The Twinset – an Introduction.

My elderly neighbour asked that I knit her a cardigan. I affably agreed. A cardigan? No problem – I could do it in chunky yarn on large needles and have it over and done with in a flash. However when she handed me the money for yarn, my neighbour clarified that what she was actually after was a twinset.

Oh no.

For those of you blissfully unaware of what a twinset is, allow me to enlighten you.

Twinsets are knitting  relics of the 1950s (well, she is elderly) which consist of a long sleeved cardigan and a short sleeved vest. Usually, they are knitted in 3 ply on 3 mm needles by people who have way more time and patience than I do.

My first challenge was to find a pattern. I wasn’t looking for any old pattern – I wanted one that wasn’t too complicated and that would cope with me substituting a thicker yarn and bigger needles and not have the thing come out looking like spaghetti. My first stop was the internet and Ravelry.  It was only at that point that the awfulness of the task ahead of me started to sink in. There were not a lot of patterns, and most of them had camisoles rather than vests as the second garment. They were also all in tiny stitches and (in my humble opinion) really ugly. The rest of the internet, while good for porn and cute kittens, was no help.

I went to Yarn Over to purchase appropriate yarn and told Gabby of my troubles.  Bless her soul, she started pulling out all her vintage knitting books and helped me go through and find one that didn’t make me want to poke my eyes out. We agreed that it would take a heavier yarn and that I would be able to knit the smaller size on larger needles and it should come at the size I needed. (I am a very lazy knitter. I don’t know what more people don’t explore this option – I always use it with great success when knitting garments.)

It took some time for the yarn to arrive, which allowed me to behave like an untroubled yarny and make lovely blankets and baby jumpers and completely ignore the task ahead of me.

However the fateful day finally arrived – the yarn was delivered in it’s many metres of brownness (my neighbour likes plain colours) and I picked up my needles to begin.

34 rows of rib. Horrifically boring stuff.

Then came the lace pattern. The first five rows were a joy. I was enjoying the pattern (I always forget that I quite enjoy knitting lace), it was working out beautifully, the pattern was emerging and I was feeling pretty confident. So confident I didn’t check my stitches for a few rows. Then at row 16 I counted – I had mysteriously found an extra 8 stitches. I carefully ripped back 2 rows, but I was still in excess. Mortified, I decided the only thing to do was to rip back to the point I know I had enough stitches and start from there. What I then ended up with was a tangled mess, so I ripped back to the start of the lace and began again.

I have knitted row 9 4 times now with the same result. The pattern, it is definitely adding stitches – I haven’t stuffed up. The pattern itself doesn’t indicate that you should be increasing, hence my confusion.  I initially tried to amend the pattern so I was keeping my magic number of 109 stitches per row, and quickly figure out that doing that would mean I would have to amend every row after it as well. I’m now hoping that it corrects itself somewhere along the way, otherwise the shoulders are going to be three times the size of the waist.

I spent last night searching the internet for errata to no avail – no surprise really – the pattern I’m using was published in the 60s at the absolute latest.

So today I have already picked back two rows of work I completed last night, and will start on them again,  hoping that the people who wrote the pattern had more of a clue than I currently do.

At least I now have plastic needles to use rather than the anodised ones that set my teeth on edge.

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A Random Update

1. I still can’t knit due to the tendinitis in my arm. It’s a lot better than it was thanks to my boss lending me her splint, but I still want to cry when I forget and pick up something heavy with my left hand. At least I can write again.

2. Not knitting has caused me to develop a nervous tic in my eye, which I usually only reserve for super stressed out periods of my life.

3. Adoption and use of a Wii Fit has caused my waist line to shrink 7 cm in the last 2 weeks. Bullyah!

4. In spite of my attempts to draw or do a little art every day, I’m still crap at it. Perhaps 12 months of it will bring improvement. Perhaps not.

5.  I finished reading the complete Sherlock Holmes collection yesterday. It was so nice to read something written in proper English.

