| Friday, August 31, 2007
We are officially *on*, folks! Tapestry Craft will be hosting a book signing with renowned knitting author and designer Nicky Epstein in two weeks. The details:
When: Friday, September 14, 2007 at 3:30pm
Where: Tapestry Craft knitting department, 50 York Street, Sydney
We're going to have as many of her titles available to buy as possible, and they'll all be sold at the recommended retail price. So if you've ever wanted to get them, this is the time! Hope to see you there.
Update: Just heard from Nicky's PR people, and she wants to do an hour-long demonstration for us! So the demo will be from 3:30-4:30, and then she'll sign books for people.
Thursday, August 30, 2007
Wednesday, August 29, 2007
This little fella didn't quite make it in time for the Fifties Fair last weekend, which is all the better really because now I get to keep him! He's awfully cute, isn't he? (Until you remember that he has a teapot up his bum, at which point it becomes disturbing.) The pattern is free online and purports to be from 1937. That might explain why I had so much difficulty following it. It reads like it's supposed to have a picture, but since it doesn't (except for a random illustration) you're knitting blind most of the time. You also have to do weird things like knit the two body pieces sideways. Anyway, I had to change a few things: 1) The nose. The shape they give is just perplexing and it didn't look at all like a real koala. So I went with more of an egg shape. 2) The neck. The opening at the top of the cosy is waaaay bigger than the head, so I had to cinch it up a lot. That's why I knitted him a patriotic scarf to hide the ugly join. 3) There's an error when you get to the second row of openings on the front. It should be on rows 67-68, not 66-67. Lastly, this makes for a pretty big tea cosy. I had to pad ours with a dishtowel just to get it to fill out his shape. Using 4ply and smaller needles would give you a smaller koala.
And that is IT for tea cosies for about the NEXT TEN YEARS!
Chrystalla burst into the office waving frantically.
Her: That knitting author... You know, the Epstein lady?!
Me: Who, Nicky Epstein? What about her?
Her: SHE'S HERE!
And that's how I met Nicky Epstein, famous author of books such as Knitting on the Edge and many more. She and her husband just got into Sydney yesterday, and Tapestry Craft was one of their first stops. They're so nice! Nicky's writing a new book on knitting in Australia and they're doing research for it. Then she's heading to Melbourne for the start of the 2007 Vogue Knitting tour of Australia and New Zealand, which she's hosting. They'll be back in Sydney in a couple weeks, so I suggested that we should host an event for them! Nicky gave me the PR contact details so hopefully we can set something up. I'll let you know as soon as things are decided...
Yesterday I realized that I had over 3000 messages in my Gmail Inbox, and that the items that needed action (replies, etc) were being buried in the pile. It was time to declare email bankruptcy. So I clicked on "Select: All", and then clicked the option to select everything in my Inbox. Then I clicked the "Archive" button. Voila! It's all gone. Then I created a new label called "@Pending" (the @ symbol is to make it get listed first alphabetically). I went through the archive and found the stuff that needed action, adding it to the "@Pending" list. I've now got a sparklingly empty Inbox and a pending list of 14 things that need my attention. When new messages come in, I'm forcing myself to decide immediately whether it requires action, and if it doesn't, whether I'm going to archive or delete. I can already feel the psychic benefits of being so organised; it's like a big source of guilt has been removed just by hiding all those old messages. I recommend it!
Tuesday, August 28, 2007
My sister has finally dropped her bombshell, so I guess it's okay to break radio silence. (IT'S BEEN KILLING ME.) That ain't her gallbladder, folks! (Though it bears more than a passing resemblance.) Yes, yours truly is going to be an aunt AGAIN. Though it's a little sooner than they'd planned, Amy and Dan will be welcoming another undoubtedly adorable baby to the world next April. And with my brother and his wife due later this year... we've got babies popping up everywhere! (But not here.) MAZEL TOV!
* Last year when we were all questioning the name "Penn," my sister jokingly told me that they needed to have him a sister named "Stella" to complete the pun. I think this would be BRILLIANT.
