Thursday, December 28, 2006

Lucky lucky me

Back from my mum's for Christmas - spent just a little while (ok, hours!) catching up on my blogreading last night and this morning - and had a lovely surprise. The talented Belinda decided to share the joy that is Malabrigo through a giveaway and I am the lucky winner! Yay for me! Yay for Belinda's generosity (have I mentioned I love knitters!! Thanks Belinda!)

I've been turning some ideas around in my head for my own little giveaway/celebration - more on that when I'm back from New York...

On the knitting front, I did manage to finish my nephew C's beanie, and my niece S's cushion. Husby got his socks on the sticks and Mum got about 2/3 of her bag. My brother A will wait until his socks are finished. Had a good knitting day on Boxing Day and then driving back to Sydney yesterday, so Husby's socks are all but done (just have to graft the toe and sew in the ends) and Mum's bag finished entirely on Boxing Day (crochet is sooooo quick!) (except I'm a bit cross with myself, I forgot to take a picture...). Brother A's socks almost done - about an inch of the foot and then the toe. So, all in all, pretty happy with the outcome. Might be less optimistic or more organised next year!!

And most pleasingly, everyone loved their knitted gifts! It was even cold enough for the boys to actually wear their beanies!! (I can't believe it snowed in Victoria - on Christmas Day - in Australia! It's supposed to be hot!!!) I've read a few blog entries or comments from people who have relatives or significant others who don't appreciate or understand the thought and time that goes into a hand-made gift, and I really do feel lucky that both my family and my husband's family, as well as lots of friends, "get" it. And those that don't, well that's ok, they don't receive handmade gifts from me (and really, that just means more time to make things for myself or others like me!)

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Crochet edge handkerchief

Earlier this year, while our new laundry was being built (and our old demolished), I took the washing to my mother-in-law's to put through her machine. I have a lot of crochet edge handkerchiefs, some made by me but most given to me by my mum - she doesn't use them and knew I like them so gifted them to me (I know, I know, it's a bit grandma-ish, but I like them - dainty and elegant, I think). My mil loved them and said all she wanted for Christmas was a handkerchief of her own (we didn't listen - there are other gifts too!)

But how could I disappoint her?

I used an Irish linen handkerchief, I'm not entirely sure but I may have actually purchased this in Ireland! They really are the best handkerchiefs!


Thread: DMC number 20 crochet cotton, white

Hook: 1.25mm steel hook, well-used - I think I need a new one

Pattern: Myart edge 125 from Myart's Crochet Edge Designs, Book 2 - it's a nice easy one, very quick as it is mostly chain loops - not too fussy or big, but big enough to be noticed!

Time: 13 December - 19 December

Wednesday, December 20, 2006


With 5 more days to Christmas, I'm feeling slightly strained about my Christmas projects. Here's where I'm at:
  • Beanie for nephew T - done
  • Cushion for nephew L - done
  • Crochet edge handkerchief for mother-in-law - done (photos tomorrow!)
  • Beanie for nephew C - 10%
  • Husby's secret socks - 75% done
  • Odd socks for brother A - 65% done
  • Crochet bag for mum - 20% done
  • Cushion for niece S - 95% done

Ok, now I'm feeling quite a bit more stressed...the plan is to sew up the cushion tonight and work away on the rest in between wrapping presents, finishing Christmas shopping, writing the last few Christmas cards and some more baking. The 6 hour drive to my mum's on Sunday will be vital finishing time as well!!! And if worse comes to worse, Husby and brother A will get their unfinished socks on the sticks!!

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Finally, I bit the bullet

Finally on Sunday I bit the bullet and put up the Christmas tree. I did have some thoughts on Saturday about how it was an hour or so I could be knitting and that since we wouldn't be home for Christmas day I shouldn't worry. But I banished Scrooge and I'm glad I did. It is good to have the tree up and decorations around - it does make it feel more festive. Hopefully I will take it down before the end of January (not like last year...)!
If only the tree lights hadn't blown after I tested them and then put the rest of the decorations on...oh well, no lights this year.

