Friday, January 26, 2007

I heart New York

New York rocks! Will post more when I get home.
One thing I can say - thank goodness I got the scarves and hats finished - it is cold cold cold here!
PS - Happy Australia Day everyone! It is supposed to be about -10 degrees C here tomorrow (today in Australia) so we're planning on going to the Met - and staying inside ALL day! Brrrrrr

Monday, January 15, 2007

Busy weekend pt 3: My Jo Sharp shawl collar cardi

My first adult sized garment! I am so proud of myself for making this - not so much about how long it took me to do it, but just proud and happy that it is done!
Pattern: Shawl Collar Cardigan from Jo Sharp Knit vol 1, size D (the largest). You can't really see it in the pictures, but the cardi has a lovely shape, nipped in at the waist and a slight flare on the sleeves (I would have like more flare on the sleeves, I think).
Yarn: I used the recommended yarn, Jo Sharp Alpaca Kid Lustre, an 8ply/DK weight, shade 855 (Cassis - a lovely winey/purply colour). The pattern recommended 15 balls, so I bought 16, and ended up using 12.5. It is lovely soft yarn and I enjoyed knitting with it, but it is hard to count rows - the slight fuzziness obscures the stitches a bit, so I recommend using a row counter!
Sticks: 4.5mm bamboo. Upsized from 4mm due to my tension tightness!
Time: I started this in mid June and finished it on 11 January. In fairness to myself, I finished the main part of the cardi, including sewing it up, in about September. But by then it was too hot to wear it so I went slow on the finishing (knitting the ribbed collar piece) in favour of doing other more urgent projects.
What I learnt: I should have trusted myself a bit more - the sleeves are slightly too long (even though I didn't do them quite as long as recommended, but not by much) and a bit baggier than they should be - and I knew they would be but I went ahead anyway. But overall, I think they'll be fine, particularly once I have long sleeves underneath. Perfect for NY!

I love it!

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Busy weekend pt 2: Husby's New York Scarf

This has been a long time coming, this scarf, but I love it and am so glad I made it. I started it not long after we decided we would go to New York in winter (ie next week!). Weeeeeeeeeee!
Pattern: Interlocking Balloons, from Scarf Style - I cannot recommend this book and this pattern highly enough - this is such a clever pattern and I really love it, especially how the back side is still quite attractive! It was my first experience following a knitting chart and I found it really good - particularly as the scarf was symmetrical and there was no shaping on the wrong side, so you could quite easily "read" your knitting and didn't have to follow the chart at all for every second row (well, once I got used to it, anyway!!)
Yarn: 4.5 x 50g balls Filatura di Crosa Zara - one of my favourite yarns! Colour 1490 lot 240.
Sticks: 4mm metal. I think I probably should have used 4.5mm as I do usually go up a size to get gauge but I figure gauge isn't that vital with a scarf, as long as the scarf is long enough (which this is).
Time: Started 5 September 2006, finished 11 January 2007 - right on schedule!
What I learnt: My first cable experience! Yay! I think they came out quite well! And blocking really opened up the pattern (see pre-blocked pic at left). I'm not sure if I should have blocked the sides out wavy, I figure they'll moosh in when Husby is wearing it. It stretched out to 163cm (about 62") after blocking, which is a good length for him. And it is wide enough for him to wrap round up to his ears if he wants to or it will smoosh down nicely for when it is a little warmer but still cold enough for a scarf!

Busy weekend pt 1: My New York Scarf

In preparation for our trip on Wednesday, and in accordance with my carefully planned schedule, this weekend has been a big one for FO's (yay! and phew!).

Here is the first of 3: My New York Scarf.
Pattern: The Yarn Harlot's 1 row reversible pattern - very easy!
Yarn: 1x200g hank of JJ's Specialty Yarns Montage (10ply) handpainted colourway Forest.
Sticks: 6mm bamboo
Time: Hmmm, I cast on in September or October, finished today (Sunday 14 January). This pattern is a quick knit, I just didn't do it very much - mostly in the car driving to the mother-in-law's and back or home from work (husby was driving, clearly, not me!!)
What I learnt: This is a loooong scarf. I probably should have stopped earlier - but I wanted to use up all the yarn - pre-blocking it measured 206cm, post blocking 254cm!!! On reflection, this is probably not the right pattern for this yarn - something more stocking stitchy would have shown the colours better I think.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Secret socks no more!

Even though not quite finished, Husby's secret socks were gifted to him at Christmas, after much teasing about the fact that I was making socks for my brother, but no more socks for Husby. Heh.

This is where I got to before Christmas - so close but not there yet - it was just too hard to find time when he wasn't around to knit them without him finding out (although sometimes I think I could knit them in front of him and he wouldn't take any notice of what I was actually making. He can be quite the absent minded professor).

