just to be annoying, i have transferred this blog to another domain name.
a room of my own can now be found at
until i work out how to do an automatic redirect, please adjust your reader/rss feeds accordingly.
just to be annoying, i have transferred this blog to another domain name.
a room of my own can now be found at
until i work out how to do an automatic redirect, please adjust your reader/rss feeds accordingly.
i have had my knitting time seriously encroached on this week due to Other Things like work, and singing practice, and a little thing called ‘organising the fabulous fibres feature display at the Sydney Royal Easter Show’. im really enjoying being the co-ordinator of the display (where the knitters guild will have a large area to display our work and run demos and chat to the public etc) for the two whole weeks of the show, but good lord, the organising. lots and lots of spreadsheets and emails, trying to keep track of all the different elements. im lucky, i roped in some good people to take on specific tasks, and theyve been great, but sometimes collectives are harder than just doing it yourself. so much consensus building, and in a group as diverse as the knitters guild, consensus is a nice ideal! (Turns out I would have made a good facist dictator). but mostly, its been a good experience in staying focused on the goal and not sweating the small stuff.
i did manage to get one thing finished, one single lonesome sock, the first tarty pea (recovered from its little surgery).
this fits really well now and i like it a lot. the madtosh sock yarn knits up a dream. im not going to start the second one straight away. i owe someone a new pair of socks. these are the current knitted man socks in the house (missing one patonyle gansey – who knows where that is?)
as you can see some of them are faded and semi felted. sigh. so im going to start the first of these
and make one before returning to the tarty peas. that way he might have new socks by june.
i was also distracted this weekend by a little unexpected BUNT knitting. we decided for the stall to have some knitted bunting. bunting is a THING, mostly in sewing circles, but knitted anything is better, and my own guild group have decided it will be the thing they contribute to the stall. there was a string of them already on display at saturdays meeting, and i couldnt resist, i had to come home and make one:
this is some left over yarntini self striping. i have some cherry tree hill left overs too, and maybe a bit of wollmeise lying around. it could only be more of a THING if you put a bird on it, right?
i woke up at 530 this morning to yet another cool grey raining summer day down here in the antipodes. im not complaining. im very happy about La Nina, she can stick around as long as she likes if it means rain and cooler temps, after 10 years of drought and raging bushfires. but when i heard the rain and realised i was cold, i thought ‘i need more knitting time’. there is the cotton cardigan on the needles i need to finish, and ‘atelier’ i need to get out of hibernation, and a new one i want to start. so much knitting, so little time.
and then there’s socks – i managed to fix up the wasabi peas and it now slides on perfectly.
all i had to do really was reduce the amount of stitches in the decrease rounds. the pattern says purl 5 together. im just purling 3 together. much better. im enjoying these otherwise, but i need to knit other pairs for other people too. and lets not even start on the unscheduled knitting that was NOT ON THE LIST, some for the easter show, some for people who insist on having babies.
and if i didnt think things could get any more demanding at work i was wrong. i feel oddly calm about it however. perhaps its the calm one feels right before the executioner chops off one’s head? at any rate, there’s no point stressing about it as that wont help me get it done. i just need to make lists everyday and break everything down into tasks and tick them off as i go (and delegate as much as i can. i still have minions for that thankfully). i am also happy to report the home/cleaning/dog caring situation has improved, with my house mate now able to work remotely (as in, from home) for the rest of the summer, so he will be able to help with stuff around the house and with the dogs. he’s real good like that. as part of my new energy efficient eating plan, i also committed to 15 minutes house work a day. when you just do it in little chunks it doesnt feel so overwhelming.
but of course, instead of just relaxing into that little bit of breathing space, i’ve gone and added something else to my agenda. i joined a new choir!! im so excited about it, it was a huge leap for me to join this particular group – its the illawarra choral society and they do Serious Music. last year they performed Handel’s Messiah for their christmas performance, and when i arrived at rehearsal on monday night they handed me this
oh yes, Mozart. the whole entire requiem, to be performed in april. i havent sung classical since my high school choir, and i also have never learnt to properly read music (altho i can follow it), so sections like this are proving a bit of a challenge:
but they told me i did really well on monday night and are happy for me to come back. im singing in the alto part, i’m at the higher end of the range but operatic soprana doesnt come naturally, so i’m happy to be where i am. its a big group, maybe 50 people, and oh my god, they sound amazing! if i had been walking past i would have stopped and listened. so incredibly beautiful. its a real step up for me, from ethnic folksongs and rearranged beatles tunes to my favourite composer. i have the whole requiem on high rotation just trying to get the rhythms in my head – the lacrimosa was in my head when i woke up this morning so it wont take me long to get the hang of it.
