Thursday, January 29, 2009

A hot and restless entry...

Man, but it is hot here... Not just warm, but roastingly, sweat-drippingly, skin searingly hot. 36 degrees on Tuesday. 43 degrees yesterday (that's 109.4 F for all of you northern hemisphere types playing at home). And it's apparently getting to 43 today, and staying nearly that hot for the rest of the week... This is why I'm not a fan of Melbourne summers. It was so hot yesterday that the tracks on one of the train lines buckled in the heat (that's probably more a reflection on the disgrace that is our public transport system than it is evidence of the heat, but it really isn't a good idea to get me started on Melbourne's trains... grrrr).

Anyway, I haven't been knitting much the last few days. This is partially because of the heat, but I've knitted in hotter (yes, really). In all honesty, it's more to do with the fact that nothing is really exciting me at the moment. I go through phases like this all of the time, so it doesn't bother me too much, but I wish it would hurry up and pass. The main problem is that nearly everything that I have going at the moment is a self-designed project. I find that it's generally harder to get on with those, since pressing forward means that you actually have to think (as opposed to just losing yourself in hours of relaxingly repetitive knitting) and do calculations and try things on constantly.

The last point especially is a killer in this weather. Example: I'm currently making a pair of elbow length armwarmers that fit quite tightly at the moment because they have colourwork and haven't been blocked out yet. I've nearly finished one - there's probably maybe 15 minutes worth of knitting left on it. But I'm snagged because in 43 degree heat, I just don't feel like wrestling something woollen and tight-fitting onto my poor overheated self. If it was loose, maybe, but I don't want to have to wrestle with wool today. Just no.

I'm also in between projects when it comes to other people's patterns. There are two that I even have the yarn for, but my swatches (yes, I'm bothering to swatch for a change) are a bit off, and even though I own the more appropriately sized needles, they have current works-in-progress on them... All self-designed experiments - see above... Sigh. I know it probably won't be too long before I get my mojo back, but I hate knitting limbo.

One good thing though: I cleaned my room up. I'm aware that this makes me sound like a seven year old, but well, I'm a slob. Or more to the point, I am a person who has over the last six months had to figure out a way to cram a two bedroom unit's worth of crap into a small bedroom with no cupboard/wardrobe. Fun.

Mmm... yarn (excuse the dippy photo - the light is odd in my room). That's only part of it actually - there are some more boring plain yarns in bags too. These are the fun/pretty yarns. Combine all of the above yarn, plus more, with a book collection the size of mine and you can probably understand why I have storage issues. Still, I got there: the yarn is now organised, and my floor is now visible. Very good things.

Also, I like the way that my jumpers look in their drawer. It makes me happy...

At least the last week has been very productive from a writing standpoint - I've gotten a lot done, and rebuilt the momentum that I'd lost over the months before I went away. On that note, I'm off to go and play with words now. I'll try not to roast in the process.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Proof that I am indeed doing things...

Erk - I've been back from NSW for days now, and while I've had a lot of fun since, it was feeling like I hadn't really done anything constructive. Perhaps I shouldn't have been too worried about this, seeing as I am still on uni holidays and all, but in some ways that made me feel even weirder, because it's during my uni holidays that I get all my knitting/writing/other random stuff done. Anyway, long story short, last night I remembered that all I had to do to alleviate this feeling was to come down from my procrastinatory tower and actually finish something. So, I finished my halter top (and it took a whole half an hour, which made me feel even sillier for putting it off). Without further ado, I give you the first finished object of 2009:

The nitty gritty: Self designed halter top, with an eyelet rib body. Waist shaping, and increases at the bust. I-cord straps. Moss stitch border along the neckline, knitted on during finishing (to, ahem, disguise my dippy increases). Made on a 4mm circular needle. Yarn used was 3 balls of Sullivans Coton-A (acrylic/cotton blend).

The colour commentary: Haha! I have waist shaping! In your face, empire-waist infested clothes shops! The whole goal behind this project (if indeed something so random, that was only even started in the first place so I'd have something to lug to the Melbourne SnB meetup, could be said to have a goal) was to make something with a lace body that didn't make me look "like a pregnant teenager" (as a friend of mine so accurately describes the current fashion in billowy summer clothes). I don't have particularly emphatic curves. I don't have long legs. I don't have hair that behaves. I don't have tiny graceful little feet. But I do have a waist, and I bloody well want to make the most of it! So, I attempted - gasp - waist shaping in lace. Yeah yeah, I know that most experienced knitters are rolling their eyes by this point, but it's not something I'd tackled before, so I was a little nervous about it. Anyway, it seemed to come out fine. The shaping is far from invisible, but I actually kind of like the way it looks along the sides (please forgive the blurry shot - for some reason this top was a nightmare to photograph):

All in all, I was very happy with this. One of the things that I want to do this year is design a lot more of my own things, so this seems a pretty good way to kick off! I'm thinking I'm going to do another version at some stage - probably with nicer yarn and better planning (I might actually write the pattern up for this properly if I can be bothered), because this one really was just made up as I went along. For the next one, I'd like to make the moss stitch border knitted on, and actually do the neckline decreases properly (the whole reason I had to apply the border in the first place this time around). And I'll make it in better yarn too, methinks, although I do absolutely love the colour of this.

