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Work continues to be crazy busy so weekends seem like a good time to catch up on housework and/or do not much else; but this morning Youngest Aunt, Colleague J and I walked a 10 Km beachside loop as our first semi-official bit of training for the Bloody Long Walk. The hardest part was finding somewhere to park the car :)

I’ve since walked another few Ks with my Friend From Around The Corner. She and I don’t walk far or fast. It’s mostly social. It was, however, additional training (I’ve resolved to wear a backpack whenever I’m out walking). I asked her if she’d be interested in doing the BLW with us. She’s giving it some thought. The more the merrier, I say.

I hope your weekend has been similarly productive, whatever your field of endeavour.

 
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Posted by on May 24, 2015 in Health

 

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and then there’s this

Alternatively, I could just gallop around the soccer ground a few times while I'm waiting for the bus

Alternatively, I could just gallop around the soccer ground a few times while I’m waiting for the bus

You know how one careless remark can change everything? I think that happened the other day when Youngest Aunt casually mentioned this. It’s now firmly in our sights and I seem to have roped in a workmate and a couple of her friends as well! She’s a far more serious walker than I am, but has been having time away from it for health reasons so we are probably closer in fitness and ability now than we might once have been. We have a training plan of sorts, loosely titled “Camminiamo insieme” which means “Let’s walk together” – she and I share a love of Inspector Montalbano :) – and will try to get out on longer walks with her friends on a semi-regular basis.

I understand about champions being made in winter – considering the amount of time I spend rubbing shoulders with Audax cyclists and rowers, how could I not? – and I appreciate that it’s a fantastic time of year to toughen up with lots of freezing-cold morning training sessions. Most of that assumes no employment or, if you have employment, getting up in the middle of the night to exercise, or that you have sufficient dedication to train all weekend and let the domestica go hang. I don’t, factually, meet any of those criteria though I could probably manage a couple of them at a time, every now and then. Despite the training plan, it’s my suspicion that that’s what will happen: it will all be fairly ad hoc with some adjustments around what training machines we have in the house and the occasional bit of organised chaos. So long as we get some very long training walks in prior to the Bloody Long Walk, I think we’ll be fine without necessarily doing the entire course beforehand.

But when will I manage to do any knitting??

 
 

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getting round to things

Eldest Niece's mitts have finally left my hands and I hope they'll soon be keeping hers warm.

Eldest Niece’s mitts have finally left my hands and I hope they’ll soon be keeping hers warm.

Today, the Aunts, two of the Nieces and I joined a fundraising walk, a gentle 4 Km circuit beginning and ending at a beachside venue familiar to me from the occasional Audax Christmas dinner. I don’t think any of us came remotely close to working up a sweat. No matter. We did it and enjoyed ourselves. Also, it provided an opportunity for me to hand over Youngest Niece’s birthday cowl (crocheted using Moda Vera Ambruni yarn) as well as the fingerless mitts for Eldest Nephew (knitted using Country Tartan 8 ply yarn) and Eldest Niece (photographed above and knitted using Bendigo’s Murano yarn, nominally an 8 ply). Middle Niece is pondering her options and will probably put in an order for one or the other article for her birthday in June :)

Meanwhile, I’m about four stitches away from completion of unpicking the sticky beanie (knitted using Moda Vera Bouvardia yarn) and hope to be back on the knitting of it by tonight (the four stitches are where I’ve woven in the ends, so I’m finding them particularly tricky). I won’t complete it tonight but it will only take a couple of evenings of work (it’s knitted in the round so there’s no seaming to contend with) to have it where it needs to be: ready for popping in the post to the friend whose head it’s intended to cover. Then, and I’ve promised myself it will be only then, I can make a start on some socks for Dr B.

And that’s as much of a plan as I can wrap my head around at the moment. Work is manically busy and we continue to have computer problems on the home front. I hope you’re faring better, whatever your weather and whatever you’re getting round to :)

 

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a sad state of affairs

The other night Dr B told me to tun off my computer, grab some knitting and go to bed. I tell you, that sounded like the best idea I’d heard in a long time. But. But I didn’t have any suitable knitting. How grim is that?

Ideally, not unpicked at all but, if done, then best not done by dim light

Ideally, not unpicked at all but, if done, then best not done by dim light

I’m still battling with unpicking the beanie – it’s sticky yarn, hence the difficulty – but it’s too dark a colour to be doing it using only the dim bedside lamp. Also, the needles I might have used to cast on my new socks are in use for unpicking that very beanie. And I couldn’t think of anything else that tickled my fancy. I went to bed. Full stop. So, okay, call me a wimp.

 
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Posted by on April 22, 2015 in Knitting

 

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heaving the annual big sigh

The view from the trenches. Photo by Gianluca D. Pompili

The view from the trenches. Photo by Gianluca D. Pompili

It’s that time of year again only worse than usual this time: Anzac Day approaches and it’s the centenary version. I don’t involve myself in matters relating to Anzac, as it’s such a tricky, emotional subject that has become tightly entwined, rightly or wrongly, with ideas of national identity. I can’t agree with the nationalistic fervour, so I find myself out of sympathy and out of step with many of my fellow Aussies. Because there is little to be gained by haranguing those who don’t want to hear, and because the actual campaign was a very long time ago and anybody who wants facts can access them easily and without my input, I find it better to say nothing.

