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Name: knitabulous
Location: Mt Keira, New South Wales, Australia

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Knitting Alone
Knitspot Morning Glory Wrap Frost Flowers and Leaves Pomatomus Socks One Day
Sarcelle A different Phildar swing jacket - No 23A Donyale Socks

Knitabulous and Mog's excellent adventure

29 Mar 2006

"It's time I had a break" says I to husband. "I would like a weekend away"

"OK" says husband, "where, when and how much?"

I decided to go to Sydney for the weekend as it's close and I can be away only one night and still feel like I've had proper time out. I emailed him at work a list of hotel specials from wotif, says I "here's a list of the places I'd like to stay, could you pick one and make the reservation?"

I might point out that I could have done this myself if I had access to the families' cash. However, we learnt long ago if we wanted to eat the week before payday it was better for me not to have free access to such temptation. It's not subservience, it's just prudent fiscal management. Also far less stressful for me because he does all the household bills too, and what an ugly job that must be.

On the top of the list was a hotel I felt out of our price range, to put it mildly. I put it on the list not thinking for a second that he'd choose that one. Alan never goes for the most expensive wine on the wine list, nor the cheapest. He usually goes the second cheapest, thus camouflaging any miserly thoughts and making it look like me knows more about it than he actuall does. Works a treat.

Imagine my suprise then when he made reservations at ...................

wait for it .....................


Later he says to me, "darling, where are the children going to stay the weekend we're in Sydney?"

I replied; "oh sweetheart, I thought you understood. I'm not going with you. I'm going with her"

I am so excited. We're going to buy yarn, meander in bookstores and antique shops and drink cocktails.

We'll be gatecrashing, no, making an appearance, no, visiting SSK on Saturday afternoon for some knitting and that, so if you're in the area I presume they won't mind me inviting you too.

Here's a few pictures to get me in the mood.

What the bloody hell's wrong with it?

27 Mar 2006

I mean, apart from the fact that everybody knows it should have been 'where the bloody hell are ya'.

To any Canadians or Brits or Americans out there (like um, all 3 of you)

Do you really find this offensive?

Because it cost us millions and you banned it.

I thought it was a great campaign.

The Sampler Stole - she grows

23 Mar 2006

The Journey of the Trans Seasonal Piece Of Shrug

20 Mar 2006

The pattern for Amelie arrived from White Lies Designs last week. Let's just acknowledge from the start that although my sister originally ordered a 'TSPOS', Amelie ain't no shrug.

I picked up the yarn from a secret location on Friday night, where it had been ingeniously hidden by my yarn pimp. I called my sister and asked her to measure her boobs. We had a lengthy conversation about post baby boobs and the biggest loser.

I swatched for guage as the yarn I bought may be slightly thinner than the yarn the pattern was designed for. This process revealed an anomaly. A yarnover mystery, if you will. Observe the following phenomenon.

The lace pattern goes thusly (like that? 'thusly' - that's what it says in the pattern - how medieval) YO K1 K3TOG K1 YO. So, how come the first yarn over yields a space twice as big as the second yarn over? I dunno either, but it really looks crap.

I finished the back before I came to grips with how much this was bothering me.

So, on to the front. The pattern says LEFT FRONT. There are short rows in the front section, to make it a curved edge. Spatially I can't picture anything, dumb as dogshite in that area so this didn't mean much to me. I'm not a very experienced knitter either, but I am an obedient knitter, so just plugged away at the pattern. With two changes. Firstly, The K3tog was a real pain to do, so I did a S1K2togPSSO insead. Secondly, I did a double yarnover at the end of the lace pattern to try and alleviate some of that symmetry problem I was having on the back. Voila.

You can't really see it too well but the two yarnover widths are almost identical when I do it this way.

Anyhow, the LEFT FRONT is very almost complete now. Except there's a problem.

Can you see what it is?


If I weren't so sure I'd embarrass myself I'd say this could be a pattern error.

Now to do a LEFT FRONT. The only directions I have are to do a LEFT FRONT (which is actually a RIGHT FRONT) but reverse all the shapings. Wish me luck.

And in other, non TSPOS related knitting news, the shetland sampler stole, she grows. I'll post a photo on it's own in a second, I think this post has done it's dash with the blogger pic upload.

We're going to the zoo zoo zoo, how about you, you, you

On Sunday, we went to Taronga Park Zoo. It's been too long since I've been out on Sydney Harbour, and yesterday she was so gorgeous I fell in love with her all over again.

