Tuesday, July 29, 2008

SHOESday: Back in red

Yep, back in red. Well might you ask when wasn't I in red!

I think these are actually meant to be house slippers.

Clearly they are far too pretty just to wear around the house (unlike last week's offering!)

And since they have a nice solid sole, they do very nicely for weekend casual wear.

And if I'm really lucky, they stain my feet red as well ... oh dear!

Monday, July 28, 2008

Wimming all the way down the Champs-Elysées

When I chose Lady Eleanor for my Tour de France KAL project, throwing my chapeau into the ring as a contender for the polka dot jersey, little did I realise how appropriate a project it really was. I just thought I was making an obvious choice - entrelac is a French word after all (I hope ... ?), and it was something I've been planning to make for ages.

As I finished tier 21 last night - one tier for every stage - I thought it an appropriate place to stop and contemplate the scenery. Helloooo Paris!
I've loved watching Lady E grow as my knowledge of the Tour, the teams and the tactics grow. I've loved winding my way back and forth, back and forth, like the riders going slowly up the Pyrenees and the Alps. I've been fortunate to not have any spectacular crashes and the only scabs on my legs are from scratches where my cat has dug her claws in whilst watching the exciting bits of the race over the last three weeks. Travelling for work during the race has given me the luxury of being able to set my hotel room alarm for 7.15am to watch the race update on SBS from my bed before getting up for the day - and still being excited and cheering on Cadel and my team Silence-Lotto even though I was watching a repeat!
I've conquered the mountain that is remembering this pattern (finally! I think it was tier 19 that I felt confident enough to start a row without checking the pattern first!). Like Bernard Kohl, I'm a proud wearer of the polka dot jersey (only I've got better teeth! Sorry Bernard, but it had to be said!) although I can't claim a podium finish, as I've still got a ways to go before finishing Lady E (hopefully while watching the cycling in the Olympics, perhaps!)

I'm so proud of my team Silence-Lotto leader Cadel Evans. He did it hard, our team didn't give him as much support as he needed and he pretty much had to do it on his own, which shows what a great rider he really is. The pressure he must have been feeling must have been unbelievable and perhaps goes some way to explaining his somewhat odd behaviour off the bike during the tour (I hope so anyway). I almost shed a little tear for him last night as they were showing a retrospective of his race, as I felt his disappointment so much, but I hope he feels proud of himself, and that the experience of wearing the yellow jersey during the race will spur him on for next year.
Thanks so much to the KAL organisers, Meg and Debby, and to all the other participants - I have loved the stage reports every day and watching everyone's projects grow! And of course, to the race and the riders - bravo to you all!

As I wim my way down the Champs-Elysées, I'm standing up in my pedals, looking forward to the race again next year, and maybe some celebratory champagne!

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Almost French, almost Australian

I finished these socks ages ago but just haven't had a chance to post them until now.
In fact, I finished them on the day the Tour de France started. And given they are "almost French", I'm wearing them today. And I'll be wearing them tonight, as I cheer on Cadel Evans in the time trial where I hope he will gain at least 1min34s - but hopefully more! They are even "almost Australian" - if only that pale blue was white instead! So perfect, I think.

Yarn: Yarntini self-striping sock yarn in colour McDreamy (yep - blue for the scrubs, dark blue for the eyes, and red for the ... um, blood? (ewwwwwwww!)). This is fabulous yarn but unfortuntely fairly hard to get (I was lucky, someone was destashing!) and the skeins are really generous - I've got at least 30g left.

Pattern: Simple stocking stitch toe up socks, used Judy's Magic Cast-on for the toe, short row heel and 2x2 rib on the cuff, with the sewn bind-off. I did the main partof the sock on 64 stitches and increased to 68 stitches as I moved up the leg before the cuff.
Sticks: KnitPicks fixed circular, 2.5mm, using magic loop.

Time: I was planning on knitting these only while watching Grey's Anatomy (hey, it's McDreamy yarn after all!) but the series finished before I got the knitting finished! So 10 February 2008 - 5 July 2008.

What I learnt: I thought about trying to make the stripes match on the second sock, but then couldn't be bothered (surprise!). I was extremely pleased to see that the stripes actually alternate on the second sock, as does the colours on the heel. So I learnt that it can be good to be lazy, because I bet if I actually tried to do this, it just would not have worked!
Now, go Cadel! I'm working the sock mojo for you tonight!!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Lanterne Rouge?

I'm feeling a bit Wim Vansevenant at the moment - bringing up the rear in the Tour de France. I keep plugging away at Lady E, but there's still a looooooooong way to go.

