Thursday, February 27, 2014


This week, I am sad to report that the first signs of winter arrived. For me, the two biggest signals that the cold weather is coming is Lucy waking me up in the middle of the night so she can get under the blanket for extra warmth and me wearing my  my purple fluffy dressing gown and pink fluffy slippers for warmth when working at my desk during the day. A third and less fixed symptom is an overwhelming nostalgia for comforts from my past. This could be a weekend binge-watching Scrubs or Robert Redford movies or an unstoppable craving for my favourite childhood dessert - chocolate self-saucing puddings with a glass of cold milk (yummo!).

This year, it's manifested in an overwhelming desire to revisit what used to be my favourite craft before knitting - cross-stitching.

The design is a Charlotte Alexander beginner pattern. I'd forgotten how addictive cross-stitch can be. It's mesmerising watching the picture slowly emerge, one stitch at a time. Me being me, I bought four patterns so there will be a lot more cross-stitching in my future! Maybe instead of socks I'll give everyone a personalised design for Christmas this year? Babe steps :)

Oh, and I made mini scones too. They were a) delicious and b) the reason I get fatter every winter. I'm like a bear who bulks up for warmth in the colder months and then sheds its blubber when the summer months arrive. C'est la vie grande, n'est-ce pas *gallic shrug*.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Lockdown Day 5: Stuffed chicken-style cat

Today is Day 5 of my thesis-writing lockdown. It is going both well and poorly. The poorly is because the isolation of only working on my thesis at home by myself is driving me a little bit crazy. That said, I have been able to get a good chunk of work done - I'm between 50-70% finished with the rework of my chapter, which, although not as much as I'd hoped to get done, is pretty good because I think it's solid almost-ready-to-submit quality. I've also done pretty well on my self-imposed Ravelry ban, only popping in a few times to check messages and download a pattern.

A pattern, you say? Yes, although I have committed to getting my socks under control - and I am working on them a bit every single day - it has become unseasonably cold in Melbourne. I am currently wearing woollen socks, gloves, a scarf and hat IN SUMMER. Brrr! Upon raiding my knits drawer, I discovered that I am a bit sick of all of the woollens I have. Conveniently, I own a lot of wool and I like to convert that wool into warming handknitted garments, so I started this brioche hat out of the 'wool from a sheep' wool my friend brought me from Berlin.

I found brioche-in-the-round a lot harder to understand than I thought I would so this picture actually shows my third attempt at this project (obviously spending all of my brain power thinking about stardom and genre theory). I do love the way brioche stitch looks and feels - this is going to be a ridiculously warm accessory! However, I suspect this hat is going to be too big for me but there is no way I'm ripping back again now and I figure even if it doesn't fit me, it'll fit someone. I won't find out for a while, unfortunately - last night it took me a whole episode of Northern Exposure to knit four rows!

Lucy is ridiculously unimpressed with the current cold snap. She has taken to sitting in what I call her stuffed chicken pose in protest. Protesting what to whom is unclear, but the unhappiness about being cold is explicit. Poor little thing :( 

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Help needed: procrastination central

Happy Monday, y'all (I have recently started dropping "y'all"  in conversation regularly in the hope it catches on. It's so much better than the bogan "youse" I hear all over the place). How was y'all's weekend? (I suspect that's not the correct usage…but I shall charge on regardless).

Mine was okay but in no way exciting. As I mentioned last week, I am in the writing phase of my thesis. In general, I'm a pretty good with words but what I'm discovering now is that I am a far better editor than I am writer. I am also an even better procrastinator than I am editor. For example, this morning I got up early and wrote 50 words. Then I checked the internet…for an hour. Then I revised the 50 words I wrote earlier. Then I went for a swim.  Then I went to the supermarket. Then I had a sandwich. Then I checked the internet again. Then I opened the Word document I was working on this morning, looked at the 50 words I wrote and promptly opened Blogger. Help!!

My current plan is to ban myself from Ravelry for the next week except for updating projects and to re-work the 10,000 words I have written as part of my second chapter into a format that my supervisor will approve of by next Monday. I'm 30% of the way through it and I think I'm on the right track so hopefully if I just stay focused and keep my eyes on the prize I will get there. If I don't, I'm not exactly sure what is going to happen next!

While all of these academic machinations rumble in the background, as always there's wool floating around at the front. I picked the knee-length socks I've been working on last week and I realised that, frankly, I absolutely hated them.

I didn't like how irregular the striping in the Shi Bui looked. I hated my placement of the yellow stripes. I didn't like knitting that sock yarn at the gauge I was using. I'd done the increases too quickly at the top of the calf so the shaping was off and I needed to unravel at least the last five centimetres of each sock to fix them so…I just frogged them.

For last three years these socks have been taking up space on my needles and, in 15 minutes, that was all undone. I bought a pattern I've wanted for ages, Whippoorwill, and when I get my chapter finished and sent to my supervisor I'll cast on immediately. Until then it's stardom, celebrity and classical Hollywood cinema all the way!

(PS: That means four out of the eight socks are gone. I just need to finish two more pairs and I'll be at a level I find acceptable.)

Friday, February 14, 2014

2014 FO #5: Rainy Day Socks the Second

Sometimes it's a real pleasure to come here and write for my blog. Yesterday, I spent over an  hour trying to make one paragraph look and feel right. I moved words around, replaced some words with other words, read the sentences out loud to see if I could figure out where the issue was, argued with strangers on the internet about things that don't matter, and still I wasn't able to capture to concept I wanted to using my command of the English language.

So, for inspiration, I read a paper on another topic, found a paragraph that described exactly what I wanted to say but using a sophistication that I may never be able to achieve, promptly cracked the shits, packed up all of my stuff, drove home came home, downloaded a move on to my iPad and did some knitting. Very grown-up of me. Not helping me get my thesis done at all!

In knitterly news, the parade of finished socks rolls on.

These are my second pair of Rainy Day socks made with Jo Sharp Alpaca Silk Georgette. All the details are the same as the last one.

I even found a super cute box to put them in.

The recipient seemed to like them very much, which is really the most important thing. I wholeheartedly recommend this project as a gift for when you want to make socks for someone but aren't completely sure of their size or calf width - the lace in the pattern is unbelievably forgiving.

Of course it wouldn't be a blog post if it didn't feature my (apparently not very interested) favourite two living beings in the world. 

And the zucchini plants that are slowly taking over the entire back courtyard. As the plants get older and bigger, so do the (delicious) fruit. At this rate, by the end of summer I'll have zucchinis as big as my cat is.

Five pairs of socks to go!