I can't help it. I've been sucked in again. The guys on Sunday were pretty boring though, with the exception of crazy-ass Husny. The girls were a lot better. Tarisai and Cheray were my favorites, but I thought Lana did pretty well too. (I'm hoping Cheray will make it as a wildcard.) Tonight my favorites were definitely Ben the Emo Kid and Marty the Hot Surfer. (I'm downloading Marty's song as we speak.) I may even have to throw them some votes...
"Linley, dear, 2005 called and they said to leave the Feathers in the past where it belongs." [more...]
Monday, August 27, 2007
Finishing the Bryson book last week put me in the perfect mood for the Fifties Fair yesterday. The Snook and I caught the train to Turramurra and then the shuttle bus over to the Rose Seidler House. Luckily we'd followed advice and gotten there relatively early, so we didn't have to wait long to get in. We ran into Morgan and some of the other Sydney photobloggers pretty quickly. After delivering the tea cosies to the Snook's aunt's stall (as pictured), we set off to see the sights. I've put a few photos up on Flickr. Yeah, there were a lot of dressed up hipsters. Some of the costumes were great, though a lot of the tats and hair colours were pretty anachronistic! We also met up with Amy, Rob, and Bex (who has a sadly unflattering photo of yours truly here). I'm sure there'll be more photos popping up soon...
I needed a pit of a pick-me-up after the nightmare that was American Psycho, so I cracked open Bill Bryson's latest book, The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid. It was just what I needed. (Not quite a unicorn chaser, but pretty close.) It's basically just Bryson talking about his childhood growing up in the 50's in Des Moines, Iowa, a place and time that are now so remote to us that Bryson can approach it like one of his other travel books. Since we saw the author in person earlier this year, it was as if I could hear his actual voice reading this one out loud. My favorite part was his several-years-long struggle to get into the "stripper tent" at the Iowa State Fair. His friend Stephen Katz (from A Walk in the Woods) makes an appearance towards the end. Overall it was a quick and pleasant read, though I'd still rank Down Under (known as In a Sunburned Country in the US) as his funniest. (And that's not because I live here; I read it while we were still back in England.) If you're the type of person that enjoys the gentle, nostalgic humor of A Christmas Story, then you'll like this book.
Saturday, August 25, 2007
DUDE! I was just googling for a particular knitting book online, and I found a UK shop called HCS Crafts. Um, notice anything familiar about that site? They completely ripped us off. (I saved a screenshot for posterity.) As you might imagine, I immediately fired off a rather terse e-mail.
As I see it, there are three main problems here. The first is website design theft. They've copied the way part of our site looks in a really obvious way. (Also, RANDOM. They're in the UK but there's an embroidery of the Sydney Opera House? Did they even look at what they were doing?) This isn't really a "crime" that you can do anything about, other than naming and shaming. (Hence this post.) The second and third issues are a bit more serious. That header with the embroidery and the wool and the red rick-rack? That actually comes from a printed advertisement that we've been running in Sydney hotels for a number of years. A printed advertisement that is copyrighted and which we never gave any permission for anyone else to use. Lastly we have the fact that they've taken our shop logo, the actual trademarked image that we have on a sign in front of the shop, and simply replaced the words "Tapestry Craft" with their own. Yeah. You're really not allowed to do that.
So of course this is all very flattering, especially since I'm the crappiest website designer ever. But hey! Now that I've been ripped off, I've got industry cred!
Update: They seem to have taken it down now. Evidently naming-and-shaming works!
* Possibly Sexist Digression: Sadly, it really does seem to be mostly women that have this attitude. I've never once heard a guy - whether a knitter or not - express a belief that knitting is hard. They may think it's girly or beneath them, but they'd never say they weren't smart enough to do it. Guys seem to figure that if other people have worked it out, they can too. WOMEN NEED TO ADOPT THIS ATTITUDE.
