Sunday, November 14, 2010

I’m still here

I thought I’d better pop in and let you know that I’m still alive and still doing stuff, I just haven’t really been able to put enough cohesive thoughts together for sensible blog posts.
Work has been extremely busy. The job I do means that we have a rush towards the end of every year and it has been particularly hectic this year. I’ve been very stressed out and probably haven’t been the nicest person to be with, but I work with a great team and they keep coming to work and just getting it done, so I keep going, sometimes more for their sake than mine.
I have the worst case of startitis… on the needles at the moment I have a lap blanket for my Nanna, who’s in a nursing home, a jumper for The Man, the very beginnings of a shawl for me, a Sack-Boy for The Boy, and a short cardigan/shrug for me. I still haven’t finished my Margot or my knitting olympics cardi.
I’m concentrating on the cardi shrug at the moment as I’ve found it hard to find reasonably priced tops that I like for work in summer, but I’ve found heaps of great singlet tops. I don’t feel comfortable leaviing my shoulders bare at work so I’m aiming to make a number of little shrugs and short cardis to cover my shoulders. This will be number two in the collection (the first being my February Lady).
The other big thing in my life at the moment is choir. I’ve been a member of Vox Populus, the community choir of the Queensland Youth Choir for almost a year now. We are in final rehearsals for our Gala Concert next Saturday and I still have a bit to learn. It’s all sounding amazing though – I just hope I can learn the two last songs well enough to be confident without my sheet music next Saturday.
If you’re in Brisbane next weekend and in the mood for some great choral music, we’re singing at Brisbane Boys Grammar next Saturday from 6.30pm. It’s not just my choir, it’s all of the QYC ensembles, plus a number of special items. Tickets are available at the door (Adults: $20, Concession: $15, Children: $10 ).

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

My cunning and devious plan for the christmas knitting season

Yesterday’s Yarn Harlot page-a-day calendar page contained a note that there were 9 weeks till christmas, which was a fairly strong hint to get on with the christmas knitting.
I know that a lot of knitters get worked up over the whole christmas knitting thing and I think that it’s brilliant that lucky people will be getting lovingly hand-knitted gifts, but this year my cunning and devious plan to deal with it is this:
I don’t think anyone is getting a knitted gift from me this christmas.
There. I said it.
Now please don’t think I’m evil, or uncaring, or a scandalous blight on the knitting world. (Well – you can think those things of me if you want – but I’d rather you didn’t)
My reasoning is this – If I want to knit something for someone, usually I just do it, regardless of whether there’s a birthday or christmas or other officially sanctioned gift-giving opportunity involved; there’s enough going on in my life for me not to want to take on the stress of knitting many gifts in time for christmas, and a lot of the smaller gifts knitters often make for christmas (like hats, cowls, mittens and scarves) just don’t make sense here since it is the middle of summer, and it’s too hot for mittens here even in winter! (and before you start, I don’t knit socks. Ever. For anyone. Not even The Man. Or my Mum.)
Although….The Boy has asked for a Sack Boy, and I have two nieces and a nephew for whom I haven’t made christmas stockings…and…
If anyone needs me, I’ll be hiding in the stash room, hyperventilating about how I’m going to get everything done now that there’s only really 8.5 weeks until christmas……..

Friday, October 8, 2010

It Gets Better

I was shocked and saddened recently to read about Tyler Clementi, an 18 year old gay man from Rutgers University in New Jersey, who died when he jumped from the George Washington bridge after his roommate secretly filmed Tyler's private life and streamed it on the internet.The statistics around all the young men and women committing suicide because of persecution related to their sexuality are staggering.

I can't imagine what it must be like to be so persecuted for something that to me seems so natural. We can no more choose our sexuality than we can choose our skin colour, or whether we like the taste of capsicums. 

Please go and read this post by the gorgeous and talented Franklin Habit on his blog, The Panopticon, discussing his experiences and the It Gets Better project. As a straight, Australian woman, I can stand on the sidelines and shout about how abhorrent anti-LGBT sentiment is to me, and I can quietly provide my support to anyone who needs it, but I can't speak from experience. Franklin can, and does, so very eloquently.

Thursday, September 23, 2010


This is not the first yarn I've spun on my spinning wheel, but it is the first that I'm really proud of. It's 19.5micron merino from Highland Felting and Fibre Supplies, which I hand-dyed with Queen's food colouring before spinning. It is incredibly soft.

I'm not certain what this is going to become, but I know it is going to be something for me. I think a nice soft drapy scarf will be nice.

ps - I've been writing a long post about my spinning wheel but it isn't quite finished yet - I need to get a couple more photos. Hopefully it will be finished soon.

Monday, September 13, 2010

What?!!! No allen key?

These bookshelves (Billy, by IKEA) disappointed by not containing one single fastener that required the use of an allen key. I thought EVERYTHING at IKEA, even the swedish meatballs, required assembly using an allen key. Obviously I'm wrong (and despite the fact that the restaurant was almost full when we left the store, not one single person was eating their meal using an allen key, so I must be wrong there too!)

But, they are proving their usefulness by allowing me to turn this...

Into this...

Well, not quite.  I still have about 5 boxes of books to go, and three more 80cm wide Billy bookcases. Of course, we measured incorrectly and at least one of the bookcases, and possibly two, are not going to fit in the room. We hope the lovely people at IKEA will take them back and exchange them for other attractive and functional Scandinavian self-assembly furniture with unusual names. 

And now I can start using the emptied moving boxes to try and organise the craft room. Currently it looks like this.

...which is completely unmanagable, but at least is serving to remind me how much cool stuff I have in the stash.

Friday, August 13, 2010

One of the reasons I love my family

I had a rotten day yesterday. Crazy busy, trying to manage about 5 or 6 serious problems at once, and to top it all off, our new staff member, who has been with us for under 2 weeks, decided that it wasn't the job for him, and resigned.

