Monday, June 16, 2008

jetsetting

I posted a tacky and dull look into my packing dilemmas earlier, but I have since though better of it.

But I am off to England in a few hours and so excited about it. I'm restless and giddy.

Here is a peonie because peonies are hilarious.

Peonie

I'll be back in two weeks. Hopefully I'll be too busy to blog inanely while I'm there.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Knitting in public and Octopi

Today I knit it public. It was my first knitting meet-up of any kind. I'm a bit antisocial. I plan on attending local knit nights in the future. Maybe. Sort of. Eventually. Knowing me I'll never get around to it. This time a friend and I showed up together. Anyway, it was fun and cool to meet other knitters. The weather wasn't stellar and kept changing its mind. We ended up knitting in Bridgehead, but apparently some others did stick it out in a park. Whatever, spreading the public knitting love is all good. We probably got some quizzical looks, though I wasn't really paying attention so I can't say for sure. A woman told us we were cute, though, and asked if we had a particular cause we were knitting for. I worked on my long-suffering vest more today than I have in weeks. Good thing I'm not in a hurry, since I can't possibly use it until fall.

Instead, I have been working on this:
octopus

Okay, so I'm largely self-taught at embroidery, and I made quite a few misguided decisions in this creature, but I like it anyway. It doesn't look as furry as I was afraid it would, so that's cool. Yay for hairless octopi. The picture doesn't get the colours right even with significant photoshop tweaking: most of the octopus is bright, intense blue, while three of the tentacles are more periwinkle (meant to be peeking out from behind). Fun, learning experience, now I have some awesome long shorts just in time for my trip to England. Yay.

I also made a pear-rhubarb crisp and went to a chamber music concert. Busy busy busy. Tomorrow: packing, finishing an essay, and trying not to jitter myself to death from giddiness. England! Soon! So excited.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

playing with cliches

IMG_0991

I have never seen a poppy look so sad.

I discovered that my camera has a colour accent feature, so I started playing with it. I think this effect is generally overused, but it is kind of fun! I took garden pictures, of course, but I think it was quite effective on the poppies.

IMG_0983

These poppies are startling enough in real colour because they are vibrant red-orange. (Plus, they are next to the deep-purple irises. Woo for contrast). I think red and gray are a startling combination, though. When I looked at my photos I immediately thought of remembrance day. Poppies, gray, blood, mud, death, Belgium. Aaaaah.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Summer Knitty

I don't really get summer knitting. This largely has to do with the climate my region experiences. Cold winters, hot summers. It was ~35 degrees Celsius the other day, with oppressive, breezeless humidity. Definitely not knitting weather. (Says the girl who is currently knitting a wool-alpaca sweater vest. Snort.) While this kind of weather is not constant, it is not unheard of. Knitting halter tops or sleeveless sweaters is generally not practical, however light the yarn. That doesn't stop me from admiring summer knitting designs I'll probably never make. But! This summer's Knitty has several things I like a lot and might even just make some day. Pretty exciting.

Then again, there are always socks. I'll totally make socks in the summer, once I get some real sock yarn, and preferably not straight up wool. Speaking of socks, I like Spring Forward. And Ziggy. Knitty is full of zigzags this issue. How whimsical! Yay.

I actually really like Shetland Shorty, though I'm not sure if I could wear it myself. I'm in shrug-finding mode without knowing if I can pull of shrugs of any kind, especially those with ties in front and boob-holding capacity. But I do really like this - I would like to add long or 3/4 sleeves. I'm sure those kinds of mods are possible. Maybe I'll try it! This wouldn't really hide me from the sun, being all shot through with holes, but it's pretty anyway.

I also like Seascape. I am planning to get into lace a little more in the future, but I don't know if I'd ever use a shawl or wrap. Still, I love the pattern. I'm not totally into triangular shawls with lots of points yet, though I'm warming to them; this lace pattern is automatically more appealing to me.

Couvercle is very cute, but again something I don't know if I could pull off. It might be a bit too trendy for me. I wear hats when it is cold to keep my head warm, and when it is sunny to keep the sun off my pasty pasty skin. Plus, although it is cotton it looks like it might be too warm for summer. Maybe it would work for fall. I keep talking myself out of trying a newsie cap or any sort of vaguely stylish but less practical hat... but perhaps I should ignore my misgivings and try something out of my comfort zone. (Do I even have a comfort zone? Hmmm.)

