Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Potato sack anyone?

I had a bad day yesterday. For various reasons which I won't go into. I figured out this morning that the likely cause of it all was that I had put the wrong shoe on first yesterday. Go figure!

Actually my bad day started a bit earlier in the week - Sunday. After knitting away on this v-neck singlet for just over a week (the observant among you may have noticed the status bar growing away steadily on the right hand side) I finished it on Sunday. Then I tried it on and discovered this:

At least 10cm (4") too wide everywhere. So now the top is this:
To console myself, I decided to knit a discrete little project - some boottees for one of husby's friends. Nice quick knit with lovely Rowan wool cotton on my handmade-bought-at-a-country-market blackwood sticks.
I'll get back to the v-neck singlet shortly. At least I can safely knit a smaller size so hopefully it will go quickly. I'm really quite annoyed as I even did a swatch (and I hate swatching) and my tension was spot on. Oh well. Would rather have a top that fits!

Odd Socks, happy feet

When I was staying with my mum earlier this month I finally had a chance to finish my brother's Christmas present - odd socks. He has worn odd socks ever since he moved out of home, because he couldn't see the point of pairing his socks. Of course, now I'm pretty sure he (or his wife) pairs his odd socks. Heh!

He mentioned that he'd love a pair of knitted socks and so I thought I'd do odd socks - same yarn but different patterns, with my usual red toe. Even different heel and toe styles! Unfortunately, I couldn't get much detail in the pics.
I'm pretty happy with the way both turned out, and more importantly, that they fit him!

Patterns: Right foot: Gentleman's Half Hose in Ringwood Pattern from Knitting Vintage Socks by Nancy Bush; Left foot: Garter Stitch Rib sock from Sensational Knitted Socks by Charlene Schurch. Both very easy patterns to remember and good "boy" patterns.
Yarn: Regia Royal, colour Nottingham (I think), 1 x 100g ball - I love this yarn - it has great colour variations and subtle stripes.
Sticks: 2.5mm dpns
Time: It's been so long, I actually can't remember when I started these - around October I think. Finished on 7 February 2007.
What I learnt: I did a star toe on the Ringwood socks, which I love - both the way it looks and because it is so easy. It is a longer toe than the normal wedge toe (which is on the Garter Rib socks) but makes a nice shape.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Good Yarn Karma

If you haven't heard about it already, check out Good Yarn Karma. A great site set up by some fellow knit-bloggers - where you can set free some of your unloved (or loved) yarn for another to love, or you can offer to swap.
We all need a bit of good karma now and then, don't we!

Rose Red: Domestic Goddess - Store Cupboard Chocolate Orange Cake

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.

February 24, 2007 - Store Cupboard Chocolate Orange Cake, pp 170-171
Another easy-peasy cake recipe, which Nigella promises you can make from ingredients in your pantry. If you have "good quality fine cut marmalade" in your pantry, that is, which I don't. But that's easily fixed by a trip to the shops.

The other great thing about this cake is that it is mixed in a saucepan using a wooden spoon - no need for mixer, handbeater or 5 different bowls. Excellent for washing up efficiency! You melt the butter, add the dark chocolate until it is soft then remove from heat and stir stir stir. Then you add caster sugar, eggs, pinch of salt and the jam (you can also substitute other flavours of jam for the marmalade - wouldn't raspberry be tasty!). Then last of all, SR flour. Mix mix mix then bake.

Nigella warns that it is not a particularly attractive cake so a dusting of icing sugar is called for. She did not warn that the excessive stickiness of the jam would make the bottom of the cake stick to the (alleged) non-stick cake tin, but clearly if I had stopped to think about it I should have realised this would be the case. I used one of those new plasticky flexible cake tins, but next time I will make sure I've got a springform tin and will flour and line it well!

Served while still a little warm, with cream - it was delicious! My brother and sister-in-law both had seconds!

PS - anonymous, the handbag is from Loewe.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Handbag Friday

To finish off the week, and to finish off the shopping show-off-ery, here's my handbag.

I must have looked in every bag shop I walked past. I was toying with the idea of an orange handbag (I really am getting into the orange lately) but then when I saw this one I knew. It was the one. And it is surprisingly roomy (fits my change purse, wallet, phone, mini filofax, powder, humungous sunglasses, tiny umbrella and my latest sock-in-progress. And the leather - it is like buttah! Soooooo soft. I could pat and stroke it all day.