I love this cat garland - I bought it from Recollections in the UK a few years ago - it just goes with the rest of the room really nicely. Usually I hang it over the fireplace but since I've put the tree in front of the fireplace this year (we really
don't have a good spot for it.) I've hung the cats over the door instead - still works pretty well, I think. Would be even better if we had stairs - the cats could be climbing up or down the stairs with their little puddings and jaunty bows!

Monday, December 18, 2006

Just in case

When creating this blog, I was careful to not give too much away about myself (name, picture, friend's names etc). There were a few reasons for that which weren't related to my perhaps irrational fear that anyone out there could steal my identity (because, you know, knitters and other crafters - they're a dab hand at creating fake credit cards and passports, not to mention computer hackers extraordinaire!) (come to mention it, doesn't Sandra Bullock knit???)

But I think it's probably time to come clean, stop clowning around and show my real face to the world (or at least, the maybe dozen or so people who read my blog!!!)

So, just in case anyone is really really curious about what I look like, I thought now would be the time to provide some satisfaction... Even though it's not the best photo in the world, as you can see I'm having a slightly bad hair day (it just kept flopping even though I really tried with the curling iron)...

Keep scrolling - a little bit more suspense won't kill you, you know...

Just a bit more...

One more bit...

Ok, you asked for it (well, you didn't but it's the traditional thing to say)...

Now you all know the real reason I haven't shown my face before...

If it's Monday...

If it's Monday, it must be time to post something about baking...

Yesterday we had afternoon tea with friends, for a Christmas catch-up. As I usually do, I promised something sweet. Flipping through my old favourite standby, Nigella (which very usefully has a whole section on Christmas baking) I found a recipe for Christmas cupcakes. They look chocolately, but are also a little spicy (mixed spice) with a hint of coffee. They were delicious! The icing was a bit ordinary, I just couldn't get it thick enough, but I think they look suitably Christmas pudding-y with icing drizzled over the top.
Nigella also offers a recipe for Snickerdoodles (heh). So I made a batch to give to each group of friends. Since there weren't enough, I just had to make chocodoodles as well...

Here's the before/after shot:
They are ok - not as dough-nutty as Nigella promised but ok. And very easy to make. And they look pretty good in Christmas-y (it's a "y" kind of day) boxes...

Friday, December 15, 2006

Of droughts and flooding rains

It's raining in Sydney at the moment (just...very lightly). We have water restrictions but we do get relatively enough rain - especially, it seems, on weekends in January - just when you wouldn't mind a bit more sun.

Others in Australia are doing it a lot harder. I saw a link to this on WhipUp the other day and it really appealed to me - being from the country originally and being a knitter - so now I am the proud sponsor of a mother ewe named Gwen, in honour of my own mother. I hope that it will take off and other farmers can also benefit.

Some Friday eye candy to finish with:
Some people think agapanthus are weeds but I quite like them - they are very hardy (I never water them!), always green and produce lots of flowers every year. Ours are all blue with the exception of one lonely white flower, which you can't see in this picture (it's up the other end).

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Colour choices

A while back, my mum requested a crochet bag like mine, but a bit bigger (about 30cm/12" wide). I bought the yarn months ago but only started on the weekend - yep, just in time for Christmas. It's a very easy and quick pattern so should have it done by Christmas - except that I've discovered that I don't have enough yarn... And to make it worse, no more of this colour to be had at my LYS (unless I order it, I guess, which probably won't work in time for Christmas). I'll have enough to finish one side piece, so I thought I might do the other side piece in a contrasting colour, so in effect it is a reversible bag - I may have enough purple left to stripe it.

(by the way, the colour in these photos is not true to life - the yarn is quite a bright purple!)

But what colour? I'm thinking red (I quite like red and purple together but it is a bold choice). Other options? Black? Cream? Olive or forest green? A striped combination of any of these? What do you think?