Lastly, as relates to my odd tote-attraction, there is BYOB. It appeals to me. We have dozens of canvas bags, but this would not be an unwelcome addition to our shopping bag collection. I hazard. Stylish. Possibly TOO stylish. It would need longer handles to be useful to me, but I expect that is doable. I worry about stretching in the handles because it seems to be the thing to worry about with knitted bags, but I'm sure there are plenty of solutions for that, too.

On the home-knitting front, I haven't touched the vest in a week. It will get done, but I'm not in a hurry. Bo-ring.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Lacking direction, aka story of my life

Siberian iris

I was never firm about prospective careers as a child. I don't think I ever announced I was going to be a ballerina or a fireman. (The latter is a more likely candidate, given I never took ballet lessons and I was a wannabe 'tomboy' for a while). I briefly thought I'd like to be involved in web design. The closest I ever got to having a definite ambition was a longlived desire to be a writer that began in elementary school and continued in some fashion over the years until stark reality hit a few years back.

To be fair, I've been good at denying stark reality so far, but in this last year of university it has been more persistent. What am I going to do with my life? Who knows. When am I going to get proactive and find a real job? July, hopefully. At least a fake-real job if I can't get a real one. Right.

I have too many cursory interests and I know too little about each. I'm not perfect at anything, and I am reluctant to put myself out there unless perfect, as irrational and impossible as that may be.

When I say I lack direction, what I really mean is I have the wrong kind of direction. Perhaps it's not exactly "wrong," but it's not self-starting ambition. My direction at the moment is England. My most important goal for the near future is having some way of legally living in England for the longterm. This is an important part of my life at the moment, so all my plans for the future attempt to factor this in. Unfortunately, I seem very willing to ignore the other things, probably to their detriment.

My most legitimate way to England would be to do more university. I am seriously considering this, on one hand. It would be crazy of me to stop now and hope to fall into a stimulating career. Maybe it wouldn't be crazy, but I can't think of anything I'd be willing to do that people would willingly hire me for with my current qualifications and lack of experience in anything meaningful. Not saying I'm bitter, just saying I need to do something more specific. What is holding me back is the cost. If I had an extra $20 000 plus, I would not want to use it to go to school. Actually, at this point I would, but I would be internally kicking myself. What would I use the money for? I don't know. School is probably a better idea than drugs. (A joke. That was a joke. I don't do drugs. Ahem.) But I don't have the money, I don't have any immediate job prospects, and getting funding for a UK degree is almost out of the question. Well, damn. Every time I do any research about this I get discouraged and talk myself out of it, but it remains the best option.

The other option is do a long working-holiday / youth mobility whatever whatever. This would get me into England legally for a year or two, but I would more than likely be waitressing or working at Sainsbury's if I managed to find work at all. Given my extreme lack of success in that so far, I don't want to pit my future against my shitty inability to find a job. And, after all that is finished, what do I have? The satisfaction of having worked at a shit job for a while, but no further qualifications or prospects. I'm pretty sure I want to get some further training, and I'm also pretty sure I don't want to put it off for two or three years.

What I know for certain is I'm going to England next week, staying for two weeks, and I'm looking for a job again when I get back. I'm planning to work for the next year or so - but that seems like an awfully long time, and I don't look forward to more 6 months periods of absence. I keep thinking my life would have been so much easier if I'd been able to graduate this June - I could have done a working holiday starting this summer and then gone from there. Alas, I have courses to complete. I can take off for two weeks, but being gone for the whole time and beyond would not be advisable. Regrets don't help, and there's not much I could have done in my circumstances. (There's really a lot I could have done if I'd had my act together from day 1, but as the previous paragraphs show, I've pretty much never had my act together when it comes to planning for the future. So never mind that.)

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

A lesson in superwash

In December/January I knit some socks for my mom - my first pair of socks, Monkeys out of some vintage fingering-weight wool I got for cheap at Lewiscraft when they were closing out. Not superwash. I knew this was a bad idea for socks, but as time wore on and the socks held up with gentle washings I thought it wasn't such a big deal after all.

