Thursday, January 31, 2008

Don't Hate Me

This is sort of self congratulatory and bragging (and for that I apologise) but I just need for you to know that Rufus Wainwright was also most excellent last night! In fact, he seemed a bit more relaxed than on Tuesday night and the audience was a bit more revved up. People leapt to their feet a few times, and not just for the standing ovation he received at the end.

Also, you know, I never thought that anyone could make a fluoro lime green satin suit look good, but he managed it.

Oh, and Sam Neill (plus a smattering of local celebs and demi-celebs) was there!

That is all.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

On The Short List

I was Google searching for Japanese knitting books (yes, obsessed) and I found a couple of pics from some of the Japanese men's knitting books I already own. This is not the cardigan I plan on making next, I couldn't find a picture of that one anywhere, but here's a pic of one of the one's that's on the short list:

I like the zip front, the cunning way the rib changes direction to give a nice shoulder fit, and the overall slim fit of it from the stretchy rib. I probably wouldn't make this in white, because hello Blimpy McBlimperton, right? But I would make it in a slate grey maybe. Or a heathery grey green. Or black would be nice, but too hard on the eyes to knit.

Do we like?

[Click the picture to see more detail.]

Call Her "Miss Wainwright"

Last night Jodie Sorrell and I went to see the lovely Rufus Wainwright in concert at The State Theatre. Jodie had an extra ticket, and in an extremely kind and generous gesture treated me to the concert! I know, right? Score. It was the first time Jodie and I had ever hung out just the two of us, having met previously through a mutual friend, and we had a hoot of a time!

We began in grand style with some public shaming of ourselves. The support act, a young singer/guitarist from Perth calle Leena, was only mildly engaging with her earnest and complicated folksy songs, and was playing to a half empty theatre. Meanwhile most of the crowd (ie: The Gays and a few others) were still sensibly sipping beverage items in the foyer. Jodie and I sat through her first three numbers or so, and were quietly (we thought) getting our snark on. I mean, does anyone really need to re-tune their guitar before every song? Also, there really isn't any reason to chat to your audience about "this thing that I do" when there is a perfectly good word like "performing" that will suffice.

Anyhoo, to my surprise a tightly wound young woman a few rows in front of us (viewing the concert sans friends it should be noted) turned around and told us to leave if we were going to talk through the entire performance. Well, Leena had one fan in the audience at least. The embarassing thing is, she sort of had a point and I have kind of been that tightly wound person in the past. So we repaired to the gothick splendour of the foyer to get our wine on and look at the pretty boys.

So, the main event. Herr Rufus and his lederhosen. (Actually he started in a sparkly patchwork silk suit with sequins, but the lederhosen made an appearance for the second half.) He was fabulous. He certainly knows how to put on a show, and his little quips and anecdotes, and one song dedication to "the pretty Australian surfer boys" (and then a request for phone numbers if any were in the house) just added to the fun of the show. At one point Jodie turned to me and said "Oh, I've never heard him speak before!". Ha ha! Yes, this boy is camp.

Rufus was particularly enamoured of the splendour of the State Theatre, and proved the acoustics by singing a traditional Irish folk song without the aid of the microphones. This boy can sing out, let me tell you. It was a great moment, and you could have heard a pin (brooch?) drop.

Anyone who is going to see the concert tonight STOP READING NOW.

Ok, are they gone?... Good.

The encores were amazing! After a long closing musical interlude, where the band members exited the stage one by one, they all returned in formal suits and with Rufus in a white robe. Something is up I thought. Yup, at the start of song three of the encore he proceeded to sit front and centre stage and slowly clip on some diamante earrings... then on went some lipstick... then some high heels. The lights dipped and then standing before us was Miss Judy Garland, in black stockings, fitted tuxedo jacket and black fedora! He then belted his way through a spirited perfomance of "C'mon, Get Happy!" while the band members did service as back up dancers.

That my friends is entertainment.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Warm Hands

Cold heart.

(BTW "Tight box." is the usual rejoinder between my friends and I.)

I needed a break from the never ending 2x2 rib scarf of doom and despair that I've been knitting, and really wanted a quick little fill-in project. I also wanted to knit something from one of the Japanese knitting books I've been collecting recently.

Japanese Fingerless Gloves

So I decided to use up the extra skein of Jo Sharp "Silkroad Aran Tweed" that I had left in my stash from the beanie that I knit last year, and make a pair of cunning little easy peasy fingerless gloves. Just perfect for cigar smoking, should I ever decide to take it up!

Japanese Fingerless Gloves

They were quick and easy, just two rows of knit and two rows of purl to give stretchy horizontal ridges. A simple turn sideways and some seaming that leaves a hole for the thumb and voila! (Or whatever the Japanese equivalent of voila! is.) Of course it's summer here at present, but come the cooler months I will be prepared!