6. I’ve started reading the Hunger Games after a) reading some very enthusiastic posts on the interwebs about the upcoming movie and b) seeing a trailer for said movie. It’s written in present tense which bugged me quite badly at first. I’m enjoying it so far though.

7. In case I haven’t mentioned this, I really love my Kindle.

8. I was very upset this morning when my little girl raised her arm and I saw armpit hair. Surely 9 is way too young for this to be happening!

9. I’m going to see the Matisse exhibition at GOMA tomorrow. Looking forward to it!

10. To end on a very geeky note, 5 more sleeps till my first tutorial of 2012.

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Welcome to 2012

Okay, so I’m three weeks late with this post. Better late than never right?

2012 began with me refreshing my grasp on Contract law in preparation for my exam, which was this time last week. I’m very grateful that I now have a month of no study prior to uni starting again.

I managed to give myself tendinitis with my Christmas knitting.  I can’t make it go away, so I’ve had to put my needles down completely, which is sending me a tad whacky. Instead I’ve picked up a gazillion squares from Karen from Knitting for Brisbane’s Needy, and am entertaining myself by sewing them into blankets. My house looks as though a big, yarny bomb has hit it as there are squares and partially assembled blankets all over the place. The witchlet is dealing with it in her usual way – by pretending it doesn’t exist and avoiding the room where the majority of the yarn is.

I’m trying to get my Aussie Journals project up and running.  I have a few starter journals almost ready to go, and I will finalise the disclaimer when I have a bit more time next week after the witchlet returns to school. Aussie Journals is going to be a social experiment to record the thoughts, hopes and dreams of all manner of people around the country at this point in time. (If you are interested in participating, you can join the facebook group here or leave your email address in the comments and I’ll contact you directly.)

The other thing I’ve decided to work on this year is art related stuff. I wish I could draw or paint or do something art related, but I fear I am completely useless. I’ve taken lessons, and the last teacher I went to basically told me not to bother (I don’t think she liked me terribly much). After watching a documentary about a particular artist whose name escapes me, I’ve decided to keep trying, as surely I can’t get any worse. This guy slogged away at his art and took classes his entire life and really worked at his art.  I can’t expect to get any better without practice, so I’m endeavouring to draw something every day. I bought one of those wooden art mannequins to assist me in my quest. His name is Enrique, and he seems happy for me to ogle him for hours and to position him according to my whims, unlike most men. Or women, for that matter. I’m also messing around with paint and paper in an art journal type thing. It’s loads of fun, even if I have no idea what I’m doing. And that’s what life is all about, isn’t it?

I hope you also have loads of fun, even if you don’t know what you are doing.

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Why My Love for Weird Al will Never Die

I love Weird Al Yankovic. I have done since I was a little girl and first heard him on the radio – it was either Fat or Like a Surgeon. He is the one and only person I have seen perform live twice, and would absolutely see again if I could manage it.

In short, the man is a genius.

He can mock anyone well and straddles many music genres with ease. Most artists stay penned in their own genre and never set foot outside the fence. Al raps, croons, R & Bs and hip hops. He can mimic Madonna, Lady Gaga, Eminem, the Beach Boys and Michael Jackson with great flair. If that’s not enough for you, he also writes his own music in many different genres.

Not only does Weird Al comment on popular culture with gems such as Don’t Download this Song and Frank’s 2000 ” TV (released in the 90s but still very relevant today) but he records it for us as well.

Natalie Goldberg in her wonderful book Writing Down the Bones talks about the recording of the simple and mundane details such as the colour or pattern of a dress, what is eaten for dinner and so forth as being what really gives a story life and colour and makes us feel involved. Albuquerque and Trapped in the Drive Through are two songs that vibrate with minute details.

It’s All About the Pentiums records for us the moment in time the Pentium chip was introduced and the magical life that was brought to us being freed from the much slower processors. “You’re using a 286 – don’t make me laugh!” How long did it take to boot up those old 286 computers? About 15 minutes and a hand crank if I remember correctly.

eBay records the frenzy around eBay and the stupid things that people decide to buy because they are in a different forum and the social attitude towards this particular media.

