June 29, 2010

More makin'

The weather in Melbourne has gone from brrrr to it's-too-cold-to-leave-the-house in the last week, so more woollies were in order.

These snuggly scarves, knitted in luscious hand-spun, hand-dyed wool given to me a very generous knitty friend, should do the trick if I have to face the elements. 
The green one's based on  Duet from Knitty (I'm going to have to leave the house to get some buttons for it).

I also decided that some bright orange was in order this winter, to combat the blah-black of my warmest clothes. This bag (from a pattern I made myself) combines orange corduroy and a gorgeous, heavy-weight cotton from Ikea.

Orange corduroy - I feel warmer just looking at it!

June 25, 2010

You know you're a Melburnian when...

...your first thought at the annoucement of the new PM is that you and the leader of your country barrack for the same football team.

Other things Julia and I have in common:
  • we're lefties
  • we're atheists
  • we're westies (sheesh, we're almost neighbours!)
  • we're unmarried
  • we're unchilded
  • we love rangas (well, presumably she loves being one, and I'm in love with one, so close enough).
Although I'd rather see Australia elect a female PM than have one voted in by a party caucus, I'm still pretty chuffed to have a chica in the top job. I just hope JG doesn't feel the need to become a female Tony Abbott to win what have become the all-important opinion polls.

One thing that has disappointed me is the inevitable focus on Julia's looks, that male politicians (unless they insist on parading around in their budgie smugglers) aren't subjected to. On The Circle this morning (don't judge me - it was background noise to my physio exercises...mainly) one of the presenters said in almost the same breath how fantastic it was to have a woman leading the country and that she was pleased to note JG's nice nails, and another commented that JG's skin looks good 'for her age'. Not. Helpful. To. The. Cause. Sisters.

June 21, 2010

'Forever' for ever

Like so many others, Judy Blume's Forever was my first taste of writing about sex and young people. I borrowed it from our local library (where, I'm pleased to say, it was shelved in the children's library, right next to Are you there, God... and Superfudge*) after my older sister had read it. I was 9.

Of course, the first thing I did was to flick through searching for the promised 'dirty bits' and read them. And re-read them. And read them again. I did at some point in the library loan period read the entire novel, but I must admit my interest in Katherine and Michael's love story was secondary to my interest in Ralph and the mysterious goings on between the sheets (and on the rug by the fire).

By the time I borrwed the book again (the same copy, bearing the dog-ears of many fascinated young readers after me), the story meant more to me. I was probably 12 by then, and eager to meet the boy of my dreams** and fall in love. I longed to meet a Michael of my own; cursed parents who didn't understand the power of first love; and wanted someone to pledge themself to me forever, preferably via engraved jewellery.

Re-reading Forever 28(!) years later, I was still struck by the sexual frankness***, but this time I was also transported back to when I first fell in love at age 16, and how overwhelming those feelings (both emotional and physical) were. Forever was first published in 1975 and, from what I can tell, has been in print constantly since. Its accessories may have dated (hooked rugs, hand-embroidered flares, fondue parties and vinyl records), but its messages haven't.

Thank you Judy Blume, for writing "a story about two nice kids who have sex without either of them having to die".

* But the librarian did raise an eyebrow and ask me how old I was - I said 12, which seemed a very mature age at the time, and was also probably the oldest I could have gotten away with.
** At 12 I didn't know any actual boys (thank you all-girls school), but the posters on my walls were of the non-threatening variety of pin-up: Rupert Everett, Lloyd Cole and Howard Jones.
*** Which, along with talking about contraception and abortion placed Forever on the banned  and challenged books lists of the past two decades: #8 for 1990-1999 and #16 for 2000-2009

June 15, 2010

What she made: socks and squares and bunnies, oh my

Lili Wilkinson's post today on making stuff reminded me that I've had knitting pics on my camera for ages, waiting to show off. The WIP is for a friend, so no photographic evidence until it's handed over, but recent projects have included:

Joan McGowan-Michael's Diamond Lace Socks from Vogue Knitting's Ultimate Sock Book*

Mitred squares for a wee blanky - I thought this self-striping cotton would be an easy way to bring out the mitred-ness of the squares, but now I'm concerned that they look a bit naff, so they might be frogged...

Snuggly bunnies for some of the many small, newish people who've arrived lately.

