Saturday, January 31, 2009

the idea of perfection

as a self- taught and mathematically-challenged knitter, i have grown used to the fact that my knitting is not now and will never be perfect. every project i have ever embarked upon has been frogged or carries some degree of mistake (the kind that you point out to other knitters just in case they spot it and look at each other with raised eyebrows and pursed lips and mutter something about lifelines, which is also the kind of mistake that most NORMAL people would not notice and think that whatever you make is lovely and clever and special). i am not by nature a perfectionist, not since i left the prison-house that was the childhood home, where everything had to be just so, and from which i rebelled into 'that'll do'. and usually, it will do.

this does not mean that i dont strive to do things properly, and when it comes to knitting, i try pretty hard to get it right. there isnt much point in knitting lace and stuffing it up and knitting along anyway, cos its not going to look much like the pretty pictures in vlt that way. and if i was going to do that, i wouldnt bother with lace for a start.

but i am bothering with lace, and often lace bothers me. it is the sort of knitting that i do with my tongue out and tension gathering in my shoulders, forgetting to breath as i go. you would think then that i would confine myself to knitting lace with a rest/purl row. oh noooo that would be SENSIBLE! instead i decide to embark on the myrtle leaf shawl with bells. of course, hers is going great guns, growing by the minute, and i feel an urge to keep up with her. but i cant, and i wont, for a number of reasons. firstly, i frogged it three times. there was just something about the chart i wasnt reading properly. secondly, it can not be knit at night time, its too hard to tell where you're at, and black 2 ply silk is NOT for tinking. thirdly, it can not be knit with other people around. it requires full concentration, i have to count every stitch, double check everything as i go, remember to breath. so its slow going. i have done one full repeat of the main chart. there are 40 repeats required. so its going to be a long-term committment this one. but i dont care, i love it! look, see:

you know what? its perfect! there is not ONE single error in this repeat. i love that about it. its my goal to knit the rest of it, one repeat at a time, with no mistakes. just so i can have one piece of knitting that is perfect. and that piece really should be a black silk shawl. so bells will finish before me, but we will both have something beautiful at the end!

there is a bit of near-perfection in the air today. its hot, again, of course, so i cleaned the pool and went in:

i thought of you all as i splashed around on my pool noodle. i may even have giggled to myself :)

i have had to restake my cherry tomatoes as they are growing like wild things.

they are so delicious that they dont even make it upstairs, whenever i pick one i just pop it in my mouth and go all mushy at the rich sweet home grown tomato flavour. best thing in the world.

oh, apart from perfect yarn! i have some of that too. knitting camp weekend also meant some stash enhancement, in the form of some pink koigu that i bought myself and bells delivered:

(yes i just noticed that one skein is slightly lighter than the other. i dont care, its koigu).

and some gorgeous blue koigu that donni gave me. what fantastic colours:

mmmmm koigu. and now i am home alone for quite a few hours with just myrtle to keep me company. does it get any more perfect? i think not....

k xx

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

a bevy of knitters

   /ˈbɛvi/ Spelled Pronunciation [bev-ee]
–noun, plural bev⋅ies.
1. a group of birds, as larks or quail, or animals, as roebuck, in close association.
2. a large group or collection: a bevy of boisterous sailors.

this weekend a group of birds descended upon our house for kylie's summer knitting camp (no trademark infringement intended because im pretty sure no one owns the rights to the concept of knitting camp). it wasnt really a camp anyway, most people had proper beds to sleep in, although for a house with 5 bedrooms, we still needed to put a mattress out in the lounge room!

the birds in question were of the knitting variety, though they could also be mistaken for boisterous sailors, especially after a day of quaffing large amounts of bubbly while floating in the pool. the evening conversation was rather amusing as a result.

it was so incredibly hot on saturday we did little knitting but were mercifully saved by the pool. some clever people worked out how to put up the shade sail (which is actually a real windsurfer sail):

and there were no snakes swimming with us, although today we have a frog:

we nodded briefly at australia day by putting lamb on the bbq but it was marinated greek style and the chicken was portuguese, because australia is actually a land of immigrants despite certain redneck racist appearances to the contrary. thankfully some the birds bought their mates who carry the bbq-gene, so dinner and breakfasts were wonderful.

we had pavlova and chocolate chip cookies and mini lemon meringue pies and paella and sangria, including a non-alcoholic 'blonde' one made with sparkling grape juice. yummo.

there was also some knitting. dr k became a convert to the clappy, and also learnt the basics of sock construction, and bells and i plunged into the abyss of black lace. and long tail cast ons. for a being with an opposable thumb i was alarmingly badly co-ordinated in that department, but i did get the hang of it which is lucky because i had to frog the bloody thing of course. it got a bit easier when i submitted to the discipline of stitch markers after each pattern repeat but i am still doing something wrong - this is where i got to on the second go last night but its not quite right and i will probably start again today:

i do get the feeling tho that once i get into the swing of it it will be ok and the yarn is just delicious (jaggerspun zephyr mmmmmm).

