Archive for August, 2009

A sleeve knitted is a sleeve gained

August 31, 2009

In which our heroine attempts to justify her selfish nature as it pertains to knitting.

I’ve had a rather busy weekend, which made me feel the need for some simple knitting. This meant I finished one of the sleeves of my owls jumper at long last.

sleevey good!

I think I’ve said before that this has so far been a really pleasurable knit. I’m really looking forward to being able to wear this jumper too—at least two mornings a week I curse my wardrobe for its lack of owls jumpers, which would be so handy and yet so stylish in this continuing terrible weather. Given these two facts I feel like I could have knit this jumper in record time—perhaps as little as two weeks—but alas, there have been more important knitting deadlines to attend to. Still, when you’re as selfish as me, it does you good to knit on projects for yourself every few days. It keeps the impetus up for everything else.

sleek sleeve

I should say that my secret knitting is rather pattern-heavy, that it’s not just the fact that it’s for someone else that makes me want a break from it now and then. Just so I don’t sound like a completely self-centered whinger. But I am quite proud of it, and I’m looking forward to being able to show it to you. It’s on its way, but it’s comforting to know that so is my owls jumper.

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Coraline

August 30, 2009

Libby and I went to see Coraline at the movies this morning.

coraline

It’s adapted from the book by Neil Gaiman (which I’m now determined to read) and is cute, funny, dark, awesome and scary. Pretty scary actually, don’t take your children to see it. Leave them at home and go by yourself, you will love it!

Seen in Civic

August 29, 2009

Gotta love the things you see when you don’t have a camera. We were in a cafe in Civic this morning when a guy jogged past wearing a bra, a superman suit and a shower cap. Twice.

I wonder what bet he lost? :D

Craft night!

August 29, 2009

Every second Wednesday night Libby and I have a craft night. This is one of those everyday traditions that I treasure the most—just simple, relaxed and creative fun that makes an excellent catch-up. Because although we see each other at work every day, there’s not usually much chance to talk.

The idea is we go to Libby’s cute little flat after work and cook a tasty dinner and watch TV, while I knit and she sews. In practice the sewing hasn’t happened all that much—she has been learning to knit, but there are times when the machines are just ‘too much bother’. But they made an appearance this week as Libby excitedly cut and tacked what will soon be her long-awaited new trackies.

stitch it up

The advantage of knitting as opposed to sewing is that it is much more portable, and you can do it on the couch. I knitted my way through a substantial portion of a sock while sprawled happily on the uber-comfy, retro-orangey-good modular lounge.

sprawley-good

Inspector Rex reruns were the entertainment for the evening, and we had the yummiest panfried Moroccan prawns that all disappeared before we could take any pictures. (The tracksuit pants I’m wearing, in the spirit of comfy crafting, were made by the lovely Libby herself.)

I’m a big fan of loud and large social occasions, but now and then it’s nice to have these small and quiet times—they’re good for the soul.

My favourite season

August 28, 2009

Spring!

peach tree

Although it’s still officially winter, flowers are beginning to peep out everywhere.

daffodils and some cute little white flowers

I must say I like the weather of Summer the best, and it’s Summer I look forward to every year. But Spring, with its leaves unfurling and its flowers pushing out into the chilly air, brings a sense of anticipation with its beauty. The anticipation of something good always makes it all the more special, don’t you think? So while I wait for Summer I can smile at the flowers every day, breathe the floral scents on the breeze, bask in the growing sunshine, and feel the reawakening of nature. Sometimes Spring makes me feel like I want to put forth leaves too!

wattle

So here’s to Spring. To flowers, sunshine, baby birds, and the general adornment of the landscape. And here’s to the daffodil clusters that have finally sprouted from the bulbs I bought at the markets in April!

daffodils

Spinning part two: plying

August 27, 2009

This week at Spinning class we plied our strands of handspun into a two-ply yarn. And again, what fun! Having only been spinning for a week, I was a bit daunted by the prospect of plying so soon, but we all picked it up quite quickly.

plying

My spinning is still a little haphazard, and I tend to get rather uneven strands. Plied together these gave a yarn with so much character I immediately fell in love! Part of me still wants to be able to spin even, fine yarn because I can recognize that that’s a lot harder, and therefore a greater achievement—but I’m pretty chuffed that I’m already able to make something that I really like. I guess I can work on the evenness over time.

yarn!