And now it's time to go and eat biscuits in my halter top. With my book. In the shade. So there.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Sweet sweltering Melbourney home

Well, I have officially returned from my blissful soujourn into New South Wales. Thankfully I returned just after the weather was vile and hot - pulling into Melbourne just as the cool change set in properly. I win.

Mmmm... beach. Crescent Head, to be precise. Holiday was blissful, as it always is when we go to this particular spot. It's one that I'm very fond of, to say the least. Only thing is that it's so nice up there that I always get very little by way of knitting done while I'm holidaying. This time I developed a very naughty habit of parking myself under a frangipane tree during the heat of the day, lugging all of my books and yarn down there (plus all the tea I could drink, and a Nutella sandwich for good measure), and then reclining in my delectable spot for hours, not knitting or reading. Constructive? No. Blissful? Yes.

However, there was some knitting done. I finally finished the summery type top thing (why yes, I am very articulate this evening, thank you for asking) that I started before going away. I basically made it up as I went along - it ended up being a halter top worked in an eyelet rib to the bust, with some waist shaping to avoid the dreaded empire waist shape that I dislike so much. I was quite pleased with it (not to mention my younger brother's friends who were along for part of the trip seemed genuinely impressed by the fact that I'd made it, after previously regarding my hours of knitting with a mixture of amusement and disdain).

I still need to do some crochet around the edges to neaten it up (I tried this morning, and can only say that I failed dismally - at first I was too tired and couldn't focus, and then the cat came and plonked himself down on top of the book that was reminding me how to do it), but other then that, it's pretty much done. And there's still plenty of summer weather in which to wear it - finally, Anna manages to successfully knit something seasonal!

Actual knitting aside, I did a lot of plotting while I was away. The place I went away to is the place that I nearly always make my way to around the new year, and it occurred to me on my last night there that while I don't tend to make New Year's resolutions, I do tend to decide to do things when I get home after visiting this place. Crescent Head sort of marks the point of demarcation between one year and the next for me. Anyway, so while I don't have anything by way of New Year's knitting resolutions, I do have lots of post-holiday resolutions... More about that when I'm not so tired though... My social life was... interesting... today and methinks I need sleep to recover from the rigours of it all...

Thursday, January 1, 2009

That time again...

Whew. Well, I survived binge knitting those hats for my two friends, but only just! I swear - one more hour of beavering away at fair isle on tiny yarn and my eyeballs would have started to bleed... It nearly killed me. Never again will I attempt something like that in such a small amount of time. Actually, who am I kidding; I'll always be a terminal procrastinator, until the day I die. Or the day that I intend to die, but don't quite get around to it.

There's the culprit behind my eyestrain, at any rate (being modelled by yours truly and her scraggly hair). Also, you can see the reason why I don't wear berets - I think that they look stupid, or they do on my head anyway (how are you supposed to keep the things on?). Thankfully they look very cute on my dear friend Zia. I was tearing my hair out on this one, trying to find a style and colour that she would like, because her tastes and mine are pretty much mutually exclusive. It's not that I think she has bad taste, it's just that we don't like any of the same things. So blue and purple-ish pink (shudder) is not normally in my repertoire. Still, despite all of the angst, she seemed happy enough with it. Which is good. Oh, and since this is my knitting blog and all, here are details: this is the Selbu Modern hat (free pdf on Ravelry), made with Grignasco Bambi (a 4ply merino wool), on a 2.75mm circular needle (did I tell you all that I discovered the wonders of magic loop while I was in Europe?).

I actually finished Nick's hat (a Jacques Cousteau hat - great easy pattern, by the way - made with Jo Sharp Silkroad DK Tweed) while I was sitting and drinking wine with them on the verandah (and apparently getting mauled by mosquitos too, the bathroom mirror informed me this morning). Had planned to get it done earlier of course, but I hadn't counted on the other one taking quite so long. It turned out well too, at any rate. I was warned by everyone that Nick had an enormous head (or more to the point, somewhat indominatable hair), so I made the large size, and was freaking out at how big it was. Though all was well in the end: it came off the needles fitting fine (and I should know, because I rammed it on his head to check before I'd even woven the ends in). Poor long suffering friends. At least they're long suffering friends with handknitted hats...

Anyway, it's New Years Day, so I should probably say something pretentiously reflective about that. 2008 was, well, frankly the worst and most difficult year I've had the pleasure of living through. For the obvious reasons (you know, the sleep deprivation and the anxiety attacks and the living below the poverty line and the my-counsellor-tells-me-not-as-borderline-as-I-think abusive relationship and its subsequent breakdown, and all of those other fun things...). Frankly, the less said about these things the better. 2008: well, I'll remember what I learned from it, because that's all I can do. It's all anyone can ever really do.

That said, the last third of 2008, when I finally began to leave these things behind, was awesome in about a million different kinds of ways. Incredibly hard at times, yes, but awesome nonetheless. And even the really rotten parts showed me that I can be as tough as I need to be, when push comes to shove, and that is reassuring indeed. Anyway, I have a good feeling about 2009. So bring it on! (and yes, I remain, despite everything, the most relentlessly optimistic cynical person in the universe)

Fair Denizens of the Internet: Happy New Year from Anna and her immense pile of yarn!!!