Before we start, I’ma just give the disclaimer that there is lots of caps lock happening all up in here. What can I say? I’m getting more and more excited about the giveaway. Cue: next prize reveal, aaaaaannnnndddd…. GO!
A while back I bought a couple series of Knitting Daily from Interweave (because I’m a total Interweave and Eunny Jang fan-boy. Not mad.) and one of the episodes featured Kristen TenDyke demonstrating some of the techniques she implemented in her book “Finish-Free Knits”. Picture if you will my shrieking “WHAT IS THIS FANCY YARN MAGIC!? I NEEDS IT IN MY LIFE, I DOES! TELL ME FOR HOW, KRISTEN, PLEASE AND THANK YOU KINDLY TO YOU PLEASE!” while pawing frantically at the screen.* I promptly ordered the book from Interweave. And then Kristen began selling signed copies from her Etsy store. So naturally, I bought myself a signed copy too.
*may or may not have been embellished for dramatic effect but preserves the essential essence of the moment as I recall it.
“This is the sock that doesn’t end! It just goes on and on, my friend! I started knitting it not know what it was, and I’ll continue knitting it forever just because this is the sock that doesn’t end…”
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 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).
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).
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! ^_^
I had the lovely opportunity of visiting Stephanie and Megan at Can Do Books in Hawthorn today. If you’re in Melbourne and you’ve not been, you really must go. Their selection of crafty and arty books are totes amazeballs, and the prices are kind of jaw-droppingly reasonable (which is a bit of a rare thing in Australia, actually!). We had a chat about some opportunities to do some really cool stuff together, so I’ll keep y’all posted. In the meantime though, do you mind if I show off the purchase I made while I was there? The Principles of Knitting by June Hemmons Hiatt!
The 4-1-1 on this book is that it was well popular and then it went out of print for a number of years (the publication details lists it’s last edition as being printed in 1988!). Demand was so high though that people went properly crazy and apparently second hand copies were selling for the $200 ballpark on eBay! Oy! But, it’s been revised and updated and is back on the shelves. Zombie book! It’s alive! I had a quick flip through and was overcome with the desire to take it home with me, so I did, as a matter of fact. I think these will sell like gangbusters, because it’s the kind of book that if you only ever bought one book about knitting, this would do perfectly. Seriously, this thing is so big you could brain someone with it. I tried flipping through some more on the train and I nearly dislocated my arm! And considering it only cost $49.99, let’s be real, I kind of feel like a stole it, just a lil’ bit. I’ll tell you some more about it when I’ve had more time to pour through it (seated safely at the table, mind. No more dislocations).
Meanwhile, I have some crochet FOs to show you! Back when I was at the Loch Quilt and Craft Festival, I was crocheting while I was sitting at my table, and I don’t know what possessed me, but I started to whip up some vegetables, or ‘veggigurumi’ as I like to call them. I did the aubergine first. Now, I would sooner eat my own sick than eat aubergine, but I think they’re pretty and I love their color. And this yarn colorway was even named “Rustic Aubergine” (Morris Estate 14 ply), so I suppose that might have sown the seed for veggigurumi. And the carrot was next because I happened to have a red-orange yarn and I actually do like carrots. So, there you have it!
Anyway, I was really quite happy with how they turned out, actually! I think aubergines are a bit longer, but I wanted it to a be fat little nuggety one. I can’t quite remember what yarn the carrot was made of, but I suspect it was Sean Sheep from Big W (don’t pooh-pooh the Sean Sheep from Big W, it’s actually quite lovely!). The green bits were from some Magnum Soft, which is a pretty decent acrylic yarn if you’re on a budget. It’s quite squishy and not at all scratchy or plastic-y). I feel like I need a few more items for the collection, for a fruit/vegetable bowl or cornucopia if you will. Perhaps an apple or broccoli, I’m not sure.
Also, if you missed it, I’ve opened an Etsy store, which you can visit here! And, if you go to this post and comment, I’ll send you a coupon code for 15% off, just ‘cuz I love you. ^_^ Truth be told, you can comment on any post and say you want a coupon code. Ask and ye shall receive.
Have you bought some awesome books lately? Share, share, share!
After the Loch festival, I’ve been laying low – also because of some dental work, oy! – but I’ve been pottering away at some thing here and there, and I also had my phone upgraded to an iPhone 4S, so I figured I’d test out the camera and show you some stuff!
