Monday, April 30, 2012

While the world sleeps...

I present you with the centre of my business empire, my blogging dynasty and my academic home*:

Somewhere an occupational health and safety expert is crying a little bit...and I think it is time for me to go to bed.

*If any of my clients see this, I promise you I wasn't working on your document. The red wine only comes out when Marx, Levi-Strauss and Freud are cited in the same sentence (Robert Beverley** Ray, I heart you and your inciteful, persuasive and delightful book. But my poor brain! It's challenged, inspired, and knows it has a lot of primary source reading to do now.)

** Remember when Beverley was a boy's name? And Stacey? And Gig and Van? Those were the days.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

A Freudian take on my latest desire

I recently discovered these Spineless Classics - a whole entire book printed on a poster. How fantastic!

My superego says "You don't need this! You have artwork you haven't framed yet in a tube in the cupboard. You have a knitted hanging and a quilt that need to be finished and hung. Step away from the internet, you silly silly thing."

My ego says "Well, they're not cheap, so how about we start saving now and when you have all the money and when you have finished at least one more knitting project and the first chapter of your thesis, we consider this again?"

All the while, in my unconscious, my id is jumping up and down screaming "I WANT I WANT I WANT I WANT I WANT I WANT!!!! GIVE IT TO MEEEE!!!!!"

Blerg to my psychical apparatus.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

A surprising encounter with *Battleship* and a new pair of socks (2012 FO#2)

Battleship: A Review

Yesterday I saw Battleship. Before I review this film I think it's important to add the disclaimer that I don't usually watch action movies. The representations of women in these films are consistently awful, I don't like gratuitous violence and the action sequences always go on for far too long. I'm not familiar with the tropes and traditions of this genre and I would not normally watch this film. However, my friend is in love with Taylor Kitsch and we have a deal - I'll see his movies with her and she'll allow me to wax lyrical about Michael Fassbender for as long as I like. Everyone's happy, although I suspect that Sam is the happiest because he now doesn't have to listen to either of us talk about our Movie Boyfriends or how our real-life men don't measure up to the impossible fantasies we have constructed about these incredibly good-looking men (well, he doesn't. Michael Fassbender wouldn't put his dirty dishes in the sink instead of the dishwasher when the dishwasher is right there next to the sink. I haven’t met him but I just know.)

Battleship is based on the Hasbro game of the same name (which, for the record, I was terrible at as a child. There’s no skill involved in playing Battleship – it’s all about guesswork and luck. I was much more of a Connect 4 kind of girl). Alex Hopper (Taylor Kisch) is a loser with no job, car or girlfriend. After a being arrested for drunkenly breaking into a convenience store to impress a girl (Brooklyn Decker, who – fun fact – is married to Andy Roddick IRL) his brother Stone (Alexander Skarsgard, aka Eric from True Blood. It took me a while to recognise him because without prosthetic vampire fangs he actually has a really weird underbite) forces him to enroll in the navy. Then aliens invade the earth, et cetera et cetera et cetera.

If that summary makes the movie sound terrible, that is because it is terrible. Battleship is a really bad film. The characters are one-dimensional stererotypes who don’t develop at all over the course of the film. The plot is as full of holes as Swiss cheese. If someone told me that a computer program had processed every action and science fiction film every made and, from them, produced the script for this film I would not be surprised, because even with my limited action movie experience I could see that Battleship is highly derivative and formulaic.  But … (and this is a big but) … I actually enjoyed watching this movie. It’s Disney-fied action movie lite – there’s very little blood and no swearing, minimal death or destruction of the characters who have names, a bit of self-consious winking at the audience and the comfort of knowing from the opening credits how the story is going to end. This movie was predictable with healthy lashings of sexism, racism and jingoism, but it was fun*. If more filmmakers should remember that at its very core Hollywood is an entertainment industry and a successful film must entertain, not manipulate, preach or talk down to its audience, then movies would be better than a lot of the crap that's made today. (The Help, I’m looking at you. Your saccharine sweetness and persistent attempts to manipulate me emotionally made me want to vomit.)

I’m giving Battleship three out of five stars. A movie that can be summed up in four words (Boobs! Explosions! Yay America!) doesn’t really deserve that high a score but it was an enjoyable movie experience that didn’t invoke the desire to throw things at the screen (Battle Los Angeles, I’m looking at you. You sucked and you get no stars). Be warned – this is a really awful film, but not a bad way to spend two hours on a rainy Sunday afternoon.

Ta Da! Another finished object.

A really good knit blogger would model their really gorgeous finished socks, taking shots that display the pretty lace pattern of the sock and subtle variations of the yarn. A really good knit blogger would wax lyrical about the ease of knitting (1) compared to how complicated the finished project looks (8).  

