Thursday, September 24, 2009

Getting all growed up...

Well it's been a tough year, and this post is going to be about the educational issues I'm come face to face with in 2009. A bit boring, so feel free not to read ahead (if there is in fact anyone who actually reading this blog):

Last year I was studying literature at Deakin University, and while I loved it more than anything I've ever studied, it didn't feel like a career in the field of literature was going to give me job security and a decent wage - both of which I need if I'm to support the children Bertie and I plan to have in the near future. The plan is for me to be the main breadwinner, as Bertie's keen to have the babies and stay at home (and I am not!). Then again, I'm miserable when I'm not doing something I'm absolutely passionate about, so this career needed to be something I was really interested in...

Well, over last year an idea started to form. It got stronger and stronger until it turned from an idea into a plan. A job that was interesting, challenging, offered lots of room for moving up, sideways and topsy turvy (policy, hospitals, private practice, education, product development) - nutrition and dietetics!

I knew I was interested in food for a number of different reasons - I have been trying to lose weight and get healthier, and wanted to know more about how to do that; I am struggling with cravings for meat and want to know more about replacing the nutrients I'm missing with nonmeat alternatives; I have many friends who are vegetarian, vegan, or lactose/gluten/fructose intolerant and wanted to know more about how to understand/help/cook for them, and I was feeling drawn to issues of food activism other than vegetarianism - questions about genetic modification of food, preservatives and additives and the harm they might be doing, advertising of junk food to children, etc etc...

So what better area for me to get into?

But I couldn't entirely let go of my Arts degree. I had actually finished enough subjects to graduate with one major (in Arabic), but I wanted a major in literature too, so that (in typical me style), I would have a backup plan, an escape route, a passionate fling with books that would be waiting there for me to return when I tired of nutrition. So I gave up four advanced credit points I had got for my days in journalism at RMIT so that I could do the four literature subjects I still needed to do to get that second major, then I deferred my arts degree and planned to finish the literature subjects online along the way. I enrolled in a TAFE science bridging course that I had been told would get me into science courses at university, and off I went for 2009.

Well it turned out that my Certificate IV in Science is not recognised by universities as a replacement for VCE biology, chemistry or maths (why is it called a bridging course if the bridge only takes you halfway across the river?), so I was left with the knowledge but not the entry requirements. The nutrition course at latrobe needed VCE Chemistry, and I had been led to believe that this course would suffice... but it wouldn't. Should I redo VCE? That's what one person in the course planned to do when she too found out... Should I do biological sciences for a year and then transfer into nutrition if my grades were good enough? It was a decent option - many of the subjects were the same as the nutrition course, so I'd be getting a headstart on my nutrition degree. But what about my literature subjects? What about my arts degree?

Stuff it, I thought. Bertie and I have a house deposit, two overseas trips, and a wedding to save for. I'll work next year and study my lit subjects online - and finally finish my Arts degree.

However over the last few days, for a number of reasons, I've been thinking about things a little more seriously and carefully. I've decided to do nutrition. So why am I still mucking around with a literature major? So I could do a postgrad course in literature somewhere amongst the nutrition studies? I am making Bertie wait for those babies while I dabble about in this and that at uni, and it's really not fair on her. The pressure for her to come up with the money for everything we want was making her consider another year on a campsite job, away from me, and boy have I had enough of that. I realised that it's time to get all growed up...

So yesterday I began the process of finding out if I can get those credit points back, and graduate from my Arts degree. I'm pulling back from the Cert IV to a Cert III, as this will allow me to get the knowledge I need to survive at uni next year while also allowing me to work part time through Nov & Dec (because for the last few months since Centrelink recognised our same-sex relationship and cut me off, Bertie's been supporting me financially). That way Bertie can put that money into our savings and our travel plans, and I can financially support myself.

And I will apply for biological sciences at Latrobe, or Nutrition & Food Science at Deakin (no science or math prerequisites for either of them), and get on with the job of getting a job.

Now that I've finally made this decision, I feel hugely satisfied. After all, there is nothing stopping me from having passionate side projects once I'm working in nutrition. I can start writing articles for online literature journals. I can get those singing lessons I've always wanted and try to get a gig or two. I can get better at knitting and try to sell a few things online. I can do a short course in poetry and write a collection. I can do what I want, as long as I'm also doing what we need.