First up, while I was visiting my folks over Christmas, I’d decided that I was going to knit my Ma some socks. She’d bought me the book “Closely Knit” by Hannah Fettig for a Christmas gift, and then I asked her to pick out some sock yarn. Now, Spotlight in a smallish-biggish town doesn’t have the greatest selection, and the yarn my Ma chose didn’t even have a ball band, so I’ve got no idea what it is. It’s not what I’d have chosen for myself, but it’s not for myself, now, is it?
At any rate, I’ve knit the first sock which I’ll send to Ma for a fit before I do the other. I feel like it’s a little big (considering it fit me comfortably), but I knit it by the pattern according to shoe size and my Ma’s foot length, and my tension was slightly tighter – maybe two or three stitches less over four inches – so, I dunno, I’ll see what she thinks when she tries it.
The pattern in the book was really easy to follow, and explained the stuff I hadn’t done before really clearly. I’d never done the folded picot edge before, and I probably squealed myself silly when I’d done it and declared “I’M GOING TO KNIT ALL OF THE THINGS WITH A PICOT EDGE!!!“. Also, I’d never done a top-down sock or used Kitchener stitch to cast off before, so they were good times had.
It wasn’t all fun and games, obviously. It never occurred to Little Stupid here that knitting a heel flap with self-striping yarn looks pretty naff and I ought to have used a plain yarn or an afterthought heel. Which I already knew, but my mind left me for the duration of this sock. I particularly hate the single-row stripe on the top of the foot. Oy. Well, next time I shan’t be so daft, promise. Another weird thing: my stitches are usually quite even and neat, but they’re a little bit cray-to-the-azy here… I did notice that the yarn was particularly twisty and I had to de-twist a LOT more than usual, so I’m going to put it down to that.
Anyway, the book is super nice, and I’d definitely recommend it. For the Australian peeps, Ma and I found it at Lincraft for $7, which is a serious find considering how neat this book is. I almost felt like we were stealing it, y’all! Anyhoo, I’m planning to knit up a few of the projects and reviewing it. Hands up if you’re interested. There’s also a really nice plain sweater for gentlemen in here that I’m pondering.
Meanwhile, all summer my receding hairline and I have been bemoaning my lack of summer hats to hide my hair trauma and prevent scalp sunburn, but other things took precedent and I neither bought nor made any. And then, after Loch, I figured I’d put my new-found crafting freedom towards more hats, but really, summer’s nearly over, so I thought to heck with that idea, I’ma make me a new beret! I do love a good beret. So, I pulled out this Cleckheaton book, “She Knits” and, FYI Cleckheaton, He Knits too.
Now, I love the Cleckheaton Country yarns, but I love Morris Estate better, so I bought myself some balls of Estate 8 ply in a lovely dusty, tweedy green (Sage 8046) and got started. It was really hard to make the color to come through accurately on my iPhone, so you’ll just have to trust me on this one. It’s green and yummy; truth. I know, green is so unusual for me, right? The pattern is not the most exciting thing as far as knitting it goes, but it’ll be a nice pick-up-put-down project while I do other things. I’ll keep you posted!
To finish off, I wanted leave y’all with a song! It’s been a while since I’ve shared some tunes, and this album is making me fall in love with it all crazy-like, so here ’tis. I love me some shimmery, shiny, melancholy, synthy deliciousness.
Do like knitting socks? How do you deal with Second Sock Syndrome? Also, feel free to share your fave tune of the moment! Commentses? I heart them!
This will probably be the last of my December Travels posts before I get back down to business. But, it’s also probably the post I’m most excited to share with you!
I don’t know about you, but I love, love, LOVE a good poke about a thrift store. Back when I used to do costume design, I would hit the thrift stores hard – I once costumed a cast of 30+ on $200 with change to spare – but I didn’t come to love it until I quit theater and started thrifting for myself. Some things just aren’t fun when it’s work!
Well, while I was up in Queensland, I managed to do a bit of crafty thrifting and I think I did pretty well! First up, while I was in Brisbane, Panda and I dropped into this crazy antique store that we happened upon. It was quite big, and was more of a serious antique/collectors store, and some of the treasures in there were mind-blowing (with prices to match, in a good way!), but they also had some small little lovelies with more thrifty prices. Naturally, I managed to sniff out the craft accoutrements and patterns in no time, and I picked up these babies with change out of a tenner.
