Thursday, December 27, 2012

FO Friday: I Heart U Socks (2012 FO #18)

Today's FO is another old one that I just got around to photographing.  You might remember a few months ago I designed a pair of socks with a message on them for an anniversary present for Sam:

They look really fabulous here. However, I failed to account for the fact that the human calf is a round object rather than a flat one... the message ended up getting a bit lost.

Oh well. The heart looks pretty great so from now on I think I'll just use that and not bother about the letters.

The black yarn is Sirdar Town & Country and I did not enjoy working with it at all. After the smooth and durable Opal I'm used to it felt rough and inconsistent. This was emphasised when I worked with the grey Patonyle and the black yarn in the same row - there's a marked difference in consistency. However, it appears to be wearing well so I think it might be like Moda Vera Noir in that it's horrible to work with but still wears well. I hope!

Rocking the socks Old Man Style!

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Happy holidays!

Happy Holidays! I hope you had a lovely day. I admit I do tend to think of Christmas as a list of things to do rather than an occasion of celebration, and it's only once the big events of the day have passed that I feel able to relax and enjoy myself (although I admit once I arrive at my destination I always seem to have a great time. It's just that there's always so many destinations!).   For me, relaxing  meant spending Christmas night drinking wine and playing Monopoly with Lucy and Sam. It was fantastic and lots of fun...

..although Lucy seemed to struggle with the rules and spent a lot of the game trying to win using the 'sitting-on-things-means-possessing-them-which-is-nine-tenths-of-the law' strategy. It was pretty funny.

Among all of the lovely and thoughtful gifts I received, 
there were some delightful woolly gifts. I was very spoilt :)

And, because it's my Christmas post and my ideal Christmas involves lots and lots of Lucy, 
this is what she was doing while I was photographing my wool.

As always, she was confused by my desire to photograph anything other than her but she knew if she just waited long enough, the focus would turn back on to her. What a clever kitty :)

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Friday Failday and 2012 FO#

Fail #1: Breakfast

At the start of December I sat down and mapped out a plan that would mean I could go to all of the Christmas events I was invited to, drink and eat what I wanted on those occasions yet not get fat and out of shape. This plan involved large amounts of regular exercise and eating very protein and fibre-dense meals when I wasn't eating out.

However...this was today's breakfast:

Pancakes for one (1/3 cup of flour, 1/3 cup of milk, 1 egg) topped with the blueberry maple syrup from Nigella Express.

An egg has lots of protein. Blueberries have got fibre, right? Right?!? Oh well. 

Fail #2: Birthday socks

Today I finally blocked and photographed the socks that I was meant to give to my mother for her birthday 16 days ago. Yes, I suck.

However, these socks do not - they are delightful! The yarn (Mountain Colors Barefoot) is soft and smooth - I could sit and pat it for hours, cat-style.

Like the Rainy Day Socks, I don't think these socks will wear well but they make divine house socks/slippers. I want to give neither of these pairs away but keep both of them for myself!

Contradictorily, the thing I like most about the socks is also the thing I like least. The pattern I used for these socks is Priscilla's Dream Socks from my dream sock book, Favorite Socks (the amount of 'u's I am leaving out in this post is making my internal editor crazy. Crazier, really, because the amount of time editors spend thinking and really really caring about apostrophes already implies a degree of madness). What makes these socks 'dreamy' is the method of turning the heel, which results in a very comfortable, good-looking heel. However, the way this yarn is dyed meant short rows disrupted the stripe pattern, resulting in a discordant colour striping.

I think Lucy has the right idea - stop sweating the small stuff, find a patch of shade and have a nap. You don't get better advice than that, so instead of focussing on my fails, I'm celebrating the wins of a gorgeous breakfast and a lovely pair of socks.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Taking time to smell the roses

There was a lot of drama happening at Chez HereIKnit last Saturday when Lucy brought in her present for me - a live mouse. While I appreciated her generous gift (and she was so proud of herself!) I didn't so much appreciate the two hours I spent chasing the damn mouse around while trying to prevent Lucy from eating it.

Mice aren't a big issue for me but even I had to object when it tried to use my bed to take a nap!

