all good things

i feel like i have had a surfeit of goodness the last couple of weeks. an elegant sufficiency, even! but of course, my 4 weeks off work must come to end, which it will shortly. today is my last day of actual annual leave, with a weekend still to act as a buffer. im a bit worried, i dont think i will cope. i am likely to burst into tears at my desk from the horror of someone asking me to do something. or else i may run off to the pool and pretend to drown. my boss rang me two nights ago. he said ‘did i see an email from you where you said you might be able to come in this friday’. i said ‘no’. that was the end of that conversation. nice try patrick!

i have really had a wonderful time. its been pretty much what i’d hoped for, extremely relaxing, getting a few things around the house checked off my list, and spending time with my favourite people, who constantly remind me how lucky i am to love and be loved, how full my life is of clever, funny and talented people, and how far i’ve come in the last few years especially.

the last couple of days i have had my friends georgie, james and grace staying from canberra. apart from the indoor pools, they are the things i most miss about living in the nations capital. i wish i saw them more, but the last two days have filled my heart with joy. the sound of the little ones laughing together in the bath, james throwing the ball tirelessly for the dogs and having ricco fall madly in love with him (ah, a little bit too literally), making pavlova together (and trying to get james to not eat all the fruit first), watching ‘how to train a dragon’, playing pirate snap (complete with pirate speak), and then just about crying when i saw grace pick up her teddy bear to go to bed. it was the FAO Schwarz bear i bought her at xmas last year when i was in new york city. apparently its her favourite. its name is kyliebear. oh lordy! and then of course there is the other wonderful joy of a quiet house when they are gone!

other than that, i think i should just let the pictures tell the story.

its not been a very hot summer so far, but i have been out and about a lot and worked up a bit of a tan, and i hope the swimming in particular isnt over.

i might have to quit making pavlovas though.

k xx

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colourworks

one of the things i left off my knit plans for 2012 was the desire to try my hand at some kind of fair isle. i’ve never done any colourwork more complicated than stripes in the round in a  hat, and everyone says its easy, and two coloured mitts cant be that hard right? but as you saw from the list, i have a few other things planned, and probably won’t get to it!

i have been thinking about colour more broadly though, but mostly in relation to home decorating. i am still very much on holidays (another week after this one, and i’m loving it). so this last week has been a great mix of socialising, knitting, hanging around at home, swimming and watching cricket. on wednesday, i met up with some of my favourite people in sydney and we went to see the picasso exhibition at the art gallery of new south wales.

it was a really terrific collection, all of picasso’s own picassos, which he gave to the french state in lieu of taxes owed. they are now the bulk of the collection at the musee national picasso in paris, which, being under renovation, is shipping its entire collection around the globe. i’m a big fan of picasso, probably my third favourite painter after van gogh and vermeer. i particularly liked the way it was curated, chronologically from room to room so you get the progression across a life, and i really loved that these were the pieces picasso himself had kept. drawings from when he was just a boy in the early 1890s, right up to the beautiful and playful bathers statues from 1956 and and beyond. what an amazing artistic life. i grabbed a few mementos

including a large print of the ‘still life on a pedestal table’ (the same picture as on the cover of that notebook in the middle). it’s destined for the lounge room, which made me think that things in there needed a little freshening up. this is what its been looking like for a while.

then yesterday, i had an ikea play-date with pru and jane and a little ikea pixie called fiona who kept slipping things into my trolley.i tried to be disciplined, i even planned what i wanted from the catalogue.


after the obligatory meatballs for lunch,

we set out and i was pretty soon overwhelmed with just how many great things they have and how i pretty much want one of everything. we stopped for sustenance and a bit of knitting

before proceeding to the checkout.

i appear to have not got many of the things that were actually on my list, and a whole heap of soft furnishings instead. which is good, because now my lounge room looks like this:

a subtle but noticeable difference. the next thing to be replaced is that blanket hanging from the window to keep the morning sun out. curtains and rod have been acquired, they just need to be installed. i’m feeling a bit lucky today and might try my own hand at drilling. then again, perhaps not.

