2013 in review

2013? That is so 12 hours ago.

After last night’s festivities, I did the unthinkable. I slept until noon! Crazy, because I am a creature of the sun, rising early even on the weekends.

I thought I’d do a quick review of 2013. I’m a sucker for lists after all. So here are a few of my highlights from the past year.

7069The best book I read this year was The World According to Garp. It happens to also be the first book I read in 2013. It was first published in 1978 and is, in my opinion, an American classic.

This is an amazing account of a fictional writer’s life. I won’t go into too much detail, but whether you’re a writer or not, this is a beautifully crafted story. Well-written and easy to read, I just loved it.

Honorable mentions on my 2013 reading list include Maggie O’Farrell’s Instructions for a Heatwave (pub. 2013) and Hal Higdon’s Marathon: The Ultimate Training Guide (pub. 2000).

Early on in 2013 I started a new job as a writer and researcher covering the resource and energy sectors in Australia, Africa and the Indo-Pacific. I have learned so much about industries essential to the Australian economy, and met some great people.

This past year I also finally got my Australian permanent residency. It’s a long process and Matt and I are so happy it’s settled at last.

Me and Mom at the finish

Me and Mom at the finish

As for experiences, the definite highlight for this year was running my first marathon. I won’t go into detail since I’ve already written about it in the past, but working toward and achieving that goal was incredibly fulfilling. To then share the race with my mother was a dream come true. I’m planning to run my second at some point in 2014.

Perhaps the best thing about this year has been my reunion with knitting. It’s been nearly a decade since I first learned, and it’s been wonderful picking it back up and immersing myself in the hobby. I’ve learned heaps and developed my skills at an exponential rate.

Overall 2013 was a great one. It’s also ended with a bang. My childhood friend Lauren has been spending our Christmas holiday with us over the last two weeks. I’ll gather up the best photos of her trip and summarize it in another post. It’s been amazing having her here.

I look forward to the year ahead. Most exciting is my upcoming marriage to the love of my life. Since we first met in 2009, it’s been a whirlwind and I can’t believe I’ll have been in his country 4 years this July. It’s gone by in a blur, and I’m so lucky to be with him.

Here’s to a fantastic 2014, Happy New Year everyone!

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Fashion and festivity

For the first time ever, I got to properly partake in Melbourne Cup day, or as it’s also known: The race that stops the nation.

It doesn’t exactly stop the nation. It stops Melbourne. And since those slackers get the whole day off to watch a single horse race, the rest of us stomp our feet and insist on playing too.

Part of the deal is getting fabulously dressed up (just like the Kentucky Derby or the Royal Wedding) and wearing strange hairpieces, which is most of the fun, really.

I was very excited to finally wear the dress I ordered weeks ago from Neiman Marcus over in the States. I am not at all the type to order something for a specific occasion (though I did just recently put down the deposit on my wedding dress, squee!), but my first real Melbourne Cup warranted a treat. Plus summer is long since over up in the northern hemisphere, so it was on sale. SCORE!

Perfect race day Longchamp

Perfect race day Longchamp

La piรจce de rรฉsistance was my gorgeous navy Longchamp bag, which I’ve had for years and tend to bring out only for evenings out when I need space for more than just my ID and some cash. It seemed fitting for race day, non?

This year my office was doing a little shin dig, which was a lot of fun. We ate pies and sausage rolls and got to chat and catch up, plus of course we watched the race.

After things wrapped up I came home and plopped on the couch for some knitting. I’ve been rewatching Gilmore Girls for the millionth time (my all-time favorite show), and I’ve gotten to season 7. While the earlier seasons have seen countless viewings, season 7 is one I often avoid because it so thoroughly pisses me off. But, silver lining, I’d completely forgotten there was a Knit-a-thon episode! How cool is that? I’m knitting while all of Stars Hallow joins in?! (Guess you had to be there.)

Lovely light purple headband

Lovely light purple headband

I did manage to knit up this bad boy, and it’s still early enough for me to get a bit of writing done before I go to bed.

NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) is going pretty well both for me and for Matt. I’m ahead of schedule on my word count so far, but if I skip tonight, I’ll fall behind and I don’t want to lose momentum. I suspect I’ll crack the 10,000 word mark tonight. That’s a fifth of the way!

Thoughts on summer knitting

If this is your first visit to my site, you may not know that I live in Perth, Australia. Being in the southern hemisphere is confusing to a girl from Minnesota. As we kick off November, rather than entering winter wonderland, I am headed straight for the dead of summer.

I tend to work myself into quite a fury when I’m smack in the middle of a fun knitting pattern. I also run particularly on the warm side. Lately I’ve been positively radiating heat. Matt sometimes has to move away from me on the couch so he doesn’t catch my extreme rays.