The Short Long Weekend Recap

I think the best kinds of weekends are ones that have a mix of social time, time hanging out with friends, and down time to just potter and futz about, you know? This long weekend was a pretty good mix of both I have to say, with the balance tipped a little in favour of socialising.

Friday night I had dinner with friends, Saturday a demi-successful* shopping expedition and coffee with more friends, Sunday afternoon a fun session of knitting at the pub and then a Sunday night barbeque with other friends. Sunday night was a late one, so I had what amounted to a sleep in for me (7.45am) and ended up skipping a breakfast that some other friends had organised. Instead I took some of that down time for myself and spent the day puttering at home, defrosting and cleaning out the refridgerator, doing laundry, and watching DVDs of "Arrested Development". It was nice, but by the end of the day I had that itchy feeling like I should have been out socialising!

So, a good one. Catching up with so many friends that I don't see all the time was great. Oh, and my sparkling, fresh smelling refridgerator gives me a visceral pleasure that only a goal achieved can bring.

* We went to Prints Charming and despite a sign on the door saying that they reopened on Saturday, they were shut. I've sinced noticed a footnote on their website saying that they reopen on 4th February. Mixed messages guys!

Friday, January 25, 2008

An Embarrassment Of Riches

I need to make a small correction to a previous entry. Remember the other day when I wrote that by this time next week I will have seen Rufus Wainwright in concert? That wasn't entirely accurate.

I will have seen him TWICE.

I already have a ticket for Wednesday night, and now thanks to a certain lovely lady I'm also going on Tuesday night! Squeeeee.


What is better than staring down the barrel of a 3 day weekend, I ask you? Really. It's Australia Day long weekend this weekend, and I shall celebrate by being as Australian as I can all weekend! Beer will be drunk, and so shall I most probably. I draw the line at watching sports though.

What to do? What to do?

I've already celebrated having the house to myself all week by strolling sans pants around the house at whim. Me? Oh I'm just wandering to the bathroom stark naked, thanks for asking! So I can check that off the list.

Likewise I've also celebrated the recent gift of a freebie DVD player by reacquainting myself with the porn ouevre watching a few films. Thumbing my nose at the endless hours of cricket and other sportish things that mean summer tv in Oz. They do that to me every year, and I hate them for it.

There's always the knitting.

I'll probably do some stuff around the house. Clean up the garden a bit. Buy some fabric to cover the pin up boards I scored the other day. Start cutting out a pattern to recover my sofa. Ask Gardener to repot the orangery and then instruct the staff on the proper way to clean the silver. (Sorry, tipped into Martha Stewart there for a moment.)

Maybe take to some lazy mornings abed with book and some damn fine coffee.


Thursday, January 24, 2008

5 Things About Thursday 24th January, 2008.

  • Mandarin & sandalwood shampoo. Jojoba and lavender conditioner. Sandalwood body wash. Seriously, I smell pretty good right now and kind of like someone's front yard.
  • I am so bone tired I can't even begin to tell you. I woke up a heap of times last night and lay there not feeling sleepy at all. I nearly took a pill, but then in the back of my mind I thought of Heath, and logical or not that stayed my hand.
  • Because I have kind and generous friends, I scored a freebie dvd player last night! They upgraded and didn't have a use for their old one, so passed it on after reading my blog post about going to buy a dvd player. Isn't that cool?
  • I'm going to go and get a sweet, hot boyfriend. Hey, anyone got one they're not using?
  • This time next week I will have seen Rufus Wainwright (aka my boo) in concert and will be basking in the afterglow. Oh yes I will.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Scissors & A Glue Stick

I don't have kids (see: homo), or even a colour printer, but if I did I would be printing out some of these Japanese paper dollhouses super pronto. (Actually, the kids bit is not even really that pertinent, because I would totally play with these myself anyway!)

I want to play Le Marchand de Legumes! There are a heap more of them, and they are all set up as pdfs to download and cut out.

Remember kids, no running with those scissors!

[Link via How About Orange.]

The Words Flow From My Pen Like... Like...

Remember recently when I wrote a testimonial for facecream? Oh you better believe that they were so dazzled by my copy that they are sending me a release to use it in their advertising. Oh, and schwag! They are sending me schwag. Score.

So, never keep your mouth shut when you could be giving your opinion, apparently!

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Reecie's New Tattoo

So fantastic!


Sometimes you need to wear your allegiance to your craft for all to see.

Colours Of Summer

Colours Of Summer
Red Passion Flower, passiflora coccinea.

Colours Of Summer
My new and thoroughly awesome vintage Hawaiian shirt.

Colours Of Summer
Fashion standby, the classic plastic flower bra.

Colours Of Summer
Not so much 'grass', as raffia and plastic. Beware naked flames.

Don't feel a little cheerier now?

