Monday, April 30, 2007

Experiment v.2

Thanks everyone for your advice and comments on the felted box - I had another bash at this weekend, including a bit of hand-felting first (boy, is that hard on your back and arms!) and I think this time it is almost perfect.
It actually shrank this time too, you can see the difference when you look back at last week's photos - this is the same tupperware container I used last week, but I had to stuff the box as well.
Since I didn't do a proper details post last week, here goes:
Pattern: Felted Box from Mason-Dixon Knitting (largest size). Pattern calls for bulky yarn, I wanted to use this 8ply, so modified the pattern to cast on more stitches etc. I love the simple but clever construction - particularly the fold lines - how neat! The box ended up being 20cmx15cmx8cm - about the size of a boxed set of Buffy DVDs!
Yarn: "vintage" yarn (ie from the 1980s!) - Thorobred Scheepjeswool Double Knit 8ply, 4 x 50g balls, shade 1028 "sunset yellow" - recently rediscovered hiding out in my stash!
Sticks: Yarn is held doubled and I wanted it to be quite stiff when felted so used 5mm Addi turbos - a bit hard on the shoulders!
Time: 16 April 2007 - 21 April 2007 (including first felting)
What I learnt: Well, my first felting! The hand-felting then washing in the machine seemed to do the trick the second time around.

Here it is with gifts for a friend who is having her second baby soon - a Mason-Dixon bib o'love, a beanie (which I'll blog about soon) and a little Lynley Dodd book for her first child, so he feels a bit special too!


Don't forget to check out Mouthfuls of Heaven!

Sunday, April 29, 2007

What's cooking?

Bells and I have been cooking up a little something something...

See the results here!

Friday, April 27, 2007


The observant among you may have noticed the absence of progress on any of the items in the sidebar, except the Trekking socks, which is my bus knitting. But I have been knitting, oh yes, knitting is occuring.
This is some of the yarn I recently found hidden away - it's not a colour I would wear, or would expect anyone else to wear (unless they really loved it) so I thought I'd try something new, something I'd never done before (no, not knitting with bright yellow yarn!). Felting! How neat is felting!
See the cool fold lines in the box construction - how simple but effective - knitting is so clever!
I used the felted box pattern from Mason-Dixon Knitting. This is 8ply/DK weight yarn, not the bulky yarn used in the pattern, so I wasn't sure how it would hold up under the felting process. I guesstimated number of stitches to cast on and rows to knit (to make up for lighter weight yarn).
I have a front-loading washing machine, which, as I gather, is not the best for felting, so I wasn't sure how it would go, and apart from some uneven bits (I think it was folded in the machine), it worked pretty well.

Perhaps I made it too big - the sides do bulge out just a bit, it's not as stiff as I had hoped. I think I'll give it another bash in the machine this weekend to try and even out the bits which didn't felt so well first time around. I figure that if it doesn't work, I wouldn't really mind throwing it in the bin, or maybe using it for a pet bed (a fairly small pet, mind you!). Any felting advice gratefully received!

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Lest we forget

Today I remember all those who went to war, who fought for what they, or their country, believed was right and who, in many cases, died, so that we could live as we do today. I remember those left at home, mainly women and children, who had to hold it all together while their husband, partner, dad, brother or son was away, with the constant fear of them never returning. And I think of those currently at war, and wonder if their countries (including ours) have learnt the same lessons as I did when studying the history of previous wars at school.

We commemorate Anzac Day so that we don't forget - for me, it's not about glorification of war, not by a long shot. It's about remembering where we've been (and honouring those who sacrificed so much) so that we don't go there again.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

I've become a joiner

One of the many lovely things about this blogging business is that even shy introverts can be joiners really easily - yay!

So in the last week, I've become a joiner:
This should be fun - I hope I get a knitter about the same level as me - I'd hate to have a sock queen to knit for (well, I wouldn't hate it, but I'd be a little scared), but am looking forward to choosing a pattern and yarn (ooh, yarn, I can buy some yarn!)
This should be satisfying - thanks Donni for the link! And you already know about this one. Yay for the internet community!

Friday, April 20, 2007

A few of my favourite things

I like comments...
Thank you all so much for your comments on my socks - I was probably just a bit (ok, a lot) gushy over them already but I've had a smile from all of your lovely comments! I confess though, I got the idea for the sock label from someone's blog a long time ago (I can't remember who, unfortunately) - I just made a template in word and put a pic on with the gift message, and on the back, the yarn and washing details (and a little plug for my blog!)

