Sunday, 12 December 2004

Cocktails I Made Up #2

The Katiezade

60ml vodka
30ml melon liqueur
dash lemon juice
300ml Lucozade

Serve over ice.
Makes 2 (they probably all will).

Thursday, 4 November 2004

Hello, long-lost friends.

Hello, all.

Last week, I had an urge to do something with my hands, and I did a bit of work on my stitch sampler bedspread:

I really like the 'spiral' pattern in the dark blue on the right. Some of the others are pretty crap, though! But that's what this project is all about - testing out different patterns and finding ones I really like to use on other projects. Imaginary projects, probably!...

I also started another doiley:

I had absolutely no idea what I was doing when I started it, but I think it's going to turn out okay. The pink blur are some beads I might somehow incorporate near the edge a la Doiley no. 1. Stay tuned for details.

In unrelated news, I've started a new section of my website [link defunct], with photos I've taken with my little digital camera. It's so "Under Construction" at the moment, it's not funny. Look if you dare.

Random Quote of the Day:
I think my friend E. would appreciate this:

"Good teaching is one-fourth preparation and three-fourths theatre."
-- Gail Godwin

Thursday, 7 October 2004

Doiley land

There was a strange development last night. After weeks of not doing anything at all, I got bored last night and made a doiley. Here it is:

I've made doilies before, but not for a while, and never a knitted one before (only crocheted).

I used a pattern which involved 'short rows' that I got from a book on knitting techniques. It was much easier than it looks. I added 2 rows of crochet, incorporating the beads, around the edge, and I got quite a sense of satisfaction from doing it.
I'm completely disillusioned with the coathangers. I can't even be bothered finishing the last one, let alone posting pictures of them. I think I really prefer doilies for a short, easy project. There's no messy sewing and annoying stuffing afterwards, you can do them in knitting or crochet, you can just start with no idea what you're going to do and end up with something pretty cool ... and you can never have enough doilies, right? *wry smirk*

I think I've decided to give the doiley to my friend Pippa, who's birthday it is on Saturday. I've contributed to a huge gift - a silver bracelet from Tiffany's, but I wanted to give her a little something extra, just from me. About halfway through making the doiley I decided to give it to her. (I probably would have made it out of nicer wool if I'd had that intention from the beginning.) The irony of the contrast is not lost on me - a beautiful, expensive bracelet from the world's most renowned jewellers, and a crappy-arse doiley that it cost me nothing to make! *another wry smirk*

Oh well, the good thing about making things as gifts for people is that they have to like them.


Thursday, 16 September 2004

Sick and Not Bloggy

I was starting to wonder if anyone else was out there! Myself, I've been laid low with the "I Got Food Poisoning From A Low-Fat
Subway Wrap" Blues. Available from all good music stores. I don't think I'll be putting that one in the player again for a while!

Even having two days off and not being able to leave the house, I've still done hardly any knitting (gasp!). In the warmer months I tend to be more interested in sewing than knitting, so if anyone's still interested, I think make this my "Whatever I'm Doing Right Now" blog, hopefully with some kind of crafty content (hee). I can't guarantee a boredom-free atmosphere, let alone regular posting, though. You'll just have to wait and see.

*knocks on the glass* is anyone out there? Just checking.

Friday, 3 September 2004

O Coathanger!

Guess what?

I've discovered coathangers. Coathanger covers, more precisely. Yes, I know it's dangerous territory, but I think I can rise to the challenge. For example, not ones like this:

Hopefully tasteful, practical ones that will satisfy my need for novelty while making my wardrobe look quite nice. And I think they'd make good gifts, too. (Ignore that last comment, friends.)

Here's a photo of my progress.

As you can see, I've nearly finished the first one. I have lots more ideas, and lots of spare wool floating around. Although, anyone who's had even a cursory glance at my journal knows how much I hate sewing things up, so they may never be completed. We shall see.

P.S. The instructions for that ugly coathanger pictured above have the words "decorate to taste" involved. *shivers*

Thursday, 26 August 2004

Knitting gone wrong...horribly wrong.

Yesterday I saw what I consider to be the prime example of knitting being used for evil instead of good. It was being worn by a customer that I was expected to serve without reaction or comment. Below is a very crude artists' impression of what I saw:

(Imagine it being worn over a red, long-sleeved shirt, by someone who I swear was channelling Saffron from AbFab.)

I remember every detail, because I couldn't keep my eyes off it! I was astounded. I could barely function. I thought, this jumper has to be handmade, you just can't buy anything like this! But why would anyone make something like this, and then go and wear it out in public??

And you know what the most amazing thing was?

It was made in exactly the same wool, in exactly the same shade, as my very own Jumper from Hell that I recently exorcised from my past!! I'd recognise it anywhere. It was like a middle-finger-up from the goddess of knitting, frightening me into submission, reminding me not to get too cocky. Hmm!

Friday, 20 August 2004

Slowly but surely.

The cardigan is begun! I started on the back, and I've done 20 rows.

I have a very short attention span, and I'm obsessed with the Olympics at the moment, so Im usually only doing 2 or 3 rows per session. It's going soooooooo slowly! I'm also starting to think I'm going to run out of wool before the end. The first ball was gone in only 12 rows. By my count that means I'll be 1 to 2 balls short. I was planning to make a border in a separate colour anyway, so hopefully I can make that longer without it looking too stupid. The suspense is killing me.

Also, I'm having second thoughts about all ponchos being evil. This one is all right:

You just have to remember to wear something that matches.
(It's actually crocheted, not knitted, so perhaps that's the difference?)

Monday, 9 August 2004

This is it! Cardigan Time

Okay! I'm doing it! I'm going to make a garment!

I'd begun to despair, because I'd found the perfect wool on the internet, Panda Airwool, but
I couldn't find the colour I wanted anywhere. On Saturday I went to Spotlight (I could rant
for some time about how much I hate that place) to get some other things, and found
something even better!:

It's Panda Funky Chunky. It must be discontinued, because it's not mentioned on their website, and it was only $1.29 a ball (Which is the right price for me!). And it's a wonderful, light green colour. Not quite the 'mint green' I'd envisaged, but fantastic nonetheless.

Now I'm going to bore you with the details of design. Being a more voluptuous build, I have to adapt any pattern I come across, so I may as well do it in a way that makes sense and is efficient, and I tend to mix and match patterns. What I normally do is start out by choosing the wool, and deciding what sort of pattern I'm going to use, then deciding what size needles I'm going to use to get the desired effect. Then I measure myself, and work out how many stitches/rows I'll need to get it the right size.

Most traditional knitting patterns do it the other way round, i.e. they tell you what size it's going to be, what wool to use and how many stitches/rows to knit. All you have to do is work out what size needles to use to conform to it. This is fine if you fit the narrow idea of what a 'Size 10' or 'Size 12' "should" be. Or a 'large' or 'small' hand, for that matter.

I find the whole idea of knitting this way constricting and superficial. I know a lot of people can't/don't want to go into design, which is fair enough. Honestly, I'm not really doing much more than cutting and pasting. Plagiarising, you could even say. But the whole point of handmade garments is that they should fit perfectly, so why not make them that way?

For this cardigan, I want to take the one-piece pattern from the Specialty Knitting Book, the booklet from the 1930s I saw at the State Library, and then chop the arms off. :) This is for practical reasons, because I'd have to use circular needles for the longer parts with the arms, to accommodate the large number of stitches on the needles. I bought some and tried using them, and I hated them! So I'm chopping the arms off, and just doing the front and back in one piece. Then I'm going to pick up stitches on the shoulders and knit the arms from the top down. That way I'll have just as little sewing to do at the end, plus I'll have more control over how long the arms are to be.

I think I'll underestimate the measurements, especially the length. The number of times I've read on other blogs that other people's finished pieces are longer than they're supposed to be, in addition to my own experience with the erstwhile Jumper From Hell, makes me think that pieces often come out larger than expected. Which makes sense when you think about it - the greatest property of knitted fabric is that it stretches. Even it if ends up a little too small, I can always stretch it. How can it go wrong?

Wish me luck!

