Intarsia & New Camera Part Two

Gentle reader,

You’ll be pleased to know that there’ll be no cloaca-talk this time (except for just now, whoops!). But, there will be an update on the intarsia sweater I’ve been working on! The pieces are all done, and it’s blocking; all that remains is to make it up and knit the collar ribbing!

Sloooowly finding my feet.

Look, intarsia is not hard. But, I’m finding that – for me at least – it’s one of those things that just comes to you with practice. You’ve just gotta be patient until you find your rhythm, like your tension when you first start knitting. I mean, I was doing it, but I was getting frustrated with uneven stitches, and I tried any number of things to combat that, and yet, I still ended up with some messy bits. I sat down with Judith and got some tips, and they certainly helped from a technical perspective, but… my intarsia still was not perfect, and that frustrated me! I suppose you can’t really expect things to be perfect the first time you do them, but I expected it to be a bit better than what I got! I was ready to rip it out and start over, but everyone told me to keep going and assured me that all of these little imperfections that were bugging the bajiggity outta me would come out in the blocking process. So, I persisted.

I may have gone slightly overboard with the pins.

And so, when I’d finished all the pieces, I soaked them overnight and then started blocking them. And… I guess it looks a bit better than before, but there are still all kinds of uneven bits and odd things happening! Blerg! I’ve always been really pleased that my knitting is usually quite neat and even so this really, really bothers me. On one hand, I think it’s a decent first whack. On the other hand part of me wants to rip it out and knit the front over again. But, I want it finished by tomorrow because I intended it to be a gift, though now I’m not so sure (note to self, a gift is probs not the best project to tackle a new skill on. Not too bright, are we?). I’ll see what it looks like when it’s sewn up and check in with my knitting pals to see if there are anymore tricks I can do.

I don’t want to be a Debbie Downer about it, though. I really enjoyed making it, and I’m keen to have another crack at it! Whenever I learn something, I have this habit of jumping in the deep end, because it can only get easier, right? And usually I struggle with it until the light bulb goes off and then I feel all giddy with excitement and satisfaction. I think what happened here is I finished this project a little before I got my light bulb moment. If I’d wrestled with it a little longer I might have gotten there. But, I’ll be content with this one for now, because it’s not awful, really. I’ll definitely give intarsia another bash, though!

Speaking of giving things a bash, the other week I took my new camera out for a wander to take some snaps. I’m really happy with how they came out. I haven’t done any post-processing on these except to rotate a few.

Wanderings

I think if I did any adjusting, I’d up the exposure on the statues, but the others I’m happy with. It was so nice also to have a little sticky beak around a part of Melbourne that I’d passed plenty of time but never had a closer look. I had such a wonderful evening wandering around, taking snaps, finding little interesting things here and there. It can be so easy to pass things by these days, and sometimes it’s nice to stop and smell the roses so to speak (or literally, even!).

I am having a few issues with the camera, sometimes the colors aren’t as accurate as I’d like, but I’m sure I’ll figure it out after some experiments and another flip through the destruction manual.

Have you ever tackled something that didn’t quite turn out how you wanted? How did you fix it? Sharezies!

Awardzies!

Gentle reader,

I’ve been bestowed with an award, from Cross(stitch) Your Heart! I’ve not had the opportunity to have a very good sit and read of  that blog just yet, but I did have a bo-peep at her cross stitch pieces and they’re staggeringly awesome! So, you should absolutely go and have a sticky beak. ^_^  (And thank you very much, T.M!!)

So, anyway, she left some very lovely compliments and this award in the comments on my last post, so there you have it! Here’re the rules:

  •  Thank the person who gave you this award. That’s common courtesy.
  •  Include a link to their blog. That’s also common courtesy — if you can figure out how to do it.
  •  Next, select 15 blogs/bloggers that you’ve recently discovered or follow regularly. ( I would add, pick blogs or bloggers that are excellent!)
  •  Nominate those 15 bloggers for the Versatile Blogger Award — you might include a link to this site.
  •  Finally, tell the person who nominated you 7 things about yourself.