today i am at home because there is something wrong with my car, it went funny on the way to work this morning so i came home via the mechanics and am waiting to hear. after such a lovely noisy weekend it is very quiet here today, and it started raining when everyone left and hasnt stopped, which seems entirely appropriate. i am a little bit tired and a little bit blissed out at having such wonderful people in my life who will come and spend a whole weekend and fill it with love and laughter.

but to the person who took the ikea body-drawing model thing and replaced it with this:

i know where you live...

k xx

Thursday, January 22, 2009

calling dr freud

last night i had a dream that my lovely friend renee and i were sitting down for coffee somewhere (could it have been paris? london perhaps?) anyway, and this girl comes up and sits next to us and she says to me 'whats the gorgeous perfume youre wearing?'. this girl is paper thin, british and wearing a rather startling long red silk dress. i look at her and say 'that new chanel one' (the name eludes me) and she looks puzzled and we look at her some more and i realise who it is and i say 'for goodness sake, the one that youre in the ad for!'. yes that was keira knightley, and no we couldnt remember the name of the perfume, but its coco mademoiselle and i do wear it, every day. i have not, however, bumped into keira knightley while doing so.

enough silliness.

k xx

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

rumours of my death have been greatly exaggerated....

no i am not dead, i just have a job. song lyrics leap through my head, the smiths obviously, but ive quoted them before about being miserable when finding a job, but it doesnt apply because im not miserable. alanis morrisette comes next with her little ditty about irony.

of course, she doesnt really know what irony is (jane austen on the other hand knew very well....) but it IS ironic that all i ever wanted when i was doing a phd was a job and money and a normal life and well, here i am... yes its ironic. while im on the subject, i am still working two part time jobs because i have the interview on friday to make the new job official, permanent and fulltime, but i dont want to quit my 2 day job until i have the contract signed (i lie, i do want to quit, i want to quit it RIGHT NOW but other people are telling me to be sensible). so i wont quit until next week when we have the paperwork done.

good news on the new job front is that i have been able to negotiate working from home two days a week and also to include a research component, which means i can keep working on the current project to do with nursing and for which i am going to wales in march (would you believe the 6 nations rugby final is on in cardiff the night i am scheduled to land in london....more irony anyone?) and also means i can bring my own work to the new faculty and apply for grant money with some very big names in the grant-getting business. they are already sending me to a one week writing workshop, and the work itself is interesting and varied, so i am feeling pretty good about it so far. i imagine i am going to feel a whole lot better again when i get my first fulltime pay packet. its not about the money....its about the MONEY! seriously, being a student put a lot of strain on us, i will glad to see the end of it.

however, the other pains of student life are fast starting to look rosy in my retrospective glasses, as the pinch of the real world makes itself felt. not that i want to be a student again, but it can be a nice life while you have it!!

in other news, i have finished the first of my christmas gifts. no not for this year, for last year. yes yes im hopeless. i actually dont subscribe to christmas consumerism and refuse to buy stuff for anyone anymore, but i did want to make 3 people in particular something meaningful. i didnt quite plan it out right, and ended up giving helen and jane one sock each with IOU tags attached, and to george i gave a box with half a weldon's scarf still attached to the needles inside. it was pretty funny watching her pull it out of the box and asking 'am i meant to finish this?' no she wasnt, i was, and i have. its not blocked yet but its so lovely. see:

because i dont plan (did i mention that already?) i also forgot to figure out how much yarn i used on the first border and then just knitted the body to as long as i liked with no thought for leaving enough for the second border. i got lucky:

this is knittery slim sock in merlot, too slim for socks i think, perfect for lightweight vintage lace scarves. this is actually my first official long lacy summer FO, i have another scarf (victorian ruby) on the needles i can go back to, and am starting the myrtle leaf shawl from VLT in jagger spun zephyr in black this weekend.

this weekend is looking kind of special. not because its australia day (tho some lamb might find its way on the barbie and there was talk of a pavlova) but because a whole heap of lovely knitty people are coming to spend the whole weekend and im so excited i cant stand it! hurry up and get here already! i promise i got the snake out of the pool :) (plus also the frog and the funnel web).....