Here she is at tier can'tremember (lucky I can count - it's tier 11):

I can't get a great picture of the colour and variations within this yarn - the one above is a good representation of the different tones in the yarn, and the one below is a better reflection of the colours (and also of the back, which is quite different in texture to the front - I'm quite taken with it actually!)

I've done a couple more tiers since these pictures were taken on the weekend, I am in fact on tier 15 right now - out of 34 in total. So really, I'm not that far behind or anything. But it is starting to look like a bigger ask than the Alpe d'Huez.

But there's nothing wrong with being the Red Lantern, is there? Do I get a nice red jersey?

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

SHOESday: Bet you thought you'd never see this...

So, I bet many of you thought you'd never see this on SHOESday.

I'm afraid that it's true: I have to confess that I spent a week in Melbourne (working, mainly) and the only shoes I bought were these:Yes, that's right, people - Ugg boots!

But red ones, so completely (oh, ok, moderately) acceptable!
(In my defence, I tried, I tried so valiantly, to buy shoes - I mean actual, proper, nice shoes, but there were none to be had. Well, not in my size and to my taste, anyway. Oh, and the ugg boots were part of my costume as Kimmoi at my friend Miss J's Australiana party (she went as Kath). But clearly I will continue to wear the uggs. Just only not out of the house!)

Monday, July 21, 2008

Sprinting for the line

I thought I'd take advantage of the flat stages over the past few days in the Tour de France to have a bit of a sprint, before the race hits the Alps and into Italy. Makes a nice change from the long slog of climbing mountains with Lady Eleanor.

And besides, I had a good reason - I can't let this go naked, now can I??!!So, to the creation of the iSock! Or the iPocket (I can't decide which name is better ...)Details

Yarn: Wollmeise sock yarn in Rosenrot, about 10g - had to have a RoseRed iSock/iPocket for my rosey red iPod...Sticks: 2.25mm KnitPicks fixed circular and then metal dpns for the flap strap.

Pattern: My own - after all, it's not rocket science. CO 40 stitches in the round, work 2x2 rib until it's long enough, do 3 needle bind off (or kitchener if you can be bothered, which I couldn't!), pick up enough stitches to make the flap strap (9, in my case), garter stitch until it's long enough, make buttonhole (3 stitch wide 1 row buttonhole) and do a few more rows, cast off! Weave in ends. Sew on button (one day, hopefully I'll find a button shaped like an apple. Or would that be too much?)Time: Heh, I'm not a very quick sprinter. Would definitely not beat Mark Cavendish! 17 July - 19 July 2008.What I learnt: I'm quite happy with this little iSock - will help avoid scratches, holds the cord as well as the iPod, can be worn whilst in operation and doesn't have to be removed to change songs (I often listen to the iPod on shuffle, so can just click to next song through the sock if I need to) and hey, it's red. Rose Red even!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Blazing Saddles!

(no, not the movie! the book!)

To ensure I didn't suffer by missing anything Tour de France on the rest day on Tuesday, I bought a book at the airport in Melbourne while I was waiting for my (delayed) flight - Blazing Saddles by Matt Rendell. It's a potted history of the TdF (subtitled "The cruel and unusual history of the Tour de France").

It's not bad if you want a quick read, with an overview of each year of the race, and don't mind a fairly florid writing style - for example, of the "founder" of the TdF, Henri Desgrange, Rendell says "If the mad Marquis with the pornographic imagination had never existed, the word for taking pleasure from the infliction of pain and mental suffering on others would be 'desgrangism'".

Which, let's face it, is probably true given that Rendell reports that in the early Tours, the riders had to perform all mechanical repairs themselves, from items carried on them (most pictures show them with at least 2 or 3 inner tubes wrapped around their upper bodies, not unlike a bolero style cardigan!), they didn't wear any protective gear, and weren't allowed to ride as teams and to "assist" each other in the way they do now. Oh, and the Tours themselves were often over 5,000km, ridden on dirt (often muddy) roads over mountains and apparently during the night as well as the day. And spectators would regularly scatter nails on the road and even beat some of the riders!

But it's not all bad - apparently some used to drink champagne before each stage, and fans (or perhaps, saboteurs!) would often give them bottles of beer during the race (and not stubbies, oh no, longnecks!!).
So I'm onto tier 9 of my Lady Eleanor - sorry for the dark picture but it's not easy getting a day-time photo at the moment! Will update more on the weekend. It's not going to be finished during the race, but I've totally got the hang of this entrelac business. Now I just have to memorise the pattern so I can stop referring to it each time I start a new tier! That's when I'll have really earned my polka dot jersey!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

SHOESday: Kitteh paws

Yeah, so I thought I might get away with not revealing the final figure, but you were all on to me ... so, would you be shocked if I said (erm) 85?

