Monday, January 29, 2007

Another Silver Bolero!

I finally finished the Jo Sharp bolero I started way back in November.

I really thought I would finish this before Christmas but when I got to the 234-stitch 2x2 ribbed band I completely lost motivation.

Meanwhile I got quite sidetracked with a few other projects, including some secret knitting (to be revealed in a later post) and the Cloud Bolero, which was also in silver (or at least the colour was called Silver Lining although in reality it's closer to baby blue).

Some additional pics on my flickr.

Okay, project details...

Project: Short Sleeve Bolero in Jo Sharp Knit - Issue 2
Yarn: 6.5 balls of Debbie Bliss Cathay in Silver (same gauge as the Jo Sharp Summer DK Cotton the pattern calls for)
Needles: 3.5mm and 4mm Addi Turbos
Started: Late Nov 06
Finished: 28 January 07

Instead of knitting the fronts and backs separately, I knitted them as one piece up to the armpits and then knitted the fronts and back separately. This is purely to avoid the side seams and I think it actually drapes nicer without the side seams. I also used a 3-needle bind off at the shoulder, again to avoid the dreaded seaming.

Final 2 Cents:
DB Cathay has great stitch definition so any unevenness in my stockinette really shows (and I'm NOT a very even knitter). That's probably my only gripe with this project.

On a slightly different note, I noticed that the project list for the Spring 07 issue of Interweave Knits is up. There are a few projects that I like the look of, such as the Tea Rose Halter Top by Wenlan Chia (of Twinkle fame) and the Dollar and a Half Cardigan by Veronik Avery.

Let's just hope it doesn't take 3 months for my issue to arrive this time....

Sunday, January 28, 2007

A Very Aussie Aussie Day

We had no real plan for our Australia Day long weekend up until Thursday night because I simply had not had time to think about it since work was so busy last week.

When we finally sat down to watch the Tennis on Thursday night, I happened to flick to another channel where they were playing a pre-Australia Day concert in Canberra and The Whitlams came on. Of course I had to watch because they're my ALL TIME FAVOURITE band, and right at the end, they mentioned something about playing in Sydney the next day....

What?! I googled it straight away. Apparently the Sydney Harbour Foreshore Authority was putting on a concert at The Rocks to celebrate Australia Day.

And it's all FREE. So our Australia Day activities were set. (Never had I been so happy to be a taxpayer.)

The line up was great. They had FIVE stages with all Aussie bands (almost as good as the BDO without the hefty price tag). We managed to catch the following...

2.30pm - Holly Throsby

A gorgeous little folk outfit with her as singer guitarist, drummer Bree Van Ryke (who also drums for Darren Hanlon) and a guy called Jens who seems to play every string instrument under the sun - double bass, cello, mandolin, banjo). There was one tense moment when a wild gust of wind blew the double bass off its stand and it toppled onto the ground - thankfully these classical instruments are tougher than they look.

4pm - Josh Pyke
Well we didn't actually watch a lot of it we were off foraging for food. He had a cool violinist.

5.30pm - Alex Lloyd

The highlight for me was definitely when they did a cover of Hallelujah and the whole crowd started singing along.

And also the very dramatic dancing by two girls very close to us throughout the entire set.

7pm - The Whitlams

I haven't seen these guys since the Easter Show last year and they were in good form. They did some of their more political songs (Blow Up The Pokies, Year Of The Rat), a few 'Aussie-flavoured' songs (Love This City, I Will Not Go Quietly, Beautiful as You) and a few of my favourites - I Make Hamburgers, Laugh In Their Faces, and Louis Burdett.

My voice was coarse by the end of the set with all the singing along and cheering.

I also wore my thongs for the occasion, ate two whole corn cobs, got sun burnt and had beer split on my foot. All in the spirit of celebrating being Australian. It was a great day.

Just a few more pics on my flickr.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Lost & Found

This post is about my Christmas present.

I know I know, Christmas is already a distant memory for some of you but there's a reason for this lateness.

I want to start by telling you the back story. (Okay, if you're a little short on time you can just skip down to where I've marked the crux of this post with lots of ******)

Two years ago, the first Christmas after we got married, when I was still under the optimistic delusion that, one day someday soon, I will succeed in training Jerms to read my mind, I began dropping some obvious hints as to what I wanted for Christmas. They include casual comments such as "Oh I found this really cool knitting doll kit online today... it's really really cool... did I say it's really really cool?" and "Um, Ben Folds has put out a new book of sheet music. Did I mention that I'm in love with Ben Folds?"