So I did a bit more on them on Boxing Day, and finished them on the 6 hour drive back to Sydney. Except for the kitchener graft, which I finally did yesterday, along with the end sewing in - my least favourite part, except for the fact that it finally finishes them!

Hurrah - now Husby has 3 pairs of handknitted socks. And I only have one pair. (Hmmm, is there something wrong with that picture??!!)


Yarn: Regia Royal colours (colourway Brittania, I think) 1x100g ball. I think I might just have enough left over for baby socks, especially if I do a contrast heel and toe. I like the Regia, it is not the softest but knits up well and I'm sure it will soften when washed. I really like the patterning with the small semi-solid colour striping evenly throughout.

Pattern: I used the Madder rib (I think) from Nancy Bush's Knitting Vintage Socks, which is a simple 3x1 rib (with 1x1 rib on the cuff) but otherwise pretty much made the pattern up - it's just a basic sock, no calf shaping (I love ribbed socks for that reason!), CO 68 st and go for it!

Sticks: 2.5mm Addi dpns. I have been using bamboo for socks but I quite like the Addis - I think I do knit faster with them. They are more slippy, but not in a bad way (the needles won't fall out of the knitting, for example), so I'm quite happy with them really.

Time: Well, I think I started these back in September? And I intended to finish them for Husby's birthday in October! Ha! So much for that! The knitting finished on 27 Dec, grafted on 11 January 2007. Probably, really, my last FO of 2006.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Rose Red: Domestic Goddess 2 - Banana Muffins

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.

January 5, 2007 - Banana Muffins p.218
These are easy-peasy to whip up muffins (they are in the "children" section of the book after all!). They have only a small amount of butter and no sugar - all the sweetness comes from honey and banana. About a cup of flour, baking powder etc and cinnamon and off you go.

They are not the most attractive looking mix before cooking. (Nigella promises the recipe makes 12, but I only ever get 8. Sometimes 7. Maybe my muffin pan is too big?)

They make a most delicious holiday/weekend breakfast addition. About 15 mins to make (possibly less if you have little helpers - or would that mean more??) and 25 minutes to bake (enough time to have a shower and the make the coffee!).

This lot scoffed in about 10 minutes flat!

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

My Le Slouch (2)

Bl*gger wouldn't post this pic in previous post (it's better than the little one, I think - shows off the slouchiness more!). See below post for details!


First FO's of 2007!

Our NY hats (have I mentioned I'm going to NY next week? I'm kinda excited..) are now done.

Husby's Log Cabin beanie

Yarn: Filatura di Crosa Zara, 1x50g ball (with only a walnut sized ball to spare - lucky!) col 1468, a charcoal-y grey. Nothing bright for husby! This is a great yarn and very soft, especially after washing.
Pattern: My own, but using the cable pattern from the Log Cabin Socks in Handknit Holidays. CO 112 st and 2x2 cable.
Sticks: 4.5mm 40cm bamboo circular - I knit a big tight hence the larger than recommended sticks.
Time: Woohoo! 31 December 2006 - 2 January 2007 - hats are sooooo quick!
What I learnt: It is worth taking the time to graph out the pattern and be prepared to make adjustments to it; Zara works better on 4.5mm sticks for me than 4mm (husby's scarf is also in Zara, but on 4mm sticks - on reflection I think it is a bit stiff, but hopefully washing and blocking will sort that out).

My Le Slouch

Pattern: Wendy's (Knit and Tonic) Le Slouch (stocking stitch version)
Yarn: Jo Sharp Silkroad Aran Tweed, 1.5 x 50g balls, col 117 Potpourri
Sticks: 5.5mm dpns
Modifications: I couldn't get gauge with this yarn so I cast on 84 stitches instead of the 60-odd recommended by the pattern. Did the increases and length as per the pattern, and when decreasing for the crown, I split the 6 sections into 21 sts each - so added a couple of rows to the crown.
Time: 3 January - 6 January 2007
What I learnt: I should have done the ribbing in smaller sticks, it is a bit too loose.

Overall I'm really happy with both hats, the beanie is perfect (unlike the pic, sorry it's a bit blurry) and I love the slouchiness of mine (I look terrible in beanies!). I think the tweediness will tone in well with my scarf (and tone it down a bit too I hope!).

Monday, January 08, 2007

A woman's two best friends...

While I quite like diamonds (although clearly prefer rubies) I really do think a woman's two "best friends" (apart of course from her actual people and/or pet type friends) are chocolate and shoes. You can't get much better than that.

Obviously my family knows me well. From two brothers (or, let's face it, their wives) I received these for Christmas:
Yes, chocolates with shoes painted on (I'm hoping with white chocolate that's been dyed!!).
And actual chocolate shoes, nestled cosily in their little chocolate shoe box (I think they suffered a bit from the heat but you know I'll eat 'em anyway!)