Back to regular programming next week - I promise there will be knitting shown off!!

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Shoe of the Day, Pt 4 (the LAST instalment)

Last lucky last, save the best for last, whatever (you be the judge!).

I always knew that when I went to New York, I'd buy a pair of Manolos. From the Manolo store. And I did. I didn't have a particular pair in mind, I just wanted a gorgeous, classic, pair of Manolos.

I almost walked right past the store (it was about 5pm at the time and so quite dark) - I'm not sure what I expected - flashing lights and neon signs announcing "This is shoe heaven" or something. There were some relatively ugly pale blue suede/sheepskin boots in the window (I think). But walking in - as they say, it was like being a kid in a candy store. Shoes everywhere. Rows and rows. Lots of sale shoes (not so many left in my size).

So husby settled himself into a comfortable chair while I walked up and down, looking at everything at least twice before deciding which to try on. I had worn my special handmade socks that day (and somewhat unfortunately, they had dyed the soles of my feet red...which has never happened before with them). But no trouble.

I pretty much knew these were the "one" when I put them on. But I had another walk up and down the store just to be sure. And what really struck me was how comfortable they were. We'd been walking around NY all day and I have flat feet, so they get sore quite easily. But walking in these shoes was a dream. They really are a well-made, fantastically balanced shoe. The heel is so thin but it feels as secure as a wedge. And so classic. (Can you tell how much I love them!!) (And look how well my Hawaii pedicure has held up, and the tan, the Hawaii tan!!) Weeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Shoe of the Day, Pt 3

Ok Nora, I'll go easy on you - a nice sensible shoe for today, to replace my old faithful red suede ballet slippers (I said goodbye to those old friends on the weekend, along with a few other pairs of shoes that were really past their prime).

Love the proper ballerina square toe cap thingy. Clearly, also, I love how they are red inside and out!

Jacqui asked for shoe store stories (heh, say that 10 times in a row without taking a breath).

For me, in New York, it was pretty much designer shoes all the way. I don't buy these shoes in my "normal" life (unless they are on sale ...and even then not all the time). But for some reason, the money you spend while on holiday is not worth the same amount as if you spent it when at home - you are free and have no responsibilities - what mortgage? what renovations? what food/electricity/gas etc?

So of course I had to go to Manolo Blahnik - you can't go to New York and not go to Manolo (31 W 54th St)! And Christian Louboutin and Jimmy Choo (both on Madison Ave), and the shoe departments of Barneys, Saks 5th Avenue and Bergdorf Goodman (all on 5th Ave) (in my opinion, Bergdorfs had the best range). I also looked at Macy's and Bloomingdales and Neiman Marcus (but NM was in Hawaii, I didn't get there in NY). I scoped them all out before I went back in for the kill.

I don't remember seeing a lot of shoe stores (except for Foot Locker, which are everywhere but which really don't count!) but maybe I just didn't walk up the right streets. Oh well, that just means I'll have to go again!!! (in about a hundred years after I've paid off my credit card!)

Last pair of shoes tomorrow - I promise they are worth the wait! And then Friday is handbag day...

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Happy Chinese New Year (and Shoe of the Day, Pt 2)

Happy year of the Pig - Pigs are supposed to be intellectually curious, loyal, honest and tolerant - quite a good sign to be. Shame about the somewhat negative views about pigs - I prefer the Charlotte's Web view rather than the Animal Farm view. (see Cute Overload for lots of cute piggy pics).

Although sometimes I wish I was a tiger. Or a leopard ... which brings me to:

Shoe of the Day, Pt 2

I've got the heels, now I've got the flats. Just because you have to have some sensible shoes doesn't mean they can't be superfantastic!

Monday, February 19, 2007

Shoe of the Day pt 1

I know I've been banging on about my holiday for, like, ever, but bear with me, only a few more mentions (I hope...). I couldn't not show off the shoes. You can't go to New York and not buy shoes. Oh yes, some shoes were purchased.

Here's the first. Red patent - how naughty!

Mum takes great delight in this story: I had black patent shoes (mary janes I'd say) when I was little. When I was being toilet-trained, to be precise. Apparently the only time I wet myself I was wearing the patent mary janes and I was so upset that they got wet. I never did it again. Clearly the beginning of my shoe fetish!
Check back every day this week for the next installments...