I like giving...
This year, one of my resolutions was to knit for charity (for me, it goes hand in hand with knit from your stash). I'm conscious that I haven't done anything about it yet, and so I did some investigating and found this Australian yahoo group, Knit for charities. Each month a couple of different charities are selected and you can sign up to knit something for any or all of them (up to you), and there is also a page where you can list anything you may have donated to other charities as well (eg yarn or knitted items). And there's a message board (which is not just charity knitting related!) and so on. I'm going to try and do one thing a month, even if it is just something small like a hat. Goodness knows, I've got enough yarn!!!

And, hey, lets be honest, I like receiving too...
Lovely lovely gift from lovely Nora:
So pretty I almost didn't want to open it...
But I'm glad I did! Gorgeous stitch markers made from pearls and turquoise and carnelian and lapis and garnet and citrine and and and ... I want to wear them as jewellery myself! They will be jewellery for my knitting and will make me smile each time I look at them! Thanks so much Nora - completely unnecessary but very beautiful!

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

The bestest socks yet

I cannot begin to tell you how happy I am with these socks - they are my most bestest socks yet!! I almost can't give them away - but to one of my best friends, Helen, they are destined to go (well, she deserves them, not the least because they are for her birthday - which was in January!!).

Because they don't look quite as good off the foot, like Bells, I took about 100 photos of them, trying to get an interesting but detailed shot. But of course, I still can't decide which photo is the best - I love them all! So please bear with me, and keep scrolling down for the FO details!

Pattern: Embossed Leaves Socks by Mona Schmidt from Interweave Knits, Winter 2005. I love this pattern - it's a 16 stitch repeat and is much simpler than it looks (and so clever!). Except of course, I didn't trust myself not to refer to the pattern every line until halfway down the foot of the 2nd sock - I really didn't want to have to rip it back if I stuffed up.
Yarn: Koigu (mmmm Koigu) KPM, colour 2340 - a lovely olive green semi-solid. I am so happy with this colour and this yarn for this pattern, with enough colour variation for interest but not too much so that it obscures the pattern (as I've made more socks, I've decided I prefer semi-solid sock yarn for lace or fancy patterns, and variegated for simple patterns). And one skein is just enough for one sock - I had only a walnut sized ball left from each skein.
Sticks: 3mm dpns (upsized from 2.75mm suggested by pattern). Lucky for me, as I started these when visiting my mum - my home town fabric and yarn shop stocked dpns - I was so surprised, as I'm sure there aren't too many sock knitters or knitters generally in my town of about 3000 people.
Time: 9 February 2007 - 14 April 2007 (in between lots of other projects!)
What I learnt: These are my first lace socks. I loved also the toe shaping - very unusual but fits perfectly with the pattern.
Ok, no more pictures of these (well, maybe one more...)
All ready to be sent off to Helen!

Monday, April 16, 2007

Growing up

When I was a child I was painfully painfully shy. I wouldn't even answer the phone (heh, until I became a teenager!!) and would hardly say boo when people came to visit mum and dad.
In some circumstances now, not much has changed - I hate going to large social functions where I don't know many people, I try to avoid going to external seminars for work if I don't know anyone else going, that sort of thing. But overall, I'm much better and I keep getting better at it as I grow up (growing up, for me, is a constant state - I'm not entirely sure I'll ever be fully grown up!).

And I'm glad I'm getting better at it. Shyness is a terrible affliction (I know, not the worst by a long shot) and very misunderstood - shy people are often taken to be snobby, when in fact they are just too afraid to say hello - of course, what they are afraid of is another question entirely!! I'm most particularly glad because I got over my shyness on the weekend and travelled down to Wollongong to the Wollongong Stitch'n'Bitch exhibition. And I met Donni, and Ailsa, and Donna, and other knitbloggers and non-bloggers and it was great - I only felt slightly nervous twice, once briefly while having lunch and then when I got there, for a minute. And there was lots of fab-o knitting, and some weird almost horizontal rain, and to top it all off, I came home with a swift, courtesy of Donni, the great enabler.

So when you put these two things together (Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock in black purl):
and combine with ball-winder (too dark to get a good photo of the actual winding process!) you get this:
And that means one thing - my lone jaywalker will soon have a mate! Just like me (when I can overcome my shyness) (oh, and finish at least one of my current projects!)

