an Aged Care Assessment done, though, which we've been wanting for years (he still lives alone) ... this will enable him to get the assistance he needs to stay at home, or get him into a nursing home if that's where he should be. He refuses to discuss such things, or have anyone 'in the house' to talk about this (hence the lack of an ACAT assessment before now). So this is a good thing. Sigh again.

ETA : Just heard they're going to admit him to a ward, for further assessment, or something. Basically, he's not able to look after himself as he is at the moment.

28 November 2008

But wait, there's more ...

Glad you enjoyed my last post! Here are answers to questions :

Roxie asked : How was it done before? Multiple Scrabble sets and then patient copying onto graph paper, then typesetting, then excruciating editing?

Word search puzzles are actually not too difficult to write by hand (there's even a whole chapter in my Dummies book on how to do this!) - if you write your list of words out in grid paper, so you can see which letters come first, second, third etc, it's not too bad. You can write a medium-sized one from start to finish in an hour or two. The key is to avoid too many overlapping words.

Crosswords by hand - now that's a MUCH harder proposition!!

Chamber's Crossword Completer : Alternate Letter Word List
was (and still is) very helpful. It lists words by letter pattern (A_A_, then A_B_, then A_C_ etc; and then _A_A, _A_B, _A_C etc - up to 17 or 18 letter words), so you can use this to find words that fit into the puzzle (word search or crossword). Very good for compiling (as well as solving) crosswords. This is what I used when I started out writing crosswords, over 20 years ago!

Still Roxie : So, do you do five puzzles of one type a day, or is it better to mix them up and keep your brain fresh?

I mix them up, at most I'd do two of the same sort in one day. Some of the Quiz Words are so huge and complicated, I spend most of the day working on just one or two puzzles, which skews my daily tally (and makes me panic!).

Penny said : OMFG!!!! How do you do it without going insane??!!!

What is this going of which you speak? ;)

Emma said : What a cool post! I'd often wondered how it was done.

Glad you enjoyed it! Keep in mind that this is just how I do them (and there are no instruction books out there, as a puzzle writer you have to figure out the method for yourself). Many (most?) of word searches you'll find in puzzle books nowadays are entirely computer generated. The writer simply puts in a set of words, and the computer does the rest.

Programs can do an OK job of creating a word search, but there tend to be certain patterns within the puzzle (eg words starting with the same letter clustering together), and the 'back fill' letters can be repetitive. I think a hand-crafted one is better!

Here is one of my Winder Words under construction - this is the only puzzle type in the book which I still have to construct by hand, as the words twist around in right angles (not in straight lines). I don't know of any software that can handle this style puzzle, and it's too complex a job for Hubby to add into my software quickly. So it's back to the grid paper, pencil, and eraser, and counting letters!

Creating the finished artwork in Illustrator is also harder, especially the Answer file which I have to create by hand (in the program) rather than it being automatically generated by Project X.

The big challenge with these puzzles is to avoid multiple choices for a single word. The orange-circled letters are the starts of words. The tiny letters in the top of some squares are the letters which must NOT appear in that square, to avoid a particular word being able to be found along several paths. Even with this, sometimes it's unavoidable. I also have to check these by hand, which is a pretty tedious task.

Can you tell I've hit a bit of a wall? Two posts in two days, procrastination city .... I'm having trouble staying focused, getting to my daily targets at the moment, and am seriously exhausted. I can have a bit of time off this weekend, but also need to get work done both days.

27 November 2008

What I'm Doing

I thought you might be interested in seeing the process I'm going through for each one of the 253 puzzles in this book ... this is how I created the knitting-themed Hidden Word Search puzzle for Word Searches for Dummies :

1. First of all I have to write a word list of 'on topic' words. This is a plain text file in BBEdit, and generally has at least 200 words, and generally many more (up to ~2,000). To do this I scour the Interbets, use the lists and articles on Wikipedia, a good thesaurus or two, and other reference works. I need to clean up the lists so my puzzle program can use them - they have to be all lower case, with no spaces, accented characters, hyphens, punctuation etc. I use the Grep commands in BBEdit a lot.

Writing the theme word list can take anywhere from 15 minutes to several hours. The lists are a real asset to me, as I can reuse them in the future.

2. Next I open up a new puzzle in my custom software Project X, written by my pet programmer-extraordinaire, Hubby. (It's not available for sale, sorry, it's my professional advantage!). The naming system for the book is fairly complex and has to be accurate. I make sure the file name is correct and that the grid is the right size (17 x 17 for this puzzle) by checking my Excel spreadsheet of all the puzzles planned for the book.

