Thursday, July 22, 2010

Holiday Finished Objects

As previously mention, I did plenty of knitting while I was away. Between the hotels and hostels, cafes, buses, trains, planes, picnics and knit-nights, I managed to squeeze out three different projects in the time I was away.

First off: Annis by Susanna IC, knitted in Wired for Fibre Elizabeth (in the 'Fate' colourway) on a 5mm circular needle.

Climb aboard the ramble-mobile: This is definitely the project I'm the most proud of. For a start, it's pretty: the lace pattern is lovely and the yarn is simply gorgeous. I just wish I had a picture that did the beautiful colour justice - it's a much deeper, richer green than the pictures show. Also, this was the most challenging knit. It's not so much that it was difficult - the pattern is well written, and although the nupps were something new to me, they weren't too tricky - it was more than I had a bit of lapse in sense and brought the single bluntest needle I owned along to knit it with. P7tog is all well and good when you have the right needle, but the one I was using was probably blunt enough that I could have jammed it repeatedly into my eyeball and not sustained any damage. So working the nupps was slow and painstaking. Still, I got there in the end.

I won't lie - I made quite a few mistakes. I had to redo the first few rows, and I worked a portion of the lace pattern while I was feverish and headachey, and it kind of, erm, shows. But thankfully it's not very noticeable in the finished product - the errors are mostly at the ends, which tend to be tied and dangling. And all in all I'm definitely happy with how it came out - I can't wait to wear it out and about. The design is wonderful too - it was fun to watch how the short rows created the shape of the shawl, and I think it would lend itself very well to all kinds of variation. I definitely look forward to finding out!

Project number two was just a basic, stash-busting hat made out of some random scraps of black dk weight wool and some Panda Purla that I've been wanting to use up/get rid of but wasn't sure what to do with. I didn't use a pattern, and I won't bore everyone with talking about it in detail, because it's just the most basic of basic hats (worked in the round, two row stripes, rolled brim), but I'm rather happy with how it turned out. As previously mentioned, I've really been feeling the love for stripes lately, so I'm quite keen on this, even though I look like the grotty student bum that I am when I wear it.

Number Three: Wisp by Cheryl Niamath, knitted from Noro Silk Garden Sock yarn on 5.5mm needles.

Blatherings: This pattern was pleasantly easy, and I'd made it before already, so this was a great travelling knit that I didn't have to think too hard about. I'm quite pleased with how the finish product worked out. I would have appreciated a slightly longer scarf, so in retrospect I probably should have made it narrower in order to accomplish this, but I'm still happy with it. The Silk Garden Sock is very pretty, though I found it a little frustrating to work with at times as it had a tendency to break in the loosely spun sections.

So, there you have it - one month's worth of travel knitting. They were all fun projects, but now I'm home I'm really craving a bigger project. It wasn't really feasible to lug pullover quantities of yarn around the US with me, but now I'm home again, I'm looking forward to getting stuck into garments again. I have so many ideas in my head to play with! If only I had more than three days before uni starts again...

Monday, July 19, 2010

Yarny Acquisitions

...and now to the part where Anna drools over her new yarn. As alluded to in the last post, I picked up quite a bit of new stuff while I was gone. Not a completely over-the-top amount - after all, I did have to worry about how I was going to get it home. But definitely a goodly amount, especially considering that I haven't bought much this year. Actually, that has a lot to do with it - the self-imposed yarn diet of last year let me kick my impulse buying habit, so I've purchased comparatively little by way of yarn lately. As a result, I felt a little more justified in lashing out a bit while I was travelling. And besides, when it comes to yarn the range of what you can get in the US is just so vast compared to what is available here in Australia; I was happy to let myself indulge a bit.

This is not quite all of what I bought - I left out some of the doubles, there's some Malabrigo Twist to the right that you can only see a hint of, and I think there was one ball hiding in parts unknown that didn't make it into the shot. Still, not a bad haul, right? I visited so many lovely yarn shops (including WEBS, thanks to some awesome LSG Ravellers), and I ended up picking up a little something from most of them. Highlights included some discounted Noro and some lovely Misti Chunky Alpaca from WEBS, some gorgeous alpaca from The Quarter Stitch in New Orleans, and some Koigu and Malabrigo Lace from Rebecca's work.