Friday, 6 August 2004

No news is good news.

All things knitting have been going along very slowly these last few weeks: basically, the spirit is willing, but the fingers can't be arsed.

However, last night I got my fluffy dice up to the stage where they can be stuffed. I can't wait to buy the stuffing and finish them off! I guess that's why I mostly do small projects - you get more things finished more quickly.

Plus, I discovered something I'd made years ago that I'd forgotten about - a pair of legwarmers! I've added them to my Finished Projects page.

More news when there is some...

Wednesday, 28 July 2004

Decisions, decisions...


All the authors of the American blogs I read (even the Swedish one!) seem to be away on holiday at the moment. I'm so jealous! Anyway, I've decided that the Knitting Goddess is right: ponchos are ugly. According to The Mighty Boosh, "It's impossible to be unhappy in a poncho", but I don't think they've ever tried knitting one! (I love that show!)

So I'm going to rip mine. Not the finished one that I never wear, but the half-made one that I haven't touched since last winter. The one I've never mentioned because I've become so disillusioned with it. It seems I don't learn from my mistakes. Just because you design something and you are really proud of the design and you think it would look great on somebody, doesn't mean you have to go ahead and spend six months of your life making it. Besides, it was getting way out of hand. I had to put half of it on holders because there were just too many stitches to fit on the needles, even when I squished them up cruelly. After doing a few rows that way and realising how much longer it would take, that was the point where I decided to give it a rest for a while and see how I felt about it in a few weeks. A few months later I looked at it again and didn't even complete one stitch. Six months later (!) I've been spurred into action. Well, not actual action, but deciding to do something, which for those of you who know me, is a momentous event. I'm almost even excited about it, because I'll have more than enough wool to make a natty vest. Won't that be great?

Speaking of ripping, remember the Jumper From Hell? Well, here is the finished result:

Before Dying*: Yes, that is the amount of wool used to make a (crazily large) jumper. So much work, and so little to show for it. O, the humanity!

After Dying*: Much prettier. Not all of the skeins would fit in the pot, so two of them are still pink. You never know when I might need them. Dyeing the wool had a really interesting effect on it. It's thinner, and the texture is now much more harsh and cottony. I've used it to make a test piece for designing some Hand Covers. (More on those at a later date.)

* By the way, I know how to spell 'dyeing.' I'm just easily amused. :)

Tuesday, 27 July 2004

Scaring other people...

I know it's been a while since I posted on anything, let alone knitting. My obsessive need to knit has slowed down a bit over the last few weeks, but not enough to resist pressing my hands together and begging a poor girl at work to "pleeeeze, let me have a go!" She gave me a funny look, clasped her knitting reflexively to her bosom, and said very politely that it was her baby and she was a bit reluctant to let anyone else work on it. Fair enough. The manic gleam in my eye probably put her off, and the idea of letting someone else "have a go" at your knitting is probably a bit weird.

I'm very excited because I finished the first piece of my Brontosaurus Toy! Yay! I only have to knit another piece just as long and excruciating as the first, and then I'll be about 1/8 of the way through it! Bronto is posing here with a few of his little friends.

I've also nearly finished my Fluffy Dice. I will have to buy some stuffing soon! It'll be a bugger to store, but it'll come in handy for when I finish the dinosaur.

See their guts, spilled out all over my window sill! Grisly.

Some random stuff follows.
This is a really good article, the link to which I stole shamelessly from another blog: Fashion on a Shoestring.

I love this quote. It could apply to anything, not just knitting.

"If at first you don't succeed, failure may be your style."
-- Quentin Crisp.

Tuesday, 13 July 2004


I have started a pair of knitted "fluffy" dice (they are actually just "slightly fuzzy"!). It's my first try at stranded or picture knitting, and it will be my first try at I-cord when it gets to the stage where I make a cord to join them together. At first, the stranded knitting was driving me stark, raving bonkers! but I'm starting to get the hang of it now and it's not taking as long to do each square. The only bit I'm still having trouble with is, when changing colour, winding the two strands around each other so as not to leave any holes. I seem to end up winding them around twice - and still having a hole!

Oh, and according to Stich 'n' Bitch, "you should know that the edges of your colour blocks are probably going to look crappy." Great!!

I will probably have to block the pieces at the end because they're turning out rectangular, not square, but that's not too hard. I think they might turn out pretty cool. If I do say so myself!

I've also done about 30 more rows on my Brontosaurus Toy. I did it while I was watching The Magnificent Seven :) So I'm about 3/4 of the way through the first piece now. I'll never get the bloody thing finished!!

Saturday, 10 July 2004


Today I finished my Hippie Hat! It's a little tight, but I can stretch it easily to fit. Here it is:

Later, I'm going to dye the wool from the Jumper from Hell and see what happens.

Monday, 5 July 2004

Daydreaming of Wool

I just saw one of those ads for Campbell's soup, where, as the person is eating, a scarf or a hat or a jumper automatically builds itself up on their body in the space of 30 seconds. It's obviously calculated to appeal to all the people who've recently become interested in knitting, but my mouth can't help watering - and not at the soup! It was at that luscious, thick red wool, and the way it flitted and flickered to create a beautiful garment in a matter of seconds. The soup-eater ends up happy and warm and well-dressed. It's the stuff that dreams are made of.


Sunday, 4 July 2004

Hat problems?

I'm a bit worried about my Hippie Hat. Despite adding 4 stitches to the circumference, it still seems to be too small. I'm not ripping the damn thing again! Then again, it's a bit difficult to stretch when it's on double-pointed needles, so perhaps when it's off the needles it'll be all right.

I started another patch for my stitch sampler bedspread the other day as well, and it's nearly big enough to add to the finished pile.

No more work on the Brontosaurus toy, or anything else at the moment.

Designs for the knitted dice have begun, but not to the stage where I can add them to my Works In Progress page. There are a couple of new projects boiling away in the dark, humid, murky depths of my brain, but I won't reveal them quite yet.

Friday, 2 July 2004

Ripping time

*takes a deep breath*

I am revealing my atrocious knitting shame! My first and only jumper, which I made two years ago. Why on earth did I think I'd ever wear a square-necked, short-sleeved jumper?? Especially in that awful shade of pink?!?

It's been sitting at the back of my knitting shelf, hidden away behind other half-finished projects for all that time, testimony to my inadequate knitting skills!

I've made a decision. I'm going to rip up the jumper.

I'm going to come out into the light, no longer ashamed of my failed projects. I'm going to wind the yarn from the jumper and the 5 spare balls that I never needed into hanks and dye them purple. I'm going to wipe the slate clean and start again. I'm going to get over my two-year-long fear of making a garment, once and for all!

And I'm going to have beautiful clothes, just like everyone else.

Thursday, 1 July 2004

Knitting Idea

I was sitting on the train yesterday, thinking about fashion (yah, I know, I'm sad). I was thinking in particular about how dice have come back into fashion as accessories and how funny it is that people hang fluffy dice in their cars. I was also thinking about knitting at the time (as it's my current obsession, I'm always thinking about it) and I had the idea of knitting a pair of dice.

I've seen knitted cube-shaped toys, and it doesn't look that hard. All I'd have to do is figure out how to add the dots. I've never done picture knitting before, because I don't believe that galahs and wattle branches belong on jumpers (Jenny Kee has a lot to answer for!) but this could be a good way to experiment with it a little.

*sighs* I really should finish one of my other projects [link defunct] first though.
What is a reasonable number of projects to be working on at once? Excluding abandoned ones, I'd say I'm on 3 or 4 (including one in long-term rehabilitation). That's not really many, is it? A new one wouldn't hurt....

Tuesday, 29 June 2004

Knitting but mostly Pets

This weekend, I went to stay with my Mum and my brother in Ballarat. I took my Dinosaur project with me, but I only got a few rows done. Instead, I'll bombard you with pictures of their cute pets.

P.S. I love Ballarat. Where in the city would you see a supermarket with a whole aisle dedicated to flannelette shirts?