I had to stay late to take care of some of the issues, and stumbled in the door at home at 9.30, tired and cold from the walk from the bus in the wind.

When I got inside, The Boy was really excited and told me that he had made something to cheer me up after my bad day. I walked into the games room to find this:  

It's a Doctor and TARDIS made from Lego. Some artistic licence, and some forced by the available Lego pieces, but just gorgeous nonetheless, and just perfect to cheer me up after a nasty day.

Have I ever told you I love my family?

Thursday, July 22, 2010

We've moved in but I still can't find my swift and ball-winder!

We have successfully moved into the new house (thanks to the 4 burly blokes from the moving company who spent about 6 hours cheerfully and expertly moving all of our stuff 110m up the street) and have unpacked all the essentials, so it's starting to feel a bit like home. We've reached that limbo point where we need to do some big stuff like getting the Salvo's to come and get the furniture we no longer need and buying bookcases to go in the spot currently being occupied by unwanted furniture before we can realistically unpack any more boxes.With the next two weekends totally booked up, it looks like we're going to be in limbo for a while yet. That's frustrating, but we're just going to have to live with it.

Most of my knitting lately has been for a swap project so I can't show it yet. I've finished all the knitting for the swap and while some of the work (which involved some techniques new to me) didn't end up as precise as I would have liked, I'm pretty happy with the end result. 

Since I finished the swap knitting on Tuesday night, I've started on two new things. The first is a hyperbolic crochet bath scrubbie, which I'm trying out because my old plastic net scrubbie reached the end of it's unnatural life and the new one I bought at the supermarket was really rough and scratchy. The idea for a crocheted one started out when I was crocheting flowers for the knitted garden for I Knit Brisbane and thought that if you just kept going with the hyperbolic crochet you'd end up with a sort of squiggly ball which would work really well as a body puff/scrubbie. 

I think it's turning out okay, but it is taking forever as I'm not good with the crochet and I'm slow. I'm not even sure if I'm doing it right as I'm using a technique partly from half-remembered lessons from my sister and partly gleaned from the internet, but I'm definitely making fabric and it looks like it will serve it's purpose and ultimately that's all that matters, right?

The other project is a scarf for Mum. She rang a couple of weeks ago and asked if I could make her one of the "fine, narrow scarves" she's been seeing around lately. Since I was up to my eyebrows in swap knitting at that time, and now there's not too much left of winter, I've decided to make a simple scarf now and plan something more complex for next winter. It's a One Row Lace Scarf in Arucania Ranco Solid. So far it's 19cm long.I had to hand-wind the ball from the skein as I have no idea where my swift and ball-winder ended up in the move!

I'm sorry for the blurry photos, but I still haven't gotten myself sorted with the proper camera after the move so these were taken with my crappy mobile phone camera.

I'm hoping to get the guest/craft room more organised over the next week or so, and then I will post pictures of my new domain. It looks like a yarn shop exploded in there at the moment!

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Has anyone seen my life? Oh yeah, I packed it in a box...

We move into our new house on Tuesday. That's providing there are no issues with settlement on Monday, but I've been as much of a control freak as I can and chased everyone up on this side and I think everything is now actually out of my control now.

Virtually everything is in boxes or bags or suitcases or plastic crates and everything else will be following suit tomorrow. I'm pretty sure my sanity is packed along with them. At least I hope it is, because I sure as hell can't find it anymore.

I know just about everyone says this when they move, but I had no idea we had so much stuff.

I have finished the knitting on my Citron, but there are six balls of yarn in it and the yarn was full of knots so there are about four million ends to sew in. I've put it aside for the moment and I'm working on several pairs of Saartjes Booties for all the babies who are due among my workmates at the moment. I also finished a little baby knitted t-shirt that was sitting almost finished in the UFO pile. No photos yet as I can't find the camera. It's probably in the box with my sanity.

I've signed up for my first swap, for Christmas in July with Brisbane Stich 'n Bitch. I hope that I'll be able to have something nice completed even with next week being totally messed around with moving. I'm nervous but I'm sure I can make something passable, and make up any shortfalls with chocolate!

We had a trivia night for the choir tonight. My team won best decorated table (we were black and white and had streamers, tablecloths, stuffed animals and everything) and we also won the quiz. It was a fun night.

To make it all a bit bizarre, some local students were filming a scene for a short film just outside where we were having the quiz, and they asked us all to be extras in a party scene.. It was meant to be a scene at a "teenage" party so everyone over 30 and everyone under 12 had to stand up the back, probably so they could keep us out of focus. Somehow I don't think this is going to be my ticket to stardom!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Digging myself out of a big hole

I've been toying with the idea of writing a blog post for a couple of weeks now, but I keep stopping because I can't work out how to adequately account for my absence.

I guess it comes down to this...I was depressed....I still am depressed. Not enough to make me want to stay in bed and shut out the world, but enough to make it really hard to do anything but collapse on the couch with my knitting in the evenings. Enough to totally sap my creativity.

We've been going through some fairly stressful stuff - nothing has turned out badly, but these are things that are stressful even when they go right - I sold my house in Sydney, we bought a house (110m up the road from the one we live in now) and we've been seeing a financial planner to work out what we do with the house we live in now (sell it or rent it out). We decided to buy the new house a little earlier than we were intending as it was a nice house in a good location, so that meant that settlement on my Sydney house hadn't completed yet and we needed everything to go smoothly to have the deposit for the new house on time. I'm a world-champion-standard worrier, so all of that was a huge source of stress, right up until the moment it all fell neatly into place.

In the last week, we've filled in and sent our final loan documentation, and there's still paperwork to be done before settlement on the 5th of July. There's no reason to believe anything will go wrong, but AAAAArgh. I just can't wait until it's all over.

