Sunday, March 30, 2008

too early in the season...

to have a cold. one walk in the brisk morning air on thursday and i come down with something nasty. its not a full blown flu but enough to be annoying. people told me when i finished the pensky i could expect to come down with some evil sickness but i have been spared till now. at least now i feel like my mental malaise is at least somewhat justified!

i am still struggling a bit on that front, it is a difficult transition to make and i think i expected the whole world to be changed by my doing a phd but it has not, and applying for jobs is proving difficult as i am still less than enthusiastic about academic life. i am trying to focus on its personal advantages, but even my own once innovative theoretical ideas seem not really worth fighting for anymore. but i am putting one foot in front of the other hoping that enthusiasm of some sort will return.

i am enjoying the rest of my guilt free life immensely however, and i think i am actually reaching the stage of being guilt free now. i have settled into a bit of a personal time-management rhythm (altho slightly disrupted with illness this week) which includes walking dogs, eating properly, enjoying flyball, and knitting! ah yes, the knitting.

i am pleased to announce the latest Finished Object, and i am glad to have these finished in time for the end of SSoS - the Fancy Silk Socks:

once i came back to these with a clear head they were a dream. they are delicious on, the pattern feels lovely and the yarn is gorgeous. i will put full details over on the sock blog.

i am about 19 centimetres into the leg of the first of trents lichen rib socks in burrawool but it has been delayed because i am now quite addicted to the shetland triangle:

there is an issue however, that because you increase by 4 stitches every row, and its a 10 row repeat, when you get around to the second, third, fourth repeats etc, you need to do multiples of the red-squared 'pattern repeat' section. this is the bit that makes the fir cones:

but it doesnt say how many times to do it for every row, of course, and i am finding that when i do as many as i can, i sometimes dont have enough stitches left before the centre stitch say, to do the normal specified stitches in each row. that doesnt make sense without me showing you what i mean on the chart. i have figured out which are the important stitches to do, eg, always a yarn over on either side of the centre stitch, so i am concentrating more on making sure the stitches for the fir cones are lined up, and i think for the most part it is working. there is one part i can see i have botched a bit, but i am not ripping this one back. this is my practice shawl - it has no lifelines and i am working without stitch markers, and once its blocked i doubt very much you will see the bits where i knitted four instead of three, or knitted two together where i had one too many! it is a lovely pattern though and will make a beautiful shawl.

now im off to eat eggs and drink orange juice and rest some more. hope you canberrans are enjoying your frosty mornings!

k xxx

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

a change of scene

there was a slight chill in the air this morning as the dogs and i walked along the beach - a sign of the long-awaited autumn arrival. summer proper was wet rather than hot but the last two weeks of indian summer have been unbearable in their lateness and intensity. bugger off sunshine.

given that the long southern summer of socks is drawing to a close (even though i have two pairs still on the needles and another four pairs planned), i felt the sudden urge yesterday to start something else.

i have been playing around with ideas for this for a while:

its 150g of hand died 4ply polwarth silk. i started making a lace leaf scarf with it:

but i have a gorgeous 6 foot long nundle hand made scarf that i wear every day in winter and scarf knitting? after lace socks? boring.

so i ripped it and rewound it and decided to give the shetland triangle a go. i want to make this eventually in a plain coloured DK but in discussion it was felt that it would be ok to have two shawls in the same pattern, esp as one is going to be very lacy and soft and light, suitable for indoor wear perhaps, whereas a heavier one might be perfect for sunday afternoon football watching, for example. if i did that.

anyway, here it is so far:

there are semblances of fir cones appearing. once you get the hang of using a chart (difficult for those who like to work off written instructions!) it is a relatively easy pattern tho now i am into the second repeat of the body chart and im not sure how to work the red boxed bit that says 'pattern repeat'. will let you know how that turns out!