Thursday, 24 June 2004

The Top 100 Classic Books Bandwagon - the List of Shame

This should be interesting. I just discovered from another Blog Random House's list of Top 100 Classic Books (fic and non-fic versions). First of all, I'm always highly dubious of these lists - they're the opinion of one person or a committee of so-called experts, who are usually out of touch with reality and what the majority of people appreciate.

I, too, am finding it irresistible to tick off the ones I've read, but not as a 'smarter-than-thou' exercise in high-cultural superiority. I want to see how few I've read! I'm not ashamed to be seen of as stupid! I read many books, just not the ones on the list. I'm too cool for that! ;)

5. BRAVE NEW WORLD by Aldous Huxley
13. 1984 by George Orwell
31. ANIMAL FARM by George Orwell

1. ULYSSES by James Joyce
10. THE GRAPES OF WRATH by John Steinbeck
44. POINT COUNTER POINT by Aldous Huxley
50. TROPIC OF CANCER by Henry Miller

9. SONS AND LOVERS by D.H. Lawrence
15. TO THE LIGHTHOUSE by Virginia Woolf
41. LORD OF THE FLIES by William Golding
48. THE RAINBOW by D.H. Lawrence
49. WOMEN IN LOVE by D.H. Lawrence

14. I, CLAUDIUS by Robert Graves
41. LORD OF THE FLIES by William Golding

2. THE GREAT GATSBY by F. Scott Fitzgerald
7. CATCH-22 by Joseph Heller
25. A PASSAGE TO INDIA by E.M. Forster
38. HOWARDS END by E.M. Forster

4. LOLITA by Vladimir Nabokov
19. INVISIBLE MAN by Ralph Ellison
26. THE WINGS OF THE DOVE by Henry James
45. THE SUN ALSO RISES by Ernest Hemingway

18. SLAUGHTERHOUSE-FIVE by Kurt Vonnegut
27. THE AMBASSADORS by Henry James
28. TENDER IS THE NIGHT by F. Scott Fitzgerald
32. THE GOLDEN BOWL by Henry James
34. A HANDFUL OF DUST by Evelyn Waugh
35. AS I LAY DYING by William Faulkner
46. THE SECRET AGENT by Joseph Conrad
47. NOSTROMO by Joseph Conrad

The other 19 books in the Top 50.

Nos. 51-100 are more of the same.

There are plenty of other lists out there; I just chose the first one to come out. If I'd chosen one of the others I'd seen, the results would be quite different. What's wrong with the Brontes? So it's all arbitrary and stupid anyway.

Wednesday, 23 June 2004

Retro patterns

Yesterday I went to the State Library to check out some old knitting books and pamphlets. The ones from the 1970s were fantastic! Hoo! I laughed! (On the inside of course - it was a library after all!) The ones from around 1900 were quite amusing as well.

Apparently, at that time, it was okay to show photos of underwear, as long as they were upside down (as if hanging on the line, but pasted onto a plain black background), and/or folded up so you can't see what they are. Then, it's all good.

The best one I found was called Specialty Knitting Book: Ladies' Dressing Jackets and Underwear. It was from the 1940s, with lots of ladies lounging elegantly with cigarettes and doing their darndest to look like Marlene Deitrich. Many of the jackets were way too lacy and ribbon-bedecked to be of any practical interest, but the first one was really cool. It was a very simple cardigan, knitted in one piece from the back, over the top and down the front, like this:

The arms extend down into fingerless gloves, "for reading in bed, and invalids." It looks too nice just to wear in bed though. I was quite surprised. It struck me as really modern. The method of making it seems so simple. I read/copied out the whole pattern (it was only half a page) and I understand the whole process. This could be the way to go for me, making my first garment. I'm a bit excited, and a bit scared at the same time!

The only problem is, it uses 'Beehive Silversheen'. What on earth kind of wool is that?!
There are a few websites around with advice on making retro garments, so I'm sure I can work it out.

Tuesday, 22 June 2004


Well, I'm afraid the inevitable has happened - I'm bored with the Dinosaur already! My best friend was right, I do have a short attention span! *sighs* I'm still working on it, just more slowly. I've started a few other things as well:

1) I was at Big-W yesterday and I decided to swing by the wool section. I bought some very beautiful purple variegated wool (my first!) which I thought I'd make into a hat, or sumfink. I also bought a Knitting Nancy (it's actually shaped like a bee, so it's a Knitting Bee, with free PomPom Maker!) and I was so bored with the Brontosaurus last night, that I started alternating working on that with making a cord on the Knitting Bee. It's about 20cm long now. I'm going to have to decide what to do with it before too long, or else it will have been a complete waste of time.

2) After I bought the variegated wool, I was thinking "Hat!", and I decided to leave that wool for now, and rip up an old hat I made last winter and never wore, and re-knit it. I was trying for a hippy-style thing with a hole in the back for a ponytail, but it really just looked like a green-and-beige Devo cone hat. Not terribly attractive! (Plus it was too tight). I'm using the same needles as before: 5mm double pointed needles. I've added 4 stitches to the original circumference, and done about 4 rows so far.

So now I have about 4 projects to work on. My theory is, even though each one will take longer to make, overall I'll have more fun because I can swap from one to the other when the boredom factor sets in, and I'll get them all done quicker.

Sunday, 20 June 2004

Brontosaurus update

I'm halfway through the first piece of the Brontosaurus - the left side of body and head. I'm using a dark turquoise green wool (Fiesta Double Knitting %100 acrylic, 'Peacock'). Once this and the right side of the body are done, that's the two biggest pieces finished, and it should be much quicker from there. I'm trying not to think about the sewing up process, which I think I've mentioned before I HATE!! I'm already having doubts that I'll finish it all in one go. We'll see!

I've realised it's just another way of putting off making a garment. I'm just too scared to make one! I've read about people who've made many - ones that actually fitted! - and people who made a jumper as their first project, but that still hasn't made me more confident. I've bought/downloaded lots of different patterns, thought through the process of making a vest or a cardigan so many times in my head, and I've meant to start one many times, but I just haven't gotten around to it.

The strangest luck! The other day I went to the local library to photocopy the pattern pages for my Brontosaurus (like a good little knitter) and what should I find in the recycling bin next to the photocopier? An old knitting leaflet! It was c.1970s, very crinkled and well-loved, and for a mohair vest, with 3 versions for different thicknesses of wool. It had a few notes, etc., scrawled on it, but it's all still legible. I looked around, and there was no-one it could have belonged to, so I quickly slipped it in with my papers. Is the universe trying to tell me something??

On a funner note, go to Portrait Illustration Maker to make one of these:

I spent about an hour making this look as much like me as possible. (Those who know me know it doesn't really!)
My flatmate said, "I know an easier way: put a photo of yourself up!"
That's not the point!

Friday, 18 June 2004

New Project!

I've decided to make the Brontosaurus (the easiest-looking one!) from the Dinosaur book. The pattern calls for 3mm needles, so I bought some at Clegs along with the pattern book. I've never used anything smaller than 4mm before, and I'm finding it a bit weird. They're plastic, and they bend! But they are a very classy black, not boring grey like most ones!

I HATE doing gauge swatches, but I did one just in case. It's only 5cm square; I just can't bring myself to do any more. What do you do if there's less rows, but more stitches than there's meant to be?! I want to start tonight, so I guess I'll just stick with the needles I've got and see how I go.

Thursday, 17 June 2004


Oooh! I rediscovered Clegs today!

They have the most beautiful wools. Very feelable. Some bee-yootiful mohairs and angoras... and huge hanks of homespun wool which were just amazing ... and about $30 each! If you're on a budget (and everyone I know who knits is!) Clegs isn't the place to go to for wool, but the needles, etc. are pretty cheap, they have a good range, and they're not out of most things like at Lincraft. The bamboo needles, if I ever were to buy some, are just exquisite.

And look what else I got:

Brilliant! It combines two of my favourite things!!
Clegs all the way, man!

Wednesday, 16 June 2004

Finished Item: Scarf

Phew! I finished the scarf in time!

