Saturday, September 26, 2009

Where Anna is a Bad Melbournian

I am now merrily halfway through the mid-semester break, and am happy to report that I have not gotten all that much done. Oh well - what are you going to do? I'm catching up on sleep, eating lots of vegetables, and doing lots of knitting, and that's what's important, right?

Today was a good example of all of this. Today, for those not in the know, was AFL Grand Final Day. For non-antipodean readers, the AFL Grand Final is arguably the biggest sporting event of the year in this country. It's definitely a huge deal in Melbourne, at any rate. And delightfully, this year I had no idea who was even playing until work yesterday. And it's currently 10:46pm, and I still have no idea who won. I'm wondering how long I'll be able to stave off finding out. I have to work tomorrow, which I think will be the downfall of this particular plan, but that will still be a pretty good effort, given the saturation level of coverage that this event always receives.

Anyway, while everyone else was watching the football, I was spending my day as follows:

I did some knitting on my latest project. It's a Gathered Pullover in Berroco Ultra Alpaca Light in 'Blue Glasnys'. I've been wanting to make this one for ages and ages, and now I'm finally getting around to it. Like most everyone else who has made this one, I'm adding waist shaping, but that's the only mod I have in mind thus far. I'm happy with how it's going - the fabric that the yarn is making on the 4.5mm needles is really nice, and just look at that colour! I was a little unsure about this yarn for this project originally, as I was worried that it might not have the best stitch definition for the cabled section, but after examining some other people's projects on Ravelry, I'm cautiously optimistic.

On non craft related fronts, I also hit up Bunnings Warehouse and got a shiny new bucket, and some more tomato plants for the garden (they were stupidly cheap, and the solitary plant I have at the moment needs company!). I know that I look like some kind of deranged elf wannabe in the photo, but in my defense, it was raining. However, this excuse then begs the question of why I was trying to wash towels on such a day... I just can't win...

It also occurred to me that despite the fact that I not infrequently mention food around here, I had never before made reference to this particular love of mine. See that substance up there in the picture? The one that looks like oddly anaemic butter? That, my friends, is goat butter. And I could happily eat it all day long. You use it just like normal butter - I spread it all over crusty bread - but it has a subtle but distinct goats cheesey flavour to it. Mild, but definitely there. I love it, so very much. Hurrah for Queen Victoria Market for keeping me supplied with such wonders. It's not even prohibitively expensive.

And thus concludes the tale of how Anna was a Bad Melbournian. However, I would also like to make mention of the fact that I also finished the back of my Sylvi today. Yes, I will make this coat if it kills me. I considered doing more today, but after grinding my way through the rest of the back cabling, negotiating raglan seaming for the first time didn't sound too appealing. Tomorrow perhaps. But I am progressing!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Productivity. And a Cat

Well, life has been a bit crazy here. But that's just normal really - I've noticed that I tend to say that every week. On the bright side, I'm on mid semester break from today, so hopefully the crazy will subside as I catch up on some sleep and get on top of my exam revision (and by get on top of my revision, I mean ignore it and play outdated computer games... as usual).

Sylvi is getting there slowly. I've finished both sides, and now I just have a couple more inches of the top part of the back. Then I can seam it and get stuck into the hood, and after that all of the substantive knitting is done and it's just the endless finishing to go. So I'm nearly done. Umm, sort of...

How about I shut up and present you with more tangible evidence that I've been constructive on the knitting front? Yes, let's do that!

The specific yet unhelpful part: This is, well, um, Anna's short sleeved pullover, by, um, me! I'll give it a proper name if/when I write the pattern up. Yarn is Sanguine Gryphon Free Range - about 1.7 skeins of the Green JungleFowl colourway (100% wool). Knitted on a 5.5mm circular needle.

The part where I ramble for even longer than usual: Yay - I tackled bottom-up raglan designing and actually produced something that fits! Yep - I did all of the maths and everything. I am inordinately proud of myself for this. I took detailed pattern notes too for a change, so I'm thinking that I'll try knitting it again some time in order to iron out the kinks, and then post the pattern up if anyone is still interested.