Wednesday, January 14, 2009

snakes alive

warning: if you are squeamish or planning on swimming in this pool anytime soon (you know who you are) you might want to look away now. yesterday there was a snake in the pool. at first i thought it was just a long piece of bark, we get that, being surrounded by gum trees:

but no, it was a snake. we get them too, apparently, being surrounded by gum trees. the wires person who came to fish it out thought it might have been a python but on closer examination of this picture:

i am pretty sure it was a red bellied black snake. it had managed to get itself out of the pool before we could catch it, and has slithered back into the shrubbery around the pool fence i think, where im sure its doing good deeds by getting rid of rats. oh yes, we get them here too apparently.

whats more of a worry is that the snake was the best part about yesterday. i worked mostly from home because i had a guy coming to finish installing new fly screens and he is an older gentleman, from central europe, and a right royal pain in the arse. he wanted to argue with me about what did or didnt need doing, and failed to get the message that we just wanted them ALL done regardless of what he thought of their condition, and in fact, he had agreed to do them all the first time he came, so of course he was shitty and didnt leave till 730pm.

and i had a crap working from home day with a heap of hierarchy politics going on in my sydney job, and that upset me, but it helps to confirm that the other path i am taking is the right one, because i was looking forward to coming back here today (sick, i know), and also confirms that the hunch i have been developing over the last few years, that australia's academic historians are arrogant self-important ego-maniacs, is in fact correct, and really, i dont want to be one.
give me a snake anyday. at least you know its going to bite you, not pretend its your friend, ally or mentor just before it sinks its fangs in.
k xx

Sunday, January 11, 2009

making time

who knew you could do so much with so little time?! despite my protestations about working almost full time (2 x part time) i have managed to fit in quite a lot this week.

on thursday i worked at my city job and came home early to the smell of over ripe bananas in the kitchen. interestingly, someone bought me a very appropriately titled cooking book for christmas, donna hay's no time to cook. in it was a recipe for 'simple banana bread' and given that most of my attempts at banana bread have been anything but simple i decided to give this one a go. it never ceases to amaze me that you can start with this:

and end up with this:

it was delicious, best banana bread ever. i am going to make it again and again.

i made time for knitting at work by taking the second of the monkey socks that i owe bells for her christmas present and forcing myself to take a full lunch hour (or thereabouts) and work through one whole pattern repeat in between bites of my ham, roast capsicum and avocado sandwich (they have a great sandwich bar in the uni food court - bonus). at this rate, monkey number two will be finished in 6 more lunch hours, plus maybe a night time of heel turning and toe grafting. it felt good to be disciplined about it.

i also discovered that i had, quite by accident, knitted the required amount of drop stitch pattern repeats for the body of the weldon's scarf, and could start the second border. no crack scales required. i am pretty confident i have enough yarn, as i started with more than the pattern calls for. it took me quite some time to get my head around how to start a knitted on border that runs at 90 degrees to the body of the scarf. the way the pattern was written made no sense to me, and the more i thought about what they were asking the less sense it made. so i decided to just knit it like they said anyway and see what happened. the issue was that i had to crochet cast on 36 stitches, but the way the pattern read it would be on to the right hand needle and i didnt think you could do that. but you can, and i did, it was a bit awkward, but it worked and i am now working horizontal to the vertical body, picking up body stitches and knitting them to the border every second row:

thats why im not a pattern designer see! anyway, it too will be finished with a few more night time knitting hours.

we have had a lovely weekend, doing some neglected house and yard work yesterday, getting all the washing done, home made pizza for dinner, even watched a movie on dvd. and then today we went off for a bit of a four wheel drive adventure, looking for a secret route to the old north road that the convicts built. there is a place where you can drive on to it, but we couldnt find it, and made do with trekking for a while on the shepherds gully track part of it. we could see parts of the original stone road under the leaves and rubble, and then we found a fantastic bridge-type part made of perfectly hewn sandstone blocks, with a tunnel under it to drain the water under the road. as i scrambled back up the bank from the tunnel, i pulled myself up using one of the large paving rocks, and i thought, i just touched a rock that a convict touched. sounds weird, but it was pretty amazing. 200 years ago they built that road, and its still there, it was pretty magic. we had a lovely lunch at the settlers arms at st albans and then drove back the other way, meaning we took two ferries to cross the hawkesbury. very cool.

and i still found time to stop and smell the roses. well, the tomatoes anyway. the cherry tom plants in pots are going mental,

and there were two red ones, i picked the smaller one (not pictured) because it looked red but when i got it inside it was still a bit orange. it was a bit tart but really sweet as well, yummo. i cant wait to eat the rest of them. is there a trick to knowing when to pick them, or how long to leave them to ripen etc? i am very impatient with these things....well ok with most things, i admit it.

speaking of which, there is a border needing knitting. theres no rest for the wicked you know!