It was all a bit much.

This morning when I was planning my day I realised the feeling of 'it's all a bit much' summed up the last two weeks of my life. There's been nothing particularly stressful or tiring going on, it's just that there's been such a lot of stuff on that I haven't had any time to relax. I'd been operating at such a high level for such a long time that I hadn't realised that I was tense, tired and in need of a break.

So, this afternoon I gave myself permission to take an hour off and took my knitting outside. It was delightful and exactly what I needed.
I've been intrigued by an idea I saw on Christi's blog for doing the heel on toe-up socks. Basically, instead of turning the heel, you knit in a row of scrap yarn where you want the calf to go and knit another toe.

Then you pick out the scrap yarn (as you can see I very intelligently picked out scrap yarn that was in the same colour family as the yarn I was using, meaning that it took me 20 minutes to figure out which bit of the foot I was supposed to be picking out) ... 

.. leaving you with two very oddly gaping socks ...

.. which you then pick up and knit as normal. 

It's a bit fiddly so I can't see it becoming a favourite method for me, but it did mean I could continue striping all the way up the heel without trying to figure out how to keep the lines consistent with the short row.

Lucy is still so tired from her mouse-catching that she can't stay awake for more than a few hours. 
It's hard being a cat!

Sunday, December 9, 2012

A sad postscript

In light of my last post, it was very tragic to read yesterday that the hospital nurse who was pranked by the 2Day FM DJs committed suicide. A stark reminder that one's actions can have widespread and real consequences.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

FO Friday: Koala Socks (2012 FO #16)

This one is an old one but following my this-year rules that I can't take a project off my list of WIPs until they are photographed and blogged so here you go:

I finished these in May and they have been worn regularly ever since. As always, Opal wears like a dream. This sock yarn is without doubt the best sock yarn I have ever used and it consistently produces excellent results.

That said, I'm not sure that the person who based this colourway on a koala has actually seen a koala but Sam loved the sock and the colours and that's all that's important.

Only 17 WIPs now... eek!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Argh! What is wrong with people!!

I don’t normally talk about the media and current affairs on this blog (it gets in the way of cat and knitting topics) but there are two articles I saw in today’s paper on which I have Opinions that I must share or I will explode.

What the fuck is wrong with people? Beyond the fact they shouldn’t have done it because the prank is in no way clever, funny or entertaining, it’s a hospital. Sick people are there. No-one in any hospital should have to deal with this type of crap because some moron on the other side of the world is trying to fill some air time. Everyone from the producers to the presenters should have to explain why they did this really stupid thing to the Australian Broadcasting Authority. Morons.

While I concur that Love in the Time of Cholera shouldn’t be on the VCE teaching list, it’s because I think it is mind-numbingly boring and we shouldn’t do that to our VCE students when VCE is hard enough. That said, this book is a hugely popular and highly regarded literary novel and is rich source for analysis and as such it is perfectly appropriate for study in an English class for 16 and 17 year olds.

Firstly, this teacher massively overvalues the impact that reading a long (and boring) novel will have on teenage students who have a million more interesting things to do. It perpetuates the myths that a: teenagers are children who, at the stroke of midnight when they turn 18, are magically able to deal with topics and concepts they couldn’t deal with the day before; b: that teenagers’ minds are empty and just waiting to be imprinted on because (obviously) they have absolutely no facility to process information independently and c: that as soon as anyone reads/sees/hears about a topic such as incest they will immediately do that thing, in this case head out and bonk their uncle/sister/cousin. Just like reading Tales of the City didn’t magically turn me gay, reading this book isn’t magically going to turn students into incestuous paedophiles. This is the Internet generation – they have seen and heard far worse things than one aspect of one complex involved novel that a whole bunch of them won’t even read the whole way through.