I am mostly happy with how it turned out. I would have preferred slightly less ease - it grew a little on blocking because of my loose gauge - but that's just personal preference. It really does fit just fine as it is. I'm not entirely happy with the sleeves, though. I ended up doing basic stockingette cap sleeves with a garter edging in needles several sizes up to make them flare out slightly, but I'm not sure that the experiment was a wholly successful one. It requires some fine tuning. So fine tune I shall, at a later date.

This yarn. Nom. I love Sanguine Gryphon so, so much. Admittedly I am yet to lay eyes (or hands and needles) on the fabled Bugga yarn that everyone else is foaming at the mouth over, but I just can't bring myself to feel too disappointed about that, given that all of her other stuff is just so lovely too. Knitting with yarns like this one is hardly a consolation prize! Seriously - it's beautiful. Just look at those colours! Click the photo and actually look at them!

Seriously - it's beautiful. I never thought that I'd feel compelled to knit a garment from variegated yarn, but these colours made me do it anyway! I had no choice in the matter! Great yardage too - I made this with less than two skeins! I mean, I don't normally use that much yarn for projects since I often opt for looser gauges, but less than two skeins! I still have one and a bit to do other things with!

Anyway, so now that this happy diversion has been concluded, it's high time that Sylvi got finished. If I ever get the cat out from under my feet long enough to actually work on it. Family are away, so he has gotten mega-clingy over the last week. Do you know how hard it is to do your tai chi practice when there is a cat determined to sit 15cm from your feet at all times? And if I leave anything that I've been wearing unattended for more than ten seconds, I come back to find him sitting on it. Not just jackets and t-shirts either. Yesterday it was my university bag, and then I found him trying to balance on top of one of my hats. Idiot.

He's *my* idiot though... Poor sweet old man - we've found a compromise where I accidentally-on-purpose leave my tracksuit pants unattended on the floor next to my bed. So hopefully that will keep him happy for a while.

Saturday, September 12, 2009


Well, it's assignment time again. So, as usual, procrastination is calling...

On this particular occasion, procrastination came in two forms, as is made obvious by this very fine and not even slightly ridiculous illustration. Firstly, it came in the form of a renewed assault on Mount Sylvi (left front is now finished). Secondly, in the form of... well, let's just say that it is a mistake to keep charcoal on your desk when you have a coat to knit and an assignment on the Geneva convention to write. That and a cracked sense of humour (I didn't look scary enough at first, so I gave myself fangs, eyebrows from hell, and an evil genius goatee).

Anyway, back to the, erm, assignment. Yes, definitely the assignment, and nothing else. In other news, this is apparently my 100th post. Haha, I sure wasted that opportunity to say something auspicious, didn't I?

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Look - regularity!

Wow, look at me go on this whole posting thing! I've always found that things ebb and flow a little bit with hobbies - sometimes you're big into something, other times you let it go for weeks or even months. Perhaps this is sign that making stuff is moving back to the forefront of my brain, after it's little sojourn into (comparative) obscurity. Let's hope so.

I took a sickie from uni today - my back was acting up, and when this happens, it's usually a good idea to play it very, very safe. So instead of scraping myself out of bed stupidly early and going to my lecture, I scraped myself out of bed stupidly early (hey, I didn't know that my back was dodgy until I actually got up!) and spent the day studying, playing Age of Empires II and finishing the body of the garment I'm designing at the moment.

Please excuse the bright pink waste yarn holding the sleeve stitches.

I had to do a bit of soul searching about this one today. The body has come out exactly as I was hoping it would, which is rather good. Yes, the neckline is supposed to be low - that wasn't a mathematical lapse on my part. So all was well, but once confronted with the prospect of sleeves, I realised that I wasn't really sure what I wanted to do. Originally the plan had been to do longer sleeves - probably around the 3/4 mark. The only thing keeping this up in the air had been whether or not I'd have enough yarn left. Well, I had yarn galore remaining after the body, but once I tried the body on, I realised that I actually kind of liked it sleeveless. So, I had a good squiz at it for a while, interrogated various Ravelry peoples, and then proceeded to 'ummm 'and 'ahhh' a great deal.

The story isn't finished yet, because the sleeves haven't been knitted. But I think that I've definitely decided to go short. With the variegation already makings its presence felt (Does it still reek of camouflage gear? Or am I going to be able to pull off 'woodsy'? I'm not sure yet...), I'm worried that with sleeves thrown into the mix, there might be just too much going on. Also, since we're hurtling headlong into spring, I'll likely get more immediate wear out of a short sleeved thing. So short sleeves it shall be. But what kind? Hmm...

