Friday, February 26, 2010

New Starts

First thing is first: as promised, my new project:

This is a (really lacklustre) photo of the new project that I merrily started while revelling in the sense of freedom that resulted from sending my half finished summer top to the naughty corner. It's going to be Cybele (Ravelry link only I'm afraid) from the French Girl Knits book by Kristeen Griffen-Grimes, and I'm using the forest green Cascade 220 that I originally had earmarked for my Snow White jumper. I was a bit hesitant in starting this, because while I think that the pattern is absolutely gorgeous, it's one of those garments. You know, the kind that look amazing in the book on a model, but might not look quite so wonderful when worn in real life. Still, I decided that I'll take the chance - it will address the cable craving that I've been experiencing the last little while.

Looking at this pattern’s projects on Ravelry, I arrived at the conclusion that negative ease would really be the key to making this work like I wanted it to. I think I'm going to opt for the smallest size, which is a 31 inch bust - despite the fact that mine is more like 36 inches. This terrified me a little at first, but I looked at the sizing and realised that the above recommendations are based on the two front pieces being able to meet in the middle, whereas the look I'm really aiming for is how it's illustrated in the book, with the two pieces stretched and not quite meeting. I am really hoping that this decision doesn't come back to bit me in the behind, but I suppose that if it does, at least it'll be amusing and I will hopefully have provided some entertainment.

This project isn't the only slightly-uncertain new start I'm making at the moment. University goes back again next week, and I have, perhaps foolishly, decided to go in for one more year of educational servitude before leaving to make my way in the big scary world of Full Time Work. Not in my law student guise however, since thankfully for my sanity, those days are now behind me - in fact my graduation ceremony is in a few weeks time, so I'll be sure to post pictures of that. Rather this year I thought that I would make an attempt to tie together my love of writing, my knack for words, my English Literature degree and my abilities in Media Law - in a few days time I'll be starting a one year postgraduate diploma of editing/communications. I am looking forward to it, but I'm also mildly terrified by it, as indeed I am terrified by most change that happens in my life. Still, change is good, for all that it's scary, so hopefully this will be a good thing. Wish me luck.

And because I never feel right having just one picture per post:

This is one of the few Nice Dresses that I own, since I've never really been one for formal occasions, and generally have to be forcibly wrestled (or the social equivalent thereof) into nice clothing. I'm very keen on it - I bought it in Tasmania when I went there with with Rebecca last year, and have since worn it to much acclaim. The problem is that it's strapless, and sometimes you just don't want to be prancing around in a strapless dress alone. So it occurred to me that I should knit some sort of cover up that I could wear with it. I can't decide whether to make something black, or use my the Dream in Colour yarn pictured above (in real life it's a darker shade that matches the dress a bit closer). Hmmm... Black would probably be a safer bet, but if the Dream in Colour worked it would be just gorgeous. Food for thought, anyway...

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Project Banishment and a Trip to the Zoo

A few posts ago anyone reading even slightly attentively would have seen a project I was working on - a summery top made from my long hoarded Sanguine Gryphon 'Dance' yarn. Looked a little like this (and yes, I am blatantly reusing the picture, because I am a Slovenly Blogger).

Last post I believe that I made mention of the fact that I was having trouble figuring out how I was going to finish it. Well, alas, progress was not made - or very little of it anyway. It got to the stage where I just didn't really feel like knitting any more because I knew I should be working on this, and it was niggling at me whenever I worked on something else. Obviously, one does not indulge in hobbies with the goal of feeling unpleasant about it, so I decided that something had to be done. So, from this point onwards, this project is banished to the naughty corner. Life is too short to knit things that you are just not that enthused about. I have knitted things that I have enjoyed making but have worn very little - that is not the ideal, but it's still far from a waste of time. I have knitted things that were completely tedious, but that I adore and wear to death once they're done - again, a worthwhile endeavour. And of course, there are those wonderful projects that you love every moment of, both the knitting and the wearing. But I'm not willing to spend time on knitting something that I am so underwhelmed by.