Friday, August 24, 2007
Thursday, August 23, 2007
Wednesday, August 22, 2007
Look, I like to help people. And I get that some people need a little hand-holding with their knitting. But jeez, it drives me up the wall when someone wastes fifteen minutes of my time simply because they cannot be BOTHERED reading the pattern that's in front of them. They see something new, and they just immediately shut down without even following the instructions. I just had my second person in here in as many weeks trying to do short rows, and they both had the same problem: They're functionally illiterate. I get that short rows are a little weird to get your head around, which is why most patterns (especially easier ones like Patons and Cleckheaton) spell out exactly what you have to do in excruciating detail. "Note: When turning, move yarn to front between needles, slip next stitch from left-hand needle to right-hand needle, move yarn to back between needles, slip stitch back from right-hand needle to left-hand needle." Yeah, it's wordy, but it's all RIGHT THERE. You can give it a try. With this woman just now, I ended up having to stand over her shoulder and read it out to her while she did exactly what I said. "Oh, so that's how you do it." Yeah, you just DO EXACTLY WHAT IT SAYS. What's so freaking difficult about that? Harrumph.
Number five is done, folks! This one took less than a day from start to finish. The pattern is free online and I think it's just about the funniest thing I've ever knit. I used scraps of 8ply yarn (held double throughout) on 5.5mm needles. It fits a fairly small teapot, so you'd have to size up the pattern for a bigger pot. The eyes and beak are cut out of felt, and the white pupils are buttons.
Tuesday, August 21, 2007
Thanks to everyone for their interview help yesterday. It went really well. I'm not at liberty to discuss it right now - as I'm sure you'll understand! - but things are looking really good. Please keep your fingers crossed for me!
I occasionally get e-mails from people from my high school class, most of whom are just idly Googling and stumble across my site. They say "hey," and I say "hey," and that's that. Not long ago though, I heard from someone I used to be good friends with: Holli Wallace.* Holli wanted to ask me a favor. She and her husband Brian have family and friends with lupus, so Brian is running a fifty-mile ultramarathon next month to raise money for the Lupus Foundation of America. (I can't even begin to fathom how hard that would be. That's SIX TIMES farther than my farthest run ever. Insane.) Brian's set up a weblog to document his training and help raise awareness of the cause. Holli asked if I would mind throwing them a link... and duh, of course I will. In fact, I'll be donating some cash as well. So if you need an excuse to do a good deed this month, go donate at Brian's site, okay?
* Incidentally, I have a great photo of Holli that I took on our 8th grade camping trip to Pokagon, where she's lying on the beach and looking back upside-down at me. I always thought it would make a great album cover. Man, I should find that and e-mail it to her...
Monday, August 20, 2007
This is officially Number Four, folks! This pattern is actually called "Delphie" (no idea why) and it's from Patons Craft Book No. C.18. The book actually belongs to Ma Snook, who purchased it way back in the 1950's, I believe. I'm still using up oddments of 8ply yarn on 4mm needles. This cosy was mostly knit while watching the TV movie of Pratchett's Hogfather; hence the Christmas colours.
Big interview in less than 24 hours. Have you ever been asked a particularly good - or bad - job interview question? This company is known for being rigorous, so I want to prepare as much as possible. Any questions or suggestions you could throw my way would be appreciated!
Sunday, August 19, 2007
Saturday, August 18, 2007
Well, the Great Tea Cosy Challenge was on shaky ground there for a while, as it looked like Auntie Linda might not do the stall after all. Happily, I've just found out we're back on... and I've just finished my third cosy! This is another one I found on Ravelry, and it's a free pattern from Bernat (though you do have to register on their site). I used less than two balls of Cleckheaton Country 8ply on 4mm needles, and the only significant change I made in the pattern was to knit the top shaping bit in the round (rather than sewing it up). I also used i-cord to make the loop at the top rather than crocheting one. Onwards and upwards!
