Saturday, April 25, 2009

non-alphabetical; heretical!

Aside from the fascination of rediscovering the books themselves, getting them sorted alphabetically was very satisfying. I love sorting and putting things in order, including alphabetical order. Though you might not know it to look at my generally messy living and working spaces.

The other night we were at a little party at a friend's place. We talked about how their huge DVD collection was shelved in no particular order. I wondered how they find anything; why not put them in alphabetical order by title? My friend had us all in startled laughter when she stated baldly, "I hate the alphabet!"

Hate the alphabet? How can you HATE the alphabet? It was bizarre enough that we had to investigate further. It emerged that our friend is a numbers girl (well we knew that already), a whizz even. The full alphabet, however, is a challenge to remember and doesn't come naturally. Fair enough. I know many people who've never mastered telling left from right instinctively, and that's only two items, rather than 26.

The very next day I happened across this infinite alphabet wrist tattoo. It's beautiful and I kind of wish I'd thought of it myself. It belongs to an ex-librarian, who along with the literary implications, found it very useful when faced with 'the hard parts of the alphabet'. The comments on that post indicate it's not such a rare affliction.

As well as books, we have a lot of CDs in the house, and have always kept them in alphabetical order too (with a few broad genres separated). I've always been surprised at the number of people who seem to marvel at this organisation. Honestly, how else would you do it and still be able to find anything? I do remember Rob from High Fidelity had other answers for that - chronologically by order of acquisition? That would be very interesting....

Thursday, April 23, 2009


I have finally done the last part of book unpacking. Note: we moved in at the end of December. The books were by far the most enjoyable part of packing and unpacking for me, though there was also some challenge in working out where everything would go. I've had to split my fiction: A-K downstairs and L-Z upstairs. Other downstairs shelves include K's fiction and all sorts of non-fiction belonging to both of us. I'm intrigued to find that I have almost twice as many books in the first (less-than) half of the alphabet; and that bookshelf is overloaded in many places. I'm still not entirely sure I won't find several more L-Z boxes in a corner somewhere, as there are still lots of boxes in corners around the place.

I am in a whirlwind of booklust now. I want to read about 50 books 'next'. I'm amazed at the number of dusty old paperbacks that cost me a dollar or so 15 years ago, many that I haven't managed to read yet, but that I am still absolutely eager to read.

This lust never really goes away. I am always reading at least one novel which goes with me on the bus every day. I always have a pile of stuff in waiting, loans from friends, recent purchases, and older things I've pulled out of the shelves.

The current bout of booklust has also been stirred up by a couple of rounds of bookshop browsing on recent trips to Adelaide and Brisbane. I go through phases where I don't go to bookshops, new or secondhand, much, because I'm trying to read what I've already got. But I can't really resist when I'm travelling, especially when I'm with like-minded friends who point out things I wouldn't have looked at. You'd think book browsing was an essentially solitary activity, but it doesn't have to be.

I always loved books, and was provided with many books as a child, as well as lots of library access. Of course I never owned as many books as I would have liked to, though there is something magical about those old favourites and even not-at-all favourites, including some quite impenetrable books, all of which I read and reread uncountable times, just because they were there. And I still treasure all of them.

As soon as I started earning my own money I went headlong into a long, very indiscriminate book collecting phase. I bought second-hand almost exclusively; I've never gotten into the habit of buying many books new (I do occasionally like to support a favourite author though). Second-hand books were cheap and you could never have too many books in the house. I was interested in so many different things. I bought things just because I recognised the title, especially 'classics'. Because I'm a born collector and hoarder, I was drawn to collecting multiple books by the same author, often even before I had read a single book of theirs. Sometimes when I finally got around to reading one, I had to admit I didn't love that author as much as I had expected to. Nutty? Well, it was partly just the thrill of the chase.

I long ago acknowledged that I didn't have enough space for all the books (while secretly kind of liking the books-stuffed-in-every-nook-and-cranny aesthetic). It's only relatively recently that I've really been able to do any serious weeding out. I used to go in intending to make some space, spend an hour looking and come out with three books I could bear to part with.

I think I will always keep a lot of books, but I am much more willing now to read something, realise I'm not likely to read it again, and find someone or somewhere to pass it on to. I've had much more success than I expected with exchanging books for credit at a couple of my favourite second-hand bookshops. Anything they don't want goes to Lifeline or op shops.

Monday, April 20, 2009

If you were in Big W at Civic today you might have heard the Hallelujah chorus breaking out


For weeks I've been casually sauntering through Big W at lunch times, wondering if they were ever going to get new wool in for winter. (Although I don't agree that creating things with yarn is a seasonal activity, the mainstream retailers clearly do - and probably have the sales figures to back that up). Finally, today, I came across a small chaotic display of Sean Sheep yarns. 'Rockpool' 'Rockbank' (oops, thanks Karen) was the only new one I could see, a wool/soy blend which actually screams 'Felt me'! right there on the label. At first glance I don't love the colours as much as Armytage. I hope there is more of the range yet to appear, because only one of the options appears to have the long colour repeats I love, the others are either variegated or plain. It's a finer yarn too, more like an 8ply.

