9 September 2009

Some random for your Wednesday evening

... because I am meant to be writing a 2000 word essay on the effects of the introduction of the aqueduct at Pompeii (answer, fountains, domestic agriculture, flushing toilets, more water than you poke a stick at, fountains, pools, fishponds and did I mention the fountains?)

Son #1 performed 'Spring', from Vivaldi's Four Seasons (accompanied by a pianist) and it was delicious and delightful apart from the two mistakes which everyone forgave.

• Neither Flickr nor Facebook will let me upload the two-part recording of the performance which is sending my absent (ie. interstate) parents slightly insane with grandparental frustration.

• Son #2 was involved in an end of season soccer match where an official from the opposing team behaved so appallingly that the entire set of team members' parents have lodged formal complaints with the FFV. Such a distressing way to end a season. I was so proud of our boys though - they played brilliantly, fairly, and in a totally sportsmanlike manner.

• On Sunday at the presentation ceremony, Son #3 is to be awarded Player of the Year in his Under 10s soccer team but sssshhh, he doesn't know. Don't tell.

• I'm knitting socks in the same colour as the watermelon coloured shawl (and that link shows the welding rods pretending to be blocking wires, for those who asked to see action shots).

pink artichokes socks

• And because I know if I don't include this, someone will ask in the comments and not leave their email address so I can answer them, the socks are Artichokes (pattern available here, the yarn is hand dyed by me with cherry and strawberry Kool Aid, and um, that's all I can think of. They're on my ravelry page if you need more info).

• I am coveting a piece of beautiful artwork from here.

• Jan held a competition over at the Sewjourn blog, which I promised to spruik on my blog. The competition has now closed. I am such a bad blogger.

• Work is gearing up for another couple of insane weeks, which it always manages to do when I have an essay due. Great.

• Son #1 made french toast for dinner last night. Shut up, french toast is a perfectly acceptable dinner option. The mister burnt some bacon to accompany it and we all ate a piece of fruit for dessert. I mention that to allay any concerns you may have.

Janet dared me to write a scintillating blogpost featuring a wet dishrag, but I am not up to the challenge right now. I do however need to knit some new dishcloths. Mine are all looking a little tired and grey right now. Like me, ha.

wet dishrag
Look! There are those kitchen tiles you helped me choose.

• I just listened to What I Loved by Siri Hustvedt on audiobook. Alternately tedious and so moving that I sobbed during that tricky bit where you come off the Ring Road at peak hour and suddenly the Tulla merges with the Calder and I was grabbing tissues and gulping while simultaneously merging left for my exit. Sheesh. Powerful book. (Yet tedious).

• I'm reading thirdcat's book. Squeee! In fact I selfishly have two copies of it on my bedside table; one from the library and one for mine own self.

• Two copies of the Handmade Help Cookbook landed on my doorstop the other day to distribute to two families we know who lost everything in the Black Saturday Bushfires. One will be delivered tomorrow when Son #1 has his music lesson and the other will be delivered as soon as semester break comes around (two weeks time) and I can get back to spinning group. Now to purchase one for our household. Done! You should buy one too. Go here.

Bushfire relief fundraiser cookbook

Some questions:

• Has anyone seen the version of Wuthering Heights starring Ralph Fiennes (I know, I know) and Juliette Binoche? Any reviews you care to share?

• If you had bought a brilliant red coat from an op shop recently, and you were also in possession of a pink[ish] complexion, blue eyes and silvery grey hair, what colour scarf do you imagine you might wear with said red coat? Current thoughts are deepest darkest blue, chocolate brown, or charcoal grey. Edited to add: I don't currently HAVE scarves in all those colours, I need to knit one, and require assistance with colour recommendations to go with red. Thank you.

• The Spring, she has sprung. (That wasn't a question).

• I'm thinking of fiddling with the look on my blog. (I heartily recommend this as an effective procrastination tool). Any special requests?

4 September 2009

Shetland Triangle Shawl: the full gory details

Shetland Triangle shawl for me

This is shaping up to be my Year of the Shawl. This one is my fourth so far and many more are in the wings. Pun intended.

Shetland Triangle shawl - wingspan

The wingspan of my new chunky Shetland Triangle Shawl is quite impressive, if I do say so myself. I'm very glad I broke into the third skein of yarn and kept going. The pattern instructions give eight repeats but I wanted it larger so did ten.

Shetland Triangle shawl for me

Knitting this was an absolute joy. I had the pattern down pat after the success of the last one and after knitting one in sock yarn, it was pleasing to repeat it in something chunky. It knits up with such satisfying speed.

Shetland Triangle shawl for me

This was truly a bargain shawl. My boss, an avid op shopper and crocheter herself, visits a certain rural op shop that shall remain nameless every weekend when she visits her elderly mother, and there is someone in that op shop who has too much time on their hands very dedicatedly unravels handknitted jumpers that come into the op shop, and then sells the yarn. I've had several calls from my boss this year saying There's a whole supermarket bagful of wool for $8 here, shall I buy it for you? and because I am weak cheap addicted and helpless easily pleased, I always say yes. So I had all this aran weight cream yarn wound into crinkly skeins, ready to dye with my huge stash of cherry and strawberry Kool Aid.

