Category Archives: friends

that one day of the year

isnt it crazy how one day of the year can bring up so many memories and feelings and inspire such crazy behaviour?! this christmas, i tried to scale back the expectations and focus on what i did have around me, rather than on who or what i didnt. i am very lucky to have people in my life who helped make the last few days fun instead of fraught. also, i think i was better at looking after myself, and keeping busy helped keep the black pit of despair at bay!

firstly there was the christmas eve swim.

the sun came out finally and i even got a bit of a bite on my back from the sun.

then there was the picnic preparations. i pre-cooked the pork and sliced it up with the ham. i made potato salad (my favourite one from stephanie alexanders book) and a greek salad, and packed it all up in tupperware.

christmas morning breakfast was panettone, mince tart and coffee made with fresh ground carmello beans from allpress.

i tried to do the crossword but failed dismally. i need to do more of these or i am headed for a rapid slide into senility. trent and i swapped small gifts, then we packed up the car and headed out of town. we made for wingello state forest, where we have been a few times before, including a christmas day a couple of years ago. its a good place to take the dogs, and there’s usually not many people except crazy mountain bike riders.

we set up camp

and had a coffee and some cheesecake, it really was the best ever! then trent took the dogs for a ride

while i knitted a sock.

 then we had lunch, starting with beautiful fresh crystal bay and australian ocean tiger prawns

i reheated some of the pork on the camp stove.

jem lives in perpetual hope that he will get fed from the table, but he never does. gotta love the persistence. then there was dessert and more coffee.

trent went for another ride and ricco and possum ran along behind barking, but jem came back to me. seems the 10 year old wombat would rather hang out in a camp chair (smart dog).

we did go for a little stroll through the trees though,

it was lovely and quiet except for the generator from the grey nomad’s campsite. we didnt leave until about 5. it was a lovely relaxing day even though we were both feeling a bit sad. we’re lucky to have each other, when most other family has been lost, and we try and focus on that. and the dogs were tired, so thats always a bonus!

boxing day we went our seperate ways. i had arranged to spend some time with jane and alison, and i had a lot of fun playing with connor

and knitting and eating sushi that alison made

and then an impromptu beer garden lunch on the way home

where we knitted and talked about the cricket. it makes me rub my hands with glee to think india might beat australia (no, im not a fan of our national cricket team. so take me out and shoot me as a traitor. until you get ricky ponting out of that team im not interested).

i also picked up my delivery of the discontinued rowan calmer from missfee,

and when i got home i mucked around with test swatches for a cotton cardigan. i was also very excited to find a little package from my sister waiting for me. i sent her a tin housemaid robot called roxy that i got from the popshop in darlinghurst after guild last month. she sent me a knitted prawn.

i cant wait to hang it from my knitted tree next year. that photo is of me and my sister (shes the one looking up) with my dad, grandma, aunty jen and my mum. i love this photo, even though it makes me cry.

but thats christmas isnt it? laughter and tears, love and frustration. even though this one had plenty of good stuff, im glad its over for another year.



reasons why i shouldnt be allowed to make stuff

i have a confession. i think i am not a very good crafter. i am a good knitter, but i need to follow the pattern. i am not good at improvising, or making stuff up as i go. oh, thats not quite true. im good at adapting things to fit (necessity being the mother of invention) and im good at socks with no pattern (you’d want to hope so after all this time). but otherwise, i lack imagination, visually speaking. and i really have a serious hand-eye co-0rdination problem (ask anyone who’s been a passenger in a car im driving).

other craft type things, beyond knitting, forget it. i couldnt even sew a straight line with a sewing machine in year 9 ‘textile and design’ class. so when it came to making a christmas decoration for my old sydney stitch n bitch group xmas high tea gathering, i struggled. firstly i left it too late. im blaming work for that. secondly, i aimed too high to start off with. i went for a large intricate lace snowflake using silk thread. i couldnt get the cast on right, but tried valiantly for two days before throwing it across the room in disgust. by then it was friday morning and i was out of options. i had a sudden brainwave to have a bit of fun, and ran off to my LYS where i picked up a kit for a little knitted something. it involved ‘novelty yarn’ so it was always meant to be kind of funny, but not quite as funny as it turned out. let me tell you the whole story!

