Tuesday, September 30, 2008

SHOESday: From the back of the wardrobe Pt 2

With summer approaching, and a long weekend away at the beach coming up this weekend, it's time to pull out the espadrilles.
Love the wedge and the tie coming up from the centre front (yes, I know, I have noticed my inclination for shoes with ties and criss-crossing straps already!).
And the other thing I'd forgotten about these, as I put them on this morning before work for the quick photo shoot, is how comfortable they are. Really really comfortable.
I didn't want to take them off but figured that rope soled wedges are perhaps not appropriate work wear in a corporate environment. So instead I'm wearing these. I'm sure Ms 2Paw would approve!

Monday, September 29, 2008

The weirdest of the weird...

A while ago Knitting Sprouts tagged me for the weird/random things meme. I love how these go around, and around, and around - it's always interested reading about people's quirks. I've been thinking about it for a while, to try and come up with more weirdness in addition to that I've already revealed here (and there's more links within that post too!).
And I figured it was the little things that stand out. They're not the things you often talk about in real life, or in conversation with friends or acquaintances - you don't hear this often:

Person 1: did you know I can put both of my big toes in my mouth at the same time?*
Person 2: (somewhat baffled) why no, I did not. (edging away) Oh, look, I think I need to refresh my drink/go to the bathroom/jump off a cliff...

So here we go:

1. Last week I had Milk Duds for the first time ever. They are things I've read about in American books and blogs and heard on American tv shows, but I had no idea what they were. And now I know. Chocolate covered caramels shaped somewhat unnervingly like poo. But clearly that did not stop me from eating the entire contents of the box in about 5 minutes flat.
2. Clearly, though, they are not as good as these (especially straight from the fridge cold):

(suck eggs, yanks!!)

3. I can't resist juvenile "humour" (sorry about that last comment my good American friends). I am such a child sometimes!

4. Husby and I go through phases with our nightly cooking - in that we'll have about 4 or 5 dishes that we cook every week, and then eventually we try something new and phase out an old recipe and bring in the new one. But we rarely ever use cookbooks, even though we've got a cupboard full of them.

Last night I tried something new:

Yes, QM's delicious and easy Kumera and Red Lentil soup - thanks for sharing it QM! It will definitely go on rotation (although probably short lived given the impending arrival of summer!)

It was also delicious with this:
(well, not the peach jam, but the bread - bought fresh yesterday from Berry's fantastic Sourdough Bakery).

5. I have 9 sock knitting books but have only knitted socks from 3 of them (let's not start counting how many knitting books generally I have but have not yet knit anything from them...)

6. And perhaps the weirdest thing of all - yesterday I went to a great yarn store and DID NOT BUY ANY YARN!

(I may have bought this book though. Notwithstanding point 5 above).
*7. I did used to be able to do this (both toes in mouth at once). But I can't any more (I recently tried!). Although someone else can...I am most envious!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Lady Eleanor in all her glory

Without further ado, presenting Lady Eleanor!

I love love love my Lady E. She's been worn to work, worn to the theatre and graces the formal lounge while she's at rest. I finished her last month but didn't get a chance to do a photo shoot until last weekend - our first weekend in a month which hasn't involved packing and cleaning and tidying and gardening - wow, a whole weekend to ourselves - pure luxury!
Pattern: Lady Eleanor by Kathleen Power Johnson from Scarf Style. She was my Tour de France KAL project and I loved every minute of knitting her. Each of those fabulous little entrelac squares are addictive - just one more, just one more! Before you know it, you've got a whole tier done.

(heh! I'm a teapot! (with a very straight spout!!))

Yarn: South West Trading Company Karaoke, 9.5 x 50g balls in col 286 - a sort of burgundy/copperish colour. I choose this as I'd seen one knitted up in it on the Scarf Style KAL blog. Most people use Noro Silk Garden for Lady E, and it also works fabulously, but the wild colour changes are too much for me - this is more subtle but still retains the woven square feel, which I love. And the yarn itself is soft and lovely and so warm and drapey. Really perfect for this pattern.

Sticks: KnitPicks Harmony Options 7mm. You really need to use a circular needle for this pattern, particularly once you get some length on it.