Even to my semi-delusional mind back then, it soon became apparent to me that he was not catching on. For one, there were no visits to under Mozilla's 'History' page and definitely no visits to Allan's Music superstore in the City.

But being the refuse-to-give-up gunho die-hard that I am, I decided that I just needed to be more obvious.

So I made a wishlist...

with descriptions of each gift, expected price, and more importantly, WHERE one might be able to purchase these gifts, if one was looking to do so.

To be honest I can't remember what I got that Christmas. Needless to say it wasn't on my list.

So this last Christmas, I decided it was time to be practical and give up on any school girl silliness and just tell him exactly what I wanted. Tickets to see the Lost and Found Orchestra as part of the Sydney Festival.

We went to the matinee performance last Sat at the Opera House, (which is why I'm only blogging about my Christmas present now) and it was FANTASTIC.

The set looked quite strange to start with, lots of steel structures and stages, even a bathroom up one side of what used to be the choir circle.

When the lights dimmed, a group of people walked on stage and started playing... instrument cases!!

Basically the idea is that they use instruments made from everyday objects, which, as far as I can remember included...
  • different lengths of plastic tubes
  • drain pipes with mouthpieces that sounded like bassoons
  • a massive wine glass xylophone
  • vibraphones made from water cooler bottles
  • beer bottles
  • shopping trolleys
  • plastic barrels
  • those bouncy exercise balls
  • witches' hats as horns
  • garbage bags
  • saw violins
  • bicycle horns
  • a harp made from a bed
  • really long tubing with a cone at the end
And vacuum cleaners! Serious.

Because a lot of these instruments only made one single tone, it required incredible coordination across a fairly large number of people to produce a coherent piece of music. It was a bit like a concert cross with a dance cross with a circus. There were certainly tap dancing elements (the creators created Stomp), acrobatics, clowning, as well as my favourite, a kung-fu sequence where about 10 pairs of people 'fought' with broom sticks and 'played' a percussion piece at the same time.

You can read a write up here. I'm sorry I have no pictures. You can't take photos inside the Concert Hall and in any case there're probably plenty of pics on the web.

btw, to Jerms' credit, he did get me something on that wishlist eventually. But this has taught me an important lesson about marriage... ladies, don't try to change your husbands. It's much easier to change yourselves.


Thursday, January 18, 2007

New Year's Knitting Resolutions

I know it's probably a bit late to post NY's resolutions but I really wanted to come up with some this year to give my knitting a bit more direction, rather than going for the same old boring 'safe' projects again. (Although there will no doubt be some of those as well!)

So here we go...

9. Socks
I have only ever knitted one pair of socks. It was the Sock of Doom from Sock Wars (which I wasn't a participant of, but thought I would make them anyway cos I was so bummed I missed the sign up date). I ended up giving them away (very unlike me, see resolution 2) so I don't actually have a photo.

Anyway, I didn't think I would really get into it (I mean, hand-knitted SOCKS? There's got to be less daggy things in the world) but as it turned out, I really really enjoyed it!

Up until that point, I had never thought about how a sock is constructed and the different ways it could be knitted (what on earth is a gusset? And a heel flap?).

I still think hand-knitted socks are daggy and I don't know if I'll wear them outside the house, but I'm going to give them a go just cos the structure aspect of it really interested me.

With that in mind, I went to my LYS last weekend and bought 2 balls of this Paton self-pattern stuff. I was really after the Filatura de Crosa Zarina to make the Embossed Leaves Socks in Interweave Winter 05 (at least these don't look too daggy) but they didn't have it and the lady at the shop was so friendly I couldn't walk away without getting something.

As you can see, I'm just up to the toe-turn (is that a proper sock knitting term? The Toe-Turn).

8. Design a pattern (and write it down!)
I've made up my own patterns before, but I've never bothered to write them down.

My original resolution was that I should try and get a pattern published but maybe that's a little too ambitious. In any case I will post the pattern on the blog if that really happens.

My biggest problem is I have no idea about sizing. I can design patterns for specific individuals, but how do I work out smaller and bigger sizes? I'm assuming this is simply a matter of doing the maths but I'll have to find out what 'standard' sizes are. Anyway, will deal with that when we get to it.

(Although I could always design a poncho or a muumuu...)

7. Experiment! Be Bold!
This one stems from an audit I did of my projects over the last few years, all of which used one single yarn in one single colour.

