Monday, December 31, 2007

Looking back, looking forward

As you do at this time of year, a bit of looking back, looking forward (well, that might happen tomorrow or later this week...hmmm, do you think I might have a procrastination problem??!!)

This has been a great year for me, blogwise, and pretty good otherwise. It all started with Donni and Good Yarn Karma, which lead me to Bells, which lead me to Amy, who always makes me think, George, who always makes me smile, Jejune, who does great knitting paintings most recently featured in Vogue Knitting (squeeeeeee!), and Tink, my shoe twin (all amongst others). Regular knitting catchups with my former work colleagues (all blogless) as well as 3 great women in Sydney, give me something else to look forward to every month or so, as well as a chance to flash (in person) the latest stash or FO or WIP, as well as to pet the same from the others.

New friends also came from a chance comment, and from a knitterly letter swap. For an introvert like me, blogging has made getting to know people so much easier - typing an email or a blog entry is so much less confronting than walking into a room full of people I don't know and trying to get someone's attention. And I can be the person I want to be without being constrained by my shyness or lack of social eptness!

According to my FO tag, I've finished 31 things this year. I know it's been a few more, as there are some things I haven't blogged yet and some I won't bother blogging (who really needs to see another ballband dishcloth!! But I do love knitting them!). I'm pretty happy with that number, although seriously, I need to ramp it up if I'm ever going to get through the stash.

Speaking of stash, Knit From Your Stash 2007 pretty much didn't do it for me. I blame the sock yarn exception. Oh, yeah, and my complete lack of willpower. Sigh! As I've signed up for No Guilt Stash, I don't feel that bad...but I do plan on shopping the stash more this year, rather than shopping for stash!

More additions to the stash came from some very generous knitters, some doing giveaways and some just for - the most recent of which arrived on Christmas Eve (it arrived Sarah!!). The pictures were done in a bit of a rush, and now we've left the camera at my MIL's so these will have to do. Sarah bought all of these items from Etsy sellers - how cool is that!
Alpaca/merino sock yarn, cool stitch markers and a row counter bracelet (both from Hide and Sheep), a very neat button closure purse/pouch and the sweetest little badges - one each for knitting, crochet, sewing, quilting and needlepoint! Thanks Sarah! I love all of these things - I've been thinking about getting a row counter bracelet for a while now - yippee!

Knitting firsts in 2007: felting (love it!) and lace (love it - just need lots of uninterrupted concentration time). Will 2008 be the year of colourwork? Probably not, but one day, I will try it!

Favourite FO of the year: Embossed Leaves Socks, without a doubt! The combination of Koigu, colour, clever pattern, fabulous effect. Love these socks. Will knit them again. Quite possibly with the alpaca/merino yarn from Sarah! A close second is husby's Beau. There's nothing quite like making a large garment for someone you love. Beau only just edges out clapotis, actually...

Favourite post of the year: Who would have thought that RoseRed's Standard of Stash Systemisation would take off! A close second is this post - quite funny, for me anyway!

Surprise of the year: Setting up two new blogs - both with the fabulous and energetic Bells - Mouthfuls of Heaven, where we document our love of Nigella, and Southern Summer of Socks, self-explanatory, I hope! Oh and Ravelry - how cool is Ravelry?!

What about you - what are you favourites, firsts or surprises for 2007?

And Happy New Year to everyone - if I have left anyone off this it's only because I think about 5700 links is probably enough for one posts. I cannot express in words how much I enjoy this blogging lark and all that comes with it, most particularly the connections I have made over the past 18 months. Thank you all.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

SHOESday: Red shoes for Christmas Day

What better shoes for Christmas than ones all tied up in a bow!
Bought these from Russell & Bromley (in Oxford I think - somewhere in the UK, in any event!). They also came in purple suede. Wish I'd bought those as well... (see, I've learnt my lesson since then!!)Merry Christmas, happy holidays to all!

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Please allow me to brag, just a little...

Please allow me to brag, just a little (hey, isn't that at least partly what knitblogs are for?!).

This year we hosted our friend's annual Christmas get-together, and because I've never cooked Christmas lunch/dinner (we always go to one or other of our parents' for Christmas), I thought I'd go the whole hog and do a hot Christmas dinner, with a glazed ham and a plum pudding, and the usual trimmings.

