Thursday, October 29, 2009

Procratination, pullovers, and cupcakes.

So, I should probably be writing my essay, but that's all right. All work and no play makes Anna a gibbering idiot, so it's really in everybody's best interests that I take a blog break, right? Besides, this is my reward for reaching 3500 words. When I get to 3750, I get to knit some more of my sleeve. It would be nice if I could work without lame forms of bribery, but oh well - the main thing, after all, is that the essay gets written.

Anyway, so what to write about in this delicious guilty pleasure of a blog post? Well, the wedding last week went off without a hitch (there's some kind of moronic pun there, I'm sure, but I'm choosing to ignore it). The weather was lovely, and everyone had a wonderful time. And I managed to brave two forms of public transport on a Spring Racing Carnival weekend and arrive with the cupcakes and shortbread still intact!

Since it was a wedding and all, I was well behaved and went in for nice pastel colours. Such restraint! I was very pleased with how they came out though, for all that I did have a momentary freak out when it occurred to me that I'd presented them to my friend without having eaten one for quality control first! What if they'd tasted like rancid baboon or something? Though I'm happy to report that they didn't... Also, my friend made some delicious spinach and feta muffins that I could have happily eaten all day. I have every intention of trying them in the immediate future - and the recipe is here, for all who are interested.

In other news, I've been very much enjoying my freedom from Sylvi knitting! I am still coming to terms with the fact that I Don't Have To Knit The Coat Anymore. Unfortunately, as much as I'd like to take advantage of this new found freedom with a million new projects, each more seasonally inappropriate than the last (it was 29 degrees today... ho hum), uni is not permissive on this front. I am hanging out for Monday. After that the essay will be in and I can knit merrily away to my heart's content. While, um, revising for my exams. Yay law school! Oh well.

I have been working on my Gathered Pullover though - you always need a bribery project (see above) when essay writing.

This one is now perfect for brain-exploded-essay-diversion because the only part that requires actual thought (i.e. those shiny nice cables that you see above) has been completed. Now it's just knitting sleeves in the round - hurrah! And I still really love the colour.

Anyway, I think that's all the time I can justify spending on a blog break. Back to the essay. I leave you all with tomatoes. I put them on my jumper to stop them getting bruised in my bag on my way back from the shops, and they just looked too cute to ignore.

Please let my odd obsession with foodstuffs slide. I think it's a product of the essay...
(that's a blatant lie, but it's a good excuse for the moment, and I'm sticking to it)

Saturday, October 24, 2009

About time, I know...

Well, this one's taken a while, so without further ado: Sylvi!

The specifics: Sylvi, by Mari Muinonen. I used 12 skeins of Cascade 128 Chunky Solid, with a 6mm circular needle.

The rambling: I am not normally one for abusing the poor defenseless Caps Lock button, but there are certain select situations where I think that it's called for. I FINISHED MY COAT! FINALLY, I FINISHED MY COAT!


I've been working on this one since July, so having it finally finished is a huge weight off my mind (and also my fingers - knitting the hood with the entire weight of the body hanging from it was difficult!). I'm glad to say that I love it. Or perhaps I should say, relieved, as I honestly don't know what I would have done if I'd finished it and been anything less than delighted with it, after all of the time that it took. The only problem I can see with it so far is that people don't fall down and worship me in the street when I wear it, which really you're half expecting when you spend this long on a project (okay, not really, but you know what I mean), but I suppose I should give the poor unenlightened fools some time to come to their senses before I start getting irked... Oh, and also the fact that it is only a month and bit off of summer. But then again, this is Melbourne we're talking about here, so I'm sure there will be the odd opportunity to wear it out and about.

As far as actual commentary on the knitting goes - the pattern was awesome, of course, and very clear and easy to follow. I did make a few modifications though. I changed the cuffs because it was the only part of the original design that I wasn't too keen on - I made very slightly belled folded up cuffs. On the hood, I worked another leaf motif instead of a flower, partly because I didn't like the look of a flower randomly sprouting from my head, and also, I'll admit, because I was just so sick of marking petal stitches and working the leaves had gotten pretty intuitive by that point in proceedings. I also lengthened the body by a few rows, and there are a couple of places in which I deviate from the chart a little, just because I was up a stitch or two, or couldn't get the moss stitch to line up as instructed (disclaimer: I'm definitely attributing this to it being my first time following a chart, and definitely not to any errors in the pattern!).