the long weekend finished quietly with a slow day at home on sunday, and then yesterday a trip down to berry where the fantastic sour dough bakery was open. hmmmm lattes and sour dough toast.... we came back via gerringong and had lunch at the werri beach fish shop but yet again it has new managers and the standard has deteriorated. i have lived on the pacific coast most of my life and i can not believe how few places get simple fish and chips right. for those discussing this issue on the ravelry canberra group forum, there are no good fish and chips in canberra. the best fish and chips, apart from doyles at the fish markets/watsons bay, is a tiny little non-descript take away on the strip at surfers paradise that does garlic and butter barramundi and coral trout to die for. shame you cant get coral trout down here.

on that note, i am off to the fresh fruit market to get ingredients for the ham and ricotta lasagne. i have made it again since the first time but the ricotta wasnt fresh enough and the difference was noticeable.

i am thinking that i may leave academia behind and become a full time cleaning, cooking, gardening and knitting housewife. this should tell you something about my state of mind, given my extreme aversion to housework.

k xx

Sunday, March 23, 2008

we got 'em

easter came early this year, and with it came a two day trek to the sydney royal easter show to play flyball. the royal competition is a big one, lots of teams usually, and draws a huge crowd. possums team, the st george phoenix, were in division one, up against the same teams we raced with at the nationals. remember that whole roger federa thing, and how you can come first but then end up second etc. anyway, we raced them again. this time we beat them. we won four out of six races, despite a rather frightening start to the day when our little dog poppi got freaked out by the large and noisy crowd. but she came back, and the team was presented with their winning trophy (which weighs a tonne):

by none other than his eminence dr harry cooper:

gotta be happy with that. we were even happier yesterday when we went back and won again, this time we won six of our six races and ran the fastest time of the day. no trophy for the saturday comp, just a lot of supercoat prizes, and the satisfaction of a job really well done. the other team in our club, the st george dragon slayers, also won their division:

it was great to see them run so well. a great two days all round, although exhausting. trent and possum are still sleeping as i write this!

we got a chance for a quick look at some of the rest of the show. i saw donnas lovely shawl with its second place ribbon (yes the displays were really stupid!) and kris' funky highly commended jumper. well done ladies!

we bought a heap of cheap clothes at the drizabone outlet, and i was a very good girl, i bought only two other things and neither of them junk food showbags. i went down to the fashion pavilion and apart from some tiny skeins of expensive cashmere there was no yarn for sale anywhere. i did however, find me a new handbag at a little stall that i have not seen at the show before. they were selling bags made by the womens skill development project in nepal and i bought this:

it is 100% cotton, hand woven, thick and sturdy and beautifully constructed and a gorgeous bright red! it fits a lot in it too!

i am very pleased to have found something so lovely that is also so socially worthwhile. i also a bought a little bag of goodies:

from these people selling this hand repair lotion stuff, its a mix of sea salt and essential oils and it made my hands all lovely and smooth, and the lavender hand cream is to die for. winter knitting really dries my hands out, so i am now prepared.

on that front, i have decided what i am going to use all my recent stash enhancements for. i have decided that the two gifts from george, the knittery slimsocks in merlot and the knitter merino cashmere in midnight, will become embossed leaves from '25 favourite socks' and yarrow rib socks from 'vintage socks' respectively. the southern summer of socks prize of knittery merino cashmere in moses fire will become the swirly girl socks from yarn number 7. and bells' present of the cherry tree hill in serengeti i think needs to be either thujas or hederas. not sure which yet. as soon as i have finished my fancy silk socks i am going to start with the swirly girls i think. i also still have my blue ranco to make into poms. so much knitting. so little time.

thanks for all the kind thoughts on my post about kindness. i think i am over the introspection now, and will just enjoy my new simple life until something comes along. the jobs i have applied for are lecturers jobs which include the kind of teaching im doing now, so it might not be so bad after all. pure research jobs are hard to find, and lecturing may be a happy compromise. only time will tell.

happy easter everyone. this is what i will be eating:

a bilby. chocolate australian wildlife. yummo.