I note only, as I have done previously, that in our particular household, the Gallipoli campaign – in which none of my direct ancestors was involved – and none of my indirect ones that I know of; and certainly none of Dr B’s – is a minor consideration by comparison with the campaigns that Dr B’s grandfathers were waging: his maternal grandfather as an Austro-Hungarian cavalryman fighting for Emperor Franz Josef against the invading Italians, amongst whose infantrymen was his paternal grandfather, trying to regain some of the Italian homeland. That is personal.

YoungB’s somewhat spine-chilling photo is not from an allied war memorial in France or Germany, or for that matter Gallipoli, but near Dr B’s hometown of Gorizia and in the general region where those warring grandfathers fought each other. Both survived, though neither particularly well, and the shadows of that warfare have been long indeed; as, I agree, they would have been for those involved in the Gallipoli campaign or any armed conflict throughout history. Let me stress that I am not in any way denigrating the personal sacrifices made by soldiers doing what they firmly believed was the right thing.

My avoidance technique this year? I’m fighting my own battle, carrying out some surgery on a knitted beanie that requires lengthening and tightening.

PS: I specify Gianluca D. Pompili to distinguish YoungB from another Gianluca Pompili whose Antarctic photos you might encounter here and there.

 
 

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musings on mail and vexing calculations

Definitely white; this was a practice effort that has found a home with a colleague

Definitely white; this was a practice effort that has found a home with a colleague

Online ordering is quick and the results are occasionally fantastic. I was delighted that YoungB’s combined Christmas and birthday present, a pair of mid-length Ugg boots, arrived safely in a remarkably short time frame (particularly given that he’s in Italy; and, yes, I did send him some fingerless mitts for his actual birthday). The colour of the boots is brighter than I’d thought it might be but he loves them. Excellent.

I remain similarly impressed by the rapidity with which I take delivery of yarn orders from Bendigo. The contents of one recent packet were earmarked for a couple of cowls and a hat or maybe a couple of hats and a cowl but the idea was that one lot was for immediate use crocheting Youngest Niece’s requested cowl. My heart sank, however, when I pulled out what I’d seen as a white only to discover it wasn’t white at all. No matter. It won’t go to waste. That did, however, leave me with a shrinking time frame that I thought would be best addressed by the purchase of different yarn that I could actually check for myself as to colour.

Friday nights in the city can be quite a lot of fun. I walked into town after work, then I tucked into a bowl of laksa noodle soup with dumplings and a big pot of jasmine tea at one of my favourite eateries (Dumplings R Us, but it has no website). After that, I set out to buy yarn. I went from Lincraft to Spotlight, looking for a thick, white, woollen yarn. What I eventually found wasn’t what I’d had in mind but it was soft and, although there’s an acrylic component, it’s not so high that the resulting yarn feels plastic (unlike one that I used to work out a pattern; that was so plastic it actually squeaked). Luckily or unluckily, having been unwell with a cold, I was able to sit about and do not much but crochet the cowl, so I finished it well in time for Youngest Niece’s birthday.

What would it cost if I were to charge for it? Of course I take no account of the practice cowls or any of the work I did on the not-white one – I’ve now finished that and put it in my “this will come in useful for someone” box – but it took me easily 10 hours of work. You couldn’t possibly expect anyone to pay what that would mean in terms of cost, even if I worked it out at the Australian minimum wage (which is around $16.88 per hour). The yarn was $8 per 100-gram ball and I made a sizeable dent on the third ball. Let’s call that was $20. The work? Even at $10 per hour – such a low figure would raise the ire of people who do this sort of thing for a living; and rightly so – let’s say we’re looking at 10 hours or $100? No, you couldn’t anticipate that anyone would actually pay that amount for a very plain, hand-crocheted cowl. Yes, in real terms, it would be worth at least that much. I personally would be astonished if anyone were prepared to pay $50 for such a thing. So there’s the old discussion: handcrafting doesn’t pay.

As I say, for me this is just a hobby so I crochet in this case, or knit more usually, during my long commutes and maybe while I’m sitting around after tea discussing the day’s news or the next day’s schedule. It gives me something to do and makes me a nicer person. That shouldn’t devalue what I do but I understand that some might make an argument that I ought not to charge a high hourly rate. Some might even suggest that I shouldn’t charge at all for my time in those circumstances. I’m happy to make things for family members who appreciate them – and that Youngest Niece actually asked for this because she loves the original so much means she certainly is one such person – and I would never expect to factor in cost. All the same, if I wanted to be paid for my time, how would I ever calculate its worth?

 
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Posted by on April 18, 2015 in Crochet, Knitting, Musing, Travel

 

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they weren’t meant to be mine

What cold weather will do to good intentions? See you pilfer mitts intended for someone else :)

What cold weather will do to good intentions? See you pilfer mitts intended for someone else :)

That cold Easter Monday I mentioned and the “now I have some of my own” Murano mitts to which I alluded? Uuh, yeah, it was genuinely cold and neither Dr B nor I could get warm. We were both doing some computer work. He reached for the colourful mitts I’d made him using Jester yarn (Ravelled but not yet blogged). Me? Well, I pinched some.

Over the years, I’ve made something like 15 pairs of fingerless mitts for other people and some for myself that have ended up being given away. These weren’t meant to be mine. I made them for someone else. But, as they were meant to be a surprise, the intended recipient won’t know I’ve pinched them. And I really, truly can and will make her another pair.

In the meantime, I have warm, comfortable fingers while I type and, believe me, that’s a first :) Bendigo’s Murano to the fore again, this time in a lovely shades-of-purple colourway (it looks blue but it’s definitely purple).

Just call me the yarn thief :)

 
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Posted by on April 12, 2015 in Knitting

 

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