White and Nerdy is a beautiful ode to the computer geek, with a wonderfully accurate portrayal of what your average geek is obsessed with, as well as how they are perceived by the general public (not just the gangstas).

The other reason I love Al is that he’s just damned funny. Please enjoy Trigger Happy on You Tube. As this is an original, there is no film clip to go with it.

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Big Fat Ugly Failure

A beloved TV show for me is Spaced, the first project worked on by Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright before they moved on to Shaun of the Dead (my all time favourite movie) and Hot Fuzz.

In one scene, Daisy is being “comforted” by her alleged best friend Twist, who pats her on the back and says gently, “Now Daisy, stop feeling like a big, fat, ugly failure. Everything will be fine.” Prior to Twist putting those words in her head, Daisy probably wasn’t thinking anything of the sort. Afterwards, you are aware that was all she was thinking.

That scene leapt into my mind when I got my results yesterday and discovered I had failed contracts, my least favourite subject, and the one I was most stressed about.

So yesterday I ate half a block of Old Gold peppermint chocolate and listened to Weird Al, feeling like a big, fat, ugly failure. Fortunately the combination of Weird Al and Old Gold appears to have restorative powers and I’m much less depressed today.

This is my first ever fail. Ever. I didn’t fail anything in high school. Technically I did fail a subject in education, but that was because I didn’t complete the assessment as I had made the decision to change streams. It was certainly not the body blow to my ego that this has been.

The most difficult thing for me about taking on law is that I’ve gone from being a student who gets 6s and 7s to one who scrapes through (or doesn’t, as the current case may be). My ego is definitely taking a battering.

Failure, however, seems to be par for the course in many ways. I have come into contact with plenty of students who are smart and work hard, yet who have failed at least one subject. So I do know I am not alone. I have to remember I’m no longer faffing around in an arts degree, and that law is full of some of the highest achieving students in the state, amongst whom I am no more than average.

I am very hopeful I will pick up the 5% I need to pass in the supplementary exam and I won’t need to repeat the subject. Fingers crossed ….

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Knitting in Public

Yesterday I did some knitting in public.

This is not terribly unusual behaviour for me, I will knit in public at the drop of a hat. Yesterday, my location was what made my activities somewhat unusual.

I was knitting in public in a Bob Jane T-Mart waiting room.

This clearly breached the expectations of every man sitting in the waiting room with me. Not only was there a woman in male territory, but she was doing something that no self-respecting Aussie man would stoop to do. The cheek! When more men came in, they sat as far away from me as they possibly could – which didn’t last for long as there are a limited number of chairs in that particular waiting room. And none of them looked at me, not even a minute glance in my direction. It was as though they suspected the non-male madness might be catching.

This is a very different reaction than the one I generally get from men when I knit in not male-specific territory. Just the evening previously, I had a gentleman in a restaurant catch my eye and nod and smile at me when I pulled out my knitting when it took the witchlet over an hour to finish her plate of food.

One gentleman – the employee who was looking after my car – did make comment, and said that he simply wouldn’t have the patience to knit. I didn’t point out that he must have had patience to sit in the tattooists chair for many hours to get his full sleeve done. I also didn’t point out that I knit in waiting rooms because I’m not a patient person, and I couldn’t understand how all the people in there with me were able to sit quietly and do nothing. Five minutes is about my limit for doing nothing, at which point I start to figet like a crazy person.

I achieved a lot during my wait. I got to the heel of my sock, and I messed with the demographic. Mission accomplished.

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To Knit or Not to Knit …

That is the question … although not much of one to be honest.

Unless you have been living a) under a rock or b) in a non-Christian country, you will be aware that this particular celebration is drawing nigh.

I am not a Christian, and I confess that Christmas shits me, but possibly not for the reasons you might think. I will preface my following comments by saying that I do have lovely Christian friends who don’t fall into the below categories. My observations are based on society in general.