k xx

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

the kindness of knitters

yet again i am blown away by the generosity, support and kindness of women-who-knit (i was going to say people-who-knit but i dont know any knitting men personally. i believe they exist but i am yet to meet them in person or see them pick up the sticks. (an aside: my friend dave works for a particular airline company that shall remain nameless, and his boss told them recently that their industrial action for a pay rise was a waste of time because there were all these other engineers out there knitting who would gladly have their jobs. dave and i went off in search of them, as i think that would have been a sight for sore eyes, aircraft engineers sitting around knitting. but alas, nowhere to be found). also, it is women-who-knit who have been kind to me in this instance, so no gender-based stereotyping intended). see, today another little parcel arrived. it contained two pieces of wonderful woolly goodness, one was my prize for my 'hangin with me peeps' photo over at the southern summer of socks - a skein of knittery merino cashmere in 'moses fire':

could it be an any more perfect colourway for me? could it be any more soft and beautiful and with the grooviest name out there? as if this was not enough, there was also this little surprise, from bells personally:

yes thats right, a skein of cherry tree hill in serengeti. not just any old surprise. we're talking cherry tree hill. with the exception of koigu, this is my most coveted type of sock yarn. it was accompanied by a beautiful card acknowledging the blood sweat and tears that have been shed in this house the last few months. coming after shelleys clapotis, and georges present of last week, the kindness of knitters continues to blow my mind. i think it is even more special because its wool, and because knitters know how very special a gift of wool is.

these acts of kindness have really been playing on my mind. in a good way. see, i have been feeling weird lately (well duh, says everyone). this is evidenced in my apparent personality-type transition from extrovert to introvert. the whole experience of the last few months has left me feeling very bruised and battered, very tentative around people, not talking much, not wanting to be out and about. but the kindness of knitters reminds me that there is not just evil in the world. that some things are more important than the words you write, and that these are not always the things by which other people judge you. it has been very important throughout this whole thing to have that balance, to have people around who were ok with me just being me, regardless of what theory i used! in my acknowledgments i wrote:

There is a whole community of women-who-knit that have been an invaluable source of courage and strength and I thank them all.

seriously, i really do.

i am also feeling weird because now i have finally stopped studying. thats it, theres no more. at least 30 out of the last 40 years have been spent inside an educational institution of some sort. thats ridiculous. even i have to grow up sometime. the problem is i dont know what i want to be when i grow up. i thought i did. i thought i wanted to be an historian - an academic. now i am all bitter and twisted and full of rage and cant bear to be around historical academic types and dont want to hear about anyone still doing their phd who is all enthusiastic about their research. aaaaaagh go away cheery people! i am a little anxious about jobs, i have applied for three so far, didnt get an interview on one, havent heard on the others. there are two others worth applying for but they are not right up my alley so i probably wont get a look in. i know eventually something will come along. the problem is i am spectacularly unenthusiastic about any of them. its just so tiresome, the politics, the egos, the games people play. i know it happens in all work places, and i know i will work out a way to be reconciled to it. but i am still quite keen on the whole 'working in a yarn store' idea. by the way, i never did hear back from TC about that. hmmm, underqualified perhaps?

the flip side of this is that without the pensky, i am really enjoying teaching. i am more committed, thinking clearer, more confident in my approach with students, more creative in class structure. my students are really doing really well, trying hard, doing their reading, sending me emails, asking me questions. i am really liking it. this is weird. i usually hate it.

so who knows what the hell's going on? something perfectly normal no doubt!

anyway we are off to do two days of flyball at the sydney royal easter show this easter weekend. i am keen to get away for a bit and check out certain items in the knitting displays.

have a great easter everyone. let there be chocolat.

k xx

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

innie or outie?

according to this im an introvert sensate feeler judger (ISFJ). a previous MB test told me i was an extrovert but everything else has stayed the same. i suspect the change is due to experiences of the past few months and the fact that i am feeling very anti-social at the moment!

You Are An ISFJ

The Nurturer

You have a strong need to belong, and you very loyal.

A good listener, you excel at helping others in practical ways.

In your spare time, you enjoy engaging your senses through art, cooking, and music.

You find it easy to be devoted to one person, who you do special things for.

In love, you express your emotions through actions.

Taking care of someone is how you love them. And you do it well!

At work, you do well in a structured environment. You complete tasks well and on time.

You would make a good interior designer, chef, or child psychologist.