a bit of a change from the usual ‘chemical brother’s (hence the post title) or ‘boards of canada’ i listen to while im working. and practice everyday is going to cut into knitting time, but i dont mind. singing makes me happier than just about anything else i do, i dont know why, i guess its true what they say about music and the soul. and theres just something about mozart -he’s always been my favourite but now to be part of these beautiful, complex and crazy harmonies, it makes me appreciate his amazing talent even more.
im so glad i took the risk to try out for a choir i thought was well beyond me. i was so anxious before i got there, so sure i wouldnt be good enough, i nearly turned around and came back home. you never know what you’re capable of until you try do you?
ps anyone up for a sunday afternoon in wollongong? i can arrange the group booking!
probably the most important thing i’ve learnt as i’ve progressed in my knitting skills is to trust my instincts. it turns out i am usually right. for instance: happily knitting along on the wasabi pea socks, added a few extra stitches, figured out how to stick to the actual pattern, loving the madelinetosh sock yarn (its even better for socks than it is for shawls). fits great on the leg, do the heel and sort of gusset decreases as directed, try it on:
houston, we have a problem. you cant really tell from these pictures but its too tight across the instep
it fits great everywhere else, but its just too tight there. theres no real stretch in it, and the pattern is meant to go down the foot,
whereas mine stops about one centimetre after the instep.
i knew it wasnt right, and continued for a bit, but the little voice inside my head wouldnt shut up, and so, you know what i must do. if in doubt, rip it out. as they say.
so thats a bit of a bummer, and ive been putting it off, but i will do it today. hopefully it wont be too stressful, as i am a bit wobbly today. the change in eating pattern (i do not use that D word) is going really well. im really super surprised by some of the changes, including a noticeable increase in energy and mental clarity, let alone the lack of stomach pain. everything is, for the most part, functioning normally. yesterday tho, i was really busy at work and went well below what im meant to on the carb level, and pretty well started sliding into a quasi-coma from about 8pm. i was so tired, and a bit headachy and the strange taste in my mouth, and this morning i woke up tired and cranky and crying.
of course, that could just be a delayed shock reaction from the week i’ve had at work. there is lots of movement at the station because of the new BossMan and ive been given a number of new (some rather important) projects. im determined not to let them stress me out and just do what i can each day, and ignore the fact that my boss just SMSed me. at noon. on a saturday.
perhaps i’ll just make a nice cup of tea before i start on that sock!
if you are my age you will now have Devo playing in your head. you can thank me later. and yes i deliberately mispelled it because i am going to talk about some of my Works In Progress (wips).
but first, thank you so much for all the supportive comments in the last post. i am feeling much better about things, and was reassured by all the ‘get a cleaner’ comments. i used to have one when we lived in terry hills in a very big house, and i dont have a problem with employing someone. there are a few possible changes happening in the housemates circumstances that may effect that decision and i should know this week sometime, but i at least feel like i can do something about that issue!
i think this has been helped by ‘wipping’ (haha) a few other things into shape in other areas of my life as well. part of my overwhelm feeling was that i wasnt looking after myself, and that means nutritionally as well. i had a day last week where i just couldnt be bothered cooking and i ate sandwiches or toast for every meal, and i was sick as a dog for three days. actually, not ‘as a dog’ because dogs get sick and move on, i was worse. i felt like my gut was being twisted. i couldnt move, could hardly breath. it took three days to subside. i’ve been having increasing reactions to bread, pasta and rice and that precipated a discussion with my friend kris who i knew had done low-carb eating before. so i have made a decision to change my life in that regard.
i am not one for diets. i dont believe in short term fads. and i get very angry about all the ‘stuff’ that is caught up with women, weight and body image. if you think fat is not a feminist issue you’re probably a guy. my thoughts on this matter are best summarised by naomi wolf who wrote about how impossible it is for women to be politically active (or active in their lives in any real way) when they are busy starving themselves to death. (if you havent read that book you really should. right now). and i get extremely frustrated with all the bullshit tv shows and pseudo weight trainers who make money by objectifying and humiliating overweight people. the problems caused by a society in which its ok to automatically assume overweight people are bad, lazy and unhealthy do little to help the issue and in fact make it worse. i must declare my own self interest here, i am overweight, and have struggled with that since i was about 16. it runs in my family, everyone is overweight. but im lucky. my dr says im in perfect health. low everything thats supposed to be low. i think its mostly because i dont drink and smoke (never have smoked, thankfully) but also im still young. i cant rely on that luck forever.