i started it friday night, but it was too awkward to knit on the train up to sydney. i knitted socks instead

and admired the various views – stanwell park just north of home

sydney harbour on a sunny day as i headed to roseredville.

then i knitted like a demon all afternoon saturday in between playing cars with connor

the thing slowly started to take shape.

it wasnt a lot of fun to work with, this novelty  yarn. awkward and annoying. and it made jane sneeze. by midnight the thing had been sewn up, turned inside out and stuffed.

it was grotesque. it had a bald spot on the top. jane crocheted a little star for the top and it was lovely but didnt help diguise the unmitigated ugliness. i’d dropped stitches. it didnt sit up straight. my seaming was shit. and the yarn. god it was ugly*. i thought about not going but sunday came and off i went into the city anyway and met up with kris first to go see the latest installment of the ‘love story of bella and edward, who did not sparkle but broke a bed’. it was good. traumatising and hilarious but good. then we had chilli dogs and parmesan and truffle fries for lunch. sooo good!

then it was a mad dash through the rain down to The Rocks where the knitters had gathered for a high tea.

sandwiches, strawberries and cream, scones, cupcakes. and knitted tea cosies. and then came time for the gift swap. because shes good like that and doesnt take herself too seriously, kris made me tell her which one was my monstrosity and she grabbed it when it was her turn.

i was so embarrased by it but she thought it was hilarious. as did everyone else. its better that its gone to someone who will put silly boggle eyes on it and treat it with the irony it deserves! somehow (cough) i managed to end up with kris’ little handmade felt trees.

they are sitting proudly on my mantle piece next to buddha. they are the only christmasy type thing in the house. maybe i need to make myself an ironic yarn barf tree.

although i think i should probably just stick to socks.

k xx

* i should add that all issues with this pattern are of my own making and not in the design or pattern, which were really quite good!

this one (better) time…

ok so it wasnt quite knitting camp. actually, it was heaps better.

this last weekend was one of the best weekends ive had in a very long time. 9 of my favourite people, a trip to the lovely victorian countryside and a weekend of knitting, eating, drinking and laughing. knitabulous, webgoddess and missfee have already put up some great photos, and theirs are better than mine, though i do have some incriminating ‘knitting in pyjama’ shots. so i’ll be brief.

you know a weekend away is off to a good start when qantas pull their head in, put flights in the air, and you get to visit the qantas club thanks to jody and sue!

it meant very little standing around at gates, like this,

which was A Good Thing. we landed in melbourne safely and managed to (relatively painlessly) hire a couple of cars and hit the road.

lancefield was our destination, only a 45 minute drive northwestish from tullamarine. gorgeous little house, and no dramas picking rooms. then it was off to check out the village. lancefield, the knitters have arrived (no not the crapbookers!).

soundtrack for this photo here! we quickly found the place where they make coffee, which also had its very own little knitters grotto.

gotta watch out for those knitters at the bottom of the garden. we did some shopping (thanks to the fantastic local butcher with his home grown angus and the rump that does not lie). then it was back to the house, and i think it was about 430 when jane kind of coughed and said ‘why are we not drinking yet’? that was quickly remedied with her first G&T. we know its you behind that glass jane.

then  i took charge of the bbq for dinner and did a pretty good job, i have to say. it was much enjoyed, and the knitting and drinking and laughing continued well into the night.

in the morning, there was pyjama knitting. as in, knitting IN pyjamas, not knitting OF pyjamas. is there anything more decadent, really?

and then off to kyneton, where we may have popped into a yarn store, and jane may have bought some red yarn.

i didnt buy anything. nothing at all. i was saving my pennies for lunch, and oh was it worth it. we went to annie smithers, and if you’re ever in this part of the world, i’d really recommend it. fantastic service, including a really knowledgable and welcoming sommellier and food to die for.