Monday, January 21, 2008

Make Do & Renew

I've been thinking about my little house the past few days. She's about to get a cosmetic makeover in the form of new paint inside and out, which is exciting and also makes my head hurt when I consider how much work it is going to entail to empty and move all the furniture to make the house painter ready.

(For a start, whose idea was it to buy enough books to fill 7 bookcases, huh? Don't answer that, it was rhetorical. Oh fie my bookish nature!)

I feel like I need to spruce things up a bit in general, as well as making the place a bit more desireable for potential housemates. I've posted grand plans in the recent past about buying new furniture, but the sad truth is that I'm not in a financial space to be able to do that. Especially while I'm paying nearly 50% of my income on double my usual rent. So I'm thinking a little budget makeovering is the ticket. Something like:
  • Getting the carpets cleaned. I need to get the bedroom carpets and my living room rug steam cleaned.
  • Making a new slipcover for my sofa. I can do this, I have the mad skillz required. Also, $100 - $150 worth of fabric (or whatever), and some time spent at the sewing machine, is going to be a lot more doable than forking over for a new sofa. Plus more fun. Well my kind of fun. Fun that involves complicated maths, pattern drafting, making piping.
  • During a throw out at work I scored two big cork pin-up boards. I'm thinking of covering each of these in a cute fabric and putting one in the kitchen near the phone, and the other in my bedroom. I have a huge collection of postcards and ephemera, so filling them won't be a problem. My kitchen's main colour is a fresh green so I might even go for something like this cute retro print by local fabric studio Prints Charming.
  • I need file storage and I also have a non-functioning fireplace in my bedroom. So I'm thinking maybe a secondhand two drawer filing cabinet, or some of those plastic box things that take drop in files. Something that can sit in that unused space inside the fireplace, and then I was thinking of making a folding screen to sit in front and hide everything. The local discount shops in Newtown sell really cheap artist's canvases in all sorts of shapes and sizes, so if I bought 3 or 4 tall and skinny ones, of a size that fit in front of the open part of the fireplace, stapled fabric over them or even painted them, and then joined them in a zigzag pattern with hinges, voila! firescreen. Mad, right?

Projects! It's good to have projects.

That's Ms Stewart to you!

Quiet Times

I won't go into too much detail of the activities of my bowels and digestive tract (How's that for an opener?!), but suffice to say I had ongoing tummy troubles from Thursday afternoon and well into the weekend. So consequently I had Friday off work and a pretty quiet weekend.

I spent some time knitting with the Sydney Sity Klickers on Saturday afternoon, and then at The Courthouse Hotel with our regular pub knitting crowd on Sunday. We had three lovely ladies from San Diego in the US visit us at The Courthouse, who were in Sydney as part of a cruise of Australia and New Zealand. They were lots of fun and as it turned out one of them was a published knitting author, and one of our regular knitters Cecilia owned a copy of her book. A brush with fame.

It was a tropical and stormy weekend, hot and with thundering rain one minute and killing humidity the next. My housemate moved out on Saturday in rain that pretty much didn't let up all day. Once his room is cleaned and repainted, I'm in the market for another housemate. In the meantime though I'm enjoying having the house to myself. If I could afford to live alone I definately would.

So, meh. Even though I've filled a bunch of paragraphs here, there isn't much to report from the weekend. I still feel a little 'off colour' this morning, but in general it was nice to have a quiet weekend, and nice to get a some closure and possibility for change for the better in my living situation.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Save The Boston Terrier!

Whomever it was who found this blog via a Google search for Boston + Terrier + Valium, all I can say is please don't give your dog valium.

But if you've got any to spare...

Saturday, January 19, 2008

How Does One Spell "Piquey"?

I woke up feeling a bit peeky peaky off colour yesterday, and what with the dreary rainy day and all, decided to have a Mental Health Day. Upset tummy tums sort of day, nothing too serious.

So I had a quiet day away from The Interwebs; did some knitting, read "Italian Food" by Elizabeth David, got hungry, went down the street on a foraging mission, realised that no matter how many lemons and good tomatoes I buy I'm still not languishing in the shade of an Umbrian grapevine, and consoled myself with an impromptu early afternoon trip to the cinema. (In my head the word "cinema" is always pronounced with a posh English accent - Cinemaaaaaah, darling.)

I saw Juno. Run, don't walk (in fact, if you have superpowers fly) to a cinemaaaaah near you that it is playing this film, because it is fabulous. Charming, quirky without being too quirky (if you know what I mean), funny, and above all heart warming. It has three of my favourite boys in it, Michael Cera, Jason Bateman and J.K. Simmons, and some fantastic cameos and supporting roles from amazing comedic actors like Rainn Wilson and Alison Janney. Imdb has the full cast list. Some of the young actors who I had never seen before, like Olivia Thirlby who plays Juno's best friend Leah, turn in fantastic performances. Highly recommended!

