Monday, September 24, 2007

Who murders who, and where is the treasure hid?

I've just added another item to the sidebar (scroll down a bit), a list of the last six books I've read.

Awfully fond of you

Further proof that I am a sucker for the knitting of the sock: I may have been influenced in the purchase of these shoes by their potential for showing off hand-knitted socks.

In my defence, they were discounted. And more importantly I have one other pair of Skechers which I have practically lived in since I bought them. So comfortable, largely because unlike most fashion sneakers, they have a decent arch support. (These are less sneaker-ish than the others but have the exact same sole).

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Behind the times

This was my stick-on numberplate. Sweaty!

This is what I did last Sunday - the Canberra Times Family Fun Run. I'd only ever done this once before, when I was in year 10. I hadn't done much running back then. I remember shuffling all the way without walking, and every kilometre a different body part began to hurt.

Click for bigger, if you really want to.

This time was a much better experience. I squeaked in in just under an hour which was all I hoped for, really, kept running the whole way without having to walk (10km), and finished 1376 out of 2230. So I am a slow runner, but it's easy to feel slow when you're running with a crowd of 2000+ of Canberra's fittest people. The weather was perfect, sunny and cool. The last km was the hardest, and when I finished I felt quite sick for a minute or two. Then, suddenly, I wanted to run it again! Faster! Bring on the city to surf! The marathon! (endorphin rush + thrill of achievement). I tried to keep mobile through the day but ended up very creaky and sore that night and the next day. All better by Tuesday, though, and I ran again today (about 5km). So I feel that I have some level of conditioning for running, which is nice. I will try to build up my distance and speed a bit before the next fun run.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Gotta be big!

A while ago, way back in (whoa!) July, I offered two pink-and-purple pots to the first two people who said they liked them. Donna Lee mentioned that she was seeking to bring more pink into her life.

After I offered to send her the pot, we went one better and decided to swap some yarn and other goodies. With the help of her family, Donna Lee immediately set to putting together a lovely package of local goodies from New Jersey and nearby areas. It's only now that I've finally got my parcel on its way to Donna Lee that I'm showing off what I got!

Two gorgeous natural colours of alpaca yarn. Tofutsies sock wool, an unusal blend of wool, soysilk, cotton and chitin (made from shrimp and crab shells, and apparently naturally antibacterial!). A book of New Jersey ghost stories, which was an excellent pick for me, I love ghost stories, I'm reading one, Blue Dahlia at the moment. A pinecone from her backyard. Delicious lemon green tea, which turned out to be the excuse I was waiting for to buy a teapot, thus allowing me to cast on for the wacky aran cabled teacosy from Yarn magazine.

And, salt water taffy from Atlantic City! I had heard of this but had no idea what it was. It's delicious! Not salty exactly, but not super sweet either.

We just might have eaten a few pieces before this picture was taken.

Donna Lee, it was lovely. Not just receiving a parcel of wonderful stuff, but also figuring out what I should send your way. Thanks!

Friday, September 14, 2007

Like a true nature's child

Last Sunday as I headed out for a run, I was passed by a young girl on a bike, carrying a stick. Magpie season starting? I wondered, idly.

Despite this hint, 15 minutes later as I was running through a little bit of park, a green belt next to a stormwater drain, I was completely taken by surprise as a large dark mass swooped sideways over me. You don't generally hear it coming anyway, (just a horrifying snapping of the beak and rush of air as it goes over) but I had music playing in my earphones and was in another world. I am not usually a sprinter but you should have seen how fast I ran to get of his territory.

I suppose it is one way to get the heartrate up. But they freak me right out. I'm not super-fond of birds anyway. Mum passed on a bit of bird-phobia to me and my sisters. I've gotten better but still don't really like to dwell on such features as beaks and claws.

I've been swooped many times but I've never got an actual touch or peck on the head like many people do (K included). I shudder at the thought. Each spring, as soon as I work out where the overprotective parents' territories are, I plan my dogwalking and running routes to carefully avoid them. In a funny way it's not as scary with the dogs, as the magpie tends to swoop the dogs instead of me, and they don't seem to care or even notice much. We still hurry away, of course.

