27 January 2007

Socky goodness and purple loot

Socky things!

This is the final blue Patonyle sock - I didn't get the pair in the photo, but they are both done (honest!). The top section is in a stranded stitch (from the Knitty Crusoe sock), and the rest is a straight-forward sock design. I finished these quick smart, as I needed my Ivore sock needles to start a pair of sock for my sister's birthday!

I decided to use the lovely sock wool dyed by my daughter, and add some beads to the edge. I'm adapting the Rolling Thunder sock design on Knitty. It has a hemmed top which is a bit fiddly, but looks lovely :)

The blue wool is the crocheted chain, which is the start of the cast on. The sock wool is knit into each crocheted stitch, and after knitting 10 rows, and then doing 10 rows of pattern, including beads, the crocheted chain is undone, and the live stitches put onto extra needles. Then they are knitted in with the other stitches, by knitting through 2 stitches at once (from the 'current' needle and the 'cast on' edge). It took some time...!

But it looks lovely now!

And now for some gloating... dotter and I found these at Salvos today - 2 untouched balls of warm brown pure cotton (according to our translation efforts at the German label).
But the 800g of soft lace-weight purple stuff for $4? Woo hoo! The label says it's Cashmilon... I've just looked it up online, and it's a 100% nylon machine knitting yarn. The fruit is there as a size reference, so you can see how truly enormous the thing is!

26 January 2007

Aussie Aussie Aussie, Oi Oi Oi!

This should be our national anthem, you know it makes sense ;)

Happy Australia Day all you Aussies! Enjoy the long weekend, and remember to eat lamb!

25 January 2007

Mmmmm swimmmming

Ahhhh - I just did 14 laps (ok, only breaststroke, but it was still hard work) at Erindale Pool, and the overwhelming sense of well-being and plain old happiness is wonderful, and could easily become addictive. Huh - who'd have thought? Maybe all those doctors and psychologists were right after all ;)

23 January 2007

Tag taggy taggity tag

OK - so Bells has tagged me. Six weird things about me. I think I've done this one before, ages ago, but I'm sure I can find more weird things to add to the list!

1 I have a twisted leg. I was born with a dislocated hip, but no one noticed until I was nearly TWO FOR GOD'S SAKE GUYS!! Was anyone watching when I kept on falling over, and still couldn't walk at 20 months?!!

No, no, I'm not bitter... Anyway - masses of surgery ensued, over many years. Result is - I can walk, but my leg was twisted around to get my hip to sit in place, then put in traction, and then the femur was broken and reset and it's totally totally gross twisted in the process. I also now have arthritis in said hip, and over 160 stitches. Hip replacement is inevitable. Don't even want to think about it.

2 I don't really like using phones. I do it, of course, and have to make calls for my business, and (generally) happily call friends and family, and I have to field a lot of business calls and am pretty good at deflecting marketing calls now. But if there's a choice, I'll usually opt for e-mail or SMS. I'm not sure why... I suspect that I don't hear exactly what's said on the other end very clearly sometimes, and end up saying something stupid or inappropriate, or have to ask people to repeat things.

3 I like really bright nail polish. Lime green, blue, silver, purple, even orange. The brighter the better! None of those pale pinks or delicate tans for me - give me COLOUR and LOTS OF IT!

4 I only own 3 pairs of shoes. I have to wear fairly thick expensive custom-made orthotics (see 1 above) and the shoes that will take them are few and far between and VERY expensive. I own one pair of black Kumfs court shoes, one pair of Brooks sneakers, and one pair of Homey Ped sandals (which don't take my orthotics, but meh, too bad).

5 I was a classical violinist as a child and teenager, and nearly became a professional violinist, until RSI put paid to those plans (the loss still makes me cry). I have very eclectic musical tastes, ranging from Gregorian chant, through baroque, classical, romantic (favourites are Schubert, Shostakovich, Sibelius, Greig, Vivaldi, Bach, Beethoven, Stravinsky and many more!) to modern composers such as Philip Glass, Arvo Part, Elena Kats-Chernin and Nigel Westlake. I mostly listen to ABC Classic FM radio, and can correctly identify the composer of a piece about 80% of the time.

I also love modern music, as in rock, jazz, punk etc. I love a lot of the music that my teenagers have introduced me to, and in fact heavy rock is what I listen to when I'm working : Muse, Nine Inch Nails, Queens of the Stone Age, Pink Floyd, U2, Ratatat, Smash Mouth...

