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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2014 and looking ahead

I just got back from a morning jog. The house is quiet, I’m the only one awake. I’ve opened the shades and windows and can hear my busy elderly neighbors hard at work to keep their dry Australian lawns alive and thriving.

This day has every promise of being a beautiful Perth summer one, and Lauren (my visiting friend from America) and I have morning beach plans.

On my run, my mind seemed to fixate on the idea of goal formation. As mentioned many times previously, I am a goal-oriented person. Ideas buzzed as I jogged along, and I contemplated what I want for 2014.

New Years is right around the corner, and I have already picked a resolution. In 2014, I want to complain less. Simply put, if I can’t say something nice, I’ll keep my thoughts to myself.

Image courtesy of weheartit

Image courtesy of weheartit

Though this will be a bit of a challenge, it isn’t enough. My mind just wants more. I want my personal 2014 to be about balancing the things I love. So my ultimate 2014 theme is: Read, Write, Sweat, Knit, everyday. It goes without saying that I want to make plenty of time for friends and loved ones, but as far as how I spend my “me” time, I want to make an effort to cover all of these things.

Lately I’ve been letting my writing and exercise slide a bit in favor of reading and knitting. I’ve still been exercising, but not as consistently, and it’s making me restless. Writing, well, that’s taken a definite backseat.

So whether it’s just a journal entry every night, a post-dinner walk with Matt, a quick chapter on my lunch break, or a couple of rows before bed, I plan to, in ways both great and small, make time for all the things I love everyday. A lofty goal yes, but I have a good feeling about 2014. What are your 2014 themes and resolutions?

A+ for service

Of late I have had the pleasure of dealing with Quince and Co‘s customer service rep. I ordered a sweater’s worth of Puffin yarn in the Twig shade a few weeks ago, and while I’d received a confirmation email when I placed the order, I never got a shipping notification.

I emailed the ladies at Q&C, and not only did they confirm that it had indeed shipped, I got a personal message saying they had tracked it down and my package had already reached Australia! I was given the tracking number and an apology.

Honestly I wasn’t too worried about my yarn arriving quickly. Ordering things from my homeland usually takes time. I just wanted to make sure my shade wasn’t back-ordered or something. But as luck would have it, my package came Tuesday, soon after our correspondence. I was absolutely thrilled.

Puffin in Twig

Puffin in Twig

I’ve been dying to try Q&C, as mentioned in previous blog posts. I’m very much looking forward to making several of the new designs that have come out featuring Q&C Owl, which is a worsted weight yarn (50% wool, 50% alpaca) with a lovely halo to it.

But I’ve also had my eye on Kate Davies‘ very popular Owls sweater pattern for quite some time now. It suits my personality completely, and I needed the perfect chunky/bulky weight yarn to go with the pattern. I’ve never knit with a single-ply bulky yarn before, so I wasn’t really sure what to expect.

I hemmed and hawed over color choice, finally settling on Twig since I wanted the owl design, rather than the color, to be the “hero” of the piece. Turns out my decision was a good one.

Tonight I did a circular gauge swatch (Hannah Fettig has just released a great little guide to doing so on Knitbot), and soaked it to see how it came out. I didn’t get perfect row gauge, but my stitch gauge was right on, and I’m confident that I can make any necessary adjustments.

photo 4

Swatchya doing?

The yarn doesn’t retain much water, making it very quick-drying. What was already soft and ever-so-slightly fuzzy material is drying beautifully as a swatch. I couldn’t help but rub it against my check and implore Matt to do the same. It’s 100% American wool and knits up with beautiful stitch definition.

Knitting up nicely

Knitting up nicely

Back to my excellent customer service experience…I wrote back my thanks and appreciation. In response, I was told that oh by the way, did I know that Suzy Hausfrau sells Q&C yarns out of Canberra? Um, NO! I didn’t. But now I’ve got a great new yarn resource within Australia! How exciting. Suzy offers free shipping within Oz, as well as 10% off purchases over $75! What could be better?

