Friday, May 30, 2008

made it.

phew. yesterday was my last day of official classes and consultations. there are still essay drafts to read and then 80 essays to mark but i feel like a big burden has been lifted. i have not dealt with teaching as well as i would like this session, i think because i am 'feeling' so much since the submission and it makes me feel a bit vulnerable in front of young people. they can smell fear you know. i got some nice feedback at the end of classes this week though, so that helps.

meanwhile the search for a room of my own continues, and i am about to get thwarted. i have annoyed the powers that be by questioning their actions and making noises of dissatisfaction, and i actually had to prove that i was still working for people so as to avoid getting thrown out of the building entirely. nice. on monday i move yet again to a shared space for research assistants on the ground floor. my view is of the carpark. no more lofty treetops and duck ponds for me. thats what you get.

the thing is i actually have heaps of work, i am working on course guides and on proof reading other peoples books and this week i met with a dean of another faculty who had heard about me and he has heaps of work as well for at least the next six months, plus i have already been approached for teaching for next session. i am going to take as much of the research work and as little of the teaching as i can get away with. so it basically means i will have full time work for the rest of the year. (apparently this means i need to get a cleaner. ok, so i am not the best housekeeper.) i am happy about this turn of events, it takes the money worry off, means i dont have to go visit centrelink, and gives me space to work on job and research funding applications for the new year. i may even get a paper or two written.

in more important news, i got a little parcel in the mail yesterday!

yes i am now the proud owner of two of olivia's pods, although the black and white striped one is for a present. can you believe i went all the way to the can for the markets and stood there and fondled the pods and squeaked hello at olivia and then scurried off. i am pathetic. anyway, i have them now and i love them.

i also finally managed to figure out how to cast on clapotis:

i took a hint from bells and rosered about no stitch markers and purling the stitches that are going to be dropped instead. this is great, i hate using stitch markers, and i am managing to get this right i think. i ripped it back twice though, i wasnt happy with the larger needle size (6mm) and have gone back to 5mm, despite what the label says i dont think this is 8 ply. its making a lovely light silky feeling fabric that will be perfect for spring. i have put it aside for the moment because i really want to finish the second shetland:

i have booked into knitting camp, yay, and i want to wear it there. i also am hoping that someone at knitting camp can help me get an idea i have for scarf/hat pattern for my brown merino out of my head. by the way, if someone reading this feels like making larger versions of her sock bags, like large enough for a shawl, someone may pay her for her time and effort....

i am feeling a bit flustered knitting wise as now that i have cast on clappy i have four things on the needles and i am used to just having three - simple socks, fancy sock and the shawl (or something like it). three i can manage. four starts to feel like i have a problem :)

we are off to sydney again this weekend, it is trents birthday on sunday and we are going to see a rugby league game. go the bunnies. i am making cheesecake. george recommends this recipe. i am tempted to try this one.

but first, i must go clean the house myself. one last time. no, i am not sad about that.

k xx

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

nearly there....

on friday i went to sydney to pick up the four copies of my bound thesis. ta da:

hmm pretty. even tho graduation is not till july its starting to feel real now. they have even changed my pay rate at uni to reflect my new status. did you know that 5 years of blood, sweat and tears gets you an extra $6 an hour? awesome.

we stayed in sydney for the weekend and went to see the waratahs secure a place in the finals of the super 14 rugby. this is kurtly beal practising his goal kicking.

fat lot of good it did him, he got 2 from 7. sigh. we wont be beating the crusaders next weekend with that kind of effort. meanwhile, tah-man, the worlds lamest mascot, arrived in the stadium in an army helicopter that looked like something out of terminator coming quietly over the stadium roof. you couldnt hear it or see it until it was right there, and then it hovered and he jumped out. it was cool. trent and emmanuel sure thought so:

i got bored and took out the knitting:

some people may have thought i was weird but the sock bag looped over the wrist worked a treat:

on the knitting front, trent helped me hand wind one of my fibreworks balls last night:

and i will be starting clappy today. given that bells knits like a demon, i cant afford to get too far behind her.

also on the weekend we went bike riding in centennial park. it was great fun but hurt a lot (its been a while ok?). i have been lucky enough to be able to bring a bike home with me. i am looking forward to trying my luck on it again today but not before i go get a squishy new seat for it. pictures of that to follow.

you will note there is no mention of work related matters today. my office hours are mon, wed and thurs. i intend to keep them this week in an attempt to restore something like sanity.

k xx

ETA: while i wish it were hot pink, the thesis is actually bound in a light moroon, or a dark-pink tinged red. that photo is with a flash so its brighter than in real life. its a nice colour tho.

