Sunday, September 14, 2014

Adorable cycling matching pairs and lots of little bits of wool


Happy Monday morning! As you can see in this shot I took when I stopped at the lights on Saturday, the weather was glorious this weekend. It was the kind of weather that makes me pause in whatever I am doing and take a minute to appreciate how lucky I am to live where I do.

It hasn't been all sunshine and adorable matching cycling pairs recently, however. I have been struggling a bit over the last week with the chapter I am currently working on. I know what I want to say and I'm certain that my reading of the text is correct but I keep getting stuck on how to most convincingly demonstrate it. That's a normal part of the writing process and it wouldn't usually stress me out but then I keep thinking "I HAVE ONLY TWO WEEKS TO FINISH THIS WHOLE CHAPTER" and it's like my mind goes into overdrive and just shuts down. Needless to say, this is not an effective environment for getting stuff done! So on Saturday, I thought I would take advantage of the sunshine and my uncharacteristically thankful frame of mind and took my knitting to-do bag out into the sunshine with my radio and thought of nothing but knitting and sunshine.


The first item on the agenda was to fix the heel of the Kalajoki socks I started a month ago but then stopped because I was unhappy with how the heel looked. (Check out the wrinkles on the sole of my feet! Jesus, feet are really bloody ugly.)


I changed them to the heel from Priscilla's Dream Socks from my favourite sock knitting book, Favorite Socks (see what I did there ;) ). Much better! (and hello, Lucy).


I then spent a decent chunk of time grafting the toes of two different pairs of socks and weaving in ends. So many ends!


It was a nice way to spend a few hours and, very importantly, switching my mind off helped it to really start working - I wrote 800 really good words yesterday outlining my new chapter plan and if I keep that work rate up I'll be done before deadline with days to spare. Fingers crossed!

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Poncho!

As the days get longer and warmer, the planning for my trip is progressing slowly. There's always that anticlimax that occurs the moment after the massive rush of excitement that occurs when you press 'book' on the airline ticket when you realise that there are at least seven million boring administrative things that need to be done before stepping onto the plane. At the moment I am using up all the food from the fridge, freezer and pantry that needs to be eaten in the next month (boring), looking for sensible walking shoes (both boring and expensive) and trying to work out if I need 16 pairs of underwear for the 16 days or if I will have a chance to wash somewhere (urgh the most boring decision ever!). Amidst all the boringness, there is one preparation I am enjoying very much...


..I'm making a poncho! A poncho is basically a blanket with a hole in it. What better travel accessory could there be? I'm making up the pattern as I go along - so basically 50ish stitches of 2x2 ribbing until I felt the neck was long enough, then increasing by eight every second row with a yarn over until it is long enough to cover my arms. I'm using Cleckheaton Vintage Hues from my stash, which means this perfect travel accessory is effectively free (unlike just about every other thing that needs to be done to prepare for this holiday. So. Many. Fees. And. Charges!).


Words cannot describe how much Sam hates this poncho. He groans every time I pull it out of its knitting bag and threatens to not be seen with me in public while I'm wearing it. I know he's only joking - once he sees how warm and cuddly it is, I'm sure he'll want one for himself.

Well, maybe not...

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Practice makes perfect

I have been blogging long enough to know that I am not a good photographer. I try to be better but not very hard, so my photos are consistently average. However, in preparation for my upcoming trip I thought I'd start to practice a bit more. All images come via Instragram.

Even though my sourdough starter was a massive non-starter (teach me to blog about something without first making sure it was going to succeed!), I decided to continue my DIY plan and I converted some old strawberry containers into mini-greenhouses. This one worked a treat!


From the Caulfied races on Saturday. It was a glorious day, even though I lost $6 on the punt (#lastofthebigspenders, amirite?)


And finally, I had to wear thongs on the freezing and wet first day of spring because my foot got sunburnt on the balmy, sunny last day of winter. Only in Melbourne, really.


My tootsies were so cold!!

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

WIP WIP Away!

It's been a while since I've done a WIP Wednesday, so I figured it was about time to get my act together and admit that every single project I am working on at the moment involves only the knit stitch...

I'm working on these ridiculously ugly socks in Opal Rainforest Hummel for my brother-in-law for Christmas. These colours scream 1970s kitchen appliance in a way that's completely not retro chic. I'm actually questioning whether I can even give them to him - they ares so very very ugly.

They're going slowly but surely; they'll get done soon.


I also knit a hat: a Rikke, to be specific. I love the knitted fabric and I know the hat is designed to be  slouchy but I think it might a bit too big. I have enough wool left over to make another one, so I am. I'm using eight fewer stitches in the second one (96 rather than 104). 


Why, you ask, would I be knitting a hat where the seasons are changing and the weather is becoming warmer? Well, firstly, I live in Melbourne so there is no guarantee that the changing seasons will result in warmer weather. I regularly have to put the heater on in the summer! It's mental. But the real reason I am knitting a hat right now is because...


..I'm going away! My university have given me a travel grant to do some archival research in the UK and I am jetsetting off very shortly. It's all been a bit of a whirlwind - I got the grant only six weeks before the conference date, so it has been a mad rush to renew my passport, book flights and find someone to housesit my place and look after Lucy. I leave in just under four weeks and I am SO EXCITED. It feels a bit weird that someone is going to be living in my house and playing with my stuff but I think I'll get over that really quickly when I have my first glass of wine on the flight. 