How you see yourself: Competent, dependable, and detail oriented

When other people don't get you, they see you as: Boring, dominant, and stuck in a rut

does anyone else fail to see the link between interior designer, chef or child psychologist? obviously this test picked up my attention to detail but failed to locate my complete and utter impatience and intolerance that comes of being a scorpio with a gemini rising.

and knitting all day is NOT being stuck in a rut ok?

the now-introverted k xx

Monday, March 17, 2008

fancy part one

a nice quiet weekend included some shopping, flyball training and dinner with the FIL who is now out of hospital and apart from being very tired and starting to look a lot older, is in pretty good form. he has to have a day procedure thing to close this heart valve problem, but today, all is good.

yesterday was basically spent on clothes processing. good lord. where do they all come from?

i did find time however to finish the Fancy Silk Sock part one:

these look like i have huge feet, but i have made it shorter in the leg and did less gusset decreases to keep the foot a bit wider. it fits prefectly, without too much stretch in the lace and feels lovely on. even with the shorter leg the cuff is tight on my calf and i will end up bunching them down a bit. i know ive got slightly large calves but gees louise, those 'victorian ladies' must have had sticks for legs with no shape at all.

anyway, i mentioned we went shopping. here it is in my new shoes:

colorados. very comfortable.

k xx

Friday, March 14, 2008

on being guilt free

in response to my last post, georgie commented about the pleasures of guilt free knitting in a post-pensky world. i have been thinking about this ever since, because it is really the strangest feeling. i was bought up to be a guilt-driven person. almost everything i was told about behaviour revolved around 'what other people thought' and how other people would judge. anything even remotely self-indulgent was a no-no. for a parent with children, this might be one way to get along in the world, but for the actual child, it was a strange lesson to be taught so young. so whenever i did attempt to be self-indulgent, guilt reared its ugly head, ruining my enjoyment of most things.

the pensky has been my mother-stand-in for the last five years, but it was helped along by a very real and justified sense of the fact that other people were supporting my 'self-indulgence' and that i did owe it to them to get it finished. at the end, when i cared not about myself in it anymore, that was the driving force. it was guilt really that got me over the line. many times, if i'd had my way, i would have walked away from it (but i knew i would just feel guilty for that too, so i didnt!).

now its finished the motives dont matter. its done, and eventually there will be rewards in the form of a real full time well paid job (i applied for another one today). and there is the reward of being done, in and of itself the best reward really.

but is there really the reward of being guilt free? i did knit while i was penskying, and it was knitting that kept me sane, but it was high cost knitting. it came with guilt attached. for every stitch, every row, every sock, there were words, paragraphs, chapters not finished.

and now, when i am done with teaching, or prep for teaching, or walking dogs, or hanging out washing, or vacuuming, i have free knitting time. i am not really up to being around people, so i just want to sit down to knit, but i felt bad even typing that. i still feel the need to make sure everything else is done (except for yesterday afternoon when there were things that could be done but SOMEONE was working from home and i didnt want to disturb him. in a strange moment in which the spirit of my mother hovered before me, i got in trouble for NOT disturbing him! but anyway....).

see, i could be working stuff up into a paper, or i could be working on a book proposal, but i really feel the need to just NOT THINK for a while. to just be a normal person who works a bit and tends house a bit and knits a bit, guilt free. just for a little while, before i get that real full time well paid job and, as someone put it so eloquently in an email congratulating me on my submission, "Now, of course, you get to travel from one circle of hell to another. . .".

so im just going to loiter here in purgatory for a while and work really hard on being guilt free!

in support of this project, a parcel delivery man arrived this morning. this is what he brought me:

a surprise submission present from the stash-enabling queen, none other than george herself. i thought it was my southern summer of socks prize (me and my peeps thank you for all your votes) and was surprised to find it was not one but two skeins of gorgeous knittery yarn, one slim socks in merlot, one cashmerino in midnight (i am thinking the merino lace socks from 25 favourites in the merlot, and a nice rib in the midnight). and a beautiful card. hello! big hugs and kisses to george and bertie and pj xxx

it was like the knitting-goddess decided today was my day, because at the same time was delivered this:

i only wanted it for one pattern:

but it only cost $14 on amazon and given we're nearly dollar for dollar........