Here is my flatmate/best friend modelling it. I just love the variegated light and dark blue (if I do say so myself). Sewing in the loose ends wasn't half as annoying as I thought. (I did it while watching one of my favourite movies, The Fifth Element.) I don't like fringes very much myself, but most people do, so I put some on anyway.

Now I just gotta wait for my friend to announce his birthday party, so I can unveil it!

Monday, 14 June 2004

Scarf Progress

Okay, stand down panic stations! The situation with the gift is not as bad as I thought. In fact, when I uncoiled it at work the other day, it seemed almost long enough. I've started working on it again after 3 weeks rest, and it should be finished by the weekend. I just hate sewing in the loose ends, and this scarf has quite a few. Well, about 10. I guess that's not too bad!

Wool: Navy Blue Patons Fireside (100% wool), and Sky Blue Caressa, which has a slightly fuzzy texture.
Needles: 8 mm.
Pattern: Just yer normal garter stitch scarf. The variegated effect is produced by holding the light blue wool together with the dark blue on every third row only. I made it up myself because I thought normal stripes would be a bit boring and un-subtle. I really like the way it looks.

Seeing as how I wasn't working on my scarf for 3 weeks, you may ask what I've been doing in the meantime?

Well, I decided I wanted to try out some stitch patterns. I borrowed a book from the library called The Complete Stitch Directory with hundreds, from really simple all-over fabric patterns, to elaborate panels, cables and picture effects. I had the idea of doing various 'samples' and just picking up stitches down the side of one randomly to add another one on, to create a bedspread.

After I'd been working on it for a while, I realised I wouldn't be able to make something that large in one go. There'd be way too many stitches on the needles, and I wouldn't be able to see the patterns forming and see if I was making a mistake. Plus the additions were getting thinner and wider as I went on. So I decided to end that patch and start on another one.

Patch No. 2 at left; Patch No. 1 at right

My Grand Plan (TM) is to make a bedspread with no sewing whatsoever. I hate sewing!!! I will use surface crochet to attach the patches together, and add a crochet edging all around. I'm not sure how I'll even up all the patch sizes yet, but that shouldn't be too hard. I have no idea what I'll do with all the little tails though.
Stay tuned!

Saturday, 12 June 2004

Knitting technique

Ooh la la! I have just found out that I knit in the Eastern European Style, that is, inserting the right needle into the back of the loop at the beginning of a garter stitch. Those people who I've seen knitting 'funny', and inserting the needle into the front of the loop, are actually knitting in the Western European Style.

That's why I've been getting confused when I see instructions saying "K1 TBL", i.e. "knit one through the back of the loop", because that's the way I do it all the time! I hope that doesn't mean that some of the stitches I've been trying out won't work...
Knitting with the wool held in the right hand is the British/American way, apparently, while knitting with the wool in the left hand is the Continental way (I've never seen anyone do this - does it come with croissants and a latte?)
I've read that when working with two colours, some people can hold one thread in each hand!

Cool knitting blogs I found:
Knitting Goddess #9 [link defunct]
Nake-id knits (it has a chihuahua!!) [link defunct]

Here's a photo of what I bought at the Salvos in Balwyn today:

There wasn't any wool, disappointingly, but I got:
* 3 pairs of knitting needles
* a couple of old dress patterns (which I collect also, nothing after c.1980 usually)
* a cookbook and a craft book (I think the latter is part of an encyclopaedia, because it only has crafts starting with A and B!)
* a thing which at first I thought was an orange juicer (it had drain holes in the top) but it's labelled 'Dripping'. I only got it out of a sense of horrid fascination
* an unbelievably kitschy money box shaped like a pub

Friday, 11 June 2004

Scarf Panic!

Aargh! I've just realised! It's 9 days til my friend's birthday, and the scarf I'm making for him is only half done!! I stopped working on it about 3 weeks ago because it occurred to me all of a sudden that he might not like it. Plus I was thoroughly sick of just doing plain, plain, plain all day long.

I'll have to decide whether to have a go at finishing it or not.

On a happier note, after weeks of procrastinating, I'm going op-shopping today! Yay!

Thursday, 10 June 2004

My first project.

Now come the flood of photos of what I've made, you lucky things!

This is the first thing I made when I started knitting again three years ago. One of my friends asked me once why it's so short - it's because I bought one ball of wool, and I finished the scarf when I ran out.

It's normal stocking stitch, 20 stitches wide, in dusky pink Caressa, if I remember right. I blocked it to try and get rid of the curl it has at the edges, but it didn't work. I like it that way, anyway! I usually wear it in a knot with one end to the front and the other to the back.

Mum's graduation.

I am so proud of my Mum! She's now a Registered Nurse, Division 2. And she got 6 Distinctions and 10 High Distinctions. That's much better than what I got! And she did 16 modules in one year, while working and looking after a household with 5 naughty pets!

Love you, Mum!

Tuesday, 8 June 2004

Summary: A History of Hand Knitting

When I get interested in something, I want to find out all about it, which is why I recently read the following book:

Rutt, Richard. A History of Hand Knitting. Loveland, Colorado: Interweave Press, 1987.

I wrote a summary of it, and I thought I'd post it in case anyone is interested. My comments are in [square brackets].

✧ It is very difficult to say when knitting first began. Any sort of fabric does not survive well over time. The oldest pieces of fabric which some claim is knitted come from a grave in Esch, southern Holland, which are dated c. 250-300 CE. During examination they deteriorated to such an extent that determining their structure without doubt is impossible.
✧ Another reason why we cannot say for sure when knitting first began is that there was no separate word for ‘knitting’ in English, Latin, Greek or any other language until the Renaissance period. Words which actually meant ‘woven,’ ‘interwoven,’ or ‘plaited’ (for a description of a knitted item) or ‘meshing,’ ‘netting,’ or ‘knotting’ (for the process of knitting) were used. Therefore in any written reference, it is impossible to tell whether knitting or some other craft is being referred to.
✧ Another difficulty arises from the fact that knitting can easily be confused with other craft methods in which the finished product resembles knitting closely. One such structure is Sprang, a type of weaving known from as early as 1,400 BCE in Denmark and (independently) Peru. Superficially it looks like knitting, but it was woven on a frame, and on close examination the researcher can see the threads running vertically, not horizontally across the fabric.
✧ Another method of making stretch fabric is usually known by its Scandinavian name, nålbinding, but was also seen in North Africa and other places. It looks exactly like knitting but is created in a different way – with a single threaded sewing needle which was woven through the course (row) below to create each stitch. The loops point downwards, rather than upwards, as in knitting, and are already bound into the work as they are created, so there is no need to secure the loops in a knitting needle as the craftsperson is working. [There’s no need to cast off, either!] It was always done in the round. Most experts in the past have assumed that the oldest pieces of nålbinding, found in the Middle East, are knitting, but the increases and decreases in the fabric are almost impossible to do in knitting and this reveals them as nålbinding, not knitting. Nålbinding was used to make socks in Egypt in the Roman period, and knitting was later used to make the same articles in the same place. It is reasonable to assume, therefore, that knitting was derived from nålbinding in Egypt, though we have no direct evidence.

Romano-Egyptian Socks
✧ The surviving examples were made in a variety of colours (red, brown, purple, etc.) with a separate big toe, in wool. One children’s sock is red with 3 yellow bands. One sock has lacing at the instep, and 12 rounds of ribbing at the ankle (i.e. purl stitches were used). Unlike most socks patterns today, they were begun at the toe.
✧ The first knitting needles had hooked ends (similar to crochet hooks), but eventually it was realized that the hooks weren’t necessary. Knitting was always worked in the round, with at least 3 needles (plus 1 working needle). Evidence has been found that up to 8 needles were sometimes used. The fabric had a stockingette look. Aside from ribbing, the purl stitch was not used. Different colours were used to make very elaborate patterns. Knitting was usually quite fine – 5 to 8 stitches per centimetre.
✧ The Egyptian tradition continued with long blue-and-white stockings made from cotton, with numerous examples dating to c. 1,000-1,200 CE. The articles were also knitted in the round from the toe up, but with the ‘seam’ running up the side instead of the back. They resemble Islamic tile decorations with their elaborate bands of curlicues and religious mottoes in Arabic script.