my next task is to do something about the colour scheme in my room. the problem here is that the walls are yellow

not a colour i would have chosen. and the air conditioner is in a stupid place which means i had to put that gorgeous rothko to one side. that beautiful blue and white quilt was made for me by george and i really want the rest of the room to work around that, so i probably need to start with a new quilt cover for winter. and i probably need to do something about all these red trinkets hanging off the fireplace.

or can you have red white and blue together in a room with yellow walls? i am not naturally colour minded, but i have some idea of what goes with what (as opposed to just throwing some balls of yarn on the floor and seeing what works). there is not much else about this rented house that i would change, but the yellow walls are one of them. they are unfortunately, here to stay. any ideas for what sort of colour scheme i can work with in there would be greatly appreciated!

in the meantime, i am keeping the knitting fairly simple, but still colourful. i am making good progress on the amiga cardigan in the rowan calmer “garnet’ colourway we picked up from janette’s rare yarns.

this is a fantastic yarn, a cotton/microfibre blend that is soft and stretchy and smooth, not like some of the rough cottons we’re usually subjected to. such a shame it took me so long to discover it, and that its now been discontinued.

a red cotton cardigan. a bit of a departure for me. must be something in the (brightly coloured) summer air!

kxx


once more unto the breach

lots of people have been doing wonderful knitting retrospectives and making me feel ill with their amazing productivity in 2011. like a lot of 2011, however,  i’d rather forget it happened and concentrate on what is yet to be achieved. tally ho, onwards and upwards, and all that (in other words, i didnt get much knitting done and i dont want to talk about it).

i have big plans for 2012 however. my plans are underpinned by one fundamental principle: knit only what i want, and in the yarn i most want to use. so i have trawled through my stash this morning and although i have lots of nice stuff, these are the items that are most loudly speaking to me.

i have even made a list, see, trying to match specific yarns with specific patterns.

there are a couple not yet matched which i can be persuaded about, but for the most part, these are patterns and yarns i’ve been wanting to work with for ages, and this is their year.

lets start with the socks. apparently the siren call of madeline tosh sock can no longer be resisted. i’ve used lots of their yarn for shawls etc, now its time to actually make some socks.

so the plans are, from left to right, spud and chloe fine (thats ‘red hot’ not hot pink thank you camera) for thelonius, madtosh composition book grey for (i think) anniversary socks, madtosh tart for wasabi peas (tarty peas im calling them), wollmeise vamp (up the back) for inlay socks and madtosh thunderstorm for i dont know what yet. i’m sure im missing a pattern i know about there, but i cant remember. dont be surprised if they become hederas, because that’s one my favourite and most versatile sock patterns.

i also have boy socks planned,

this gorgeous knitabulous is set to become whitbys for trents bday in june. best get started on them soon then. and of course, i still have to finish unst number two in that yummy koigu.

i really want to make some matching hats, mitts and scarves sets this year, so i’ve pulled out these beauties.

left to right, the sanguin gryphon bugga is destined for probably another early morning beret and some basic long mitts or wrist warmers. the rowan baby alpaca is for fancy gloves or mitts, im thinking maybe veyla with a matching hat (maybe an ishbel?), and the ruby bluesky alpaca silk is for a pigeon hat to match the celes scarf. speaking of which:

i’m working on two scarves right now, although celes (far right in the bluesky alpaca silk ruby) has taken a back seat to stonecrop, (far left) in the beautiful madtosh prairie in thunderstorm (to match the socks!). in the middle is a beautiful skein of sanguine gryphon mithril, the colour is ‘mayhem’ and its actually a lot darker reddish purple than it appears here. this is currently unattached to a pattern, ive gone off the triangular shawl so we will just let that one stew for a bit. the big skein in the middle is wollmeise lace garn in maus ault and that has shetland tea shawl written all over it (i might start this year but it wont get finished). i also have some of this yummy dream in colour smooshy in cashmere (bronzed lake) colour coming to me to be a line break shawl.

and finally, there’s the garments.

im working on two, although the silver bowl project (‘atelier’ in madtosh pashmina ‘vintage frame’) is in hibernation during the hot days, and its too hard to transport. the new red one on the left is two days old, its ‘amiga’ in the now discontinued rowan calmer, colourway garnet. ive never knit with this yarn before and its amazing. im prioritizing this one because its cotton and i will get to wear it sooner. the final skein is probably the nicest yarn i have in my stash, its madtosh merino light in ink. i have lots of it, and it was originally meant to be an austin hoodie, although im quite enamoured of slow line at the moment.