There are packing boxes everywhere, and when I can't find something, I don't know whether to keep looking, or to give up because it's in the bottom of a box somewhere!

I haven't gone to Stitch n Bitch in months because it's really hard to get out of the house on a Tuesday evening.

I have been knitting, just not taking photos of anything. I finished my Dad's alpaca vest, and gave it to him and he likes it very much, but I forgot to photograph it and he's 1000km away in another state so I can't just pop over and take a photo.

For the most part, though, I've been working on a Citron. This was as a result of a suggestion by the lovely Beanly on the Got Friends group on Ravelry. She suggested that Citron was a good choice as a project to mark the selling of my Sydney house - it represented something I loved about the house (the citrus trees) and I could buy the yarn when I visited Sydney in late May to meet my new niece. I bought 4 balls of Morris and Sons Empire 4ply in the gorgeous Plumage colourway (which doesn't look at all citrus-y) and I'm up to the seventh of five sections on the pattern. 7th of 5? Yep, I'm making it bigger than called for in the pattern. I'm hoping to get 8 sections but I'm on my last ball of the yarn I had put aside for this project (I've got two more if I need them but they're meant to be something else) so I will reassess after I finish section 7.

On top of all of that, I'm recruiting at work. We recently put two more staff on to my understaffed team, and last week one of our existing team members submitted his resignation. So it's off into interview-land we go again!

I'm very tired. I hope that I can recover some equilibrium once we move into the new house, and once we have a new staff member chosen. I can't take leave to just sit on my bum and recover as I'll need to take a couple of days off when we move, and any time at home at the moment needs to get taken up with packing boxes. I'm trying to be as gentle with myself as possible, but this depression thingy is very annoying. Of course, I shouldn't complain, there are lots of people having a much rougher time than I am....

Monday, April 19, 2010

I'm still here

I know I haven't posted in ages, but I'm still here. It's just that a million and one things are going on and I'm shattered by the end of the day and I haven't felt like writing or taking pictures or uploading them, and when I feel like doing one of them I haven't been able to coordinate it with the others and so I've ended up not posting. 

I will try and do better.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Dear Universe.......

Please send me either four more hours in every day, or someone to do my timesheets for me. 

Thanks in advance, 

Lexy. xx

Sunday, March 21, 2010

I will name him George, and I will hug him and pet him and squeeze him...

My Knitting Olympics prize arrived in the mail yesterday morning. The yarn is beautiful and soft and smooshy and gorgeous. The colour is just stunning. Now I need to find something beautiful to knit with it. It's HandMaiden Cashmere 4 Ply - 170m of DK.

HandMaiden 4ply Cashmere

I'm looking for something beautiful, for me to wear, that will get some wear in the Brisbane climate. Any ideas?

But for the moment I'm quite happy just to hold it in my hands and stroke it.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010


My head has been all over the place in the last week. I've been down, after a few too many restless nights up with a sick boy while the Man was overseas, up with my Knitting Olympics competition win, down with some challenges at work, and up with some important things finally going right at work. The Man arrived back yesterday after ten days away, so things should get back to normal soon, but I'm still a bit scatterbrained. My knitting, or more correctly fibrecraft, has probably reflected my state of mind. In the last week I have:

-done a few rows on Margot's remaining sleeve:
Margot's sleeve

-worked on the Ribbon-tied wool vest for my Sister's baby who is due in early May
Ribbon-Tied Wool Vest

-continued slowly on the Knitting Olympics Cardi
Knitting Olympics Cardi

-spun some yarn
What is this, a singles bar?

-and worked on a garden.
I beg your pardon, I never knitted you a rose garden
These are knitted, crocheted, french-knitted and finger-knitted flowers, leaves, gumnuts and vines for a secret project.

My crochet is still clumsy, unskilled and inexact, but I'm enjoying making these flowers. There's no pattern, I'm making them up as I go along, which seems to fit in well with my scattered thinking right now.

Hopefully somewhere in all this muddle I can find an even keel.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

I'm so excited, and I just can't hide it.

There are a few people and things I get all fangirl about - David Tennant, Neil Gaiman, Terry Pratchett, Firefly, and Stephanie Pearl-McPhee, the Yarn Harlot

Regular readers will know that I recently entered the Knitting Olympics and failed to complete my cardigan despite a gallant effort (if I do say so myself). 

Stephanie recently ran a competition for Knitting Olympics entrants, whether they had taken the gold (finished their project) or not, and I entered along with about 2000 other people. 

Imagine my utter amazement to discover an email from Stephanie in my inbox this morning telling me that I'd won a prize. And my stunned mullet expression when I went to her blog and realised that not only was it a prize, but it was first prize, a gorgeous skein of cashmere by Handmaiden and a signed copy of her book Free-Range Knitter: The Yarn Harlot Writes Again

And here is the fangirl bit - I got mentioned on her blog! I feel like I'm famous. If you're interested, my prize and the other winners are mentioned here.(Oh, and if you've got here by following the link from Stephanie's blog, welcome! I hope you enjoy your visit.)

It's more exciting than the day I received a tweet from Neil Gaiman!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Learning Portuguese, I think I'm learning Portuguese, I really think so.

When I read the lovely comment from Lauren on my last post, recommending that I try out Portuguese knitting because it works for Christine, who also has bad wrists, my first thought was, uncharitably, not "Brilliant. That sounds great". It was actually. "No, I don't want to learn another way of doing this. I tried continental once and that was an unmitigated disaster. I don't want to be a beginner again, all slow and clumsy with bad tension. I want to whinge and moan and cry for a bit about how hard done by I am and how horrible it is that my body is responding so poorly to the minor challenges I ask of it."

Of course, I calmed down a bit later, while I was nursing my throbbing wrist and staring at a pile of UFO's that were really meant to be finished by now. 