6 I feel anxious most of the time, probably because I'm an inveterate perfectionist (proof: I've now edited this post 9 times). I have real trouble just letting go and thinking 'It will all be OK'... I worry about my kids, and the state of the house (always much messier than I would like it to be - but with a 3:1 ratio of messy to tidy people in the house, I've just about given up), and our crippled family finances, and the state of the world, and politics, and the environment, and my health, and my family, and ... So knitting is GOOD. It helps me relax!

And on that note :

Here's the finished baby singlet, which I presented last Sunday - little Martin is too small to wear it yet, but his mum was thrilled, and really appreciated a hand-made gift. Hopefully it will fit him by the time the weather is cooling down a bit.

22 January 2007

Legless lamb

I don't think I need to add anything - let's just say that Lulu came home completely hung over, in disgrace, in the suitcase. I won't even discuss how much the mini bar damage cost us...

19 January 2007

Socky joy

I have Happy Spidey socks! After an unexpected frenzy of secret sock knitting (well, knowing Spidey, perhaps NOT so unexpected), I find myself the very happy owner of some BEAUTIFUL socks! Can you tell it's Spidey-dyed wool? Just gorgeous...

Thank you Miss Spidey!!

Curses on too-hot-for-socks weather!

18 January 2007

One big city, one little lamb

Some more about our Brisbane trip....

After visiting my syndicators (and yes, they have real offices, and staff, and they plied us with Chocolate Mousse Cake!) we drove down to look for Enderley Avenue, where my hubby's Nanna used to live. When she was living at Surfers Paradise, there were no high-rise buildings, no apartment blocks, no casinos... just little comfortable beach houses, a few schools, and the local shops. Hubby spent a few months living at Nanna's, 2 blocks from the beach, when he was very little (late 1960s). We knew the house wouldn't be there any more - and it wasn't!

These were some stunning flowers growing at our host's home - don't know the name, but they were worth capturing for all eternity (well, this Blog, at least!).

On Saturday we went to Rydges South Bank for one night - 9th floor no less (the night view is from our balcony), and walked to GoMA (Gallery of Modern Art) which has recently opened (it's next to the State Library). The building was wonderful, but the collection was patchy... some really brilliant work, and some very 'You've got to be joking' art. I was thrilled to see this work by Rosalie Gascoigne - an artist my parents knew well when they (and she) were younger, and who I've met. She has been an inspirational person in my life, as well as a brilliant artist!

We had a wonderful dinner at The Point restaurant. I had king prawns and scallops with a delicious sauce, a rocket, apple, walnut and bleu cheese salad, and a banana and mango tarte Tatin with rum and raisin ice cream. Delish!! We were seated upstairs, and the red glass panels, candles, warm summer night, and lovely company of my dear hubby made for a wonderful night :)

The experience was only marred by one older bastard man who was sitting near us with his wife. The place was very busy, and there was a moderate wait for our meal - but that was fine, no-one was in a rush, the waitress was attentive and lovely... but it wasn't good enough for this guy, who was clearly more important than anyone else, ever. He complained loudly that he'd been waiting for 45 minutes, and it just wasn't good enough, and so on - carrying on until he got something for free, basically, and proving that he was 'the boss', I suppose. The manager had to come up to see him, and she gave them a free bottle of wine, I think. He slipped up when she appeared - she was a woman in her early 30s. He said "I'm waiting for the manager to come up to see me," thinking she was 'just a waitress' - she very smoothly said "I'm the manager, Sir." Beautiful.

Anyway, enough about some stupid man. The evening was delightful.

And here is your obligatory Lulu photo - I discovered that she'd got out on to the balcony the next morning (I still don't know how she opened the rather heavy glass door - perhaps she bribed someone?), and caught her looking down into the street and clearly plotting something. She hadn't been allowed to come out with us for the past few days, and I think she was about to take her revenge....

17 January 2007

The Wacom stylus saga

I use my computer a lot. All the time. And I use a Wacom Graphire drawing tablet instead of a mouse. And I use it a lot. All the time. (They're much easier on your hands than a mouse if you're prone to hand problems, by the way, and also the tool of choice for graphic designers).

There's a little rubber grip / cushion thingy around the stylus, which rips and breaks. I don't want to spend $30 each time it disintegrates on buying a new stylus. But, as you can, see, this one has really had it.

Then I had a sudden brain wave - knit a new one! It took a couple of goes, but eventually I got the number of stitches right...

Here it is in action - and it's been pretty good on the whole.

Here's the pattern :

Tiny WACOM stylus jumper

Use 4ply sock yarn (this one was hand-dyed by my dear dotter)
and 2 mm DPNs

Cast on 10 stitches (this is the front edge of the stylus).
Knit in the round for about 10 rows.
Make a hole for the main button on the stylus : cast off 1 stitch.
Knit back and forth (ie not in the round) for about 5 or 6 rows.
Then cast on 1 stitch, and rejoin / knit in the round.
Knit until end of piece, about another 8 or 9 rows.
Cast off, and darn in ends. You're done!