Well, I’ve done the thank-yous and linkies, so here are 7 things about me:

1. My Pa taught me how to use tools and sharp things before I even started school. It took me a long time to realize that most other kids didn’t play with hammers and nails and stanley knives…

2. My favorite book of all-time-ever is To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee. If you haven’t read it, you need to buy it right this second. Go on, now.

3. To me, the sound of someone else brushing their teeth makes my skin crawl and completely freaks me out. It’s like my equivalent of nails on a chalkboard. Geesh. It doesn’t even make sense!

4. My Ma’s favorite film is Dr Zhivago, and back in the day, we had it on VHS and it was so big it was across two tapes and it was in a fancy box. I think I watched it almost every weekend of my life until I was eight or nine. I didn’t really understand it then, but I thought it was properly beautiful, especially the act at Varykino. Now I understand it AND think it’s properly beautiful (cuz I growed up, I did!).

5. I used to go sailing with my Pa. We had a 16-foot wooden sailboat named “Ralphie Too” which was named after me – my Pa calls me Ralphie though none of us can remember why – and I loved every minute of it. We even sunk it once! Well, we didn’t sink it per se, the tide went out and dropped onto the stump of a demolished pier. I even some medals and trophies from sailing in competitions with him. I wish I’d kept going with it, but, y’know. Teenagers are revolting and weird and difficult and I was no different.

6. Back in my theater days I played: a dead body, a drug addict, an elderly business magnate, a Scottish prison officer, a British prison officer who was haunted by the souls of those he’d had hanged (and he later became a dead body too), and a peg-legged sea captain with a heart of gold.

7. I put my grilled cheese sandwiches in the fridge for ten to fifteen minutes before I eat them. Cray-to-the-azy, riiiiiight!?

Now, I’m supposed to nominate 15 other blogs for the Versatile Blogger Award. I had some trouble doing this at first for a couple reasons. Firstly, I wasn’t sure I even followed that many blogs. I mean, I have a lot in my RSS reader, but there just aren’t enough hours in the day to read all the amazeballs blogsticles out there, and some of them don’t update very often. Secondly, I admit, I was a little concerned about the vaguely chain-letter-ish nature of the award. In the end, I figured love is love, and I like sharing it. As it turns out, all of my never-miss-read-religiously blogs totalled 15! It was meant to be.

So much love for these blogssssaaahhh! All images from the respective blogs and belong to them.

Linkies in alphabetical order:

BonitoClub
Crocher Hooker
GourmetGirlfriend
House of Humble
Kit & Nancy
Knitxcore
Little Yellow Cat
Meet Me At Mike’s
Milkveins
Ouch Flower
Sian Lile Makes
Tea & Craft
Veggie Mama
Woollenflower
The World Is A Chocolate Cupcake

I won’t write little blurbs for all of them, but just trust me that they’re properly amazing. No lie. I’ll probs feature them individually at some point if I haven’t already. Meanwhile, I was pretty surprised that three food-focused blogs are in my never-miss-it list! I’m not at all a foodie, and if any of these people knew the horrific and bizarre eating habits I have they would judge me harshly and shun me from society. Well, Kate does have an idea, but she’s still my friend, so there’s still hope…

What’s the best award you’ve ever gotten? Sharezies! 

Cameras, Birds (And Their Downstairs Mix-Ups), A Prelude to Intarsia & A Dash of Zombies

Gentle reader,

You may recall that our house was broken into… TWICE, and the second time they took Joel’s camera (which I had somewhat commandeered). While we’ve vowed not to replace any of the game consoles until we move, I was getting very itchy not having a decent camera, though I admit my iPhone does a pretty good job up to a point. So, I did some reading and I decided on the Nikon Coolpix L120 because of the cray-to-the-azy lens, some good reviews and the amazingly good price. You can get them for $198 at Dick Smiths, if you’re in Australia, which was about $60 cheaper than I saw at other places.