Friday, August 17, 2007
Last night I joined Miss Fee and Eva at Kinokuniya for a book reading by author Mark Crick. Mark's book is called Kafka's Soup and it's billed as "A Complete History of World Literature in 14 Recipes." Basically, it's a little cookbook and each recipe is written in the style of a famous author. As foodies and book lovers, we couldn't say no. Mark read aloud from Irvine Welsh's Chocolate Cake, and we all giggled as he slurred his way through a passable imitation of a drunken Scotsman comparing the preparation of a chocolate cake to cooking up heroin. (We also got to have little pieces of the cake; it was lovely.) Afterwards we dutifully queued up to get our books signed, and though for most people he scribbled a polite "Bon Appetit!", the three of us requested - and were granted - X-rated quotes from the Irvine Welsh. It was a fun evening. Thanks to the girls for accompanying me, and to Miss Fee for taking the picture!
Update: Onsite interview booked for Tuesday morning. EEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!! [more...]
Last night I suddenly remembered that the City 2 Surf photos were available, so I looked up our bib numbers to see what they had. The first one of me was pretty good, with me chugging along and half of the Snook visible on the side. The second one? Not so good. In fact, I laughed and laughed and laughed. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the Funniest. Running Pose. Ever. [more...]
Thursday, August 16, 2007
Wednesday, August 15, 2007
O what to make for dinner on a cold and rainy night? I had a flash of inspiration: Cincinnati Chili. (Or as I knew it from college: "the chili they have at Steak N Shake.") According to various web histories, this dish was created and popularized by Greek immigrants in Ohio in the first half of the 20th century. Basically, it's a version of chili served on top of spaghetti, with lots more toppings piled on. My version tonight was quick and bastardized (based on this recipe), and I'm sure the purists are writhing in agony. To begin with, I didn't BOIL my hamburger for two hours or puree it in the food processor. I forgot to add the chocolate. And I put the beans in the sauce rather than serve them on the side. Whatever; it was still pretty tasty. We had ours as "Chili Three-Way," with shredded cheddar cheese piled on top. YUM!
In other food-related news, I discovered a great new Asian food blog last week while googling for a mapo tofu recipe. I even waylaid the staff at our local Chinese grocery to help me track down fermented black beans. I was bummed that I couldn't find authentic Sichuan peppercorns... until the Snook came home and revealed he had some hidden in the spice cupboard. (Who knew?) The mapo tofu turned out EXCELLENT, so good I forgot to take pictures in our haste to gobble it up. But mine looked just like that guy's photo anyway. Highly recommended.
Tuesday, August 14, 2007
Remember the amazing apartment I found online last week? The Snook and I went to check it out on Saturday (along with three other places in the neighborhood). To make a long story short: It wasn't my dream apartment after all. The first thing we noticed when we arrived was that I was not the only person pulled in by those photos. There had to be a hundred people there for the viewing, and we had to wait in a queue just to take the lift up. The photos weren't misleading or anything; the place still looked gorgeous. The biggest problem for us was the kitchen, which wasn't pictured (for good reason). It just hadn't been done up to the standard of the rest of the place, and it would need a major overhaul to be what we'd like. Also, the bedroom faced full west, and even on this cool spring day it was noticeably warmer in there. (It would be sweltering in the summer.) So, lesson learned. I'm going to try hard not to get emotionally attached to any place I haven't inspected with my own eyes; it's too easy to be misled.
In other news... I have a phone interview this Friday. I don't want to talk it up too much in case I jinx it, but it's with my #1 Dream Company to Work For. I'm nervous but excited. Any positive thoughts you could send my way - be it prayers, The Secret, whatever - would be much appreciated!
Monday, August 13, 2007
Since I had the day off (and I could barely walk on account of the soreness) I spent several hours finishing off Bret Easton Ellis's American Psycho. I found it... disturbing, to say the least. At one point today, I actually said aloud to the cat: "But I thought porn was banned in Australia?" According to Wikipedia, this book is "classified R18" in Australia and should be "sold shrink-wrapped" only to those above 18 years of age. (The state of Queensland bans it entirely.) Um, I bought my used and well-thumbed copy for $1.50 from a CHURCH BOOK FAIR. Did they not know what they were selling me? Or is it a conversion tool, meant to scare unwary readers into a religious epiphany? Because that might work. [more...]