The rest of the afternoon was frittered away with some window shopping, back home for some more knitting and futzing about. All in all, just what the doctor would have ordered I think.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

5 Things About Thursday Morning, January 17th

  1. I wouldn't describe myself as hung over per se, but I could have done without the last beer (or 2) with the boys last night.
  2. It's overcast and dreary.
  3. I'd rather be knitting.
  4. I think I'm going to go out and buy a cheapo DVD player tonight, I've been holding out to buy a new fangled one with a hard drive but I'm going to be poor for the next month or so... and frankly I'm missing the porn.
  5. I'm thinking of having a party and putting the details on the MySpace so that 500 middle aged ex-party animals can gatecrash my place and show the youngsters how it's really done.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008


I think LOLCATS are something you either find funny, or you really don't.

I'm definately in the 'find funny' camp, and then every now and then one comes along which makes me laugh so hard I nearly pee myself. You're welcome.

I Pledge To Do My Best

I believe in celebrating achievement. Especially mine! So I bring you my first three badges in the great and noble Order of Cast On Knitting Scouts.

The "Prosletize Knitting" Badge: I sing its praises to all who'll listen. And some who only pretend to be.

The "I Will Impress You With My Math Prowess" Badge: My first Finished Object was a beanie which I calculated and knit without a pattern (and it fit perfectly). In the process I made spiral decreases my bitch.

The "Knitting Whilst Under the Influence" Badge: Needs no explanation I would say.

Think you might have what it takes to become a fellow Scout? Head on over to Cast On and grab your badges.

OK, That's Just Plain WEIRD

This is a bit of an addenda to yesterday's post, in a way. I went sans Sweet Precious I LOVE THEM Miracle Pill last night, and I have noticed that I dream in great detail whenever I don't take one. I'm normally one of those people who never remembers their dreams, if I didn't know that everyone dreams I would swear to you that I don't. So whenever I do remember my dreams, it's always somewhat surprising.

Oh, and entertaining apparently. I swear to you 100% that I am not making this up.

Last night I was at a Spice Girls concert. (Yes, WTF? indeed.) In some sort of unspecified 'official' (non performing) capacity. I don't know, lipgloss wrangler? Who knows. In New Zealand. With an audience largely comprised of school girls, still in their uniforms. Who were given an open mike question and answer session with the girls (as I'm permitted to call them). And they all asked really dullsville questions in thick Kiwi accents.

Oh, and of course Geri and I got along the best.

Sometimes it's fun to be me.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

My Dilemma

Sleep. Sleep is my dilemma.

To be specific, my dilemma is that I'm on my last allowable prescription for the next 6 months of some Most Cunning Little Tablets that help me sleep through the night. Little 10mg parcels of Mr Sandman. I only take a half a tablet, and I only take them 2 or 3 nights a week max. Mostly because I don't want to get addicted to them, and partly because I need to make these babies last. My doctor will only give a maximum of two prescriptions for these little miracles in a 12 month period.

Spoil sport.

And because the Universe hates me and wants me to be sleep deprived with sizeable bags under my eyes for ever, they have also clamped down on these recently and made them harder to get. Even reducing the pack size. Some little issue with people having dissasociative fugue states or something whilst on them. Waking up having scarfed the entire contents of their refrigerators. Or having trashed their ex's house, after driving across town whilst asleep. Well, a) I can't drive, b) the only ex whose house I would even consider trashing lives interstate and c) my fridge never has that much in it anyway. Lucky for that ex that it takes a while to board a plane, or I could have had a valid excuse.

So, I went without last night whilst looking whistfully at the packet and thinking I have like 12 guaranteed good sleeps in the next 6 months. It wasn't too bad, I only woke up about 8 times.


Why bother heating your swimming pool...when you can just swim in knitwear instead?!

And can I just say, this is like the ultimate lesson in how to feign nonchalance, don't you think?

Monday, January 14, 2008

A Weekend Of Awesome

It wasn't all just shopping and pretending to be Frida Kahlo you know (see below).

Oh no! There was also swanning around on the Harbour on a 60 foot (20m-ish?) catamaran at sunset, avec wine and nibbly bits. Dancing to Miss Cheryl Lynn's disco hit "Got To Be Real" at 2am on a rooftop garden. (And by 'dancing' I mean walking that runway, natch.) Some serious flirting. A big dinner in Chinatown with a dozen friends. Chatting, knitting and drinking shandies* in the beer garden of The Courthouse Hotel.

Ah, summer! We do indeed love you.

Much of the weekend centered around my friend John's 40th birthday celebrations. I haven't known John for very long, and he and his boyfriend Paul are two of the sweetest people you could meet. Kind. Funny. Handsome.