there are some other really nice wraps in here but the shetland triangle is definitely my favourite. i am going to do it in an 8ply (DK) - we are headed to nundle in may and i am thinking a deep red/wine colour might be the go.

i also brought someone a surprise and it has arrived as well but i cant show it to you till he gets home.

meanwhile, progress on the guilt free sock knitting is quite good - the lichen rib is easy and the wool smooth as anything:

and the fancys are coming up loverly:

i am feeling some guilt at my lack of blog-commenting. now that i am trying not to sit at the computer for days on end, i dont have hours to procrastinate with, but i am reading and send everyone lots of hugs and kisses from my day bed on the beach (see my meez up there in the corner). those autumn trees were a bit of wishful thinking on my part.

k xxx

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

endless summer

so just when you start thinking about how mild summer has been and how its time to start planning projects other than socks, la nina throws on a heat wave and reminds you why white man was not meant to live in the antipodes. and even though the summer of socks is drawing to a close, i am still socking away.

the contrast patonyles were a hit with the FIL who is still in hospital - they have given him drugs for the tiny little clots in his brain and his motor skills are returning, but they did an echocardiogram today to see where the clots where coming from and i have just heard that they have found a little hole in his heart that needs stitching. they think he will be alright and he is lucky that he is healthy but surgery is always risky when you are 74. i hope the healing power of the hand knitted sock helps! ( 9.21pm ETA: just returned from hospital visit. the hole does not require major surgery and is actually a left over thing from babyhood that has chosen to flare up now, they can close it via a catheter and all will be good. relieved).

i have returned to the 'fancy silk sock' with a vengeance and am at the heel:

the leg part is supposed to have six pattern repeats but this is five and long enough i think. i have used the exact amount of stitches required but am using 2.75mm rather than 2.5 needle and i think that slight difference is making a good size sock for me.

because i gave the patonyles that were supposed to be trents away, i have started a new pair for him with the burrawool i got at robertson:

these are the lichen rib socks, again from 'knitting vintage socks', because i may have had enough of history-writing but there is something very appealing about making historical socks. all these ribs are lovely, and i really like the look of old fashioned lace. simple and symmetrical.

i do have plans for a pair of embossed leaves, and a pair of poms, but the 'southern summer of socks' will be over soon and they wont count for anything except my own pleasure.

in other news, teaching is going pretty well, its good to be able to spread it out over a few days rather than trying to do it all in one, so it doesnt seem as stressful. most of my students are pretty good. the americans are interesting, i have a few girls from NYC. they appear to breed them with attitude in the big apple. complete with bling. hmm. the rest are just real eager to please. sweet as apple pie. very nice people.

i got an email yesterday from the research office saying the pensky was gone to examiners. i felt immediately nauseas and wanted to run in there and put a stop to the whole thing. we made a list of four, any of whom i would be happy with, but it has only gone to two, one in america one in australia. there is a website where i can track its progress, when reports come back etc. i guess its good to know its really out of my hands! i am trying hard to relax and not worry about the future too much.

meanwhile summer drags endlessly on. enough with the sun already!

k xx

Friday, March 07, 2008

contrasts and calmness

i finally finished these patonyle contrast socks:

readers may remember a long drama with these socks: not enough patonyle, using bendi for contrasts, getting more patonyle, making a second pair with no contrast heel, someone preferring the contrast heel, finding black patonyle. i could go on....

suffice to say that i made one pair of these with no contrasting heel which i gave to dave, who was a hand-knitted sock doubter and now is not. these ones were meant for trent, but i have decided to give them to the FIL who is in hospital still, but recovering. they found some clots in the actual brain itself and think they can get rid of them with drugs. we are going up to see him again on sunday (we have flyball tomorrow at the camden show), and i will give these socks to him then. trent thought it was a nice idea and doesnt mind that he wont get them but this wool is soooo lovely and i do have a bit left over, i will try and get some more to make him his own pair.

in the meantime, they are so lovely, i might wear them myself!

it was nice to have time today to finish them guilt free. i have been cleaning, and shopping, and walking dogs, and emailing students, but a sense of calm is starting to return and i dont feel compelled to run to the computer every two minutes and sit with my hands poised above the keyboard thinking that i must need to be working on something.

maybe next week i will start working on a paper, and then a book proposal.

but not today.