3. I select the "knitting words" word list, and start adding words to the grid! The longest words go in first. As you can see, when I click on a square, the dialog box shows me all the words from my 'themed list' that can be put in the space. I choose the word I want (every word is chosen by me, none of them are placed by the computer).

4. As you can see, when the grid gets heavily filled in, there can be places where there are NO options (from the themed word list, anyway). At times like this, I'll try seeing if any words will fit from a different direction, or change words in the grid.

5. The grid is nearly full, and ready for the secret hidden answer to be put in! While writing I keep checking the word list, to ensure I don't put any words in twice, and that there's a reasonably good spread of starting letters across the alphabet.

I have 19 leftover letters, and luckily I find a great 'hidden message' right away. It is almost never this quick - it can take hours to find something apt that fits the spaces. Sometimes I end up adjusting the grid (adding or deleting words) to accommodate a good message. A lot of the time I start with a message in mind, and fill in the grid until I've got the right number of spaces left.

6. The hidden message letters show up on a brown background. The yellow dots mark the start of words, and the red dots are the ends of words.

7. Once the grid is filled, I have to check it. First of all I check for duplicate words against the puzzle's word list - this scan has revealed that the word knit occurs 3 times in the grid (and it gives me the coordinates so I can find them quickly). This particular duplication isn't a problem, thankfully, because I haven't put the word knit in the word list as a single word (it occurs as part of longer words). Other duplications can be a problem though, in which case I have to go back to the puzzle and change words, and recheck.

The last scan of the grid is against my 'rude words' list (yeah, that one was fun to write!) - it makes sure there aren't any swear words accidentally created in the grid. Again, if there is a problem word in there, I have to edit the grid (ie go back to Step 3) and try again.

8. Phew - all the scans are good, so I can start on creating the artwork. I save the grid as a PDF, and the Answer grid version as a PDF as well. The word list is saved and put into a Word document. I edit this final puzzle word list to put back the spaces, accented characters, hyphens and so on.

9. The PDF files are put into Illustrator - this is the Answer file (the hidden message letters are circled). I have a template file, and have programmed actions to process the graphics to be of consistent sizes and so on. These files are saved both as EPS (for the Wiley layout team) and PDF (for my editors) files.

10. As you can see, there are quite a few files for each puzzle. I package the finished set of files into a zipped archive, and e-mail it off to my lovely project editor Sarah at Wiley in Indianapolis. Then I go to my Excel spreadsheet, write a Hint for the puzzle (there is a whole chapter of Hints, one for each puzzle), write something (hopefully) witty for the puzzle's Title, note down the Hidden Message answer in another file, and mark the puzzle as done.

Next ...

This is just one of 8 different styles of word search puzzles I'm writing for the book - each one has different things I have to do (for example : Quiz Word Searches involve writing a quiz question for every word in the puzzle word list; Scrambled Words involve jumbling up each word in the final word list; and Story Word Searches involve writing a 450 word article first, running it past Sarah, and using the words from the final approved article as the theme word list to create the puzzle). I need to average 5 puzzles per day to meet the deadline.

26 November 2008

Aussie CafePress

Good news! CafePress now has Aussie (and UK and Canadian) shops - so if you go to my Knitting Art shop, and you're in Australia (or the UK or Canada), it should automagically default to Australian (or UK or Canadian) dollars, and postage costs will be LOCAL. This is a HUGE saving. Just in time for Chrissie :)

I just got myself one of these mugs, and I must say it is very lovely - the image is glazed properly, and all shiny and pretty.

One of these days, post-book, I will put brush to paper again, and get some new paintings up!

135 puzzles done, 118 to go. I have no life away from this computer ...

23 November 2008

The Postcard Project

I heard about Elizabeth McClung's Postcard Project through Olivia ... and was delighted to receive an email from Elizabeth within hours of writing to her (I suspect she never sleeps!). She is on a mission to send out a special custom-made postcard to anyone and everyone who needs or wants one - as a way of connecting, and a deliberate act of kindness. She is, quite frankly, amazing.

This is one of the postcards she sent to our family (we all got one!) ... pop on over and read about her project and you can ask for - yes - a special postcard!