I went straight to YouTube and found a video by Andrea Wong, who explained it really well. I have been practicing on a garter stitch square for a charity blanket and I'm starting to get the hang of it. I'm still clumsy and slow and I have bad tension. I really don't like being a beginner again, but I'm recognising it's a necessary evil. 

I'm also continuing on with the UFO's, knitting in my old style, but very slowly. I'm getting about 3 rows of the Knitting Olympics Cardi done every day and I finished Margot's first sleeve on the weekend. 

In other news, my craft-blogging friend Fenella is opening a craft and knitting shop in Christchurch. She will have a small knitting section with a range of yarns, knitting and felting supplies, books and magazines. It's bricks and mortar to start off with but she expects to go online at some stage.  She's asked for advice on which books or magazines and knitting supplies she should consider carrying. My personal magazine list would be the following: 
 - Interweave Knits
 - Debbie Bliss
 - Yarn
 - Yarn Forward
 - The Knitter

On the knitting supplies list I would include:
 - stitch markers
 - Knit Pro needles
 - Namaste Oh Snap pouches (and in fact anything else by Namaste that fits!)

If you have any suggestions of your own or want to find out about the shop, you can contact Fenella via her website or leave some suggestions in the comments and I will make sure that they get to Fenella. 

It's raining here and there is a small lake in our front yard. The forecast says that the rain will continue, potentially for the next week. I hope it is less wet where you are!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

A disappointing realisation.

It was always going to be a challenge to finish my Chicknits eyelet cardi in time to register a success in the Knitting Olympics. That's the way it's meant to be. 

Unfortunately, my bad wrist started to twinge about halfway through the week, and despite an effort to take it easy since then, it's now clear that I pushed it a little too hard, and while it doesn't actually hurt to knit, I can feel the pain in my wrist afterwards. 

I'm quite disappointed. I really enjoyed the feeling of joining in on this global knitting challenge and I was making good progress. To come to the realisation that there was really no way I was going to finish unless I turned my full length, long-sleeved cardigan into a short-sleeved shrug was...hard. I didn't want to fail.

But, as Stephanie says in the Knitting Olympics pledge, "... I will remember that this is not the real Olympics, that I'm supposed to be having fun and that my happiness and self-worth ride not on my success....but on my trying."

And you can bet that I will keep trying....just a little bit slower!

Monday, February 15, 2010

And now we cross to the studio for an update.....

Garry: It's over to you, Larry and Barry!

Larry: Thanks, Garry! Welcome back to day 3 of the 17 day Women's Seamless Cardigan event. We've had a great three days of competition here and we've seen some absolutely amazing knitting, haven't we, Barry?
Barry: Yes, Larry, it's been really tough out there but they just keep coming up with the goods. After the really tense moment on day one when the Spanish competitor was nearly disqualified, everyone seems to just be getting on with the job.
Larry: So what happened there, it was all a bit confusing.
Barry:  The judges thought she was knitting a pullover rather than a cardigan. Once she explained that she was intending to steek at the end it was all sorted. 
Larry: I'll bet that was a relief for the entire Spanish team. She's got a real chance at a great result this year!
Barry: Oh - and here we get our first look at the Australian. It looks like she's catching up after the debacle at the start.
Larry: Yes, Barry, that was really unfortunate. She was out shopping when the flame was lit so she got a really late start, and 12 rows in she realised that she'd missed two increases on every right side row so she had to frog the lot and start all over again. 
Barry: She must have been pretty upset, but at least it was only on day 1.
Larry: So what do you think of her chances?
Barry: Well, Larry, I think it was a risky move to attempt this event while working full-time but I think she's travelling pretty well at the moment. 
Larry: Well, I think that she really thought about the amount of knitting time she would have available before she chose this event over something a bit tougher like the "Knit an adult pullover with your own handspun for novice spinners". That decision is definitely paying off with her progress over the last couple of days.
Barry: Yes, Larry, she's up to the eyelet rows already, so that means it won't be long before she divides for the body section. But we have to remember that this part of the event is her best, and I think we'll see her struggling a bit when it comes to the sleeves. That'll be the real test. 
Larry: And of course, her personal best on this project is about three months, so attempting to complete it in 17 days has got to be a real risk. 
Barry: I asked her about exactly that question just before the start on Saturday, and she said that it's a concern, but the last time she made this cardigan she wasn't really trying, so she really thinks that she can do it this time. 
Larry: Okay, Barry, we're really going to keep an eye on her over the next two weeks. And now it's over to Harry, who's over at the arena, for the latest on the Fun Fur and Mohair Poncho's...........

Olympic Cardi

Sunday, February 14, 2010

In which I prove my complete inability to tell the time.

For anyone who actually knew what time the Winter Olympics started today, my post from yesterday must have looked a bit silly. Two people pointed it out politely in the comments. The opening ceremony started at 12noon Brisbane time today, not 4am, as I said yesterday. I had looked it up online and found a way to display Vancouver time against Brisbane time. The only problem was that it also displayed GMT, and somehow, I looked at 6pm GMT and not 6pm Vancouver time. 

Once I worked all this out, I spent the morning picking up and setting up my new laptop and skeining up my first handspun yarn. I decided to stay true to the Knitting Olympics rules and not cast on until after I could confirm that the torch had actually been lit. That happened while we were out shopping so it was nearly 4pm before I got started.

In the end, I'm really disappointed with how little I got done. Of course, the realisation 10 rows in that I had made an error on row 4 and every right side row after and would have to frog the lot didn't help.  I've only done about 12 rows so far, so this is looking like I'm attempting the slalom in the wrong direction - up the hill rather than down. Oh well, I'll have to see how much I get done tomorrow.

Friday, February 12, 2010

On your marks, get set....

I signed up for the Knitting Olympics this morning. I wasn't going to do it as I've got unfinished projects that I want to complete and taking on a whole other project that had to be started and finished within 17 days just seemed beyond me, but as I thought this morning, the Knitting Olympics only comes round once every 4 years so I should at least have a go. If I fail, at least I failed while having a go, and that doesn't seem any worse than not failing because I was sittting on the sidelines not even trying. 