I haven't told Lucy yet, though. I don't think she'll take it well...

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Fighting the winter blues: Apple cinnamon pnacakes with vanilla blueberry sauce.

The days are getting longer and buds are springing up in the garden. While these are indicators that spring is coming, it is still REALLY BLOODY COLD. My fingers feel like they are in a constant state of chill and I have given up even pretending that I am moderating the heat in my house (it's ALL the way up ALL the time!). Today, because I crazy (and blah blah heart health maintaining fitness blah blah), I went for a swim. Who does that when it is 13 degrees outside? I clearly need some sort of professional help.

After that swim I felt cold, miserable, a little bit fitter and very very hungry. I wanted something sweet and hot but not too unhealthy, so I grabbed a bunch of stuff from the fridge and pantry and made these delicious morsels:


They are without a doubt the most divine pancakes I have ever made in my life! And, since they contain two different fruits, they are basically a health food. Plus cinnamon is an anti-inflammatory and I'm sure I read somewhere that vanilla is good for something. I am on to a winner!

 So I don't forget the recipe, I am writing it down here. Would it be bad to have it again for breakfast tomorrow? Surely something that feels so right could never be wrong...


Apple cinnamon pancakes

1 cup plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 granny smith apple, peeled, cored and grated
3/4 cup milk
1 tsp cinnamon
1 free-range egg, beaten

Mix dry ingredients. Add grated apple and wet ingredients. Cook over medium-high heat until golden, 3-4 minutes per side.

Vanilla blueberry sauce

1 cup frozen berries
1 cup water
1 tsp vanilla essense
1/4 cup sugar

Bring to the boil in a small saucepan then reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook until the berries have broken down and the sauce is of the desired thickness (about one hour for me but I have a very slow electric cooktop).

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Victor Hugo at the State Library

Today's post contains no knitting. This is largely because, well, I haven't done any. I have read blogs of people who have written books and completed medical degrees while churning out socks and jumpers; not so for me AT ALL. The second I get a bit busy, my knitting becomes a talisman for warding off stress and a symbol of future blissful free time (and is always, always stockinette).

However, as pointed out by Stanley Kubrick, all work and no play makes Jack completely bonkers (and kind of a boring dinner party guest), so yesterday I left my warm and cosy desk and drove into the State Library to see the Victor Hugo: Les Miserable from page to stage exhibition. The State Library always makes me happy and yesterday was no exception. Not only is it a gorgeous building, the staff are so friendly and always feels like such a vibrant part of the city. Plus, weird things happen to your photos!



I took that from the fourth floor balcony. It looked normal at the time but kind of eerie in the photograph...




Les Mis is not one of my favourite stories - I've actually never seen it in full nor read the book. I still did find the exhibition interesting, though, because of the historical context. Les Mis was a huge influence on the French Revolution and in it Victor Hugo personified the concerns of a nation. It was a time when a novel could actually change real-life events!  (and not just by inspiring people to name their children ridiculous names like "daenyres", which I know is spelt incorrectly but refuse to look up.)

It's pretty fascinating stuff.

Plus they have a bit at the end where you can dress up as a character!


I didn't do it because all of the women's clothes were very complicated and with lots of boning in the uncomfortable-looking corsets, but my friend Christian looked very dashing in his top hat and brocade jacket.

When I got home, Lucy wouldn't talk to me. She sat a metre away from me to make sure I didn't leave again, but refused any other form of interaction.


Stupid cat! It was nice to be home, though :)

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

WIP Wednesday: Windblown edition

It's a cold, blustery and grey day today in Melbourne, so it is the perfect time to share some photos I took on Monday when the sky cleared for what felt like the first time in two years (more like two months, really, but I was very excited).


See how the branches look like they're reaching out to the sky? That's how I felt. Now today it is grey again :(

Since it is Wednesday, it is also the perfect time to show you what I have been working on this week. About nine years ago, I had this grand plan to make the mittens from Patons #1239 for my mother and sisters. No-one I know wears mittens but I'd just started to knit on tiny needles and the mittens only took one ball each so it seemed like an excellent plan.


Needless to say knitting six identical mittens got real old real fast so I ended up with no completed pairs but lots of teeny tiny partial balls of Patonyle. I didn't want to throw the balls out because Patonyle but there wasn't enough of any one colour for a pair of socks, and besides the dividing of the wool into smaller balls meant I had no idea which way the faux fair isle sequence went. One ball became a baby hat and a pair of fingerless gloves, one ball got given away but the third has been balefully staring at my from my sock yarn stash every time I open the lid to the box. Last weekend, a solution came to me:


If I pair the wool with a solid colour of Patonyle, it will not only mean I have enough yarn to make a whole pair of socks, it doesn't matter that the socks won't match - it will be in a random "stripy" pattern rather than in the faux fair isle of the original ball. I'm making it for a woman so it is zipping along and I am very chuffed with the whole thing.

On the subject of wind, this is what my cat has looked like for the last two days:


She is completely discombobulated! She thinks the wind is attacking her every time she goes outside, so she comes inside for refuge. However, when she's inside looking out she can't see the wind so then becomes convinced it is no longer windy and goes outside, only to be attacked again. It's heartbreaking but at the same time, really really funny (yes, I am clearly going to hell!). 

It must be hard to be inside Lucy's tiny tiny cat brain...