The Christian catch-cry at this time of year is “peace on earth and goodwill to all men”. Firstly, they don’t really tend to mean “all men”, they tend to mean a specific sub-section of the community. If you are Muslim, Jewish, Hindu, Buddhist, Sikh or belong to one of the other religions on the planet, goodwill and peace are not for you.

Secondly, they struggle to extend the goodwill they talk about to their own sub-section of the community for more than the morning of Christmas Day. Check out the pre-Christmas sales. There is precious little peace or goodwill extended as people elbow each other out the way to get the best deals for their pockets, with little or no concern for the state of their souls. Over the weekend in the States, one of the most “Christian” countries I can think of, shoppers were pulling out mace to spray at each other. So possibly we can amend our catch cry to “peace on earth and goodwill to those who don’t shit me and stay out of my way.”

Christmas has turned into a showy Capitalist ritual where the mass marketing machine of the media encourages us to spend every last cent and put ourselves deeply into debt, and those who buy into the current ethos of “whoever dies with the most stuff wins” cleverly do what the media tells them.

My budget is a tad tight this year, and I have been contemplating how to “do” Christmas on the cheap. And I have decided that knitting will save me this year.

At this time of year, I do wish that we lived in a cooler climate where I could get away with knitting every present I required. How good would it be to be able to churn out beanies, cowls and mittens, which would be useful and cherished items, rather than things which are stored until winter and then possibly not pulled out at all if it doesn’t end up getting cold enough to warrant it. Fortunately, with cotton being much easier to get your hands on, knitting is a tenable option for Christmas, for female gifts at least.

Knitting for men is, in my experience, frustrating and futile. They tend not to appreciate it, and they are so big it takes forever. This is probably more a statement about the mentality of men here in Brisbane where hats are barely acceptable for warmth let alone for decoration. The one interesting exception I have noticed to this rule is amongst males in their late teens and early twenties, who have taken a shine to those peruvian knit hats with plaits that extend off the ear flaps. I often wonder what these young men would say if their mothers had given these to them and insisted they wore them, rather than having picked them up in the local surf shop.

So, rather than joining the scrum at the shrine of capitalist worship , I shall be immersing myself in lovely soft yarns, and shiny needles which make a very satisfying clicky sound, and possibly some very bad television. I know who will have the better time.

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My ISP Adventures

The time has come, the ISP said, to talk of many things. Of phone lines, Gigs and Megs and download speed and cabbages and kings.

Well, so I thought, anyway.

I received an email from my ISP saying that my contract had come to an end and I should probably renew my contract or sod off.

Sodding off was my preference, due to the fact that my ex-boyfriend set up the account and I wouldn’t have touched this ISP with a 10 foot pole if it had anything to do with me. So off I went on my journey to find a new, shiny ISP more to my liking, with competant customer service staff and a product better suited to my needs (the kicker here being that I want ….. a home phone connection.)

Virgin was my first choice. They don’t do home phones anymore.

AAPT – taken over by iinet.

I called iinet and spoke to a lovely boy called Morgan, who advised me that unfortunately they could only plug into lines owned by Telstra, and, as the lines in my area are owned by Optus, I would have to call Telstra and hook up with them in order to go with iinet. Seriously?

I checked out Dodo and iPrimus as I was getting a little desperate at this point. I would rather carve out my own spleen than set up an account with Telstra. Unfortunately Dodo and iPrimus charge amazing amounts for relatively small downloads (10 G is was I was looking for. A hundred bucks?? I don’t think so!)

Really desperate now, I called Optus. Yes, they had something they could sign me up to. I was on the phone to them for an hour to get through to the department who organises to remove your money from your account. A lovely boy by the name of Benjamin checked the local lines and advised that I could only get long distance calls in this area (no local calls), would I like to go ahead and sign up? Actually, no, I wouldn’t.