I can't believe I'M SO BORING!

So this resolution means I can do one or all of the following...
  • A multi-coloured project
  • A multi-yarn project
  • Something subversive/unwearable/just for the hell of it

6. Learn Continental knitting
I just know this will make my knitting so much faster. Plus I'm getting RSI on my right thumb from holding the needle the 'English' way. Argh.

5. Learn steeking
This is too scary I can't even bring myself to think about it as yet.

4. Learn to spin

I already have a plan about this. One of my friend's mum has a spinning wheel. I can just ask her to teach me, right? Right?

3. Actually give away knitted gifts
I have to stop hogging them for myself. I really have to stop hogging them. (But they really prefer a CD or worse, a GIFT VOUCHER!) No, I must stop hogging them...

2. Get involved with a knitting group
I need some knitting-obsessed friends. (Refer to resolution 1.)

1. Act normal
I've been making an effort not to appear completely obsessed with knitting in front of my non-knitting friends (which are about 99% of my friends) because, well, they just end up being disturbed by how much I know about knitting.

So here's my final and perhaps most difficult resolution. I'm not going to talk about knitting with any of them. Even if they ask me, I will first gauge whether they're doing so out of politeness (in which case I'll be as brief as possible because they do not deserve to know how much more fun knitting is compared to drinking or playing computer games) or out of genuine interest (in which case I'll do my best to evangelise them).

The exceptions are Jerms (this is the price he pays for having a free cleaning & cooking service), this blog (you chose to read this) and friends who actually knit.

(This has got to be one of the longest post I've ever written.)

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Ocean Boy

Jerms in one of his rare moments not choking on sea water.

A few more pics of our dive off Port Douglas has been uploaded to my flickr!

Mind you, these ones were taken using a disposable underwater camera so the images are a bit fuzzy!

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

FNQ Holiday Wrap

Now that we're back in cold, wet Sydney, it's time to reminisce about our Far North Queensland holiday before all those lovely memories fade.

Itinerary: 1 night Cairns, 3 nights Palm Cove, 4 nights Cape Tribulation. (Click links to see where we stayed!)

Cairns Highlights: Not much considering we only stayed for 1 night and slept most of that day! We did have a great seafood platter for 2 at Mangostins on The Esplanade for dinner. Great value too - only 75 bucks with the 25% early bird discount (seated by 5pm and done by 7pm). Yeah we true Asians.

Palm Cove Highlights: Great little beachside resort town that's a little less touristy than Port Douglas or Cairns. Thanks to the stinger net on the beach (below) we swam with wild abandonment and baked off on the beach afterwards. (We did lie under one of many palm trees so as to not get too burnt.)

Speaking of stingers, I love this article which basically says that YOU WILL DIE if you get stung by a stinger. This, according to Aussie Stu, is actually not true because it does depend on where you get stung - e.g. chest and face more likely to be fatal.

I must say reading The Phantom comics while lying on the beach was a highlight. It's got classic lines such as "Cold voice of angry Phantom chills even jungle tiger's blood - Old Jungle Saying". Hilarious.

Also the 40 min drive between Palm Cove and Port Douglas has magnificent views of about a million beaches.

Port Douglas Highlights: I've already raved about this in a previous post but snorkeling on the GBR was really the highlight of the entire trip. Here's one of us knackered on the boat afterwards! (More pics on my flickr!)

We went with Wavelength which I highly recommend. The 10% off for YHA members also helps!

Daintree/Cape Tribulation Highlights: Aside from licking a limey ant's bum? Snorkelling AGAIN on the Great Barrier Reef! This time we went with Odyssey H2O and I must say we enjoyed it more than the dive at Port Douglas.

Although there were only 2 dives (both off a reef site aptly named Turtles - see below), the Reef was more pristine and more beautiful there. And it's only a 45 min boat ride to the Reef!

Jerms found a turtle and I saw at least 3 sting rays. Pity we didn't have an underwater camera that time!

Another highlight was swimming at the freshwater swimming hole behind Mason's. Apparently they were one of the first white families to move to the Cape. The fresh water was so refreshing after the really salty sea water!

Finally, seeing a cassowary was pretty special - even though we only got a picture of his butt (can you spot it?). Apparently he's the resident cassowary at the Coconut Beach Resort and his name is George!

Check out the slightly 'modified' speed hump sign and cassowary warning sign below too... *chuckle*.

For more info about The Daintree, we found this guide pretty much covers it.