(Sadly, neither has a single brother of similar ilk, but what can you do?)

The sunset harbour cruise, rooftop party and dinner the next day in Chinatown were all parts of John's birthday celebrations. I had such a fantastic time, and it was so lovely to be included in the big crowd of John's family and long term friends. To see someone who is so loved and has touched so many lives.

Oh, and yes I did chicken out on wearing the grass skirt to John's (Hawaiian themed) cruise, but at least it didn't go to waste...

*FYI - DO NOT listen to any of this ridonkulous 'ginger ale shandy' business, half beer and half lemonade equals the aewsome summer drink. Sorry, I'm a purist.

The Shopping Goddess Smiled Upon Me

Back in November I posted this entry about discovering some vintage photos on the net of a spectacularly handsome man called Tony Sansone. Sansone was an early devotee of the physical culture movement of the 20s and 30s, dancer, body sculptor and one of the earliest physique superstars.

So, I'm browsing in my favourite secondhand bookstore the other day... $35 store credit severely burning a hole in my pocket... when I found something I didn't even know existed. The Holy Grail.

A whole book about Tony Sansone, "American Adonis". Oh you can believe there was a small squeal. Mmmm hmmmm.

I'm not sure whether Sansone was particularly daring, or whether attitudes to artistic nudes were different then, or maybe it's because many of the photos were created as physique studies for artists (and some randy men), but pretty much the entire book is frontal nudes.

Not that there's anything wrong with that.

Sansone posed for a number of sculptors, and in the days well before Mystic Tan perfected a two step process of applying a bronze brown pigment to his body and then a layer of oil over the top, giving him a glorious sheen like a living statue. My favourites are some of the earliest photos, with the soft sepia photography and the stylised art deco inspired poses.

Le sigh.

Seperated At Birth!

Coincidence? YOU TELL ME.



[That my friends is what you can do with a camera, some cardboard & markers, a $2.50 plastic lei and too much time on your hands. With sincerest apologies to Ms Kahlo.]

Friday, January 11, 2008

Dress Up To Mess Up

Really, who hasn't had a moment like this? Or two...

"My Mother's Clothes (The Drag Rag)"
Romanovsky & Phillips

I remember dressing up in my mother's clothes
She had hordes of high-heeled shoes
And plenty of pairs of pantyhose
She had wigs to make me look a thousand different ways
And blouses made of silk and lace and evening gowns for days

My mother's clothes, my mother's clothes
All my dreams came true in my mother's clothes

I remember dressing up in my mother's clothes
In the woods behind my house we'd have our fashion shows
Secretly we'd gather all the old things she'd dispatch
And soon we'd have a wardrobe with accessories to match

My mother's clothes, my mother's clothes
All my dreams came true in my mother's clothes

We could be a princess from a fairy tale
Or Florence Nightingale
Curing all disease in our mother's clothes

We could be Miss Lois Lane (Oh, Superman!)
Or even Tarzan's Jane
Swinging through the trees in our mother's clothes

We could be a beauty queen (There she is!)
Or Mary Magdalene
Sinners we'd forsake in our mother's clothes
(I don't know how to love him!)

We could be Petula Clark (Downtown!)
Or even Joan of Arc
Burning at the stake in our mother's clothes

Until we learned it's not okay
For a boy to dress that way
Not allowed to fantasize
We become desensitized
To all our waking dreams
And the endless possibilities
Of roles that we can play

Now some of us still dress up in our mothers' clothes
And some of us just like to watch and some look down their nose
But we've all got an image that we want to convey
And drag is something each of us does every single day...

Signed Angry, Of Mayfair

Since the moment I set foot in the office this morning it has been one farging motherfunking icehole thing after another. You know? Demands, deadlines, niggles.

It's been damaging my calm, quite frankly. Left me feeling like everyone needs to just get out of my face for a wee while. Do not make me add up your figures for you! Desist asking me if I have been to the bank yet, for the third time! Reconsider your choice of calling me 10 minutes before the report deadline to remind me, again! (For I am brimming over with awareness of that fact.)

Despite the illustration, I'm not a man of violence. Not one to put up the dukes, or even sissy slap and run. Oh, but at moments like this... fear the tongue. If everything goes quiet, and a sort of preternatural calm descends, then run.

And don't stop running.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

I Have To Buy A Grass Skirt

I did not think I would ever type that sentence on this blog, but there you go. Life can surprise you.

The thing I love about my neighbourhood is that within about 5 minutes of looking I had 2 options to choose from.


I cannot even begin to tell you how much I love this blog entry.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Are We There Yet?

Really, are we?

Boring. Annoying. Frustrating. But enough about my day, how's yours?!