Friday, May 23, 2008

my knitting i am

a few posts ago bells said something about how there was no clear distinction between her knitting and her life. i have had this idea running through my head quite a lot since. it has got me thinking about how central a part of my sense of self knitting is. at the markets, the guy from the naturally coloured yarn stall asked if i was a knitter and i stood up a bit straighter and said, yes, i am, as though it was something i should be proud of. and i really am. i took it up to help me cope with the stress of studying, and it has become some kind of weedy vine, wrapping itself around all other aspects of my life, none of which feel complete if knitting is not involved.

in a way, i feel like it is the only real, creative thing i do. this might sound weird for someone who ferrets around in archives and writes a lot and talks to students all the time, but increasingly these come to feel like mere motions to be got through, not what i really live for.

so much so that i take my knitting to work, even though i never have time to do any of it:

it sits on my desk as a talisman, a kind of beacon...get through this and you can have me!

the weird part is how it makes me relate to other people. i am more than a little untrusting of those who dont knit (or something like it) and have no time for those who scorn it. i am most comfortable with other people who do it (preferably those who are also obsessed!) and thats because it is not pretentious or hierarchical or any of that other crap i encounter every day.

i dont mean that nothing else is real and only knitting and knitters are, but its the simplicity of it that attracts me. people have been stopping me in hallways lately saying congratulations and wanting to gush and tell me how great 'it is' and im like, yes but, have you seen this shawl im working on. priorities people!

speaking of which:

bad light in this photo but i have gone up to 5.5mm needles and its working out just divine. i love this pattern, i can nearly do it now without the chart.

and speaking of knitters being great people, look what i got from one last night:

yes sock project bags!

arent they gorgeous?! the very clever amanda made them for us, and now i can stop cursing the fact that knitpick nickel dpns poke their way through plastic sandwich bags. i love them. i want to curl up in bed with them. possibly this is because the material for the pink one also made a pair of pjs for sidney.

but its also possibly because all i want to do at the moment is go back to bed. and knit. and drink pots of hot tea.

see, i had a bit of a meltdown yesterday. in a strange turn of events, now that i am a doctor, i have become officially status-less at uni. i am only employed casually and teaching finishes next week (dont talk to me about the 80 essays i have to mark after that), and i have some bits of research work lined up, but otherwise i am between worlds. this means that in the infinite wisdom of academic bureaucracy, i was shifted to the lovely office you saw in the picture above, only to be shunted out again three weeks later and then last night i receive an email telling me i am going to have to move out of the new one they gave me as well and be put in a shared space somewhere. i dont mind that, but i do mind the shifting. i love this thing they have going with casual workers. we'll give you some scraps of work but we wont give you an office to do it in. trent suggests i go hire an office space somewhere and charge them for it, let alone all the moving expenses.

all that hoo-ha wasnt helped by classes where no one did their reading, and being stalked by students who demand to be told how to write their essays so that they pass. and i mean not just HOW to write it but WHAT to write. like, 'can you tell me what points i need to make in that section?". um....NO!!

the reality is that i have just not had time to unwind. no sooner did i finish fighting to get the phd submitted than i went straight into teaching and took on a bigger load than usual, and was also doing some work on redeveloping a course guide, and having all those feelings about submitting, and then bob died and changed everything, and then i immediately start looking for jobs and having interviews and getting rejected and all the stress that that entails. trent says i look tired and i feel it.

and there is still a lot of change in store for this year, including what looks like a move back to sydney, so i really need some down time. at least the job market has gone a bit quiet, so i am resolved to just spend the next few months developing my own research project and trying to get some funding for it, and doing little scraps of research and not so much teaching.

trent said to me the other day, 'so its research you would really like to do' and i thought for a minute and said yes, but of course what i was really thinking was 'no, id rather be knitting'!

wouldnt we all?!

k xx

Monday, May 19, 2008

to market, to market

this weekend, trent and i took a trip to the nations capital, where it was downright cold. as you expect from canberra in late autumn. trent was judging (the team not running) at a flyball comp as part of the million paws walk on the sunday, so as his thank you for judging, he got two tickets to the tuner to monet exhibit at the national gallery:

it was great really, to see all those amazing paintings, but at the risk of sounding like a whinger, it was too crowded (but thats what you get for going on a saturday) and a lot of the paintings were already in australia - about 70%. i expected more of the big ones from overseas, but of course i know thats not practical. still it seemed a little rich of the gallery to charge money for an exhibit that centred around paintings that they already had in their permanent collection.