For those of you who have never been to the zoo in Sydney I'll describe it. The rest of you can move along, nothing to see here. We drove into the city and parked in my husband's office block. It is only one block back from Circular Quay, the main ferry terminal on the south side of Sydney Harbour. A ferry called Friendship took us over the harbour to the Taronga Park Zoo, which is situated on a very steep hill on the north side of Sydney Harbour.

It was a busy day on the harbour yesterday, the water was criss-crossed with scores of white foamy lines where the many people out on their yachts, cruisers, water taxis and other pleasure craft were heading off in all directions on the water. Seaplanes droned overhead, ferrying passengers to and from the exclusive restaurants up and down the Parramatta River.

And, as anybody who has ever been there knows, Sydney Harbour is full of wavers. My kids waved like kids do at every single person who passed us on that short ride over to the zoo, and I'm pleased to say that all of them waved back. Even the seriously loaded passengers on the big big pleasure cruisers waved. And indeed, even the sociopathic knitabulous waved. Once - and just a little bit.

The harbour bridge, the opera house, Mrs Macquarie's chair, Double Bay, Fort Denison - they were all there basking in the sunshine. She's a looker that Sydney Harbour, no doubt about it.

When you arrive at the Zoo jetty at Mosman, you're at the base of the very steep hill on which the zoo is built. When I was a kid you either got a shuttle bus to the top or you just started at the bottom (penguins) and worked your way up to the top (flamingos?). Not so now, in the days of impeccable customer service. Now, you get to the top via a chairlift.

Here's what you see out the window all the way up the hill.

When you get to the top entrance, you can wander downhill and look at all the animals all the way to the bottom so you don't get tired. We talked to the animals all day. On the way down there are plenty of photo opportunities. The backdrop is astounding.

And look at these big ears!

And, did you know darling that titanium and black are the new white for pleasure cruisers? It appears that no self-respecting multimillionairess would be caught dead in a white cruiser these days.

Look ma I tied my own two-laces!

13 Mar 2006

As I've mentioned, I'm knitting the shetland sampler stole from A Gathering of Lace. I started it on some swtc soysilk infinity. I think 2.25mm needles. There isn't any give in this yarn (thread?) at all, however it is a beautiful creamy colour. I loved how it was coming out.

Then, somewhere early in the second repeat, it began to go awry. I didn't notice it at first, then I fudged a little, then I went back with a crochet hook and duplicate stitched to try and hide it...you know where this is going don't you. You can only get so far on fudged lace before it gets irrepairable. Then, you have to decide whether to frog back a few rows, carry on regardless or just abandon the whole effing thing.

I went for the latter, and started again using zephyr. 3.25mm needles this time. Isn't it strange how yarn thickness feels based on the relativity of what you were knitting previously? This zephyr, while technically a laceweight, felt like some sort of bulky slub compared with the infinity. Anyhow, apart from that, which I didn't love, it was so much easier to knit up. Quick, few mistakes, will be warm, will block crisply, and a nice colour too. Won't be able to draw it through my wedding ring.

But I really really love the gossamer-like fabric of the soysilk. Will need to frog back to end of first repeat, there's no lifeline, I'm not that experienced with that sort of thing and am more than a little scared of the prospect. Will take me longer, won't be that wearable and will probably be more of a table runner in the end. Will be able to draw it through my wedding ring.

What to do? What to do?

Knitalong link here.
Soysilk infinity link here.
Zephyr teal link here.
Haven't seen A Gathering of Lace? JFGI

What I know about my neighbour

I live on the high side of a steep hill. My back sunroom and deck overlook his backyard. We spend a bit of time outside and I can't help but notice some things about my neighbour.

I think his name is Adrian.

He has long hair in a plait down his back and wears glasses. He usually wears a filthy baseball cap. I think he could do with a visit from the queer eye guys.

He smokes a lot and has always got a beer in his hand.

He lives alone in a house that my friend and her family used to live in when we were in high school. It is a big house.

I don't think he has a job. But he dresses in work gear, king gee shirts with reflective patches and workman's boots; I can't explain this.

Every Tuesday he hangs his washing on the line. There are green sheets, some clothes, some towels and some underwear. He is very particular about the hanging, and it is always on a Tuesday.

He has a very loud high quality hifi system but I have only heard it once, he recently played some heavy metal really loud for about three minutes.

He does a lot of work in his yard. And I think there is a car in his garage that he is working on because sometimes he starts it up and revs it like mad, but I have never seen him drive it anywhere.

A while ago a couple came to visit him. I think it was his mum and dad. He and his dad sat on a plastic table and smoked cigarettes, drank beer and played cards practically in silence for four days straight while the mother swept and scrubbed and washed around them.

People say he must be doing alright to afford a big house like that on his own, especially if he doesn't work.