i had scallops and prawns on bantam egg pasta in chili and garlic, duck confit with potatos and seville orange, and profiteroles with vanilla bean icecream and chocolate sauce. and two coffees. and they made me my very own fresh lime, mint and dry ginger drink, while everyone else quaffed local pinks, sparklings, reds, rieslings and stickys. we were there quite a few hours, and emerged in a kind of duck fat sugar coma. bliss. i had also ordered a cake for the ‘festival of scorpio’ (4 of us are having birthdays this month) and then again, there was much drinking, knitting and laughing that night.

i woke up sunday morning before everyone else and crept outside to watch the sun come up and listen to the magpies singing.

it was beautiful. later, we wandered off for breakfast, found a fantastic book store, and then gradually tidied up and headed back to melbourne. i cant really describe how great this weekend was. there were no nasty dynamics, lots of good natured ribbing (i was NOT texting the whole time i was there, despite what some people would have you think), and an ease of organisation i’ve not seen in a group of women before. it says something about how while it might be knitting that bought us all together, its the other things we share that keep us close.

a great idea ailsa. look forward to doing it all again next year!

k xx

the festival of scorpio

one of the best things about having my birthday at this time of year is how many other people i know do as well. i love the fact that oct23-nov22 turns into a month long celebration of someone, with gifts, hugs and cake being exchanged all over the place. and also, it helps that most of my favourite people are scorpios!

i dont have a good history with birthdays usually. i try and not care about them, mostly because i’ve always had expectations be disappointed. but this year has proven me quietly wrong. quietly is the key word. i really had no expectations and no plans, just a dinner on thursday night (my actual bday) at a new pizza place in town. yet i was showered with love and kindness all day. early morning text messages, orange and almond cake for breakfast, countless well wishes on facebook, and surpise packages in the mail!

from donna, a liberty notebook & gorgeous pen, and from jane, smooshy sanguine gryphon yarn

and a very cool knitted tea cosy

from my favourite Canberrans, beautiful red beads and me jumping out of a plane (because it was going to brisbane and i didnt want to go there. indeed i didnt, james).

and then a kind of a planned surprise – some of my prints from various overseas journeys finally properly framed and blockmounted. a reproduction of a page out of Pliny’s Natural History from the Laurentian (Medici) Library in Florence

now hanging properly over the mantlepiece in my bedroom

and two Rothkos, one from the Tate Modern exhibition i was lucky enough to see a few years ago, and one from the National Gallery of Art in Washington DC, from the Christmas trip last year.

this particular Rothko is one of my favourite paintings ever and is now hanging next to my bed (without the reflection of me!)

in real life it was huge, half the size of my actual bedroom wall (i have a big wall). i dont know why i like rothko so much. blocks of colour on a massive canvas really shouldnt have the power to make one cry. anyway.

then out for dinner with trent and ailsa and the kids, to Lupa, it was wonderful, pizzas (nearly) as good as any i had in italy

with a fantastic tiramisu (my favourite dessert).

festivities continued yesterday with the monthly lunch at diggies before SnB,

and we had some special visitors from sydney, lyn and margarita, and another present hand made by zena.

how gorgeous is it? im using it already, as you can see. there was chocolate too, but i ate that already.

so its been lovely really, thank you everyone. and there is more to come next weekend when about 10 of us knitter peeps hit the victorian countryside. 4 of us are scorpios. one day, we will rule the world.

in other news, i am a bit all over the place. i mentioned something about an ‘old flame’ last post, and i dont want to say too much, but its proving interesting. exciting, and fun, and really scary too. who knew that 13 years in one relationship and 2 and a half years out of it could play so much havoc with your self esteem? im trying not to overthink things, and just enjoy the ride, whereever it goes.

if you know anything about scorpios, you’ll know how hard that is! wish me luck, wont you 🙂

k xx

long gone

it is a sign of the general ‘boringness’ of my life at the moment that the most exciting thing i have to blog about is a hair cut. the reason this was such a big deal is because it was really long:

there is a lot of emotion tied up in long hair, especially when its curly and very thick, and potentially hard to look after any shorter. but i took the plunge and went to the best place in town. i told Girl with Scissors what i wanted, and she grabbed it all in one hand, like a ponytail, and in one snip took most of it off. well, at least 4 -5 inches. it fell to the floor and made a small hair mountain. everyone in the salon went ‘ooooh’. then she washed it and dried it and took to it with the scissors some more. when i came home, i looked something like this:

its very hard to take pictures of yourself to show off a new hair cut, but im pretty happy with it. this morning it had the real test of me washing and styling it myself. its short enough that i could straighten it like she did, but i will only do that on special occassions. 5 minutes under the hair dryer this morning gave me something very presentable (although you cant really tell from these weird webcam photos!)