After my few days in Brisbane, I caught the bus to my home town. After Christmas, my fantastic friends, Alf and Robert, drove up from Brisbane to visit me and we went thrifting! Now, my home town has some amazing thrifting. Because it’s a smaller town, and perhaps a little bit conservative, it’s not yet caught on that thrift stores are a bit “cool” these days. Or at least, that’s what it was like last time I shopped there…
But now, they’d finally caught on! And prices reflected that. Which isn’t a bad thing, mind. Most of them are charity stores, remember! So more money in their pockets are a good thing. But, I still felt a small niggle of nostalgia for the days of filling a bag for two dollars. Ahhh!
We popped into a few stores (in spite of my nearly getting us horribly lost a few times – it’s been a long time since I’ve had to get around town, everything had changed!), but nothing struck my fancy. Until we got to the big Lifeline store, and I managed to find a taste of the old days with some ridiculously cheap gems!
It seems that while it’s caught on that thrifting is “cool”, it’s yet to catch on that knitting and crochet is now a bit “cool” too! I found two pattern books and… A DROP SPINDLE!
Now, none of their patterns were priced, and I don’t think anyone knew what the spindle was. I took them to the counter, and I was served by the most gorgeous elderly lady named Vera. She looked them over, and not seeing any prices, she ummed to herself for a bit.
“How does fifty cents sound?” she asked with a lovely big smile.
I was floored! “Really!?” I exclaimed. I rummaged in my wallet and found a two dollar coin. “Let’s make it two dollars, shall we?”
“One dollar!” countered Vera, bless her!
“Vera! Why are you trying to talk me down? Take the two dollars!” I said with a laugh. She looked at me for a second and then giggled as she took the coin and bagged up my purchases. Too adorable!
I think vintage patterns are becoming a compulsion for me. I don’t even really intend to make most of them. Definitely some of the mens patterns. But, even if I don’t plan on using them, I just adore them! And I feel like, what will happen to them if sympathetic crafters don’t take them home? I can see this becoming a hoarders-like situation. Oy.
Things will be back to normal after this one, I think! Be prepared, I have a finished object parade busting to be blogged, and I have lots of exciting news (classes, anyone?). So, stay tuned!
What are your favorite thrift store purchases? Share, share, share!
It was my birthday on Wednesday, and I really wasn’t going to make a thing of it, but I got so much unexpected love and such thoughtful and sweet gifts that I wanted to show ’em off a bit.
Judith got me a whole bunch of Japanese books she happened across at a thrift store. Some of them are children’s books which are great for reading practice when your kanji comprehension is atrocious (yes, that would be me), and the rest seem like text books for lower grades in Japan rather than actual “Hey foreigner! Learn some Japanese!” books (well, except for one).
Marelle and Kendyl got me some funny stickers and a gift voucher for Minotaur (for non-Melburnians, Minotaur is a shop that is more or less the geek mother ship).
And Jules (of Woollenflower fame) got me two amazing old crochet books, which I’m sure you’ll see more of. “Crochet Sweaters” is a priceless mix of really tasteful and timeless gems (including a couple for gentlemen!) and utterly tragic disasters that makes me laugh so hard that I’m in danger of peeing myself. Not kidding.
Meanwhile, my house is slowly, slowly getting sorted out, but I’ve been procrastinating yet again. At any rate, the more time I spend in the house, the more I love it. It has quite a bit of character and I really hope I can channel my interior designer and really make it the cozy home it deserves to be. (Let’s be real though, I kind of just want it to be the same as Katie and Reuben’s place, ala House of Humble. I can’t lie.)
Finally… tomorrow (Friday) is the last day to comment on my other post here to win yourself a squishable, scrummy ball of yarn. So, go do that! I want to share the love.
What’s been the best birthday gift you’ve ever gotten? (Or the most disastrous…?)
It’s 3am here, and today (yesterday, rather) I woke up sick as a dog and slept most of the afternoon, and now I can’t sleep, so I thought I’d write y’all a post. Hopefully it won’t sound like some cray-cray fever dream… I’ll be sure to proof read it again when I wake up! ^_~
So, as I’ve mentioned, I’ve been on a bit of a reading binge lately, largely since my craft projects have mostly been packed up. But, I’ve also just been super lucky to have such an awesome line up of books. I’m on a roll! I’ve already talked about Cold Mountain and True Grit, and I recently finished World War Z, which I’ll save for another post. Now I’m reading Let The Right One In by John Ajvide Lindqvist.