One evening, maybe at the beginning of summer, Alan and I were sitting on our back deck which overlooks his yard, we noticed he was entertaining a young lady. We found it mildly amusing and were silently cheering for him from the sidelines, even though we had our backs to him. We tried not to be obvious but you could sort of tell by the awkward body language of the both of them that it wasn't going well. I wanted to call out to him to put some music on to create a bit of atmosphere, I didn't of course say a word.

He recently built a retaining wall between his house and the other neighbour. He worked like a dog with a guy who looked like his brother. They did a really good job.

At night, when I sit and knit on my back verandah, I can hear his zippo lighter clicking in the darkness in his backyard. He has a table and chair there and he must sit there at night and smoke and drink his beer. He is an insomniac, or at least a night owl like me because he is often still there when I go to bed around 1:00 am.

Alan and him and the other neighbour had a beer together in the other neighbour's backyard a few times. Alan said he was an alright bloke.

He committed suicide last Tuesday.

I wish I knew more about him, but it's too late now.

The Trans Seasonal Piece of Shrug

11 Mar 2006

A few days ago, I was left this comment:

Anonymous said...
Yep - your bum looks MASSIVE in that blue knit thingy whatever it is. Oh, and also I'm concerned now about the time you spend on blogging. Anonymous - Willoughby NSW.

So she does read it.

Anyway, young anonymous has requested a trans-seasonal piece of shrug, henceforth known as her TSPOS - all credit to herself for making the name up.

I usually avoid making things for other people, for fear it will end up at St Vinnies and I'll find it next time I go down there looking for dead ladies knitting needles. Did I mention that tablecloth I crocheted for my mother for Christmas was greeted with 'what a shame it's not cream'. I pulled it out of hiding in the linen cupboard at her place a few weeks ago and put it on my own table. I won't be making her anything again.

Anyhow, back to the TSPOS. She was very particular. All yarn in stash was dismissed as being wrong in colour. "Why is everything so dark?"

Here were the specifications as I recall:

She only likes powder blue. Perhaps shell pink. No, powder blue.
A trans-seasonal piece of shrug.

So, I sent her an email the other day and it is decided.

It will be this,Amelie from white lies designs - a woman who've I've noticed is quite vocal on the knitflame group but I won't hold that against her. Pattern ordered, winging it's way as we speak.

The yarn I think is a real find. Here it is here. She's going to have the aqua ice while I think I may go for the baby blue or the soft pink.

I can't wait to start this project. I have coveted this pattern for ages, soon it will be mine.

Surely world domination must follow?

A fortnight in knitting - part 5

The theme for knitabulous knitting 2006 is challenge and reward. And stashbusting. I'm only going to knit three things at a time max, as an avid knitting Olympic spectator I have discovered that if you keep knitting the same thing EVEN WHEN BORED WITH IT guess what? You finish it.

The challenge for this fortnight was to attempt a cable knit. I vowed to give lace a rest and try other techniques like colourwork and cables, having never done either. I knitted a narrow cable scarf from some cashmerino from the stash.

I also discovered that I could scan my knitting. And then I discovered that Blogger won't upload the scan.

I am working on two things presently. I joined the shetland sampler stole KAL run by the lovely Eunny, the pattern is in a gathering of lace. I'm not very far along and I haven't taken a picture of it yet, but imagine a crumply mess about 8 cm long. I'm using a very interesting yarn though, SWTC infinity - a soysilk very fine laceweight in a soft buttery cream. If you look at the KAL website you'll see some beautiful coloured ones, I'm a bit envious of them if the truth be told.

I've got enough turquoise zephyr to do it, is it too late to start again??

Also, there's a glaring mistake about six rows down, will I tink down that repeat and sort it out? I am scared to do it, and indecisive about it. One thing is for sure, I won't be able to post a picture of it on the KAL site with a mistake in it. Which doesn't worry me as much as knowing the mistake is there. I promise by next fortnight to have either let it go or fixed it.

The other thing is the bear claw blanket. I ripped the ugly seam and have continued in making the squares first. So little progress has been made it is embarrassing to photograph, but knitting is done one stitch at a time, and it is a few hundred stitches closer to being finished. I don't think it will get done this year, and taking the pressure off finishing a project makes it a very pleasant backstop knit.

And finally, the affairette with the embroidery spawned a love child. Declan the celtic heart.

But I do have a picture of the sky, taken on my way home from meeting Donna from Randomknits on Tuesday.

A long post about nothing

6 Mar 2006

A few weeks ago we went to a little town called Berry for another of the Sunday Drives. Also known as South Mosman (hehehe), it caters to the well-heeled Sydney daytripper by offering quality coffee, eclectic furniture and homewares stores, a great sourdough bakery, a pub pretending to be country style (real country style pubs are derelict, ugly and unwelcoming) and some great looking restaurants.