Of course, I also thought we were having dinner tonight (ie Sunday) and so I'd have the whole weekend to shop and cook and tidy the house and all. But of course, it was last night (Saturday) - so only a day to do all those things. Fortunately, I realised this earlier in the week, so could prepare myself a little (I put the Christmas tree up on Thursday night after work).
And to make things even more of a challenge, I woke up on Friday morning with a bit of a sore throat, which by yesterday morning had turned into all out sicky sore throat, sneezing, snot nose. Not terrible, can't get out of bed flu though (phew!). So sent husby out to shop with detailed list (he only forgot 3 things, necessitating 2 more trips to the shops in the course of the day!) while I cleaned and tidied and planned out my cooking (small oven, lots of baked items - eeek!), all in between sneezing, blowing my nose and washing my hands (TMI? Sorry!)

First up, put the pudding fruits on to soak. While they soaked (2 hours rather than 4 specified by recipe) I made the potato and onion au gratin. Then made pudding and put on to boil (for 4.5 hours!). Then made the honey glazed vegetables (sweet potato, parsnip and pumpkin). Then had a shower, cleaned all the good crockery and glassware, set the table, and got the glaze ready for the ham. First guests arrived just as I was putting the ham in the oven. Phew! Pray that torrential rain doesn't force us inside to eat (the deck is covered, but if really windy, the rain can blow in a fair way)

Glazed ham every 10 mins while drinking champagne with guests. Took ham out, put veges back in to warm through. Kept topping up pudding water. Made peas with pancetta and mint. Huzzah! All ready to serve.
Husby carving the ham. Many jokes about whether I'll be posting a butt shot of him carving. Decide against it!Pudding ready at just the right time. Is there anything more scary than peeling back the calico from your first ever boiled plum pudding? Another phew!Mmmm plum pudding...
All in all, a lovely evening (slightly stressful for me, sorry about that friends!). Now to relax for a couple of days, and really appreciate someone else making Christmas lunch!

Friday, December 21, 2007

Kitchen paraphernalia

With any luck, my tea cosy swap pal will receive her package today! A quick sneak preview for you of the knitted items:

Tea cosy - for a very small pot - hope it fits her pot! I adapted a vintage tea cosy pattern - I was going to do a gauge swatch first but then thought, hey, I think this swatch is the right size! I had to add some crochet on either side to make it wide enough, but I think that works ok.
Dishcloth or pot mat - this is the travelling vines pattern - I used 8ply/DK cotton and 4.5mm sticks - it turned out perhaps a little small for a good dishcloth, but very pretty I think.
It's amazing what a difference blocking can make!Pot Holder - this was a bit of a leap of faith on my part - didn't use a pattern for the pot holder (clearly, had a pattern for the knitted bit!) so I'm fairly pleased with how my limited sewing skills went on this!
I machine sewed the fabric and wadding (you might even say I quilted it!! Heh!) and bias binding on, and then handsewed the knitted square (which is really a parallelogram!).Quite pleased with the matching leaf fabric which I bought after finishing the knitted part!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

In all the rush, time to be thankful

So I wrote the last of my Christmas cards last night, finished my Christmas shopping yesterday (well, ok, almost finished), posted off the last of the parcels yesterday (only had to wait about 10 minutes in line at the PO, pretty good I thought!), and am totally on track to finish the relatively meagre amount of Christmas crafting that I put myself in for this year (much helped by the fact that half of it isn't due until just after Christmas).

I still have to put up the Christmas tree. And wrap the presents. And clean up the house. And finish a bunch of things at work before I start SIX WEEKS' LEAVE this Friday. Can I just mention that again: SIX WEEKS' LEAVE! Huzzah for long service leave!!

As well as long service leave, I thought I'd also take a moment to be thankful for a few other things:

Unexpected gifts
In addition to the fab-o socks from Bells, yarn from Donni, tea, chocolate and other goodies from Shazmina, yarn from Nora (for my birthday - forgot to take a picture - mmmm Handmaiden), handmade sticks from BrownPants (ditto re the picture forgetting), yarn from Amy, yarn from Michele, yarn from MadMad (noticing any theme here...), last week I received a package from Tinkingbell.

I was instructed to not open it until Christmas, but since Madmad couldn't wait, or Donni, or Bells, I couldn't hold off longer than the two days I'd conscientiously waited.

Squeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee! Thanks Tink! HappySpider sock yarn, chocolate (mmmm chocolate), tea, lovely Tasmanian soap (love fancy soap!) and a tape measure (can never have too many of those!)

Fab bloggy friends
See above! And more - this year I've been so excited to get to know so many wonderful bloggers. I've blagged on quite a bit about this topic already - it really does amaze me how cool you all are!

Socks that Rock!
Ok, this is not all mine...most of it was for Christmas gifts.

I only kept 3 for myself, honest! I can assure you, postage is very reasonable when you are buying in bulk!! (STR Lightweight in Beryl and Ruby Slippers, STR Silkie in Valkyrie) (How could an Australian not buy a yarn called Beryl - Berr-RYL!)

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

SHOESday: red slides for casual Christmas party/BBQ

Today I bring you red shoes good for a casual Christmas party/BBQ/afternoon tea.

With just a small heel for a bit of height without losing the comfort.
But nice and open for the "hot" weather we have at Christmas time (well, if it would stop raining that is!) and to show off the pedicure.Most importantly, a bit of party bling with the shiny red leather!

Friday, December 14, 2007

Can she do it?

I've been plugging away at MIL's christmas socks, which I'm making using Colinette Jitterbug. Having read on Ravelry and elsewhere about various issues people have with the Jitterbug (mainly about knots in the skein, yarn bleeding and/or quite short yardage), I was a bit concerned I wouldn't have enough yarn to finish the pair.

So I've been carefully weighing the ball as I knit through the first sock - at the end of the leg, after the heel and gussets, before I got to the toe shaping. And I wasn't sure I'd make it, I had almost decided to buy a second skein for the second sock. And then I finished sock 1, weighed the ball, and found this:
And then I weighed the sock, and found this:Huge sigh of relief!! I should be able to finish sock 2 with 2-4 grams of yarn to spare - woo hoo! And so far, no knots in the yarn (and I didn't notice any while winding the skein, so fingers crossed!). I am expecting some bleeding when I wash the socks, as if I knit for a fair while on these they do stain my fingers, but I can live with that (and will warn the MIL as well!). Fortunately am using the KP metal dpns, so no green sticks!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

SHOESday: Red for formal Christmas party

As promised, this week's installment of red for Christmas is the formal Christmas party shoe - strappy and pretty, not over the top and with not too high a heel so that you can comfortably stand or dance all night in these babies!These are another bargain from Zara in the UK, purchased about 4 years ago. I remember the first time I wore them. We were in Singapore and had a disastrous evening - could not find the very nice restaurant we wanted to go to for dinner so settled for something else which was not great (not terrible, just not great) and then couldn't get a cab home and so had to walk for miles (well, it felt like it, I'm sure it wasn't that far), had a fight and I got blisters on the backs of both heels from the shoes (sigh...). Fortunately, that is the only time they ever bit my feet, now they are very well behaved!

Monday, December 10, 2007

Knitters rock!

Hello! Preaching to the choir pretty much, I know! But don't knitters rock! Is it true you never come away from a gathering of knitters empty handed? It certainly was for me this weekend, after meeting up with a couple of fab-o Sydney knitters on Saturday for our regular little s'n'b:And then Sunday in Canberra (which you can read all about on BellsKnits):mmm burnt butter alpaca - it's as soft as, well, buttah!
And best for last:
Handmade by Bells for me, using Donni's Bruised Bloodwood yarn (which you can buy here) - my very own monkeys! And they fit like a glove. Or I should say, like a sock! I couldn't get the colour right but no doubt you'll see much better pictures on Bells' blog shortly! Thanks Bells, they rock! You rock!

But really, the goodies were just the icing on the cake - not at all necessary (although fab) because the real thing I take away with me each time I meet up with knitters is a fabulous sense of community, of shared history and interests and of caring, interesting, amazing people who I am very happy to call my friends. Knitters rock!

