Category Archives: Uncategorized

More Blanket, More Gifting

Would you please stop calling me that?

Would you please stop calling me that?

I know the official GAL2014 blanket has a Star Wars square, but it’s the Jedi symbol and I didn’t even really notice that there was a Jedi symbol. Does that make me a bad Star Wars fan? Because I do love Star Wars… or, more specifically, The Empire Strikes Back. I used to be able to quote Leia’s dialogue at length. I can still throw around a ‘you stuck-up, half-witted, scruffy-looking nerf-herder.‘ Leia is an amazing character. She’s a princess and a hero. The only reason she wasn’t trained to be a Jedi knight was that she was already completely brilliant. Her love affair with Han Solo is really rather wonderful too. So this square is in honour of her amazing hair and the snark that binds this couple together!

Watch out for murder!

Watch out for murder!

My blanket is absorbing many awesome female heroes. What would it be without Miss Marple and her knitting? I wasn’t sure that ball of yarn would work, but I think it passes muster! She should be able to solve a crime or two while knitting with it.

As always, I’ve uploaded the charts to my Ravelry project page.

Coffee?

Coffee?

I’m also taking my Gilmore Girls square up a notch. I tweaked the chart and I’m working it up into a double knit scarf, which I’ll write up into pattern shape when it’s done. All individual snowflakes there! There’ll be some other fun motifs coming up. There really isn’t a lot of Gilmore Girls knitting about, so I wanted to fix that. Our female-orientated geekery needs a bit more love.

Although, I’m going to slow down slightly, because I’ve got some present knitting to do! I’d stopped gifting knitting for a few years. Without going into the detail, let’s just say I had a couple of recipients who soured my enthusiasm. I’m still not sure why it’s so difficult to just say “I appreciate all the time you put into this,” even if one doesn’t like the finished product. One doesn’t really need to write a dissertation on why it’s awful and one would never wear it. However, I do have a few friends now who appreciate knitting and handmade gifts, so I’m going to knit up some woolly birthday presents. It’ll be nice to gift knitting again!

The Animals We Love

The other day, a Twitter friend lost her dog. I’d never met her. I’d never met her dog. But, geez, I loved that dog! He was a character and I was so sad when she tweeted the news. I’ll genuinely miss him.

Losing animals is rough. I still think about my hens at least a few times a day, I still expect to find Cosette trying to boss her way inside or Lola waiting for me to do her bidding or Fifi giving me that look as if to say, ‘They’re a bunch of nutty chickens, aren’t they? How do we put up with them?’ Fifi was always the one with the sense to get in out of the rain.

I’ve seen some extraordinary and wonderful tributes in the wake of loss, like Sue Perkins’ letter to Pickle or Jimmy Stewart’s poem about his dog, Beau. There are many others out there, letters and poems that not only celebrate the lives of some fantastic animals, but also relate that shared experience of loss. Those faces we see every day are so very loved. Recently I did a quiz to find out which Hogwarts House I’d be in (Hufflepuff, of course). One of the questions involved a choice of magical gifts. I chose the ability to talk to animals. I think it’d be a hoot to talk to the Scot and I wish I’d been able to chat to Lola. She was always full of things to say. Mind, I expect if I could have talked to her, she’d have spent most of her time ordering me about…

I am queen of the castle, everyone else is a dirty rascal!

I am queen of the castle, everyone else is a dirty rascal!

Yes, I have a special soft spot for Lola. If you’d met her, you’d have understood. Mind, I have a special soft spot for them all, but today I was thinking particularly about Lola and I know she wouldn’t mind the tribute.

Anyway, enough sadness! I posted about being okay with my quirky style. The poor Scot! He was quite the hit at the dog park, though, when he wore the new harness I sewed for him.

You said we were going on a walk. Why are you standing there with that black box?

You said we were going on a walk. Why are you standing there with that black box?

Actually, I think the Scot is more of an Iron Man fan. They share a certain desire for attention. Anyone seen Iron Man fabric??

I was really pleased with how the harness turned out! If you look closely, you’ll see that it almost looks like Spiderman is holding his lead in his hand… or, at least the bunch of sausages that now passes for his lead!

It's so embarrassing what you do to me.

It’s so embarrassing what you do to me.

