What I’m actually doing

…is writing out words in Mandarin Chinese again and again.  And again.

I’m normally pretty skeptical when Chinese teachers (or Japanese teachers) tell you to learn the characters just by writing them out, many times over. I assume that’s how they learnt as a child (all my teachers, so far, where born overseas). It might(!) be OK advice for a child, but I’m really doubtful it’s applicable to adult learners, who don’t have the reinforcement of hearing the language around them, everyday.

I much prefer to make up stories about the characters, to help me remember them. And understand their origins (pictograms) and components.

But this exam, we have to answer everything in Chinese (the questions are in Chinese, too). We even have write down, in characters, the conversations we hear in during the listening test. So I’m practicing speed writing – I’m thinking it’s like muscle training.  And yes, my writing is a bit messy.

Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE writing the characters.  I think they’re beautiful.  They’re a big part of the reason I wanted to learn Japanese, then Chinese. But wow, there’s a lot of them! Over 2,000 just for daily use. I know around 600…

Guilt knitting

I’ve been starting to think about writing down the knitting patterns buzzing ’round my head. I did once before.

This means, for the first time ever, I’ve bought wool just for swatching. I feel irrational guilt about it. You see, after swatching, some wool turned out too thick, or the slubs didn’t look right, or the whole idea won’t work, at least not now, not easily, not ’till I think about it some more.

I’m not a big stasher, I’ve 2.5 average-sized plastic boxes full of wool. (Ok, technically I should say “yarn”, but most of it’s actually wool). That’s my everything, all my half begun; abandoned; dreamt about but still untouched knit projects as an adult. I pretty much always have a plan for the wool I buy, even if that plan changes like, 5 or 6 times!

So I’ve been feeling really guilty about my just for swatching wool. And hurrying madly to find a project for it. Yeah, I fully agree that’s irrational, but it’s how I feel.

Mustaa villaa’s hat pattern is perfect for this situation, especially since it calls for 8ply/DK. If you’re Aussie you know that’s the most common weight here … by far. I’m really enjoying mixing the colours for the band, and looking forward to a guilt free knitting future. And to finally telling the kids, when I’m near the end: “Oh, yes, this one’s for you”.

Akris and the love of stocking stitch

My blog posts? I think I need to do some freeing up, stretching and shaking out. Possibly focus on my breathing too. My posts are too tense, too thought out.

Anyway. I remember a year or so ago discussion on Ravelry about “beastly” knits. Designers hating knit wear, making it look oversized, strangling, ugly. Since then, my eye has changed. My thinking too.

For me, this is a celebration of the stocking stitch. Its right side and, cleverly, a view of the wrong side as a simple collar. It’s huge stocking stitch, magnified. So you really look at it again with fresh eyes. In striking colour that you can’t ignore.

Oh, that giant cast on, and cast off! If you knit: how many times have you stared at those stitches, counting them? Now they’re plain for all to see, on the cuffs. And that slight sag, forming the peplum (restrained by a narrow belt, is it threaded through?)

Too bulky? Look, if you live in a really cold climate, I’m sure most of your Winter clothes are rather bulky. Makes you look too fat? … or doll like?

See, my eyes have changed.

Image used for review: style.com

The joy of craft classes

DblCrochetI’ve taken a couple of craft classes recently: decided I’d learn something enjoyable before Uni holidays end and my mind fills up with real study. I did Beginners Crochet and Adult Sewing. Took my kid, M, along to a class for toddlers too, before her school starts. Love her swooshy painting, she had fun. Also in the photo, the double stitch crochet square I’ve finished in spare moments.

It is lovely doing a class: being with other people excited to craft; discussing by pointing, touching and showing; hearing things you never thought to ask (machines can knit, but there are no machines that crochet, it’s always totally by hand). And it’s such a confidence boost to know most of my self-taught ways are actually the “proper” way!

I’ll be back at my desk, in my usual creative space next week. But I must say I’ve enjoyed being out and about.

My creative space #003

Desk003Hope you’re enjoying seeing the little changes, week by week, to my creative space and my thoughts. This time, only one photo to show what’s changed. The rest is the same.

1. From A. Because it’s a nice, smooth stone.

2. This sticky tape is too big. But very useful. So if it’s staying on my desk, it can hold all my post-its, used bus tickets and little bits of paper.

3. Notes from school, forms to fill out, things to remember …

4. Mess. It moves, it changes, it’s always there!

5.  My current book bag. The kids don’t go to the local school, I wanted Montessori. So I spend a lot of time in a cafĂ© or at the library, waiting for them to finish. Reading, doing homework, thinking. Underneath there’s my pile of pattern-making books. I plan to read each one this year, slowly. And a Vogue Living from Mum (in turn, a gift from Nan).

6. I had to check for my post last night.

7. More library books. I might use some flowers in my tea towel swap. What will happen when libraries go digital? When books go digital? And we no longer visit libraries or book shops? We’ll still have the information, but is it the same? And what of the second-hand booksellers? I’ve found a lot of interesting things second-hand, books I never could/would have bought new. And I’ve become expert at browsing libraries for hidden treasures…

8. More crochet project. I’ll tell you about it once I’ve made more.

I know some of you only visit me on Thursdays, so: Have a great week everyone!