I will be asleep during the actual opening ceremony (it runs from 4am-6am tomorrow morning where I am) but I will be casting on soon after I get up. I'm attempting the Chicknits Eyelet Cardi, which I've had on my queue for a while. I made it once before but it was a little bit small so I'm making the next size up. 

I'm even making it in a beautiful forest green that could represent my country with a little yellow thrown in!

Go team Lexy!

Monday, February 8, 2010

You spin me right round, baby, right round.

At the end of last year, I went to support some of my Stitch 'n Bitch friends at the Queensland Spinners and Weavers Christmas Fair. It's one of only two days per year where non-members are allowed into the hallowed hall of the Emporium, a large room full of fibre-y,  yarny, equipment-y goodness. The very lovely Miss Vicki helped me to choose some lovely Merino from Treetops and a gorgeous silk hankie and recommended that I should find a nicer spindle than the plain Ashford beginner's spindles they had available.

So the fibre has sat, largely unregarded in its bag in one of my sneaky stash spots, under my desk, until this last weekend. The also very lovely Fee decided to hold a crafty day at her cosy abode and there was the suggestion that instruction in the fine art of drop spindling may be made available.

(side note. I have no idea why my language has suddenly become extremely flowery.Please bear with me. Hopefully it will sort itself out!)

With the prospect of some assistance in getting started, I thought it would be a good time to buy a drop spindle and found a lovely looking one at Spun Out, for a very reasonable cost. This is Emma, made by Kevin Rhodes. She's got a 3" cocobola whorl and a 10" purpleheart shaft and she weighs 47g. I think she's beautiful.

Drop Spindle - Cocobola whorl, purplewood shaft

I watched a couple of YouTube videos for background and only needed a little encouragement when I tried to spin at Fee's place. I was pretty pleased when a couple of the girls said "Are you sure you've never done this before!". This is what I have made so far. I'm pretty happy with it, although I'm sure when I come to learn how to ply it, it'll be overspun and underspun and everything in between. All in all, pretty good for a first effort, I think!

First attempt at spinning with a drop spindle

In knitting news, I've finished the Bendigo cotton Pinwheel Baby Blanket for my Sister's expected baby, who has the nom-de-womb of Munchkin. I took a punt on the edging and did a slightly ruffled garter stitch border. It turned out absolutely perfect and I am so immensely pleased with it. Sometimes something simple just works out really, really well, and it certainly seems to be the case here. The cotton yarn is stunningly soft ("softer than any Bendy cotton I've ever worked with" seems to be the consensus from virtually everyone so I don't know whether they've improved it or I just got a good batch), the swirl pattern of the eyelet increases is simply beautiful, and the edging finishes it off with a stylishness I wasn't expecting. This project just fills me with such pride that I've been able to make something so gorgeous for this much-loved and much-anticipated little person. I live 1000km away from Munchkin's home and so it is incredibly important that my Sis can wrap her (or him - the scans seem to indicate girl at this stage but you never know) up snuggly in my love, even when I'm far away. 

Pinwheel Baby Blanket

Healthwise, I'm well enough to go for six months before I see the gastroenterologist again. That's a good thing, but he did say that I have some narrowing of the small intestine where my ulcers form, and my haemoglobin count is on the low end of normal, which could have contributed to my tiredness. He also thinks that it's possible that the drugs I'm on are not really doing anything as there's no significant scientific evidence that they do anything for Crohn's, but I'm staying on them as they're relatively non-noxious and this is the longest I've gone without a flare, so there's some possibility that I'm getting some benefit from them. I haven't needed prednisone in nearly a year now, which is brilliant. I'm lucky enough not to really get any of the nasty immediate side-effects of prednisone on the short bursts I've needed, but the Doc said that everyone who takes prednisone gets some side effects eventually, and I do tend to put on weight and get a little bit puffy in the face, so staying off prednisone is a good thing in my opinion.

On the work front, my performance review was really good - better than I expected, and while the mountain that is my to-do list is still resembling Everest, I really feel like I've achieved some important things lately. I have a new boss, who is really supportive but firm and won't put up with any crap, and just in the last day, I've started feeling optimistic about the future again. This, of course, goes in cycles, so I know there'll be downs again, but it feels good to be feeling up, even if it's only short-lived.

I think I'll end there today. Sorry this post has been long and all over the place, but so much has been going on and I haven't felt up to blogging most evenings so it's all piled up. I think I might go and knit a bit more on my Margot sweater. It's been a bit neglected lately and it will be nice to finish something for myself!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Slow going.

Everything's been a bit slow lately.

I'm still advancing slowly on the baby blanket - I'm up to the 540st rounds, which according to my calculations is 57% of the minimum size I want the blanket to be. I've joined on a new ball of yarn, using a russian join (the first time I've tried it and I love it - will use it for cotton yarn from now on!). I haven't taken photos but it looks just like it did in the previous photo, only bigger. I've got it on 120cm cables now. It feels like it's going really slowly but I don't think I will have any trouble getting it finished.

I completed my self-review part of the performance review cycle yesterday so there's just the review from my manager and the meeting to discuss it all to go. That's on Thursday morning. I've also got to write manager reviews for two of my three staff (the third is on leave so we will need to do his next week), and hold review meetings with them on Thursday as well. I hate performance reviews. I always feel like I'm failing in my job - we're overloaded and understaffed so as I see it, there's "doing well", and there's "doing well under the circumstances". I know I'm not "doing well" but I'm not certain if I'm "doing well under the circumstances". I guess I'll know on Thursday!