so my big decision is to mostly remove carboydrate from my diet. i’ve been working on it since tuesday. i’m well under the recommended 100g a day by taking out bread, pasta, rice and sugar. of course, i pretty much want to kill someone for a timtam right now. and i dont intend to never eat those things again (sugar in particular. in fact, if i get through a month sticking to my plan for 6 days a week im going to make a pavlova). but i cant tell you how great i feel already. just a little thing like changing my breakfast from grains to protein has changed the whole shape of my day. im not hungry. not at all. this means im not thinking about food. this is a huge step forward for me, being one of those people who has an emotional relationship with food. i feel alert and energetic, am sleeping really well and feel like this is something i can sustain. i always was a meat lover, so this plan works to my natural strengths! dont worry, im not going to blog about it endlessly, because there really is nothing more painful than diet blogging (get a life people). but i think its important to acknowledge the change and to let you know if it works!
but what i really want to talk about, related to the issue about obesity above, is the expense! my groceries are not cheap anyway, i already eat mostly fresh food. but when you take out a sandwich for lunch or toast for breakfast, and start getting your fibre wholly from fruit and veg, you’re looking at a lot of money being spent on food. which is what makes me so angry when we have newspaper columnists running around talking about how much fat people are going to cost the health system and NOT talking about the fact that macdonalds is cheaper and easier. i had someone living a very comfortable middle class life once tell me there was no class in australia. you want to start linking obesity to postcode and try sell me that one again? i can see it here, near where i live. the coles supermarket closer to the housing commission area has dreadful quality fresh food and a very limited range. the woolworths not more than 1km south is like gourmet world. yet another social problem that we blame on the individual, yet another great big silence. im lucky, i can afford to make this change. we should think about those who are less so before we rush to judge them.
and on that note, i shall stop pontificating and get to the knitting. i am feeling more in control at work by setting some clear boundaries about my time and availability, but instead of just resting with that, i decided it was a good time to take on a knitters guild responsibility. apart from being co-secretary of my own guild group, i have offered to co-cordinate the sydney royal easter show feature display. this is not the competition part, its different. every year a particular craft gets a separate space to showcase its best work, hold displays, talk to the public etc. the knitters guild will be part of this display this year along with the handspinners and weavers and the machine knitters. its already started to be bigger than ben hur, and my spare computer time has been taken up this week with endless spreadsheeting and emailing. so much for taking things off the desk.
it also means i havent had a lot of knitting time, although i am finding by sticking to only a few things i am making some progress. for example, the restarted wasabi pea socks are now at the heel (turned it today)
the amiga ‘rowan calmer’ cotton cardi is well down the body (although i keep adding front increases which doesnt help)
and the ‘different lines’ shawl in the hoslt garn silk wool is nearing completion. another one or two black stripes and it will be onto the final red band.
these are all proving good summer projects, its been warmer here this week and i cant imagine touching anything heavy and furry. but already, we’re at the end of january and i’m worried i wont have the things ready i want to wear this winter!
oh time time time see whats become of me…from devo to the bangles in one post. dont say i dont do anything for you.
i am having a little melt down today. so of course, it makes sense to write a blog post! seriously though, i am not really coping with my life this week. i know i have a good life and i know i always tell people to be grateful, myself included. this morning i was doing my grocery shopping and as i reached for the cucumber (lebanese. not burpless. or telegraph), i was overwhelmed by the fact that i had 3 choices of cucumber. not only that, but that i had this big air conditioned barn that i could drive my car up to the entrance of and fill it full of fresh healthy products from all over the world. how incredible is it that we take all that for granted?
but even i have bad days. today is crap. ive been back at work a week and im not coping. firstly, i feel as though i haven’t even been away. i feel like people were just lurking behind doors waiting for me to come back so they could say ‘as i was saying…’ and continue the conversation from 4 weeks ago about all the things they want me to do. in and of itself, thats not a bad problem to have. i’m glad i have a demanding job with extremely high expectations. there is nothing worse than working somewhere you hate with people who dont care. but i can tell you the reason why there are more male high achievers in academia than female. one reason, one word. women. the men in my university are almost without fail married to a woman (i think there might be three gay men that i know of). some of them are married to academic women, but in almost all cases, she is lower in the university hierarchy than he. most of the time there are children involved, so of course, that changes things a bit, and im sure most of the academic women around me wouldnt change that for anything. but my point is, he gets to be a professor before she does because he’s got time to write while she’s teaching then running home to look after kids, shopping, cleaning etc. im generalising, but i dont think its an unfair generalisation. im not saying those women are unhappy, but what i am saying is, to get to the top of this business, you need someone to pick up your slack.
