Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Katniss's District 12 cowl

Did you notice the wool cowl/shrug thing that Katniss wears in the opening scene of Catching Fire? I know you did. Despite the fact that the film was only released a couple weeks ago in the US and UK, there are already several patterns for the cowl available on Ravelry, and you can buy one made-to-order from Etsy. Loads of people have made various versions for themselves. Lion Brand have released a knit pattern and a crochet pattern (for using their wool, of course).

The patterns in Ravelry are much less structured than the real thing. They have big, thick collars like the film version, but then just kind of hang down limply. Still, these versions all look significantly more like the film version than the Lion Brand version does. It looks nothing like what Katniss wears! I might have to experiment myself, but I really don't know anything about knit construction. I can't seem to stop thinking about it! (Not that it ever gets cold enough in Melbourne for two layers of outerwear!) It turns out, though, that the original was woven, not knit, so that's part of why the reproductions can't quite look the same. It was designed by Maria Dora.

These are the Lion Brand versions. They make me laugh. They must be trying to avoid lawsuits for copying Dora's original designs.

This might be the most exciting thing to happen to the sci-fi knitting community since Jayne's hat (Firefly) and Rose's wristwarmers (Doctor Who)!

Thursday, November 21, 2013

I bought a new purse

A couple weeks ago, we were shopping at the outlet mall that's 10min from our apartment (aren't we lucky?) In the window of the Fossil store, I saw the perfect bag. I've always loved Fossil brand. For years, I carried a green leather wallet of theirs with a pineapple embroidered on it. When it got stolen, I knew I wanted to replace it with another Fossil, and now I've been carrying that one for five years.

I'm very picky about handbags, because I tend to carry a lot of stuff around with me. I don't know how other people travel light! I can't seem to manage it. So the bag has to be big, but as I'm quite small, it can't dwarf me. And since starting the new job, I've been thinking it would be nice to have something that would fit my work laptop. kikki.K have nice Italian leather bags that are meant to fit a laptop and more, but the colors are boring and they cost more than $250.

The bag beckoning to me from the Fossil window was sage green and retro, a bit of a 1960s doctor's bag. "I think I could fit my laptop in here," I said to Hugh.

"No way," he responded.

Anyway, I didn't need it, I didn't have the money, I couldn't justify it. I put the bag out of my mind...temporarily.

This weekend, I got my first paycheck. I had no intention of going to the outlet mall. Hugh worked on Sunday, and I was gonna go to Carlton and explore the little shops there. First, I paid my bills and balanced my finances and figured out how much I have to spend until my next paycheck. After months--years, really--of living hand-to-mouth, it was a shock to see that my very first paycheck from the new job is more than enough to cover my living expenses, set some aside for savings, and still do a bit of shopping.

I still wasn't thinking about the bag, though, I swear! Not until a few hours later, when something reminded me of a bag I'd seen on Pinterest. It's a gorgeous weekender bag from Deux Lux, but they're sold out of the pretty green. I was debating whether the bold red one with green details would suit me, when I remembered the Fossil bag. I had my work laptop with me, so without really stopping to think, I grabbed the laptop and a water bottle and hopped on my bike. 

Hugh was wrong and I was right. The laptop did fit. sticks out the top slightly, but it fits lengthwise! That's all that matters. And it's pretty. That matters, too. It was the last one in sage, and they were sold out online, and it was down to $150, so I bought it. And it makes me happy. :-D

Sunday, November 17, 2013

a day in Sydney

Hugh and I went to Sydney for a day to see some old family friends who are visiting from the UK. We flew over on Saturday evening, after a busy day of shopping and attending Hugh's coworker's pear cider launch (the cider was pink and very tasty!) Hugh booked the Hilton, claiming that every decent hotel in Sydney would be equally as expensive, and they put us on the top floor with a sliver view of the Harbour Bridge. We were so high up, Hugh had to stand two feet away from the window in order to look out. Haha, wuss!

The weather had been really pretty hot in Sydney for weeks (dry enough to have really awful bush fires in much of NSW), but it went cool and rainy just for us. Gee, thanks Sydney!

Where'd that harbour view go?

On Sunday, we killed some time with shopping while Hugh's mum and her friends attended a Rememberance Day church service (same as Veterans Day). Then we met up and walked down to Darling Harbour for a nice wander. We ended up at the Chinese Garden, which Hugh and I visited when I first arrived in Australia.

I've been to my fair share of Japanese and Chinese gardens, and I've always rushed around them, taken photos from the vistas, and walked out feeling like I wasted an hour. It wasn't until Sundau that I got the point of these kinds of gardens. I realised what's probably obvious to everyone else, that they are designed for you to savour and enjoy. The vistas and pagodas and giant, interesting rocks aren't placed randomly; they're put in certain layouts to maximise peaceful moments. I'm not supposed to rush along the path; I'm supposed to sit and relax, with the sounds and sights of the big city muffled by pretty trees and birdsong.

Of course, we were a group of seven, so we didn't do loads of peaceful relaxing, but we did stop and sit by the lake for a while and notice the wildlife. In a plumeria tree, someone spotted a tiny mama bird nesting in the crook of two branches. Like the last time we were here, I was drawn to the tall, weather-worn rocks arranged upright in various places. I found a sign that explained that a rock should have three interesting faces if it is to be used for decoration. I find the "rules" of art and design, especially photography, really interesting. I wish I had more of a head for seeing them in nature.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

more washi tape

They opened a washi tape pop-up shop at Melbourne Central! My last shift at work there was on Sunday, but the pop-up shop didn't open until Monday and I started the new job (plus long commute) on Monday. I managed to delay gratification until Thursday, when my new boss and I were stationed at the city center campus. After work, I made a beeline for MC.