Thursday, January 08, 2009

there are no knitting police

are there bells? no there are not. yet inside my head it is totalitarian knitting-police state. i have been feeling like a bit of a loser on the knitting front, not able to keep up with the amazing output of some of the bloggers i read, overwhelmed by the choices on ravelry, even a little bit freaked out by my increasing stash. i am starting to understand why i have resisted a major stash enhancement. i am not good at having yarn sitting around. i want to make stuff with it. there is currently too much of it sitting over there in that basket taunting me with its loveliness and reminding me how little time i have to knit.

this has become majorly exacerbated lately with the taking on of a new job and its attendant travelling time (for such a huge country, our public transport really sux). i am not even finished my first week and it is very obvious to me that i am going to be lucky to get an hour or two of knitting time a day. you cant get a lot done in two hours a day.

and i made it worse for myself by buying this book:

and falling madly in love with this shawl:

and i am going to do it in malabrigo too. i just dont know when! bells and i are starting the myrtle leaf shawl soon and i still have two scarves to finish- one of which is intended as a gift, but it is nearly there:

my problem here is that i dont know how much yarn it took me to do the first border so i am not sure when to stop the length to knit the second border. i need some crack scales.

my other problem is that i knitted some people a single sock each for christmas, including my very first monkey (which i LOVED making, what a great pattern), and i gifted them with IOU tags attached. they need to be finished in the next two weeks as well.

after this though, i am going to have to take the pressure off myself to produce outcomes, and go back to knitting as a process. i promised my nieces some cardigans but i just wont have time, and i dont knit to get more stressed, i knit to unwind. so a shift of focus will be required to oust the police state. maybe i need a knitting buddha!

at least today has dawned cool and cloudy with the arrival of a good southerly, pushing the heatwave out to sea. there was talk of bushfires yesterday, but this morning it looks like this:

and i dont have to drive to work today. thats something.

knitting, anyone?

k xx

Monday, January 05, 2009

squeak squeak

i am now officially a mouse, chained to the wheel of full time employment. thats the sound i make as a run around and around. this is the wheel to which i am chained:

of course, its not actually as bad as that. in fact its kind of good. i still have my two day a week history association job but will be quitting it soon because i have been offered a full time job (i think i may have talked about this before!) for which i cant be interviewed and hence officially appointed until late january. in the meantime, i am on a short term 3 day a week contract. which means i am here (uow) three days and there (unsw) two days. i have had many dilemmas about the travelling issue (it is a nearly 2 hour drive from home to uow, and there are no trains that get me here in reasonable time in the morning, so i must waste 4 hours a day driving when i could be knitting!) but if i have a day at in sydney in between each wollongong day it wont be too bad, and i can work up to flexible arrangements as i settle into the job more.

so far it seems like an interesting job, a lot to take care of, many things to manage at once, and some of it dead boring, but the opportunities it presents are worthwhile, and to be honest, i am sick to death of being the poor one. its time i earnt some good money, to put back at least some of what i have taken out over the last 10 years, and because i am grown up enough now to do that!

so while im sure the novelty will pass soon enough, for today at least, i am happy to be squeaking away.

k xx

Thursday, January 01, 2009

two thousand and nine

and so it begins, another year passes, another year older. wiser? hmmm. perhaps. in some ways yes. in some no, same old same old. but in many ways 2008 was our annus horribilus and now that its over it feels like the end of an era, and i think this is a good thing. new beginnings and all that. starting a new year not being a student, with a new job to go to next monday (to become full time in another month or so), and new horizons to explore. i am pretty confident 2009 will be a good vintage.

we saw the new year in just us and the dogs, with a seafood bbq and only ventured out in search of ice cream, but our favourite place was shut (shut, on new years eve, when all the restaurants around it were buzzing! i mean, really) and settled for something slightly less satisfying from down at manly. lots of people about. beautiful summer evening. we came home, watched one episode of boston legal and crashed by 1030. the reason for this early evening is that we decided yesterday we would go for a little stroll on the waratah track in the national park behind us, my dad had this great idea to give us a 'bushwalks in sydney' book and we read about this walk and it sounded pretty easy. it wasnt really hard as far as bushwalks go, but it was hot yesterday and there were a couple of steep climbs, and some of us arent getting any younger! if i made new years resolutions one of them would be something about improving fitness, but this is one of my perpetual life-projects anyway. after yesterday tho, i do feel somewhat more motivated to actually put in a bit more effort on that front.

anyway, we slept it off while there was some big fireworks thing going on in town, then 2009 dawned hot and sunny, and with me feeling a bit sore and sorry! we did some gardening, had scrambled eggs for breakfast, a bit of house cleaning in preparation for visitors this weekend, and then a long loll around in the pool. i think this is a rather auspicious beginning to the year. harmonious and domestic. i think i will make this my theme. and this picture kind of sums it up, no?

hope everyone else had a good one and isnt feeling too bad this side of the parties. and i really hope 2009 brings some peace and joy to the world, and some sense to those determined to stuff it up.

k xx