Thursday, March 06, 2008

my cup runneth over

the deed is done, the pensky is gone. forms were signed, abstracts printed, copies handed over. in return i had my enrollment withdrawn and i got this:

yes, a cup. 5 years. 5 years of torture and grief and i get a cup. still, im not really complaining. the 5 years is over. life can start again.

im sorry i havent been commenting on other blogs, this first week of teaching has been hectic and life complicated by family illness (my father-in-law is in hospital in sydney. he has had a little stroke and they are trying to prevent a bigger one. fingers crossed he will be ok). now there are just not enough minutes in the day. i thought things would slow down once the pensky was gone but it appears as tho there were many trillions of things just waiting to rush back in!

catch up soon
k xx

Monday, March 03, 2008

a no-dog weekend

for the first time in what seemed like ages, we had no dog events this weekend. we could have had a dog event, and some other people continued with their dog event obsession, in the form of another herding clinic at belgenny farm, but i am growing weary of herding. perhaps its something wrong in my brain, but i know now that possum can do it and she is very good at it, and if i practised more i would be a good handler and might go well in some trials, but i am just not the competing type. it makes me nervous, and so i dont enjoy it, and then trials are all out in the country and it takes ages to get there and costs a fortune, for one 8 minute trial that you dont get another go at. at least flyball comps go all day. and i just cant cope with being a city person among the country folk. which is ironic, because i am actually historically a country folk, so i know the disdain with which pretend country-city folk are viewed. i know it shouldnt matter what other people think of me, but im not prepared to go and spend a fortune on wanky RM Williams gear just to look like im trying to be something im not.

and anyway. im tired. i wanted a weekend off.

so we had the best weekend! we went out for breakfast on sat morning down at diggies and despite bad lukewarm coffee the eggs were great and the view sublime. then we did the grocery shopping together, which was really lovely. i hate shopping usually, but we went to all the little shops selling their specialty things rather than the supermarket and bought ingredients to make two recipes from the latest superfood ideas magazine: coriander fish ball soup, and fresh tomato ham and ricotta lasagne. i should have taken pics. i have not cooked properly in ages. the fish ball soup was great fun to make and was really spicy and yummy but next time i would make it more of a fish dumpling soup or something, as the fish balls just boiled in the stock and came out too dry. they need wrapping. the lasagne was something else, thankfully wollongong is blessed with a plethora of italians, and we got fresh made lasagne sheets and fresh made ricotta and vine tomatoes and lovely extra virgin olive oil and this lasagne was i think the best thing ive made in ages. no pre cooking, no bechamel sauce, just lovely light ricotta and tomato slices and basil leaves. yummo.

i made that last night after we came home from a little sunday drive up to robertson. trent felt like a pie for lunch. so of course we stopped into the old cheese factory building for coffee and i may have looked at the little yarn store there. when i recovered from the horror of walls dripping in sullivans novelty yarns, i found this:

its burrawool. a local property grows their own border leicester wool and it comes undyed and unstripped so its still a little greasy. its comes in 8 or 5 ply and this is the 5 ply which i think will make a lovely pair of gentlemans socks of some description or other from knitting vintage socks. the lady there was making a whole jumper out of the 5 ply and it was really lovely. they have it in cream, grey or brown and its beautiful. only $6.45 a 50g ball.

on the knitting front, while in the car i worked on these:

the final of the two pairs of contrasting contrast patonyle socks! i am desperate to get these OFF the needles soon!

i have also retamed the fancy silk sock. oh yes, i have her under my thumb good and proper this time.

amazing what a difference a clear head makes. the clear head is because i have done all i can on the pensky and we went into uni on our way home sunday and printed it up and had it bound - three copies to submit:

of course on flicking through it i see things i dont like or cringe at but theres no point worrying now. it just has to go and we will see what comes back. wednesday march 5. happy day.

now i must finish my teaching prep. i have two classes of first year australian studies today and most of my students are american exchange students. how am i to explain the concept of an imagined national identity to them? eeck.

k xx