Tuesday, December 16, 2014

2014 FO#19: Rikke Hat

Australia is headed into the hottest part of the year and it has been estimated that this particular summer is going to be a scorcher. What better time, then, but to finish a 100% woollen hat?

The pattern is the Rikke Hat from Happy Knits. It is a simple slouchy garter stitch hat knit in the round. 

This is technically Rikke Number 2, as I did knit the hat using 104 stitches as specified in the pattern. That hat was a bit big, so I reknitted it on 96 stitches and now it fits perfectly.

The yarn is Mirasol Hacho, bought six or seven years ago. It's lovely to work with and the hat is gorgeous and soft.

I suspect it's going to be super warm and useful in the winter...

..I guess I'll know in six months time when I finally need to wear it!

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

WIP Wednesday: Lace time

Two Fridays ago, I knocked off early and spent the afternoon outside with some classic literature, a vodka and tonic and a new shawl I'm hoping to finish for Christmas (the 100th anniversary hearts half-circle by Mwaa Knits).

10 days later, I've moved Middlemarch to the "when I'm on holidays" pile (it is a very long book!) and started Amy Poehler's Yes Please, which I am enjoying immensely. I also have a more midweek appropriate beverage (a nice cuppa) and have done a lot more on the shawl. I haven't knitted lace for a while and I'm really enjoying it, although if you count all the knitting I've ripped out, I've really  knitted three times as much as you see here (vodka and soda and lace knitting...really bad partnership!)

Lucy is also an Amy Poehler fan. What can I say - my cat has very good taste.

I have 13 days to go...I think I can do it!

Friday, December 5, 2014

2014 FO# 18: Go With The Flow Socks

Another pair of socks that I was very pleased to have finished is my version of Evelyn A Clark's Go With The Flow socks from my favourite sock book, Favorite Socks. This is the third sock I have made from the book.

I adapted them by knitting them toe-up and two-at-a-time. I also used a short-row heel and a four by two heel rather than the lacy one suggested in the book.

They were knitted in the divine Mountain Colors Bearfoot in Copper.  By knitting them toe up I was able to use as much of the yarn as possible.

I wish I'd taken a close-up so you could see the lace but you'll have to trust me - these are really pretty socks that are lovely to wear. A win all round.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Like a Finnish river... (2014 FO# 17)

Happy Monday, everyone. I had one of those weekends where a lot got done but not much of it was interesting to read about...unless anyone wants to hear about my marathon weeding session? I don't think so.

I did take a quick break on Saturday afternoon to go to a wine tasting competition at my local Dan Murphy's. It involved tasting wine without seeing the bottle and then being asked a series of questions about its type and origin, with only the winners going through to the next round. I was really terrible at it! Which honestly is a surprise given the amount of wine that I drink. I think if it had been a competition on Australian reds that cost less than $20 a bottle, I would have won it hands down.

The parade of finished socks continues. The pattern is Kalajoki, and it is named after the Kalajoki river that "winds its way through Finland and empties into the Baltic sea" (from the pattern). It's a simple stockinette sock with a twisted rib pattern which does, to my romantic eyes, look a bit like a Finnish river. 

I made a couple of mods. I used Wollmeise twin from my stash to make these, so adapted the pattern for a 64-stitch sock. I also changed the cuff ribbing to a standard 1x1 except for the three knit stitches that were twisted all through the sock. I find that twisted rib is super right and totally cuts off the circulation to my foot, so I avoid it where possible.

I also used a short-row heel because I find they fit my foot better. I purposely made it just a tiny bit too small because I find that my other Wollmeise socks (Waving Lace) stretch out after they've been worn. I did not do the anatomical toes because I couldn't figure out how to adapt them to my stitch count. Plus, my normal toe fits fine for me.

I finished these about two days before leaving for the UK. I had this fantasy that I would be able to take FO photo shoots in picturesque locations and that my blog would temporarily look like it was Kate Gilbert's. However, there was no bloody way I was going to take my shoes off outside at any time in that very cold and very wet country, so the photo shoot had to wait.

That said, these socks have experienced serious wear - like literally weeks of walking around in sneakers in damp conditions - and they still look like they've just been pulled off the needles. I don't like knitting with Wollmeise very much but I cannot deny that it makes beautiful, beautiful things.

