Winding up 2017

 

Hello blog – I missed you! No, for realsies, I did.

I’ve been terribly neglectful I know, and flown somewhat in the face of my resolution to update more often. At least I’ve a good excuse this time around. In July I started a new job; it was originally a two month contract, so I figured that I’d focus on work during that period and get back to blogging when I was done. It didn’t quite work out that way in practice since my contract got renewed not once, but twice; I am, in fact, still with the company, albeit currently on Christmas/New Year break.

The second half of this year has gone quite well, for the most part, though it hasn’t really been as balanced as I would have preferred. I like the work that I’ve been doing, and the company at which I’m employed has been extremely accommodating when it comes to my health issues, but the fact remains that working full-time hours while you have even comparatively mild chronic fatigue leaves precious little energy for recreational pursuits. When it comes to balancing work, your health, and recreation/socialising… it’s basically a matter of “pick two”. And that’s on the good days. Managing not just my health but also my life balance and my expectations of myself has been an interesting challenge.  Still, at least it’s nice to have more yarn money, and to have a reason to be up about early enough to enjoy the sunrise.

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All of the above grumbling about not having enough time and energy aside, I haven’t stopped knitting. My relationship with the craft is a long term and committed one – I’d throw a great many other hobbies out of the proverbial window before I put down the needles – and frankly, I rely on knitting quite a lot, even during the times when I’m too exhausted to see straight. It calms me down when I’m stressed out, it makes me feel constructive when I’m too tired to tackle more involved tasks, and it keeps me warm when it’s cold. Do not let the lack of posts (or Ravelry updates, for that matter) mislead; I have definitely been knitting. I am always knitting.

Anyway. It’s January 1st, and since I’m spending New Year with an internet connection for a change, I thought I might as well write my yearly round up post on time, instead of my usual several-months-late approach.

When it comes to my knitting related aims for 2017, I suppose I’m vaguely satisfied with how things have panned out. I said that I wanted to work more on original designs and while they haven’t constituted the majority of my knitting, I have whipped up a few things from scratch. Nothing particularly groundbreaking – mostly just some hats and toddler jumpers for friends – though I am currently part-way through a colourwork edged tunic that’s proving an interesting challenge. I also said that I’d like to expand my repertoire of techniques a little. While I’m yet to master steeking I have at least tried it, and I’ve definitely expanded my knowledge of cast-ons and bind-offs. One of my other aims was to refine my techniques a little, and work harder on finding the appropriate method for each project instead of just resorting to the methods with which I’m most practiced or comfortable. I’ve certainly done that, up to and including finding a tubular cast on method that doesn’t make me want to tear out my hair! And while a lot of my 2017 knitting was either non-wearables or gifts for other people, I also did fairly well with knitting things that I actually wear, that work well with my wardrobe.

My non-knitting goals have also fared quite well. I definitely did more sewing and drawing in 2017 than in previous years; I’m still definitely at ‘beginner’ level but you need to start somewhere. And I’ve created a multigrain/rye sourdough recipe with which I’m very happy.

Goals for the coming year to follow!

 

 

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New South Wales adventures, Part One – Crescent Head

My last post mentioned (briefly) that I was shortly off to New South Wales, firstly to take up a practical legal training placement in a community legal centre, and then for a much needed holiday once my studies were complete. My placement and the following break are now sadly past – we have since returned home – and while it is, of course, lovely to be back in dear old Melbourne, I feel I should make a few posts about the trip, partly because it occupied two months of my time, and also because the mid-north coast of New South Wales is surely one of the most gorgeous regions in the world, and certainly one of my dearest favourites.

The legal centre at which I was worked was located in Port Macquarie, a town approximately 3.5 hours north of Sydney. It’s a very lovely place, and we had a lot of fun wandering around the various walking tracks whenever I had a spare hour. Sadly, spare hours were few and far between as in addition to working full-time at my placement, I also had a great deal of coursework to complete, but we still had time to explore a few of the town’s several beaches and meander through the Kooloonbung Creek Nature Park and it’s lovely trails and board-walks (though don’t try the latter unless you are A-okay with flying foxes, as there are plenty to say the least!).

When I wasn’t working a the legal centre, most of my time was spent up in Crescent Head. Compared to Port Macquarie, Crescent Head is tiny (though technically, at around 1200 people, it’s tiny compared to nearly everywhere) but having spent a great deal of time there over the years it’s very close to my heart and a thoroughly lovely place to laze through the summer. It’s small, but it has two beaches and an estuary for swimming, excellent surf, gorgeous views, peaceful trails through the forest, rockpools, caves, a wonderful bakery, and more or less everything else you could possibly need for an idyllic time.

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We were lucky with the weather this time around (unlike that time when we got flooded in for a week and had to start eating the elderly and infirm spend most of our time inside) and for the most part had sunny days well suited to swimming, wandering, and day-trips (though more on those later).

We also had good luck on the critter front! There has always been an amazing range of wildlife in the area but the town outdid itself this year, especially in terms of reptiles.

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The resident blue-tongue lizards were tamer and more complacent about photographers this time around. And we had the sweetest little visitor slither his way onto the balcony of the house.

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(any non-Australian readers, please be reassured – I know that we have a certain reputation with regard to snakes but this little fellow was very small and at any rate, non-venomous)

Also, if this guy isn’t the most handsome little kookaburra you’ve ever seen, I will eat my (faded, well travelled and no doubt pungent) hat. I just love their comically huge heads!

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I didn’t manage to get a photo of the monitor lizard that had scaled the telephone pole near the beach, much to the dismay of the resident bird-life, but I did very much appreciate his determination! Nor did I manage to grab a picture of the very charming eel that we encountered in the rockpools one day, or any of the roving octopus that we saw commuting between low-tide puddles. Maybe next time. I am a fan of next time. While there are many places in the world that I have been and will probably never return, there’s a definite joy in returning to a place year after year and really getting to know it well. It’s a privilege, for sure, and one that I feel very lucky to have.

That said, it’s important to find time for variety, as even in the places you visit regularly there’s nearly always the opportunity to try something new. As we did, though that is a tale for the next post.