Secondly, if we are going to start deciding what can go onto the reading list based on its appropriateness, let’s have a look at some of the other titles. This is the list of books in 2013. Since Bantnick is so concerned about how this book will affect young girls (because clearly they will regard this book as a manual for life rather than a literary text to be studied, those silly girls. Sexism is alive and well and perfectly okay, clearly), should Wuthering Heights be on the list? I love Wuthering Heights and it’s one of my favourite books but the relationship between Cathy and Heathcliff that drives the novel is seriously fucked up and not a healthy model for anyone. The school that this man teaches at is religious and there are heaps of instances of rape, incest and misogyny in the Bible, as well as lots of sex (what 14-year-old at a religious school never giggled at Song of Songs?). Should teaching the Bible also be banned? 

Like it or not, incest and paedophilia do happen. One of the best places for these taboo topics to be discussed are in an environment like a classroom where they can be addressed and talked about. Avoiding studying texts because they contain difficult subjects is about as effective at making them go away as putting your fingers in your ears and singing 'La la la'. It's far better to provide these students the critical and analytical tools to deal with this information than continue to pretend that these issues don't exist until they are adults. The fact that we are reading about this ridiculously hysterical overreaction from an actual teacher who is currently working and in charge of shaping young minds gives me a massive sad. I just hope that he is not in charge of deciding the reading list at his school and that parents and his boss are intelligent enough to treat this article as it should be treated - by dismissing it immediately.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

I'm melting!

Yesterday was absolutely stinking hot. I went to a symposium at uni (how good a word is 'symposium'? I wish I could use it more often, just in general conversation). I took a photo of the building next to the one I was in as I left - 41 degrees!

Because I always worry about Lucy when it's really hot, I kept her inside all day with the air conditioning on. Either not understanding how heat works or just wanting to punish me for not letting her go outside, she would not leave me alone when I was trying to work.  I accepted all of the cat hugs without complain, though - could you ignore a face this cute who was purring at the same time as shedding massive amounts of hair on your keyboard, clothes and general vicinity?

I thought not. 

Needless to say, no knitting got done at all. Mum will not be getting a pair of handknit socks for her birthday this year...

Happy weekend, everyone! I hope you have a great one :)

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

WIP Wednesday: Outdoors Edition

Bite news

Thanks everyone for your commiserations on my insect bites. The itching has (mostly) gone away and some of the bites marks have started to bruise, which I think means they're healing nicely. While all of this is good news, I was pretty horrified when I looked at the marks this morning and realised that the marks that are bruising (not the ones that are still red) have two puncture marks rather than one, which my one-minute google search extensive research has told mean means I was bitten by a spider. EWW!!!!

I am more creeped out by that than I can describe, so I've decided to ignore the knowledge and just continue my life as normal. But can I say again EEWWWWWW!!! I will not look at a park bench the same again.

WIP Wednesday

When I started this this series of WIP Wednesdays, my aim was to reduce my number of WIPs from 17 to five. I got quick results and finished a lot of projects fast but then failed to weave in the ends, block them and take photos, resulting in a marked lack of achievement in the number of WIPs. I have a pile of six completed but ends-unwoven-in projects sitting on my desk starting at me right now. I keep starting new projects and according to Ravelry, now have 18 projects on the go! It feels like I am just not getting anywhere.  

This sock is supposed to be one of a pair I am giving my mum for her birthday next week. Based on past experience, I am no chance of getting them done for her on time. Maybe I can suggest we do her birthday celebration on Friday instead of Monday? That's wrong, isn't it?

In happier news

How do I take such awesome photos all of the time? It's a gift.
This is what they look like now.

It's so gorgeous and verdant and fresh. I love having fresh herbs whenever I feel like them. The chilli plants are going nuts too and based on the number of flowers on this plant, my house will be a chilli cornucopia very very soon. I heart nature!

Except for all of the spiders. 

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Ouchie and itchie and a prize for me

Happy Monday, everyone. I did go to a BBQ in a park on Friday night and it was heaps of fun. Unfortunately the almost-summer fun times were not without penalty - look at my leg on Saturday morning.

Based on that bite pattern, I hypothesised that a a mosquito took a bite, imbibed the alcohol that was in my bloodstream, couldn't find its way out from underneath my dress and just wandered around drunkenly stinging wherever it landed. It was a long and itchy Saturday!