and its so light. that’s the best part, no more hair headache! oddly, i feel a bit better able to deal with all the high pressure stuff happening at work now with a more professional hair cut. stupid really, but true. speaking of work, the big day last thursday went great, but lets try and not speak of work again for a while.

i really needed to get out of town this weekend, it can get a bit claustrophobic down here, so i headed up to newtown on sunday to meet up with some knitter peeps. there was coffee and knitting

and tea, and cake and a bit more knitting

and on the way back to where i’d parked the car i took a bit of a stroll down memory lane. newtown is an old stomping ground of mine. it has some happy memories and some not so happy. these back streets lined with terrace houses reminded me how much i miss inner city living

and then i realised i was parked right outside one of the houses i’d once lived in. 55 reiby st.

its been renovated a bit in the last 20 years. i cant say that house was full of happy memories. maybe it was a good thing i’d parked there, just a gentle reminder that the past is sometimes better left where it is.

i drove through a huge thunderstorm on the way home, which has broken the strange snap of hot weather we’ve had, for now, but the garden at the moment is a constant reminder that spring is on its way – that as humans we are completely powerless against the inexorable force of nature and time. the lawn is going crazy from all the rain, and the magnolia has flowered:

i am trying to stay monogamous with my knitting so that i get ‘adrift’ done in time to wear it over a tshirt before the sun returns in all its fiery glory and we all start moaning about how bloody hot it is down here.

i will have this finished pretty soon,if only because my brain is too stretched to deal with anything other than mindless stocking stitch right now, but i would have it done sooner if i didnt have a pile of papers to read and could just sit and knit all day.

where have those days gone?!

k xx

weekend at georgies

once upon a time i lived in the nations capital, canberra. actually, ive lived there twice, once when i left home and went to uni (the first time) and then again when trent and i moved there for his work. i have a soft spot for The Can, there is a lot to like about the lifestyle there, although the people can be a little standoffish. mostly thats because they all work together (public service) or have families, and have already formed groups. it can be hard to get to know people. i started making friends there by going to stitch and bitch groups, but i was very glad when one of my existing friends, dr george, (who i had met through another friend in wollongong!) got a job there and came to stay with us for a while during the week until the job was made permanent and she could move her family down. it was good to have a friend in town who wasnt from canberra and that i could talk honestly with. (canberrans can be a bit defensive about the foibles of living in canberra). now i have left The Can, but george and bertie and james and grace are well and truly settled there. i dont get to see them often enough, so i made the trip down this weekend just gone, and had a lovely time.

firstly there was the weather. it has been raining here for a couple of weeks off and on, so it was great to see some sunshine and to sit in the lovely yard and feel the vitamin D on my skin.

but i really do love canberra in winter. it has proper winters, with snow on the mountains surrounding, and thick fogs in the morning, like this:

it stayed cold all day sunday, i dont think it got above 3 degrees. bertie very graciously let george and i loose sans kidlets, and we went to the old bus depot markets, where it appeared to be vintage day. i grabbed some hot caramel macadamias, and a couple of punnets of my new favourite vegetable kale to put in the garden (i got the purple russian and the cavalero nero type. yum). and, as i am wont to do at the OBDM recently, i got some jewellery, a lovely hand made sterling silver brooch from a designer from Finland.

im going to use it as a shawl pin and a cardigan closer. it almost exactly matches the silver bangle i wear all the time. george picked up the score of the day though, a fully adjustable dress makers dummy for only $75. she has been christened Giselle by bertie’s niece sabrina, who had arrived from germany early saturday morning. i didnt get to see much of her as she was buried under two very excited and loving cousins most of the time!