Friday, December 07, 2007

Ravelry and lovely husbands (possibly related but not in this post)

First up - is anyone in the market for a Ravelry t-shirt? I was accidentally sent an extra one the same as the one I'd ordered, so rather than sending it back to the US, I thought I 'd offer it around - it's a black Hanes beefy T in XL "I swatched Ravelry". It's pretty big actually, 45" or 115cm across the chest area - if anyone would like it, leave a comment or send an email - the cost of the shirt including postage was US$32 but its yours for A$25 or nearest offer! These are no longer available from Ravelry so get in now for your piece of knitting collectables history!! (heh!)Second up - I arrived home last Sunday around lunch time, after doing the grocery shopping, to find this:Yes, that's right, that's my husband on his hands and knees scrubbing the bathroom floor! He is no longer a bathroom cleaning virgin (although he does remain a toilet cleaning virgin...not sure why, as the toilet is actually in the bathroom. Clearly, cleaning the outside of the toilet is all it needs!! Not that I'm complaining, mind...) Have no idea what drove my husband to clean the bathroom (apart from it needing it, but that's hardly a rare occurrence! I just thought I was the only one in our relationship who noticed!). Let's hope this is just the start of many happy hours husby will share with the bathroom cleaning products!

Wednesday, December 05, 2007


Like many other Aussies (or Australian based others!) on Ravelry, I signed up for the Aussie tea cosy swap, a fab idea which allows us to go crazy on stuff and not have ridiculous postage costs which is what often happens with overseas swaps.

And man, oh man, was I ever spoiled by my pal, Fitknit!! I was so excited I got a bit snap-happy, so there are lots of pics in this post (and I didn't even use all of them!!). My pal has been stalking me good and proper!

Let's start:
Everything is packaged inside a clear shoe box! A shoe box! The only thing that could have been better to find inside might have been a pair of Manolos! It was truly the magic pudding of shoeboxes, I felt like the bounty would never end!

And here it all is, arrayed (hopefully) so you can see all the fabulous features:
There was biscuits (mmm white choc and macadamia), a little chocolate pudding, tea, lots of tea - 5 different black teas, and almost best of all, a RED SHOE STITCH MARKER!!And check this out - Red Rose tea! I've never seen rose tea made of actual rosebuds! Wow!And a fab-o tea cosy and matching doily/pot mat - fits the cosy perfectly, look at those cool woven bead thingys and the fab leaf edging on the cosy - and the colour is gorgeous, matches my dinner set perfectly.
And if one tea cosy wasn't enough, there's another tea cosy! Now you see the teapot:Now you don't!And (I know I keep saying "and" - that's just how I felt when opening - "and there's more, and more, and more!") vintage crochet patterns, for edgings and doilies! Check this out - obviously my crochet teacher had this book when she was giving us patterns (I learnt when I was about 15, I went to a night class at tech):And just for completeness, as there's a few more things in the pics which I haven't also raved about (too much raving can be bad for one's health, yes?) my package also included 4 egg cosies (check out this for the funniest picture of these!), a shoe horn which is a woman knitting (!! shoes and knitting!!), fabulous red organza gift bags, including the loveliest beaded one, red silicon mini cupcake moulds, a shoe card, and did I mention a RED SHOE STITCH MARKER!

And, in case you've forgotten, my lovely pal Fitknit also sent me a Knittery voucher for my birthday! With which I purchased this, which arrived on Monday:
(mmmm passionfruit merino cashmere sock yarn...) Thank you thank you thank you Fitknit! You have chosen such perfect, fabulous things, you really have set the bar high!

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

SHOESday: Red shoes for Christmas shopping

I cannot deny it, the festive season is now upon us. With that in mind, I've decided that December is all about Red. Red red red red red. You can, clearly, never have too many red shoes. And so I aim to prove this by showing you a red shoe for every ocassion.

Starting with Christmas shopping. Unless you are one of those very efficient people who starts next year's Christmas shopping at this year's post Christmas sales, and continues it on through the year until you hit December, proud at your already bursting at the seams Gifts Cupboard (actually, do those people really exist?), you are going to need a good pair of comfortable yet stylish shoes for the inevitable expedition(s) to the shops.

(see, here they are chucked off my feet from shopping on weekend!)

For me, these are perfect - the meet the 4C requirements expected of a shoe for the shopping trip - classic, casual, cute and comfortable. Oh, and they are red, both on the outside and the inside. Can't get better than that!And for those who think I only have pointy toed high heel shoes - check it out - square toe and flat sole!I bought these in New York in January, from Bergdorf Goodman. I wish I'd bought two pairs (at least!).

Next week: Formal Christmas Party shoes

Monday, December 03, 2007


Me: Oh you lovely little chocolate animal-wombat-thingy, you are so cute, I could just eat you up!

Choc animal-wombat-thingy: Ouch!