I am very happy with my not-so-new socks :)

Thursday, November 27, 2014

FO Friday: Lotsa socks! (2014 FOs 13-16)

I have not been blogging very much recently. This is not because I haven't been knitting or doing things; rather, it's because I am completely infatuated with Instagram. It's fantastic - it's made up of beautifully composed snapshots of people's lives. I know one of the biggest criticisms of Instagram is that by presenting only beautiful, happy things it is creating an unrealistic idea of how great other people's lives are. I can see why that would be a problem, and Instagram certainly isn't for everyone, but I know that no-one's life is perfect. However, if I wanted to hear people bitching about their boss or car or real estate agent, then I'd sign up for Facebook, that amazing medium of self-involvement and tedium. I read the newspaper, I follow current affairs and I know how shitty stuff can be. Yesterday's awful heartbreaking news about Phillip Hughes illustrated how random and tragic life can be. That's why I love Instagram so much - the representations of happy, fun and pretty things temper the harsh reality of everyday life.

Instagram love session over, here is the picture I posted on Instagram yesterday that I figured I should blog for my FO Friday. These are all of the socks I have knitted for Christmas presents so for. It's a Christmas miracle that they are all ready one month early! From left to right, they are Bendigo Woollen Mills wool-nylon sock yarn in Burgundy; spiralled Patonyle (shades blue and 4303), Opal Rainforest in 1613 and Cleckheato Merino Bambino in 2202. All stocking stitch with a flap and gusset heel and all individually shaped for their recipient. I hope the giftees like wearing these socks as much as I liked making them.

I have a ton more finished projects to share before the end of the year, so I will definitely be hanging out on the blog a bit more over the next month.

Until then, anon :)

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

WIP Wednesday: It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas

Today's WIP Wednesday is brought to you by the spirit of Christmas. Buy being the operative word, because this year I have decided that every time someone I know behaves obnoxiously because of Christmas, I am buying myself a Christmas present.

My first gift was a set of fancy schmancy KnitPro Karbonz needles that were purchased when I was accused of hiding a big secret because the present I wanted to buy a certain person was so nice that I must be feeling guilty about something. *sigh* The packet says they are made out of high-tech carbon fibre, "one of the most versatile material used in manufacture of the new generation aircrafts, spaceships, racing cars etc.!!" I am excited about knitting with the same material that spaceships are made of; I am also thinking about applying to Knit Pro as a proofreader.

My second gift was a ball of Regia Design Line Hand-dye Effect by Kaffee Fassett. This was purchased after the Christmas dinner that has been organised since July was moved to Christmas lunch, meaning that instead of having lunch at one place and dinner at another, I now have to choose between two lunches. I just cannot, really.

I have no excuse for giving myself the third gift except for that I really wanted it: an hour outside in the sun hanging with Lucy playing with my new needles and wool. 

Despite my bitching and moaning, all is right with the world. I am a very lucky person :)

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Leftovers and (finally) a finished object (2014 FO #2014)

I've been back from overseas for a little over two weeks. My body clock has reset and I am well and truly back into the every grind. I accept that my holiday is over; nevertheless, I still occasionally open iPhoto and flick through some of my favourite shots.

A green passageway at Chatsworth House.

A Halloween soap cake at an apothecary in the Bronë village.

Having a glass of wine in front of the fire at a 500-year old inn.

Watching the soccer at a lovely local pub while eating chips covered with cheese (why, I'm not sure. They were delicious though!)

Finally, here are the socks I knitted during the World Cup, ready to be given to my dad for Christmas.

As always, the Opal yarn was a delight to knit with and the socks are fab.

I need to go on another holiday!!

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

A woeful WIP Wednesday

On Monday I did the first part of my annual health check-up. This involves going to the hospital and being prodded, poked, X-rayed and scanned by assorted health professionals.

Like I do every year, I took enough reading material and work to occupy me for at least a week but, like every other year, I ended up knitting on a sock and wondering why hospitals always have such ugly flooring. These are my sister's Christmas socks, which are almost done with six weeks to spare (it's a Christmas miracle! Plus she has very small feet.)

I was very brave when being stuck with needles and I didn't complain at all (except for on Instragram and in this blog post and to every non-hospital person I spoke to that day) so I treated myself to a choc-malt milkshake and a potato cake. Next time I'm getting two potato cakes - days at the hospital really suck (and they're really very delicious).

Day tripping - the Mornington Peninsula

One of the great things about working at a university is all of the wonderful, interesting people you meet. Recently a lovely German student with interesting stories and an intriguing accent arrived to do some fieldwork in Melbourne, so Sam and I decided to play host for the city and take her to one of my favourite places, Mornington.