Friday, April 13, 2007

The Friday Night Knitting Club Fun Fest

I know others have already reviewed this so I thought I'd take a different approach and have a bit of fun - because it is going to be a movie. According to this site, the only actor cast yet is Julia Roberts, so, well, I thought I'd give them a hand.
(warning - slight character spoilers below; oh, and here and there I've taken some "artistic" liberties with age or ethnicity of characters, so I hope you don't mind)
Georgia Walker - knitwear designer and owner of Walker and Daughter, yarn shop
Who they should get: Julia Roberts
Who they'll settle for: Julia Roberts
Who they'll probably get: Julia Roberts (well, that's been decided already - it helps that's she's the producer too!)

Dakota Walker - Georgia's early teen daughter
Who they should get: Does Will Smith have a 13 year old daughter?
Who they'll settle for: I'm pretty stumped on this one
Who they'll probably get: Let me know what you think?

James - Dakota's father
Who they should get: Denzel Washington
Who they'll settle for: Will Smith
Who they'll probably get: Gary Dourdan

Anita - Georgia's wealthy mentor and confidante

Who they should get: Diane Keaton
Who they'll settle for: Meryl Streep
Who they'll probably get: Bette Midler (or Sally Field)

Marty - owns the deli downstairs from the shop
Who they should get: Jack Nicholson (because wouldn't we all love to see him and Diane Keaton together again!!)
Who they'll settle for: Martin Sheen
Who they'll probably get: Marty from The Biggest Loser

Cat - NY socialite
Who they should get: Cate Blanchett
Who they'll settle for: Reese Witherspoon (not that that would be settling, but hey, I'm Australian, I had to go with Cate as the first choice!!)
Who they'll probably get: Paris Hilton

Darwin - grad student who can't knit but joins the FNKC anyway
Who they should get: Sandra Oh
Who they'll settle for: Lucy Liu
Who they'll probably get: Bai Ling

KC - an out of work editor looking for inspiration (yep, straight from the book's website)
Who they should get: Rosie O'Donnell
Who they'll settle for: Rosie O'Donnell
Who they'll probably get: Rosie O'Donnell

Lucie - tv producer
Who they should get: Nicole Kidman
Who they'll settle for: Toni Collette
Who they'll probably get: Rachel Griffiths

Peri - works in the shop
Who they should get: Jennifer Hudson
Who they'll settle for: Beyonce
Who they'll probably get: Lil' Kim

Heee, that was a bit of silly Friday fun! I'd love to hear your ideas! (and if you want to know what I thought of the book - it's not great literature by any means, but is a fairly agreeable way to pass the time, eg on a plane if you aren't allowed to knit). I hear there is a copy doing the rounds of some Australian knitters, maybe it will pass your way some time...

Thursday, April 12, 2007


After carefully cataloging my entire stash earlier this year, a couple of weeks ago I discovered more yarn...(and I really mean discovered, it wasn't a secret purchase, honest!). When I was still at school I had this "great" idea that I would make a granny square rug, although not with traditional granny squares, but a kind of flower square - coloured centre piece with black edging. Primary coloured centre pieces...omg!!! Yeah, well you guessed it, I didn't get that far. But I've still got the yarn...all 2.1kg of it (including some quite nice plum coloured yarn gifted from my mum's stash)! Oh well...add that to the Stash Management System and take off what I've used so far this year (all 750g in finished objects - how could it be so little!) and yep, I've still got a LOT of yarn. Maybe it will felt well...I could try the felted boxes from Mason-Dixon. And there's always Good Yarn Karma...

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Bad Easter, good knitting

Well the Easter break was not one of the best (nothing particularly bad happened, it just wasn't much good) but at least I got lots of knitting done - I've turned the heel and am about a third of the way down the foot on the embossed leaves socks, finished the first sleeve (finally!) of Trellis, and finished the back and started both sleeves of husby's jumper!
Here is the back of husby's jumper blocking - I probably should have waited until I'd finished all the pieces but I just couldn't! I'm really happy with it - I just hope he never grows out of it (I think it is going to be fairly snug!!) Hurrah for quick knitting!