18 November 2008

Greetings from Earth

I subscribe to G Magazine - and was thrilled to hear last week that a short note I sent in is going to be published next month! It's about how using a fountain pen (with a refillable ink bladder) is even more environmentally friendly than using pencils. As a thank you, they sent me a pressie! Some gorgeous cards, wrapping paper and gift tags from Earth Greetings! They are really wonderful, and all printed with vegetable-based inks on recycled paper.

Cute attack - this is Rincewind enjoying a cracker!

Q2 deadline has been met, now I'm into writing for my third quarter (75 puzzles in 3 weeks, again). At least I'm past the halfway mark. And I have a cover!

14 November 2008

A little bamboo

I'm making a little tank top using the purple bamboo (Lincraft Bamboozle) which was once, briefly, an Ogee Lace Skirt. Using the basic v-necked tank top pattern from Knitting Lingerie Style, and adding a lace pattern to the lower section to help the yarn go further. The lace pattern is the one from the Lacy Summer Socks pattern in the same book. It's lovely because it sits perfectly flat without blocking!

Am nearly halfway through The Book - my second quarter deadline is Monday. I'm seriously exhausted by Thursday each week, but have to keep going. My Technical Editor has started reviewing the puzzles, which is rather exciting (this is the job I did for Wiley on another book earlier on this year). Sorry, very brain dead here, can't think of anything clever or even interesting to say, or remember any news. Just wanted to reassure you I'm still alive! Nighty night!

Saturday Morning - War Time!

I'm trying very hard to set up a modest vegetable garden, I've made lovely no dig garden beds, lots of mulch, and have spinach, parsley, sage, mint, rhubarb, and so on already growing well. I've been raising seeds for summer crops inside, and when they got big enough, planted them out. Only to have them utterly chewed to bits by the next day! Aaargh!

At first I thought it might be cabbage white caterpillars ... I sprinkled with Derris Dust ... this helped a little, but didn't really stop the wholesale destruction that was now across the entire veggie garden, even the established plants were being attacked heavily! There were no shiny snail or slug trails either. See what I mean?

Last night Hubby and I did a midnight raid - took our torches out and checked the beds. WELL. Bloody EARWIGS! They were swarming over the entire garden, and clearly chewing away. Every plant had dozens of the little beasties all over them! I've never seen so many earwigs in one place! This poor doomed zucchini seedling (my baby!) had 10 on the job (I've circled them in orange).

So pyrethrum spray was next (yes, I sprayed immediately, around 11pm, catch the buggers unawares!). I did a bit of research online, and made a trap using oil and soy sauce, in a margarine container (holes around the top edge, put the lid back on, set down into the soil). This morning my few remaining seedlings (I think it's only the cucumbers left) are intact, hurrah! And I've caught some earwigs in my trap too.

I had no idea that earwigs could do this amount of damage to a garden, but there you go, you learn something new every day ... I had been noticing a fair few earwigs around, in the house and so on, but generally I don't worry about them too much. Obviously this 'glut' of earwigs isn't helpful for a veggie garden, though! Hopefully now I can counteract and get my veggie garden growing again!

(ETA to fix the link to Earwigs)

05 November 2008

Springing Forward

Despite working like a mad thing on The Book (7 am to 7 pm most days!), I do get a bit of knitting time in front of the telly most nights.

Who'd have thunk it - when you work regularly on one project (my Spring Forward socks), they get finished quickly! The first sock is done, and I'm only about 6 cm off the end of the second one ....

Here's how to knit the heel flap using magic loop ... just back and forth as you'd expect, with the instep stitches sitting there quietly, waiting their own turn.

And checkout today's Questionable Content! LOL, infinitely recursive spacetime doilies and cashmeredynamics!

When I need a break from writing I've been working on this Escher jigsaw - FINALLY finished yesterday; I think it took a month! A tad insane, all that black, grey and white!

A few weekends ago my sister, her hubby and young Ben came over for a picnic - it's still such a novelty and a wonderful treat having them living in the same city as us! Ben (who is nearly 3!) helped put the candles in his daddy's birthday cake ... what a cutie. He's still not really sure about me, I think I sound too much like his mum, so he's very shy - but we're slowly getting there.

And finally - CONGRATULATIONS to America on voting in Obama - we're utterly thrilled! A momentous day.

OK, back to puzzles. All the text is written (I'll see it all again in January, during the Author Review). Puzzle tally : 67 written, 165 to go! In 7 weeks.

29 October 2008

28 October 2008

Alien sheep!