I seem to be tired all the time now, and I don't know why. I'm not getting the awful cramps and "other revolting digestive symptoms" that I normally get in a Crohn's flare so I don't expect that I'm anaemic. I have an appointment with the Gastroenterologist on Thursday morning so I guess I'll find that out on Thursday too. I was meant to go to Stitch n Bitch tonight but I've spent most of the afternoon crashed out on the couch and I feel washed out and bleaugh so I'm going to stay home. I feel awful as it's been weeks and weeks since I've been to SnB. Hopefully I will feel better next week.

If you've been thinking of buying any patterns on Ravelry, there are a lot of designers who are donating a percentage of their profit to the Haiti relief effort until the end of January. Casey has set up a special link so you can search all the patterns with some profit going to help Haiti. You can even see which patterns in your queue or your favourites will help. I've bought Owls and Leisl and Rainbow Dress(the big sis and little sis versions). There are only a few days left in January so it's a good opportunity to get some patterns you love and help out in Haiti.

If you don't need any patterns, you can always donate to a charity of your choice. There are lots out there who are helping in Haiti or continuing to help elsewhere in the world, because people elsewhere in the world don't stop needing help just because of a disaster in one place. My personal choice is MSF, for ...well, a lot of reasons that make sense to me, but I think you've got to choose where your money goes based on what makes sense to you. If you do choose to donate to MSF, let Stephanie Pearl-McPhee know so she can count your donation towards the Knitters Without Borders total. We're up over $1M so far and there are more donations that haven't been counted yet. Knitters continue to amaze me every day!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Can't blog, too busy knitting!

I've been in a bit of a blog slump lately.

Which is funny, because there's lots going on.

I've been knitting away on Margot, and she now has about 26cm of one sleeve (not certain if it's a left or a right, the pattern is completely reversible, so I guess it depends on which way around it is when I go to put it on). This is more sleeve length than is called for in the pattern but I've decided to make the sleeves full length.

After getting that far, I decided to enforce a go-slow on Margot for a bit, for a couple of reasons. One, I've found that knitting with the 30cm circular needle I'm using for the sleeve is hurting my dodgy wrist a bit so I'm trying to only do a couple of rows at a time, a couple of times a day. Two, and this is the more important reason, it suddenly occurred to me that my little sister is due to give birth to her first baby in about 15 weeks, and I didn't have anything finished for the little munchkin.

It was clearly necessary to redo the knitting plan and to get a move on.

New plan:

1. Dig the hibernating Little Petal out of the pile and sew on the remaining sleeve and buttons. I started this some time ago and put it aside when I started Margot. It is now all done, but is in desperate need of a good blocking. This is the 3-6 month size and I only made a couple of mods - I knitted the body in one piece rather than three, and did the skirt about 1cm shorter than called for in the pattern as I was concerned about running out of yarn. I didn't measure the leftovers but there wasn't much left. The scans are strongly indicating "little girl" at this stage, which is a good thing, as the Little Petal is unfussy, but in my opinion very girly.
Little Petal
2. Start a Felix's Cardigan, a Ribbon-tied Wool Vest or a blanket. I didn't start the Felix as I didn't have enough of one colour of superwash wool to do one in. There will probably be enough left over from Margot, but I'm not entirely certain and I don't want to run out later when I finish Margot's sleeves. I'm waiting on needle tips for my 40cm Knit Pro cable so that I can do a Ribbon-Tied Wool vest in the round, so I dug out the BWM Denim Cotton 8ply that was meant to become a dress for my (other) neice and started a Pinwheel Baby blanket.

Pinwheel Baby Blanket

I'm using my KP Harmony/Symfonie needle tips for the cotton as I suspected that the yarn might feel a little bit slippery on the Options nickel tips.

It's a pretty simple pattern, more or less - increase 10st in every second row, knit until your hands drop off, or something like that. I worked out that the minimum diameter I want the blanket to have is 1m. I'm getting a row gauge of 3 rows to 1cm, so every 3 rounds gives me 2cm more on the diameter of the blanket. It's deceptive at the beginning because it seems like you're getting heaps done, but then you realise that the rounds are getting larger and larger, and over time it feels like you've slowed to a crawl even though you're still knitting the same number of stitches.

So despite the really exciting nature of the recipient of the blanket, I realised that I was in real danger of losing momentum on the project due to the perceived lack of progress. My solution was to devise a small excel spreadsheet to work out how many stitches in each round, how much I gained in diameter with each milestone, and, calculated on number of stitches, the percentage of the minimum size I have completed. It's made it a bit of a race with myself - how fast can I get the next milestone completed, and it means that even on days like today when I didn't feel like I got much done, I know I did about 3%, and that the blanket is 28% of the minimum size. Since I only started on Saturday, I don't think I'll have trouble finishing by the due date!

Work is very busy at the moment - one member of my team is on two weeks leave, and we're lending one member to another team, so that leaves me, our remaining normal team member and one person we're borrowing as backfill for the person we loaned out. The borrowed person was off on carer's leave today, and is inexperienced in some of the systems we support anyway. Added onto that is the fact that it's performance review time so we're all needing to do our self-reviews on top of the ordinary workload. I see the point of performance reviews, but I hate doing them. I'm more in favour of continual feedback to my team so they always know how they're going. I'm always put in mind of all those report cards at school - "Alexia is a conscientious student and a pleasure to have in class", or the report I got for Textiles and Design in year 7 (and I'm paraphrasing from memory here) "Alexia seems to be an intelligent student but has no aptitude for this subject". Note: they didn't teach knitting that year!

So I will apologise now if there are few posts in the next couple of weeks and if what I do post is rambling, sparse or nonsensical. When work becomes a big mountain of stress, like it is now, I tend to get a bit tired and grumpy, so it's probably a good thing that I have my knitting to restore my sanity!