And the best chocolate shoes of all I bought for myself (finally using my long service David Jones voucher!):

I'm wearing them today - had to do something to brighten my first day back at work!

*Nora - I'm going to NY on the 17th (next Wednesday! Weeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!)
*Catsmum - the beanie was done in Zara - will do a details post shortly!

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Log cabins all around

After the orgy of Christmas knitting for others, I decided to make a little something something for me. Something delicious and naughty (ie not on my list of must-dos).

I decided on the Log Cabin Socks from Handknit Holidays - I've seen these on a few blogs and they look lovely and warm - just what I need for cold NY mornings. So to the Tapestry Craft sale I went and bought some Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Aran (a bit more plum than the picture shows) - probably far too yummy for socks, but I was spoiling myself after all! Since I think the yarn used in the pattern is probably thicker than the DB, I made the men's size but on the smaller sticks - and it is just perfect!
Inspired by the ribs and cables, I decided to make Andrew's NY beanie using the same cable pattern, but with more of a gap between. I was going to do him a simple 2x2 rib beanie, but figured the crossing cables would add some interest. So I bought a grid book and charted out the pattern - and I was pretty darn happy with myself I have to say! On reflection, I think it would have looked even cooler to start one double cable column up higher than the other (so it is less symmetrical), but still, I think it looks pretty good!

Now just have to pin Husby down for a photo shoot!

Saturday, January 06, 2007


I've received my lovely prize from the lovelier Belinda:

(love the cheeky monkey with yarn card!)

It is just soooo soft and squooshy, I have it on the kitchen table and give it a little squeeze when I walk past. Delicious! My chickswithsticks buddy KO finished a drop-stitch scarf today which looks great - I wonder if that is what I should make? I'll keep thinking about it...

Thanks again Belinda!

Friday, January 05, 2007

Rose Red: Domestic Goddess 1 - American Breakfast Pancakes

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.

January 1, 2007 - American Breakfast Pancakes p.77
These are great thick pancakes, not like the thin ones my mum used to make (which were eaten with brown sugar and lemon juice, rolled up). I love the thick ones, either sweet with fruit added, or savoury, with streaky bacon as Nigella suggests (I love sweet and savoury together!). Either way, maple syrup must be added, and plenty of it (the one pictured below is "proudly Australian owned" but imports the maple syrup from Canada!)

I push blueberries (for Husby) or sliced banana (for me) into the mix just after pouring it into the pan - yummyummy. As I had a bit of leftover banana, I sliced and fried it until slightly caramelised and then placed it, rather artfully I thought, on top, with, did I mention this already, a lot of maple syrup. Great way to start the year!
The recipe is easy, just what you want for a lazy, delicious breakfast. I use a small frypan to cook one at a time and get about 6 pancakes (about 15cm/6" in diameter).

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Six weird things

Hey! I've been tagged! (Thanks Donni!!) So I've been thinking about this and even asked Husby what he thought was weird about me - he looked at me very suspiciously as if to say "Is this a joke? Are you going to get mad at me if I say anything?" Heh.

So here are my six. Level of weirdness of me is up to you to determine!

1. I have the world's messiest desk and I never make the bed (I hasten to reassure, I do change the sheets etc though!!)* but I can't stand it if the dishwasher isn't packed just so. I will even unpack and repack it if Husby has done it "wrong".

2. I love my belly button. I mean, really love it! I remember reading a quote Madonna allegedly said in the 80s (yep, I remember back that far...) that she would be able to pick her belly button out of a lineup of 100 (or was it 1000?). I reckon I could do that too...if you are lucky and a friend, I will even flash my belly button at you (clearly not when I'm wearing a dress though...)

3. I randomly say "Weeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!" in a high-pitched voice throughout the day - usually only at work though - not on the bus or when I'm shopping - 'cos that really would be weird, right?

4. I can eat chocolate at any time of the day or night. Breakfast, lunch, dinner, 1am, whenever. Actually, not sure if that makes me weird or normal?

5. Ever since I can remember (I think from at least early teens or possibly earlier) I have always put on my left shoe first on odd days of the month, and right shoe first on even days. If I do it wrong, I take my shoes off and start again. It really bothers me when the month ends on an odd day as it means I have to put my left shoe on first for two days in row.

6. I am an introvert. Always have been very shy. It is one of my worst fears to walk into a room (eg a social function) where I don't know anyone. I've become better as I've gotten older, but I'm still somewhat socially inept. A lot of people don't believe this about see (for reasons such as 2 and 3 above) as when I'm in my comfort zone I am quite loud but there you go.

Anyone else who hasn't done it yet but would like to, consider yourself tagged!!