Knitting Spreads in Mediaeval Times
✧ Knitting spread from North Africa to Spain with the invasion of southern Spain by the Moors. The earliest examples are two cushions from the tomb of Prince Fernando de la Cerda, who died in 1275. The finely worked patterns (8 stitches to the centimetre) are a curious mixture of Spanish motifs – eagles, lions, castles, fleurs-de-lys – and Arabic script.
✧ A number of 14th-century votive paintings of the Madonna and Child from Italy and Germany show Mary knitting. She knits either a stocking or a shirt. They show something of the technique – 4 needles are used and the yarn is held in the right hand. They show us nothing of the wider social or economic place of knitting though.
✧ Much knitting was associated with the church, especially in Germany and Scandinavia. Bishops’ gloves (‘chirotheca’) and purses for holding relics of extremely fine work have been found. Five relic purses of mediaeval make are still being used in the Cathedral of Sitten in Switzerland. They are knitted in the round out of silk, with 7 stitches to the centimetre, flattened and the bottom edges closed and decorated with tassels. The top edges have drawstrings. The largest is 34cm tall and 26cm wide. All have very elaborate patterning in horizontal bands of at least 5 colours.
✧ The knitters’ guild of Paris was established in 1527: the Guild of St. Fiacra. The guild’s arms were a silver fleece on an azure field, with 5 ships. St. Fiacra was probably chosen as the patron saint of the guild because it was believed that he was Scottish and that knitting came to France from Scotland. Neither of these beliefs is true! However, the patron saints of guilds were often chosen purely because they were already well-known, or the saint’s feast day provided a holiday at a convenient time.

Knitting in England
✧ The first articles made in England seem to have been caps. Caps could only be knitted by trained, licensed guild members. This is the origin of the surname Capper. The industry was well established by 1424. Surviving caps are usually of the ‘skull-cap’ type (i.e. closely-fitting), sometimes with earflaps. They are usually brown, black or red, made of thick wool, and very coarse – 1 or 2 stitches per centimetre. Later caps followed fashion, with concertina-style ones in the mid-16th-century, and slashed ones from the late 16th-century.
✧ Knitting grew slowly in English society. Not only were all of peoples’ needs already provided for (e.g. hose were made of cut cloth) but steel knitting needles were difficult and time-consuming for the metalsmith to produce.
✧ Woollen and later silk stockings (a luxury item) were first imported from Spain, but by 1545 woollen (worsted) stockings were being produced within the country, along with gloves, undershirts, hoggers (footless stockings or gaiters for men) and scoggers (detached sleeves worn during work).
✧ During the reign of Queen Elizabeth the technique of producing fine metal rods by drawing them through perforated plates was perfected, and knitting became much more common. By the mid-16th-century, items were being knitted by the poorer classes for their own wear, and for children of all classes.

✧ Purl seems to have first been used on the turned heels of stockings and socks. The earliest example is in the stockings belonging to Eleanora of Toledo, made c. 1562. Purl was also used decoratively from this time – purl means ‘pearl.’
✧ Various methods of shaping were well-known in England by the Renaissance. The cap-makers’ guild made closely-fitted knitted caps in the round which still survive.

Knitting for Fashion
✧ In Elizabethan England, fine knitted silk stockings were the height of fashion. Men’s stockings were usually in a single colour with a damask-imitation pattern made of plain and purl stitches, sometimes with a gold or silver thread running through them. Women’s stockings were more likely to have patterns in many colours.
✧ In Paris, men’s stockings came in over 50 different colours, with names like Dying Monkey, Lost Time, Resuscitated Corpse, Amorous Desires, Sad Friend, Sick Spaniard, Colour of Hell, and Brown Bread (dyer’s advertisement, Neufchateau, Lorraine, 1607). This fashion led to a new phenomenon – ladders in stockings (though they were not known by that name until the 20th century). A play called The Spanish Gipsy (1623) refers to “a stitch in a man’s stocking not taken up in time … ravels out all the rest.”
✧ Knitting now became a way for poor families, especially in rural areas, to supplement their income, and became a significant element in the economy of various areas, especially when the practice of dividing land amongst descendents left many with plots of land too small to make a living from. Women and children, and in some areas men as well, could knit a pair of stockings a week in their spare time. Groups could be seen knitting together sitting under trees, etc. and knitting parties were important social occasions. Many could even knit while walking or reading aloud for the benefit of their companions. Schools were opened to teach destitute women and children to earn a living from knitting. Demand was kept up by the export of English stockings of all grades of quality to various parts of Europe.
✧ ‘Waistcoats’ (actually long-sleeved undershirts) such as the one worn by Charles I at his execution in 1649 were also made. Extremely fine work, many were made in a purl/plain damask effect stitch.

The First Knitting Recipe
✧ was published in Natura Exenterata (or Nature Unbowelled by the Most Exquisite Anatomisers of Her), a household manual published in 1655. It makes a stocking (hose) on 3 needles with a separate clock and a short seam in the bottom of the heel. It is very difficult to understand – a single three-page long sentence with no full stops, erratic punctuation, and five different terms for purl stitch. The pattern stops at the bottom of a page before describing the toe section; it seems this part was lost in the printing process. The entire recipe is reproduced in the book. Here is an extract:
...and so then divide your needles into three equal parts, allowing upon your two heel needles three masks of each, more than upon your instep needles and then at the beginning of the right-hand needles of the heel make two turned masks, and so work plain until you come at the latter end of the left-hand needle to the instep-ward and there make two turned masks again and then knit plain round till you come again to your heel needle then make one knotted stitch at the beginning of your heel needle then take up a mask between the two knotted stitches and work it plain then the next stitch make a knot ... etc.
Reproduction stockings made form the recipe are clumsy and a little puckered (but perhaps this is understandable as there is no mention of gauge or tension).

Knitting Master Dubois
✧ In Kunst zu Stricken in ihrem ganzen Umfange (Leipzig, 1800), Herr Netto describes a man he met in 1779 called Dubois from Switzerland, who stayed in Leipzig in 1779-80. Dubois could knit (with thick wool) a men’s stocking in one hour. He used hooked needles, working faster than the eye could see. He kept his ball of wool in his pocket, and kept tension by threading the yarn though a ring attached to the breast of his jacket. He would knit both stockings of a pair at the same time, on the same needles. One was inside the other; he used 2 balls of yarn, one on the outside knitting purl stitches, and one on the inside knitting garter stitches. The outer stocking was knitted inside out. (This technique is mentioned in Tolstoy’s War and Peace.) [Wow!!!]

The Annals of Aberdeen
✧ (1818) notes that, unlike in many other areas, knitting was seen as an amusement for ladies, not just drudge work for the poor. In fact, in 1733, Lady Mary Drummond, daughter of the Duke of Perth, proudly made and sold 3 pairs of stockings. Up until the 1830s though, knitting was a distinctly commercial, lower class pursuit. Children (both boys and girls) in poorhouses and orphanages were taught to spin and knit as young as 4 years of age, and the stockings were sold to pay for their food and lodging. Christian reformers saw the labour as a redeeming virtue. In one school in 1800, children were paid 1½d. (pence) per week for producing 3 stockings or 4 mittens. Their annual Easter gift was a new pair of knitting needles. Adults in 1793 were paid 1s. (shilling) per pair of stockings by the onseller, which were then resold for 3s. 6d. to 4s. per pair. However, by this time, hand knitting as a commercial activity was in a slow and irreversible decline. Knitting was now done as an occasional supplement to the income, as a social activity, and to keep children busy, rather than as a necessary activity to stave off grinding poverty. A woman knitting continuously for 10-12 hours a day only earned about 6d. per day; a child 3d. or 4d. The returns were so small that in many places older people gave up knitting, and the younger generation didn’t bother to learn. Books were published on the virtues of knitting, but the Church had a hard time convincing the poor that it was a worthwhile way to fill up their spare time.