I would like to salvage this one if I possible, as that much stockinette in such a small gauge has taken forever and a half - all the more so because the bottom was deliberately designed with A Lot of negative ease. But this is gorgeous yarn and I don't want it to languish forever on something that I don't really wear, so if I have to rip it out and start over, I will. At least now I'll have a better idea of how the yarn behaves, and can design with that in mind. The amusing part is that I feel so much better now that this decision has been reached - it never ceases to amaze me how liberating a decision can be, even when it's a decision to abandon something.

In other news, life has been busy around here (all the more reason I do not need to be spending my precious leisure time on knitting projects that I'm not really feeling the love for). I got a new fishbowl (a lovely big 12 litre number) and three lovely (but tiny) white cloud minnows. This is not a good picture, I know - I found the bowl quite difficult to photograph, but at least this one shows off the beautiful plant. It looks quite lovely against the black gravel, and I've had a lot of compliments about how the whole set up looks.

I've also been working a lot, which eats a lot of my energy, especially when it's this hot (we have no air conditioning inside the shop, which means working in temperatures going all the way up to the high 30s and beyond - not fun). And I've been doing a lot of writing and sewing, and also hunting for a new job. It's been fun, but I am beginning to realise that I probably need to cut down on hobbies if I want to keep my sanity once uni starts again - I had to go home sick from work last week simply because I was so tired that I was dizzy and disoriented, and classes aren't even running at the moment! So unfortunately I think that the future holds more rest and fewer fun things for Anna - perhaps I need to learn to knit while I sleep.

And as alluded to by the title of this post, last week there was a trip to Melbourne Zoo! I went with the boyfriend and a couple of friends, and a very good time was had. It was the first time I'd been to the zoo in years, and definitely the first time I'd been since I'd gotten my mitts on a digital camera. Behold, the incredibly cuteness that is the red panda. Though the highlight for me was some leopard rays that were in a small tank near the seals. They were amazing - like big friendly curious frisbees with funny little faces and oddly human looking eyes. I fell a little bit in love with them, proving I think that deep down I will always be that little kid who collects bugs and creepy crawlies in jars.

I was going to blog a little about my newest project, but I recently came to the conclusion that this blog would probably be a lot better if I posted shorter posts more frequently, rather than the (comparatively) huge but sporadic posts I make at the moment. So in the spirit of this resolution, you'll just have to wait until next time!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

In a knitting rut...

It is currently raining here in Melbourne - the heat wave of the last few days has finally broken, which is very good because now I can go into the city and get things done without running the risk of roasting to death in public transport hell. Doing things will be good, if I can make it happen, because once again, I have fallen into the void between semesters: that glorious place where I have free time, but have so much that I want/have to do with it that I end up not getting much done at all. Such is life I suppose. I have been doing things - I've been working a fair bit, getting some writing done, sewing, cooking, and organising university things - but doing a little bit of many things never makes you feel quite so satisfied as doing a lot of one thing. I suppose I shouldn't feel too bad - my brother has just been playing computer games for about 12 hours per day. So, stuff I've been up to:

As I mentioned, I've done a lot of cooking. I've been making huge vats of tabbouleh, or my version of it (a slightly higher ratio of grains to herbs so that it's filling enough to take to work and have as a complete meal). Yesterday I also made a version of these, and yes, they are as terrifying in real life as they look/sound on that site. I made a half batch, and made a basic butter cake base instead of the brownie base they suggested (because I was quite convinced that a brownie base would probably catapult this slice into the realm of too-rich-to-actually-be-enjoyable), and they're still deadly. Nice, but deadly.

I went to a wedding on the weekend (very enjoyable!) and managed to make the bride and groom a card that involved love hearts but didn't make me want to vomit. I was proud of that... It's a little abstract, but I was happy with it.

And I've been knitting. Though not as much as I usually like to. I've sort of snagged on the two projects I've been working on - one of them (the summer top I mentioned in the last entry) is having issues with drape, and it's knit at such a small gauge that it takes a long time to make any progress, so the idea of proceeding only to have to rip back is not appealing. And the other is knit in bulky weight wool that is not particularly suited to summer knitting. The fact that they are both my own designs doesn't really help things either - when proceeding with a project means having to sit down and make calculations, or thread things on and off of waste yarn so that you can try them on, it just makes it a little harder to motivate yourself to keep going. I know that this is a problem that most people face, so I really have no right to whinge, but yeah, there you go.