It's best to try it on the stylus as you go, to get the best fit.
Use a non-fluffy yarn, as you don't want fluffy bits getting into the the pen. I gave my cover a bit of a hair cut once it was finished, to trim away any longish fibres.

You could quite possibly leave out the button hole, and just click it through the cover. The main problem with this is locating the button under the cover - but I may well try this for my next one. It's a bit less fiddly.

I only made a hole for the main button, as I don't tend to use the smaller button behind it at all.

You can have one for each day of the week (if you can be bothered ;)

16 January 2007

Innocent beginnings

Here's the story of our trip - I have a revolting head cold, so will Blog when possible, but it may be a bit slower than usual.

We left on the early morning flight to Brisbane - 6.30am on Thursday. We slept through the alarm too, so the drive to the airport was a little, shall we say, tense? But we got there as the flight was boarding, and made it onto the plane, along with our luggage, without further mishap.

Lulu had her own seat, and, although she refused to do her seatbelt up, I had high hopes of her during our visit. She started off well-behaved, anyway.

At this stage Lulu was simply entranced at being so high off the ground. She thought the clouds looked like huge soft piles of silky merino :) Aaah, for a sky-spinning wheel....

This was my knitting project for the trip (although not on the plane, bamboo double points clearly being much more dangerous than say, oooh, a PEN. Grrr.

Anyway, this is a Just Jussi baby singlet pattern, which I'm making for my friend H who has just had a little boy. I did the swatch and most of the singlet within 2 days of being in Brisbane. Merino Bambino, buttery yellow, on 2.75 mm and 3.00 mm needles.

14 January 2007

Back again!

Hello all, just got back from Brisbane - yes, we escaped the shocking heat of Canberra by flying to Brisbane (40.5C in Canberra (3rd hottest day on record) vs ~32C in Brisbane last Friday). Meeting with my syndicator went well - great to put faces to names, and get a tour of their surprisingly extensive offices - had a great time staying with my only cruciverbalist colleague and his family, and had a wicked day and night at Rydges South Bank with my bunny (hubby). Humidity makes my hair go curly, which was fun.

Lulu, was, however, badly behaved - I know, I should have expected it. It was always going to be risky taking her along... photos to tell the sorry story soon.

On the knitting front I started and nearly finished a baby singlet for a friend who has just had a baby boy; singlet uses lovely soft buttery yellow Merino Bambino from my stash.

I've landed to find I've got several urgent work deadlines, so it may be a few days before I can post pics... It's good to be home :)

10 January 2007

Up, up and away!

I'm off to Brisbane tomorrow, for my first ever self-funded business trip! I'm meeting with my syndicator, thought it was a good idea to meet in person, seeing as they're representing me, and taking 30% of my earnings ;)

Very rushed getting ready, catch you all when I get back (late Sunday night). So there will be a delay in your posts being published (hmmm, or maybe I'll change my settings so you can post straight away, and see how that goes for a while).

08 January 2007

Apples & the Caterpillar Shawl

Here's my latest watercolour painting... I'm really happy with how the piece of fabric turned out, and the fruit isn't too bad. The background is too empty, though - I think the painting would benefit from cropping.

And here's the start of a shawl! I'm using the 4ply Bendigo Mills pink wool - there's over 200g on the cone - and I'll use the lovely 2 ply 'Spring Caterpillar' wool for the lace border. I'll probably add some beads somewhere along the way too. The wool isn't frightfully soft, so I'm hoping that washing will help.
And in a terrible terrible development, I'm going to have to buy an 80cm 3.5mm bamboo circular needle, as these bamboo straights won't be long enough soon. Oh well ;)

07 January 2007

It's there!

I still didn't quite believe it was going to happen... but The Connoisseur is really in today's Sunday Age, on page 21. They've removed the graphic title, my byline, and the puzzle number. Don't mind about the title and number, but slightly peeved about the byline. But I'm only the new kid on the block... hmmmmm, it also means I won't get hate mail if I make a mistake in a clue. So maybe it's not such a bad thing after all ;)

I actually - gasp - have some knitting news. I'm making progress on the cotton top, and am knitting a simple net stitch for the lower border. Here's what it looks like so far :

Last week we had our Thursday night Stitch'n Bitch, which was really lovely.. Lulu of course had to come along and create mischief. She kissed B-B several times, met Susan, played with Othlon, and then stole this lovely scarf knitted by Taph. I did eventually wrest it off her, but it took some doing, and promises of cashmere.