Sunday's run was a really unlucky one. Even with magpies well and truly on my mind, I forgot that most years there is a swooper in my street. A family of magpies that happily wanders our yard the rest of the year. They used to nest in a tree in our front yard which made collecting the mail a bit nerve-wracking. They've since moved a couple of trees down. I could easily have avoided this one but no, I got swooped, twice, before I managed to get home.

Bastards. I know they are just protecting their babies. But seriously, the nest is up high in a tree, and I am not trying to climb the tree or loiter under it. The wikipedia article has some interesting details - though I think it overstates the incidence of eye injuries a little bit. This one is fascinating too. Apparently magpies are very intelligent, and can recognise different people. Sometimes they seem to target certain individuals, allegedly because they might resemble someone who has done them wrong at some stage. I always say 'hello' to magpies, year round, and never let the dogs hassle or chase them. But maybe I have a mean doppelganger out there who throws rocks at birds.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

They know my name cause I told it to them

These three bowls went to Campbell High School this week for a silent art auction (an annual event), part of their 'Boarshead Banquet'. A friend from work was involved and asked if I would help out. If they sell I will only receive the reserve price - $20 each, $25 for the larger one - but I am curious to see what they might go for.

These photos are not as sharp as I would like. But I wanted to show truer colours and I'm still not satisfied with the lighting for the light box.

Something I realised recently with the bowl for my aunt, is that they take a better shape if I turn them inside out after felting and drying. After felting there is really no wrong or right side, except lumps for a few of the woven-in ends - even most of those disappear and any remaining can just be trimmed off.

I think the 'school uniform' colour scheme is more successful than I expected. I quite like the shading from purple, to burgundy and brown, and the light blue contrast. I embroidered on a few wandering spots of the blue (hard to see in this picture, sorry) before felting, to get away from just a simple stripe.

If you want your own light box, it is surprisingly easy. There are many instructions online, such as these. It's just a cardboard box, with large windows cut out of the sides, and covered with tracing paper. Then a piece of white cardboard inside, sloping gently from where it is fixed the top of the back 'wall', to the front of the 'floor'.

The tricky part is getting enough light, and of the right colour. I have a Daylight lamp which gives bright white light. Some of my photos are taken with just this shining on one side. The colours seem quite good, but the other side of the object is a bit dark. I've also taken photos (like the one in the last post) with the Daylamp on one side and a more yellow type of lamp on the other side. This creates some weird effects. I'm thinking about two options: buy another white lamp (halogen maybe? I don't want to invest in another Daylight lamp, much as I love it); or cut another window in the roof of my light box and see if I can make do with the one lamp.

For those who are interested: stunt lemon measures about 8cm in length and 6.5 cm width.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

The whole shack shimmies

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Now give the whole thing a good blast from your spice weasel. Bam!

Here's a biggish bowl I knit on Sunday night. One strand of Sean Sheep Armytage, colour 'Ruby Twist' and one strand varying between purple, brown, and that blue. I already was not really feeling the love as I knit this. Then it entered my head that overall this is kind of a maroon-and-blue colour scheme, which reminds me of Catholic primary school uniforms here in Canberra. So, you know, yay. Yet, I hold out some hope for the felting to work some magic.

Last night I was about to try again with Armytage, but going through the stash for the previous one I had pulled out everything green, just on a whim. Mmmm, greeny.

One or two green yarns are missing from this picture.

This time as soon as I started knitting I was loving the combination. I even knocked it up a notch with a couple of rounds of that weird furry stuff, which is a (probably discontinued) Lincraft yarn called Merry-go-round - essentially it's Cookie Monster with added glitter. 97% wool, would you believe?

Edited next day after helpful comments and a good sleep:
Oops, I was picturing Oscar the grouch, when I typed Cookie Monster. We are talking about green, after all.

Even though my felting stash is not at all small (with particular thanks to Taph and Spidey) I don't think there is any other colour that is hanging about in the stash in such bountiful variety. I really like having a good colour range. Conclusion? Keep stashing!