Monday, October 31, 2011

Yet another shawl

You would think that someone who has two full shelves of shawls and scarves in the bedroom cupboards would have a something appropriate for any occasion. However, I have the two shelves of shawls and scarves and still feel the need for yet another shawl with very specific characteristics - it needs to be BIG and it needs to be wearable with all my black and grey clothes without making a major contrasting colour statement. More than a year ago I knitted Mustaa Villaa's variation on the Wool Peddler's shawl and have worn and worn it. It's travelled with me several times and has been a shawl for many occasions. But even though it's reasonably large it's not really BIG, and the blue edging means it not quite as versatile as I would wish. So, despite all the half-finished knitting projects that I should be completing, I've cast on for a new shawl.

Transatlantic 2

What I'm knitting is very predictable. It's striped, it features some garter stitch rows and I'm knitting it in a not-quite-black grey with shades of grey and cream. Ho hum. But the Transatlantic pattern also has the quirkiness of many of the currently fashionable Stephen West patterns with lots of lovely textural variation as well as the stripes. Another advantage of the pattern is that you can just knit and knit on the shawl until it is as big as you wish or till you run out of yarn - which isn't going to happen. I actually did some thinking ahead for this project and bought enough very dark graphite Rowan 4ply pure wool from Calico and Ivy so that I could combine it with the grey and cream Crazy Zauberball yarn I already have. Now all I need to do is knit... and knit and knit.

I already know that when it's finished this shawl will be my new travelling companion - but it will also be perfect for cooler evenings of tv watching.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

A bit more accurate

I almost feel as if I have to apologise for misrepresenting the colour of the socks in my previous post. The reality is never going to match people's expectations! This is a bit more accurate, though it still gives a richer blue hue to the grey.

mustard socks

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

What is it about socks?

As I've noted before, I've not done well this year with the Super Special Six Pattern Sock Club for 2011. The patterns for the six pairs of socks were voted on for the year, and I ended up with a roster of socks that, with one exception, I'd not nominated or chosen. But being well-socialised as I am into accepting majority decisions, I decided to knit through the year's sock schedule without deviation or departure from the patterns. I've not been very successful. Pairs one, two and four have been completed. Pair three was a disaster, and I've been finding all sorts of reasons for delaying casting on for pair five, and already I'm passing negative judgments on pair six. In the meantime I produced some stripey socks that weren't on the schedule and then over the last couple of days started these:

grey socks
[this early morning photo, while rather flattering to the socks, is a very inaccurate representation of the colours. The socks in reality are grey and mustard, though I'm so taken by this delft blue and cream combination that I might try it in the future!]

Maybe this sock knitting is telling me something about myself...

* I never think of myself as a person of extremes, but maybe this sock knitting club tells me something about myself I'd not realised. With sock knitting programs I seem to need to obey rules absolutely, or alternatively I go off on a frolic! Admittedly, a sock knitting frolic is hardly damaging to myself or anyone else, but I've been interested to discover that adjusting or amending the rules slightly seems to be beyond me. One departure from the program seems to license me to make any other departures as the whim takes me. I'm hoping I'm not like this in the rest of my life.

* I'm not an adventurous knitter. I don't really like learning new techniques and ways of doing things. I'm quite happy to think creatively within the range of knitting techniques I mastered long ago, but I seem to be resistant to adding to my skills. I know (to my regret) that I'm like this in the rest of my life.

* I would much rather trust my own design preferences (even if only for a sock pattern) than others'. Maybe this is a bit egocentric, but I have a lifetime of choices informing my preferences. This is definitely true of the rest of my life.

So, I'm knitting some plain patonyl socks, with the border taken from Kristen Kapur's Sockstravaganza pattern in 'Brave New Knits' to jazz them up a bit. A happy and satisfied outcome, but yet another departure from the program.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

My community

I must confess a rather eccentric fondness for the NSW Strata Schemes Management Act - not for the legislation itself which like most legislation seems clumsy, opaque and confusing to most laypeople - but for what it tries to achieve. I think it is inevitable that as populations grow and as infrastructure to serve sparse populations becomes more and more unsustainable we will have to find ways of living in closer proximity to one another. That's where the Strata Schemes Management Act comes in. It tries to set out a fair and manageable way in which people can live together - amicably - in shared spaces. It enables people to own or rent their own private living spaces, but regulates how the shared elements - gardens, swimming pools, lifts, exterior walls and roofs, services such as plumbing and cabling - are jointly owned and maintained.

Watertower trees

There are horrendous stories about the evils of living in blocks of strata scheme apartments - pettiness, disputes among neighbours, legal action, failure to repair or maintain the building. But I've now been living in such a block of apartments for more than a quarter of a century and, across that time, we've had few such disastrous experiences. Some of us who've shared the apartment block for many years work quite hard and consistently to cultivate an ethos of sharing and tolerance. We've never employed a managing agent for the building and I think that this has increased the sense of shared responsibility - that decisions about the common good are being made either by the neighbours you know or by yourself if you're involved in the executive committee.

But from time to time all of this can be a lot of hard work.

The fabric of much of our building is more than a hundred years old - quite old by Australian standards. It was one of the first warehouse conversions in Sydney and has all the problems and expenses that repurposed buildings often have - nothing is modular and everything has to be purpose-built; the windows are all irregular and different shapes; the building was never constructed for domestic purposes and so requires work to adapt it to current standards. Just now we need to do a lot of very expensive work on the building and I've been part of the group scoping the project and costing it. We put together a very comprehensive document about the needed work and the options for payment, leading up to an informal meeting of owners to discuss the project and costs. I was dreading the meeting. I knew that the proposals would be very difficult for many of my neighbours to manage, and though rationally I accepted that there were few options, I dreaded facing my neighbours' distress and possible anger.

But I should have trusted them. No-one was cheerful, but after discussion almost everybody accepted the inevitability of the work that needs to be done, and even thanked the committee for the work and thought they'd put into the proposals. The 'we're all in this together' ethos prevailed. We still have to face the formal meeting at which decisions will be made in a week or so, but I'm now much more confident of a communally agreed outcome that will enable the work to be done. It's good to be reassured that groups of people can be trusted to act for the communal good, even if it is at a cost to themselves individually.