Tuesday, 30 August 2011

My new favourite place

We live in a shoebox apartment. It has a small washer dryer unit, that only takes three towels at a time (I'm exaggerating of course, but not by much...) and never dries anything properly, unless you put your load of washing through two dryer cycles, which take 150 minutes each. Ridiculous, and a huge drain on power. So we have a clothes horse permanently set up in our lounge room, which is a little annoying.

The washer dryer has been playing up lately, not cooperating with every load. Sometimes it would work, other times it would do this annoying thing where the dial would just click around and around, and it wouldn't wash or dry anything. Then of course there was the night that it stuck on the wash cycle and it took me about five hours to realise (it was night time, and I'd gone to bed, and woke up at about 2am to the noise of the machine still running. Grrrr). We had quite a washing pile by the end of last week, before we headed to Napier. I had to buy X new clothes so I had enough to pack for the weekend and for his camp trip. As soon as we got back Sunday night I put a load of clothes on to wash. And the washing machine wouldn't work. Not good. Not good at all. I sighed, and gave up on the machine, making plans in my head to check out laundry services and self-service laundromats first thing the next morning.

On Monday I researched the local laundry service, and after some discussion with Deane we decided it wasn't worth paying $20 for pick up and delivery, when we had a self-service laundromat across the road from the boys' school, and I could do it myself. So that afternoon I lugged two large rubbish bags full of clothes (I kid you not) to the laundromat, armed myself with an arsenal of $1 coins, and away I went. I filled one of the commercial 16kg washing machines with clothes (some of which were dripping wet, thanks to the useless washer dryer at home) and bunged in the required $5, added my laundry liquid and pressed start. Then I loaded another smaller machine with another load, which cost $3. 15 minutes later, the first load was done, and it went straight into a 16kg dryer for 30 minutes ($3). The other smaller load took a little over 30 minutes, but only took 20 minutes in the dryer ($2). And that was it. Washed, and dried, in less than an hour. This pile of clothing would have taken me the better part of a week to do at home, and for the cost of $13 and an hour of my time, it was done. I was shocked and amazed.

Full of excitement, I decided to try this speed-laundry jaunt again. This morning I carted another two large rubbish bags to the laundromat - one choc-full of towels, the other with bed linens. Two 15 minute 16kg washes and two half hour 16kg dries later (a total of $16) and I was done. My giant pile of washing that would have taken two weeks, was done in two hours. And I got a good chunk of knitting done while I was at it. I think I'm in love with the laundromat.

Monday, 29 August 2011

Knit August Nights: 2

Oh wow, what a weekend!!! I had the best time! I got to see some familiar faces from Wellington (and Auckland of course), a whole bunch of new faces, and some faces that had names attached but had been blank in my mind until now. It was so great to meet so many wonderful knitters all together at once, and at such a fantastic venue!!! Here's a few pics of the view from our knitting spot:




Of course, Napier turned on the 'awesome weather' machine specially for the occasion, so we had nice, mild temperatures and sun all weekend. This meant that I couldn't wear my Crazy Knitting Lady boot toppers and matching mitts without instantly breaking out in a sweat, but I'm not complaining ;-)

Friday morning, once Deane had been to the gym, we piled into the cars and headed on down, arriving at around 2pm. This gave me a little bit of time to shop before my class. On the first day I bought:


This gorgeous fibre from Matt of WabiSabi Fibres - its a blend of merino,alpaca, silk and angora. I love the colour, but what clinched the deal was the name - Ballroom Blitz. Who wouldn't want to buy some of that? ;-)

I also bought some sock yarn from a new supplier - (apparently they've been dyeing for a while now, but are only just breaking into the retail market):


'Cantiacorum' by MaKe Original - Impilia. The colour caught my eye immediately (probably helped that they were right inside the door!) and I decided I had to have it.

After that, it was time for class - 'Getting Set From the Top Down'. Morag from Vintage Purls taught us how to knit top down set in sleeves in the round - a very useful thing to know if you're going to be knitting a lot of sweaters in the future!!

Here's my little sample - it's not quite finished, but this is how much I got done in the three hour class:


You can probably make out the sleeve caps... from here you go on to knit the sleeves down, and increase for the underarms to the point where the body meets under the sleeve, then you split off the sleeves and continue working on the body in the round, then finish the sleeves later. Very clever ;-)

So that was my Friday! On to Saturday!! I arrived at East Pier (the venue) bright and early - about 8.30am. Did a wee spot of shopping:


'Smoke and Mirrors' 50/50 merino silk laceweight from Spinning a Yarn.