I had seen the Swedish film adaptation of this novel a year or two ago and was completely amazed by it. I’d looked for the book a few times but ended up putting it back because of the somewhat unappealing cover of the Australian edition. I know, you shouldn’t judge a book by it’s cover… but books are so expensive here that I usually jump on any excuse not to spend (if only I were such a thrifty-nickel in other areas…). Usually it’s in the “Paranormal” section of the bookstore and is surrounded by a bunch of tween-y paranormal romance stuff, but don’t let that or the cover put you off (though other editions seem to have awesome covers).
Also, I didn’t realize that the “Paranormal” section was a thing until recently; I thought this stuff would be either in the “Horror” or “Sci-Fi/Fantasty” sections. For some reason it made me feel old… But I digress.
Then, recently, my inestimable friend, Marelle, borrowed it from the library and thought it was such an neat read that on one of our Sundays at work she dashed down to the book store and bought me a copy (friends who buy you books? BEST. EVER. Keep them around, y’all!). I’m about three quarters of the way through, and I have to say, I don’t even need to finish it to be able to recommend this book to you.
If you love a book that is beautiful and dark, and uncomfortable in all the right ways, or you’re looking for the vampire antithesis of Twilight, then definitely put this on your reading list. Lindqvist manages to cram a whole bunch of characters into the novel, but he weaves them all together just so, and it never feels crowded, with each character given a distinct personality and internal narrative no matter how briefly they appear. The two main characters, Oskar and Eli are exceptionally written, and they counterpoint each other in quite a profound way, and if you’ve ever been an outcast they will resonate with you on some level.
I’m also really keen to see the American film adaptation, Let Me In, because it’s been quite well received too, and I think Chloe Moretz is a crazy good actress (Did you see her in Kick-Ass? Oy.). I’ll wait ’til I’ve finished the book though.
I do apologize sincerely that my posts haven’t been too crafty lately. My creative endeavors have come to a screeching halt, what with this whole packing and moving caper. But, I assure you that I have barrels of fun planned once I’m in my new house, including videos and interviews with some of my crafty friends and all sorts of things… (maybe some giveaways…? Ooooh!).
In the mean time, my posts will be a bit less craft related, I guess, but I hope you find them fun and interesting anyway. Just bear with me for a bit. We’ll have fun anyway, ‘kay? Great!
I know there’s been a bit of a break between posts lately, and I do apologize. I’ve been so pleased with how diligent I’ve been with posting, but sometimes life just gets in the way. Here in my neck of the woods, we’ve been house hunting and that has taken up a bit of time, and even when I’ve not been doing it I’ve been thinking of it and nothing else! It’s very stressful but exciting, and indeed, we’ve found a place! I’m so stoked! I adore our new house, and I can’t wait to move in. Here is a sneaky sneak peak:
It’s an old house, not crazy old, but old enough to make me crazy happy. And it has lots of added bits and pieces; a franken-house if you will. I’m so excited! But, that’s not what I wanted to talk to you about today. I’ve just read an amazing book and I’m nearly through another amazing book.
The first book, which I’ve mentioned quite a while back, is Cold Mountain by Charles Frazier. I read it voraciously until I was about three quarters of the way through, and then I had to put it down for a while because I go through headachey periods and I desperately need new glasses (still don’t have them, have I mentioned that I’m an excellent procrastinator…). But, then I picked it up and again and powered through to the end. And, let me tell you, it’s an epic read. It’s beautifully written and the characters are interesting and you genuinely feel for them. And it all builds to the most wonderfully sad and devastating yet beautiful and hopeful ending…Oy! I was a little messy when I finished, I love a good weepy book.
The whole time I was reading I was dreading the film, which I had not seen. I just could not picture Jude Law and Nicole Kidman in the lead roles. Well, they do okay. The movie is definitely worth a watch, and things have been re-jigged enough that those actors are totally wrong and actually do quite a good job. It’s cinematography is gorgeous and they did a good job of condensing the book into the film. Renee Zellweger was absolutely perfect in her role, and it makes me sad that I can’t remember the last good film I’ve seen her in. Natalie Portman also had a small but intense role that is a credit to her. I’ve started thinking about who I would have cast. Do you do that? Do you make up “dream casts” in your head for books that you loved? I do; it’s a problem, I can’t help myself.