I've just finished my second tea cosy for the aforementioned Great Tea Cosy Challenge. I also found this one on Ravelry, and the pattern is available online. (There are two mistakes though; I'll list them after the jump.) It was kinda fun knitting something without a picture to refer to. I wasn't quite sure what it was going to look like! I also had my first go at making pompoms. This cosy features an open top with a drawstring, which is nice if you've got a particularly odd-shaped lid or a handle on top. Even using 4mm needles and 8ply yarn, this is still a fairly large cosy. We only have small teapots, so I fudged the photo by propping our little pot up on a dishtowel. In terms of yarn, I again used some random cheap acrylic that I found in the bottom of my stash. (I'd never purposefully buy acrylic now that I'm a yarn-store-workin' fiber snob!) Anyway, that's two down! [more...]
Sunday, August 12, 2007
Old American Guy: Excuse me. I just flew into Sydney today. Is there a race on or something?
Me: Yep. The City 2 Surf. Largest fun run in the world.
Him: Where does it go?
Me: From in the city here all the way out to Bondi Beach. It's like more than 8 miles. And hey, you sound like me!
Him: Where are you from?
Him: Did you fly all the way here just for this race??
I wish I'd said, "Yeah, I'm the favorite to win." But instead I said, "No, I live here. I'm just waiting now for my husband to pick up his stupid race number."
Anyway, the Snook got his number and we took our positions in the Back of the Pack. (Last year we started in an earlier group, but the Snook had left his registration too late this year. So we were in the big group with the walkers and the strollers and the freaks in gorilla suits.) The gun went off and it probably took us twenty minutes just to get up to the starting line. We were literally in the last 500 people (out of more than 64,000) to start the race. I'll tell you what though - running with the fatties and the babies sure makes you feel like you're flying! We ran pretty much all the way to the tunnel at the end of Williams Street. After that, we alternated between jogging on the flat and downhill sections, and brisk walking on the hills. We passed thousands of people. In Double Bay I was thrilled to see the same 80's hair band rockin' out on the pub roof as they did last year. We made an effort to use the drinks stations more this year (it was a beautiful, hot sunny day) and I was checking our pace pretty frequently with the Nike+ iPod kit. Heartbreak Hill was hard, but mentally I was just so much more prepared this year. (At one point, Rodd commented that "This is where you pretty much broke down last year." I laughed and started jogging again.) We were both hurting on our descent into Bondi, and I'd been nursing a mild stitch since the 3km mark. But we persevered. The Snook knew just how to motivate me, letting me set the pace and pointing out other racers that he knew I would hate to let beat me, like the "Peaky Striders" (a walking group of old women in bright orange shirts who kicked my butt at several events last year) and the inevitable dork in a gorilla suit. We sprinted the last bit to the finish line, raising our arms for what should (hopefully) be a pretty awesome photograph. Our revised goal for the day had been to average less than ten minutes a kilometer, and thanks to all the jogging we did, we pretty much smashed it. The iPod registered a time of 2:01:30, which works out to a pace of 8:48 per kilometer. So that's a little slower than last year, but better than expected considering our injuries and lack of training. Getting home was the usual headache of endless queues and bus rides, and we stumbled in nearly six hours after we'd left. After a shower and a sandwich, I was off to the masseuse for some much needed relaxation... And now we're both dealing with the inevitable aches and pains. But we did it!
Saturday, August 11, 2007
Ma Snook called up the other night to confirm that Rodd's Auntie is indeed having a booth at this year's Fifties Fair, and would I mind making some knitted pieces for it? I decided to turn it into a challenge: Just how many tea cosies can one woman knit in two weeks? I polished off the first one in two days. I found the pattern through Ravelry and it's available online. I used some leftover Gryffindor scarf yarn for the red and yellow, and some cheap Kmart acrylic for the green. I think the effect is definitely kitschy and cute. On to the next one!