Why yes, I am going to spam you all with excessive amounts of pictures. If you had just finished a coat that took four months to complete, you would be spamming too!

Oh, and the last modification: as you can see above, I didn't add button holes, as I'm going to opt for some kind of clasp closure instead. I haven't added them yet because I'm still deciding if I like the ones that I have.

I was very pleased with the length in the end too. It seemed woefully short while I was knitting it, but I put my faith in gravity and the tales of those who had gone before me, and it did indeed grow a mile with blocking. I know it's still a little shy of full length, but bear in mind the fact that I am nearly six feet tall - this is not a short coat!

And now I'm going to stop rambling about the coat. Nearly. It feels great to be finished with this one. This is definitely the biggest project I've ever undertaken, and judging by the incursions that it made into my sanity, I think it will be the last. I may later embark on projects as big. I may also start projects that are just as elaborate. But never again will I ever try anything that it both this huge and this intricate! It's been fun though, in a masochistic way, and I learned a lot. I am now a lot better at following charts, and have a much better understanding of the ins and outs of cables. I realised that seaming a slipped stitch edging is actually the opposite of scary, and that bobbles aren't nearly as difficult as I thought they'd be!

At any rate, now I am free to dive into all my new projects with complete abandon! Or as much abandon as I can scrounge up, given the fact that I have a massive essay due in a little over a week. Doh. But still, it feels awesome and really very liberating to be finished.

Anyway, farewell all - I have a wedding to attend, and baked goods to muster!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Food related diversions

See, this is the part where I feel torn. On the one hand, last post I (foolishly) promised that I'd be showing off my newly completed Sylvi coat in the next update. But on the other, it's been quite a while since I updated!

Behold, my compromise! I shall indeed post, but it will be food related! I've been languishing, sad and baked-goods-less, for quite a while now due to oven related technical difficulties. But then my delightful engineer father returned from overseas and managed to convince the cranky old contraption to work again, so I have been making the most of it.

As shown above, I made Spinach and Feta Pie (under the guise of being Very Sensible, as I froze a goodly portion of it for my upcoming exam period and all those nights when I want to eat breakfast cereal for dinner because I'm just too burnt out to cook).

I made an absolutely delicious Honey Chocolate Cake as dessert for some visiting friends (see, this is why I need a functional oven - baked goods are my social currency and without them I feel woefully inadequate!).

And in a fit of silliness, myself and a gentleman caller (haha, yes indeed...) made Triceratops Pie. Kindly note the delightful dinosaur shaped pastry decoration. I should probably note at this point that the pie did not contain any actual triceratops - and my most sincere apologies to anyone who is disappointed on that front. The pie did however contain pumpkin, leeks, onion, ricotta, garlic, parsley and other such tasty things, so none of the parties involved felt shortchanged by the lack of actual dinosaur product.

These culinary achievements aside, there is no reprieve in sight for the poor hardworking oven. A good friend of mine is getting married on the weekend, and I have been conscripted to provide some delightful nibbly baked goods for us to graze upon while we prepare and make merry. I shall do my very best not to suffer from any kind of performance anxiety at the prospect of cooking for such an auspicious occasion!

In other, less pleasant news: it was confirmed week before last that my poor old man cat does indeed have cancer. This was obviously not good what we were hoping for, and I'm sad that my family are all away and are therefore unable to spend more time with the poor old fellow while he's still around. However, the fact that he's had such a good run of it is somewhat of a comfort - if only all cats were lucky enough to live to his age, after all. The good news is that despite all of this, he's perfectly chipper and is acting his usual nuisance self (i.e. stealing my computer chair every time I get up to get more tea). He's not thrilled about the various pills I have to wrestle into him twice a day, but you can't have everything, can you?

Oh, and many thanks to all those who sent good wishes his way via the blog, Ravelry etc - much love and gratitude to you all! The senile old man says thank-you too!