(Added: Thanks for suggestion Nora - it is Lana Gatto Jaipur, colour 3885 - I'd happily buy and pay costs etc if anyone has any of this unwanted lying around in their stash - would need at least 2 balls...might be a needle in a haystack search!)

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

The Fabulous Miss F's Raspberry Scarf

My friend Miss F is, as you know, going to the UK for Christmas. I couldn't let her go with a cold neck and so the Raspberry Scarf was born:
Yarn: Eki Riva Natal 8ply, 4 x 50g balls (used double stranded) - a lovely soft alpaca/silk/polyamide (or something) blend - so as not to be too scratchy for Miss F's delicate neck. This is an interesting yarn - very lose weave (is that the right technical term??) so there are bits which are quite thin and bits which are thicker. The store had a sample knitted up in stocking stitch which was a lovely fabric.
Pattern: the Yarn Harlot's reversible scarf - in this yarn, looks a lot like raspberries!
Sticks: 8mm bamboo - I wanted this to be a quick knit, hence the doubled yarn and big sticks. Big sticks are hard on the wrists though...
Time: 20 Nov 06 - 8 Dec 06 (with a break when I needed some "quiet time" after the yarn tangled and knotted hideously and the knitting was thrown across the room...)
What I learnt: Sometimes the answer to a hideously tangled knotty ball of yarn is just to leave it for a day...rather than throwing it across the room.

Here is the lovely Miss F modelling her scarf - yes, it doesn't really go with her outfit or with the summer weather but you get the picture - good width - enough to cover the chin but let the bling earrings show (if you wish) and long enough to wrap round once and knot if you want. Hurrah for another FO!
And in case you didn't know, Tapestry Craft is having a pre-Christmas sale - 20% off all yarn and knitting accessories, plus full packets of yarn on sale too! Hurrah for pre-Christmas sales! Hurrah for being able to buy on-line (should you need that option). Hurrah for the internet!

Monday, December 11, 2006

It's baking Monday!

Yet again - my baking exploits for the weekend - I had a Christmas party on Saturday night and (apparently) offered to make chocolate macaroon thingys. Lucky I was reminded of this during the week or it would not have been done.

Quite frankly, better that it hadn't been done.

So far, so good (painstakingly piped by hand when really I should have just dropped the mix using a spoon, for all the good the piping with the fancy nozzle did!):
But getting them off the baking sheet - not so much. Out of 32 potential rounds, I managed to get 21 off the sheet in one piece. The rest just stuck or split.

Second round, not so much good:
Thought maybe baking paper might make it easier to remove the rounds (which, by the way, turned out better than the first lot, in looks anyway). Heh. See how those upside down ones have a white base. Yeah. That's the baking paper. Stuck firmly to each one. So, all 20 or so of this lot in the bin.

So after much cursing effort, I ended up with 10 macaroon thingys (sandwiched with chocolatey goodness). At least they tasted gooooood.
And I can safely say I will never be making this recipe again!

Sunday, December 10, 2006


You Are Mexican Food

Spicy yet dependable.
You pull punches, but people still love you.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

One beanie down, one to go...

Christmas "Roosters" beanie for my nephew T - I'd forgotten how quick beanies are to make - hurrah! Seen here reluctantly fetchingly modeled by husby (who needs a haircut):

Pattern: my own - hey, it's just a stocking stitch beanie with a rib edge. Used the Yarn Harlot's Knitting Rules - I've said it before - it's great! Love the decrease pattern, made following the Rules.
Yarn: Red Zara 8ply from the stash, white Zara 8ply, had to buy, navy Jo Sharp Classic DK (no navy Zara)
Sticks: 4.5mm bamboo circular, 40cm
Time: 28 November - 2 December
What I learnt: 1. Do my maths better - I cast on 110 stitches for a 2x2 rib. Anyone see the problem here? 2. I need to practice the whole "try to avoid the jump in the stripes knitted in the round" - my attempts here were woeful. 3. Don't leave finished beanie on the lounge where the cat might will sleep on it, unless of course you like the covered in cat hair knitwear look (it's all the rage in my household!)

