Friday, July 28, 2006

SP question

Warning: solely knitting-related content in this post. Proceed at your own risk!

Our SP hostess has asked us to answer the following questions, so here goes:

Someone has stolen your stash and all your books: now what are you going to do?
Cry. And cry. Cry some more, and question why my stash in particular would be stolen. It's dear to me (well, mostly) but it's not that impressive really.

I'd probably rejoice a little over some of the nastier parts of my stash being taken away from me, since I'd feel too guilty chucking it.

I'd definitely be mourning the loss of some of my yarns: the one-offs from Argentina that aren't mass-produced, for example.

I'd really miss my books, too. They're a good mix of practical books that I got on sale, and more esoteric books with beautiful, inspirational pictures and layout, like Alterknits. Oh, and I'd miss my Rowan books and magazines.

I'd shed some tears over some of my needles going: the Clover bamboo needles that The Trouser got me for Xmas, and some cool vintage needles I've been given.

Assuming you don't let the experience discourage you from ever knitting again...What would be the first thing you'd replace?
I'd replace the more useful stuff first, like the Rowan magazines and books. And Last Minute Gifts, because there are a few paterns in there I'm still hanging out to try.

I couldn't replace a lot of the yarn, since there are one-offs there. I'd probably only buy yarn for specific projects... plus some Kid Silk Haze or Kid Silk Night, because I love it and I like to have it on hand just in case.

I'd replace the Clovers straight away, and my fairly extensive collection of circular needles. The vintage needles would be hard to replace, but I'd certainly take them if I was offered them again!

What would you live without?
I would definitely live without all the bitsy yarn I have. And the skeins and skeins of yarn that I don't have the fibre content or length for. And probably the Australasian pattern books I have, since they're just not that great. And maybe all the patterns I've printed from the Internet, since I don't usually get around to using them...

I could probably live without millions of mismatched metal needles in varying lengths. I probably don't need more than 2 sets of each size, either.

The irony of all this is that I will have to de-stash somehow in the foreseeable future. Our plan to move to Ireland involves sacrificing material possessions. I *will* have to decide which needles, yarn and books to take with me. And which to (gulp) donate to the world at large.

So glad I have a few months before I have to contemplate this seriously!

Wednesday, July 26, 2006


When I was smaller, I had a cool toy called Fashion Plates.

They were pieces of plastic that had clothing outlined on them. You'd put paper over the top, rub it with a pencil, and hey, presto! You had an outline of an outfit, which you could them colour in.

How I loved my Fashion Plates. And apparently other people did too. (Their own set, not mine. I'm good at sharing, but not that good!) I wonder what happened to my set...

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

I don't care what they say, some things never go out of style

Like vodka jelly.

Ah, vodka jelly. We first met at one of my very first university parties. How I loved to gobble you up. Or, if a booze hag had made you, slurp you up.

I developed my own recipe and made you so many times. I passed my recipe on to my youngest brother after I made him and his friends their first vodka jellies. I made it for my friend's hen's night and got everyone quite drunk, even though The Trouser stole many, many jellies to take to the corresponding stag night.

After that night, my recipe went international, when a Malaysian attendee texted me.

And most recently, when my brother had his stag night, I served row upon row of delicious, delectable vodka jellies (and a few white rum and orange combos) in many beautiful colours. Even my dad had a few.

According to some silly people, vodka jelly went out of style awhile ago.

I say that the delightful vodka jelly is always stylish. Hey, it's all in how you serve them. I prefer the plastic taster cups myself, because they're cheap and disposable. But there's nothing stopping you from making a tray of jelly and using cookie cutters and toothpicks.

Unless you use too much vodka, whcih means you'll just have vodka jelly soup. Which is not necessarily a bad thing.

For you, dear reader, my recipes:

Vodka jelly for the faint of heart (or if you want to use cookie cutters)
Pick some stronger flavoured jelly like lime (which I hate personally, but seems to be a favourite), orange, strawberry, etc.

Make the jelly using 2/3 of the hot water required. Stir well so all the crystals are dissolved.

Add 1/3 vodka and stir very well. Pour out into your taster cups and chill in the fridge overnight.