Joel and I got some dinner afterward at QV, and I decided to test it out on some birds.

I pointed my camera at these birds and this is what happened.

I love birds! I mean, I really know next to nothing about them like different breeds etc, but gosh I think they’re the cutest things ever. But then I remember they have cloacas which then kinda grosses me out for some reason and it mars my enjoyment of their cuteness for a few seconds, and then I push the idea of a one-stop poopin’, peein’, breedin’ shop from my head and then all is well again.

In fact, let’s do that now and move on from that unsavory thought and just enjoy these mighty adorable little critters. I LOVE that little nugget in the bottom left! Look at his little chest and face! Eeeeeeeeee! I would totally have given him a gentle hug in my hands if he’d let me. HIS. LITTLE. FACE!!!! ^_^     Cloaca. Dammit!  >_<

Meanwhile, I’ve been knitting a bit! I recently discovered the wonders of having a library card after not having one since I left college. I pretty much borrowed every knitting book that wasn’t totally naff from the library on Flinders Lane, and I decided that I’d tackle some intarsia. I’m making a wee bairn’s sweater from Picture Perfect Knits by Laura Birek. The design is called “I ❤ Mom“, and it’s a heart with a banner around it that says “Mom”, but I’m going to switch the chart out for a different design from the appendix at the back. So far, I think the book is awesome and probably worth the purchase. The pattern has been really clear, concise and easy to follow, but, I haven’t gotten to the intarsia yet and there was no shaping on the back piece, so, the wheels may yet fall off (I daresay that would be my own shortcoming and not the books though).

It seems on of my balls of yarn has become irradiated. Whoops.

I started with the back panel to safeguard against my finishing the intarsia and then getting bored with it and never finishing it. Geesh. I pinned it out for the sake of photographing it, I’ve not blocked it yet. I’ll pin the tar outta it when I do, cuz it’s super curly. I haven’t been slipping my first stitch to get a nice edge so it’s mega rough and curly at the edges. I dunno why I didn’t do the slipping thing. I think Marelle told me not to bother, so I’ll see how that goes. I’m using Cleckheaton Basics DK which I got from a sale. It’s a perfectly decent yarn, but I shan’t rave about it. I suppose that’s neither here nor there though, since it’s now discontinued. If you find it cheap though, it’s worth picking up.

I have a few projects on the go – I’m still working on my own sweater and Marelle’s crochet lace dress (which I’ve been taking to work to do on my lunch break) – but they’ve all gotten too big to to be suitable for public transport projects. Sure, the intarsia sweater is small, but since I’ll be starting the chart soon, it will be a sit-quietly-and-concentrate project. Luckily for me, I recently traded in some games and got Resident Evil: Revelations for my Nintendo 3DS (the only game console that wasn’t stolen) to while away my commute time. I don’t know if I can stress this enough: I love me some zombie-killin’. Yes, I do. The very first Resident Evil was one of the first games I got when we first got a computer. I’m fairly sure it gave me nightmares, but they were AWESOME nightmares (my parents may disagree on that fact).

“Resident… Eeevillll”

I played a couple hours of it over the weekend, and it’s pretty off-the-hook cray-to-the-azy. The graphics are super neat and definitely the best I’ve seen on the DS. It’s also compatible with the extra thumb-stick attachment, which I don’t have, but I really haven’t felt that controls are lacking without it. It’s very intuitive and fun. Are you guys even into games? Zombies? Yes? No? Lemme know. If you likey I’ll talk more about it, if no, I’ll keep it to my own nerdy self.