but yes, i sound like a whinger. it was still awesome. some beautiful turners. the glovers were awesome. my favourites were the small constables, which we would never see here in australia otherwise, and the little round haystacks of american artist martin johnson heade.

then we went to george and berties where we ate yummy roast lamb and watched fireman sam with pj. it was lovely to catch up, it is too long between drinks with some people.

sunday morning trent took off to the flyball, and then bertie flew off to cairns and george and pj met up with helen and i at the old bus depot markets, where it was fibrewhore day. official title is 'celebration of wool' but we all know thats shorthand for fibrewhoredom.

the canberra snb'ers had a stall set up and were selling lots of yummys and it was great to see everyone, the lovely taph wound my skeins into yarn cakes for me:

and i bought some sugarmelon off happyspider to give to amanda. olivia was selling her gorgeous pods and kuka was there, and i finally got to meet shelley in person. yay! then i saw jejune and othlon, and the only person missing was michelle. drat.

we did a couple of circuits sussing out all the stalls, and ate ethopian herd bread with fresh squeezed orange juice but i soon found myself in the dreadful situation of being a little overwhelmed. i really only had one thing in mind i wanted wool for which was the omniscient black cardi, for which i still dont have the right pattern. there was no fine black wool to be had anywhere (apart from the 2ply silk at glenora). i looked and looked and for the longest time walked around only with 100g of fresh cooma merino:

i really didnt want to buy anymore sock yarn. as you can see from the cakes, i have four pairs at least waiting to happen.

i finally settled on 200g of this lovely shiny alpaca/mohair/merino mix from fibreworks:

and helen and i decided we would make clapotis' with our fibreworks purchases as we appear to be about the only people in living memory who havent done the clappy thing yet.

three or four times during the day we circled this one stall with huge hanks of naturally coloured yarns - here is pj rubbing some of it on his face while helen wearing the famous steek (can i just say it is even more gorgeous in person), tried to take his photo:

i couldnt quite committ to buying enough for a jumper/cardi as it would make something much too warm for coastal living, but i did end up with 300g of the chocolate brown:

and i am going to make a scarf and maybe two hats with it. it is lovely and soft and light, and would you believe its 100% merino, bred from rare coloured sheep, completely undyed and still smelling like the woolshed. it even has flecks of grass through it. here it is as a fleece:

mmmmmmmm fleeeece.

exhausted, i retired to the flyball. here is trent judging, with parliament house old and new behind him:
this is the national library where i spent large sections of the last 5 years:

i hope to only ever see it from the outside again.

while the flyball went on i finished the first of my swirly girls in knittery merino/cashmere moses fire:
a perfect fit. love it (will give details when i finish the second one).

in other WIP news, the red shetland triangle is no more:

i forgot that because i had gone up a yarn size (from 4ply to 8ply) i should also up the needle size, and 4mm needles were creating a too-dense fabric that didnt show the pattern enough. i am going to have to go up to at least 5mm, maybe even 6. any suggestions?

anyway, a lovely weekend all round. its a shame i have had to return to the real world. hope everyone else is recovering ok!

k xx

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

small consolations

well i just received an email confirming what i suspected, that i did not get the job i interviewed for last friday.

it is possibly one of those blessing in disguise situations because i felt uneasy in the interview when i asked about teaching load and they didnt want to answer me, and wouldnt commit to an hour amount, and suggested subject co-ordination as soon as i started, plus teaching across 3 or 4 subjects. a little birdy who used to work there told me teaching load can be as much as 20 contact hours per week which doesnt include prep and administration and given that where i am now a full time load (if i had one) is 12 contact hours, and people struggle on that to produce research, i am not sure why there were so many pressing questions in the interview about my research. i doubt very much i would have got to do any.

so i have asked for some info about why not me, and wait to start the process all over again with a better job at a certain national institution in a certain national capital which would be ironic, would it not? but the competition will be very fierce and i dont hold out much hope.

i am steeling myself for a date with centrelink. sigh. it is a weird space to be in, actually having the phd now but not really feeling any more qualified to cope with the real world, and there is nowhere else to hide! eeck!

as consolation, i cast on my second shetland triangle today, this time in nundle 8 ply in this yummy dark red:

the flash doesnt do it justice, it is a lovely warm deep wine colour.

i have not celebrated the actual phd thing yet as i am saving my glee and pennies for this weekend when we hit The Can for the landscapes exhibit followed by a day of woolly goodness at the markets.

looking forward to seeing The Canberra Crew then

k xx

Sunday, May 11, 2008

finally, officially

its all over. the rumours were true.