Mother Rose Red: Domestic Goddess Pt 3 - Peach Jam

Mum is staying with us at the moment and so she is taking over the Domestic Goddess duties this week (although it's a bit of a cheat, as is not from Nigella's book, but hey, it's home-made jam, that's pretty domestic-goddessy!).

Mmmmm peach jam - my favourite - very difficult to buy commercially so I usually have to rely on markets - which means usually it's home-made - that's better anyway!

Every year Mum buys a whole bunch of peaches from her peach man in Forbes. Usually she stews them all and freezes them. I'm not a big fan of stewed peaches so I requested jam instead. So the peaches came up with us to Sydney and here we go, peach jam!

1 kilo of peaches and about the same of sugar, plus a squeeze of lemon juice to help it set. Pretty simple, although I have to admit I've never made jam. Maybe next year...

And what you end up with - two lovely jars of jam - and the lids don't lie: "premium quality" (heee!) Afternoon tea on Saturday was peach jam on toast. Mmmmmm peach jam.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Tisty-toasty Log Cabin Socks

My last knitted item for New York - a little treat for me - Log Cabin Socks using Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Aran - mmm sooooo soft and sooo warm.

First one was done before we left and the second was just started - finally finished a week after we arrived - of course, would have been sooner if Australia allowed knitting sticks on our planes! Oh well. I love how the cables continue down into the heel flap, and all the way to the toes.
Pattern: Log Cabin Socks from Handknit Holidays - what a great pattern - I love this - I would definitely make these again. Because the yarn I used was not the same weight as recommended, I made the man size on the lady size sticks! Perfect!
Sticks: 3.75mm bamboo dpns.
Yarn: Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Aran, col 300617 lot 5 - 3 balls - I wasn't sure if I was going to make it but had about 2 metres left over at the end!
Time: Sock 1: 28 Dec 06 - 2 Jan 07; Sock 2: 16 Jan 07 - 23 Jan 07 - lovely quick socks to knit.
What I learnt: My first cabled socks. I also used this pattern, adapted, for husby's beanie - so I learnt how to write a pattern for a different sized object!

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Yarn details

Thanks to all who commented on yesterday's post, the previous day too - and also, somewhat belatedly, for the very nice comments on my Jo Sharp cardi - it certainly came in handy in New York! I'll post some shots wearing it when I can bear to put it on (ie when it gets cold here - so don't hold your breath!).

Belinda asked whether I knew what I wanted before I got there. The short answer is yes! I definitely wanted to buy some Koigu - so many bloggers rave about it and it is so hard to get, so that was top of my list, as was other sock yarn generally. I wanted to get some laceweight yarn, but had no particular preference - Jaggerspun zephyr or Misti alpaca were in mind. I ended up with Misti, plus the KSH and some Lacey Lamb, which is just soooo soft! I wanted to get some Manos and some more Malabrigo (check to both!) and then the rest - well, I picked lovely soft yarns, colours that appealed to me, and amounts that could be (relatively) easily packed in our already quite full suitcases. But choosing was sooo hard. Lucky I have a very patient husband (who visited all of these shops with me).

Catsmum, the yarn in the bottom right corner is the Great Adirondack yarn in colour Peacock, a merino/silk blend. I think the maker is based in NY (not Manhattan, upstate somewhere?) and so I thought it would be a great souvenir yarn (as well as just having gorgeous colours!)

I found when I put it all together that I tended to pick a pretty close range of colours - well, I guess you could say these are some of my favourites!

So the yarn is:

L-R: 2 skeins Koigu KPPM
1 skein Malabrigo (top)
5 balls Rowan Kidsilk Haze
3 skeins Claudia's Handpainted yarn, worsted weight, colour Black Walnut

Top: 2 skeins Manos del Uruguay, colours are mainly oranges and blues
Bottom: 2 skeins Koigu KPPM - because it matched the Manos so well. I'm quite getting into orange at the moment.

Top: 2 skeins Claudia's Handpainted sock yarn
1 skein Handmaiden seasilk
2 skeins Elisabeth Lavold Silky Wool
2 skeins Koigu KPM (a lovely semi-solid blue)

L-R: 2 skeins Classic Elite classic (I think - it is a 50/50 merino/tencel blend - very soft)
4 skeins Koigu, with 2 more underneath
Great Adirondack in Peacock

And finally, with my colour-coordinated Nelly in the background:
1 ball Trekking XXL
2 balls Lacey Lamb
2 balls Misti Alpaca

Now I just have to add it all into my stash spreadsheet and set the rules for my Knit from your Stash 2007 project!