Have you tackled intarsia knitting yet? Have any tips? Share-zies!  ^_^

An Interlude: From Grizzle-Guts To Genuine Insanity (With A Bit of Kate Bush)

Gentle reader,

I’d like to think that, over the months or more that we’ve been engaged is this odd little exchange between blogger and reader, we’ve become friends of a sort. And friends share things, and sometimes these things maybe don’t show the sharer in the best light. Or perhaps it reveals just how silly they really are. Well, I’d like to tell you about the day I had on Friday. I think it’s a pretty good story; it has the lows of grumpiness and tantrums, and the highs of unadulterated silliness and delirium. Mostly, I hope you get a laugh, rather than thinking me a brat. It’s a long one, but I hope you’ll come with me on this little trip.

It all started on a high note, but little did I know that this was merely a starting off point. At my temp contract, I finished all the work they had for me ahead of time (cuz I’m, like, properly awesome! Kidding!), so I had an early mark and left at lunch time. It was then that I realized that my earphones – my favorite, fancy, green Skullcandy ones – were busted! I couldn’t get sound in both ears without fiddling with the the cord, and even then, I had to constantly move it around, I couldn’t just hold it in a certain direction. Well, hurrumph! Off I went to JB HiFi to purchase a new pair (working full-time is nice, because you can just go out and do that).

I found a super-fancy pair of new Skullcandy ones that had a microphone/volume/play-pause clicker on it so I could use it with my iPhone as well (which is bordering on unnecessary anyway because I’ll turn myself inside out to avoid speaking on the phone), but they were very pizzazzy and white, and even though they were expensive, I could justify it because they came with a little zip-up case to keep them safe. Perfection! So, I wandered towards the counter to pay for them when I saw a wireless keyboard with a trackpad where the number pad usually is. And I stopped.

You see, Joel has a wireless keyboard and mouse, and his computer is set up through the ginormous television and he sits on the couch to do his web trawling and game playing. But, the wireless keyboard is a bit old, and many a time recently I have found him cursing the thing and pounding keys with an accusatory finger while stamping closer and closer to the computer tower. As amusing as his little huffing fit is to behold, I knew he wouldn’t buy himself a new keyboard until it completely gave out, and honestly, it’s no way for a nerd to live. So, here was a wireless computer, with a built-in trackpad no less, for sale and staring me in my face. I spun on my heels and put my back earphones and chose a cheaper (but still seemingly good quality) earphones so I could afford the keyboard as well.

By the time I’d walked a few city blocks to the yarn shop I realized that the $30 earphones I’d bought were complete and utter rubbish. To be fair, my hearing is pretty atrocious to begin with, but the sound quality through these suckers was like listening to someone singing with their face firmly planted into their pillow. I sat at the table in the yarn store, feeling a little grumpy, but still buoyed by my early mark from work. All of my friends in the yarn store encouraged me to take them back. I was a little doubtful because they’re in-ear buds, and that would be aaaalmost like returning a pair of underpants that you’d warn, wouldn’t it? Which is rather unsavory. But, they reasoned that it couldn’t hurt to try. So, I walked back the three or four city blocks to try my luck.

As it turns out, returning earbuds IS JUST LIKE returning underpants you’ve already worn. The gentlemen was very apologetic (I suspect he was aware how garbage the earbuds really were) but it was store policy. I tried to think if we had spare pair at home, and Joel even texted to say I could use his (which would leave him without any, and I’m not that mean!) and I really didn’t want to spend more money, but I gave in. It’s a first world problem, but I really can’t live without my music. It’s as much a love of tunes as it is protection against sensory overload and social anxiety when out-and-about. So, I went back to the headphone section and bought the pair I’d chosen in the first place like a Little Stupid, and pushed the budget-panic to the back of my head.

Lessons Learned (Skullcandy image from Headphones.com)

Now, I could enjoy the train ride home in my musical bubble, which I did, along with some knitting. All was well until I started walking up my drive and realized that I didn’t have my keys. Joel and I usually meet up after work, so I never needed them and therefore never checked that I them. I’d left them in my other bag. Geesh! After a few choice cuss words, I took a few deep breaths and thought what I would do. Joel said he could come home if I had something to do to tide me over for a bit, but he had planned to go out for drinks with his bestie and I didn’t want to be a party-pooper. In the end, I decided that since the real estate agent was five or six blocks away, so I would go get a spare set of keys from them. We had never received keys to our back or side doors (I know, I know, we should have sorted that out long ago), so I thought I’d kill two birds with one stone.