Pretty right? Also, besides showing off my holiday indulgences, these photos are a good idea of where I'm at right now when it comes to colour. I've always loved black and green, and I definitely still do, but over the last year I've found myself thinking more and more of grays, purples and reds as well, and sometimes even blues when the shades were just right. And just look at all of the lovely colours I have to work with now!

Anyway, back to the yarn. Not all of them have been allocated to projects yet, but I'm working on it. I didn't really want any of these to languish in the stash for too long, and I'm off to a cracking start on that front: the Misti Alpaca Chunky (the large skein in that gorgeous shade of dark reddish purple on the right hand side of the picture) has already become a scarf. None too shabby, right? And there were a couple of skeins that I had plans for before I'd even left the store in which I bought them.

The moment I saw these skeins in New Orleans, I knew that I had to stripe them together, and I knew that they were destined to adorn my hands. I have every intention of casting on tonight, so stay tuned for news on that in the near future. However, the next post = holiday projects!

But not tonight. I have knitting to do, tea to drink, and an episode of Skins to watch... Have a nice evening, everyone!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Home again!

Well, it was fun while it lasted, but lo and behold, here I am once again in my dear hometown of Melbourne. Hmm, that sounds more dismal than it should. Actually, I'm very happy to be home - I love Melbourne dearly, and though I (obviously) adore travel and do it as prolifically as I can afford to, the places that I've been where I would be happy to live can probably be counted on one hand, and I don't honestly think that any of them can compare to my current place of residence. I wouldn't rule out longer trips, or even extended stays elsewhere, but I can't help but suspect that Melbourne will always be my home. I do love it so - it's a wonderful place to live.

Anyway, enough of that waffle - I'm now going to subject you all to a different kind of waffle: what I did in the latter third of my trip!

On July 5th we shoe-horned ourselves out of bed painfully early and made our way to the airport, and by mid-morning found ourselves in New Orleans. I honestly think that of all of the places that I visited on this trip, New Orleans was my favourite - it's beautiful, has so much character, and a really great vibe to it. Also, when I compared to some of the other places I'd already visited, it really drove home to me again just how diverse a nation the US is - New Orleans and Boston are very different places!

Unfortunately we only had a few days to stay, but we packed as much into our days as was humanly possible. Of course, we started by wandering around the French Quarter and seeing the sights there. We also met up with the very lovely Cadence, who was awesome enough to meet up with us and show us around to a few places (thanks again!). One of the places we went was The Quarter Stitch, a yarn shop in the French Quarter. I bought some lovely yarn there, which is not particularly surprising, but what was surprising was how beautifully our purchases were wrapped up for us. Alas, I don't have a photo that entirely does it justice, as by the time this shot was taken the poor package had been squished into my pack for over a week, but to give you a rough idea:

Why yes, those are ribbons, and those pink things on the left are cut-out tissue paper hearts inside the bag. I saved the tag, and it now has its own little place on the wall next to my desk. Yarn shopping aside, over the next few days we wandered far and wide through a couple of other areas of the city, ate gumbo and beignets, and did a tour of some nearby swamps (alligators!).

On Thursday it was off the airport again, and by mid morning we were in Houston. We had a poke around the Space Centre, and then went out for delicious tex-mex and margaritas in the evening. The next day it was off to San Antonio. We saw the Alamo, so now I can remember it (sorry, lame joke I know...)!

The next day we looked at some of the missions in the San Antonio area, and then went tubing on the Guadalupe River. Tubing was tremendous fun (how can you really go wrong with floating down a river, drinking beer and nibbling on fruit and snacks), though things did take a turn for the somewhat dangerous near the end - I collided with a girl stuck against a tree, was thrown from my tube, and got my foot stuck in some underwater tree roots, which had the unfortunate effect of making it rather difficult to come up to the surface for air. Thankfully I got free quickly - once again, I'm so thankful for being a strong swimmer. So that was some excitement at least!

The next day we packed up and headed back to Houston, where I was equipped with a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and turned loose at the airport. I sat through four (yes, four) flights, and then, some enormous number of hours later, found myself back in a rather wintry Melbourne.

