Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Earth and fire hat

Earth and fire hat

I made this hat as a way of using up some leftover NZ Shepherd Lambswool Felted 12ply brown - and an odd orange-brown worsted ball sitting in my stash. I made up the pattern as I went and am very pleased with the result. The dark brown really frames the variegated orange beautifully,

Swappers make plans – and God laughs

I thought I was so well prepared for the green swap (on Ravelry Aussie Swappers board). I had bought a lovely skein of super soft bright green Malabrigo worsted and had two balls of more subtle olive green DK cashmerino in my stash. I even had some super-fine forest coloured 2ply merino which would be perfect if my partner was into knitting lace. I had all my bases covered.

Or so I thought.

Then I received my swap partner. A lovely girl. Who happens to be allergic to lanolin. Which is in all yarn that comes from sheep and goats (including cashmere , mohair and merino).

So much for sending her one of my three lovely stash yarns!

I knew I could just pop into Spotlight or Lincraft and buy one of the many relatively cheap cotton/bamboo/acrylic yarn blends but this seemed a little boring. And I didn’t want to purchase any more expensive yarn – I have a whole room full of expensive yarn to choose from. Surely there would be something appropriate in my vast (albeit mostly lanolin impregnated) stash.

Then I noticed something – apparently alpaca fibre is lanolin-free. Unfortunately most of my alpaca yarn was blended with rash-inducing sheep fibre. My only pure alpaca was black – meaning it couldn’t be over-died. But it set off a trail of thought. What about bunny (angora) yarn?

Some quick Googling, an email to Ixchelbunny confirming that not only was angora lanolin-free but her angora yarn had been plied with silk, rather than merino. So it was perfectly safe to send to my swap partner.

Ixcel angora

Ironically, a week earlier she had convinced me to take an extra skein of bluey-green ‘Turquoise Turtle’ angora. I am now feeling less bad about that excessive purchase.

I also made her a lanolin-free sheep. Out of acrylic yarn.

Sheep 01

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Connex Sucks (part 2)

Pure coincidence but the day after I made my last post The Age opened up the can of worms about Connex and their thuggish ticket inspectors.  What really struck me was the number of people who, like me, have been zealously over-penalised for making an honest mistake and now have no desire to deal with the public transport providers.  I dont understand why there isnt a warning system where the department has the authority to issue a warning letter to someone who has made an honest mistake with the additional caveat that if they are caught again within 12 months with an unvalidated ticket, etc they receive a penalty.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Connex sucks

Normally I don't bother whinging about Melbourne's public transport because, well, it's just too easy.  Everyone does it and I don't want to be like everyone.  And because at the end of the day I do love public transport and my train into work; I just wish there were more trains and they weren't so overcrowded.

Sadly I don't think we will ever return to the days of public ownership of our public transport because I'm sure it suits the government no end to have commuter anger directed at the faceless corporation Connex rather than having to take responsibility for decades of chronic underfunding of the system. 

But Connex, those masters of unreliability, those servants of customer non-service have outdone themselves this time.

On Friday May 1 I received a letter and free daily ticket as "compensation" for the trains running late - in January.  Yes, it only took those speed demons FOUR MONTHS to send that out. I can't wait to see when my compensation tickets for February, March and April arrive!

Let's set aside the fact that the "compensation" is only available to monthly or yearly ticket holders (who would have the least use for a daily ticket) and that one has to fill out a friggin bureaucratic form to get the damn ticket - which means that the majority of people entitled to "compensation" will never bother getting it, nothing says "we are slowpoke losers" like a corporation that takes four months to send out a letter.

Nonetheless I managed to hold it all together until I got to Hurstbridge station at 7.30pm last night.  There were at least half a dozen ticket inspectors - far out numbering to number of passengers getting off at the end of the line - waiting to pounce on any poor sod who had forgotten to validate their ticket that day.

These ticket inspectors had no room in their life for a smile.  Normally when I flash my monthly card I get a "we can see you are doing the right thing, thanks" smile.  The woman who closely inspected my ticket, probably checking for forgeries merely grunted as she gave it back.  I felt like a criminal who had somehow slipped under the radar.

In the olden days when I was a child, there was no such thing as a ticket inspector.  Instead we had conductors who SOLD tickets to passengers, who made us feel good about catching public transport,  whose presence dissuaded the majority of graffiti vandals and who could intervene - or at least radio for help - if violence occurred on public transport.

Apparently it cost too much to keep employing these conductors and the last lot were made redundant in the 1980s.  Passengers had to buy their tickets from machines (which were often vandalised or broken) or inconvenient 'central' locations.

Surprise, surprise, fare evasion soared.  So were the conductors reinstated?  No.  Instead we got the ticket inspectors whose job was to strong-arm anyone trying to scam a $3 free ride, arresting them and tackling them to the ground if need be.  They were given no discretion to apply common sense - with 16-year-olds in school uniform but no concession card, the intellectually disabled and the poor sod with a half-used multi-trip card that hadn't been validated all being targeted.

In the last example, the inspector would confiscate your ticket as evidence (for the $140 fine that came in the mail) and give you a slip of paper to complete your journey.  How someone in outer suburbia who was not within walking distance of a train station or "convenient central location" was supposed to buy a ticket to get into town the next day without getting a fine for travelling without a valid ticket was never explained.

I want to support public transport.  I don't want to hate Connex.  I don't want to have to drive because public transport is overcrowded and unreliable.  I can't think of anything more stupid and wasteful than thousands of people all driving in their individual cars from point A to B when we have this big beautiful train line screaming out for more people to love it and take care of it and add a few more carriages during peak time.

What I want is a change of attitude from both the government and those running the service.  I want my public transport to be run by people who care for it and the passengers they move around, who invest in the extra lines and carriages and staff required to make it a pleasure to ride and support.