This beautiful creation is a swamp kauri spindle, hand turned by none other than miss Frances, from Spindles by Sourkraut. Gosh, that woman is amazing! This little puppy is only 22g - perfect for spinning laceweight yarns. Isn't he just lovely? I think I'll call him Eric.

I also scored me some more scrumptious Max yarn from Vintage Purls - now that I know I can get a pair of socks from one skein, I though it would be rather lovely to have a pair in this colourway - Ink Blot:


Such a beautiful colour!! Of course, as always, its better in person :-) To you, on the other side of the screen, it probably just looks black. Trust me, its not.

And dude, you wouldn't believe the softness of this yarn!!! Rose Pink 45/55 silk merino laceweight yarn by Fyberspates, bought from Tash at Knitsch/Holland Road Yarn Company.


There's a whopping 1,000 metres in this skein - it will have to become something freakin' amazing! All in good time of course...

There was also the Design Spun factory tour, and shopping spree at Skeinz afterwards. Here's a few interesting pics of machinery our precious yarn is made on:



And this is what I bought while I was there:


Just a couple of balls of sock yarn, which will most likely turn into some socks for the boys. Pretty restrained really ;-)

That evening we had the knitters' dinner and quiz night. A whoooooole lotta fun! Our team sadly came second-to-last in the quiz, but we still won a few prizes, and I had a great time, so it was all good :-)

Sunday morning, I just whizzed into the market quickly to snag a skein of alpaca/merino sock yarn from another new supplier - Verandah Yarns:


Meet 'Mr Darcy' - isn't he yummy? He'll make some lovely socks I daresay.

As for taking pics of myself or others, it appears we all had a mild case of camnesia. I forgot to take the camera out most of the time, and when I did, I couldn't get pics because nobody would consent (although they were glad that I asked first, which is nice I suppose). Still, you get the gist of the weekend, and there was a loud cheer at the dinner when Maree (the organiser) announced that there would definitely be another KAN next year (hurrah!!!) so perhaps another time ;-)

The boys and I left Napier just after lunch on Sunday, and arrived home at 6pm, which allowed them to have an early night (that they sorely needed!), and I have to say its the first night in a very long time that they didn't get up umpteen-million times for a drink, or to go to the loo, or because they were hungry, or anything else. They just went to sleep. Yay! X headed off to camp this morning with much excitement in his sweet face. On a double-decker bus no less!! Oh, how I wish I could be there to see all the fun he'll be having! But of course, I'll be home with T, while Deane is back in Napier. I'm sure he'll have lots of excellent stories when he gets home though - can't wait to hear them :-) Have a good week people!

Thursday, 25 August 2011

Yay for the weekend!!!

It's Thursday afternoon. The suitcase is packed for the weekend (I have waaaaaay overpacked, but at least I'll be prepared, right?). I have my knitting organised, and all the bits and pieces I need for my class on Friday afternoon. X's bag is packed for camp on Monday and everything is named as per instructions. Now all that's left to worry about is the long drive first thing tomorrow morning.

Oh my gosh, how exciting!! I'm going to KAN tomorrow!!! Okay, so the family will be coming down with me, but Deane is fully aware of the fact that he will be looking after the kids while I'm enjoying classes, markets, factory tours and dinners full of knitting and knitters and yarn. (And food). Can't wait!!

I finished my Snake Feet, and I rather like how they turned out:



Nagini socks, knit in Vintage Purls 'Tilia'. I used 2.25mm needles on the feet and heels, then changed to 2.5mm needles for the legs, and changed again to 2.75mm needles for the last three pattern repeats and the ribbing. Probably could've just used 2.5mm or 2.75mm needles for the whole sock, but I didn't, and that's okay. Because I said so.

I picked up my Pisqu sock again, and got past the heel turn and partway down the foot (then tinked back and reknit the heel because I didn't like it the first time), then decided that I had fallen out of love with the sock and frogged it completely. The pattern is incredibly well written and easy to follow, with excellent instructions and links to demonstration videos for the tricky cuff stitches, but it just wasn't working for me. Not sure if it was the green yarn, or my slightly-less-than-awesome stranded knitting, but the sock just wasn't doing it for me.


(Photographic evidence that I did indeed get past the heel before frogging)

I think I'll use the green yarn to knit a pair of Rick socks. What do you think? Or Kai-mei socks. Or BFF socks...