Yes, he has much to put up with! Particularly since I have plots for my own dressmaking that may be inspired by this creation of cats at the cinema, some knitting. Yes… I may have ordered some of the fabric… it is simply too awesome to ignore.

 

What we wear and how it fits

Ducky Barometer

Ducky Barometer

The last four days have all been over 40 degrees celsius. Yesterday I glanced at my little rubber duck. The little duck is purple and only turns orange in hot water. Apparently we were in hot water.

I tried to knit and I swear, the wool was hot. Not warm. Genuinely hot. I put the knitting away.

However, I was working away. My work at the moment involves research in fashion and reading a few blogs, I had some thoughts.

Style

I’ve been thinking a lot about personal style recently and was pleased to see a Coletterie post on the topic.

One of the things that makes me laugh is that current fashion reflects what I was wearing about a decade ago. Simple dresses in fun prints are popular now. This is the print on one of my favourite dresses from a decade ago.

Nothing but the toile

Nothing but the toile

And I’ve noticed that foxes are making a play for the status of the owl. This is my favourite skirt, embroidered by the clever fingers of my mother. It’s still a bit of a hit when I wear it.

Is that a fox?

Is that a fox?

I love wearing slightly quirky clothes. Okay, sometimes I like wearing slightly quirky clothes with other very quirky clothes! I was trying on shoes the other day and the assistant looked nervous: “This isn’t an insult. You dress quirky. I really like it.” I didn’t get offended. I was buying cute teal shoes and wearing a top with flamingos on it, topped off with a vintage, pink plastic bead necklace. It was quirky. I can own that.

Today I’d have – and do have – style icons like Zooey Deschanel and Penelope Garcia. Back in the day, I had Lily Lebowski from Crossing Jordan who put a bird on her skirt before it was hipster, and Ginger Rogers.

Ginger Rogers

Ginger Rogers

One of the problems, though, with the style that I love is that sometimes… well, people often insist you can’t wear it once you reach ‘a certain age.’ They also insist it’s too ‘girly,’ which is often code for ‘too silly and ridiculous.’ (I have issues with that – but that’s another story.) I’ve seen these comments made about Zooey Deschanel and I love her response.

Audrey Hepburn’s style is often lauded. Yes, she was very stylish (although she too liked the occasional silly outfit and bold print). It’s a simple style. But… I can’t really pull it off. It’s not comfortable to wear, either, since my body shape is rather different to Audrey Hepburn’s! Finally, it’s just too plain. I wouldn’t be able to resist jazzing it up with something quirky!

Which is why I loved this recent post “What if I don’t WANT to dress like a French Girl.”

Yes, minimalist chic is lovely… but it’s not me. My sense of humour gets the better of the ballet slippers and capri pants. And frankly, my legs don’t look as good in capri pants and I’m more comfortable on a short heel than in ballet slippers. (I always groan when I read those articles about how bad heels are – a good, well-constructed heel that suits your foot is comfortable and good for your feet. My feet hurt more wearing some ballet slippers.)

I often see friends share this poster. While in some ways I agree with it – it basically says you should wear whatever you like whatever your body shape or size – in other ways… the reality is, our body shapes do look better in some clothes than in other clothes. Adjustments can be made to most clothing styles, but knowing one’s body shape and understanding the styles one can easily wear is useful. I think you should be able to wear whatever you like, but knowing what flatters your body shape and what looks good on you can also be a positive thing.

Size

One of the great things about sites like Ravelry and independent designers is that we’re seeing more body shapes modelling the clothes, which gives us a better idea of how clothes will fit us. I used to get so frustrated knitting sweaters from magazines only to realise that what looked good on the size 2 model really didn’t suit my shape – not to mention realising that they must have pinned the back of the sweater to give it its waist shaping!

Once upon a time, there were no sizes. Ready-made was rare. Today we attempt to fit our bodies into sizes and all too often, it doesn’t work. Once upon a time, we knew more about having clothes made to our measurements and shapes and how to tweak fashions to suit our bodies.

We also understood that the illustrations of fashion weren’t representations of what the clothes looked like on most women – that we’d have to think through how the cut and drape would work on our own bodies. Early patterns didn’t come in sizes, either – skills in drafting would be required. Postures and poses also went through trends, designed around the fashions illustrated. Thus the 60s silhouette influences the bodies and poses of the women illustrated on the pattern envelopes. Gertie’s blog recently addressed this issue in a very sensible way.