As my kids went at it Pro Hart style at the table outside the Great Australian Ice Creamery, I dreamily switched off and designed my luxury yarn shop, nestled in nicely between the embroidery shop and the gourmet butcher.

It is longer than it is wide and has timber floors with suede cubes, tub chairs, low coffee tables and a few 2 seater sofas grouped down the middle - colour scheme predominantly chocolate with accents of lime and raspberry. The lighting is crystal chandeliers. There are two computers with online access (free of course, we only charge for printing). The yarn shelves down the sides are not too high. The yarn is grouped by colour then weight, like a rainbow round the room. There are plenty of sample garments hanging above the shelves, and are easily accessible by the staff.

All the patterns are up the back, laminated shop copies are ORGANISED by garment. Browsing for hours is fine with me, knock yourself out. Vintage or retro-styled patterns are kept separately.

I think there has to be a bit of fabric as well in there somewhere, what if you need to line a bag?

Yarn, if you want it I've either got it or can get it for you.

There is a motto on the wall - something like 'handmade things give you special powers. Your grandmother has always known this.' (totally paraphrased and evilly lifted from the
whip up blog
who lifted it from elsewhere but acknowledged the sources)

We do coffee and cakes, a few savouries and a bit of salad but no cooking. There are classes, knitgroups and spinning groups, and I encourage just hanging around.

There is an upstairs lounge area for group get-togethers. Yes I'll bring the coffee up there for you too.

There is a shop dog. Old English Sheepdog. Her name is Bless.

Don't come Monday, I'm not open. Don't come before 10:00am, there's a staff meeting. But we do open into the evening.

And so there I was daydreaming away, until I was rudely brought back to reality by a sticky hand tugging at my sleeve. 'Can we have a ride on the horse and cart mum?'

It was such a lovely day I had to go back again the next week. This time I took the stripey tiger, and no kids. We had a wander inside the antique shops (something you can't really do with the children) and the clothes shops, we really inspected the wares at the quilting shop and the gorgeous embroidery/sewing shop. We even had a relaxed lunch, where we were so pleased with ourselves we discussed how great it would be to podcast our lunch conversations. We could call it Three ladies lunching - Donni was there in spirit.

I really love Berry.

For Mrs Rigby (rip)

4 Mar 2006

It's funny that this meme should come up as from a commenter from my last post as it has made me think about all the wonderful english teachers I have had and how much influence they had in me becoming a lover of books and of reading. One teacher in particular stands out in my memory. She used to get us to do cryptic crosswords in class when we were 13. Everyone thought she was a cranky bitch but I thought she was ok and she was kind enough to show me some respect in return. So, Mrs Rigby (rip) this is for you.

Look at the list of books below. Bold the ones you've read, italicize the ones you might read, cross out the ones you won't, underline the ones on your book shelf, and place parentheses around the ones you've never even heard of.

The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown ON SHELF
The Catcher in the Rye - J.D. Salinger ON SHELF
The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy - Douglas Adams - ON SHELF
The Great Gatsby - F.Scott Fitzgerald - ON SHELF - ONE OF MY FAVOURITES
To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee ON SHELF - A FAVOURITE
(The Time Traveler's Wife - Audrey Niffenegger)
(His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman)
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince - J. K. Rowling - ON SHELF
(Life of Pi - Yann Martel) WOULD READ
Animal Farm: A Fairy Story - George Orwell ON SHELF
The Hobbit - J. R. R. Tolkien ON SHELF
(The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time - Mark Haddon)
Lord of the Flies - William Golding ON SHELF
1984 - George Orwell ON SHELF
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban - J. K. Rowling ON SHELF
One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden
(The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini)
The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold
(Slaughterhouse 5 - Kurt Vonnegut )
Angels and Demons - Dan Brown - ON SHELF BUT I WON'T BE READING IT
Fight Club - Chuck Palahniuk
(Neuromancer - William Gibson)
(Cryptonomicon - Neal Stephenson)
The Secret History - Donna Tartt MY FAVOURITE BOOK OF ALL TIME
A Clockwork Orange - Anthony Burgess
Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte
Brave New World - Aldous Huxley ON SHELF
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe - C. S. Lewis ON SHELF
(Middlesex - Jeffrey Eugenides)
(Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell)
The Lord of the Rings - J. R. R. Tolkien ON SHELF
Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte ON SHELF
(Atonement - Ian McEwan)
(The Shadow Of The Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon)
The Old Man and the Sea - Ernest Hemingway
The Handmaid's Tale - Margaret Atwood ANOTHER FAVOURITE
The Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath
(Dune - Frank Herbert)

I have copies of most of the books I've read, and I found if I hadn't read them I hadn't even heard of them. I must say that since I had the children I hardly read at all sadly, whereas before I used to practically eat books. I miss it.