The day dawned bright, beautiful and very hot - my favourite conditions for a wine tour! Our first destination was one my my favourites: Eldridge Estate. The tasting room is quite small but they have a lovely deck with a spectacular view:

If I ever need to give a small but spectacular party, I'm hosting it on that decking.

Our second stop off was T'Gallant. I've been wanting to go there for years but every time I've tried it's been too busy. This time we were lucky enough to nab a table straightaway and we sat down to have lunch.

The food was...okay. It's reasonably priced for Mornington but we probably would have been better just going to T'Gallant for a glass of wine and stopping off at a providore for some bread and cheese and having a picnic instead.

The winery, however, was gorgeous!

It would have been a great place to spend the afternoon, drinking rose and relaxing.

The final winery we visited was Ten Minutes by Tractor. They do sell wine here but it seemed to me like more of a restaurant than a winery. The tasting area was right next to the restaurant, so although the wine was nice, it was overpowered by the strong smell of meat smoking. The view and setting (as I've come to expect from all Mornington wineries) was, however, completely fantastic.

We drove home via the Arthurs Seat State Park. I had actually never been there before (probably because there's nowhere to buy or drink wine on the summit...) but I was glad to have finally made it - the view was gorgeous! You could see right from one side of the peninsula to the other.

As you can see in this picture, the blue sky had vanished and the temperature dropped about 10 degrees in half an hour. It felt very appropriate that part of my Melbourne experience also included a very Melbourne weather change!

It was a lovely day. I am already planning my next day trip away... 

Sunday, October 26, 2014

A Weekend in Bristol

After a few days hard research and umbrella carrying, Sam and I got the train from Paddington Station to Bristol Temple Mead, a lovely old station that had hanging baskets with flowers out the front.

I think commuting in Melbourne would not be so awful it featured more fresh flowers! The reason for our visit to the west of England was to attend Cary Comes Home for the Weekend, a celebration of the man who was Archie Leach.

As anyone who has spent any time with me knows, I'm a huge Cary Grant fan and this weekend was seemed designed to perfectly meet my interests. There were some great academic talks in the morning followed by an afternoon tea at the Avon Gorge hotel.

This was the first time I have ever tasted clotted cream and oh my God!!! It's amazing. I can't believe I've spent so many years developing my scone-making technique when in fact I should have spent that time figuring out where to buy clotted cream in Australia. The scone should really just be a cream-delivery vehicle. I now truly understand the excellence of the cream tea.

Before tea was served there was a rare moment of sunshine. We dashed outside to take photos of the terrace on which Cary Grant famously posed:

It was very pretty. Then it started to rain again so we went inside.

There was a gorgeous little park next to my hotel. In the right of the photo you can see a building. That is the Temple Church, a ruined church that leans more than the leaning Tower of Pisa. It seriously looks like it's about to fall over! I couldn't take a better photo because I refused to go too close to it for fear of getting squashed but apparently it's perfectly safe. I don't believe it!

We went to the Drawbridge for dinner and I had a yorkie - roast beef covered in gravy and wrapped in a giant Yorkshire pudding. I don't eat meat very often but I just couldn't resist! It was pretty amazing, although I felt like I needed to eat only salads for the next two days.

It was a very fun weekend and a fun city to spend time in.

Next time: all the leftover bits!

Friday, October 24, 2014

Hi honey, I'm home!

Hello! I have just returned from my very whirlwind trip of a small part of the UK. I am totally exhausted and jetlagged (so forgive me if this entry is a bit scatty!) but I had a great time. I'm not going to recap the whole trip (for even the politest of readers doesn't care about someone else's journey that much) but I can't resist talking about it a little bit. It's the most exciting thing that's happened to me in years!

On the first 14-hour leg of my flight, Sam and I got upgraded to the extra leg room rows. This is quite funny because I am only 5 foot tall, so I got all sorts of dirty looks from the tall people crammed into the tiny seats behind me. 

We weren't so lucky in the second eight-hour flight, but the amazing view of the sunset over England that we saw on arrival made up for it a little bit.

London is pretty amazing. It's so full of people and life even though the weather is so terrible it sucks the will to live from Australian tourists who did not bring their vitamin D tablets or a big enough umbrella with them. It's such an amazing city - I think you could live in London for a year and do a different, fun thing every day without any repetition. You would have to be a millionaire, though, because London is unbelievably expensive. I live in one of the most expensive cities in one of the most expensive countries in the world and I was still surprised at the cost of things.