Looking & Seeing

There is nothing like having a camera in your hands to make you look, but especially to make you see. When I have my camera with me (which is back to being most of the time these days) I look at things more. I picked up a camera again some years back because I wanted to record the things I see, but the act of having the camera makes me look at things differently too, makes me wander down back alleys to see what I might find, makes me look at patterns and colours as both abstracts as well as for the objects they are.

On my way home from a short shopping expedition the other day I wandered down a rear laneway near my house, to discover that almost the entire length of the laneway was filled with chalk drawings. There were a couple of kids and an adult just finishing up, and a garden party going on in one of the houses that backs onto the lane. It had obviously been a group project.


It was fun to stroll along and look at the drawings that ran the gamut of childlike animals and stick figures, to these messages of peace and pride.

Now Everybody Sing Along...

Just another reason to enjoy looking and seeing.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008


The last of my Christmas holiday snaps! On the way back from Ballarat I spent a day and a night hanging out with my old friend Robbie. Robbie lives in the lovely suburb of Melbourne called Prahran. (If you're a local you pronounce it "Pran". Nothing labels you a tourist like calling it "Pra-ran". It's like overseas tourists and the whole "Mel-born" [tourist] vs "Mel-bun" [local] thing.)

Prahran reminds me a little of my own 'hood, except maybe a tad more genteel than Newtown. A few blocks from Robbie's is the funky shopping and entertainment street of Chapel Street, a long, long stretch of cute boutiques, restaurants, cafes and tiny bars. Just step back a couple of blocks back from Chapel St, into the back streets of Prahran, and you'll find all sorts of wonderful Victorian era cottages.

Harrington, I'll take the Bentley.

Rise & Shine Beware
Rise & Shine (L) and le chat peculiar (R).

Lacework, a pair of Victorian cottages in Prahran.

Sunburst Camelia
The gardens of Prahran.

Pets Wonderland and glorious arts & crafts architecture collide on Chapel St.
Architecture loses.

Soaring Ornate
Soaring "Blood & Bandages" architecture in Prahran (L) and some faded glory
on Chapel St (R).

[Click the photos to see them full sized on Flickr.]

Monday, January 07, 2008

A Long Yarn Yarn

Remember recently when I posted about buying Japanese knitting books? Well, I went back and bought a second book of men's patterns by the same publisher, and completely fell in love with a cardigan pattern in the new book. Yes, a cardigan. Problem? But we're talking a Japanese cardigan here, so it's all sort of slouchy, with raw curling edges and done in a lovely grey wool/silk mix yarn that has a sort of a tweedy slub to it. (I would show you a pic but I can't find one on the interweb.)

More Yohji Yamamoto than Uncle Morty.

The thing is, knitting is a bit like the old fashioned rail gauges for steam trains. Some countries are standard, and some aren't. Japan uses different sized needles to the rest of the world, and their yarns are often different thickness to the rest of the world too. It's not impossible to substitute, but you have to play around with needle sizes and yarn thickness to get what is called 'gauge' in knitting terms, the right amount of stitches across and rows vertically. If your gauge is off, then the garment will be the wrong size you see! So I'm itching to make this cardigan and I think I might have found two perfect substitute yarns!

First off this one. It's about the right thickness by the look of it at 100m per 50g ball (the Japanese yarn was listed at 96m for 50g). I can play around with needle size to get the right gauge. It's a silky/wool mix, only this time it's a soy silk which I'm keen to try anyway (I like the fact that soy silk is more eco friendly and kinder to silkworms than regular silk). The colour is good, and while it doesn't have the tweedy slub in it, it is slightly variegated and that could still give enough interest. It's a little bit dearer than I hoped for at $12.50 a ball, making the cost for the cardigan likely to be around $150. (If you thought knitting was a way to save on garment costs, think again!)

The thought of plunking that sort of money down on a yarn I haven't actually been able to see 'in the flesh' is a bit daunting...

So, the back up plan is to use the same type of yarn I used to make my first beanie, Jo Sharp's "Silkroad Aran Tweed". At 95m per 50g it is certainly about the right thickness and there is a lovely soft grey colour 'Ash' in this yarn, with pale grey slubs in it (intead of the multi-colours like in the purple I used for the beanie). Frankly, I prefer the look as it is closer to the one used in the book. It would work out a bit cheaper as I was able to find this at around $9 a ball recently. The thing is, while I prefer the tweed look of this, having used the yarn before I'm not sure the drape on it would be as nice as the other yarn. The yarn in the Japanese book was 20% silk, so would be quite soft and drapey, but the Jo Sharp yarn is only 10% silk (and real silk, which usually involves killing the silkworm during the processing).

Decisions, decisions... It's a tough choice, and no small investment.

Hey knitters, has anyone used the Karaoke soy silk/wool mix before?