I got to the real estate agents and they were happy to lend me their set of keys, with one catch: they had to be back in the office by the close of business, which by this time, was in about half an hour. Oy. Well, I had two options. I could not worry about getting the back and side keys and just go home, let myself in, get my keys, bring the agent’s keys back, and go home again. It’s not a long walk, but not a walk you want to do four times in a row, lugging all your stuff with you, so that was properly unappealing. Or I could go to the row of shops and get some keys cut. The downside to that was that the agent didn’t know which keys were which, there was just a whole bunch of keys on a ring. Even all the tops of the keys and colors were all the same, so the teeth were the only differences. I figured I’d try my luck.

Hey, dufus! These are important!

I called Joel and asked him to take pictures of the teeth of his keys and message them to me, so I could figure out which keys we didn’t have by a process of elimination. I was feeling very smug and clever with myself as I walked to the shops and waited for Joel’s message to come though. Only, it didn’t. Between my calling him and arriving outside the store, my phone’s battery had died! Well, that was perfect! I almost had a stampy-tantrum at this point, but managed to contain myself, though I did get a few sidelong glances; I must have looked particularly unhinged by now. I calmed myself and tried to reason. If I only got one key cut, and it was for either the wooden front door, or the front screen, then I wouldn’t be able to get in. If I got two keys cut, those two keys would either both be for the front doors, or one key would be a front door and the other would be for the back or side door, or both would be for the back or side door. So, no matter what I’d be able to get in. So I picked two keys at random and had them cut, returned the agent’s keys, and headed home.

I tried the screen door. Neither key worked. A feeling of satisfaction swelled within my chest. Even if one of these keys was for the wooden front door, the other was for one of the doors we didn’t have keys for, and maybe both keys were the ones we were missing! I made my way to the side door and tried the keys. Nope. That was odd. I circled round to the back door and tried both keys. Nope. Suddenly, it felt like that feeling of satisfaction shriveled up into a lump of coal, and my heart fell out of my butt. Seriously!? I was crazed now. The whole week and had been overcast and cool, but of course today was sunny and warm, and I’m a ginger! I was hot, sticky, exhausted and I could feel myself getting sunburned and I couldn’t get into my house! I began frantically going from side door to back door, trying the keys over and over again, just to make sure. No. Neither key did anything. One of them didn’t even fit the keyholes.

My rage turned to the real estate agents. Even if one of those keys fit the wooden door behind the screen door, at least one of these keys was completely useless. Why on earth would the agent have multiple keys that didn’t fit any of our locks? Did they collect useless keys? Was that a thing? Then my rage turned to myself. Why couldn’t I just be like every other functioning adult and make sure I have my keys with me every day. Then I just felt sorry for myself. “Aww, Little Stupid,” I thought, “you’re really not very good at life, are you?”.

Feeling very sheepish, and giving over to the exhaustion, I sat down on the back step in the shade. Then I remembered, my iPod was fully charged, and I was pretty sure I could get our house’s wifi signal from there! I switched on my iPod and sent Joel a few emails to let him know what had happened, and to see when I could expect him home. No replies. Siiiiiiighh. It was going to be a while. Luckily, me being me, I had some knitting in my bag. So, out it came and I knitted away at the back piece of a cardigan. I descended into that crafty bliss you feel when you’re doing nothing but working with your hands, no distraction, no clock-watching, just pure and thorough enjoyment. I was in my happy place. That is, until I ran out of yarn.

Noooooooo!