05 January 2007

Woo hooo!

I know this blows my anonymity somewhat, but I've just found out that The Melbourne Age newspaper has signed a 6-month contract to publish one of my crosswords every Sunday, starting this weekend!!! This is a major coup for me, breaking into a metropolitan paper at last, after being syndicated for 9 months :D

The crossword is a very tricky one, which takes me nearly a day to write, so it means a lot of work from now on, but I'm happy! My syndicator has a 10 puzzle stash, so I don't have to panic just yet... but I do need to keep writing at a steady rate.

03 January 2007

A fresh start

Photos at last! This is my new stay-at-home premium knitting tool kit, with special things like sock-shaped point protectors and tiny stitch markers for lace. And yes, a cow tape measure (get thee to Socrates at Woden or Civic, they cost about $4).

And this is the FOURTH time I've cast on for my cotton singlet. This will be the last time! 160 stitches, NO twists in the cast on (I check every few minutes, just to make sure it hasn't wriggled around while I wasn't watching). I've since knit 2 rows, and am about to start on a row of eyelets.

02 January 2007

My new mju:750

Yay - I have a new digital camera! My sweet little Olympus mju:300 died a few weeks ago. Today I finally got the replacement, the beautiful Olympus mju:750. It has 5x optical zoom, and can do all sorts of nifty tricks. All with the same excellent optics and high quality images. So my Blog shall be picture-less no more!

01 January 2007

It is 2007 already?

Well, I don't know about you, but I'm damn glad 2006 is over.

I don't normally do this, but this year I'm making some necessary health changes, so I have some New Year's Resolutions :

1) Mindfulness / Meditation every day - to help me cope with life and take better care of myself as a priority!

2) Swimming once - and eventually twice - a week. Starting gradually, and building up.

3) Losing 16 kg (this may take more than a year) - but I have to do it, as both my bloody hips are increasingly crippled with osteoarthritis (result of congenital deformity & masses of surgery as a child), and the less weight-bearing stress they have the better. I'm hoping to postpone the inevitable surgery for as long as possible. I'm having x-rays in the next few weeks (when I can face it).

When I was a little girl I had experimental surgery carried out by the famous surgeon Wayne Southwick at Yale University. He developed a new way of doing open reductions on dislocated hips, and I was one of his few guinea pigs. I remember going to his lectures, lying on a table out the front, so the students could see what he'd done. A bit galling for a 6 year old. But I ended up with a hip that worked pretty well (and a slightly twisted leg), where other surgeons had repeatedly failed.

Anyway, my plan to achieving this seemingly impossible task will be following Dr Rick Kausman's general good eating guidelines, having a low-fat & low-GI diet (which I have to cook now anyway for my daughter, who has diabetes), and more exercise (see #2). It won't be fast, but hopefully slow and steady and long-term. There's a ticker thingy at the bottom of my Blog page just to help keep me motivated in public!


On the knitting front, I've made several false starts on my cotton top. On the good advice from L from our SnB group I decided to have a go at designing my own pattern for a simple cotton singlet top, using some gorgeous thick (~12 ply) satiny cornflower blue cotton I was lucky to receive from a SnB member. I can do this, I know I can. Honest. However, early signs are not promising :

I've knitted about 4 gauge swatches, on different needles, measured and recorded the data in my knitting notebook. I even washed and dried the last swatch to see how washing affected the gauge (it did - it shrank visibly vertically by about a row's worth - the fabric feels much nicer since it's been washed, too, more compact and 'together').

I've calculated sizes. I've cast on. Two times. The needles were the wrong size. I decided to add a border of lace around the bottom, to help make the cotton go further. So I've knitted umpteen lace swatches too. I finally found one that felt right. My 5.5mm very cheap bamboo circular were driving me nuts (the tube linking the needles is just that - a tube, not a thin cord - so the stitches don't slip along it at all). I ordered new 5.5 mm 80 cm Clover circular bamboo needles (bliss). And waited for them to arrive.

I cast on again. 159 stitches in the round. I was 6 rows into the lace border when I realised (last night) that there were TWO TWISTS IN THE CAST ON. Fucking hell. I was knitting a 'double' Mobius tube. And no, having two twists does NOT mean you can just 'untwist' it. Maybe if I'd caught the error in the cast on row, I could have remedied it... so. Unravelled it AGAIN last night, after taking a few photos with my son's new digital camera (so hopefully I can post some pic soon). Starting to think about knitting it flat!

I will prevail! It would be nice if it was finished before the hot weather ends, though...