Before serving, cover any light-coloured carpet or upholstery if you think anyone may over-indulge. Jelly can stain, y' know!

Vodka jelly for the slightly braver
Get one packet of each flavour of jelly available at the supermarket. Get a second packet of some of your favourites - I recommend lemon and lemonade flavours.

Make the jelly using a scant 3/5 of the hot water required. Stir well so all the crystals are dissolved.

Add the remaining 2/5 of vodka and stir very well. Add a dash for luck. Pour out into your taster cups and chill in the fridge overnight.

Mmm, vodka jelly. What a shame it's not lunchtime yet!

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Why Hip Hop Sucks in '96

A guest post from The Trouser

I went to see DJ Shadow at the St James last week. Nothing
particularly remarkable about that save that I haven't been to a proper night time live music event for a couple of years and I've never been to see a turntables - so everything was new and exciting.

The night started off well: I worked late, caught the bus down into town, and picked a random Korean eating house for dinner. Soft tofu stew (and the little complementary side dishes) was my chosen delight - and a delight it was too. The Koreans have really hit the nail on the head when it comes to the universal application of garlic and chili.

As only guys can, my plans to redezvous with my friend were extremely thin and poorly executed and I waited outside in Cancer Corner for 30 minutes before venturing inside and queuing at the bar where I forked over $14 (this is not a typo) for Jagermeister and Red Bull in a plastic cup. By the time I got to my seat I had missed the supporting act (Mos Def), the interval, and the first couple of Shadow's tracks. This is largely thanks to my friend's advice that the actual start time would be approximately 1.5 hours after the advertised start time.

The beauty of being advanced in years was to be able to sit in my seat in the grand circle with my Jagermeister and Red Bull and enjoy the show while hundreds of 12 year olds gyrated together in general admission. None of that is even remotely true, except the part about sitting with my Jagermeister and Red Bull and enjoying the show.

There were a number of sublime moments where the extremely loud and disturbed beats blended with the crazy visuals to enormous effect. It made us all dizzyingly happy. Unfortunately it was all over too soon. By 11.30pm we were tossed out onto the cold pavement, ears a-ringing.

Next time I'll find a gig The Skirt wants to come to too!


How productive are you?

At work, I mean. And by productive, I mean churning out measurable results.

At the moment my productivity has taken a nose-dive. Apparently that is normal when major changes happen and are managed poorly, so I was kind of expecting it.

In general I pride myself on being reasonably productive, though less so since I discovered the blogosphere.

I no longer churn out lots of "deliverables" or measurable results, but a lot of that is due to the fact that I have been slowly but steadily becoming more involved in strategic stuff. Strategy and planning takes time, but does not deliver "actual work", if you know what I mean.

Well it didn't in the past. Now I have to do plans and Gantt charts till I've had them up the wazoo... further cutting down on time I could spend getting things done. They help me to communicate what I'm doing more clearly, but since I just need to get the things done and report back afterwards, it's kind of frustrating.

Still, I'm skiving a little bit less at the moment. It's something!

Monday, July 17, 2006

Fun with FOs, part 3

Cleverness #3: the "boyfriend scarf" from... ummm... the book by the owners of Purl. (Help me out here?)

Following the success of the Jo Sharp yarn for Forecast, The Trouser picked out some chocolate-y Jo Sharp DK for this scarf, which I used doubled.

This was a really fun and easy knit, and The Trouser wears this scarf much more than any of the others I've made, so it's an all-around success.

My only (very small) niggle is that in spite of fairly intensive blocking, the edges still curl in. Perhaps a gentle steam blocking is called for?

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Wedding planning update: finally getting some stuff done

We are finally getting things done on the wedding front. Hallelujah!

In case you really care, here's where we're at:

- We paid a deposit and signed a contract for the reception and catering. And we have a tasting tentatively scheduled for October, yum!

- We picked up our save-the-date cards, which looked great and had NO mistakes. I will be hand-addressing these (there are only 30) to send this week.