All this paired with the temps reaching freakish heights means hand knits are definitely off the table. Or are they?

Dark teal legwarmer anyone?

Dark teal legwarmer anyone?

You other office workers out there can relate to my summer quandary. One minute you’re sweltering on the morning commute, and the next you’re shivering as you sit stationary under an aggressive air vent pumping a frigid stream. So what to wear?

I’m a sundress girl myself, never been too keen on shorts, (not that they’re office appropriate anyway) and dresses quick and easy to throw in my backpack before I hop on my bike and head to work. Lucky me, my office has a shower!

My poor legs and shoulders are freezing once I’ve been sitting at my desk about twenty minutes, so this week it was time for some serious brainstorming. I came up with a few fun projects to get me through the Perth summer months.

I already had the perfect yarn to get going on some very pretty loose chunky legwarmers to leave under my desk. I still need to make the second one, but I just couldn’t wait to share. I used a combination of a few patterns, and I just know they’ll be great for keeping my legs from turning to icicles. Once the second one’s made I promise to model them properly.

For another summer project, I’m considering doing some wristers in an equally fun color (or two). Bare arms can be just chilly as bare legs, after all. These are pretty cool. I’m really digging Loyal 10 ply yarn at the moment. It’s based out of New Zealand and comes in spectacular colors.

I even bought some Loyal in a nice ecru shade to swatch my Rocky Coast Cardigan by Hannah Fettig. Hopefully I can finish it by the time we come back after Christmas. I plan to leave it hanging on my chair to throw over my shoulders. Escaping the draft is crucial as being cold makes me distracted and, let’s face, hungry.

I’ve got my eye on Hannah’s new Knitbot book through Quince & Co., but we’ll discuss that when I actually get my hands on it.

If you have any other great summer knitting ideas to share, please do!

Always carry a pen

I’m sure the other writers out there subscribe to this motto as loyally as I do. To be caught without a pen is absolute suicide. You never know when inspiration will hit, you never know when a networking opportunity will strike. Won’t you feel foolish meeting a key player in your industry and not being able to offer a pen when he/she inevitably isn’t carrying a business card. How else will you get that elusive contact information?

It also isn’t a bad thing to be the first to proffer a writing utensil every time the “Does anyone have a pen?” scenario occurs. It will make you look organized and professional, whether you feel it on the inside or not.

But who knew that having a pen could be crucial to solving a knitter’s dilemma? As I’ve mentioned before, I am completely enamored with cables. I love cabling in my knitting; I think the effect is just stunning. Yesterday morning I decided to have a crack at knitting on the bus during my commute. Lately I’ve been listening to podcasts on the bus, as I am someone who feels easily queasy when trying to read. I LOVE to read, and still attempt to do so nearly everyday. But often I don’t make it all the way to the city before the dizziness sets in.

So there I am, all the way at the back of the bus so I can spread out a little. I take my needles and headband-in-progress out of my bag, when FACEPALM. In a “could have had a V8” sort of moment, I realized I hadn’t brought my circular needle (my alternative to a cable needle). However would I work the cables efficiently? I knit one cable without a needle, but it was so slow and tedious with the rumbling of the bus, that I quickly gave up, resolving to solve this issue later at the office.

Enter: The trusty pen. Before we’d even reached the city, a light bulb went on.ย Of course!ย  I thought.

Pen cap to the rescue

Pen cap to the rescue

So I gift to you all, in my infinite wisdom, another handy cable cheat: the pen cap. When I got to the office, I finished working the row I had been in the middle of, before setting it down to begin my work day. I hate leaving knitting open in the middle of a row. It would have just eaten away at me until lunchtime.

Surfer's Paradise in progress

Work in progress

So while I wasn’t at a logical stopping point, at least I had finished the row. I proceeded to use the pen cap while knitting on my lunch break as well. Just goes to show, there are myriad reasons why you should always carry a pen.

The back of the finished headband

The back of the finished headband

Just as a sort of P.S. I thought I’d include an image of the finished product from the back. A provisional cast on leaves the live stitches on either side. Using kitchener stitch, you can graft the two ends together in a clean and nearly invisible manner. My advice: when picking up live stitches that have been twisted and cabled, TAKE YOUR TIME. Stay focused and pay close attention. Also, of course, count your stitches so you know that there is an equal number on each end. When done properly, it can turn out so wonderful. I’m really pleased with how this turned out, and you can’t even tell where the two ends meet without very close inspection (and a keen knitter’s eye). Plus the lighting in this last photo captures the true color much better than the overexposed lighting in my office. Let me know if you try this method and run into trouble. I use provisional cast on and kitchener for most of my headbands.