it was lovely to see james and grace again too. i love having some friends who have kids. it means i get all the fun without all the hassle, i get to find out about the latest lego, and i get cute pictures drawn for me and kisses and cuddles from two little people who call me ‘our kylie’. so sweet.

george and i also managed to finally secure a table at the very groovy and very in-demand a bite to eat, where we crafted

and ate chorizo and baked eggs for brunch.

truly divine. i also knitted some of celes on saturday night while chatting and watching rugby:

on sunday i pretty well had to rip back what id done though. apparently watching the wallabies smack the springboks while knitting lace doesnt go so well. and speaking of sport, i may have shed a tear or two watching cadel wear the yellow in france. allez cadel!

a great weekend, on so many fronts: friends, food, knitting, shopping, sport. hope yours was as good.

k xx

the high life

i have been away from home since saturday, but only in sydney, partly for pleasure and partly for business. i’ve been booked to present at a conference for a while, and decided to work it in with some socialising. first there was knitters guild on saturday, where fee, alison and i compared our Unsts.

three very lovely socks! we all stayed back to help with the free ‘learn to knit’ classes the guild offers, we had 18 new people wanting to learn to knit. i can stand up and give lectures and presentations and run classes at uni ok, but teach people to knit? sheesh. i really am not very good at it, its so hard to articulate what we do when so much of it is just habit and muscle memory. it was fun to try though. then i headed back to roseredville for a fantastic spanish dinner, watching of the new torchwood (oh captain jack. swoon) and lots of cycling, watching jane work out the maths so i could cast on a new project, and playing with a lovely happy little boy

sunday i headed off into the city where i checked in to the conference hotel, which just happened to be the sheraton on the park. it was kind of swanky:

i had time for a bath then i walked down elizabeth and phillip streets on a cold and windy but glorious evening,

to the harbour

and opera house

where i met up with kris, fee, snook and kunaal to see bell shakespeare’s production of christopher marlowe’s ‘dr faustus’. this was a fantastic production, the program notes said they used only parts of the play they knew were authentic marlowe, and then they added a whole storyline from goethe’s faust, and threw it all together with a good mix of modern design, costume and theatrics  including a rather sexy faustus in skinny jeans, and a rather sleazy car salesman-like john bell as mephistopheles. it was a kind of donnie darko meets supernatural, thoroughly enjoyable. we got all classy and had burgers for dinner after:

as you do. i headed back to the hotel for chocolate, knitting, more cycling, and finishing the third volume in the rather less than high-brow ‘game of thrones’ books (those lannisters are just downright evil!).

the conference started monday morning, it was a bit of a different conference for me, instead of being about my discipline specific research, it was about a ‘way’ of doing research and teaching called ‘engagement’, where the aim is to get universities out of the ivory tower and more connected with local communities and social agendas. i do community based research, so i was interested in it from that perspective, but im also working on a policy project trying to embed this way of working into university systems, so i was hoping to get some insight into that. and despite trying to hide up the back of the room

i did learn a lot. i gave a presentation to the whole conference body, about 200 people in the room at once, and it went fine but i still thought i was going to throw up before hand. i dont think i’ll ever get used to that. anyway, it was a great conference, i met some really good people, and i have a lot of good information to put in place now. totally worth the hotel bill (footed by my Dean of course!)

but gosh i was glad to leave this morning. yes my room was lovely, but hanging out in the big end of town feels incredibly unnatural to me. i have a very low tolerance for the ‘wank factor’ and a breakfast room full of self important inflated business men, and rude cashed up tourists wore a little bit thin this morning. i am glad to be home in my trackies and slippers, with a dog on the lounge, knitting my new project.

this is what jane worked out the maths for me for, its ‘adrift’ in elsbeth lavold silky wool. i was going to do a hyrbid of this pattern with ‘summer solstice’, because i really like the yoke and sleeves on summer solstice, but ended up just going straight into adrift. im on 4.5mm needles, working towards a drapey, open fabric, for a flowy short sleeved layering garment.  so far i love it, its got lovely short row shaping in the collar and excellent instructions for wrap and turning, so ive even learnt something new there too!

overall, a very productive few days, full of high culture and socialising. and now im looking forward to a quiet rest of the week at home!