- We also bought stamps for the s-t-d cards (STD cards, what an attractive acronym - herpes free with every card!). We got a girl at the post office, and she was helpful and not at all pissy about us wanting to pick our stamps out. There is very little choice, but we got the best ones possible, including a special lighthouse stamp for my uncle who likes lighthouses.

- We bought a special pencil, eraser and pen for me to use to address everything. (Man, calligraphers are EXPENSIVE!)

Most importantly (which is why it gets its own paragraph as opposed to a bullet point), I started the hunt for The Dress.

How did I start? Well I signed up at any number of US-based wedding sites (they don't need the traffic so I won't link to them here, if you're dead keen leave a comment) and started viewing and "saving" dresses.

I also went through my NZ bridal magazine "collection" (4 magazines hardly constitutes a collection, but what the hey) and noted the names and URLs of places to research dresses.

I grabbed a couple of URLs and scanned in some photos from the US bridal magazine I borrowed from the library. (SUCH a good idea to borrow from the library, I am so dopey to have bought any magazines!)

I also went through all the info we got from the Bride & Groom show a few weeks back.

All of this is in preparation for The Main Assault. I figure I'll hit the stores that you don't need to pay for first, and only pay if there's a dress I deeply, deeply love. (Chances are I'll get something made anyway.) My mother and I are starting this weekend, in the eastern suburbs.

My sanity will be maintained throughout The Main Assault by one thing alone: all the information I've gathered, and all the info I gather as I shop, is/ will be entered in a lovely Excel spreadsheet.

It has 4 worksheets: dressmakers, Auckland stores, NZ stores, and international stores. There are columns for comments about the service. I've already emailed it to a colleague who's also planning a wedding, and she found it really useful.

Yes, I'm using Microsatan to help plan my wedding. Oh, how the mighty have fallen!

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Secret stuff

I love, love, love secret stuff. Which is why this Secret Pal thing is fun for me.

The person I am giving to has a few common interests with me, but is very different in terms of her situation (with kids, no job) and even skills (spins, dyes yarn, etc.). We like some of the same things, but also different ones.

We've been emailing a lot, and I'm trying hard not to give too much away when I email. She's very curious (like me), but I can't answer too many questions in case I give myself away - so I feel a bit rude for my sometimes-convoluted replies.

Meanwhile, I have 2 packages ready for my Pal - one for each month left of the exchange. It's odd for me to plan so well in advance, but between a sale and serendipity, I'm good to go for the rest of the exchange. I'm really looking forward to sending them and seeing her reaction.

I only know one person here who knits - and not very well at that - so SP is a great way in theory to meet more knitters. I say "in theory", because it doesn't always work out. But with this woman, it really does. Thanks to the hostess who matched us up!

Friday, July 07, 2006


Ever wondered what muppet fur looks like when it's been spun?


On the left, the skein. On the right, the ball I wound.

I have 2 skeins, and they're in the process of becoming a lovely scarf, with the help of 7mm Clover needles. It's quite chunky (hence the 7mm diameter) and moderately slippery (hence the bamboo), but fairly easy to knit with.

Actually, the photo doesn't really show the yarn at its best. It's very snuggly and quite warm. It is synthetic, but it's the nicest synthetic I've ever encountered.

I'd tell you more about it, but I can't: I bought this in Argentina last year and it came as is, without any ball band to advise me on fibre content or washing instructions - all I know is it was made in Argentina, and for sale in Belgrano, Buenos Aires.

Where, incidentally, you can view the yarn but are instructed not to touch it, making it tough to buy for softness. This was a happy fluke!

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Fun with FOs, part 2

Cleverness #2: Forecast (the photos at last!) from Knitty

I used Jo Sharp double knitting in "aubergine" for this. Quite a lot more than was originally called for, due to the modifications: longer ribbing on the sleeves and body mostly. I also went with the 3-stitch bobble (why do I alwasy type "booble"?).

I like the general lack of seaming about this pattern, but I loathe picking up the stitches around the armhole, primarily because it's always so tight and difficult to knit for the first 20 rows or so.