This morning all of the itch was gone but the marks had transformed from what looked like mozzie bites to angry red welts (how deathly pale does my leg look in this shot? It's corpse-esque). I now suspect I was bitten by another vicious type of bug. Sam, however, thinks I am over-reacting but either way I am definitely getting some superstrong insect repellant before my next park outing!

However, Friday was not all lost because this arrived for me in the post:

Seriously, how much do my photos suck today? I honestly didn't realise how craptastic they looked until I uploaded them.

t won this book in a blog competition at Reading Matters. I loved 'The Sense of an Ending' and I'm really looking forward to sinking my teeth into this one. Plus, how good does it feel to win blog competitions? The blogosphere can be the best :)

Thursday, November 22, 2012

WIP Friday: Hospital Edition

Today is WIP Friday. It was meant to be a WIP Wednesday but the stupid trackpad on my stupid computer isn't stupid working anymore so I had to go and get an external mouse so I could use it. It's getting fixed tomorrow at the stupidly named Genius Bar (if they were geniuses would they be working on an Apple shop? I don't think so!) under warranty but it's been really bloody annoying in the meantime.

Anyhoo, today's WIP Friday is brought to you from the Radiology department of the hospital I was admitted to when I broke my leg. I'm not in for anything serious, just a routine check-up, but I'm sitting near the wards, it's lunchtime, I can smell the food they're serving and I'm having all sorts of flashbacks to the horribleness that is hospital food (the $120 food blog just wrote a post about this very topic. It gives great advice. Also, if anyone you know gets admitted to hospital, take baby wipes. They're the best). Don't get me wrong - I am so very thankful to live in a country with a great public health system where I can get ongoing care and expensive tests and scans for no direct cost to me other than the parking (which, by the way, is a complete gouging of people who have no other option for parking and are too ill or disabled to park further away for free and walk or to get public transport) but hospitals always give me the heebie geebies. Fingers crossed it'll be a long time before I have to stay in a hospital again.

Happy Friday, everyone. I'm off to a bbq in a park tonight and I can't wait - eating charred sausages and caramelised onions cooked on a public barbeque of dubious cleanliness while attempting to balance a plastic plate and a paper cup while sitting in a rickety camping chair is one of my favourite Melbourne  experiences. Bring on summer :)

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Radiohead-resultant emptiness and self-defeating behaviour

I have spent the last 20 minutes trying to wax lyrical and explain how today feels but I can't capture my emotions in words. Instead, I give you this:

I saw Radiohead on the weekend and they were amazing. Unbelievably good. Hauntingly wonderful and experientially sublime. The thing is, I've been waiting so long to see them (over eight years!) and I enjoyed it so much that now I feel empty, like my Christmas, birthday, New Years and just because celebrations were rolled up into one, were fantastic, and now will never happen again. 

I also learned that iPhone photos are not kind to those who wear dark lipstick and take photos without a flash while inside a darkened stadium. No surprise there though.

Oh, and I started a new pair of socks. Completely made of leftovers. I know I said I was trying to get my WIPs under control, but I am completely hopeless. An empty pair of sock needles does me in every time...but aren't they pretty?

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

WIP Wednesday: Race Against Time Edition

Today's WIP Wednesday is brought to you by the sound "AARRGGGHHH!!!" I mentioned last week that I needed to get two projects finished by this week. BUT I spent too much time watching the cricket and playing on Ravelry and now I have four hours to finish the toe of my anniversary socks (happy anniversary, Sam!), meet my 1,000-word deadline and send out invoices for the jobs I finished last week.


Wish me luck :)

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Pizza Procrastination

Nothing says procrastination like a sparkling clean toilet and homemade bread products so, to spare you the sight of my clean-enough-to-eat-off-but-I-would-never-do-that-because-ewww-gross toilet, here is my dinner:

It's Pizza Casareccia from Nigella's How to be a Domestic Goddess. It's super easy to make - I just put 250g of white flour, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, 2 tablespoons of olive oil, 1 heaped teaspoon of yeast and 150m of water in my food processor, blitzed for 30-ish seconds then moved the dough to an oiled bowl. The bowl went outside into the sunshine for an hour, then I divided it into four.