At any rate, I was still wanting to knit, even though I wasn't too keen on my works-in-progress, so I started the above piece. A basic, top down, triangular shawl - a nice and easy project that I didn't have to think about, and can knit while chilling out and chatting, or listening to music. I am using my long-hoarded Sundara Sock yarn (in 'Brambleberry'), and to make it go further I'm striping it with some basic black fingering weight yarn (I really liked the Sundara, but didn't think I had enough of it to make a decent size shawl using it alone). So hopefully this will be the nice gentle project I need to get my knitting momentum back. I'm sure the lull won't last for long...

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Late night musings on the knitting year ahead...

Because who doesn't need a gratuitous cupcake picture? For the record, this is what my work-mates get when they behave themselves...

Perhaps it's just a beginning-of-the-year thing, but over the last few days, I've found myself thinking more about the things I'd like to knit this year (why yes, I am a little obsessed, thank you for asking, and help yourself to tea and biscuits on the way out). Obviously we knitter-type-people do this a lot in terms of seeing patterns online, or garments worn by people on the street, which then cause us to get inspired and start trying to knit or replicate the design. But this time I've found myself thinking less of specific patterns and more about themes/basic elements.

So for the record, in the year ahead I'd really like to try and knit:

More cables.

Or more to the point, more traditional cables. While I did dabble in cablework over the course of last year (my Gathered Pullover being the most recent example, and who can forget the never-ending saga that was my Sylvi), it was not exactly conventional cablework. I adore both of these designs, but I think that I'd really like to try something a little more basic. I have an entire book of aran and cable patterns on my knitting shelf - it's really about time I cracked it open and got stuck in.

I worked a bit with stripes last year, but it was generally in a minor way, an uninteresting way, or with a self-striping yarn which to me isn't really entirely the same thing. None of these really scratched my itch at any rate, so I see more stripes in my future. *sigh* Better start perfecting that whole jogless stripes in the round thing, Anna...


As I mentioned during the write up for my Wandering the Moor, shawls and I didn't see eye to eye for a very long time. I had knitted a couple of shawls before, and although I'd put quite a lot of work into them (*cough* my Luna Moth Shawl *cough*), I never really wore them all that much. Mostly because I couldn't figure out how to wear them, or because I didn't have anything that went with them, and so on. But over the last few months I have actually found myself wearing both of the above mentioned shawls, so a part of me is itching to explore this area a little further, now that I know that the fruits of my hard work aren't just going to languish in my cupboard.

More Basics:
Wonderfully coloured knitwear is all well and good, but sometimes you just don't feel like cranking out something as vivid as a lot of my garments seem to be. Sometimes it's just a little too early in the morning. Given my bleedingly obvious penchant for making clothes, it's kind of galling to end up resorting to some dodgy black jacket that I bought from Target, just because I want something neutral and un-attention-grabbing. So, in order to alleviate this, I would very much like to knit some nice, wearable pieces in greys, blacks, subdued blues and greens, maroons, and so on. With an emphasis on the wearable: I'm not going to start a new paragraph for this because I am seriously thinking about devoting an entire post to it in the near future, but I want to knit more wearable things. Most of the things that I knitted last year I have worn, and worn a lot, and I would like to continue that way. I enjoy the knitting process, really I do, but I equally, I want to knit things that I will love wearing, and not look at guility every time I open my drawers, only to pass over it for the fiftieth time.

There are other priorities - more handknitted socks because my existing pairs are falling apart, more hats, more gifts for other people (because really I'm not sure I actually need as many knitted garments as I am ending up with as a result of this hobby!), and so on. But those are the big four. Let's see how I go!

In conclusion, here is a project that I finished before I went away but forgot to blog about earlier. It's a mildly ridiculous hat that I made from the wool/alpaca blend yarns that I acquired at the Bendigo Sheep Show last July (purple and brown stripes, but the picture completely and utterly fails to convey this fact). I'm quite happy with how it turned out - originally I was going to do something original, but in the end I got complacent and basically just turned it into a Felicity style hat. I don't regret this. And please excuse the sunglasses - I don't know why I'm wearing them indoors (and for that matter, I don't know why I decided to take a picture in the bathroom either). Go ahead, mock away...