I hope things are less stressful for you at the moment, or at least, that you have knitting or something else to take your mind off it!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

New Zealand Trip: Part 3

Monday 28th December

It was raining steadily when we left Nelson so we didn't stop at any of the "pick your own berries" farms we'd seen on our excursion to Richmond the day before. I did get to buy some raspberries from a roadside stall later on in the morning. They were cheap, and some of the best raspberries I'd ever had.

We drove to Cape Foulwind and walked out to the viewing point for the seal colony.
Cape Foulwind
Seals at Cape Foulwind
Then we went to Punakaiki to see the Pancake Rocks.  It was a stunning drive along the coast, more of those curvy roads again.
Pancake Rocks
These pancakes are a bit hard
And then on to Greymouth for the night. Gourmet dinner of baked beans and off to bed for the weary travellers.

Tuesday 29th December
Greymouth-Fox Glacier
We realised in Greymouth that it was starting to get cold. Cold and pouring with rain. Somehow in all the packing and planning, The Man had forgotten to pack either a jumper or his rain jacket so we started the day in Greymouth town attempting to find both. We managed to find a jumper and a rain poncho, then set off for Fox Glacier.

We drove up to the carpark at the base of Franz Josef glacier but decided not to do the walk in the rain. By the time we'd got to Fox Glacier township and checked into our motel, the rain had cleared so we went to Fox Glacier and did the terminal walk there. The guidebooks indicate that it's a 1hr round trip, and we were concerned about that with a 6 year old tagging along, but it certainly didn't seem like it was that long a walk. The glacier is stunning and breathtaking....and cold. I don't know why it surprised me that the wind blowing off a huge hunk of ice would be cold, but it did.
Fox Glacier

Fox Glacier
Fox Glacier
Waterfall, Fox Glacier
On the way back, The Boy fished a small piece of liberated glacier ice out of the stream and carried his little "iceberg" for a while.
The Boy with his "iceberg"

We had dinner at the Cook Saddle Saloon, then retired for the night.

Friday, January 15, 2010

New Zealand Trip: Part 2

Saturday December 26

We popped into Christchurch city centre for brekky, picked up a local sim card for my phone (who wants to pay international roaming charges?) and got on our way. I called to check in with Mum and Dad, who informed me that the change to airline regulations had come through earlier than expected and I could have taken my knitting on the plane the day before. Facepalm! I wish someone had told me earlier!

Our destination for the night was Kaikoura and we decided to drive via Hanmer Springs, stopping off to take the obligatory photos of beautiful scenery on the way. 

We had lunch in Hanmer Springs but decided not to pay the fee to go into the hot springs as we would only have about an hour before we had to get back on the road.

In Kaikoura we checked into the Lobster Inn Motor Lodge and headed into the town for a look around. We picked up some supplies at the supermarket and went to the rocky beach. The greeny-blue water against the charcoal grey rocks was beautiful and we thought we could see snow on the distant hills, which made me upset that I had forgotten to bring the camera.

Kaikoura is famous for its crayfish, so we decided that we had to try some for dinner. The shop down the road that sold cooked crays takeaway was closed so we decided to go back to the restaurant at our Motor Inn, in a building with a large metal, wire and fibreglass crayfish/lobster attached to the front.

My plain steamed crayfish was much better than The Man's mornay, but we all enjoyed our meal and The Boy and I shared an Ice Cream Sundae for dessert.

And we didn't even have far to go to get "home" for the night!

Sunday 27th December
Kaikoura - Nelson
Disaster struck this morning. The Boy's Christmas present from Daddy and me was a DSi and games, to help occupy him in the car. He went to turn it on soon after we got up and it wouldn't turn on. We plugged it in to try and charge it again and all we got was a forlorn little orange light blinking at us. It wouldn't charge, either from the mains power or the car charger. The Man got online and found some forum posts suggesting it was an issue with the battery. We hoped there would be somewhere in Nelson that would be able to help.

We started the day by going back to the beach to get the photos we'd missed yesterday. Unfortunately there was a lot of haze so the colours weren't as beautiful as they had been the day before, but The Boy had lots of fun throwing the large, smooth rocks into the surf.

We drove north along the coast until the road took us inland towards Blenheim. We passed the airfield with the warbirds museum, noting that my Dad, a warbirds fanatic, would be distressed by the thought of anyone passing by without stopping!

We approached Blenheim around lunchtime. This certainly is wine country - vineyards almost as far as the eye could see, with stunning hillsides behind.

Eureka! There was a Dick Smith in Blenheim. Surely our DSi problems would all be sorted out. But no. They do not sell batteries for the DSi. We had lunch at the local Brumbies and got on our way again.

The road from Blenheim to Nelson wound up through large hills covered in pine plantations. At times it was narrow and tight and curvy and the driving must have been arduous for The Man. It was very beautiful, though.

In Nelson, we found our motel, The Carmel Court, then drove to Richmond in search of yarn shops. We found Cruella's, the home of Rare Yarns, and I bought some alpaca yarn that was marked down and some Misty in Jade to make a Victoria's Vest (well, at least I thought that was what I was buying. They agreed to post it for me so I didn't have to carry it, and when it turned up on Wednesday they'd sent Brushed in Jade instead. Oh well. They're close enough that I'm not going to make a fuss and try and send it back!) The boys fed the sheep that was out the back.

Hamburgers for dinner, then off to bed!

New Zealand Trip, Part 1

Friday December 25, 2009
We got up really early on Christmas morning as our flight was at 8.30am and we wanted to be at the airport by 6.30.
We woke the boy and pointed him in the direction of his present from Santa, a Transformers Devastator toy. of course, just looking at it wasn't enough, we had to open it, which meant unwinding what felt like 4 million little wire-ties. I gave up after a while and got the side-cutters out of my beading kit, but it was still tedious.

After showers, last minute shoving of extra stuff in suitcases, and an abortive attempt at breakfast, the taxi turned up 15 minutes early and we all piled in. The extra 15 minutes turned out to be a good thing, as the taxi driver ignored the new, quick route to the airport and took us the old way, which seemed to take forever and ever.