so i guess thats what its about for me right now. the lack of someone to pick up the slack. i will readily confess i only finished my phd because trent picked up the slack when we were together. and now, he might live here, but we have separate lives, and over the summer break he is not here, and i am here alone with three dogs and a house to care for. its no problem when im on holidays. i managed to fit everything in very nicely. i got to go swimming, the house was clean, clothes always being processed, the dogs walked lots. plus i got to socialise and knit. i even took on some extra knitters guild responsibilities. this last week i feel like i’ve dropped the ball completely. i havent been swimming. the house needs a good scrub. there are piles of clothes to wade through (of course its raining). the dogs have been out, because they come first, but not as much as i would like. i feel like the garden has taken on a life of its own. and knitting? well i’ve done a bit. i frogged the wasabi pea socks because my pattern modification wasnt working
and have now got them back to where they were (with unmodified pattern,which im still not sure if its working).
so im knitting-neutral really. dont get me wrong, i dont mean to whinge. i dont mind working hard at work (i do work really hard, despite what some people think. 6 publications last year. thats all i need to say). i love my dogs and will do anything for them. i will go for a swim again soon. and when im finished writing this i will go vacuum and will feel better.
but sometimes, this being alone business is hard work. i dont talk about it much. i dont think women talk about it enough, as though theres some shame in it we should hide. theres a lot of conflicting emotions there. personally, im happy to be out of a dysfunctional relationship. sometimes, i think heterosexual relationships are inherently unhealthy for women. we tend to lose ourselves too easily, become dependent. it takes a lot of work and a very special person to overcome the sexist power relations – that expectation that it will always be the female who sacrifices something (not helped by a society in which women still get paid less, so im not blaming the everyday male for any of this). i dont miss the co-dependent parts of myself that emerge in relationships. i had a little fling a while ago and it was fun, but it wasnt ever going to be serious on my behalf, and i dont just use people for fun, so i ended it. i dont regret that. i dont miss some of the unique pleasures that come from living with men, let alone living with anyone. compromise is always hard. and i absolutely dont miss being with someone just for the sake of not being single. it terrifies me that women even feel they have to stay in relationships because of that fear (let alone the real financial issues that divorce laws have done little to alleviate). what the hell is so bad about being single? why are women made to feel so bad about that?
but i will confess, today i miss having someone to pick up the slack. my poor student housemate contributes but mostly i pay my own way. i have to decide every night what im going to cook, what will work for just one, how will i fit in the housework, the shopping, the dogs, my exercise. if i wanted do extra reading or writing outside official work hours and really work my way up that academic ladder, i would have no knitting time and no social life. so i make a conscious decision not to, and i will suffer the consequences of that. being on holidays for so long spoiled me i think, so much knitting, socialising, sunshine. this week i feel lethargic, overwhelmed, teary, its all too hard. eventually i will find a way to get all of these things back in balance again, and it wont depend on whether i have another person around or not, because i am strong and capable. most of the time.
i try and be positive and grateful. but today, im not either. today, its just too tiring, too hard. sometimes it just helps to tell people that.
the first finished objects for 2012 are the lovely unst socks by nancy bush
this is my second attempt at these socks. i messed up the pattern AND sizing the first time and then messed up the yarn (spud and chloe fine in ‘shitake’) when trying to rip back. but i wanted to do them so much because i had initially started them as part of a KAL with alison and fiona, and they finished and i didnt. so i picked up this lovely koigu yarn from calico and ivy in perth, and started again.
im glad i did. this is a really easy pattern, with only 4 pattern rows, two of which are knit, and the actual stitch pattern easy to remember. its the ‘columns and arches’ stitch pattern and it comes up a treat in this tightly twisted yarn
(apart from where the knitter makes mistakes, but in socks for me i dont care). i did make one serious miscalculation however. i upped the stitch count by a whole pattern repeat (so from 56 stitches to 70). 56 stitches is way too small for me, especially on 2.25mm needles. i forgot however, that koigu skeins are a bit shorter than usual. so i ran out of yarn right near the end of the toe
i decided to just finish the toes with what i could reclaim from the aforementioned spud and chloe. it was a pretty good match, and i dont think you’d know if i didnt tell you. i will wear these a lot, they fit well and the colour goes with everything.
i would defintely recommend this pattern to start with if you’ve not knitted nancy bush socks before.
but i am not a green yarn lover, i dont own or wear a single green thing and dont intend to start anytime soon. so, in line with my ‘knit what you want with the yarn you want’ motto for 2012, i’ve started mine in madelinetosh sock in ‘tart’, which is my favourite colour of hers and will match my stripe study shawl. im calling them ‘tarty peas’
we’ve made a few mods to this pattern so far, including upping the stitch count, changing the cuff and modifying the actual stitch pattern! i’ll let you know how they work out, and hopefully there will be no mishaps with pattern or yarns this time.