Goodness, has it been a week already? 0_o

We've spent quite a lot of time at the Canberra Hospital in the past week, and we keep walking past this display cabinet in the foyer which is about the Chaplaincy services on offer, along with some props and a knitted Christmas nativity scene (you know, the Kings, the Shepherds and so on). The figures are fine - but O.M.F.G.... is this a .. a .. SHEEP? Looks more like an alien emerging from a sheep skin .... aaaaaaaah!

The text on the book is done, hurrah (first pass anyway, I'll be seeing it again in January for revisions)! I'm now into writing the 252 puzzles. I need to write 5 a day to meet the deadline. They average 2 hours each, so it's a hell of a lot. Bit scary.

Dotter 2.0 is going well - we're still working to get the insulin levels right, but she's loving not having to do injections all the time!

21 October 2008

Dotter 2.0

I have a bionic daughter! Dotter version 2.0!

Here is her tummy, and the line, and her brand new green Cozmo insulin pump. This little beauty is worth more than anything else we own (yes, even more than our cars). Thank goodness for the wonderful parents who did the fund raising so she can have this.

The connection into her tummy is just a soft cannula tube, it goes in for about 9 mm. The clear plastic 'button' and sticking plaster sitting on top of the insertion is to hold the tube securely in place, and cover it to keep it clean, and it also allows her to disconnect the pump when she's having a shower. There isn't a permanent port, nothing surgically implanted. The site gets changed every 3 days (something she's just learnt to do herself), it's basically like doing an injection, only what gets injected is a needle and the soft plastic cannula, and the needle comes back out, leaving the soft tube in her tummy.

Of course, as it's stuck in her tummy for 3 days at a time, hygiene is much more important, we have sterile swabs, and have been taught how to wash and dry our hands like a surgeon does.

Now all she needs to do is lots of finger prick blood tests, she'll always need to do those (until under-the-skin BGL monitoring works better, anyway), and then she enters her blood glucose reading, and how much carbohydrate she's about to eat (to the nearest 5g), and the pump does the rest, delivering the insulin she needs - so no more injections for every time she has to eat!

We have a few nights of 3 hourly blood tests (midnight, 3am, 6am) ahead of us, and two more days of hospital visits, but we're going well so far, if a bit overwhelmed with information ... it's good though. Very good.

19 October 2008

Hemlock Ring

Ta dah! Tis done! This took just over a month to knit. It's Jared Flood's pattern, the Hemlock Ring Blanket, which is basically an old-fashioned doily pattern, with a Feather and Fan edge, knit in thick wool, instead of with fine laceweight yarn.

Pre-blocking :

Blocking. I wimped out, and didn't pin it. Not enough pins, knees, or time.

I went with the original knitted edging. It took 3 nights to complete, but I really like it.

Rustic Damson 12 ply, just under 3 balls. Gorgeous. I love this pattern so much I even want to knit it again - which is a rare thing!

Will send this down to Tassie in the next week or so – will be hard to let it go, but I know it's going to a good home.

Work on The Book continues apace, I've written nearly 5 of the 6 text chapters (~15,000 words all up). Need to work on weekends - not all day, but for at least half of them. It's basically going very well, but I am pretty weary.

And last but not least, in 2 sleeps Dotter gets her insulin pump! This will entail nearly 3 days at hospital (as an outpatient), and quite a few broken nights, as her blood sugar has to be tested through the night for the first little while, as we (ie me, Dotter, the diabetes educators and nurses, and her endocrinologist) figure out the right levels of insulin for her. Bit nervous about the whole thing, it's a quite different ball game from using insulin pens. Much bigger risk of hyperglycaemia and DKA (diabetic ketoacidosis).

09 October 2008

Working working working

Look what arrived in the mail this week!

This is the book I was Technical Editor on earlier this year - it's all for real now! It's little! My book will be nearly twice as big (roughly 8 x 10") - oh sorry, did that sound like gloating? My bad.

There's my name in print - eeeeee! Sarah, who was Senior Copy Editor on the Brain Games book, is my Project Editor on my Word Searches book. And Erin (Editorial Program Coordinator) is my Acquisitions Editor. They swap jobs around all the time!

This is how I stay sane during the day, when I'm all worded out ... although I'm not sure if doing an Escher jigsaw all in shades of grey qualifies as helping me stay sane!

This is where I'm working at the moment, I've co-opted the dining table.