Time: 5 July 2008 - 29 August 2008
Modifications: Absolutely none! I followed the pattern to the letter, including the number of tiers. I wasn't sure if it would be long enough, so I decided to block it after the last full tier (before the finishing triangle row) - very easy to do when using the KP options - just take the needles off the cord and attach the caps to the cord. I did a full wet block - after which I learnt that this yarn takes forever to dry in cold weather. And that it blocks out quite flat - it lost the lovely ripply, poofy texture you can see in the photo above.
But not to worry, still love it! As does Nelly, who decided to sleep on it while it was still damp - gah!
Oh, and the vital measurement details - pre-blocking it was 152cm/60", post-blocking it ended up 168cm/66". It's a good length - long enough to wrap around me and it will hold on my shoulder. And besides, any longer and the fabulous fringe would drag on the ground!
What I learnt: Ooh, a biggie - how to splice yarn! New ball to old ball - thanks Bells! I only wish I'd learnt that before ball 7 (or 8) - still so many ends to weave in at the start! Oh well. I do highly recommend the spit splice!! (hee hee). And I also learnt that the knotted fringe takes SO LONG to do!! But I love it - it is the perfect complement to the pattern. I wasn't sure if I'd do it, but I'm so glad I did!
Here she is, relaxing on the chaise longue, all worn out after a demanding photo shoot! And if you want more progress shots, click on the TdF 2008 label in the sidebar to see her grow.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

SHOESday: from the back of the wardrobe

I showed a pair of shoes last week which I'd consigned to the back of the wardrobe because they were (ahem) too common! (I agree, Ailsa, a "personal failing" is a great way to describe that).

This week I've got a pair which were consigned because, well, they were too synthetic! I do love these, but I decided some time ago that synthetic calf length boots are not the most comfortable to wear. But I couldn't get rid of them.
How could I? Love the patent nature of the upper, which looks black but when you put it in the light it flashes red in the most pleasing way - which of course I couldn't quite capture in the photographs.
And the zip up the back and the well shaped foot and toe.
I really did love these shoes (which I bought on sale after seeing a work colleague wearing them, oh, at least 8 years ago!). I mainly wore them with a calf-length straight black skirt with a split at the back - so the colour of the boots would flash as I walked. I thought they were fantastic!But now they are destined for the charity shop - it's time, isn't it. Can't hang on to all my shoes forever!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

The best pair of socks

These might be the best pair of socks yet!
Why, you ask? Not because of the yarn (although it is Socks that Rock lightweight). Not because of the colour (although I am quite taken with it - and no wonder, given it is called Ruby Slippers). Not because of the pattern (Zokni socks - rav link), although I do love a knitted leaf pattern.

No, these are special because they were knit for me, by two of my knitting buddies, Bells and BrownPants. Ms BP suggested a sock swap with a difference - we each supply our own yarn, and the other two knit one sock each from the yarn, with the person who knits the first sock choosing the pattern. That way, we all get to knit two different socks, for each other, and we get a pair of socks back! So cool!
And look how differently the same yarn and the same pattern knits between the two knitters. BP's is the one on the left, Bells' on the right. They look like two completely different socks!

Now that I've finally given Ms BP her socks, we can blog about them!

First up is Bells' sock - for her, I chose the Nutkin pattern (rav link). Kinda funny actually, as she thought she had to nominate the pattern as well as provide the yarn (Cherry Tree Hill Supersock, by the way), and she let us know she like the Nutkin - lucky I'd already chosen that one from her queue anyway!

A lot of people on Ravelry said the pattern was quite tight, so I substituted a standard rib cuff, eye of partridge heel and standard wedge toe for the pattern's picot cuff, short row heel and weird short row turnover toe. Pre-blocking, it's very twisty, but that blocked out fine and hurrah - it fits! Loved knitting this pattern.Next is Kristie's sock. Bells' chose the Show-off Stranded Socks pattern (rav link - again!). This is a great pattern for variegated yarn - Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock. The pattern has got a very unusual heel construction, but again we subbed a standard eye of partridge heel.
And again, same yarn, same pattern, same size sticks, and yet two quite different looks for this pattern! Mine are the ones on the bottom, Bells' on the top!
All in all, a great pair of socks and a great swap idea - which might just be implemented in the next Southern Summer of Socks!

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Look mum, I finally tidied my room!

So those of you who've been following closely will know that I've had a task on my to-do list (see the side-bar of the blog) since about April (possibly even March...). This task was to tidy up my study/craft room - a small enclosed verandah on the front of our house.

This is what it looked like (back in April):

So this task was on list for April. And May. And June. And July. And August (why yes, I am a procrastinator, how did you work that out?!). But now I've finally been able to cross it off the list - see:
I think that's the first time I've ever been able to put a chair under the desk!! (definitely the first time in the last few years at least!)