So, after determining that I hated Telstra more than I hated my current ISP, I spoke to a TPG “Customer Service” person. Apparently her name was Mezz, but the connection, which I’m assuming is to somewhere in Bangalore, was a bit fuzzy, so I could be mistaken. I read her out the email I had been sent. She told me it was entirely incorrect, I still had a month on my contract and after that it could be renewed on a monthly basis. If I wanted to change my plan I could do that online. Anything else? (Because I was clearly the idiot.)

So, who would have thought that every other ISP is more useless than TPG. It sure surprised the shit out of me.

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Brain fart with some whinging

One more sleep till my criminal law exam. I wasn’t terribly concerned about it last week with both Torts and Contracts looming large, but now it’s here I am concerned about it and feeling under prepared.  The sentencing portion is doing my head in a little because of the difference in structure to the rest of it (sorry Nigel!) Still I have my notes, and all I have to do is walk through the sections and apply them to the facts. Right? Right.

Then on Tuesday I have my Foundations exam which I really haven’t prepared for. I have heard on the grapevine that it is supposed to be “easy”. The question is, what does easy actually mean. Does it mean you’ll be a shoe in if you attended all the lectures, did the course work devotedly and turned up to each tutorial. What if you listened to the lectures, attended a couple of tutorials and then didn’t bother any more because it bored you stupid and you had better things to do with your time (like working on crim, contracts and torts)? The”test” questions seem pretty easy, but they could just be lulling us into a false sense of security before taking us down in the exam. *Sigh*.

Being tired and stressed is having it’s normal effect on me – ie my eyes are so swollen and watery I can barely see and would love to lie down with a nice cold cloth on them, but who has the time. Also, summer appears to have kicked in in good old Brisvegas. The heat I’m not bothered about, but the humidity is also having its usual effect on me, which is to make my arthritis misbehave. It does this by making the most effected joints swell like balloons and making things like walking loads of fun. Lying down and letting the fluid drain out of them would be the best thing to do, but who has the time. So, I very cleverly used my knowledge of essential oils to employ a diuretic. Very cleverly, I put some rosemary oil on my foot in order to get the fluid moving. However, I accidentally employed two drops of oil (damn fast dripper bottles) instead of one. This has resulted in making me  incredibly thirsty. So here’s a lesson to all you boys and girls out there – never apply an essential oil straight to your skin without a carrier oil (except for lavender). It’s the one rule I never really bother with, and then end up wishing that I had.

Have an awesome day, whatever you are up to.

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Showing up for Success

Returning to full-time study this year has, let’s face it, completely stressed me out. Exams are looming, which is not helping me feel comfortable and relaxed.

I am learning slowly that law is a very different breed of study to anything I have tackled before. It’s a lot of hard work, there is a ton of reading and the amount of pedancy required in the answers to questions makes even my eyes water. Having been used to 6s and 7s in the last tertiary degree I tackled, I’ve been finding the continual string of 4s and 5s in spite of the amount of study time I’ve been putting in downright depressing.

I shared this particular feeling with a woman in my crim class this week. “Hey,” she said to me,” I think we are doing a bloody good job by still showing up.” And frankly, she has a point.

Being a mature age student comes with it’s own range of challenges which are different to those faced by younger students. The financial considerations are the obvious ones, but the giving up of so much of your personal life is something most people don’t think about.  Study, and law in particular, is far from a nine to five, five day a week event. Sleep, hobbies, family life, all these things take a pretty intense battering. All this and I’m giving myself a hard time because I’m passing.

Showing up is one of the fundamental things you need to do to succeed.  No matter how much background work you actually do, without showing up, it will all be for naught. So much is said about being in the right place at the right time. If you don’t make the effort to get to the right place, you will never find the synchronicity of the right time to go with it.

Working hard is all well and good but sending oneself insane with it does not serve any purpose at all, and can even be detrimental if other aspects of ones life suffer due to excessive focus elsewhere.

So my challenge going forward is to be easier on myself and be proud of the fact that I am passing. And to not underestimate the power of showing up.

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