While thinking about what socks to knit, I cast on for a pair of fingerless mitts with the remainder of my kentucky ave handspun. Finished one in a couple of hours last night, and will knit the other one tonight, all ready for KAN tomorrow:


Don't you just love the colour gradation?

I also whipped up a wee hat and scarf for Egbert, although the egg wearing it in this picture is actually Egbert Maaktu - poor Egbert Schubert cracked up after his first day at school with X. Egbert Maaktu has been safely ensconced in a container full of scrunched up paper towels for the last couple of days, so he doesn't follow his predecessor's footsteps...



Right, must go. I'm getting the bum's rush from Deane, who needs the computer for 'very important stuff'! I'll be back with a KAN update (and pics!) next week :-) Have a good one!!

Monday, 22 August 2011

A Day in the Life of Egbert Schubert

X's school class was set some homework this week for their 'Keeping Ourselves Safe' project - look after a hard boiled egg, document its days, and assess at the end of the week whether they'd acted responsibly whilst caring for their egg.

X is currently in Napier with his dad, so 'Grandma' stepped in to look after little Egbert Schubert (or Bert, for short) for the day. Here's what we got up to.

After dropping T at school this morning, Bert and I headed to the NZ Post depot in Grey Lynn to pick up a parcel. Here he is, waiting patiently for the parcel:



And after the kind lady had handed it over:



Next, it was off to the supermarket to get the groceries. First stop though, coffee!



Then the shopping:



At the checkout:



Then Bert helped me load everything in the car, so we could go home:



Of course, we didn't stop there. As soon as we'd unloaded the groceries and put them away, we headed off to the gym for a run:



Got a bit hot, as is the nature of exercise, so the sweater had to come off. It was just a short run today, only 5km:



Afterwards, home again, so Grandma could have a shower and get changed. Then, it was off to the library to drop off some DVDs and books. And of course, check out some neat picture books in the kids' section:



Time for a spot of lunch!



Back home again for an hour or so, before heading back to school. On the way downstairs, we checked the mail. None today:



We headed into the school library, where Grandma usually spends an hour every day, covering books for the school librarian.



We got quite a few done today:



Home once more, where we helped T with his school homework:



Afterwards, Bert and T played XBox so Grandma could cook dinner:



After dinner, its time for bed.



Gosh, what a busy day Bert had! Wonder what he'll get up to tomorrow, while he's at school with X?

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Magic

It hurts my heart to be stuck in Auckland right now, when I so very much wish I was still in Wellington. The city is blanketed in snow for the first time in many years, and oh it looks so pretty! There is a beautiful video going around at the moment that sums it up nicely - Wellingtonians going about their day in Cuba Mall, when it starts to snow.

Many thanks to Ro Tierney for shooting the video, uploading it, and having one of my favourite songs - Clair de Lune by Claude Debussy - for the soundtrack.

Absolutely magical! I know there are many, many places all over the world, and indeed New Zealand, that gets snow on a regular basis. But for somewhere like Wellington where it is such a rare occurrence, it is definitely something special.

Here in Auckland we had snow flurries, but as soon as the snowflakes touched down, they melted. I still had a chance to enjoy it though - I was at the school library helping to cover books when we had a small flurry right before a hailstorm. The Groundskeeper Mike in all his baldness went out and jumped around like a loonie, and Dale the Librarian took pictures. It was quite something! Definitely a good laugh :-)

So its been a little chilly lately, and I'm thoroughly enjoying all my knits - I have to say that for once, my feet weren't cold at all yesterday. I was wearing my Bug Out socks!! I had spinning at the local Guild, and the room was freezing despite having the heater going (large room, wooden floors, lots of windows, no insulation... you get the idea). I was cold, my hands were cold, and yet my feet were still warm. Quite unusual for me. I had an excellent view of the bowling green, and saw snow flurries and hailstorms aplenty (which probably made me feel a little colder). It was quite weird, because the rain was interspersed with sunny spells. You could actually tell when it was about to rain/hail/snow because you actually felt the temperature drop in the room by several degrees beforehand. Guess the heater wasn't much chop...

I've started spinning my 'Smugglers Cove' pencil roving from Vintage Purls, which will likely become socks. Not sure about it at this stage, don't know if I'm getting enough twist into it for socks - guess I'm too used thicker roving. Still, if it turns out to be too 'woolly', I can always knit something else with it :-)

I'm making good progress on my Snake Feet:


I'm knitting these in 'Tilia', also from Vintage Purls. Awesome green, huh?