I feel a little like an adult. I feel like someone who's ready to get married. I feel good, gosh darn it (and I haven't felt good about my life's direction since high school, when I thought my road stretched straight ahead of me, clear and visible and easy to follow). Hell yeah.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

bit by bit, I'll learn to knit...

I've done lots of 'practice starts' with the continental knitting, but couldn't seem to get the hang of it... I knew I needed more lessons, but wasn't going to CCCK until Sunday. I found a book with some really clear instructions about casting on, then starting to knit, and then casting off - the problem was that they were in english style. The book was 'Knitty Gritty: Knitting for the Absolute Beginner' by Aneeta Patel.

I looked online for some good continental style tutorials, but none of them seemed to take me from casting on to the first row of knitting. Instead there would be a casting on tutorial, and then a knitting tutorial where a few rows had already been knit. The first step from casting on to knitting might have been self explanatory to most people, but not to me.

So I got some tips on English style knitting from a friend, then followed the book until I had the hang of the new style. I quite like it, though I'm sure the continental style would have been just as good with some more practice. After a few test runs I've started the 'scarf proper' - any mistakes from here on in are staying in that scarf. And I'll be buggered if I won't wear it every cold day there is until I've made a better one!

Today is a bit chilly, but with sunny patches, so I've set up on the front step, with a cushion behind me, knitting in the wind and fresh air. Delightful. Dwayne is playing at my feet, but every now and then the little rascal comes and plays with my wool and I have to get him off of it. He also likes tapping the loose knitting needle so it rolls across the table/floor making a funny sound. What a beautiful, funny little cat he is :)

The colour: bright green
The wool: Studio Mohair 12
The needles: 5mm
The book: Knitty Gritty
The project: chunky scarf

Monday, September 21, 2009

overly ambitious, non crafty, extremely busy person attempts death-by-craft

OK... I love to make plans. I especially love to make overly ambitious plans that I cannot possibly follow through on.

Here is my 'if-i-don't-eat-sleep-or-study-this-might-actually-work' plan for learning some crafts, and some of the reasons for learning each:


Wedding reasons: I'd like to make the invitations and thankyou notes for the wedding myself, as this seems to be a pretty enormous cost when you have lots of people coming to your wedding. Also, it'd be nice to be able to tailor each invite to the person your sending it to. And if i'm not too exhausted post-two-weddings, I'd like to make a scrapbook/photo album of our weddings and honeymoon.

Other reasons: I'd like to be able to make birthday and Christmas cards for friends and family in the long term, as i think it's ridiculous to pay $5 or $6 for a card that isn't personalised and probably isn't that funny. I'd also like to be able to scrapbook special events in my life as they happen.

Plan: There appears to be a scrapbooking and cardmaking shop in High St Preston, called Flutterbuys, which sells supplies but also runs classes. The first one I want to go to is on 'stitching cards' (for own info: 15 oct, 1pm-2.30pm, $25 includes materials). The second is a class on scrapbooking for beginners (for own info: 20 Oct, 1-2.30pm, $15, bring 4 photos)


Wedding reasons: I'd like to make the guestbook out of recycled paper (if it looks good and Bertie likes it)

Other reasons: I'd like to put less stuff in the recycling bin each week and try to 'reuse' more often. Making scrap paper and cardboard into something useful would help with that. It'd also be nice to have some homemade stationary to write letters to friends with.

Plan: A CAE course somewhere along the way, maybe? Or perhaps I could just get one of these papermaking kits and start figuring it out by myself.


Wedding reasons: I'd like to write the invitations and any text for the guestbook myself, not to mention the wedding program and the thankyou cards. And I have terrible handwriting! I need to learn to make it pretty.

Other reasons: it'd help to make those handmade birthday and christmas cards look better - no point making a pretty outside if the writing on the inside is scrappy and scrawled!

Plan: there's a CAE calligraphy course (thursdays 6-9pm from November 11 to December 12) for $230... as calligraphy isn't something I think I can learn by myself, this might be a good idea.


