Wednesday, May 30, 2007

The prophecy of Philip Dick

The Secret Project is now half done - how I love big bulky wool!
Danica is looking a lot happier now that I have steam-blocked it but I still hate the seam-look.
I have a disturbing number of project ideas either on the needles (no dear socks, I haven't forgotten you) or spinning around my head or in print-offs and photo-copies of patterns.  I've extended my borrowing time on Big Girl Knits and obtained a new interesting stitch idea from my ISE4 partner Beth. And I'm only committed to four more birthday presents within the next two months.
So of course I have chosen this time to interrupt my knitting to catch up on some long missed reading.  I am currently going through a Philip Dick stage - he was the twisted mind behind the ideas that created the films Blade Runner, Total Recall and Minority Report.  Apparently he took a lot of drugs which probably led to his early death (just a few weeks before the release of Blade Runner) and I suspect that reading some of his books may be a way of accompanying him on his drug trips without the nasty side-effects.  They have the internal logic of some of my bizarre dreams that make perfect sense while I am having them but make no sense at all once I've woken up.
His books explore the two philosophical ideas that obsessed him and that he never resolved during his life - "What is reality?" and "What is an authentic human being?"  What I find most fascinating is that he explores concepts that have become the reality in our world, decades after his death.  He never lived to see the growth of the Internet or creation of virtual worlds such as Second Life and World of Warcraft  - but more than 40 years ago he described the issue of people becoming obsessed with a virtual world to the exclusion of the real world.
I fear that it is only a matter of time that science and technology catch up with some of his ideas about the role machines play in our world.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Secret project

No photos today as I am working on a Secret Project for someone I am fairly sure reads this blog...
  • It is using up some super-bulky (16-ply) light grey wool from my stash
  • It incorporates cables, now that I realise that cables are really, really easy but look impressive to the uninitiated
  • It is a birthday present
  • It is not being sent offshore

Tantalised yet???

Friday, May 25, 2007

Shameless photo stealing

Not only is Beth a really talented knitter, she is a much better photographer than me. Here are her photos of the scarf and chockies I sent her as part of ISE4.

Danica - the close-up

OK, it still needs blocking but as you can see from the close-up, even that won't solve the problem of the wrong side from looking like it is full of seams.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Apologies for the lack of photos but the rechargeable batteries in my camera have a half-life of approximately 3 seconds and are currently in their usual place (the recharger) instead of in the digital camera.

(Yes, I realise that photos are essential to a blog; it's a sort of modern-day version of Lewis Caroll's Alice who has no use for a book with pictures or conversation. Maybe my links are the modern version of conversation?)

I have finally finished Danica. It was a fun knit but in retrospect probably the worst possible technique for use in a scarf as the 'wrong' side looks very wrong (as if one has sewn together a whole heap of little squares and you are looking at the seam side) and a scarf is the one item where you are guaranteed to get a good view of both sides of the knitting. So 8/10 for the fun of knitting but not so high a score for the wearability of the final product. Mind you, the way fashions are nowadays with raw seams often on the outside of clothes, maybe it does work. But not for me. I will inflict it on a friend who is already the recipient of a jester-style hat made out of the same yarn - she's got the quirky personality to actually carry this off.

I haven't posted for a few days. I finally got over my cold and returned to my job on Monday to find that exactly none of my work had been done by anyone else in my absence. I wasn't surprised but this week has been a bit of a huge catch-up game for me.

And today I got an email from my ISE 4 pal Beth who has received my scarf and says she loves it. Plus of course the obligatory Australian chocolate which was included. Most Americans, I've noticed, go nuts over Australian chocolate whereas we go nuts over the Swiss chocolate. I wonder what the Swiss go nuts over (or do they merely acknowledge their superiority in chocolate-making as part of the natural course of things?) Beth is an amazingly talented spinner and sock knitter who produces beautiful items at an incredible rate. Mind you, I envy anyone who can knit a hole-free heal. LOL.

My other partner has been in regular contact and I am confident of receiving my scarf from her, probably towards the end of June (which is the official due date).

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Favourite photos

These are my favourite photos taken in recent memory. From a knitting perspective, I am wearing 3 items of handknitting (the hat, scarf and jumper) and don't look completely ridiculous (although I do look like I'm dressed for the snow; it was a very cool Sunday morning but not snowing). And both Jeff and I are smiling and look like humans (as opposed to Shrek and Fiona body-doubles). The little boy is Joshua, the son of our good friends, Phill and Jess. He is so cute and adorable and for some reason really likes us. Last time we visited he was plotting ways for us to move into his house and allocating a space for our car in his parents' garage.

Can't knit... must sleep

The problem with being a basically healthy person is that I tend to get very grumpy when I get sick. It's nothing serious; just a head cold that needs lots of fluids, vitamin C, over-the-counter pills and rest.

I knew things were wrong on Tuesday night when I spent more time unravelling mistakes in my knitting than actually achieving anything. So knitting is out. The TV is annoying me so it is off but surprisingly I can still read. Well, for about 10 minutes before I fall asleep with the book on my face.