I, however, am a sucky knit blogger who can't even manage to connect her camera to her computer. Instead, I give you this iPhone photo of my latest finished object:

You'll have to trust me when I say these socks are really gorgeous. The pattern, Spring Forward from Knitty, is simple yet looks really effective. The yarn, Tofutsies, is lovely to work with and creates a fabric that is soft and light yet feels durable and long lasting as well as being naturally anti-bacterial (bonus!). I love these socks and they will be hard to give away. I think I might be displaying a second pair of these socks finished before the end of the year but for me this time. I hope the recipient likes these because I think they're fab.

* Sexism and racism = bad and not excused by fun. But the sexism and racism were so overt in Battleship that it was almost ironic.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Where the first shawl of the year is completed and iPhone photos suck (2012 FO #1)

I cannot believe that it is almost the end of April and this is the first time I am doing this for the year.

I present my first finished object of 2012, the gorgeous Henslowe knitted in Wollmeise 100% in Cassis.

So pretty, even with an iPhone photo!

It's very pretty! It was much hard to knit that it should be, mainly because I'm an idiot who doesn't learn from my mistakes.

Oh, iPhone, I love you but your close-ups and flash really suck.
 I miss my camera :(

The lace is constructed by knitting a row just of yarn overs, then a row of yarn overs and k2togs and then a row of just k2togs, with a few straight knit and purl rows thrown in for good luck. This means that if you make a mistake with a k2tog or a yarn over in a row, then every stitch in the following rows is also affected, so if you make a mistake you can't just drop the offending stitch and ladder it back up - all off the offending rows need to be ripped back. The first mistake I made because I was knitting through a football match and not paying attention to my hands and I missed a yarn over. I ripped back, reknitted. The second mistake I made was missing a yarn over because I was knitting through a football match and not paying attention to my hands. Awesome work, B, learning from your mistakes like that! Keep up the good work.

As always, working with the Wollmeise was lovely and the finished shawl is super cute and stylish in a very luxe way.  I hope its recipient likes it as much as I do :)

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Koala Socks Called Sammy

Sam has a Big Number Birthday this year and, because I love him and I love birthdays, that means lots of planning, lots of thoughtful meaningful excellent gifts and, when the big day comes, lots of food, wine and fun. I can't wait!

Obviously he will be getting socks for his birthday, as he does every year. However, this year my plan is to give him the socks on his actual birthday, rather than the standard 1-3 months after his birthday he receives them now (let's not talk about his 2011 Christmas socks, which are still unfinished...). His favourite socks of all time are the Caterpillar Socks I made for him last year, so I knew I had to make him another pair out Opal Rainforest.  A few hours minutes of Internet wool shopping later, I found this and I knew I had the perfect colourway to make the perfect pair of Big Birthday Socks:

It's called Sammy and it features koalas. It reminded me of that time Sam and I were holidaying in Hamilton Island and he wanted to see if he could rock a porn-star moustache.

Clearly he could not, although he gets an A+ for effort.

I ordered the yarn late Monday afternoon, and in what may be the fastest delivery of an online order *ever*, it arrived in my mailbox at 11am Wednesday morning.

Lovely! Now all I need to do is finish my deadline knitting...


I strongly recommend for your Opal and sock yarn needs. Postage within Australia is free and obviously very speedy and there is an extensive range of Opal wool with lots of it on sale or discounted. My transaction was quick, painless and speedy (my favourite type) and I couldn't be happier with my overall experience. Go there! Buy some yarn! Support good independent purveyors of one of my favourite sock yarns.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Addicted to Stress

Dear Reader,

The more I blog, the more it becomes clear to me that I am hopelessly addicted to deadlines. The proof is below.

Exhibit 1: WWFY Henslowe

The unusual construction of this shawl makes it an interesting and different knit. Different, yes, but certainly not hard. However, it is kicking my arse - today I had to rip back the lace section for the second time for the exact same reason!  It's due by the end of April and there is no way I'm letting a simple garter-stitch triangle beat me. I'm going to get the lace finished by Friday and the edging done by next weekend.  Shawl, you shall not defeat me!

Exhibit 2: Tofutsies Spring Forwards

Since I needed a portable project, I started these socks last week. They were intended for me, a project with cheery yarn and 'spring' in the title, to remind me that even Melbourne's winter will finish one day and if I just keep pushing on it will be spring again and I will have a handy new pair of antibacterial sleep socks. However, the further I got through the calf I realised that these socks don't belong to me - the fit, colour and style are totally that of my friend Cara.  So, I thought, why not give these to her as a birthday present? Excellent idea! Except that her birthday was last week... I'm seeing her next Friday night and I want to have them finished and blocked by then so the present is at least a tiny bit respectable late.

There - proof that even when  no external deadlines like Christmas exist, I will invent my own to add that extra frisson of stress to the otherwise peaceful process of knitting. I am clearly totally fruit-loops.

Yours sincerely,
A Crazy Person.