Thursday, January 30, 2014

Merry Christmas! 2014 FO #4: I Heart Socks Socks

Last Wednesday's shocking discovery I have more than eight pairs of socks on the go at the moment shamed me into finally pulling out a darning needle and finishing the pair of socks that were 99% done.

I cast these on before Christmas so I could have easy, stress-free knitting and they were a delight to knit. They without a doubt helped through the too-many stressful situations that my December involves.

The body of the sock is in Opal Circus, with the ribbing in Opal Rainforest and the toes in Opal Petticoat left over from socks I finished in 2009. I cannot believe there are scraps of wool that I have been holding on to for five years! Possible hoarding problem? Oh well - they obviously come in useful at times.

The recipient was pretty chuffed to have a nice new pair of socks, especially since the Christmas socks I promised him didn't quite get done on time…

Six pairs of socks to go!

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

2014 FOs #2 & #3: Snowflake hat and bootie set

Because I love making booties more than just about anything else in the entire world, as soon as it was clear I would have wool left over from the OpArt blanket, I cast on a pair of baby socks that have been in my Ravelry queue forever.

These socks were easy, cute and used very little yarn (only 34g in total!). 

They're a bit bigger than the booties I normally make (the pattern says they're for 6 to 12-month-old babies), but I figure new mums get heaps of newborn stuff but not a lot of stuff for when the kid is older. I can say for sure that they will fit the baby at some time (hopefully winter time - these socks are very very thick and warm).

I did a short row heel but when I make these again, I'll use an afterthought heel as recommended in the pattern because I think it will look a bit more finished.

I still had a little bit of yarn left over (the case of the never-ending Bendy balls strikes again!) and so I whipped up a matching hat. It was also quick and easy - cast on 66 stitches in yellow, knit 5 rows in 1x1 rib, changed to purple, knit 1 row, increased 6 stitches following row, then continued as shown. The hat took 23 grams of yarn.

For not a lot of extra time, these little extras add a whole lot of cuteness to the package.

I hope the new parents like these as much as I do.

Monday, January 27, 2014

2014 FO #1: Luxury OpArt blanket

My first finished object of the year is done!

My Luxury OpArt blanket is done with two weeks to spare before the baby is due. 

 It was pretty ruffled and out of shape when it came off the needles... I blocked it really severely (with Lucy's help, of course). 

I liked knitting this blanket - the pattern's super easy to follow and I like tedious knitting. However, it's became clear as soon as I took out the blocking wires that this is not a blanket that wants to be square - unless it's blocked every time it's washed, it's going to end up bendy and ruffled again. I hope the new parents like unusual blankets and think of this as a design feature, or else I'm not sure the blankie will get much use.

However, have a look at the accessories I made with the leftover wool - cuteness in a teeny tiny package.

More on those tomorrow.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

A visit to the Heide Museum of Modern Art

Today is Australia Day.

This very controversial day is the one that epitomises the best and worst of Australia, with recognition of how very lucky we are to live here, how gorgeous this great land is and celebration of the diversity that exists within our shores contrasted with massive public drunkenness (the most ER visits in the year happen on Australia Day), sadness about the way Australia's indigenous population has been treated, a widespread and alarming environment ignorance (WA has already killed one shark as part of its unnecessary and gruesome cull) and widespread general ignorance. I know how lucky I am to be here - if my broken leg had happened in America, the three-month hospital stay and six-month rehab  that followed would have bankrupted my family. I have access to and have taken advantage of an excellent education and enjoy weather that (as much as I bitch and moan) is very rarely extreme. But I am heartbroken by my country's treatment of asylum seekers, Australia's prime minister is a moron and governments consistently ignore the fact that this country will be one of the hardest hit by climate change. I am outraged and ashamed at how the environment is treated for example, investing in road infrastructure rather than rail or alternative methods of transport and petitioning for heritage protection of old-growth forests to be removed so that they can be destroyed.

However, despite my mixed feelings about the appropriateness of celebration on Australia Day, I love the Australia day public holiday (long weekend, woo!!). I took advantage of the extra long day off to drive to the Heide Museum of Modern Art. Heidelberg is such a weird suburb - it's closer to the city than where I live, but the extensive parklands and quiet surroundings make it feel like you're in the country, far removed from all civilisation.

But because it is still Melbourne, you can get excellent coffee there. We had very nice lunch at Cafe Vue. The food was much better at Heide than at their St Kilda branch. The coffee Sam got was one of the the cutest things I have ever seen.

Each table had a potted herb as decoration, which was lovely. The is a kitchen garden on the grounds of the museum that is used by the cafe and on the wall outside the cafe itself was a display of herbs. I am going to get some of these columns for my garden - they would be perfect for use in my tiny courtyard. 

One thing I love about Heide is the story it tells. Originally an old dairy farm (the remnants still standing, as can be seen in the photo below), it was bought by Sunday and John Reed, who established a thriving art community.

Two of the galleries on the ground are actually their houses. They still feel really lived in - like, Sunday loved cats, and there was an enclosed cat run as part of the house which remains today. No cats, unfortunately, but lovely nonetheless.

Art is displayed throughout the house alongside remnants of the Reeds' lives. This is their original range and you can see above it there is mosaic of handpainted tiles, each depicting a cat in rest or play (sorry about the crap photo - it was stealth photography).

There are sculptures dotted throughout the ground in the most surprising places.

It's a really lovely place and I highly recommend it for a daytrip or as a picnic destination. 