*I have made another new year resolution - to at least tidy the bed every day. So far so good. It is pretty easy when you are on holidays though!!

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Christmas catchups pt 2 - monogram cushions

Here is the second of my monogram cushions, this one for my 7yo niece, S. Purple is her favourite colour and her parents report that she just loves it, hugs it all the time and even sleeps with it (hugging it, not as a pillow!). Hearing that makes me really happy - I've picked a good recipient there, and picked the right project too - it can be quite tricky!

Pattern: Monogram cushion from Erika Knight Simple Knits for Cherished Babies, no modifications
Yarn: Rowan All Seasons Cotton, 5x50g balls, colour Pansy
Sticks: 4.5mm Addi Turbo 80cm circular - much easier than the straights I knit the first cushion on!
Time: 31 October 2006-23 December 2006 - I think I finished the knitting a few weeks earlier but just didn't quite get to the sewing up until the deadline really was approaching!!
What I learnt: Not much, as this was the second one of these, but I found that it was a lot easier to use a circular needle than straights, as it gets quite heavy once you get going.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Christmas catchups pt 1 - beanies

Just to prove I did finish them, here are the beanies for my nephews, T&C. C's beanie was nicknamed the squid when I realised how many ends there were to darn in.

Thirteen!! Gurk! There shouldn't have been quite so many (I carried some of the stripe colours up the inside (badly)) but I had to start a new ball of navy in the ribbed part, and then the red yarn had a knot in it - not happy Jan!

I wrapped them together so the boys could choose which one they wanted (with hopefully no fighting) and as it turned out, they picked the ones I had randomly designated for them. And it was cold enough on Christmas day for them even to wear them for a while!

My own, with a lot of help from the Yarn Harlot's Knitting Rules - very simple stocking stitch beanie with a 2x2 rib, knitted in the round.
Yarn: Jo Sharp DK (navy) 2x50g balls, 1 each of Filatura di Crosa Zara in red and white (couldn't get the Zara in navy. The Zara is softer than the Jo Sharp, and I think knits up slightly looser, but I thought they worked together well enough for the beanies.
Sticks: 4.5mm 40cm bamboo circular and then 4.5 mm bamboo dpns on the decreases
Time: A couple of days for each one
What I learnt: I'm not very good at hiding the jumps when colour-changing in the round (I tried but I think it looked worse than when I didn't!) or carrying wool up the inside when knitting in the round.

Happy New Year!

Yes, I know, a day late and all, but you know, I'm on holidays - I'm pretty much doing things when I want!!

Had a good NYE, watched the fireworks from Pyrmont Park - Husby's 17yo niece is staying with us for a week, from Qld, and she really wanted to see the midnight fireworks ("because, it's like, midnight"!!). So we were just a little cold, and quite annoyed by the boys sitting near us who insisted on blowing loud trumpet/horns during the whole evening (and particularly during the fireworks) - what made it even worse was their mother saying to them at one point: "Don't blow that near me - you can blow it somewhere else but not near me, it's just rude" (!!!omg!!! because it isn't rude to blow it in complete strangers ears and spoil their night!!) but it was good to see them live and the atmosphere was really nice - lots of families and people generally having fun, it wasn't packed out and you could take bottles etc and we got a park reasonably close by which made getting home a whole lot easier!

Started 2007 off as I mean to continue it - cooking something from my fave cookbook, How to Be a Domestic Goddess. Pancakes. Mmmm delicious thick pancakes - blueberry for husby and niece, banana for me. And there was enough mix left over for one each today as well. Yumbo! (had pic but bl*gger won't post it!!)

So I don't really make new year's resolutions. But there are a couple of things I plan to do this year, so they are kind of like resolutions:

1. Launch Rose Red: Domestic Goddess - inspired by Julie & Julia, I have decided to make at least one recipe a week from How to Be a Domestic Goddess. Now I'll never be a proper DG, but I do like to bake. Ideally, I'd like to make every recipe in it (like Julie did) but that's not gonna happen - for a start, one of the recipes is for rhubarb tart. I hate rhubarb. So that one's off the list. But I'll give most of them a go. Should be fun. Should make me weigh a tonne by the end of 2007...

2. I'm doing Knit from your Stash. I've got a few modifications but I'm committed to it and it will make husby v. happy (not that I plan on telling him as I'll have to own up to the whole stash...). More on the modifications in another entry...

3. Knit more for charity. Ideally an item a month. Anyone know of good knitting related ones in Australia? I know about Wraps with Love but I've got a few baby items in mind (I have sooo much baby yarn!!). I can always do Red Cross or Salvation Army or Smith Family as backups.

4. Private (ooooooh)

That's pretty much it - all very achieveable - I hope anyway. No. 4 is potentially a problem. We'll see.