All in all, it was a fantastic trip. I got to meet some wonderful people and see some amazing places - I know this is getting repetitive, and I'm beginning to run out of positive adjectives, but long story short, I count myself extraordinarily lucky that I was able to have some of these experiences, and I definitely left a lot of places thinking 'Wow, I have to come back here...' The wanderlust, it is strong in this one.

As for the yarn I acquired along the way, and the knitting I did on the road; I'm allocating them separate blog posts, because I don't want to weigh too heavily on everybody's attention spans, but hopefully they'll be up soon enough. So now all that's left to do is go and finish unpacking, and to say thanks again to everyone who I got to catch up with (especially Rebecca, who drove me countless places and never strangled me, despite my irritating tendency to talk to inanimate objects). Thanks again everyone - should you ever find yourselves in Melbourne and need a couch, a tour-guide, or a personal baker, you know who to call on!

Monday, July 5, 2010

Posting from the US: North Carolina edition!

Greetings all! I am officially still alive, and haven't been swallowed up into the pit of travel oblivion. Right now I am in the abode of the lovely Rebecca, resting after a spot of baking. Oh, and it's the 4th of July, which is a complete novelty to someone not from America, so I'm looking forward to seeing what the day holds. But first, a (brief!) outline of what I've been up to.

Alas, my experiences in New York City were not what they could have been. I believe I mentioned in the last post that I was experiencing blisters? Well, they only got worse, until it finally got to the point where one got kind of infected, and I actually couldn't walk more than a block or so. If that wasn't fun enough, I also managed to come down with a very lovely case of strep throat (which eventually meant a trip to the doctor, something I had very much been hoping to avoid, as I am a spoiled - and obviously not insured in this country - Aussie who is used to free health care). Still, what are you going to do? Not much, really. I did my best to enjoy what I could of NYC. On the day I couldn't walk, I took the subway down to the Staten Island ferry and rode that around for a little bit. On my last day I went out to see the Chelsea Market and the Highline Park (pictured above), as these were two things I'd had my heart set on, and they were a short train ride from my hostel. Alas, I didn't get to do museums, or even see as much of Central Park as I wanted to, but these things happen I suppose. Guess I'll just have to come back!

After NYC, I made my (feverish) way to Washington DC, where Rebecca finally carted me off to the doctor and supplied with antibiotics (and man, was I grateful). The next few days were spent convalescing and staggering my way feebly around the Smithsonian museums and the Botantical Garden, but by the weekend I was well enough to take in some of the sights properly. We were there during the Smithsonian International Folklife Festival, which was fun, and we got to see some traditional dancing, cooking, and even spinning (which was exciting to two fibre nerds like us). We also checked out the American History Museum and the Holocaust Museum. The thing is however that I don't tend to take many pictures in museums - I've never really seen the point. You can find a much better picture of a triceratops skeleton by Googling it, after all. So above is a picture of the DC subway system, which I thought was super cool and vaguely reminiscent of the sets of 1970s/80s British science fiction shows.

Oh, and we went kayaking on the Potomac, which was as awesome as you'd expect.

After DC it was off to North Carolina and then to the Smoky Mountains National Park, which was just as awesome as I'd hoped. We camped and hiked our arses off - we did over 20 miles in the three days we were there, which is none too shabby considering I'd been feverish and virtually unable to walk only a little over a week earlier.

I took a whole pile of photos, but all you really need to know is that the mountains are completely gorgeous. Go see if you don't believe me. We even hiked a small part of the Appalachian Trail, which was completely awesome. And, as you can see, I did not get eaten by bears. I didn't even see one, and I'm still not sure if I'm relieved or disappointed about this.

Anyway, so now we're back in North Carolina. We went to the baseball last night. Baseball! Can officially say it's more interesting than cricket! And then tomorrow it's off to New Orleans for a few days, and then to Texas for the last leg of the trip. Can't wait!

Oh, yeah, and I've knitted stuff too. I promise! I'm still going on my shawl, but I've finished two other pieces - I'm just too lazy to take their picture, or rather, I've been saving my camera battery for things like the Smoky Mountains!

And apologies to all of you whose blogs I haven't commented on in a while - there's just too many other things to do here, but I'll catch up when I get home, I promise!