Friday, August 10, 2007
As I mentioned before, my friend Brigita had a baby (named Violet!) and I wanted to make her something. So last week I cracked open Debbie Bliss's Baby Cashmerino 2 and cast on for the "Cardigan with Moss Stitch Edging." It's a very quick little knit, especially when you modify it to the knit the body on a circular up to the armholes. I had three balls of Baby Cashmerino in colour #340010, but when I finished I found I had at least half a ball left over. That means booties! These are from a pattern I had in my Ravelry queue called "Saartje's Bootees." (It's a free download on that site.) Again, very quick to knit. And aren't the little wooden buttons just perfect? We actually had them at the shop and I couldn't resist. I'll be sending this off to Brigita today... I hope Violet likes it!
Next up are my "GVH Conwy Socks." Conwy is a pattern from Knitting on the Road, and while I still like the look of it, it wasn't that fun to knit. The little twisting cables just get really, really boring. I used Colinette Jitterbug in the Velvet Damson colourway on 2.75mm needles. And as you will remember, I ran short. I couldn't bring myself to frog them back though, so I used some leftover Sirdar Town & Country to finish the toes... Hence the "GVH" (i.e. "Graft Versus Host"). They're a little bit Frankenstein, aren't they? I still love the Jitterbug colour though, and I'm definitely going to wear them.
Thursday, August 9, 2007
Wednesday, August 8, 2007
Tuesday, August 7, 2007
It's five days til the 2007 City2Surf, and the Snook and I are once again taking part. We'd hoped to better our times from last year, but the combination of my hamstring injury and his laziness have meant that we haven't done much training. We'll do our best on the day, but realistically I think we'll be walking most of it. There's still time if you'd like to sponsor us, though, and I hope you'll be cheering us on this Sunday! (Is it time to start carb-loading yet? Mmm, delicious carbs...)
Monday, August 6, 2007
I'm finally getting to the end of these darn socks I'm knitting for the Snook - "Conwy" from Knitting on the Road, for those who care - and I hit a bit of a snag tonight. I'd been watching with some anxiety as the small ball of Jitterbug disappeared just a little too quickly through the foot. Tonight I had to face facts. I did not have enough yarn to finish the toes. So... to frog or not to frog? To be honest, this pattern really bored me. I didn't think I can face doing the whole heel and foot again. So in desperation, I threw in some navy Town & Country I had in my stash. It looks rather bodgy, but I think I kinda like it. I told the Snook proudly tonight that I've decided to name the finished pattern "Graft Versus Host". I'll post pictures as soon as I weave the ends closed...
Sunday, August 5, 2007
The Snook and I ventured down to Gleebooks yesterday to cash in my gift certificate and take advantage of the secret "Harry Potter's birthday" sale they have going on. (If you show your train ticket, you get 17% off.) I was armed with a long list of your book recommendations. We dove into the stacks and soon realized that they only had about a third of the titles I was looking for.* Here's what I ended up getting: The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay by Michael Chabon; The Accidental by Ali Smith; Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides; and The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid by Bill Bryson. The Snook also picked up two fantasy books. As we headed home, we noticed that St. Barney's were having their annual fair day and book sale. I picked up secondhand copies of American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis; Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer; Around the World in 80 Days (illustrated!) by Jules Verne; and a couple others as well. Thanks to everyone who gave me recommendations; I'll be on the lookout for the other books when I finish these!
* I like Gleebooks a lot, and I want to support local businesses, but man, their shop really isn't designed for people who know what they want. It's just such a jumble. If you're a browser it's brilliant, but when I have a shopping list I much prefer the Kinokuniya system of being able to look up exactly where a book is located. And Gleebooks doesn't seem to keep much of a back catalog either... :(
Saturday, August 4, 2007
Friday, August 3, 2007
Thursday, August 2, 2007
Wednesday, August 1, 2007
Snook: I think you need this. It's Dawson's "crying face" in animated GIF form!
Me: And that's why I love you.
Edited to add: The Snook doesn't really get it. Maybe it's my raging headache, but I just found it kind of funny. It's from this webcomic. And, incidentally, I SO need this one printed on a T-shirt.
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