I only bought three rolls. Aren't I good? Then I brought them home and started decorating everything in sight. I needed a pen cup for work, and I had just finished a large pot of yogurt, so I covered it in stripes of all my different tapes. Fun!

(See my awesome mermaid washi tape from Hobart?)

Sadly, when I was running for the tram on Monday morning, the pen cup flew out of my bag and rolled under a moving car :-( When I went back in the afternoon, this was all I found. So I still need a pen cup for work.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

new job

So I started my new job last Monday and I'm really loving it so far. It's always such a relief to return to research after being out of it for a while. I may not be a great researcher, but I feel most comfortable in the research environment. I feel like there's so much I could learn, and it's stuff I'm actually interested in.

I'm working for one of the universities in Melbourne. But I'm not working in Melbourne. I'm working at one of their campuses in Geelong, a town about an hour's drive from Melbourne. The train ride from central Melbs takes about an hour, but of course, we live roughly 30min from the city and after taking a tram part way into town, then changing trains twice, it takes me just under two hours to get to or from work. It's a bit of a commute, but I'm still in the stage where it feels like an adventure. I get to take the train!

Plus, Geelong is pretty cool. I think it's the second biggest city in the state, and is maybe the size of Federal Way. It faces east onto an inlet of Port Philip. My building is right off of the waterfront and faces the Geelong Pier. Though my office is underground and only has one small window up near the ceiling, it makes me happy to know that the window is facing the bay! I keep forgetting to take a picture on sunny days (there haven't been many; where is the gorgeous Australian spring I've come to expect?)

The work is somewhat similar to work I did at the University of Edinburgh, and in enjoying it. There's lot to be done, though, and I'm starting to feel a bit overwhelmed. I have no real deadline, so I should relax and ease into it. The work isn't going anywhere!

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

building a wardrobe

(I meant to post this a week ago :-s)

The day we returned to Melbourne, with a whole day stretched ahead of me, I started to unpack my suitcase. I had been awake for some 30 hours, but was hit with a second wind and before I knew what I was doing, I had sorted through my whole closet and all of my drawers removing items I no longer fit or wear. Shirts, dresses, shoes, pajama. I've always loved a good purge, and it's spring, so it just felt right.

Ages ago, I pinned a link for a blog series teaching you how to build your wardrobe. In a moment of boredom last night, I finally started reading the posts. I'm starting a new job in a week (!) and feeling it might be time for my wardrobe to grow up a little bit. According to the series, the first step for building a wardrobe is to purge. Done!

Step two is to define your style. This requires looking at the pieces you currently wear that really work for you, and looking at pieces that you "pin" or rip out of magazines that really inspire you. I've been "pinning" for several months now and have noticed two themes: I pin ultra feminine pieces composed of tulle, lace, silk, and sequins, and I pin quirky feminine pieces. Honestly, there are 170 pins on my Clothes Horse board and 90% of them have lace, tulle, sequins, or silk. But I don't tend to wear ultra feminine pieces. I tend to trash my clothes and have never dry cleaned anything in my life, so I should really steer clear of delicate pieces. That's ok, though; I have some pieces that look delicate but are made of cotton or linen.

Step three is where you get to go shopping for key pieces. I haven't actually read the post yet, but I couldn't resist going shopping today. I don't get my next paycheck until next Friday, so I really shouldn't be buying clothes this weekend, but I work all next weekend and start the job on the following Monday.

So I went shopping today. I bought a skirt from Zara and a shirt from Topshop. They were each $60, so I felt like I overspent. I had a bit of spender's remorse on the way home. (Though logically, I know that is really cheap...for Australia.) But when I got home, I tried on the shirt with half of my wardrobe and quickly decided it was the best $60 I've ever spent! It goes with nearly everything. It's one of those pieces that shows up frequently on Pinterest and everyone says you should have one as a staple, but good ones are actually hard to find. It's like a button-down chambray type, but is a light flannel in gray. It might be slightly too warm in the summer, but it's still been cold around here so I hope I'll get some good use out of it. And the skirt will definitely be worn a lot as well. It's a long, tight, high-waisted pencil skirt in a stretchy, dark denim. I think I could get away with wearing it with most of my t-shirts and blouses.

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

melbourne cup and new job!!

Today is Melbourne Cup Day, which is equivalent to the Kentucky Derby. The race is (obviously) held in Melbourne, at Flemington Race Course, about 20 minutes down the road from us. The Victorians hold this day in such high regard that it's actually a public holiday state-wide!

But I'm on day two of my new job (!!!), and the university I work for has decided that it's too much of an interruption to give the day off today, just as students are getting ready for exams and the end of the year (which is the end of the school year here in the Southern Hemisphere). Instead, they give their staff two days off in December.

So I'm off to work, which I'm totally okay with because I'm loving my shiny new job! It's always sooo good to return to academia after working in annoying customer service for a while. Also, we get to dress up for the races today! I decided not to wear my super fancy dress that I wore for Amy and D's wedding, and sadly I left my fascinator in the US, but in going with a floral sundress.

Last year, I placed a $2 bet on the Melbourne Cup and I won back $32! I doubt I'll be so lucky this year, but everyone at work is going to pitch in a few dollars to a pot. In Australia, you can go to the local pub to bet on horse races or any other sporting event. Wish me luck!