One thing I did love was how London and the UK catered to vegetarians. Just as each pub seemed to have a local butcher that created special sausages just for that venue, they also also had their own vegetarian versions which were just as good. This vego sausage from the Leinster Arms was so meaty that I actually had to check with the waitress that I hadn't been given a meat sausage by mistake! 

I paid AU$7 for those veggies, because when you order bangers and mash in a pub you get sausages, potato and gravy, with nary a green veggie in sight. I ate more potatoes in the two weeks I was in the UK than I had the entire previous nine months!

(I wasn't complaining. I love potatoes - they're delicious. I am a bit fatter now than I was before I left, though...)

One of my favourite places (and this is one of favourite photos) was the National Gallery. Like so many national galleries around the world, the building itself is gorgeous and interesting in its own right... 

..but is overshadowed by the remarkable works within.

And there were amazing, wonderful, gorgeous works of art. If I hadn't had to catch a train I could have spent the whole day there, just looking at the work of the Impressionists (although there was a lot of other remarkable stuff - Rembrant, Gainsbourg, heaps of stuff painted by dead white men. If it wasn't for all the boobs I saw, I would almost think there were no women at all before about 1900).

But enough snark - I enjoyed my visit immensely and recommend it to anyone going to London.

Next time: my fun trip to Bristol and hopefully a return to a regular sleep pattern.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Seedlings and a new sock!

Using the blind faith that comes with having absolutely no idea what you're doing, I decided on Saturday that my seedlings were big enough to be transplanted into pots.

I put each of the same type of seeds in the same pot. In a few months time, they should be big enough to be moved to the ground or a bigger pot.

Please note that previous sentence is based on no actual data or knowledge about gardening: it just seems like the kind of thing that should be true.

Whatever happens, it is always fun to play with dirt and I'm pretty happy to have such potential in my garden! I can dream of all the lovely fresh produce and herbs I'm going to have for Christmas this year.

Lucy, of course, was happy to help!

There are only seven sleeps until I leave and I am starting to get a bit anxious about the whole thing. I am excited and looking forward to it but I'm worried about Lucy and the housesitter (what if they don't get on?), I'm worried about making an idiot of myself in front of well-respected academics and I'm worried about missing the plane! The rational part of my mind knows they are all completely stupid fears (who wouldn't love Lucy? My research is completely respectable and not at all embarrassing and, even if I do miss the plane, I can just catch another) but my irrational mind is like !!!!!!!!.

Clearly, I needed to start another sock.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Adorable cycling matching pairs and lots of little bits of wool

Happy Monday morning! As you can see in this shot I took when I stopped at the lights on Saturday, the weather was glorious this weekend. It was the kind of weather that makes me pause in whatever I am doing and take a minute to appreciate how lucky I am to live where I do.

It hasn't been all sunshine and adorable matching cycling pairs recently, however. I have been struggling a bit over the last week with the chapter I am currently working on. I know what I want to say and I'm certain that my reading of the text is correct but I keep getting stuck on how to most convincingly demonstrate it. That's a normal part of the writing process and it wouldn't usually stress me out but then I keep thinking "I HAVE ONLY TWO WEEKS TO FINISH THIS WHOLE CHAPTER" and it's like my mind goes into overdrive and just shuts down. Needless to say, this is not an effective environment for getting stuff done! So on Saturday, I thought I would take advantage of the sunshine and my uncharacteristically thankful frame of mind and took my knitting to-do bag out into the sunshine with my radio and thought of nothing but knitting and sunshine.

The first item on the agenda was to fix the heel of the Kalajoki socks I started a month ago but then stopped because I was unhappy with how the heel looked. (Check out the wrinkles on the sole of my feet! Jesus, feet are really bloody ugly.)

I changed them to the heel from Priscilla's Dream Socks from my favourite sock knitting book, Favorite Socks (see what I did there ;) ). Much better! (and hello, Lucy).

I then spent a decent chunk of time grafting the toes of two different pairs of socks and weaving in ends. So many ends!

It was a nice way to spend a few hours and, very importantly, switching my mind off helped it to really start working - I wrote 800 really good words yesterday outlining my new chapter plan and if I keep that work rate up I'll be done before deadline with days to spare. Fingers crossed!