i got the letter:

i read the reports (no revisions. not a single one):

i got the degree. graduation isnt until july but technically speaking, i am now a doctor of sorts... how bizarre. its the strangest feeling.

the interview went ok, i didnt say anything completely stupid, and they were already impressed by my CV, and it was good to be able to tell them that i had just had the phd passed, but i was very nervous and dont think i came across as very confident. so it all depends on who came in after me and how much weight they put on your ability to talk coherently.


thanks for all the kind thoughts, the worst thing about being finished is that i no longer have an excuse to sit at the computer for hours on end, which means my blogging capacity is dwindling. i will try and catch up with everyone soon.

k xx

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

what a difference...

a weekend makes.

our little weekend away was book-ended by two interesting pieces of news, and i will deliver them here chronologically.

so we're headed north along the piece of tar that passes for the new england highway and we get to blandford, just south of murrurundi where all the big horsey stables are (eg, emirates park) and we get a phone call. its a woman from the university of western sydney telling me that my application for a lecturers job in sociology there is being considered and they would like to interview me. i knew it was being considered because last week they asked me to send some sample work, but then i heard nothing, and then i heard that someone else who applied got an interview, and i thought, oh well, they dont want me. wrong. so thats this coming friday at 915am. terrified but excited.

then we get to nundle where we are being hosted at the pony club bunkhouse:

its very comfortable, esp for those of us who are used to camping. some of trents scenery shots:

we crash out and then get a phone call from amanda and scott who have decided that following their satnav thing is a good idea, except it thinks that telling them to LEAVE the highway and go via some obscure goat track is the quickest way. of course its not. they arrive some time later, a little shaken. note to self: never get a satnav. we crash out again.

the following morning the girls head off to the wool mill.

here is where we see what a difference 10 months make. see, i was informed the night before that the wool mill had new owners. its original owners were judy and peter howarth, who moved up there about 10 years ago and really got things moving along. i have always been a fan of nundle wool, its locally supplied and processed right there in that mill employing local people and using the original machinery:

judy also worked with amanda ducker, a local woman whos company minx handknits made pattern kits esp for nundle wool and she sold some of her hand knits there and they were gorgeous. i have one of her scarves and i love it. you could buy the full range of nundle wool there in 8, 12 and 20 ply, lovely colours, a full range of rowan patterns and ivore needles, and even some special stuff that judy had had hand spun and dyed in india.


not all of it.

the basic 8 ply is still there but not the same range of colours:

there is no minx hand knits. the needles and patterns are not up to date or fully stocked. the main part of the beautiful shop is now taken over with imported clothes. wool ones, and nice, but made with australian wool somewhere other than australia. i dont mind about that so much, but why there? isnt the point of a wool mill in nundle to showcase local product, local talent? im sure thats what judy was doing, but the new owners arent. it was terrible to see. of course, its worse for me because i remember how it was and im a knitter, not a tourist or a clothes shopper. last time there were people there who knew things about knitting and would have been able to help me with my yarn substitution question. not this time.

i know things change and its probably for good reasons, but the fantastic little 4 star resteraunt was gone as well (cha cha cha it was called) and the pub was still great and the people fantastic. but i miss my wool mill.

dont fret, i did buy some - they do a lovely soft 4 ply:

and i got some 8ply to make another shetland triangle with:

but i gve up on buying something to make a lace cardi with. i still havent settled on a pattern and it was just all too much!

anyway, the rest of the weekend was great, we did our flyball demo at the great nundle dog race and entered a few of the other races. jem won the steeple chase, sidney and bella got second in the fancy dress (yes they dressed up a dog), kenz and poppi got second in the little dog race:

colin and his angus won the high jump (7.3metres. the dog, not colin). and then colin and angus won the big event! and dave and annie came second. its great to watch, someone holds the dog while the owners walk backwards over 100 metres trying to keep the dogs attention, then you let the dog go and its the first to cross the line at the other end.

im not sure how the locals feel about the city blow ins coming along and taking all their prizes. oops.

in the car i finished the first of trents lichen rib socks:

then we finally got home and my other piece of good news is that my thesis reports have been returned and while i know nothing official and no one has told me anything, apparently they are quite good reports. like 'no revisions required' type reports. not officially. but maybe....

now i have to get to work.

k xx

Thursday, May 01, 2008

happy wool mill dance

knitbloggers, it gives me great pleasure to inform you that there is joy among the despair, and one can always find time for the important stuff.

this weekend we head to the little old town of nundle near tamworth for some dog race thing (we are doing a flyball demo there).

did i mention there is a wool mill in nundle?

oh happy days. i will think of you are as i roll around in it.