I packed my project up again, and pulled out a book and read for a little while. At this point, I had been sitting on the step like a bedraggled little orphan for almost three hours. After a while it became a bit too dark to read in the shadow of the house, and so I listened to music on my iPod. The warm, sunny day began to set and turn dark and the wind picked up. I’d gone from actually feeling myself burn to shivering in the gloom of evening. As if on queue, my iPod shuffled to Wuthering Heights by Kate Bush, one of my favorite songs of all-time, and it seemed almost eerily fitting thematically. I decided to write a last ditch attempt email to Joel, which read as follows:

Subject: Let Me In Your Window

It’s starting to get cold and windy here. By the time you get home, it will be like Wuthering Heights. I shall be dead and my ghost shall be rapping at your window. “Joelcliff! Let me in your window! It’s so cold outside!”. After which I shall don a red dress and take to the moors, singing in my Kate Bush falsetto and interpretive dancing all over the hizzy. “Joelcliff! It’s me, your Raynie! I’ve come home! I’m so co-o-o-o-old! Let me in your wind-o-o-ow! Ooh, let me have it, let me gra-a-ab your soul! Who-o-ah, you know it’s me, your Raynie!”. And then I’ll disappear. And then reappear. And then disappear. 

 And then reappear. And then disappear.

Now, if you’re not familiar with the “red dress version” of the Wuthering Heights video, I’ve included a little montage for reference.

Out on the wiley, windy moors…! (Image credits from here)

At this point, I honestly can’t explain what my thought process was. I had well and truly lost my mind. I can’t truthfully say that I hadn’t set a precedent of Kate Bush impressions. They’re not entirely uncommon, per se. At any rate, I was cold, crazy, and possessed by the musical and poetic spirits of Kate Bush and Emily Bronte, and before I knew it, my email – at least in part – proved to be prophetic. I took to the back yard dancing like a dervish to the small, tinny strains of Wuthering Heights from my iPod. It didn’t take me long to realize that my iPod also had a camera. Why I felt like that was a good idea, I’ll never know but, there you have it. And, once one has done such a thing, I’ve found it’s best not to look back or get self-conscious about it because one’s friends usually will get a laugh or two out of it at the very least.

So naturally, I posted photographic proof of my delirious Bush-Bronte break-down to Facebook.

There may have also been a video, but unless you have me as a personal friend on Facebook, I shall refrain from sharing that with you in the interest of salvaging some dignity ^_~  but without further ado, I present you Wuthering Heights: The Shy Lion version.

(a friend pointed out that if you clicked through the photo gallery quickly it looks rather impressive, but in the absence of such things, I shall post them in single file so perhaps to can scroll down quickly for a similar effect)

I hope I haven’t frightened you all away, and you’ve at least gotten a giggle from this this malarky. Joel arrived home from drinks and was so happy with his gifty keyboard and so pitied the pathetic little fool dancing about the backyard that he didn’t raise an eyebrow at my spending splurge. He had switched of his cell phone email to conserve battery which is why he didn’t get my emails, which is really alright, because I feel closer to Kate Bush than ever. All’s well that ends well, I suppose! ^_^

Have you had any silly misadventures lately? I’d love hear them! 

Toto-Phone: Finished!

Gentle reader,

You peeps and my pals on FB seem to have gone properly mental over my Totoro cross-stitch phone case! Y’all are crazy! And completely sweet, and I heart you all. So, not to disappoint, I’ve worked as fast as I can, and, now, I present to you my Toto-phone!

Mmm, shall I do a Cat-Bus one next?

I’m pretty happy with it. The case itself is a great, snug fit for my iPhone and I was glad to get rid of the stretchy, loose silicone one. The design itself turned out in the end; I did have to make a few slight changes to my original chart, but I’m pleased with him now. I will do up the chart and post it in case anyone is interested in doing their own cross-stich Totoro. ^_~

To recap, if you want to do your own cross-stich iPhone case, you can get yours online here or here, or you can buy them in store at Morris & Sons (Sydney and Melbourne).

If you could do one, what design would you go for? And if you actually do do one, you MUST share it with me! I’ll pretty much love you forever!