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Crochet is the new therapy

Remember I started teaching a couple of friends how to crochet a few weeks ago? I got a lovely email from Snoozen the week after - she'd had a really bad day (that wasn't the lovely part, clearly), starting with things like toasted sandwich machine breaking, through to finding a dead (but thankfully harmless) spider in her daughter's nappy, dropping cereal on the floor, spilling sand over her just-showered legs, through to getting bad news about members of her family. And then when she thought she might cheer herself up with a little chocolate, the lady in the chocolate shop asked her when her next baby is guessed it, she's not pregnant! The upshot of the story, and the lovely part of the email, was that a highlight of this bad day was grabbing a couple of minutes to practice her crochet.

Now she's buying yarn, making cushions, even crocheting while sitting at the computer or in the car (not when she's driving, clearly!!). I know I'm not telling you anything you don't already know, but isn't it great how knitting, or crochet in this case, is a lovely relaxing experience (well, except for fair isle or steeking, but you get the drift I'm sure). And you don't need heaps of time, you can squeeze some knitting/crochet in at odd moments - who hasn't done it while uploading photos for their blog - and it is so satisfying - I guess it gives you a little sense of control over things when it seems all else is falling down around you.

And as we all know photos make posts more interesting, so here's a gratuitous shot of the custom-made tea cosy I made for Snoozen's teapot last year. Just simple double crochet in Cleckheaton 12ply (worsted) yarn.

Hope you all have a happy and safe Easter!

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Rose Red: Domestic Goddess - Peanut Butter and Jam Jewels

So, here's the deal: I've resolved to make at least one new item (ie never before made by me from this recipe) from How to Be a Domestic Goddess, at least once a week. I haven't counted, but there's probably about 200 recipes in the book. Some I won't make, most I will. That's it.

31 March-1 April - Peanut Butter and Jam Jewels, p221
Combining one of the best things to come out of the US (good ol' PB&J) into a biscuit is clearly a recipe for biscuity goodness. So how could I not make these? I intended to serve them at CWS but only got time to make the dough, not actually cook them. Lucky we had PLENTY of food!!
You have to refrigerate the dough for at least an hour after mixing - it is very sticky (yep, peanut butter will do that!!) and refrigerating makes it much easier to manage when rolling the dough balls. And, as I discovered, you can easily refrigerate for a whole day, as I didn't bake them until Sunday afternoon.
Nigella suggests using your thumb to make the jam indentations, but I found this pate knife with a nice rounded bottom and used that. Even so, the indentations rose and practically disappeared during baking - luckily they are soft enough to re-indent once you take out of the oven.
I used plum jam on half and peach jam on the other half (not strawberry as suggested - don't like the pips!). Best to use a fairly solid jam which doesn't have large pieces of fruit in it, as this makes it easier to spoon into the indentations. Nigella also says the jam is supposed to go a bit runny and then harden slightly, to make the biscuits look just like "jewels worn by fairy tale princesses".
Heh. If the fairy tale you are reading is Shrek and you are Princess Fiona perhaps!!! But oh, they do taste delicious!! I think the plum jam works better with the peanutty biscuits, but the sweet and the savoury - one of my favourite taste sensations!

Monday, April 02, 2007

Chicks with Sticks

My turn to host our regular CWS meeting, featuring a special guest appearance by Miss J, all the way from Melbourne, plus the first CWS experience for B and D. We all used to work together but as we discussed on Saturday, I'm the only one still at the original workplace. Oh well...

This is me working on Husby's jumper (I'm now past the armhole shaping on the back - hurrah!). It is amazing how much detritus you collect when eating and knitting! Take special note of the blue knitting on the table...
Because the next day it looked like this (with a very pleased Miss J "modelling" her garment - the quick knit jacket from Jo Sharp Knit vol 3 - knit to the smallest size to take into account the sizing issues I (and others) have experienced recently). It is knit double, using Jo Sharp DK Tweed and 7.5mm sticks - just gorgeously soft - I think the DK Tweed is much softer than the Aran Tweed.
And here are all the gels: KT, B, D, KO, me and Miss J. KT knitting away on the cushion cover we gave her the yarn, sticks and pattern when she left work - almost two years ago!! Oh well, she has had a baby in between, and they do take up a bit of time. B knitting a pair of slippers (her first knitting - I'm holding them up as I was crocheting the top of the slipper to the bottom), D knitting a nice chunky scarf and KO knitting a baby blanket - finding the 11 rows of moss (seed) stitch border, on about 160 stitches, a bit hard going...(I'm with her!)