What makes this pizza recipe different is that you top the dough with canned tomatoes seasoned with oregano, salt and pepper and cook it like that in a 240 degree oven until the base is cooked then you add the toppings (I used tuna, fetta, mozzarella and green capsicum). You end up with a crispy, delicious base and it somehow tastes fresher than many homemade pizzas.  And, because I'm procrastinating, I cooked up all of the dough with the tomato topping and have popped it into the freezer.

Ah, procrastination. My freezer is never as well stocked nor my bathroom as clean as when you visit. But what about my f(*&^ng lit review?

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Boom and crash: WIP Wednesday arrives with a smash

Yesterday was Melbourne Cup day and a public holiday for parts of Victoria. Sam and I took the opportunity to visit some friends of his down the coast and had a lovely day. Even though Melbourne was wet and dreary, the coastal town we were in was bathed in sunshine and lovely and relaxing. Unfortunately the drive home wasn't so lovely. At a notoriously bad intersection, the driver in front of me decided suddenly to brake at a yellow light he'd previously indicated he would try to run and wham-bam-thank-you-ma'am, I drove directly into the back of his car.

Yes, it was my fault for not anticipating his actions soon. Yes, it was very lucky that no-one got hurt. But waaahhhh - there goes my Christmas spending money including the money for my holiday :(

Oh well. Them's the brakes (literally).

In other news

All of my WIPs look pretty much the same as last week, only more so. I turned the heel on the Barefoot Dream sock and it's very nice:

I don't really like how the stripes are thicker on the short-row heel but unfortunately that's how it work with this kind of dye job. I hope that this factor is more than compensated by the dreamlike feel of the sock - it's buttery smooth and feathery soft.

I'm still aiming to keep my eyes on the prize and get that WIP number down. I can doooo eeeeetttt!

Friday, November 2, 2012

Argo and a delightful pair of socks (2012 FO #15)


Last night I went to see Argo, Ben Affleck's third directorial effort. It's a good film - enjoyable, good costumes and sense of place, decent script. But the end of the film just didn't ring true to me so today, while procrastinating working hard on my thesis, I thought I'd look up its accuracy. According to Wikipedia, the last half hour of the film is completely made up! The role of other countries in the escape is minimised or represented falsely (a decision that apparently weighed very heavily on Affleck, whatever) and the escape scenes are based in fantasy rather than a true story.

Now I don't expect Hollywood to represent the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. The Cole Porter biopic Night and Day (1946) starring Cary Grant is a complete fabrication. But all of the film style in this film works to create a realistic effect - uncannily accurate casting (to the detriment of the acting quality, but that's another issue), documentary/first-hand style photography in the opening scenes and the 'this is where they are now' captions at the end of the film. It's unabashed audience manipulation and, knowing how hard the film works to create misrepresentation and recirculate false ideas definitely causes me to reassess my previous good opinion of the film.

In happier news

I have finished my Rainy Day socks!

Check out the polar bear pyjama pants - am I rocking the daytime work sexy or what?

These were possibly the easiest and quickest socks I have every made in my life. I cast on and then left them by the computer, Whenever I or the computer needed a moment to think, I picked up the socks and did a few rows. 

Before you know it, without even trying and definitely without feeling like I put in any time or effort, the socks were done!

I made quite a few modifications to the original pattern. To get the most out of my yarn, I worked them toe up by casting on 20 stitches. using Judy's Magic Cast-on. I increased four stitches every row until I had 32 stitches then increased four stitches every second row until I had 52 stitches. I then knit one row increasing two stitches only leaving me with 54 stitches (one extra repeat)

I knit six rows plain so the toe would cover all of the actual toes of the recipient then proceeded as per normal for any toe-up sock.

I used a short-row heel and Jeny's Surprisingly Stretchy Cast-off to end up with a fabulously comfortable and luxurious pair of socks.

While half of me doesn't want to give them away, the other half is saying IT'S NOVEMBER AND 25% OF YOUR CHRISTMAS KNITTING IS DONE! REJOICE!

So I'm going with rejoicing :)  Woowoo - total number of WIPS down to 15 (still a lot, but better than it was. As the Beatles say, it's getting better all the time.)