In the end, though, we arrived in plenty of time to check in, get through security and customs and have a cup of coffee before the flight.

Probably due to our relatively early check-in, we got seats in the front section of economy, where they have better seats with more leg room that they reserve for frequent flyers and nice people who check in early. We all watched movies or TV on the individual screens and got to Christchurch about 3pm local time.

We got our rental car, found our hotel (The comfortable but perfectly ordinary Holiday Inn on Avon), had a swim in their indoor, heated pool and sat down to think about dinner. As it was Christmas and very few restaurants/food outlets would be open, our hotel had kindly arranged a buffet dinner. It certainly sounded nice, but with a price tag of $89 per head , no discount for children, and the fact that one of us was, in fact, a child and the rest of us were tired out from a day traveling and were unlikely to be able to eat $89 worth of food, even if it was oysters, we decided to go into town and try our luck anyway.

Inner-city Christchurch certainly wasn't buzzing on the evening of Christmas Day. There were a few people wandering around, especially at the Cathedral, and the souvenir shops were all open so if we wanted to eat fluffy toy sheep and overpriced knick-knacks for dinner we were set. On the food front, there were a surprising number of sushi restaurants open but virtually nothing else. Since the Boy would sooner eat BROCCOLI than sushi, this was a problem. Finally we found the fast-food district, where the familiar golden arches beckoned. So this was how we came to have quarter pounders, cheeseburgers, fries and coke for Christmas dinner.

Back at the hotel, we encountered a problem. It doesn't get dark until about 10pm in New Zealand at this time of year. Between that and the fact that it was 3hours earlier in Brisbane, there was no way The Boy was going to go to sleep as it was "NOT BED-TIME YET!". We watched part of the Iron Man movie on TV and tried to turn out the lights and go to sleep at around 9pm but none of us were sleepy. We ended up getting up for a bit later on, eating some cereal we'd bought at a corner shop and going back to sleep much later.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Some late New Years Resolutions

I'm procrastinating about going through the holiday photos and compressing them for the web, or purchasing a Flickr pro account (I know which one's going to win, the Flickr pro account is much easier!)

So until I get that sorted out - some time this afternoon, I think - I will leave you with some resolutions for this year. Mostly I think that New Year's resolutions are a bit silly, as reviewing your life probably shouldn't be restricted to once a year, so maybe these are just some things I need to keep in mind this year. Call them what you will.

1. Purchase less yarn, use more of what I already have.  
I bought a lot of yarn in 2009. Due to the small size of our house and the blatant inadequacy of our storage capacity, there's quite a lot of yarn in all kinds of crazy places - in bags alongside the couch, under my desk, on my bookshelf, as well as the normal places like my knitting drawer, my wardrobe, and a stack of boxes in the shed. I'm not sure I've reached SABLE, but there's a lot there, and I could probably knit quite comfortably for the next year without running out, and without having to touch the acrylic. And the budget would be more comfortable with less money going out, too.

2. Pay more attention to my body.
I've been ignoring myself this last year, pushing through pain in my wrist, back, leg and arm, and allowing stress to get to me without doing anything about it. I've also been having a lot of late nights and sleeping badly, which has just made everything worse. It has all resulted in lingering pain, injury and scariness with my arm going numb just before Christmas. I think if I pay attention to what's going on, I can deal with the niggly stuff early, and prevent it getting worse. Well, it sounds like a good idea, anyway....

3. Pay less attention to my weight.
I had an eating disorder when I was younger and I think I retain a bit of a tendency to get obsessive about my weight. I'm lucky enough to be smack bang in the middle of the healthy weight range and I should be able to tell by how my clothes fit if I'm getting off track. I don't need to get on the scales every single morning and I certainly don't need to care about the decimal points in my weight, as I have been lately.

4. Eat better.
I eat a lot of crap. I resolve to attempt to eat more vegetables and less garbage. I resolve to try not to skip meals.

5. Exercise more.
This is a hard one. I am lazy. I get tired very easily, and with my Crohn's mostly under control, I no longer have the excuse of the chronic anaemia I had for years. I guess anything has got to be an improvement.

6. Hoard less.
I inherited the hoarder gene from my Dad. I'm not as bad as he is, and certainly not as bad as people I've seen on TV who cannot bring themselves to throw anything away, but I definitely keep some stuff that has no foreseeable purpose and should be discarded, donated or repurposed.

So there it is - that's what I'm going to be trying to keep in mind this year. What about you?

Saturday, January 9, 2010

I'm back. Did you miss me?

Well, I'm back from my break. We arrived home from two weeks in New Zealand this morning. We got up at 3.30am Christchurch time and have done the flying and arriving home things today - the checkin, the big wait for the flight, the flight itself, collecting baggage, getting home, doing several loads of washing, mowing the lawn, downloading and watching David Tennant's last two episodes of Doctor Who, all those things you just have to do when you travel!

So I'm a bit tired, and this will only be a short post. I will try and get some stories and photos up over the next week or so.

My arm is doing well - it got a good rest over the last few weeks and I only had a couple of days where I got some mild numbness. My sore wrist is also back to normal but I will need to be conscious of it when I go back to work on Monday (*fingers in ears, la, la, la, la* - trying not to think about going back to work!)

I didn't get as much knitting done as I expected on the trip, because although I was a passenger and not a driver (it was a manual car, and I can only drive automatics, plus I don't think I can drive a rental car on my provisional licence), for the first 3/4 of the trip, the roads were very windy so I had to pay close attention to the roads to avoid motion sickness.

Still, I got the body of Margot finished, with a few bits ripped out and redone - I ended up making the body 3 inches longer than the pattern calls for, and I'm really happy with it now. I've just started one of the sleeves.

So I'm off to get dinner and probably an early night. See you tomorrow!