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

I heart New York yarn stores

Ever since we decided to go to New York, I've been noting addresses of NY yarn stores from people's blogs and from the ads in Interweave Knits and so on. It didn't hurt to google "New York Yarn store" either...
So I had a pretty long list of stores. I didn't quite make it to all of them, but I did manage to hit 7. I reckon that's pretty good given we were only there for about 12 days...
First stop was The Point NYC (37a Bedford St). Cafe and yarn store in one (what an excellent idea!). As it was Saturday afternoon, what appeared to be a regular stitch'n'bitch was in session but fortunately we scored a table. Husby even had a snack. I looked at and touched much much beautiful yarn. No purchases here - I'm not sure why - probably because this was the first place and I wasn't suer what else was out there...But a lovely range of yarn and a very helpful owner. I should have purchased some Artyarns silk and Fiesta La Luz silk. Oh well. Lucky for the internet!
Next was Purl Soho (137 Sullivan St). Mmmmm heaven. Small store but packed with yarn. Lots and lots of Koigu, Manos, Lorna's Laces (specially dyed for Purl), bamboo, silks, Rowan. Big table in the middle with the all important swift and winder (a great service - I haven't been into Australian store which appear to do this, but they may be also because not much yarn here comes in skeins). In fact, I went to Purl twice...And to Purl Patchwork just a couple of stores up the road (mmmm fabric heaven)...
Purchases: Koigu, Kidsilk Haze, Manos.
Knitty City (208 W79th St) - huge store with great range of sticks and accessories, and of course the usual - yarn!! And a really good selection of books. Very friendly service. Offers a Men who Knit night on Wednesdays. Had the most beautiful shaped cardigan/jacket in the window. I am regretting not getting the pattern...
Purchases: Trekking, Lacey Lamb, Claudia's Handpainted sock yarn, Nancy Bush's Knitting on the Road (weeeeeeeeee!). Almost bought Louet Euroflax linen too but manage to stop myself. Did not stop myself from buying some Handmaiden Seasilk.
Late one afternoon we found Gotta Knit! tucked away upstairs on Sixth Avenue (498 Sixth Ave, 2nd floor). Seemed a smaller range than the others, particularly Knitty City, but found some lovely yarn and the owners were very friendly.
Purchases: Claudia's Handpainted worsted - I've tentatively assigned this to a clapotis (yes, I am succombing to the (non) pressure of all the others out there in blogland.
On the Upper East Side, String is a lovely little shop (1015 Madison Ave, but about to move). Lots of luxury yarns - silks and cashmere in particular - so so soft! Also found a copy of the Summer 2004 Interweave Knits which I've been searching for some time!
Purchases: Koigu and the IK.
Around the East Village, Knit New York and Downtown Yarn. Knit New York is another cafe/yarn store (I'll say it again - excellent idea!!) with a little back room treasure trove with some beautiful hand-dyes. Open late every night (yay!).
Purchases: Misti alpaca, Elisabeth Lavold Silky Wool, Adidirondack hand-dye in Peacock (and it really is very peacocky) and yes, some more Koigu.
Downtown Yarn (45 Avenue A) was the last stop - a lovely warm store so well heated it could have only a screen door between us and the outside world! The usual Koigu, malabrigo, Muench Touch me yarn (I'm thinking about that vintage velvet scarf from Scarf Style...) and lots of other glorious yarns.
Purchases: Koigu (again, yes, I bought it at every store pretty much...), Malabrigo and a Classic Elite merino/tencel blend.
And since I'm sure you've been dying for a picture, here you go (all in all, 36 balls/skeins of yarn - all very creatively packed in our suitcases on the journey home. Who knows what the TSA people thought!!). I only wish I had room to bring home some of the more bulky yarns in greater volume!!

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

I miss my Dad

Last week saw the first anniversary of my Dad's death, so after flying back in to Sydney last Monday I flew home (my childhood home) to spend the rest of the week with Mum. I worry about her, I'm not sure she's coping very well, but who is to know? Death of a loved one affects people so differently, and when it is your life partner (or, I imagine, your child) it is so much worse. So I just give hugs and hold her hand when she wants to or get into bed with her before I go to bed, like I used to do when I was a child.