In an age when we get pretty much anything at the click of a button, it’s such a great feeling when a company goes above and beyond to help you out. Bravo Q&C, I’m in love!

The kind you find in a second-hand store

2013-Winner-Facebook-Cover

Big news y’all! I’ve had a busy few days, but on Friday I finished or “won” NaNoWriMo a day early at 50,233 words. My novel isn’t finished yet, but I hit the goal and am feeling proud. The fiancΓ© also succeeded, so we had celebratory brunch with friends this morning.

I’ve had quite a bit on the needles to share. First I am happy to say that I finished my “raspberry beret,” which I wore today at brunch.

This is an awesome free pattern which can be found HERE. I had a few knitting attacks while working on this, which made the process take probably twice as long as it should have. Hint: read the clarification on the Ravelry page before completing. Sigh.

Thanksgiving!

Pumpkin pie anyone?

Thursday night Matt and I went to Thanksgiving dinner at an American bar. I brought the pumpkin pie, which went over very well. We met some cool people and had a DELICIOUS meal.

Thanksgiving dinner

Thanksgiving dinner

On Friday I got in a shipment of yarn I’d ordered to make legwarmers for my sister. She picked out the color herself. It’s Cascade 220 in the Tutu shade. A bit pink for my taste, but I know she’ll love them.

Legwarmers for Rachel

Legwarmers for Rachel

I also finally picked up the last skein to finish off my Rocky Coast Cardigan. I wet-blocked it last night and it’s nearly dry. I had a mini panic thinking it might stretch out, but I laid it out flat in the measurements I wanted, and it seems to be snapping back into place nicely. Can’t wait for it to be dry so I can get a photo in it!

Rocky Coast Cardigan

Rocky Coast Cardigan

I made it out of Loyal 10ply, my favorite 100% wool New Zealand yarn. It comes in some amazing colors. My raspberry beret was also made out of Loyal.

Other than that I’ve been making a gift for someone, so that’s hush hush until it’s finished. Basically my fingers are exhausted! I knit up the legwarmers at lightening speed so I could get them in the package with my family’s Xmas gifts, which heads to the States tomorrow morning!

Omg, they’re having a FIRE…sale

Okay it’s not exactly a fire sale, but I couldn’t resist.

One of my favorite designers, Tiny Owl Knits, is offering 25% off until December 1st on all knitting patterns. Everything out of the collection is whimsical and fun. The only thing I’ve worked on so far from TOK is the Beekeeper’s quilt, which I’ll admit has slowed since I’ve been busy knitting other things.

Stephanie has such great imagination, I definitely recommend checking out her patterns. I can personally attest that the pdfs are beautiful and everything is very well laid out and explained. She has excellent attention to detail and honestly her pattern pages look like works of art in themselves. I’ve already bought the Woodland Hoodlet pattern for myself and I intend to pick up quite a few more before the end of the sale!

In other news, I was up late the other night finishing a Christmas present for my lovely friend Claire. She leaves for America in about a week, and didn’t have an awesome beanie to keep her warm. I don’t mind posting this early, since I’m giving it to her now anyway.

Pup Tent

Pup Tent

It’s made from an excellent free pattern called Pup Tent which can be found HERE. It was the perfect hat for my mood, with an interesting alternative cable technique and was easy to follow straight from the chart. Very straightforward and simple.

Claire picked out the teal color herself, so I know she’ll love it. I was worried the pattern wouldn’t show up, since it’s a little dark, but it turned out amazing. It’s a slightly slouchy hat, which I may block into being slouchier depending on what style Claire would like.

Other than that my Rocky Coast cardigan is about half a skein away from complete, which I’m waiting on from my LYS. I’m also over halfway done with what I’m calling my Raspeberry Beret (cue Prince music). Photos of finished items to come!