Still, a new feltable wool is so very welcome back in the Sean Sheep range, which didn't include anything much feltable last year.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

I headed back to summer for a few days

Last Thursday we went to a wedding at Glengariff Historic Estate at Dayboro, north of Brisbane. The wedding was beautiful, the weather was beautiful, and the location was beautiful. And I always like a wedding with ceremony and reception all in the one spot.



After the wedding we only had to cross the road to reach our lovely accomodation at Dayboro Cottages and Llama walks.

This is the view that greeted us in the morning.
It was a truly beautiful place to wake up, on a warm sunny day.
We said hello to the llamas (and one maybe alpaca-cross below) and then we had to be on our way.
K had to head home but I stayed the rest of the weekend, spending time with friends and family. When I told them about the llamas, my friends insisted on continuing the theme by taking me to see the alpacas near their place.
Gap alpacas.
I thought these white ones looked a bit like sheep with stretched out necks! They were not at all shy to pose for my camera.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Scattergun; but someday soon

This Easter long weekend has mostly been devoted to spending time with my family and catching up with myself (chiefly sleep, music and felting). The extra hour at the end of daylight saving last weekend disappeared almost without a trace. Actually I lost that hour of sleep again when I forgot to change the time on my phone, and on Wednesday morning when I needed to get up at 5:10 am for a flight the alarm went off at 4:10am. Sheesh. By Thursday night, I was so ready for this extra long weekend.

Family highlights include seeing my little niece wearing her dress. Seeing it in action, I'm certain now I'll knit that pattern again, soon.
back view

I've been spending lots of totally excellent time with my Dad's mother, D, who is visiting for Easter. She's been knitting me jumpers all my life. We have a lot in common, and love swapping notes on knitting and books. She gave me a book for an early birthday present; 2-at-a-time-socks by Melissa Morgan-Oakes. Intriguing. Will try it of course, but whether the technique takes or not, the patterns are lovely (and adaptable).

And music? Well, last weekend I saw Lucinda Williams at the Canberra Theatre. Love her: slightly awkward stage presence, huge sexy voice, fantastic songs.

In the past couple of weeks I've acquired a lot of new music. Although my purse is supposed to be more-or-less closed, I keep stumbling across things like a magical sale shelf in the country section with 'Strange Country' compilations and all Alison Krauss' back catalogue discounted; someone hassling me to move on to Scott Walker's 4th solo album; then another of Lucinda's (West) and Michelle Shocked's Texas Campfire Tapes, both too cheap to leave behind. Before I'd had time to digest much of that, a good friend gave me his duplicate copies of a couple of tasty morsels: The Walker Brothers and Dead can dance. Oof. Meanwhile, Neko Case's delicious new album hasn't been out of the CD player since K brought it home a couple of weeks. I feel like hibernating.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

I sucked in my gut, and still she said, that she just didn't want to

Last Friday I angrily stuffed my freshly finished Coachella into the back of the cupboard and tried to forget about it.

My sulk didn't last too long though, and yesterday I tried it on again, taking some (unflattering) photos to assist with my analysis. I'm not posting those photos, but gee if I could somehow quantify the difference between what you see in the mirror and what is revealed in a photo, wouldn't THAT be a heck of a post. I'm tempted to start snapping a quick picture in the morning to check if I'm really dressed the way I think I am!

I looked carefully at those photos, looked at my own shape and other tops that fit well, and made a plan of attack. Now I'm in hopeful, getting it done mode.

It's knit in Cleckheaton bamboo. Yes this is a much finer yarn than the one for which the pattern was written. Yes there was maths, and some guesstimation too. Yes I still think it will work. Maybe with a bit less negative ease. It's a nice drapey yarn, and really doesn't look its best holding a deathgrip on my midsection.

So far I have to report that I still love Elizabeth Zimmerman's stretchy sewn bind off, but it is a total (slow) bugger to undo. Well, it's kind of meditative.

I thought I had taken a pretty cautious approach to this. I thought I had insurance.

I swatched.
I washed the swatches.
I did maths.
I took the garment off the needle multiple times to try it on.
Not one, but two of those times, I washed it and waited for it to dry and then tried it on. (Because of what the washed swatch told me).

But still:
The swatch mislead me on how much it would stretch sideways and shrink up. I guess a tight tube behaves differently to a small square, who'd've though?

I deluded myself that it was fine, when it wasn't.
And I put in waist shaping (per the pattern) where it was already plenty tight enough for my waist.

What I need to do now:
- Finish undoing the cast off (nearly done, thankyou Wednesday night ABC TV line-up)
- Rip it back to before the first decrease. This will almost certainly involve some shenanigans (also known as cutting the knitting) because I already wove in all the ends except for the one on the hem. The 'knitting surgery' tag on Flickr might see more use yet. Luckily, I have lots more yarn as I bought a 10-pack.
- Knit it again with more increases.
- Finally, stop about 20 rows shorter. (see, a silver lining!)

If the finished item never does make an appearance here, it might be better NOT to ask what happened.