So I made myself some ankle socks out of the same yarn in a different colour. Aaaaand the heels felted after I wore them twice. I guess I'm rougher on my socks than my mom is.

I have more of this same kind of yarn, but all sock plans are on hold until I acquire some suitable sock yarn. Hahaha. More to the point, I need to figure out what to make with a few scattered skeins of non-superwash fingering weight yarn, since I'm currently anti-stash.

Candidates include "Spin me right round baby" slouchy hat,though I'm still not sure if I can wear slouchy berets.

In the meantime, more iris:

Iris, June 6

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Found

The other day I finally put some of my found jewelry to use.

necklace

I found the chain on the ground at a pub in Plymouth, and the beaten up fake pearl, silvery-plastic bead,the button, and a few others in various forms on the ground in Exeter. I still have a few lone earrings, including several huge hoops that I found in Exeter, but they didn't fit this project. The stone chips are also recycled from an old barrette that I made years ago but have no use for now.

necklace

I like colour. That should be obvious. What I enjoyed most about this project, other than the 'found' aspect, was sorting through my miscellaneous beads collecting blues and whites that fit. I am drawn to chromatic colours with slight variation that all merge into and play off each other. Sometimes I feel limited by my need to pair blues with blues. I wonder if I'm over-matching. That said, I didn't feel limited here, and I'm pleased with this necklace, though chains aren't generally my thing. I like the possibilities of chains - I may have to invest in some more. It doesn't always hang quite right, which is something to work on for next time, but all in all I'm pleased!

Thursday, June 05, 2008

cookie time!

Almond cookies

Almond cookies. I consider these my most successful attempt in a while - I modified the recipe heavily enough that I consider it my own, but sometimes that has disasterous results.

This time? Delicious, almond-y, crunchy, crumbly cookies. I expect I could have made them softer or chewier if I'd used butter or margarine, but I almost never use solid fat in baking anymore. Next time I'll use a little less sugar and slightly more spice.

Almond cookies

Almond cookies
2 cups white flour
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger (or more)
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon (or more)
pinch salt
1 cup vegetable oil
1 egg
1 teaspoon almond extract
whole almonds

Mix dry ingredients, including sugar. Add oil: mixture will be moist but crumbly. Lightly beat egg with almond extract and add to the main mixture.

Roll into balls ~1 inch or slightly larger and place on baking sheet 2 inches apart. Place an almond on top of each cookie and press in slightly.

Bake for 15-20 minutes at 325 F.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

the weekly pre-essay ramble

I have another essay due this evening, so it's time for some daydreaming and speculation. The gray weather lately hasn't helped, although perhaps logic says gray days are best for essays - gray days are also good for knitting and thinking about knitting.

Felted bags have been appealing to me lately. The Stitch and Bitch Nation "Letter Have It" bag has been at the back of my mind for a while since it is one of the few knitting books I own. Since my first initial in lowercase is rather dull I was thinking of doing a question mark. Pretending to be enigmatic, you know.

The other bag I love at the moment is Jennifer Tallapaneni's Celtic tote. I'm a sucker for Celtic knotwork, or any knotwork really. Love.

Problems with me knitting either or both of these bags: I've never enjoyed transfering all my crap from one stylish bag to the next. I have a medium sized black MEC purse that I use all the time when I'm not using my old backpack that I've had since grade 4. You heard me. This backpack has seen me through elementary school, high school, and now university. It is a great size - not so big that I filled it to back-breaking weights back when I took courses that required textbooks and had to climb several flights of stairs to get to my locker. I joked that I'd get a new pack for grad school, but who knows - it has been around for so long that it seems silly to abandon it now when it hasn't entirely disintegrated yet.

True, it is getting a little shabby, but other than some minor repairs over the years it has held up pretty well. The leather on the bottom has torn in a few places, and I keep saying I'll fix it (I will! This bag has more years in it!), but I haven't yet.

Anyway, totes aren't really my thing - I prefer to have the weight distributed on both shoulders, or I prefer long purse straps that cross over my chest for stability. Practicality aside, those bags look great, though.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Scenes from a garden

IMG_0806

IMG_0826
Chives

IMG_0817
Bachelor button

IMG_0815
Yellow iris, looking particularly sensual today ;)

IMG_0833
Peonies