So these are the most recent acquisitions - I saw these earlier this year and was stalking them since, hoping against hope they'd go on sale and I'd find them in my size.

Clearly the karma gods were smiling on me because these beauties are now mine...
I was flashing them to one of my work friends and noted how soft they are - just like slippers - she said they were so soft you'd think they were made of kitteh paws. So ever since, they've been known by us as the kitteh paw shoes. And every time I see a picture of kittens on Cute Overload I send them off to her noting the possibilities for my next pair of shoes!
(Kidding! Clearly I would not wear shoes made of actual kitteh paws ... do you believe me?!)

A Day in My Life: Monday 14 July 2008

Bonjour and a happy Bastille Day for yesterday! I haven't had much time to blog or read blogs since my last post, as I've been working interstate (in Melbourne) since last Wednesday (back home tonight - woohoo!) So my Day in My Life for this month will be a bit different to normal, which is kinda nice actually. So here's how I spent my yesterday, in a (relatively large) nutshell:

7.15am - woke up to my phone alarm (how I hate the sound of it!). Fumbled around trying, in my sleep haze, to work out how to turn it off. Turned on the tv using whizzbang touchscreen thingy in the hotel, to catch the 7.15am Tour de France update on SBS - am really enjoying being involved in the TdF KAL. Then flipped over to channel 9 to catch the 7.30 news update - I love the luxury of waking up in a hotel bed and watching a bit of morning tv to start the day.

7.45am - got up, showered, dressed and walked one block to work (another thing that's good about working interstate - almost no travel time to work!). Bought breakfast on the way - vege turkish toast and a capuccino.

9.05am - caught up with colleague over the events of the weekend - I stayed with a friend who has recently become an Australian citizen and she had an "Australiana" party on Saturday night - some excellent costumes including Sir Les Patterson and Dame Edna Everage (yes, in the same room at the same time!!).

9.30am - preparation for a couple of team sessions I'm co-presenting today - had to prepare slideshow and think about what I was going to say ... always a good idea to work that out before standing up in front of a bunch of people!

11am - noon - completed first session - went ok but could have been better. First session for my co-presenter so it was a bit clunky, but overall fine - and it finished half an hour early - which means more time for ...

12.30 - 1.30pm - shopping! Checked out a few Melbourne shoe stores (no, I didn't buy anything ... yet!) and then had to go to Clegs. Mmmm, yarn sale! 10% off everything. In my quest to be (relatively) good, I only purchased some plain Patonyle sock yarn (pale grey, black and cream) - thought it could be good for fair isle socks since Husby now wants a pair. Was surprised at good range of yarn Clegs had though - Rowan! wow! Melbourne has great yarn stores...

1.30pm - grabbed a sandwich on my way back to the office and did the sudoku from the newspaper while I ate at my desk (it's probably entirely nerdy, but I do like to do the sudoku every day - hopefully that research that says keeping your brain active guards against dementia/alzheimers later in life is correct ...)

2pm - preparation for second session of the day - this one might be more of a challenge and so I try to think more about what I'm going to say, and plan phrases etc out in my head.

3-4.30pm - planning didn't help much ... in fact, I think it made me a bit nervous for this session - but I made it through ok, and the session went really quite well, which was a relief, as this was a team we were somewhat worried about.

4.30-6.30pm - downloaded a bit after the session, planned for the final session which will be tomorrow (Tuesday), proofread a publication, read emails and caught up with some work.

6.30pm - dinner with one of our suppliers, who is based in Melbourne - went to one of those fab little Melbourne bars/restaurants tucked away behind a door - you have no idea how big it is until you go in - Melbourne does these so well, Sydney not so much. Or mabye I just don't know where to look. Very nice to be taken out as a client, that doesn't happen to me much. Or at all, really. Mmmmm sticky pork and then a honey creme pot (creme brulee inspired) for dessert - I was absolutely stuffed!

9.30pm - back to hotel, in my jarmies, cup of tea, knitting, watching tv - waiting for the start of today's stage of the Tour de France. Finished tier 8 and ball #2 of my Lady Eleanor and was quite pleased with myself.

11pm - got into bed and watched a little more of the Tour - so exciting!! I just get so sucked in to it, it's hard to turn the tv off...but I do, eventually, and sleep very well indeed. Can't wait to be in my own bed though tomorrow night!

(SHOESday will return later today!!)

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

SHOESday: Prizes!

Hmmm, do you think I've got enough red shoes?I wonder how many shoes I've got all together?