And that is more than enough rambling about something that isn't even finished yet. Here, have a picture of something else:

I've been wanting to take a picture of these for ages. They're Russian chocolates given to me by a good friend - I'm not sure whether she got them when she was over there most recently, or if someone else in her family acquired them, but aren't they so cute! Look at the squirrel one! I almost don't want to eat them, because that would mean disturbing the wrappers (I say almost - why do you think that I took this picture..). My friend's mother told me that when she was young (in Russia), they used to save and collect the wrappers, then fold them into a shape like you see on the bottom right, making sure that the design showed on top. Then they would swap them and play games with them. I was far, far too enchanted by this story. I love hearing about childhood games that were different from mine.

Anyway, it's dinner time now, and I have a cooking adventure planned, so that's it for this installment. However, I shall like as not be tackling those sleeves this evening, so stay tuned for the next thrilling episode!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Reasons for Neglect, Part Two

As alluded to last entry, I did actually do a little bit of knitting during my absence from the blog. Not as much as I would have liked though - there are more demands on my time this semester than there have been in a very long time, so I really haven't had the opportunity to do as many things on the craft front as I would have liked.

Exhibit A: my Sylvi is still not finished. I think I've pretty much abandoned the hope of getting a lot of wear out of it before it gets retired for spring/summer weather - I'll have to be satisfied with one or two. Oh well - I'll live. Actually, I'm just looking forward to finishing it. While it's coming along nicely enough, and behaving itself perfectly well, I'm just not used to undertaking such large scale projects. It will feel really, really good to have it finished so I can move onto all of the other things that I want to do - right now it feels like they're all standing restless in a queue behind this bloody coat! Sigh. Little by little, I shall get it done.

At any rate, there have been side projects slotting in around the Sylvi - one can't work elaborate cables and moss stitch all day long without going insane, after all. Here is one such diversion:

First thing's first: Pattern: Cinnamon Grace, by Katie Harris. Yarn: Eki Riva Natal (alpaca/silk/nylon blend). 4mm circular stainless steel needles.

The stuff what I thought: This was the pattern that kept me sane while I waited endless hours in Hobart Airport (or some of it anyway, as I had to stow it away in my checked luggage - stupid Australian air travel with its stupid knitting ban). I originally started it as an antidote to Sylvi, as it's a very simple knit. This is a great pattern - it was undemanding without being too repetitive (until you got to the bind off anyway). Since I used to have a bit of a phobia of picking up stitches, I can't say that I really enjoyed picking up a few hundred (I didn't actually count - I figured that I'd get too depressed) for the ruffle. At least I had the Tassie SnB ladies to keep me company while I did it... Also, this project has the longest cast-off ever. Or it definitely felt like it anyway. Stupid picot bind off - we are talking hours here.

My juvenile whinging aside, this is a great pattern. The only mod I made to it was to use a slightly thicker yarn (DK - pattern called for a sport weight) and to make the ruffle slightly shorter as I was running out of yarn. I was worried that the pattern might be lost in the slightly thick/thin yarn I was using, but it ended up coming out just fine.

As it's sort of a shawl/scarf hybrid, you can wear it in a couple of different ways too, which is always good. I suspect that this pattern will turn out to be quite popular - I'm actually surprised that more people haven't made it, since it's been around for a few months now. Anyway, I'm very happy with how it came out, for all that I had a few moments of doubt while I was actually knitting it. I'd definitely recommend it, at any rate (note: pattern also seems to be blissfully error free - hurrah!).

Anyway, and that's about all I have to show for the last month, knitting wise. I've also started a hat for Richard, which will unfortunately have to be mailed to him, as he departed for Canada last weekend, before I had a chance to finish. And I've been swatching for a self-designed hat project using some of the yarn I acquired at the Bendigo show a while back. I don't normally do a lot of stripey things, so it's fun to experiement. I was amazed at how much difference a change in stitch can make to stripes - look it:

I was worried that the stripes wouldn't be obvious enough in stocking stitch, so I tried adding garter ridges as well - definitely the way to go, I think! Gives it a different look, anyway...

And now it's time for Anna to be off - she needs to get in a couple more rows on her Sylvi before heading off for uni and tai chi. Wish her luck... *sigh*...