Drawing Room Knitting – for Pleasure
✧ There are few examples of obviously non-functional items from the 18th century, but the ones that do exist include small stockings, pincushions and purses/reticules.
✧ In 1835, several knitting books were published in England which reflected a sudden upsurge in knitting as a pastime. These included The Ladies’ Assistant (1836; 1840) by Jane Gaugain, and The Handbook of Needlework (1842) by Frances Lambert, who was the first to write about tension and invented the perforated needle gauge. The smallest gauge was Size 26: 0.4 mm. [!!]
Cornelia Mee and Mlle. Riego de la Branchardiere (who both claimed to have invented crochet) were great rivals and published many books on knitting from the 1840s to the 1870s.
✧ Frances Lambert and others advocated handling the needles in the “ladies” way, i.e. as if they were pencils, ostensibly because it was faster, more dainty and showed off elegant hands better to potential male suitors. Just as important was a desire to disassociate drawing-room knitting from the commercial cottage knitting industry. Tests have since shown that this way of holding needles is considerably slower and uses more energy than the traditional manner, yet many people still knit this way today, even though it is extremely awkward to knit anything larger than a purse, doiley, etc. when holding the needles this way. Despite ladies’ protestations that their knitting was an expression of the Protestant work ethic of constant labour, it was used in Thorstein Veblen’s great economic work, The Theory of the Leisure Class as an example of “conspicuous leisure,” i.e. despite the appearance of industry, the activity is done in such an inefficient way as to actually render it as almost useless: a display of “time-wasting” by the leisured classes.
To be fair, most recipes (patterns) in Victorian workbooks are for practical items such as baby clothes, socks, mittens, purses, muffs, bedspreads, etc. Very few are for purely frivolous or decorative items such as towel edgings, artificial flowers or miniature jugs.

✧ [a garment that everyone knows I love!] were named after the Earl of Cardigan (1797-1868), who led the charge of the Light Brigade during the Crimean War (1854-6). He only spent 3 months in the Crimea, and even though the weather conditions there (hot days and cold nights) were perfect for the wearing of a cardigan, there is no evidence he ever wore one, either at the time, or later in his life. The first use of the word (“cardigan body warmer”) was seen in 1868, the year he died.

✧ were invented in Victorian times – the first recorded use was in 1867 - and they quickly became extremely popular in all social classes, despite the fact that some tea connoisseurs believe they spoil the tea by stewing it. The combination of a functional item with almost unlimited decorative possibilities must have appealed to the Victorians immensely. At first they were simple inverted-bag style covers of various designs, but in 1893 Weldon’s Ladies’ Journal published a recipe for the Bachelor Cosy, made with holes for the handle and spout so the lazy bachelor doesn’t have to remove the cosy before pouring the tea.
[Later Art Deco and Pop styles made into toasters and TVs sound very interesting!]

World War 1 and After
✧ Women and children in Britain were encouraged to knit articles for the comfort of soldiers during WW1, and they took up the craft to such an extent that it was described by many as a national addiction. Not only was knitting relaxing to the lonely and worried minds of the soldiers’ relatives, but it was one of the few ways that women could contribute to the war effort. So many gloves, mittens, hats, scarves, balaclavas, socks and belts were made that the men were using them to clean their guns and wipe their dishes.

✧ The knitting craze continued into the 1920s, and jumpers and cardigans have been worn almost continually ever since. Fair Isle jumpers (worn for golfing and other sports) and ‘jazz jumpers’ were enormously popular in the 1920s.

Personalities in Knitting
Marjorie Tillotson (1886-1965) was the first English designer of hand-knitted garments on a large scale. The first knitting pattern leaflet, issued by J. & J. Baldwin of Beehive Wools, was written by her. She began the famous Woolcraft series of books, which ran to at least 20 editions and became an English institution.

Mary Thomas (1889-1948) was a fashion journalist who wrote 2 of the most important knitting manuals: Mary Thomas’s Knitting Book (1938) and Mary Thomas’s Book of Knitting Patterns (1943). A friend of many fashion designers and other celebrities, she was an advocate of women’s rights and a member of the London Buddhist Society.
Dave Fougner published The Manly Art of Knitting in 1972 (California: Scribners), with patterns for a dog blanket, saddle cloth, a hammock knitted on shovel handles., etc. His booklet claims that knitting strengthens his hands and improves his tennis game.

Saturday, 5 June 2004

My Trip to Hobart

Thursday, 10.00pm
Tried to go to bed early. Still trying to dry the clothes I want to wear! I set the alarm for 3.45am. (*sighs*)

Friday, 3.00am
Woke up early. I couldn't get back to sleep, despite trying for 40 mins! My bag was already packed, and I'd already decided what to wear, so it didn't take long to get ready. I was ready before Stephen!

We left the house. Everything was so quiet. There was no traffic. The bats were the only noise. It was quite beautiful. I started to get really excited on the way there. Making us catch the shuttlebus from the long term car park to the terminal was a bit silly. It wasn't very far at all!

Waiting when you're really excited sucks! Finally we got on the plane.

View out of the window while waiting to take off.

S used his barging skills to get us good seats. We agreed I could have the window seat on the way there. The lights of Melbourne were so very beautiful. Then we flew above the clouds. The sky outside the plane was dark except for a thin band of red, graduating to deep blue on the eastern horizon. Slowly the band of red got thicker and thicker... I briefly worried about that old saying ("Red sky in the morning...") but we were actually extremely lucky. The sky had already cleared by the time we arrived. I bought a cup of coffee, and was a little confused when the lady handed me a cup of hot water. Then she gave me a little container with a coffee bag, milk jigger and sugar in it, and I mentally went, "Ah!" S and I were both happy that we got off the plane via the good old stairs method. I threatened to do my Jackie Onassis wave, but resisted.

Me posing in front of the Boeing 717 at Hobart airport.

Some of the others complained about the cold, but we were expecting it. Current temperature: 4°. Expected top: 10°. Bring it on!

We took a shuttle bus from the airport to the city centre. The first sign we saw coming out of the airport was a huge, community-participation safety-warning type billboard; in slightly curly, hippy style letters, it said: "PLEASE KEEP YOUR BUTT INSIDE THE VEHICLE AT ALL TIMES!" I wanted to take a picture of it so badly! First evidence of the alternative raver/hippy culture mentioned in the guidebook.

We did the almost obligatory tour of various hotels before being dropped off at the the reassuringly-named Midcity Hotel. Went through North Hobart and saw the North Hobart Oval (which S, being the sports geek that he is, expressed an admiration for). I was a little excited, and I had to bite my tongue from saying things like : "Look, they have Officeworks here, too!" "Ooh, a Sign-a-rama!" "Look, they have Subway here!" "Wow, traffic lights!"...

Map 1: Hobart and surrounds

We arrived over an hour early for the Chocolate Tour. We went up to the bus office (near cnr. Elizabeth and Brisbane Sts.; see #1 on map 2) to pay and check the time.

S's photo of a no smoking sign at the bus office, which because of it's angle, rather suggested to us was a "no Olympic torch" sign.

Then we went down to find some breakfast. A cafe on a corner had a special on a cappuccino and egg and bacon roll (which seems to be a popular food there!) so we went in and had some. There was a local newspaper on the bench (The Tasmanian Mercury) and had a flick through. The cover mentioned a Harry Potter article on page 3, so naturally I turned to it. I was confused, because it mentioned that all the sessions the night before had sold out, and hundreds of fans were lining up to see it. But I thought it wasn't out in Australia yet! I thought it might be some kind of special preview, but then it said that HP & PoA had opened at the same time as in the UK, on account of the school holidays starting a week earlier in Tasmania than anywhere else in Aus. I instantly got kind of excited! I showed the article to S, and said, "We could go see Harry Potter! ... I'm only about 55% kidding!" He agreed that we should do it! Back at the bus office, I asked the ticket guy where the cinema was. About 10-15 mins from there, on Collins St. Not a problem.

Map 2: Hobart city centre
#1 Bus Office - near top left
#2 Flippers Fish and Chips - centre right, at Constitution Dock
#3 Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery - over the road from Flippers
#4 Village Cinemas - lower left

We left for the chocolate factory (see map 1 above). S and I were the only ones on the bus. It was pretty cool. The bus driver was very chatty and told us all about everything! His comparisons of Hobart and Melbourne were interesting, but some of the other stuff he told us was pretty obvious spiel.