[Updated: Whew. OK, I was right up to the last step of ordering the Karaoke soy silk/wool yarn online, all $150 of it, when I had the inspiration to check the knitting community website Ravelry (still in beta test, otherwise I'd link to it) to see what others thought of this yarn. Some love, some like, but a big percentage HATE. I was surprised. Breakages, poor memory in rib, inconsistent thickness, poor colour transitions in the multicolours, dyelot variations in the solid colours... quite a list. I saw a few projects done in the Blacksheep colour I was considering, and the garments had broad stripes of tone variation. Um, pass. So it looks like I might try the Jo Sharp after all. God I love Ravelry!

Oh, and here is a cute critter I found that is made in the exact same Jo Sharp yarn that I'm thinking of using. So cute.

Fresh & Clean

My friend whom I wrote about the other day is also my landlord, and while he's been here we agreed that my little house needs a freshen up. So sometime in the next couple of weeks I will be having the inside and outside of the house complety repainted. Yay!

Oh sure, the process will be a pain in the ass. Remember, I am a man that has 7 bookshelves at last count. Just the thought of emptying and moving all the furniture so that the painters can get at the walls is making my head ache. At least my soon to be ex flatmate should be gone by then, so his room will be easy to do, and I can get the process done before someone new moves in.

[Speaking of which, the delays caused by my flatmate not moving out yet has meant that I need to find someone else to move in. If you're a Sydneysider and you know of someone who might be interested/interesting - hook me up!]

Anyway the end result is the thing, right? Last time, just before I moved in, the kitchen, living room and bathroom were all done but the hall and bedrooms weren't. I picked the colours last time and they worked really well. This time I get to pick the whole house! Woohoo!

You know how I love looking at paint chips, right?

Sunday, January 06, 2008

I Just Wrote My First Testimonial

For face cream.

Since my late thirties, through to my now earlyish forties, I have been plagued with problem skin. I started to develop a skin problem known as Rosacea in about 2001. What was originally a patch of dry, red, itchy and sensitive skin near my nose became a number similar patches elsewhere. It was misdiagnosed for a couple of years as exzema or dermatitis, and I was even given steroid based creams for it that I have since read only make it worse.


I'm really fair skinned, and people with my sort of colouring are prone to this condition. Eventually it can coarsen the skin and it sort of inflames and brings the red capillaries closer to the surface, making the skin red. WC Fields big red nose? Yup, that's extreme Rosacea. The other thing about Rosacea, and how I originally realised what I had, is that it's inflamed by alcohol or anything that causes you to blush. Hence the Gin Blossoms nose of WC Fields.

Anyhoo. My skin overall is now frequently quite pink and tender to the touch. Like a very, very mild case of sunburn. I have a few spots, like those near my temples, that are quite red most of the time. So, it's a pain in my ass and can dent the self esteem a bit when I'm having a bit of a breakout. Most of the time it looks ok, just like I've caught a bit of sun. I have a medicated cream for when it's bad, but I've also been looking for sensitive skin skincare that I can use as my skin is generally quite dry most of the time now.

Anyway, enough back story.

I bought a new skin cream the other day and in only about 4 days the change has been remarkable! The appearance of my skin has improved, but the change in how it feels has been incredible. It doesn't feel tender, itchy or dry any more. Now I used to be a cosmetics and fragrance buyer in retail and with that background I'm always interested in the science (or psuedoscience) of skincare. I must admit a bias towards technical fancy sounding skincare. Poly this. Co-enzyme that. Active, Pro-active, Dermo the other. Consequently I always felt like 'natural' skincare was probably less effective. Nice smelling, not harmful, but probably not doing all that much other than putting a moisture barrier on the skin.

I had however read glowing reviews of the Aussie brand [A'kin]. That the products were very rich in active ingredients, heavily researched and free of many of the nasties (ie parabens ansd sulphates) found in many other brands. So I bought a special boxed duo of their two step treatment for really dry and sensitive skins, this oil followed by this cream. The oil seems to just disappear into the skin, and then the cream goes on over. I was worried about looking greasy, because the cream is quite rich, and it does give a bit of a shine yet without looking oily. I'm a convert. I was hoping for an improvement but was astounded at how even within 24 my skin felt so much better. As I run out of my cleanser and eye cream I'm going to convert over to try the other products in this brand.

So I logged on to their contact section and wrote a testimonial. The gospel must be spread! Sorry this is such a long entry that reads like an advertorial, but seriously the change was so dramatic. If you've ever been plagued by bad skin you'll know where I'm coming from...

Yesterday Was A GOOD DAY

Write that in 72 point bold, and then underline it. A haircut, always good. A couple of hours of knitting in a cafe with a bunch of friends, lots of fun. A late afternoon doze in and out on the couch, recharging. Then a few beers with one of my oldest and dearest friends, who is in town on a holiday, along with a few of his other friends, before the two of us headed off to dinner together.