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Reasons for Neglect, Part One

Poor little blog - how you've been languishing! Alas, I have not been running long on time over the last couple of weeks, as is evident by the way in which things have basically ground to a halt on the craft front. Well, perhaps not a complete halt, but I haven't had nearly as much time to do things as I might have liked, and even less time to blog about what I have been doing.

Anyway, there are two things that I am overdue to blog about. Firstly, the knitting that I've been doing, and secondly, the trip to Tasmania that I've probably been blathering about. Rather than do an enormous Post of Doom that covers both, I decided that it would be more sensible to tackle them one at a time.

So. Tassie.

Months and months ago, Rebecca and I hatched a cunning plan to pay a visit to Tasmania. More specifically, she was coming down to visit from the US and had plans to adventure around down there, and since I had never been before, it was decided that it should be a joint endeavour. Anyway, weekend before last, our evil plan came to fruition!

I packed sensibly. Warm things because it would be cold, and readables because I have a healthy respect for Murphy's Law whenever I fly domestic in this country, and a good book on hand usually serves you rather well. I got into Hobart early in the evening, and met up with Rebecca - definitely a surreal experience after corresponding online for so long. We drove into the city and found our hotel, and then went in search of sustenance. What was found was rather delicious Indian food, including some garlic naan that put me in a good mood for the rest of the evening, just by being as hot and tasty and garlicky as it was.

Saturday morning was spent roaming around Salamanca Market.

I often find markets a little anti-climactic when I've heard as much about them as I had about this one, but thankfully I was far from disappointed. There were lots of fun things to look at, and plenty of tasty things to sample (given the fact that I am a total garbage guts and all, this second point was a rather substantial bonus - I am never bored when there's food involved). I bought some lovely tea from these people - I bought a rather obscene amount of it, actually, because I'd been given orders to fill from friends in Melbourne! Oh, and somewhere along the way I also acquired a cosy new jacket, a pretty coloured dress, and two rather delightful donuts. There was also yarn from The Spindle Tree, though I only bought a tiny amount - more to mark the trip than anything else, as I'm really trying to cut down on buying more until I've used the copious amount that I have. Also my bag was too full of tea.

The afternoon was spent sipping hot apple tea and knitting with all of the lovely ladies from the Hobart SnB group - it was lovely and cosy and fun, and I'm very grateful to them for organising an extra meet so that we could gatecrash, as we both had a lovely time.

On Sunday we stocked up on provisions (i.e. cheese, biscuits, fruit, and the all important beer) and ventured out to Freycinet National Park so that we could do the Wineglass Bay walk that everyone kept recommending to us. We picnicked with the wallabies before venturing out, and then we spent a good couple of hours tramping around the truly lovely landscape - if only my bastard of a camera hadn't run out of battery in Salamanca the day before! In lieu of photographic evidence, you'll all have to either google around for a bit, or just take my word on the fact that it was gorgeous. So there!

Monday was the day that we had to leave, but we crammed plenty into it anyway. We had the breakfast to end all breakfasts at the Jackman & McRoss Bakery - seriously, I was happy for hours just from eating it. Thus fortified, we drove to the top of Mt Wellington, and subsequently froze our arses off - man, but that wind was FREEZING! I couldn't feel my hands after about fifteen seconds of standing in it - really made you remember that Antarctica was the next country over! After we'd gotten back down and defrosted, we lunched and looked around the shops for a while (we found the spice shop to end all spice shops!). And then it was off to the airport to return our car and head back to Melbourne. My plane was delayed by over two hours, so I ended up being very glad that I had my knitting with me - I got home tired, wet, cold, and cranky.

Despite the end, a thoroughly awesome weekend was had! I ate a lot of food, saw a lot of awesome stuff, and did it in great company - what more do you want really? And Rebecca gets special bonus points for spending four days in my company without throttling me - the girl definitely has a strong constitution! Oh, and she gave me yarn, which is always a bonus! Pictures when there's natural light to be had. In the meantime, here is us back in Salamanca - the very last photo before my camera battery gave out:

Hurrah for Tassie adventures! Oh, and kindly note all of the fine knitwear visible in this shot...

In our next (not so) thrilling installment, I shall blather about the knitting I've been doing. Stay tuned, loyal blog readers...