Thanks everyone for your guesses for my little blogthday competition! While I'd love to say I had 150 pairs, or even 117, or even 91, it's fewer than that ... although I did try Michele's suggestion with husby, telling him that because I don't have at least 200 pairs of shoes I'm letting the side down. His response: "what side?". Hmpf, that kinda got me and so I pathetically responded: "the side that wants me to have lots of shoes...?".

I'm not entirely sure he was convinced...

Oh well, onto the winners! No-one got the exact number, but there were some who were very close!

-closest guess - Jen - let me know if you'd prefer the Fleece Artist sea wool sock yarn (Blackberry, 1 x 100g skein) or the Regia silk sock yarn (Burgundy, 2 x 50g balls) (both of which of course can be used for other things - I've seen the Regia silk used for a beautiful shawl, for example!)

-random draw - Sue (you get the other!)

-closest guess - Queen of the Froggers - let me know if you'd like the Kaalund Classic Two, which is a laceweight but which I've seen knitted double to make the softest scarf (colour Poinsettia, 2 x 50g balls) or the Woolganic 100% organic Australian wool in Chilli (8ply/DK weight, 2 x 50g balls)

-random draw - Terhi (you get the other!)
(please email me with preferences and addresses! my email address is in the sidebar, or you can contact me on Ravelry - I'm RoseRed!)

Thanks everyone for entering!! It did finally make me count my shoes ... and think that it's about time some of them were retired to the great garbage bin in the back yard ... although I might flash some of the old faithfuls before that happens!

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Stage 1: Brest - Plumelec

Tension increased throughout the day as the wait continued for the start of the first stage of the Tour - I've signed up for the TdF KAL and am going for a polka dot jersey - something that is meant to be a challenge - for me, learning a new knitting skill, entrelac -which seems appropriately gallic!

So 10pm (the start time of the telecast) approached and I made myself a nice pot of tea and settled down with my yarn and pattern, ready to cast on (go Cadel!).
Clearly, the alcohol I'd had that afternoon did not act as a performance enhancing drug, as I had to cast on 4 times - the first 3 times because I underestimated the amount of tail I needed to do my backwards loop cast on, and then the 4th time as I realised that you don't use the tail to do a backwards loop cast on...le sigh!

But after my initial tumbles, I got back on my bike and made it through the first tier of triangles:
Then today, through the second tier:
And the third:
And I'm on the fourth now, as I watched the day 1 highlights and saw my Team Silence-Lotto teammate, Cadel Evans, one of the tour favourites and Aussie to boot, come in 6th at the end of stage 1, and I was pleased. Clearly my knitting efforts have carried him through so far (heh!)

Friday, July 04, 2008

Because it's my blogthday

It's my blogthday and I'll give away yarn if I want to, yarn if I want to - you would do it too if it happened to you!

So it's my 2nd blogthday. Oh, and there's also some celebration of something or other going on in the US. Not sure what it could be, but it's a long weekend or something... (heh!)

A question I am often asked is how many pairs of shoes I have. And to be perfectly honest, I don't actually know. Well, all that is going to change, because I'm having a little giveaway planned to celebrate! To celebrate shoes, and yarn, and bloggy goodness.

All you have to do, to win a little yarny prize from this bowl, is to guess how many pairs of shoes I have. The only hint I can give you is that I haven't finished posting them all!

There's two prizes for the closest guess - one for an Aussie, one for an overseas-ian. And two more prizes which will be a lucky draw, name out of the hat job. Again, one for an Aussie, one for an overseas-ian. I've got lovely Aussie yarn (8ply/DK organic or Austalian wool laceweight) for the overseas-ians, and fab but relatively-hard-to-get-in-Australia sock yarn for the Aussies. And, as you can see, all in shades of red (through to burgundy and purple). Because it's me, after all!

So, in summary, all you have to do is guess the total number of pairs of shoes I have (and I'm counting all my footwear in this!) and let me know whether you're from Australia or from overseas! Entries are open until next SHOESday post!

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Keeping Track - June 2008

Oh dear - what with the Craft Fair and then Knitting Camp, June was a bad bad month for the stash enhancement (or should I say a good good month!). Lots of yarn came into my house in June...and I'm not entirely sure July is going to be much better (oh dear...again!).

So here's the numbers:

In: 43.5 x 50g balls - double urk!
Out: 12.5 x 50g balls - not bad - all my knitting in June was done with stash yarn (as opposed to new yarn!)

YTD: +81.5 x 50g balls - sigh... that's enough to keep me going for about 7 months, assuming I knit about 10-12 balls each month. As the Yarn Harlot says - planning for retirement, planning for retirement!

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

SHOESday: Fierce!

Because one pair of leopard print shoes is not enough...
Heels for work, flats for the weekend. Great with jeans.
A fabulous, fierce reminder of New York!