Take it if you want it.

My most unpopular opinion

3 Mar 2006

I've been very caught up with the kids and school the past few weeks, it's been pretty hectic. I like to make sure they settle in for the new year, so I find I spend a lot of time at the school in the first month or so. And then I wish I hadn't because the politicking that goes on in this school is just ridiculous. I find myself getting sucked down into the vortex, my life getting smaller and smaller and my brain shrinking each minute I spend there. You would think as a school it would be the opposite but no.

I'm not a great fan of primary teachers in general - I find they have an 'us against them' approach to parents and often put their own agendas ahead of what's best for the children. I'm sure they wish that us parents would just go away and leave them to it.

For example, this year the kinders finished at 12 noon for THREE WEEKS. This was because they had three classes this year (it is usually a two-stream school) and they were assessing the kids before putting them into proper classes. They kept six or seven of them back till 3pm each day to assess them more fully, and it took them three weeks to get through the 78 kids there are in kinder. On the whole this sounds like a good idea I guess, although I question the value of 'assessing' a five year old in a single session in an unfamiliar environment - but I'm no expert on education.

Some parents found that they were finding this somewhat inconvenient, especially if they worked fulltime or had siblings to pick up at 3 as well - a teacher pulled me aside from my canteen duty and says to me conspiritorially "What have the other mothers been saying?"

"I don't know what you mean" say I.

"I've heard the mothers are WHINGEING about the three weeks of early finishing" says she. Well she should know. From my experience talking to primary teachers they all got High Distinctions in WHINGE101 for their degrees.

"Well, I guess they're saying that three weeks is a long time." say I.

"WEVE GOT 78 KIDS!! WE HAVE TO ASSESS THEM ALL INDIVIDUALLY" says she, voice rising - I'm being yelled at by a kinder teacher. She failed to add "and it would be too hard and I'm too tired to assess them in class groups."

"I can't be held responsible for what people are saying Mrs XXX" say I "and I understand why you're doing it, it's just that three weeks is a long time to arrange for pickups, especially if you've got to be back at 3 for siblings or if you work."

What I can't believe is that the school can implement a strategy like this without any form of consultation and then not have considered the perspective of the other parties (ie: parents) who play a key role in the success of the strategy. And then, when faced with critiscism to sweep it away by accusing the parents of 'whingeing'.

And woe-betide if, as a mother, you work full time. Oh, the judgement radiates from them like kryptonite. I know someone who sat her hsc pregnant, still managed a degree in environmental management and is forging a stellar career at the ripe old age of 27 with a nine year old in tow - she's a living testimony to my motto of pulling victory from the jaws of defeat. Anyway, she tried to make an appointment with her child's teacher to discuss some things going on in the classroom. She offerred 4:00pm as a convenient time. The teacher said "4 o clock. I have a LIFE you know". My friend was so stunned she didn't reply, and took a half day annual leave to accommodate the teacher.

I'm all for paying teachers more money, although they're much better paid in Australia than in the US from what I understand from the educational tv show The Simpsons.

Teaching is a vocation, not a job and unfortunately vocations aren't very fashionable. They don't fit in with the politically correct model of employment law, being dedicated isn't worth much in renumeration terms. It is a fact to be a good teacher involves a lot of outside core hour work, and it is a thankless job.

Unfortunately you get paid the same as a teacher whether you're dedicated or not. What's happening here is that the teacher's unions are encouraging teachers to stop doing the outside hours work, not because it is thankless but because it is not paid.

Family dynamics are changing, parenting is changing, kids are being protected from the harsh realities of ever knowing that they have weaknesses by parents and teachers alike. As a matter of fact, I can't say 'weaknesses' I have to say 'opportunities for growth'. Parents are much less tolerant of teachers attempts at discipline and behaviour control these days. I can see that teachers are at the cleanup end of all of this, and for that I feel for them, but I'm not convinced the teachers unions are heading in the right direction in all of this. They too have their own agendas, and somehow the theories of what is best for the children are being hijacked and manipulated to suit.

And, call me old fashioned, but it's week six now. My kinder child has not done any reading yet. None at all. What's that about?

The kids of course, are oblivious. They have friends, they run on the grass, they drink from the bubblers and line up at canteen for a cup of custard and a pikelet. And maybe that's all they need.

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