Immediately after I began True Grit by Charles Portis. I stuck with the Charleses and I stuck with the same century, though True Grit takes place a decade or so after the Civil War. I was terribly excited to read this book as I saw the 1969 film when I was but a wee bairn – my Ma is a massive John Wayne fan – and I adored it. I adored most John Wayne films I saw back then, but especially this one, perhaps because it had a plucky child for me to relate to (not that I was plucky, but I wished that I were).
I was very excited for the new film, but I decided that I wouldn’t see it until I had read the book, and I ordered it online and had it waiting for when I finished Cold Mountain. I’ve just reached the story’s denouement and gee willickers is it a swift ride! I’ve sped through book and have enjoyed every second of it! I’ll probably finish it in bed tonight.
I definitely recommend both of these books; one is more of a commitment – Cold Mountain isn’t a difficult read, but it can be emotionally draining (if you become as emotionally invested in your books as I do!) – and the other is a short but sweet affair; I’m a slow reader, so I think you could finish it in a only several sittings at an average speed.
If you’re interested in a proper review, let me know. I’ve not given too much away – just my recommendations – but I think a proper review could be fun (just not this close to bedtime!).
What books have you read that made great films? Or what books do you love that were made into awful films? Sharing is caring! ^_~
Mondays are my Fridays, in that Monday is the last day of my working work. And it’s been a busy one. This weekend at the Yarn Store, we had two workshops/classes on both days and most of all, I was teaching one of them! I taught my first class – Beginners’ Crochet – on Saturday and let me tell you, I was as nervous as a long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs! I wrote my own class information packet instead of using the usual instructors notes, because I figured I’d be more confident using my own material, and I’d written them in such a way that if I suffered a nervous breakdown they’d be pretty self-explanatory. The good news, however, was that I didn’t suffer a nervous breakdown and it actually seemed to go quite well, so I’m very grateful. I’ve even seen a few of the attendees since then and they remarked that they really enjoyed it. So, I’m not a total failure as an instructor, which is reassuring to know.
Speaking of teaching too, a few customers at the Yarn Store have expressed interest in my teaching an Amigurumi crochet class, which I think is a wonderful idea. So, if you’re in Melbourne and you’d be interested in an Amigurumi class, please send me an email or comment below and I’ll see if I can arrange one at the store. Otherwise, if you’re interested in private lessons, let me know also. I don’t claim to be an expert, but I can definitely share a few tricks.
Anyway, I decided to clear off the photos from my cell phone and realized that I had some nice ones on there. Nice more in the sense of them making me happy rather than any comment on my photographic skills. So, I shall share them and hopefully they might make you a bit happy too.
The garbage bins for my apartment are by the driveway next to a garden bed that is positively bursting with hydrangeas, which I love. The odd balance of garbage and blooming deliciousness always struck me as just as things ought to be, in some quaint little way.
The Book Depository is one of my favorite online stores because not only does it satisfy my craving for books but there’s the added joy of getting packages in the mail! I’d been craving something new to read, and I wanted something rural or pastoral and somewhat dark. So, I came to the decision to buy Cold Mountain by Charles Frazier and Winter’s Bone by Daniel Woodrell. I suspect that Cold Mountain will be more rural/pastoral and Winter’s Bone will the darker of the two.
At any rate, Cold Mountain came in the mail last week, and this is the beautiful cover artwork which I’m completely besotted with. I’ve started reading it, and I’m already completely hooked but I’ve also spent God knows how long just looking at the cover. It’s by Sanna Annukka Smith, who also did the album artwork for one of Keane’s albums. I’ve only had a quick skim of her website and already it’s made sweet love to my eyeballs. Winter’s Bone came in the mail today, so I’ll probably start reading that tonight and see which one I want to read first.
This lamp post is just outside the entrance to the building the Yarn Store is in, so I pass it numerous times most days. Naturally, it always makes me think of Narnia, and this makes me very happy in my little, silly heart.
And last, but not at all least, is my little fur baby, Lady (she has many names, but she’s almost always referred to as Lady). She spends the vast majority of her time snoozing on my bed, which you can’t really hold against her. She’s thirteen now, and a little bit addled. But, she’s my precious pudding. In fact, I shall bid you all adieu and go join her, I think! It’s awfully late. 気をつけて！