Thursday, 31 October 2013

Adventures in crochet: Eve's rib tunic

It worked!

I tried again after my misadventure with Galena. I sized up and followed the pattern correctly and I was amazed at how much easier it was to whiz through this pattern the second time around. Now I think I've got the hang of the way the patterns are written in this book (Everyday Crochet) I reckon the other patterns will be a breeze.

The Eve's Rib Tunic is based on Galena (which was the first top I attempted), only she is longer, has a bit of hip shaping and ribbed arm cuffs. There is also an optional cowl collar, which looks lovely on the model, but Chan says in the pattern notes, "if your figure can carry the added volume, make the optional collar", and I decided I didn't need any extra froofery in that area, so I left it off.

It is so comfortable. It fits really well after blocking, and is the perfect weight/warmth for spring. And I love it over jeans. Hurrah!

PS - the colour in the pics isn't accurate, obviously. It's not as dark as the top pic, not as light as the bottom pic. I couldn't be bothered editing the pics :)

Pattern: Eve's Rib Tunic by Doris Chan, from Everyday Crochet
Yarn: Morris Woollahra 10 ply (85% Australian wool, 10% silk, 5% cashmere) in Persian Purple

Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Little thing

These aren't among the world's beautiful birds, but it really lifted my mood today to help this baby (or perhaps teen) bird up off the concrete where it had fallen in our car park. Actually, when i pulled into the car park it kind of fell on my car and was clinging to the door jamb with an expression that seemed to say, "help!". Well it would have said that if it was an anthropomorphised bird in a cartoon. Or maybe just, "eep!".

I left it there but when I came out later on, it was on the concrete next to my colleague's car, making a piteous racket. Two of its siblings and its nearby anxious parent looked on; I guess it must be learning to fly day. Its body was hot and bony in my hand, and so frail. I picked it up and popped it onto the mulch in the garden, where it looked at me and squeaked. 

I don't know why it made my heart surge, but I sorely needed it. Thanks, ugly little bird. 

Monday, 21 October 2013

Ta-ra! Ta-ra! New Jelssievision!

Took me a couple of weeks to get the time to edit, but there's a new Jelssievision ep!

The thing that interested me in the process this time was that on the day, none of us felt like there had been anything especially outstanding in the conversation. But when I started putting it together, I really enjoyed the giggly positive vibe of the thing. Also, when you compress over an hour down to 11 minutes, any conversation can sound witty and flowing.

Had to do some fiddling with sound levels as I forgot the mic stand and it wasn't in the ideal location (so Elsie was really loud and Jess was fairly quiet). But that's okay, and gave me some practice at that; I think the balance ended up reasonably even.

Bonus feature: after the initial viewing, you can watch again but this time keep track of the other customers in the background and me as I pop in and out of frame in the window! Rookie mistake. Don't film in front of reflective surfaces.

Friday, 18 October 2013

Just standing around

I'm fascinated by the idea of standing desks, but they are very expensive. Articles pop up fairly frequently advocating standing for longer during the day, rather than just sitting (Lifehacker is a particular fan of this mode of working). And even though work bought me an amazing chair, my posture is usually terrible and I am so aware of how much I sit during the day, just because...well, I work at a computer.

I liked the look of the Varidesk as a non-permanent, adjustable solution but it's $300+, and that's a lot of money to spend on something when you don't know if it'll suit your way of working.

I'm the only one in the office today so I've decided while nobody else is here and I don't have to explain what I'm doing, I'd set up the simplest version of a standing desk and try it out for the day. We have a set of Ikea nesting tables out in the common area and the smallest one is the perfect height for my monitor. The other good thing I thought is that because I have a laptop/monitor set up rather than a desktop computer, when I want to sit down I can just flip up the laptop screen and work off that.

Our floors are carpeted and are very comfortable in bare feet. I've only been standing here for 11 minutes so far so maybe I won't be feeling so excited about it after a few hours. But we'll see.

The only dodgy thing so far is working out the keyboard/mouse arrangement. I've got the keyboard stacked up on a couple of file boxes so it's at the right height, but it looks a bit silly. But if it works for me today, then I might investigate a more elegant solution.

Hurrah for experiments! Have you worked at a standing desk? Any tips? Did you love it or hate it?

Friday, 11 October 2013

misadventures in crochet

I was going to write a blog post about the crocheted top I excitedly finished this week but I got so disheartened by the photos I tried to take of myself in it. I find it really hard to take good photos of myself with an SLR because it's so static - you have to set the camera, then press the timer, then go and pose, rather than just taking a bunch of photos of someone moving around. But then I don't like posing for full length photos anyway; I never know what to do with my arms (reminds me of the great Ani diFranco lyric from Evolve, "I don't take good pictures cos I have the kind of beauty that moves"). I should find a pose that works, like Lili of Frocks and Frou Frou, and just stand like that every time.

I was so disappointed when I looked at the full length photos. The stitches are lovely, the fabric is pretty, the colour is fresh...but on me the top just makes me look like a sack of oranges. 

It's a Doris Chan pattern called Galena. I really enjoyed making it, but Chan's patterns take a little getting used to and are quite wordy because she is trying to give you all sorts of options for sizing. I read through the pattern carefully, marking bits I needed to take particular note of. And I made a couple of adjustments to suit myself here and there (eg in the sleeves and length).

But I missed one vital thing. Instead of turning at the end of each row I just kept going in rounds. And I didn't realise it until I got to the very end. Facepalm.