All the front shots I took looked icky, so here's a back shot: I don't think the cardigan suits my shape (large-ish bosoms and shoulders), but I still enjoy wearing it a lot. Again, it impresses the hell out of people who don't knit, because it looks complicated. In fact it was a relatively easy knit, helped by the lovely yarn I chose. (Lovely yarn that bled a lot when wet, however.)

In fact, it was such a relaxing garment to knit that I'm going to make one for my mother. She has small shoulders and bosoms, and looks quite charming in mine (even though it's a bit large for her), and it's been some time since she's had anything knitted for her. My only challenge is to find the perfect wool.

Fun with FOs, part 1

I posted this ages ago - but the Blogger keeps refusing to post my photos. So here's part 1:

Cleverness #1: Bianca, from Rowan #38

I used 4-ply Patonyle yarn for this - 80% wool, 20% acrylic. It's a surprisingly pleasant knit, and a lot less expensive than the recommended yarn, Rowan costing the earth here and all.

I modified the pattern a bit by beading once instead of 3 times, primarily because it looked overly busy with the beads I found. As a result, I have loads of leftover beads for when these ones break or fall off or whatever.

The left and right sides look to be slightly different in length, due to my inexpert blocking. Ah well.

The arms are also a bit roomy. Again, oh well.

I love, love, LOVE this cardigan, and get loads of compliments on it. When people learn I've knit it, they (literally) squeal. I love wearing it even more for the squeals.

And here's the detail shot:

The colour is fairly true in this shot, but the beads are a slightly more vibrant shade of green.

Given the dearth of attractive yarns at affordable prices, I think I've done pretty well with this one (small pat on the back).

Incidentally, this is also a ridiculously easy pattern. Those damn charts just about killed be initially, but once I got the hang of the pattern, I could ignore them.

And although 3mm needles and 4-ply yarn hardly makes for speedy knitting, this did knit up pretty quickly. There's just the right amount of pattern and shaping and stuff to keep me interested.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Thanks, SP!

I received my first SP package!

In my package was Knitting Pretty. I think the how-tos will be very useful as I try to teach someone to knit.

Thanks, SP!

Monday, July 03, 2006


A warning: this post is a whinge. It's a teensy bit bitter and I am perhaps being a bit self-pitying. If you're looking for uplifting material, skip this one!

The Trouser and I have been very considerate of others, particularly since we've gotten engaged.

With our final Xmas in NZ coming up, we figured we'd spend it with our families. After all, they all guilt-trip us every year because we don't want to spend all day with them (the night before, then from 11am until 10pm is plenty in our eyes), so they should be happy, right?

Turns out, after all their whingeing, they've all made other plans. Not one single one of them will be here come Christmas day.

My maternal grandma will be 95 on Boxing Day, so my mother's heading over there. Good reason, and we'd come too if we could afford it, so she gets a pass.

My dad decided that he didn't want to go (he has issues with relatives over there, since he feels that they should visit us here more), so he told my youngest brother not to come back for Xmas. Then he told us all that said brother couldn't make it home for Xmas, so he was going to head up to keep him company. NOT happy, especially as my dad is family-time guilty-tripper #1.

Second-youngest brother has been encouraged by my dad to join him, so he will. Mmmph.

Oldest brother (aka #2 family-time guilty-tripper) is going to Japan with his new wife. Mmmph.

The Trouser's parents (who use fairly strong guilt on us) are travelling to the US to be there once their grandchild is born. Fair enough I guess.

Even though some of our relatives have fairly good reasons, none of them gave a shit about the fact that we'll be here without them. But you can bet that they'll be whingeing and bitching for us to come "home" to NZ every Xmas in the future.

And just to round it off nicely, a wedding-related bitch.

A cousin of mine got engaged a month or two ago, and we recently got emailed the date of her wedding.

It's less than 2 weeks before ours.

Fine, except we made it clear we'd be inviting the family in the US, and we had told them our date well in advance.

In fact, we chose the date partly to be considerate, so the US relatives would have time to plan to come, as many of them were keen. Now they are unlikely to be able to come.

The cousin may not have known, but her parents did and they should have shared the news. If the date was somehow fixed in stone for important reasons, they should have at least emailed us to say something like "sorry, sucks huh?".