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Hey, I've finished something else!

Wow - two things in two weeks (in fact, three - just wait til tomorrow!). This Christmas thing is working, I say, working! (did that sound convincing? inside I'm starting to freak out ever so slightly...)

Here is my nephew L's cushion:

Pattern: from Erika Knight's Simple Knits for Cherished Babies. It is about 45cm x 45cm, which is a good size for a child's cushion I think.
Yarn: Rowan all seasons cotton 5x50g balls. Can't remember the shade - the photos are fairly true to colour. Lovely to knit with.
Sticks: 4.5mm straights (pattern recommended 4mm, but you know, the tension issue)

Time: This is a quick knit - the Rowan really zips along. But I finished the knitting back at Easter (I think it took about 2 weeks), finally blocked it about a month ago, and then sewed up on Sunday night.
What I learnt on this project: Very straightforward project, no modifications - although now that I've sewn it up, I might have made the flap at the back crossover more, I think it will gape a bit. I'm also thinking about adding some type of tie or button closure just to be sure - the flap is not as tight as I'd like it to be. But overall, I'm very happy with this.

The verdict?

And she baked a ricotta cheesecake and it was goooooooood!

For your enjoyment, the post-tin and the post-ravenous hordes shots:

*in case you were wondering, those are sultanas and other mixed fruit...
There was even less left over after a couple of people had seconds! Hurrah for a successful cake!

Monday, December 04, 2006

More baking

I've always loved to bake (not so much to cook) but over the last few months I haven't done very much (might have been knitting instead...). Until my birthday came around and since then I've got my baking mojo back! I'ven been turning a little project around in my mind, for the new year - will tell you about it then!

But in the meantime, here's the progress shots of an Italian Ricotta Cheesecake I whipped up last night. Yes that's 1 kg of ricotta cheese (low fat of course, that makes it soo much healthier, 5 eggs, 1 cup castor sugar, lemon juice, lemon rind and a bit of vanilla.

I've never made a ricotta cheesecake before, and haven't made a baked one for years, so hope this eats ok!

There - that looks better, all nicely blended together (I do love the magimix!!)

I also love licking the bowl (well, clearly I did not lick it, I used a scraper thingy. Mainly because my head wouldn't fit into the processor bowl...)

Yep. Tastes pretty good.

Here's the before-and-after baking shots. I cooked it a bit longer than the pattern recipe recommended as it still looked a little soft in the middle. It rose up beautifully but dropped as it cooled (I hope it is supposed to do that, the picture in the book looked a bit flat, so fingers crossed...)

The reason for this baking? One of our work colleagues has returned from her honeymoon today (Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes not only copied her wedding day, but also her honeymoon venue!!) - and since she's also Italian, I thought this would be a good choice for a welcome back afternoon tea.
Knitting tomorrow - I promise!

Sunday, December 03, 2006

By popular demand - Golden Syrup Dumplings

(well, one or two of you anyway!!)

Golden Syrup Dumplings
45 grams butter
1 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
1/2 cup golden syrup
2-1/2 cups water

1-1/2 cups self-raising flour
30 grams butter
2 tablespoons golden syrup
approx 1/2 cup milk

Make dumplings first: sift flour into bowl, rub in butter, add golden syrup and enough of the milk (gradually) to mix to a soft dough. Roll tablespoons of dough into ball with floured hands. Should make 10 dumplings

Then: combine butter, sugar, golden syrup and water in large saucepan, stir over low heat until sugar is dissolved. Place dumplings into saucepan slowly (eg using spoon). Bring to the boil, reduce heat and simmer for 10 mins or until dumplings are well-risen and cooked through. Serve hot with whipped cream or ice cream.

Cook as close to serving time as possible.