This year will be the 30 year mark in our friendship, having met as 13 year olds freshly minted into the roles of High Schoolers. 30 years! I lifetime really. How do you describe that feeling of sitting with someone you can be absolutely honest with? This broad shouldered handsome man you have been friends with longer than you haven't.

We talked about his new life in Korea, his beautiful wife (his second) and gorgeous 11 month old son. Of fatherhood in his early 40s and changing his original view that he didn't ever want kids. I think best of all was the way he lit up with pride when he spoke about his wife. About her strong family focus, her very successful career as a real estate enteprenuer in Korea, her strength and her kindness. About families in general; his new one, his brothers and my own family.

We talked a lot about me too, about what a strange and sometimes difficult year I had last year, and about how good I feel now. He expressed his usual concern that I don't have anyone in my life, and we had a few laughs about that. He was the second person I told that I was gay when I was 15, and I still remember the smile and hug that came straight after! Since then we've chatted about a number of ex boyfriends of mine that have arrived and departed over the years.

It was so lovely to reconnect after only having some emails and a few phone calls for the past couple of years. So nice to share a big hug before heading our seperate ways. And so great to be able to remind ourselves why we have stayed so close over all these years.

Friday, January 04, 2008

Pray For Dry Weather

I feel bad even writing that post title, given the blah blah drought blah blah and all, but I'm having friends over for dinner tonight and I really want to eat outdoors. So frankly The Environment can go suck it. Just for one night.

The only place in my wee house where I could fit my lovely oregon (the timber, not the place) dining table is jammed up against the wall in my kitchen. I have 3 guests coming, so we could technically all sit at the table and sort of stare out the window together. Into my neighbour's kitchen.

See my issue? Also, nothing says ambience for the guests, and performance anxiety for the host, like having your guests seated about 4 feet away from the stove. I guess if any of them have long arms, they could stir something at least.

[Updated: Thanks for the good juju! The rain stayed away until some light sprinkles sent us inside for the dessert course. Prior to that it was lovely and mild, and most pleasant. Dinner was a triumph I tell you! Worship at the altars of Delia Smith and Jamie Oliver. Entree: Fried Halloumi cheese with a lime/caper/coriander (cilantro) dressing. Main: Prosciutto wrapped salmon with a green salad. Desert: Homemade coconut icecream with a fresh lime syrup. Delia's entree and desert (from her Summer Collection cookbook) were particular hits. It was the first time I had had friends over for dinner in a long time (see space issues) and I rediscovered how much I enjoy it!]

I'm Not Currently Actually Getting Very Much Work Done Really

These are both part symptom, and part cause:

These (and many other) cartoons by Dave Walker are available for free download and use on non-commercial blogs from We Blog Cartoons.

[Link originally via the vibrant How About Orange...]


As I mentioned previously, I spent part of the Christmas break with family in Ballarat, about an hour outside of Melbourne. Ballarat has an interesting history [Note: warning aesthetes, ugly website. You might like this one better.], it was a wealthy mining town in the late 1800s and the site of one of Australia's most famous civil insurrections, the Eureka Stockade. You can see the wealth that was centered around Ballarat from the magnificent buildings still standing in the town centre.

Ballarat Train Station

Ballarat Train Station.

Ballarat has about 90,000 people these days, and is growing rapidly as house prices are making it a more attractive proposition for families in Melbourne. (You can buy a heritage listed 3 bedroom house for less than the cost of a single bedroom apartment in Sydney!) A new rail link has cut down the travel time to Melbourne to about 1 hour on an express, so many people are now doing it as a daily commute.

This style of architecture was often referred to colloquially as Blood & Bandages.

To be honest, it's too small a town for my taste, but it is very pretty and would be a nice place to raise a family I would think. I was especially taken with the broad streets lined with beautiful Victorian style homes, with verandahs and iron lacework. So pretty! As my sister pointed out, it's also like the Day Spa capital of the world or something. Once she mentioned that I couldn't stop seeing them...

I think that's a point in its favour, don't you?


Modern sculpture in the city centre.

Some of the streets of Ballarat are so intact architecturally, that with minimal dressing they have been used as film sets for movies set in the Australian goldrush era.

Mining Exchange
The beautiful Mining Exchange building.

I also fell in love with some of the Art Deco facades still exisiting in the town centre, like the one below.

Block Arcade Facade
The Block Arcade facade.

My sister used to be quite the photographer back in the day, so she was very tolerant and understanding of me charging up streets to photograph some building facade I spotted. I think secretly she was just pleased that I was enjoying the town where she has decided to live and raise her kids. She has certainly been able to afford a lifestyle that she wouldn't have been able to afford elsewhere, the kids are in a good school and her career is charging ahead.

Can't argue with that now, can you? Plus, all that Day Spa access...

[Click on any of the pics to see them full size on Flickr.]