Wednesday, 4 March 2015

First knitted blanket

Knitting can really be relaxing and I am finding that I quite like projects that are made up of several parts. Case in point: the alphabet baby blanket that I finally completed. It started out with wanting to learn how to create letters as well as an interest in helping knit blanket squares for charity. The idea for a letter blanket came naturally enough from that.

I found a website that provides knitted square patterns for each letter of the roman alphabet (the greek alphabet would be another cool thing to do). I ended up using the baby feet pattern from there as well. Most of the squares worked to plan but since they are not all exactly the same dimensions, I edited here and there as needed.

I initially just picked a colour and a letter and started with that until I thought ahead and realised it might be good to plan the square arrangements. This also helped when needing to buy more colours so I knew what was next to what and what might look better than something else.

On the left I was six squares deep before planning. Eventually laid out all the wool I had and designed a plan. On the right I have four letter squares to go and you can see the transition.

Eventually I had all 26 letter squares. They made such a pretty bundle! I felt all accomplished and old-school-cool. Had to go out and buy four more balls of wool for the corner squares (where the feet went). I was ready to sew it all together...

Which was this, after I had decided what to do about a border. By this stage I was rather tired of knitting and couldn't think of anything nifty to do for a nice knitted border. Plus I'd come back from visiting my mother, who had taken up crochet... So I attempted to crochet a border.

After a couple of unravellings and start-overs I sort of got something that I was ok with. It's certainly not perfect, but the different skill was good to learn and it helped finish up some leftover wool.

So there you have it. The finished product is about 90 cm x 110 cm. The border is a bit tight in places, and one or two of the squares have minor pattern mistakes, but for a first go, I'm happy. Now we just have to wait for someone in my family to get pregnant so that it can be used!

This was taken during wet-blocking so the letter pattern isn't too clear here.
Other knitting projects can be found on my WoolWorks page.

5000pc puzzle in one month!

I have always wanted to build one of the old world map puzzles.

I was hoping to complete the 18000 piece one by Ravensburger before I died, but it turns out they don't make it anymore.

More's the pity.
For Christmas last year (plus birthday this year) my parents gave me the version on the left. I was super excited. Nerd.

At the beginning of February I decided that there's no time like the present and since the 6000pc puzzle I built in 2013 took me 4 months to build, I was gearing up for a long haul. Here's the play-by-play (more or less).

Rugby hadn't started yet, so my Saturdays were pretty free. First one of Feb saw me opening the box, finding boards to work on and delving in. Since there was so much "beige" I opted to defy tradition and start with colours instead of straight edges.

Project commenced 07 February 2015
By the next day I had patches of pattern done, and the edges mostly joined. Turned out the dimensions on the box were a centimetre shy in both length and breadth, making it a tad too wide for the dining room table.
08 February 2015
Trying to get it to fit.
A fair bit of progress was made in the colourful exteriors before I decided to attempt the interior of the map itself. Luckily there are straight lines measuring out the longitude at the equator which became the place to start. Ten days later the exterior was pretty much complete and more map lines had been cobbled together.
11 February 2015
Braving the globes
21 February 2015
Focus is now on the globes and filling in the seas.
Two and a half weeks since starting and I had only the continents to do. At this stage I also noticed that I had put together some of the edges incorrectly. Sneaky of Ravensburger to use the exact same piece shapes on opposite sides. Only differences were slight colour variations or just-not-perfectly-matching patterns to figure out my missteps.

25 February 2015
Four more days and .... VOILA! Just under 4 weeks. The plan is to frame this one. The first puzzle I will have ever kept in one piece. Do you notice that there's no Australia...?

01 March 2015 - Complete!

#MuizenbergFire of 2015

The scope of the Muizenberg fire.
Image credit: Mark Harley
While a wild fire wreaks havoc over much of Cape Town's peninsula and firefighters are into their 4th consecutive day of battling this rogue, everyone is having a minor sigh of relief for the miserly showers that fell about an hour ago. I hope the rain is still falling.

I've been criticised for remarking on the beauty of some of the photos taken by Cape Tonians in the mix. I know the blaze is devastating. I know there are many people that have been evacuated, and some homes have been destroyed. I know there are many animals fleeing the flames, or trying to at any rate. I know all that, and yes, it's sad and worrisome.

That still doesn't detract from the magnificence of the blaze though. Not for me. Perhaps because I haven't been personally affected by it, I can see the beauty in the photos, not just the terror. I've been around a rampant veld fire, I've been petrified while my parents went out and helped beat the flames. I've beaten flames. Nothing on this magnitude thank goodness, but my point is that I've felt the fear that fire can demand. I am aware it's dangerous.

But can you honestly tell me this image isn't stupefyingly beautiful, even in its devastation?
Image credit: Greg Hillyard

Perhaps I came across as callous when commenting on the photos I'd seen. Perhaps my awe of the power we are all seeing the effects of was all that I put out there. Perhaps I just think there can be magnificence in destruction. Sometimes.

Monday, 2 March 2015

Decisions, Decisions

This seems a little pompous/spoiled to complain about, but I currently find myself in a situation having to once again decide between career and relationships/social stuff.

I received an acceptance email today telling me that I have been selected as one of 650 students around the globe to participate in the 65th Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting. It's in Germany. It is a wonderful opportunity and will be good for my career.

It also finishes the day before a friend's wedding.

I've been friends with Claire since 2002, and have known of her since we broke my nose in 2001. That's 13 years of friendship! I've known her fiancée for 8 years and was around when they got together in the first place. I'd really like to attend their wedding. In fact, I had had a plan to make it work around the other work travel I have to do.

And now this.

Too much is happening at the same time. As it stands now, assuming we can do some sort of shuffling and find funding for all the plane rides...

~ 16th June -- 27th July: 3 continents, 4 countries, 5 cities.

Home, RSA - Durham, England - Lindau, Germany - Pietermaritzburg, RSA - Princeton, USA - New Brunswick, USA - Home, RSA

Now do you understand why I feel spoiled? I am tremendously privileged  to have these opportunities. Finding myself with too many options shouldn't be a problem.

Sad to say it, but I might be forgoing another wedding for work. :(