Knitting's my daily crafty activity, especially since I love to watch bad telly but can't bear to sit and do nothing but watch telly. I'll admit to being a fairly unadventurous (read: lazy) knitter - part of the meditative bliss of it for me is not having to keep track of rows and complicated stitch patterns, hence my love of the self-patterning sock yarn.

Sewing is something I think about all-the-freaking-time but don't get to do that much of, partly because it involves a lot more equipment, planning and back strain, and partly because it can only be done at the dining room table. If Mr Fantapants and I ever win the lottery**, a crafty-study type space is definitely on my Big House of My Dreams Wishlist.

* The book's title is apt - one of the very few knitting books I've forked over cold hard cash for and worth its weight in gold if you're sockily inclined.
** not that likely, since we rarelyrarely get around to entering, but Mr F did dream our 'lucky' numbers about 10 years ago, so hopefully his hitherto undiscovered pyschic abilities will be revealed soon.

June 9, 2010

What she read: Will Grayson, Will Grayson

For the past month blogging has taken a back seat to more pressing things, like finishing Book2 (now in the hands of my editor) and the &!%*&! neverending saga of painting the kitchen floor. After such a long pause it's hard to know where to pick up without doing a (boring) inventory of the past 4 weeks, so I'm just going to talk about one Very Good Thing: 'Will Grayson, Will Grayson'.

David Levithan and John Green's co-authored book has had enough written about it without me adding my two cents' worth - suffice to say I loveloveloved it. As so many others have said, John Green's Will Grayson is very much like his other protagonists*, which can never be a bad thing, IMO.

David Levithan's will grayson has been less warmly received, but for me that was because the character was so well written - David's wg doesn't like himself enough to make others like him.** wg's every-day pain was raw and real, and his anger at life struck a chord with me.

Much of the book's humour lies in WG's best friend, the gayer-than-gay Tiny Cooper, and the musical tribute to his life (and to love) that the book culminates in. As a writer, it was really interesting to see how each author approached Tiny's character and used him to develop their Will Grayson's story. (As a reader, I found Tiny infuriating and loveable by turn - I'd love to chat with him at a party but I don't think I'd have the patience/energy to deal with him every day.***)

My 'Will Grayson, Will Grayson' experience was topped off by this video of David Levithan being interviewed musical-style by Leanne Hall at Readings recently. (My fave number: 'That John Green', featuring the immortal lines 'I heard he likes to eat kittens/And he carries a Glock'.)

*smart, slightly nerdy guys who overthink, all of whom I have some degree of an age-inappropriate reader-crush on
** at the risk of coming over all Dr Phil on you
*** and the fact that I've just analysed my fictional relationship with a fictional character makes me think he had even more of an impact on me than I realised!

June 6, 2010

What she watched: Angus, Thongs and Perfect Snogging

I'm usually a bit disappointed by YA book-to-film adaptations*, so I wasn't expecting much from Angus, Thongs and Perfect Snogging,** but I was more than pleasantly surprised.

What's to like:
  • Angus the cat (played by Benny AND Jimmy) is fabbityfafab and made me want to dress Big Orange Cat in a wee cowboy outfit
  • Georgia Groome makes a pretty good Georgia Nicolson and it's great to see a female lead who's on the normal side of slim, esp. in a teen movie
  • the parents, played by Alan Davies and Karen Taylor, were almost exactly like I imagined them
  • it's directed by Gurinda Chadha, who directed Bend it Like Beckham, and without being sexist/racist/any other bad -ist, is all the better for having a British woman at the helm***
  • the screenplay retains a lot of the voice of the books.
What's not to like:
  • it's such a small, pedantic point, but it bothered me that Tom and Robbie were suddenly twins
  • Jas (IMHO) was way more glamorous and worldly than in the books...and less likeable
  • Stalag 14 (aka Georgia's school) was suddenly co-ed and barely featured - understandable since the movie focused on the romance side of things, but many of my fave scenes in the books feature Slim and Herr Kaymer and the Ace Gang's school antics, so disappointing that almost all of that was lost.

*Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist and The Princess Diaries, I'm looking at YOU
**especially since they changed the 'full frontal snogging' in the book title to 'perfect snogging', which made me fear it would be devoid of any of the cheeky red bottomosity that makes the Georgia Nicolson books
***which is not to say that men and people of all other nationalities don't make good movies, but Louise Rennison's books are particularly a) girly and b) Brit-y, so in this case, I think it's true