I finished my Crazy Knitting Lady boot toppers:


Excuse my knobbly knees :-) These were knit in my handspun 'kentucky ave' polwarth from maude & me. I even have enough left over for some matching fingerless mitts - yay!!

Well, its 1pm here, and I'd like to watch an episode or two of Bones before I have to pick the boys up from school, so I must dash. Hope you're enjoying your weather, wherever you are!!

Friday, 12 August 2011

What is it with me and famous authors?

I had the opportunity to meet Lauren Kate, author of the Fallen series. She happened to be visiting the Auckland City Library on Thursday 11th August, which was perfect because I recently finished reading the first novel in the series (that I borrowed off my bff who has the best bookshelf in the world) and really enjoyed it. I figured I could get the book signed for my friend. Again.

You may recall the incident earlier this year with Kathy Reichs? I know I do. Still haven't heard back from her, probably never will. Anyway... I was thinking this time things would go a little more smoothly, since I'd already made a dick of myself. You know, 'been there, done that' kinda thing. Second time around should be fine. Hmm, not so much...

There was a slight hiccup in the evening's proceedings - I'd been telling Deane for weeks that I had to be at the library by 5.30pm, so I would be leaving home at 5.15pm at the very latest in order to be there in time, and did he have it in his calendar? I didn't want to be late. Despite my near-constant harping, the man ended up getting stuck in a (very important) despicably badly-timed work meeting that ran way past when it should have, so I had to take the boys with me. I admit, they were very well-behaved. Okay, so I had to carry T all the way to the library because his new shoes were hurting his feet (damn me for throwing out his well-loved well-worn shoes earlier in the day despite his insistence that they were 'still good'), and although he was quiet throughout Lauren's reading, he was very wiggly. Still, I managed to remember to put my phone on silent (just minutes before Deane sent through two text messages to say he was sorry and he was on his way - phew! That could have been embarrassing), and I even managed to get out a very clear and consise question that turned out to have a very good answer without blabbering the words all together like I usually do on such occasions as speeches or answering machine recordings.

I gave the boys my phone so they could play Sims Pets while I waited in line to get the book signed for Tania, and when I got to the table I wasn't a blithering idiot. Until I walked away and realised that I'd forgotten to give her the shawl I'd brought along as a gift. You know me - apparently I have to give famous people things I have knit whenever I meet them.

I tried pushing the shawl at Lauren's publicist, insisting that it would be okay if she passed it on to Lauren after the book signing, but the publicist assured me that it would be fine if I jumped back in line to give it to her in person, and indeed I should. So I rudely interrupted some poor girl who had been waiting patiently for her book to be signed, and said "I'm sorry, I forgot to give you this. It's a shawlette I made, I don't know if you like the colours or anything, but I thought you might like to wear it, or something..." (because, you know, I'm such an excellent wordsmith, or something...pfft).

Perhaps by the time I get to meet Diana Gabaldon I'll have it down pat ;-)

Ah, what would life be like if we couldn't laugh at ourselves and our ridiculous behaviour every once in a while?

Oh, and I forgot to mention the particulars of my sweater in yesterday's post, so here they are:

Hourglass Sweater, knit in Naturally Aran Tweed, shade #84. I used 9 balls, and made the 37" bust size. I increased the length of the body by 1", but the sleeves are knit to the pattern, as is the neck. I noticed a lot of people had issues with the wideness of the neck, but it worked out fine for me. I had exact gauge as specified by the pattern (because I am awesome like that) and I think it looks pretty good :-)

Thursday, 11 August 2011

Sweater craziness

I finished my sweater! I actually finished it on Sunday and have worn it a couple of times since, but hadn't got around to the picture-taking. Deane stopped by home just before lunch today specifically to take photos. How nice, that he would take time out of his busy day just to do that for me...

Consequently, my sweater was all scrunchy from me sitting on the couch, and he didn't have much time so the 'photo session' was rather hurried (he had to get back to work) and we didn't get many good pics.


'Scrunchy from the couch' photo


'Explaining our odd behaviour to the building manager' photo


'What's with this crappy lighting?' photo

As it turned out, there were no good 'front-on' pictures, so I thought I'd take some myself. Unfortunately, our digital camera doesn't have a timer on it, so I tried putting it on the dresser, pressing the button and quickly striking a pose:



As you can see, its impossible to get a good picture of yourself with a camera that doesn't have a timer. I gave up.