Shetland Triangle shawl for me

The knitting took just over two weeks. I love how quick shawls are to knit. Because you start with a very few stitches and increase every alternate row, you make a great deal of progress in a very short time, which is highly motivating. Yes, the last dozen rows can drag but by then you are so close to having a finished object that even a procrastinator extraordinaire like me is inspired to push through until the magic moment of cast off.

Shetland Triangle shawl for me

Actually the magic moment with lace knitting is blocking, not cast off. It's quite amazing the way you take a crumpled bundle of knitted mess and stretch it out to reveal its lacy glory. I told you the story earlier of how I was on the verge of purchasing blocking wires but at the last minute bought a set of welding rods instead (again with the cheap, bargain, etc). These made the job far more enjoyable than using a million pins, several of which need adjustment every single time you walk past because you keep seeing the thing from a different angle.

This shawl was threaded with the welding rods (I love saying that), manhandled into position in a very short space of time and then gazed at adoringly for several hours by both myself and the dog and I did not once want to stick my head in the oven because of the gazillion little pins that need adjusting every single time you walk ... etc etc etc. The dog even laid his chin gently on the shawl as it dried and didn't prick himself once on a nasty pin, however he removed his head promptly when he saw me giving him The Look of Death from the kitchen.

Speaking of Looks, here is me giving what someone on flickr called "the knitwear model gazes into the distance at something far more interesting" look, but I call the "I have 3 seconds in which to press the self timer, leap back against the wall, readjust the shawl which has slipped off my shoulder during said leap, hold my arm back to appear less round shouldered than I really am and show off shawl to best advantage and all this means I have no time to smile or even look natural" look. Enjoy. And laugh. Because I might just delete it in the cold light of morning tomorrow when the red wine has worn off.

forgetting to look happy in these self portraits

Vital statistics have been Ravelled.

I am overdue for a haircut.

1 September 2009

in which I discover the focus ring


I wanted to talk about my new camera and the journey she and I are embarking upon together, but I figured that those of you who are interested in photography will know much more about the technical stuff than I do, and those of you who are not into photograpy, won't give two hoots.

palest pink tulip

So maybe you can just look at the pretty pictures instead?

Ah stuff it. I've had a glass of wine; I can't blog without rambling a little bit. But no techie 'tips and tricks' I promise. (Because I don't know any anyway, I'm just a fumbler).

I found the av button

In the olden days of film I had a lovelysimplefriendly Pentax K1000 (which I believe is now something of a cult camera). I loved that camera and when we were burgled and it was stolen I was heartbroken. (As heartbroken as I was when I realised the thief had taken the half-finished baby blanket I was making for the imminent arrival of Son #2, to wrap the breakable goods in). The insurance company sent me along to a camera shop to have it replaced (the camera, not the crocheted blanket which was IRREPLACEABLE and PRICELESS) and the salesman talked me into a whizzbang thing that had an LCD screen and many many buttons and automatic bits. I used it for a month without any joy and then returned it, asking to swap it back for a basic old Pentax K1000. The sales guy was aghast at my stupidity but I was insistent, and with the extra money (the whizzbang thing that the insurance co. had told me I could have was worth way more) I bought a zoom lens. Double bonus. I was happy for years with a K1000 in my hands again. I never used the auto settings, as I knew if I did, I would never learn how to take decent shots or understand the mechanics of shutter speeds and aperture settings. I became more competent, and photography became quite a significant interest of mine.

And then along came the exciting world of digital and with some frequent flyer points that were about to expire, I 'purchased' a little Canon pocket digital and I have not bought a roll of film since, nor paid to have my pictures developed, such a cheapskate am I. There followed three happy years of simple digital point n shoot photography.

But I have been hanging out for over a year now for an SLR again. And so when the opportunity came to buy a second hand digital Pentax SLR (Pentax! my old love!), I jumped at it. Also, the entire administration of the sale was orchestrated through Twitter, which tickled me.

Anyway, I loved the new Pentax, but I had to relearn everything (slowly, because I am old now and my neural pathways have ... what? what was I saying?), plus this Pentax came with Sigma lenses which didn't match the instructions in the manual, and also didn't accord with my memory of the K1000 settings. I wanted to be roolly roolly good at taking photos immediately, and that, of course, didn't happen. Frustrating.

Then one day I [re]learned about the av priority setting, and a week or so later I found the focus ring! (It was cunningly hidden right out there in the obvious position).

I know there are people on the Flickr forums who scoff at bokeh and the plethora of short depth of field shots, but I'm loving finding my feet again. Not to mention finding the teeny tiny stamens of a flower, the speckles on the surface of an egg, or the twinkle in a baby magpie's eye.

maggie magpie

Happy happy.