And it sounds like there will be time—our teachers were telling us about upcoming Guild workshops, secondhand wheels for sale, and a weekend spinning retreat that sounds just divine. I really have to see whether I can do that. In the meantime, there’s always more fibre to spin.

fibre

Distractions

August 26, 2009

There’s a spare spinning-wheel bobbin on my desk that Emma just lent me because all mine are full…and now all I want to do is go home and spin! Must wait…

Frozen passionfruit parfait

August 24, 2009

With strawberries in passionfruit syrup.

summery good

Yum! Definitely worth all that whisking.

Little cakes

August 23, 2009

I’ve spent this morning icing little cakes to take to Naomi’s for afternoon tea.

pretty

This is the first time I’ve made vegan cupcakes and really, I was surprised at how easy it was, and how good the results were. Considering they have no eggs or dairy in them, they taste remarkably like normal cupcakes. The only difficult part was finding decorations for the tops that didn’t have egg white in them, and figuring out how to colour the icing without resorting to cochineal. But a few drops of red cordial seem to have worked well (it contains a synthetic colourant called carmoisine).

cute

Aren’t they adorable?

Let Me Spin You A Tale, or, Our Heroine Learns To Make Yarn

August 22, 2009

I’m taking spinning classes at the moment, through the local Guild of Spinners and Weavers. It’s four classes in total, each of around three hours on a Monday night, and my goodness it’s fun!

I’ve been thinking about learning to spin for a while now. I particularly love knitting with handspun (and hand-dyed) yarns with lots of character, and I’d love to be able to make the sort of stuff that Rainbow Wools, for example, turns out. I don’t like fluff or glitter or feathery bits in my yarn, but show me something chunky and slubby and I just melt.

Anyway.

So when the guild finally got around to running beginner spinning classes again, I signed up straight away. In fact, if the speed at which an email is sent was proportional to the eagerness of the sender, they would have received my booking before they even advertised the class. So eager was I! Serendipitously, my friend Emma from work was just buying her first spinning wheel when I told her about it, so she signed up too.

Our first class was Monday before last, and after getting thoroughly lost in the dark and quiet suburb the guild has its headquarters in, we arrived with shining eyes and twitchy fingers. It’s a nice small class—only six of us in total—and the teachers are so helpful and patient. (Since I’ve moved into the field of science and had to learn science communication, I have a great respect for anyone that can find simple analogies for complex concepts.)

We spent the first evening learning about the different parts of our wheel, about every stage wool goes through from sheep to sweater, and did some basic treadling—no fibre yet. We were hankering to start spinning, but looking back I think they were smart to make us learn even treadling first.

This week we progressed to using wool! As our teacher said, ‘The aim of tonight is simply to make some yarn. It just has to get from your hands to the bobbin.’ We all picked up the basics pretty quickly, and although the results were variable, she kept up a constant stream of encouragement: ‘What are you complaining about? That’s yarn, it’s on the bobbin. Therefore you’ve succeeded in tonight’s aim!’

yarn!

I made that!

Two things surprised me about my first spinning experience. One, that it was much harder than I’d thought. Coordinating two hands and a foot and the eyes and the brain, and then remembering to breathe, was plenty of work. Good thing we were expert treadlers by that stage. The other, that it was so much fun! Despite the frustration when the yarn broke (again) and got tangled around the hooks and the bobbin (again) or twisted so much it was more like a spring than something you’d want to knit with, Emma and I had grins on our faces almost the whole night. And of course the next day at work we bored everyone with spinning shop-talk.

They gave us all huge piles of wool to spin as ‘homework’—as if something so enjoyable could be considered work! I wish I didn’t have so much knitting to do so I could spin more. I can’t wait for next week’s class.