so there you have it. lots to look forward to. as for 2012 as a year, i expect it will be pretty much like 2011. full of stress and frustration and excitement and achievement at work, and the usual joy, love, sorrow and disappointments from people. another year, in other words.

hope it brings you lots of happy knitting time.

k xx


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.

kxx


it really is silly

so here we are, christmas eve 2011 and the silly seaon is upon us. i finished up at work on thursday with some things left undone because i spent the whole last day putting in the paperwork for the promotion they’ve offered me but i then have to apply for. universities, full of smart people. as compensation, they’re going to backdate it so i should get some bonus dollars in the new year as well. i am still thinking about the other things i should have done before i left, but i’m going to stop doing that soon. i dont need to feel bad about my year. a major project started, conducted and report written, plus 6 journal articles either published or accepted. the last one in particular was in a very high impact journal that i’ve been trying to get into for 2 years. my boss was so happy he gave me a hug and ran to tell the vice chancellor about it. bless.

but today, i am home alone, well except for the three mutts. i have house cleaning to do, a pork loin to roast (apologies to my jewish grandmother who is now rolling in her grave), some laps to swim, Forbydelsen II to watch, and a gorgeous lace stole to knit:

after a few hiccups with the bottom border i managed to turn the short row corners and pick up the right amount of stitches to now be ready to start the main chart. lifelines and highlighting tape are at the ready.

i am, however, a bit sad today. trent is out for the day and night but will be here tomorrow and we will take the dogs up to the state forest to try and avoid thinking about the fact that we are both without family at this most family-oriented time of year. im a bit antsy, because ive been reading people on twitter and facebook etc complain about their families or how hard christmas is if you dont have kids, and i just dont get it. i dont buy into the whole ‘christmas is for kids’ thing. yes there is a lot of joy in giving them presents and seeing them open them, as im sure toy companies around the world agree, but the meaningless giving of STUFF for no good reason seems to breed a sense of entitlement and consumption for its own sake. and thats not what christmas is meant to be about anyway. so i dont feel sad that i dont have kids at this time of year anymore than i do any other time of year.

but i do get upset when people whinge about family at this time of year. i know what its like. i have terrible memories of family christmases when i was young. the stress and tension and meanness. there was no love or caring or sharing there. so i dont inflict that upon myself as an adult. i have that choice. but still im sad that i have parents out there somewhere who dont care whether im alive or dead. im sad that my sister and i spent such a long time not talking that we arent in the habit of making our own christmas together (we plan to change that next year). and i wouldnt be human if i didnt feel bittersweet about spending my xmas day with my best friend who was my ‘husband’ for 14 years but now isnt, considering i also ended my new ‘relationship’ last week (dont ask!). so i’d pretty well cut off my right arm for a traditional ‘family’.

but despite all that, im really incredibly happy. what a fantastic year it’s been. so much change and growth and learning, lots of it good for a change. i’ve made a kind of attempt to bring some christmas cheer, including my strange multicultural mantlepiece:

complete with glowing santa won at the work christmas lunch. there are cards from loved ones, a few small presents (that may include a goat, a pig or a wellness circle), and then there are my favourite christmas foods in the kitchen:

yesterday trent and i made a baked cheesecake together, which was a double rainbow because we didnt argue and it didnt sink in the middle.

i have lots of  plans to spend time with excellent friends in the next couple of weeks, with a whole lot of knitting to look forward to, and i am not going back to work until january 18.

but mostly, i am alive and well. i dont live in some war torn, famine, flood or disease ridden part of the world. i have money to spend on gifts and food. i have clean water to swim in. i have a car to get me places. i do not live in fear.

it really is silly to be sad or angry or complaining at this time of year. it makes a lot more sense to give to others with less and think about what we do have.

hoping yours is full of love.

k xx


toe fetish, with interruptions

these last two weeks before christmas at work have been crazy. im having most of january off and suddenly everyone wants me to finish everything. of course, its not happening. i have two more meetings today and then i go into serious wind down mode. my currently throbbing right wrist will thank me, if nothing else, although i suspect thats got more to do with knitting than work! and i think its from knitting furiously for at least a week on tiny 2.25mm needles.