Wedding reasons: I'm seeing more and more knitted wedding dresses online, and the idea appeals considering that the Canadian wedding will be in wintertime (!)... However I recognise that that's a superambitiouss idea, even for me, so I'm content with just planning to knit matching shawls/shrugs for myself and any of the bridal parties who might want one :)

Other reasons: making clothes for myself, Bertie, and future offspring. Not to mention knitted soft toys like my Nanna used to make for us when we were little.


Wedding reason: making ties that match my dress, making flowergirl dresses if I have time, and sewing a 'first night as a married couple' nightgown (teehee!)

Other reasons: clothes. Clothes clothes clothes. Cheap, ethical, fitted to ME, and personalised.


Wedding reason: making a fascinator/veil for both the Australian and Canadian wedding, to match my outfit

Other reasons: I want to make hats as presents for friends - cool, different, and practical


Wedding reason: I'm leaning towards making my bouquets out of felt. I have a few really pretty patterns but have to figure out how the hell to follow them. A class or two may be in order.

Other reasons: seeing lots of felting projects jumping up on the net lately - bags, hats, cushions, toys... I think it'd be something cool to know. A complement to the knitting!

Learning to knit, cos knitting's the shit!

So... I went to the knitting class at CCCK yesterday. Didn't do too terribly - Ewelina taught me the continental style of knitting (it turns out she's also a talented artist with an exhibition on at fortyfive downstairs), and Andrea helped me decide what needles and yarn to use. They both seem like lovely, friendly people and I definitely plan to practise my knitting this week and then return for more advice and more yarn next Sunday.

I must admit I found it difficult to do things correctly when I tried it again at home. I couldn't seem to get the logistics right - what side does the knitted bit of the scarf sit while you knit, how do you stop the tail getting in the way or getting mistaken for your yarn, and worst of all how do I go back and fix mistakes (Ewelina tried to teach me this but I'm a bit slow and couldn't figure it out.

Still, I plan to get better at knitting - I am keen to start making some of my own clothes (shrugs, shawls, jumpers, hats etc), and making presents for family and friends that have a personal touch and haven't cost the earth.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

DIY 18 month project - my wedding!

Hi folks, I got proposed to a few weeks ago (yay!!!)

It was a beautiful thing to have happened after so much sadness (Bertie's father passed away earlier this year, we inherited his beautiful little cat and then she passed away recently after we fell in love with her, I found out my tafe course won't get me into the uni course I expected it would, I've been suffering from insomnia and flashbacks to hospital times, and someone I know has gotten involved with a disturbing religious group...)

But I'm getting married to the love of my life! And what bad news can top that, hey?

Also, in news that is ALMOST as exciting (haha yeah right), I'm on holidays from TAFE! It's been a long stressful year and I'm pretty keen to get back into my blogging over the holidays and renew some of those ideas about life changes that have fallen by the wayside due to stress...

I've been reading this amazing blog called offbeat bride, which has great ideas for weddings that aren't the normal run-of-the-mill production. A lot of the brides or brides-to-be on the site are pretty alternative, and a lot of them are into DIY projects. I love the idea of having some personal touches.

Here is what I aim to do myself (if Bertie likes what I come up with):

- save the date cards, invitations, thankyou cards
- a knitted shawl/shrug for myself and anyone in the bridal party wanting one
- my own non-floral bouquet (felting? crochet? knitting?)
- wedding party favours
- fascinator/veil
- cake topper

OK so that's a whole lot of DIY for a currently non-craft-skilled person! I plan to have a crafternoon instead of a 'bridal shower' (ick), and I'll have a few projects ready to get friends to help with. I'm thinking I'll experiment with the centrepieces and decorations until Bertie and I like what we've come up with, then I'll organise the crafternoon and see if I can get some mates to help out with making those. The bouquet and the fascinator'd be a nice thing to do by myself.

Tomorrow's the high vibes festival up in high st northcote, and there appears to be a wool selling shop called CCCK there. Excellent news is that they are running knit and crochet classes throughout the day. Yay! You have to buy a beginner's kit, but I need one of those anyway. There's a good start.