(well, actually in this photo I think he's just irked because I'm bothering him, but I'm sure he would have put on an obligingly grateful face if he knew the purpose of the photo!)

In closing, back to the details of the compromise. The next knitting related post shall remain reserved for my Sylvi (which is anyway so close to being finished that I could knock it off this afternoon if I put my mind to it, so hopefully the wait won't be long!). So I'm not waffling! Not even a little! Most definitely not!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Self Restraint and a Cat

So. It occurs to me that I probably have enough yarn (see above for pretty green things!). More than enough yarn even. Realistically speaking, I could probably continue knitting at my usual rate for an entire year without needing to buy more yarn. This is arguably a rather delightful problem to have, if indeed you could call it a problem, but I have decided that seeing as I don't really need more yarn, but will have a need to conserve money (exams are not too far off, so I won't be working nearly as much as usual), some self restraint might be in order over the next little while.

I'm not going to use the word "diet" because I'm not keen on it. It's not something I do when it comes to food (frankly, I'm young and healthy, so what on earth is wrong with just eating well and exercising?), and I'd really like to keep my life "diet" free. So I'm not going to stop buying yarn all together. However, there shall be creative and productivity-encouraging restrictions put in place: the rule of this Not Yarn Diet is that I am now supposed to knit 500g (so ten 50g balls, or whatever) from my stash for every yarn purchase I make. Blog will keep me accountable. Hopefully this will curb the unwarranted impulse buys.

I considered putting a meterage requirement instead of weight, but decided against it: I'm too lazy to add up lengths, and I don't really care about yarn weight as long as it gets used up. Yes, I know that I'll burn through 200g of bulky yarn in the same time it'll take me to knit up 50g of fingering. I don't much care - it's not a competition. I just want to reduce the space being eaten by my terrifying stash of knitting fodder. To play fair though, I'm not counting any part of Sylvi, as it's been going for so long (shame, because I believe that there's over a kilo of yarn in that monster). To not play fairly, I'm counting all yarn knitted from the point that I received my last purchase in the mail. Which puts me at nearly 100g, all from the Gathered Pullover (which is coming along nicely, thank you very much).

That's the plan. Now let's see if I stick to it.

In other news, well, life is crazy. Beyond crazy. Between uni, work, and social commitments, I have so much to do that it isn't even funny. For the first time in my life, I'm being afflicted by semi-regular insomnia, because I lie in bed unable to sleep because all of the pressing demands on my time are dancing around in my head humming circus music loudly. Thank heavens that knitting is a hobby that you can sort of slot into the gaps formed between everything else - one of the many reasons that I love it.

In knitting news, I have started seaming my Sylvi and have commenced the hood. I am so close to finishing that I can almost taste it - and I'm hoping that that will help me finally knock it on the head. Even the fickle Melbourne weather wants me to finish - the weather at the moment is bitingly cold for October, and it's just begging for a slightly unseasonal woollen coat. The Gathered Pullover is coming along nicely as well - I am still in love with the colour.

Unfortunately all is not well in other areas of life - the furred and finned areas, more specifically. More diligent readers might recall me gabbling happily about Titus, my fighting fish. Well, alas, poor Titus succumbed to a fungal infection yesterday, despite putting up a brave fight while we treated him with scarily green medicine. Poor wee fishy - he was a lot of fun, had a lot of character as far as fish go, and I will miss his hungry little face in the mornings.

If that wasn't enough, my poor old geriatric cat Alex has a large nasty swelling in his neck. The vet is not sure whether it's cancer or just a gland that's swollen up as a result of an inflamed tooth - he's going in tomorrow for blood tests and possibly dental surgery if he's stable enough. Anything involving anaesthetic is risky for a 19 year old cat with heart issues, so I'm trying to be prepared for the worst, just in case it happens. He's content enough at the moment though - asleep on my dressing gown, which I suspect is now officially His dressing gown. At any rate, please send cat mojo for my poor old man!

And that's about it. Hopefully the next post will involve a finished Sylvi - let's just hope that procrastination doesn't strike (again) in the meantime...