first i had to fix that toe issue on those stripey socks. so i got everything set up for my sock surgery on thursday, turned the offending item inside out and set about trying to unpick a judy’s magic cast on.

not as easy as it sounds, and neither is unravelling a toe when there are decreases to be dealt with.

it got a bit messy at one point.

scissors were required.

right after i took this photo i decided to go cool off with some laps in the pool.

it hasnt even been hot here yet, just a bit humid and muggy, with so much rain and cloud, but the sun came out and i decided to just jump in there. i was pretty happy, my first swim in 8 months and i did a kilometre no problem, including 400 metres non stop (usually i break it up every 100m with a kickboard lap). it felt great to be in the water again. im not a fan of summer but i’d be happy for it be warmer OUTSIDE the pool than in (the water is warmed slightly so it was 27 in and 22 out!).

of course, swimming makes me ravenously hungry, so i made a little afternoon tea before getting back into the sock surgery,

which, once past the decreases,

proceeded without further problems!

i finished them up last night, and they are almost a perfect match.

the lengths are now even, but there is a slight difference in the actual shaping of each toe. i dont think the recipient will mind.

i had another toe issue this weekend as well, which involved the Unst socks ive been working on in that yummy koigu stuff. i forgot that koigu skeins are a bit sparse, and i went down a needle size PLUS added stitches, and forgot to adjust the length of the leg accordingly. i thought i might get away with it. people i had lunch with on sunday thought i might get away with it.

but i didnt. i ran out on the train on the way home.

so close! so i decided to risk it and join in some closely matching spud and chloe fine (the yarn i originally started these socks in!) i only had about 8 rounds to go, and im pretty happy with how it turned out.

you can really only tell if you look really closely, and who’s going to be looking really closely at the toes of my handknitted socks, especially when they’re inside my shoes?

so even though i should start the second unst straight away, i think i need a bit of a break from the tiny needles. there’s some madeline tosh prairie and a jared flood pattern calling my name.

kxx


stops and starts

at our knitters guild meeting this weekend, we did a round the room ‘what i learnt about knitting this year’. i said i learnt that if you work on one project it gets finished, and then lyn said something that really resonated with me – that i dont like knitting patterns i dont like. i’ve always struggled with KALs, and i was really disappointed with the socks that the majority voted for in a group i helped initiate on ravelry. they were good patterns, just not the ones i really wanted to knit, especially in a year where knitting time has been so hard to come by. so i started one or two of them, and then opted out.

this doesnt just apply to KALs though. this year i have also learnt if i’ve decided on something, and i start it, and im not feeling the love, frog it. it wont get finished and it will sit in the basket under my coffee table unfinished. for example, this jaywalker sock, which i discovered on sunday when i was cleaning out said basket.

it has no sibling, because as much as i love the yarn (its online supersocke bamboo blend and its so lovely and so soft on), i really loathe that jaywalker pattern. so even though the basket is now tidy,

and that sock is back in there, there probably wont be a second one. at least, not in the forseeable future.  while cleaning out said basket, and with lyn’s words ringing in my head, i looked at the lovely madli’s shawl in gold silky thread. i havent knit it for ages. why? it bores me. i opted for no nupps, and i hate to admit it but i was wrong (yes yes i said it, take a picture). it needs the nupps so it doesnt look so repetitive, and in that superfine yarn, it really needed the nupps to give it some definition. so it got frogged. because i do want to be knitting some lace, and because fiona is my own personal test knitter at the moment, i have started jared flood’s stonecrop instead.

missfee supplied me with the yarn, which is the beautiful madtosh prairie in thunderstorm (much bluer than it looks here). i wanted to do this because i have some of that colour in madtosh sock, and i love the idea of a shetland/orenburg construction with NO KNITTED ON BORDER. whats not to love about that?

i have been trying to practice what i preach in the monogomous knitting department as well, and concentrating on getting a pair of boy socks off the needles in time for christmas. i achieved that today with these lovely stripey creations.

then i noticed a little problem.

hmmm. i think i will rip that second toe back to the same length as the first (which fits the recipient) and then kitchener it.

so that would be something i obviously failed to learn about knitting this year: look at the first sock before you start the second!

sigh.

k xx