The perfectly drawn body to show off a fashionable design

The perfectly drawn body to show off a fashionable design

I really think the use of illustration in fashion focussed attention on the fashion while the illustrated bodies were, frankly, fantasy. They were just a way to show off the fashion. Of course, women still felt pressure to look a certain way, but I do think there was less pressure for women to fit their bodies into a certain size.

I don't think many women ever had a waist THAT tiny

I don’t think many women ever had a waist THAT tiny

Today, part of the problem is that photoshop is turning the bodies of women into fantasy, but they’re still, in a sense, ‘real women.’ Where once you knew you couldn’t look like the illustrated body, today we’re encouraged to look like the photograph of the current fashionable or photoshopped body. Sizing is also unforgiving and confusing, because it simply can’t be consistent. Human bodies don’t have consistently the same measurements.

I’m really grateful that my mother sews and that she’s taught me how to sew and knit. Although I’ve had my issues, I’m also grateful that I’m learning not to worry about sizing and to just focus on how to adapt the clothes that I like to make the most of the body that I have.

The web of our life is of a mingled yarn

My heart unto yours is knit

My heart unto yours is knit

I’ve been catching up on my Shakespeare! I was really looking forward to Joss Whedon’s Much Ado. The sign of a good production is when you learn something new about the play. This production, my eye may have been rather more captured by Leonarto, which initially had something to do with Clark Gregg also playing Agent Coulson, but which quickly had something to do with the role itself and how Gregg navigated the extremely tricky narrative as Hero is defamed and her father turns on her. In this production, the undercurrent of Hero’s wealth and inheritance struck me and Leonarto’s apparently cavalier disregard for his daughter once he thinks her virtue is gone is tempered by a suggestion that Leonarto is aware of the implications for their material status. This doesn’t excuse Leonarto, of course. It’s always going to be a tricky part of the narrative to make sense of in any contemporary setting. Yet he didn’t seem quite as bad as some contemporary Leonartos I’ve seen! The cast was good and Amy Acker made a wonderful, refined Beatrice, much like Emma Thompson did, although I still love most the messiness and exuberance of Catherine Tate’s Beatrice.

I also snaffled a DVD of the Globe production of Twelfth Night with Stephen Fry as Malvolio and… wow! I really did laugh out loud throughout the play! Perhaps Shakespeare really is best as it was originally intended to be performed? Oh, what a thought! I’ve seen a play at the Globe before – Henry V – and it was the most wondrous experience. The smell of the wood, the happy groundlings crowded in front of the stage, the actors stepping out into the middle of the theatre. This production was also all-male, as it would have been in Shakespeare’s day, and… wow! Mark Rylance’s Olivia??? The most amazing, mesmerizing performance! The way ‘she’ trundles across the stage is, alone, fantastic. Come on, have a peak! Twelfth Night was the second Shakespeare play I grew fascinated with. I loved enacting Hamlet on the lounge room furniture as a kid (mostly the sword fights!), but Twelfth Night I used to sneak off with in the school library, because they had a little leather bound edition that I could read instead of doing Math homework. And this Globe production? This is everything the play is meant to be!

Although, the shawl puddle didn’t grow VERY much during this time!

Healthy noodles!

Healthy noodles!

On another note, I picked up a cute gadget that can turn my zucchini into proper noodles! This is something ideal for gluten free cooks or people trying to cut carbs.  I roasted some tomatoes and fried some prosciutto, then added garlic and spring onions, finally the noodles and a little ricotta. So good! And healthy enough to justify orange cake for dessert!

Because, I’ve also recently discovered that I have a migraine trigger… it’s chocolate.

I know.

Bye Bye Cosette

Cosette

Cosette

My last hen has joined her buddies. She was cross, cranky, opinionated and liked to try to bully her way inside. Gee I’m going to miss her!

Sticks and Wheels

Tall Glass of Orange

Tall Glass of Orange

Who doesn’t love a little impulse yarn purchase? I couldn’t leave this one behind… it’s just so… orange! Bright, unapologetic, ‘I’m orange and I’m proud of being orange,’ orange.

Things are happening on knitting sticks, but I can’t make them public yet. They aren’t rude or NSFW. They’re just ninjas, hiding on my couch and jumping out to remind me I have deadlines!