Thursday, January 23, 2014

2013 FO #17: Marvellous Mountainfoot Mitts

As someone who works from home and likes to be comfortable, I wear a lot of pyjamas. Clean pyjamas - it's important to maintain certain standards - but pyjamas nevertheless. This can lead to some awkwardness when I answer the door during the day, so I'm constantly toying with the idea of wearing proper clothes, but really, who am I dressing for? For me, comfort is consistently more important than any other consideration.

So imagine my delight when I popped in to Myer yesterday to discover a new range of pyjamas that looks like clothes!

The brand is Jethro & Jackson and I want to buy all of their pyjama dresses! What a brilliant idea - crossover daytime/nightime sleepwear. I can't wait to see what their winter wear will be.

I'm sure there was something else I was going to write about...

Oh yeah - I finished some more mitts! These were actually done last September but they lived in my very very cold office at uni, so I never got around to photographing them. They're exactly the same as the ones I made for my sister except that I use different colourways of yarn - copper and I can't remember the other one. I heart them because they're gorgeous and, very important, super warm.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

More socks...eventually

It was my birthday a few weeks ago. One of my closest friends was out of the country on my actual birthday so, in honour of me, braved subzero temperatures to buy me a present that she knew I'd really like…

..wool! This yarn is 80% wool and 20% polymide, with is similar to the mix on most of the sock wool I use, so I can see these becoming a pair of warm and cuddly bed socks…eventually! I have to get my current number of socks-on-the-go under control first.

She also bought me this one because of the label.

It's very cheerful but I have no idea what it is. I think it might become a nice soft newborn hat.

I love it when I get overseas wool as a gift :)

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

WIP Wednesday: Sock it to me

Yesterday I got a bit bored adding the icord border to the OpArt blanket, so I quickly whipped up a matching baby sock.

The pattern is Flakey Baby Socks from the sadly defunct Anny Purls. This single small sock is adorable! But when I was hunting for a darning needle this morning so I could close up the teeny tiny toe, I noticed something somewhat alarming...

..six pairs of unfinished socks on my desk. SIX!!! That's not even including the two pairs of unfinished socks that weren't on my desk. A total of eight pairs on the go! Even for me, that's out of control.

I know how it started - I bought two balls of wool on sale at Bendy and, to avoid adding it to my stash cast on straightaway (if it's on the needles, it's not stash). I started knitting a pair of socks as a Christmas present (clearly unfinished - ended up giving a book instead). I needed a sock without any patterning to take to a movie. I was bored with icord. But still!!

Excuse me for a while - I'm going to be off in a corner knitting socks, more socks and only socks. Eight pairs is simply too much.

Monday, January 20, 2014

It's been a while...

Hello! I've been a bit absent lately but I have a good excuse - it's been hot. Really really hot. So hot that  I had to ring a client and tell them I'd be delivering their job late because the heat affected my ability to work. So hot that some time on Thursday my body started making sloshing sounds when I walked because I'd been drinking such a lot of water (I started to worry a little bit about my kidneys at that stage, but they were fine). It was so hot that on Friday, I enforced the heat policy on my life and spent the afternoon watching 1970s Robert Redford movies. No one man should be that beautiful! 

But three things that did like the heat were my zucchini plants. These two turned in to …

..this one...

..and these four... look like this.

Given how big the the grown plants are, I suspect that the reason only 50% of these garden ones and none of the potted ones survived is the they need quite a bit of space. Hopefully I'll be eating zucchinis soon (side note: no-one told me that when they first start growing, zucchinis look like teeny tiny green penises. You think that would have come up somewhere, but no.)

Due to the heat I haven't been doing much knitting but I did manage to get to the border on my Luxury OpArt.

I'm doing a three-stitch icord to create what will hopefully be a nice-looking finish. The yellow is much brighter than that - it's just very washed out by the early morning light. The baby's due in nine days, so I'd better get cracking! 

Of course, no catch-up blog post would be complete without Lucy looking at me resentfully for not paying enough attention to her.

Sorry Lucy! I'll be right with you.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Babies don't wait...

It's Day 2 of an extreme heatwave and I am (attempting to) work on this:

A woollen blanket. I think I might be crazy! I'm even considering going to TGIF - and I *hate* TGIF - for the air-conditioning and free wifi. I can't even think because it's so hot in my house that my brain is going fuzzy…

Wish me luck!

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year! Well, Happy New Year for a week ago. I saw out the year with cocktails...

 ..and a pair of almost-completed socks..

..and I have welcomed 2014 with what can only be described as a week of sloth. For the last seven days I have hung around my house, lazed on the couch, watched lots of movies for fun and eaten and drunk anything I feel like when I felt like it. It was wonderful but, unfortunately, regular life has to resume at some point and and today I am back at work, writing, blogging, answering emails (urgh emails are seriously the worst sometimes!) and doing all the other stuff that must be done by adults who need to function within society. I even went for a swim as is my usual Monday habit, clearly and finally signalling that the holiday is over. 

However, while I was doing my very best impression of a drunk beached whale on my couch last week, things were happening in my garden. In Save with Jamie, Jamie Oliver says that if you dry out the seeds from a capsicum, they can be planted and will grown into capsicum bushes. He says this even works with capsicums bought from a supermarket. I was skeptical but I'm always prepared to try anything once so I dried about 50 seeds and planted them. 

Two weeks later, voila!

18 of the 50 seeds germinated and now look like proper plants. I am going to let them grow a bit bigger before transferring them to my garden and, if they work, they will actually be free food. 

Nature really is amazing. Now, back to work!