I think you get the gist of it though - I like my new sweater, its cosy and warm. The yarn is nice, but holds quite well in whatever shape you've put it in, and the various creases worked into it from sitting tend to stay. Perhaps after many years' wear, this problem will resolve itself...

::imagine a big sigh:: I have a bit of a dilemma. I hate having my photo taken, but I'm beginning to feel that it is one of life's necessities. If I want to show off my fabulous knitting achievements, I have to have my photo taken. Plus, if I were to mysteriously go missing, the Police would need an up-to-date photo to put on the news. Seriously. You never know what will transpire over the course of a day. It could happen. And of course my bff always wants a picture of me to add to her other friends' pictures, and since she has so few to choose from, she invariably ends up picking one I don't like. I need to fix that.

Anyway, I'm trying to get used to the whole having-my-photo-taken thing, but hate 'posing'. So I try to not-pose, but then the photos come out looking awful. Which makes me think that perhaps I should pose, but then the photos come out looking all try-hard and posey.

How the hell do you look natural in a photo? Impossible I say!!!! And yet, there are always photos of other people looking natural and not-posey all the time. Thoughts? Suggestions? Or should I just stop being so self-critical and overly judgemental of my gappy, buck-toothed smile and crinkly face, and just go with it? I mean, that's what I look like every day, right? I pull the weirdest faces all the time during conversations so people already know I look crazy, why try to hide that in a photo? I just don't understand why you can look fine in the mirror, but as soon as the camera goes 'click', its like your head is the earth and there's been a mini earthquake. The tectonic plates have shifted under the surface, moving your top jaw out a few extra millimetres, creating a few extra wrinkles in the topsoil, and making the water(hair)line recede, which makes your ears seem that much larger.

Oh well, I think I'll just have to get over it. Immerse myself fully in the not-caring phase of life. I guess it happens eventually to all of us, just at different stages for everyone. I'm picturing a beach or public pool in the summer - big people, little people, hairy-backed people, elderly saggy-skinned people, all rocking their swimsuits with confidence, not giving a crap what anyone else thinks. Good for them. I need to be more like them. I'll just wrap myself in a towel and dip my toes in for now...

OMG, only two more weeks until KAN!!!! I can't wait!! Must remember to take my digital camera to that, and get lots of photos of everything and everyone (and yes, allow people to take photos of me too...) I have all the bits and pieces I need for my class, I think I can prevent myself from spending too much at the traders market (remember, yarn diet!!) - oh, its going to be so much fun!! You can probably sense my growing excitement from all the exclamation marks I am using!!! I think I may have used my quota for the week. Or maybe not quite - yay!!! Okay, now I'm done ;-)

Monday, 8 August 2011

Is polyester really that bad?

I only ask because normally, I abhor it. Okay I admit, I do have clothing with a percentage of polyester or other man-made fibres since its kind of hard to avoid entirely, indeed sometimes its necessary (where would I be without sock yarn with 20% nylon I ask?) but as with many people, I prefer natural fibres. Cotton, wool, that sort of thing. Deane is big on the fancy-schmancy sheets - apparently sleeping comfort is high on his list of priorities. We have 1,000 thread-count Egyptian cotton sheets. They're not cheap, so we only have two sets.

Yesterday he picked me up from advanced spinning class with microfibre flannelette sheets. 100% polyester. I eyed him with suspicion, and voiced my concern over the fact that, since he was the one that was so anally-retentive about the type of sheets we should be sleeping on (he wouldn't even allow me to have 100% cotton flannelette sheets!! Said they weren't very comfortable. Pfft) was this really a good idea? He insisted they would be great. So I bit my lip and said no more, reserving judgement until we'd tried them out.

Deane was so enthusiastic about trying them, he stripped the bed and remade it last night, all by himself!!! A very rare occasion! I admit, when I first jumped into bed, it felt a little weird. I believe I described the sheets as... 'grabby'. Still, they weren't entirely un-comfortable, so I just went with it, and eventually nodded off. I have to admit, when I woke up this morning, dude, I was comfy!! Cosy, warm, the sheets just 'grabby' enough to make you feel all soft and melty, and not want to get out of bed. So I have to ask, is polyester really that bad? Perhaps I should stop being so hard on the ol' synthetic fibres after all. Still going to be a yarn snob though, just sayin' ;-)