[Warning: geeky work-related section coming up!]
On the way, I saw the Derwent Entertainment Centre! It's quite a modern-looking building, set on a peninsula right next to the river (everything seems to be set in a spot of that description here!) The billboard outside mentioned some familiar events! I tried to take a photo of it, but couldn't get a good shot through the trees.

The factory is right next to the river, in a beautiful valley setting.

A view of the chocolate factory, on the road leading to it.

All the homes and the school nearby were built by the Cadbury family. Some people have been working there for 2 or 3 generations. They really take care of their employees, not like some places I can think of! There was a small display of newspaper cuttings and old chocolate-making tools to look at while we waited for the tour to start.

The tour started. First we saw a short video, which looked like it was c. 1985! It was very cheesy. We all had to take off all jewellery, watches, hats, scarves etc. (anything that could fall in the food!) and wear these absolutely sexy papery showerhats (men with beards had to wear 'beard snoods'!) and ... (worst of all!) we weren't allowed to take photos! The tour was very interesting. We had free samples, etc. We didn't get to see a few things, i.e. the melted chocolate being stirred, and the favourites being wrapped, because of broken machines. But it was still great. S and I cracked a few jokes, e.g. "Haven't seen any OompaLoompas yet."

My favourite part was when the wrapped Favourites chocs were being sorted and put in the boxes. It was very Willy Wonka-esque, with the chocs dropping down and piling up in hoppers, being sucked up into overhead conveyor belts, then dropping into the boxes, and the full boxes moving along another belt behind, to be picked up by suction cups and placed in the transport boxes. It even had the soothing, hypnotic 'vwoop, shoop, VHWOOP' noises. Afterwards, we bought a ton of chocolate from the shop. They don't have seconds, but they had a lot of out of date choc (dodge!) which I didn't buy. We got some cheap crunchie bars, a bag of assorted Favourites, dark chocolate flakes, a Yowie, and a huge bag of what I call Vomit Buttons (i.e. choc buttons in 3 ghastly colours). I bought a keyring and a fridge magnet showing the surrounds of the factory. We took the bus back to the city, to the docks (which have a very different connotation in Hobart than in Mel!)

A view of the Derwent river.

A motel with a cheesy archway.

We were dropped off at, handily enough, the Tourist Information Centre. We started a brochure collection. I find something curiously and primitively enjoyable about choosing brochures. Perhaps the bright colours? Perhaps because they're free?

We passed a souvenir shop on the way to look for lunch, and S wanted to go in. I thought, "what the hell? We're tourists, there's no use denying it." So I went in too. I didn't buy anything, but S got a t-shirt. He asked me which one to get. Foolish boy! Asking me to make a decision! While he paid, I admired some 'Genuine Kangaroo Scrotum' pouches. S didn't think they were I real. I hoped they weren't.

Kangaroo scrotum pouches. (Not the ones I saw: picture from internet.)

There were a line of floating fish and chip shops at the docks, attended by a steady stream of customers (and seagulls!). The bus driver had recommended the nearest one, Flippers, so we went there (see #2 on map 2).

Flippers Fish and Chips.
This pic I stole off the internet is old - it has a different sign now.

It had an impressive array of meal deals, though having to stand on a small platform over the water to order was more than a bit disconcerting. My fishburger was delicious, and my flat white was not half bad. While I was eating, I noticed the chippery swaying slightly in the breeze, and I couldn't help but wonder how they secure the deep fryer in a high wind! Slosh ... slosh ...

We decided to find the cinema and buy the Harry Potter tickets straight after lunch. (Yay! Harry Potter!!) It was on Collins St., about 3 blocks up from Elizabeth St. (see #4 on map 2). Most of the streets in Hobart have the same names as those in the centre of Melbourne, but in different orientations, so it was a little confusing. S made the obligatory joke: "no it's not, it's on Bourke St!" We decided that something between 4pm and 6pm was best. Being a small cinema, they only had one screen showing Harry Potter (how primitive!) at 3 hour intervals. We had to go for the 3.30pm. There was an Intencity arcade at the cinema; it must have been the cool hangout for the under 18s, cause it was crawling with teenage boys in very large pants, and teenage girls in very short skirts and very fluffy boots (wow, they have fashion here!).

Speaking of the native population... I realised (later) that there were very few people of non-Anglo appearance on the streets. Aside from tourists, I only saw a couple of Asian people, and I don't recall seeing any Greek, Italian or Middle-Eastern people at all. But that makes sense considering Tasmania's history, and its (ill-gotten, according to the guidebook!) reputation as a provincial backwater.

There were no homies. There was a healthy sprinkling of skater boys (they seemed to hang out at the Elizabeth St. Mall) and teenyboppers (mostly at the cinema), but I didn't see any hippies at all. Then again, they probably don't hang out in the city. I didn't see very many people of my own age, but the ones I did see looked to be unassumingly alternative, I guess you could say, in their dress (neither ultra fashionable, or daggy). The adults were fairly standard - neither particularly rich nor particularly poor in their dress.

There were plenty of high fashion shops (e.g. Esprit, Sportsgirl), but there weren't a lot of people going in and out, like in Melbourne. (Later, when we went through Miss Shop at Myer, I could see all the latest fashions all lined up and ready to go (I snorted at the cable-knitted jumpers), but there were no customers there. This was at 7pm, but still...)

It slowly sank in as we walked back from the cinema that we would only have time to do one touristy place before the movie. We made a beeline for the museum (see #3 on map 2). We'd noticed that it was right over the road from Flippers when we were having lunch, so we knew exactly where it was.

On the way, I observed that almost all the buildings were really old. It was a lot like Ballarat in that sense, to such an extent that I was surprised when I saw a building of 50s style or later, and even the couple of Art Deco buildings stood out. One of the brochures I had picked up was Hobart's Historic Places : A Walking Guide through the City Centre. It had a map showing 51 historic landmarks in the centre of the city. When I stopped to do up my shoelace on the way to the museum, I spied out the historic T & G Building, which description I quote:

"This imposing Modern-style building was erected in 1938. The stepped clock tower is a typical Art Deco feature."
-- Young, David (writer) and Dean, Rebecca (illustrator). Hobart's Historic Places : A Walking Guide through the City Centre. Hobart: City Council, 1997. Item 32.

I'm sorry to say that "imposing" is a rather misleading description. It now houses, if my memory serves me correctly, an Esprit store and a newsagent. How the mighty fall!

To be fair, the poor author was probably instructed to fill up two A4 pages with old buildings within one square kilometre of the GPO and was starting to get a bit desperate. He was probably hoping that potential readers would subscribe to the notion that every building more than 30 years old must be important!

I wish we'd had time to see St. David's Park (the first cemetery), the Neo-Egyptian design synagogue, the model tudor village (built by a man with polio), the State Library, the W. C. Crowther Museum of medical instruments, the Japanese garden at the Botanic Gardens, Narryna Folk Museum, the Allport Library/Museum ... and that's just all the stuff within walking distance!!

Anyway, I didn't mean this to turn into a rant. Onwards to the museum! It was around this time that I was observed to say, "I want a penguin hat too!"

The museum/art gallery was really quite small, but that was okay.

A very small Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery.
Why didn't I take my own photo??
You have to put up with this tiny one stolen from the internet.

First we saw a Muttaburrasaurus skeleton, stuffed animals, rocks & crystals (the fluoroescent ones were cool) and the Megafauna: the short-nosed kangaroo, a wombat the size of a rhinoceros, etc. S and I discussed the possible reasons why the megafauna became so mega, and why they died out. Next, some landscape paintings (which I never really liked - but there were some great portraits).

Artists' impression of a Muttaburrasaurus.