Smudgey, who has recovered well from his surgery, is setting an excellent example for me; he can sleep anytime, anywhere, including on top of me for company. He has become such a calm cat since his abscess was removed! I'm feeling really guilty as it looks like his klutziness and grumpiness was not just the result of middle-age (as we assumed) but probably related to the abscess - and he may have had it for years. That's the problem with our four-legged friends, they can't tell us "I have a sore butt". Smudgey is still lazy but not half the klutz or coward that he was; in the past he would just let his (smaller) brother dominate but over the past week he's shown a tendency to stand up for himself. Hopefully the boys will re-establish their territorial boundaries without hurting each other. We can't afford any more vet bills.

Jeff's being a good Yiddishe mamma and has put on a big pot of chicken soup for me. He's trying to take care of me and fussing around and I'm responding like a big grumpy cat that just wants to be left alone to sleep.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Monday 14 May 2007

Currently knitting: I've been gradually working my way through Danica. I think this scarf will be a birthday present for a friend in June.

I've been dying to try out illusion knitting. Except instead of a DNA helix I'd like to slip in a a reference to the original subversive knitter, Madam Defarge (Dickens). Must remember to finish projects before starting another! I still have a partially started sock and I want to knit another jumper for my friends' 3-year-old and maybe a jumper for myself...

On the Amazon wish list: My favourite blogger Crazy Aunt Purl is releasing a book in October. I am addicted to CAP as she is affectionately known by her readers. Her writing is hilarious and touching and sad and meaningful (often all at the same time) and so true that it just rips your heart out and is just begging to be made into a Bridget Jones-esque style film. After 10 years of marriage, CAP's husband walked out, telling her he needed to get his creativity back. Two weeks later he moved into a new apartment with a new girlfriend. CAP had a few girlfriends of her own who stood by her, coaxed her out of her house and into a knitting group and put up with some really bad cooking as she went through the ups and downs of rebuilding her life and becoming a self-actualised person. And she kept a diary of the process.

We never find out what happened to Mr X, but CAP found her own creativity, built up a readership of 10,000 people and got a book deal, all to the cheers of thousands of women and some men from around the world. She's now campaigning on all the other important issues like why do stores turn up their nose at stocking a basic collection of women's clothes in a wide range of sizes. Anyway, go to her site and read her blog from the beginning. And I bet you end up putting her book on your wish list too.

Book that should be burned: As a reader and book lover I don't generally advocate destruction but this particular volume is an insult to readers, knitters and human beings in general. It's a collection of photos of has-been and never-were so-called celebrities and their scarf "patterns" nearly all of which are "cast on X stitches and knit every row". Yep, we really need a book to tell us that.

Although if they did another volume and it included photos of Paris Hilton accidental strangling herself with a garter-knit scarf... well, I could be tempted :)

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Look what I found at my local library

The knitting blogosphere has been buzzing with positive reviews and comments about Big Girl Knits ever since it came out (April 2006) because there are very few examples of figure flattering designs aimed at larger women. As I live in Australia, I thought it would be months or years before I saw a copy; yes we can buy anything from Amazon but that also involves swallowing the international postage costs.

I've never really thought of looking to my local library for knitting books; I just assumed there would be a few dated volumes from the 1960s, 70s and early 80s and nothing worth considering. But I wanted to find a particular Elizabeth Zimmermann pattern and thought that as her books are more than 25 years old there was a chance it may be at the library. As it turned out the library did not stock any Elizabeth Zmmermann books - but it did have some surprisingly recent knitting volumes, including Big Girl Knits.

I'm not sure I'll actually knit any of the jumpers but there is a really interesting section on design and fitting. And it has been really great to be able to have a look at this book before deciding to hand over my hard earned cash.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

The indignity of it all!

Smudgey was released from hospital this morning and as you can see he is not impressed with his new neck-ruff (which stops him licking his wound). He spent some time walking backwards today (in the mistaken belief that he could walk out of the collar). Jeff put his food on a flat platter so he can eat. While Smudgey prefers an outdoor toilet, he's going to have to get used to his kitty litter for the next fortnight.

Despite being annoyed with us for abandoning him at the hospital for 2 days, he's decided he wants our company - on his terms that is. He is currently sitting next to me on the good computer chair while I'm on an old chair.

Visiting the Lort Smith Animal Hospital is a rather surreal experience. In many ways it is just like visiting a normal hospital; the same sterile look and plastic waiting chairs and a triage nurse who explains that your appointment may be moved back if an emergency comes in. Then the PA announcements come - the pet's name and your surname; "Coco Smith to room five... Smudgey B---- to room six..."

The vet, who must have seen some pretty bad things in her time, winces as she looks at Smudgey's backside and tells us "This is serious" and that she is going to have to admit him for surgery. We're given the option of contacting a private vet at goodness knows what cost for doing surgery on a Sunday or leaving Smudgey at the semi-socialised not-for-profit hospital for an operation some time over the next two days.

We have seen how the truly ill and injured animals always take priority at the hospital, and are confident that they will operate on Smudgey before he deteriorates any further. We don't have a regular vet and would have less confidence in one picked at random from the phone book than one working at the Lort Smith. We book Smudgey into the hospital.

On Monday afternoon Jeff gets a welcome call from the Lort Smith hospital. They've operated on Smudgey, it wasn't as bad as expected and he will be ready to be picked up on Tuesday morning. The final bill, while not cheap, is a lot less than we expected and probably half that a private vet would have charged.