So the top is much snugger than it ought to be. Even though I tried it on as I went, I knew it was close fitting, but thought it would stretch a little more with blocking. I think it would work on my body shape with a bit more ease. So really the problem is I have made a perfectly acceptable garment, but it's just in too small a size. Grr.

I don't know how to write about it in a decorous way so I'll just say it - I felt like it made my bust look like I had two giant water balloons stuffed down my top. And I know that everyone is aware of my bust because it's just out there, and of course I'm aware of it too, but I don't look at myself all the time to have to SEE it.

It's kind of frustrating when you crochet something that seems to be fitting then finish it, block it, and put it on, and it just doesn't work. Mum thought it looked nice, and perhaps it might have just been the photos I took were especially unflattering with the light coming from above. It might have been less of a problem if I had used a reflector. But now if I wear the top I'll be feeling self conscious, which means I probably won't wear it.

So the solution will be to find someone who it fits and who likes it and give it to them. And not to get discouraged, but to try again and pay more attention to the pattern! I wonder if I will ever crochet anything that ends up looking like it's supposed to?

Double sigh.

Sunday, 6 October 2013

Greenish thumb

I love being out in the garden! I don't always have success with growing things but the willingness is there. At the moment our garden is exploding with gorgeous growth, and sitting outside just drinking in the green and the sunlight is quite delicious.

I didn't really have my act together last spring to plant vegies. Well, I planted some tomatoes and basil but nothing else really. This year I'm a bit more organised. I joined the Diggers Club a while ago, which has marvellous and interesting heirloom plants, seeds and trees, and lots of advice. It took me a while to actually decide what I wanted to order from them, because I could spend an absolute fortune on setting up a garden, quite happily.

I tried to raise seedlings from seed and that hasn't really gone so well; I think the initial spot I had my seedling trays was too hot and the seed raising mix dried out too quickly. A shady spot on the ground next to the laundry door seems to be working well. I'm also trying to propagate some French lavender from our happy lavender bush. Apparently it's easy...but easy to some is not always easy to everyone! There are also some daisy plants that our lovely next door neighbour propagated and gave to me (most of them died but three have survived!).

Seeds and cuttings, passionfruit, lime tree
I planted some Diggers potatoes in one of the empty half wine barrels the previous owners left, and they're taking off. Our citrus trees seem pretty happy too, and the cripps pink and granny smith apple trees I also got from Diggers are finally starting to look like more than twigs in dirt.

Cripps Pink apple tree, tub o' zucchini, minty gardenia type thing that I've forgotten the name of

Yesterday I bought a bunch more seedlings (from Bunnings...though I was delighted to find they stock Diggers tomato seedlings) to kick start the vegie growing. So I'm doing zucchini, four kinds of tomato, spinach and basil. There are carrot and capsicum seeds attempting to sprout; hopefully they do!

Herb barrel, potato barrel, cat grass (no barrel)
There's also a passionfruit vine and a grape vine that will hopefully bear some delicious bounty. Though apparently the local possums have thwarted our neighbour's attempts to get his passionfruit going.

The cat is not especially interested in any of it except for her cat grass, which she picks over and nibbles like a true connoisseur.

Friday, 4 October 2013

Plodding upwards

I had a positive counselling session today, but it was still exhausting! Trying to marshall your brain into thinking clearly about yourself can be difficult. The last couple of sessions I had were heavily emotional and I had to admit that I wasn't coping well and think about what that meant.

But in the last month I have been steadily plodding upwards from the very deep pit that I found myself in several weeks ago, and it was great to be able to go over that with my counsellor.

It was also helpful to reinforce that just because my plodding is going quite well, I'm not up to flying stage yet. This is the problem with recovery from anything. Once I start to feel better, I think "okay I can do all those things I wasn't able to before!", invariably I overdo it and topple back over into the hole again.

This is why charting my progress by tracking my mood and playing SuperBetter has been so good. I can see the progress I am making when I get sick of the plodding - I can see that although it feels like I'm standing still, I am actually moving forwards.

I explained the whole SuperBetter thing to my counsellor and she was fascinated and asked me to send her the links. She was intrigued by the concept and thought it could appeal to some of her other clients, especially younger ones.

Here's a graphic from the site showing how it works:

how SuperBetter works

It's a little small, but click to embiggen it and explore.

My counsellor and I agreed that one of the things about 'conventional' mental health tools/exercises is that they often seem overly dry and homework-like. But the thing about SuperBetter is because it's conceived as a game, it's creative, it breaks everything down into bite-sized, achievable chunks, and it puts a big emphasis on the journey you're taking to get to your Epic Win. You can customise your power-ups, quests and bad guys to be things that are more meaningful to you, but the 'power packs' the team has devised based on various goals (eg, 'the power to quit anything', 'stress buster', 'emotional resilience') are fun and really well thought out.

Playing doesn't take much time (I check in most days). I'm also finding when I start to feel my mood dipping, instead of dwelling on the dip, I log onto SuperBetter and do a power up or a quest, and it's usually enough to put me back on track.

Of course it might not appeal to everyone, but I'm pretty excited to have found something that works for me.

So yay for forward/upward momentum, no matter the pace! Yay for games! Yay for five or six days of consistent mood (no spikes either up or down)!

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

sadly not grand

I've been listening to, and loving, Billy Crystal's memoir Still Foolin' 'Em: Where I've Been, Where I'm Going, and Where the Hell Are My Keys. On the drive home tonight he was talking about the joys of being a grandfather.

I know this will sound weird, but I think it makes me sad that my mum is not a grandmother more than it makes me sad that I'm not a mother. She'd be a great mama.