Me, I cry a lot more than I used to. Mainly for lost opportunities - you know, Dad would have loved this, Dad will never get to see our house renovations, Dad won't get to see his grandkids grow up, that sort of thing.

I miss my Dad.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Holidays rock!

After one of our best holidays ever, we're back...I'm glad to be home but of course miss the whole holiday vibe. Am going to go and stay with my mum for a few days so will be off blogging again until next week, so thought I'd take this opportunity to share just a couple of my favourite photos.

Guggenheim, New York
Unfortunately the outside is being renovated (well, of course that's a good thing, but it is swathed in hoardings etc so no pics of outside, which is also spectacular).

What a great piece of architecture for an art gallery. There was a special exhibitation taking up almost the entire gallery space - Spanish Painting from El Greco to Picasso: Time, Truth and History. It was great - fascinating to see the influences from one generation to another and how artists build on other's ideas and make them their own (in it's own modest way, knitting is very much like this, I think).

There is a permanent (rotating) display of the gallery's collection of Kandinskys - I found the current selection a little disappointing - mostly later works which to me aren't as diverting as the earlier ones.

Central Park, New York - Australia Day
This was taken on the coldest day in NY for two years!!! It was either -10degC or -17degC (I heard both!!) - the only time I think I've ever been in below zero temps! (thank goodness it was not below zero in farenheit!!). Because of the sunshine, it was not nearly as cold as we thought it would be. We were staying on the upper west side, so to get to the upper east side (museums, 5th Ave etc) we would usually catch the train to 81st Street and walk through the park - even though this was the coldest day, it was the best day to walk because of the sun! Would love to see the park in summer, and also autumn - so many leaves, so much fun!

Statue of Liberty
Of course, the ubiquitous photo! I went a bit snap happy with the Statue, but I wanted to get a really good one! Shame about the grey sky but you can't have everything!

We got off to a bit of a late start this day (in fact, that happened most days - jet lag was a real killer the first week in NY - woke up every morning at 4am and when finally got back to sleep about an hour later, slept til 9.30am).

The late start meant we missed getting to Ellis Island, which was a shame as it sounded really interesting. But after we managed to clear the two separate security checks - one to get on the ferry to go to Liberty Island, the other to go inside the statue pedestal, we wandered around the statue, braved the cold, climbed up inside the pedestal (you can't go in the actual statue anymore) and took eleventyhundred pictures.

I even got some knitting in on the ferry on the way back to Battery Park (oh, and most days I knitted on the train too - one of the benefits of staying on the upper west side - longer train trips everywhere!!)

And perhaps the best photo to finish with:

Waikiki Beach, 8am - from our deckchairs on our "private" beach (hee!)
Hawaii was just wonderful after NY - while we loved NY, Hawaii was a great change of pace and a good way to relax before coming back home. Also the stopover means the jet lag on the way home is not nearly as bad - only a 3 hour time difference (oh, and a whole day, but you can't win 'em all!!).

The first few days were unnaturally windy (so the locals said) but once the wind died down, it was gorgeous - about 24-36degC, perfect beach weather. I even have the makings of a little tan (obtained very carefully with liberal use of 30+ sunscreen and beach umbrellas!). I find it amazing to see the number of people, mainly retirees by the looks, who could just lie on the beach all day without any shade or apparently any sunscreen! Of course, their skin was like mahogany...very wrinkly mahogany. I'd just get too hot!

We stayed right on Waikiki Beach. It is a lot like the Gold Coast (as people told us it would be) - but since we pretty much just beached it every day, we didn't mind one bit. I didn't brave knitting on the beach - I only had bamboo sticks and they felt a bit stickier than normal perhaps due to the humidity, but I did see two other ladies, on different days, knitting away - one by the pool, the other on the beach - weeeeeeeeeeee!

Our typical day - breakfast (sometimes on the beach), beach/poolside sunbathing, swimming in ocean (so calm, just the way I like it!), lunch by pool/beach, more swimming, perhaps a cocktail, change, wander the shops, have dinner, bit of telly and knitting. Delicious! But I can't believe I have to wait about 3 months before I can see "new" episodes of Grey's Anatomy!!

Best end this long post. I promise kniting content next week - including, of course, a review of the yarn stores visited in NY. Oh yes, there was yarn shopping. There was much yarn shopping...