Superdog

Superdog

The Scot got a new collar! He now goes ‘pow!’ ‘bam!’ ‘sock it to ’em’ around the house.

Xanadu your neon lights will shine

Xanadu your neon lights will shine

And I got new wheels! I’m a teenager again! Lately, some Lit. friends and I have been going to the local skating rink of an afternoon. We skate around in circles, talking about our lives with books and students and uni admin. The hire skates are horrid, though. The kids’ skates aren’t too bad, but the adult skates are battered, mismatched, and often have rusty nails poking out of awkward places. So we booked a morning and went out skate shopping! Everyone else has black skates… I have white skates with pink neon wheels!

Because I was a skating teen in the 80s and I’m proud of it!

Seriously, I loved skating in my teens. I went every Saturday and it was my favourite place in the whole world then. I was over the moon when I got my first speed skates – black with yellow stripes. I actually got pretty good on wheels. I held my breath for the ‘Speed Skate,’ usually to “My Sharona.” To this day I have an urge to go very fast when that music starts! Many of my crushes were played out on the rink, including the tall, skinny guy with the stormy grey eyes who was much too old for me, but had a great smile. There were also the guys who tried to show off for me and I hadn’t yet learned not to laugh when they fell on their bottoms! I was never as happy as when I was on wheels.

And rediscovering that feeling? Amazing! The rink manager kept asking if we wanted to join the roller derby club, but we’re happier just going in circles. I like to go backwards too. I claim it’s a metaphor for life as a Lit. scholar.

We’ve also been sharing our favourite skating videos, so I’ll share them here, too.

1) Of course, there’s always Xanadu. I so desperately wanted that poofy dress and her hair. I still do. Yes, I looked up 80s dress patterns on Etsy.

2) One of our little skating club shared Cliff Richard’s “Wired for Sound” with us and I swear you won’t be able to take your eyes off the lycra! Remember walkmans?

3) And perhaps my new favourite, Patrick Swayze in Skatetown USA. Trust me.

Of course, now there’s mostly small fry on the rink and the school holidays are horrendous. But on a good day, we strap on our skates and roll!

Now I’m just thinking about knitting leg warmers to match my skates…

Blue Skies and Sunday

A Study of a Shawl Puddle in Bluebells

A Study of a Shawl Puddle in Bluebells

There is still a shawl puddle. It has grown, but my current monogamous enthusiasm is waning just a bit, particularly as bright, shiny new options have presented themselves.

Reading Matter

Reading Matter

Why did I take photos of knitting books in front of the purple peas? Because the purple peas are gorgeous, silly.

I curled up with knit to flatter on Friday night, after a girls’-night-in drinking wine, eating crisps and sausage rolls, watching The Avengers (Hulk smash!) and being pillows for three eager terriers. I got home so exhausted, I took to bed with a cup of tea and a knitting book! I love the principles in knit to flatter. It doesn’t talk down to the reader and has a gentle humour about the whole ‘size issue’. I like the emphasis on shape – I’m a bottom heavy shape and that usually leads to sighs. Her description is wonderful and affirming and includes: “A collarbone to die for? A slimmer torso?… Your generous curves have been the epitome of female beauty to countless artists for centuries.” I know some people take issue with the way ‘curves’ are used to describe the female body, but in this case, I think it’s pretty apt. Her point that shape remains relatively consistent despite weight gain and loss is reassuring and the knitwear designs are gorgeous. I also love the models! They look great and flicking through the book, I realised that we really are hard on ourselves. When you see women of all different shapes modelling the knitwear, there’s not that sense of ‘oh, I should look like that in a sweater.” Every shape is interesting and attractive if presented well. If only more books and magazines were like this!

It also confirmed that I can knit Ginny’s sweater (the one on the cover) from The Unofficial Harry Potter Knitsknit to flatter teaches little mods that you can make for your shape and this might be my first experiment. Might. There’s a lot on my plate right now.

Random Chicken Photo

Random Chicken Photo

No, there isn’t any chicken on my plate! Although, I do have some pork belly in the oven.

To conclude this quick post, say hello to one of our most recent nocturnal visitors and the Scot’s new nemesis: the possum in the plum tree.

Nemesis of the Scot

Nemesis of the Scot