A few days ago I submitted my first chapter (Chapter 2 - the longest one in the book) - the good news is Sarah (my Project Editor) is very happy with it, there are no edits to do at her level of things, and I've 'nailed' the Dummies style (which is very specific, you should see the pages and pages of Author's Guidelines!). Now it goes to my Copy Editor, then eventually to a Technical Editor, and then I'll get it back (probably in January 09) to make any suggested changes during the Author Review.

It is seriously kick ass cool having this whole editorial support network backing me up - something I've never had before, not even with my syndicated puzzles. I'm used to doing all my own editing, and proofreading, and layout, and design, and even all the promotions, sales and deliveries for my Canberra puzzle books. Loving the change!

I need to have all the wordy parts (ie everything that isn't puzzles) written by the 27th of this month. There's 5 chapters to go, and a bunch of short 'Section introductions' to write too. And my Author Bio and Acknowledgments (which is kind of funny, I thought you'd write those last!). Thanks to Daylight Savings I can now get on the computer at 7am and have a real time email chat with Sarah (4pm her time) which is making the whole communicating thing work much better!

Not quite sure how I'm going to get 252 puzzles written by 29 December, given that the text is taking up most of my time at the moment, so I'm not writing 4 puzzles a day (which is what is needed to do them over 3 months) - it's going to end up being more like 6 puzzles per day once I finally get to them 0_o

And I'm making sure I get some TV / knitting time every night after dinner, never fear. With a bird on my shoulder.

05 October 2008


A mysterious box arrived in the mail two days ago, from my friend Abbey (my one-time Secret Pal) - (slightly tardy but hey who's counting?) birthday treats!

Some very thoughtful choices - a book about losing loved pets - something Abbey and I have both gone through in the last year. And a Hawaiian cookbook - mmmm, pineapple and macadamia nuts :)

I've long lusted after this book - and it is really wonderful. A great introduction to cables in general, some great projects, and a brilliant cable stitch dictionary. Thank you Abbey, the perfect choice!!

You knew there would be yarn, didn't you? Tilli Tomas silk with beads - laceweight .... swoon .... 2 skeins!

This is the absolute pièce de résistance - a skein of actual real qiviut (faints). I'll bring it to SnB Tuggers next Saturday (on a leash, in chains) if anyone would like to pet it!

Thank you Abbey!!

Since I'm doing a bit of show and tell, Taph and Miss Spidey also splurged and treated me with this gorgeous ArtYarn sock yarn - what colours!

Steady progress is being made on the Hemlock Ring - I'm into the r e a l l y l o n g rows of feather and fan now (close on 400 stitches per row). It is just gorgeous.

The first week of work on The Book went well, although I was just about brain dead by Friday. Am taking Saturdays off, but will need to work for a couple of hours on Sundays to keep the panic at bay.

03 October 2008

Free donation

If you go to the Squidoo site you can make a $2 donation by clicking a button (ie it's free, your vote is all you need to cast). We're making donations to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation - but you may have your own favourite charity. One vote per person.

Am utterly brain dead tonight - really hard to maintain the constant level of thinking and writing for a full week - and then add PMS in to the mix - not so good!

01 October 2008


Still alive, writing has officially started on The Book - it's going well, if busily, and I'm enjoying it a lot (so far!) - I hadn't realised how much I needed a break from the - yes - tedium of writing my weekly syndicated puzzles. I love a good project, I do!

Meet Avi, the Top Bird in this house ... and the higher the better!

We're bird sitting for a friend, for 2 weeks. Hmmm. I think I'm too nice. We never had birds when I was a kid, cos my mum has a phobia of them, so I'm not very used to this caper. While this little cockatiel is quite appealing, he does have some major personality flaws (will bite fingers, doesn't like being petted, and knows his own mind - well, I guess the last isn't a personality flaw as such, it just makes him a bit hard to manage at times).

Avi's favourite thing is to sit on my wrist or arm while I'm working. He even fell asleep on my leg yesterday, aaaw. Here he is sitting next to me on my office window sill (well, on top of my radio on my window sill).

He also wants stand on my computer keyboard and try to lever up the keys with his beak (!!!) - he's not allowed to do that one! His wings are clipped, so he just hops and walks around the place - and he much prefers to be outside his cage rather than in.

Aren't they messy little creatures?! I had no idea - the quantity of feathery debris and scaley skin bits or whatever from his preening ... ick. Still, he is rather sweet, and he can say a few things like "Brekkie!" and "Avi Avi Avi" (his name), and he likes English muffins with butter.