Then a temporary exhibition called eclectica. It certainly was eclectic! Billed as a display of various items that people have collected, and donated/sold to the museum, really only the first room was. It had your standard birds' eggs, stuffed animals and pressed plants, plus a really cool artwork which consisted of a pile of museum-style metal storage boxes of different sizes, with different animals made of cut-out tin sheets with black ink details inside each one, seen through bars drawn on the clear plastic fronts. A label on each one made a wry comment on its occupant, e.g. the endangered bird of paradise still opens its wings, despite having no mate to show them to. Very moving. If only I'd been able to take a photo of it!

The second room had furniture, a couple of 19th-century jackets (which I examined closely), portraits, modern paintings with a collecting theme, antique homewares (the ugly type that officials receive as gifts and they have to keep to avoid offending anyone and starting World War 3), documents granting land, etc.

The third room told the stories of various families and people who were prominent in Hobartian society, e.g. the governor; a physician; an apothecary, etc. It had more portraits, furniture, a writing desk, needleworks, medals, etc.

Nineteenth-century apothecary's kit.
Another tiny photo because I couldn't take my own. Sigh.

At the back I saw a sedan chair (carry chair) and was about to go into a rant of righteous indignation about the abuse of convicts and their unofficial status as slaves, when I read the panel next to the item. It had belonged to Lady Jane Franklin, described as "intellectual and explorer" (exhibition text card), who had almost single-handedly brought culture, arts and literature to Hobartian society. In her 50s she became ill, but wanted to go on one last expedition to the north-west of Tasmania. Her husband (?) had the chair built for her so she could go. However, soon after the expedition started, her maid became sick, so she let her maid ride in the chair almost the whole way. What a woman! She sounded fascinating. I wanted to know more!

The last room had items from the 20th-century: medals and guns from World War 1, portraits, an artists' easel, toys, chocolate moulds and stirrers from the Cadbury factory, household pots & pans, and some fabrics samples from the 60s (which, of course, I examined closely). There were also a Fair Isle jumper and mitten (black and white), made in the 1930s.

By this stage we both had very sore feet and had to sit down at regular intervals, but we ploughed on upstairs.

I skipped past the Coins & Medals Room (which was very comprehensive and looked interesting) to the Costume Room. It consisted of 3 chipao (Chinese garments: 1 men's, 1 women's and 1 child's), about 5 Chinese embroidered sleeve bands, and 10 pairs of Chinese shoes. That's it. It was a little disappointing.

The displays on Aboriginal life (as were the Geology and Megafauna displays) were very traditional: cabinets with wood panelling, lifesize dioramas with fibreglass models of unclothed natives by a campfire, along with line drawings of down-trodden-looking Aborigines with names like 'Timmy' and 'Fanny', probably done only minutes before they were packed off to a rat-infested reservation far, far away from the 'civilised' people. The topics covered were also very old-fashioned: material culture like stone tools, shell necklaces (all actually created in the 1970s and credited to people with very English-sounding names), and baskets, as well as maps of migration patterns. There was no info on language, music, art, nor the genocide.

Did they actually think doing this to animals would help?

I buzzed through the Wong Collection of Chinese ceramics, which was just beautiful, but we had very little time left. We also buzzed through a room with model ships, and the convict history room, which was extremely small (think my bedsit, but with no windows!). They had a couple of mannequins in soldiers' and convicts' dress, some manacles and handcuffs, a text board about female convicts, and ones on transportation, settlement, etc.

Some of the most impressive paintings were on the staircase on the way out (a little bit Harry Potter!). They have a Bougereau!

Cupid et Psyche by Adolph-William Bougereau.

I wanted to buy at least one book on the trip, and by now my curiosity about convicts and Tasmanian animals had been piqued, but I couldn't find much that wasn't too expensive at the shop! My Secret Tasmania was too touristy, I've been wanting to read Thylacine by David Owens, but that was too expensive too, there was nothing on personalities like Lady Franklin. I ummed and aahed for a while,then bought a booklet called The Convicts of Van Diemen's Land by James F. H. Moore, for $8, which purported to dispel some of the myths about convicts that tourists have.

Then we went to the cinema!

A completely gratuitous Harry Potter picture.

Lucky we got there early, because there was a queue out the door! I had expected some such thing, but not quite so bad. Some people were exclaiming as if they'd never seen a queue before! We get that sort of thing all the time in Melbourne though. S and I had a discussion on general admission and how reserved seating is much preferable in most circumstances. We got good seats though. While we were waiting, the man behind us in line whistled the refrain from the Harry Potter theme - just once. It made us all smile, boosted my excitement level considerably, and it was stuck in my head for the next 3 hours!

A trio of hotties in the making there!

A review of the movie itself would make this description of my trip way too long! So I will skip to...

I walked out of the cinema on a high. It was the most ridiculous, but the most right thing to do - on a day trip to a historic town, to see a movie!
By this stage, it was dark. The air seemed much clearer than at home. We had dinner at Little India - a restaurant we'd seen on the way to the movie. It was packed out, which we figured was a good thing. I had the Chicken Alfrezi and a cheese naan, which were both fantastic! We (well, I) talked about the film almost non-stop during the meal. I must have been so annoying!

We had a lot of time to kill, and all the touristy things close at 5pm, so we searched out some late night shopping. We went to Myer (as you do). S bought some shoes. I found it quite boring, because all Myers are the same. Then we wandered to a Tabaret (classy!) where we ordered some hot chocolate which took ages to come. We only had 10 minutes to drink it by the time it came! We were both very tired by this time, and I'm sure my eyes were just as bloodshot as S's.

Finally it was time to get on the bus to the airport. We were subjected to a lovely sample of another Hobartian radio station playing hits of the 70s on the way (I was a little tired and emotional by this stage, okay?). The moon was full and hills were beautiful. As we were taking the most circuitous route I would have thought possible around the city to the various bus stops, I realised that many of the streets of Hobart are one-way. I'm kind of glad we didn't hire a car!

A small surprise on the way - we drove past the Neo-Egyptian-design synagogue so I got to see it at last! (There is a picture of it in Hobart's Historic Places.) It was very very small and rather interesting-looking. But there you go.

I tried to take in as much of the landscape as I could while we swept past the Botanic Gardens and over the Tasman Bridge. Looking back over the river from the far side, I mentally waved and said goodbye to Hobart. I'll come back one day. Then my attention turned back to staying awake long enough to get back home! As S said, "Travelling somewhere is half the fun, being there is the other half." I wholeheartedly agree!

We were unbelievably early for the flight. S had to have a 'random' test for explosive materials. It was (slightly!) amusing.

That almost tangible feeling of being able to sense the hundreds of hours of waiting that have passed in airports came back, and it was quite oppressive. We amused ourselves by watching some kidlings playing: "Look at the plane!" "Waaah!" "You're not my friend anymore Daddy!" etc. I had a look in the shop, hoping to buy another book, but they were all too expensive as well. I ended up getting another booklet, entitled Ghosts of Port Arthur : a Detailed Account of the Sightings of Apparitions and Unexplained Occurrences at Port Arthur Historic Site from the 1870's to the Present Day, which cost $5.95. I read the whole thing before it was even time to get on the plane! It has a cool map of Port Arthur though.

Beeeep! Another passenger has to take her shoes or her belt off.

Why aren't we on the plane yet?

We're supposed to be leaving now! What's going on? Actually, I don't mind planes being late at all. Take as much time as you need to check the plane. Check it again. One more time! You can't just pull over if there's a problem like in a bus.

We finally took off. S got the window seat this time, though I felt a bit bad that he had much less to see than I did on the way there. He snoozed most of the time too. I gave him the trivia test from the free magazine (the answers to most of the pop culture questions were: "Who gives a rat's?"). I had a cup of tea and read my convicts booklet. Terribly civilised. It seemed to be much quicker than the journey there.

We landed successfully and made our way out to the shuttle bus stop. The 10 (?) minute wait for the bus seemed almost interminable. Finally, though, we got back to the car and drove home. The scrubby trees by the freeway were beautiful in the moonlight, and I thought about how visitors to my home might perceive it. I had been away just long enough to be glad to see Melbourne again, but not quite long enough to miss it. Just a little bit longer next time would be lovely.

Got home and fell straight into bed.
I love flying! I want to fly again so badly!