I can even sit in this chair and knit, or read, or just contemplate the neatness that is my study/craft room - finally it is fit for the purpose for which it is named.
It's amazing what you can achieve when you are trying to sell your house!!!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

SHOESday: Mistake #3

I really liked these shoes when I bought them - about 5 or 6 years ago in London. They are from Nine West, and were relatively expensive (especially as at the time we only got about 38p to the dollar!).
(clearly I have a thing for shoes with criss-cross straps!)

But I found myself most disappointed when, only a few months later, almost the exact same shoe (same toe, straps, slingback etc, but with a chunkier heel) was being sold at a discount store for considerably less than I paid. Suddenly these shoes were everywhere, and the shoes I thought were great in London somehow lost their sparkle. Which, on reflection, I think is a bit sad - something I originally liked so much shouldn't be less special just because everyone has the same thing. But that was how I felt at the time (and a part of that was annoyance that I'd paid too much for mine, and brought them all the way back from London thereby excluding another pair of shoe possibilities!). And when I chipped a bit of leather off the left toe (you can just see it in the first photo), I consigned them to the back of the wardrobe.

Looking at them again with the benefit of some years, I think, in the end, my mistake was to stop wearing these - they are quite comfortable and after all, I do love a slingback!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

A Day in My Life: Sunday 14 September

And so the 14th rolls around again! A very domesticated day for me today. And so much cooler after the heatwave that was yesterday - 31C!

I woke up to the sound of rain pounding on the roof at around 6.30 am and couldn't get back to sleep - typical isn't it that during the week when I have to get up at 6.30am I can hardly open my eyes, but on a Sunday, when I could sleep in, I can't! Oh well, good excuse to get up and have a quiet knit and a nice cup of english breakfast tea (and a piece of bread with nutella - naughty!). Sometimes coffee is too strong that early in the morning!
I checked blogs and knitted while listening to a few knitting podcasts (mmm, nice soothing Brenda Dayne). Husby was still in bed and I wanted to let him sleep in. He stumbled out at around 8.30 and it was all action stations as he was going to his mum's to take a few more boxes over before our house goes on the market. So I had to actually pack the boxes!

After husby left, I started on the last burst of cleaning. I decided it was a good time to spring clean the linen cupboard - I usually wash the sheets and towels and reuse them the same day, so the rest of the linens were a little musty. This is the first of 5 (yes five!) loads (sorry environment).
And no, not all of my sheets are red - just these ones. And the pair on the spare bed. And the two pairs of flannelette ones ... .

I also decided to tidy husby's wardrobe. It's a bit of a losing battle, but I fight it once a year or thereabouts. So instead of all the drawers having a mix of t-shirts, shorts, jumpers and undies, now each type of clothing has a separate drawer. Will be interesting to see how long that lasts! I showed him when he got home and he joked that I should label the drawers. Hmmm, maybe I will!

More loads of washing and tidying, and then it was time for lunch - toasted sandwich, courtesy of husby. Started this weekend's samurai sudoku while eating - it's a weekly must-do for me.
This afternoon I planned to finally finish some sewing I've been doing progressively over the past month or so - a whole bunch of lined knitting project bags. So I got down to it and made good progress.
Until I stopped for a mid-afternoon coffee and a bit more knitting and another podcast. I started a new project last week (since I've been so good at clearing the wips!). It's the Forest Canopy Shawl in some possum yarn my friend Sarah brought me back from New Zealand - I love how it's knitting up and it's so soft!
It was getting late and I still had to put some plants in pots. I got these three done before it started to rain (again!) and so I had to leave it at that. Back to the sewing machine!
Geraniums. Hopefully I won't kill them like I do most with pot plants!

Sunday night is traditionally roast - roast lamb tonight, with roast potato, sweet potato, pumpkin and carrot, plus peas and corn and lots of gravy. Yum! I was going to show a picture but I thought you might think I was a pig! So here's the leftovers:

Watched one of my guilty pleasures, Australian Idol (there are some really good singers this year - I think Chrislyn is my favourite but I also really like Mark, Wes and Roshani), and then Midsummer Murders. And will end the day the way it started - with a nice cup of tea (but not nutella on bread!)

Friday, September 12, 2008


Only a third of the way into September and already I've finished 3 wips! Woo hoo! This one I was going to leave until the weekend to finish sewing up, but then I remembered I was having lunch with the intended recipient, Miss J, who lives in Melbourne, so I got to seaming the rest on Wednesday night, all ready to gift yesterday.
Pattern: Cherish by Kim Hargreaves, from her excellent book Heartfelt: The Dark House Collection. I love Kim Hargreaves' designs. They do tend to be a little samey (similar shapes and designs from season to season just with different yarns or small tweaks to the patterns) but almost all classics. Thinking about my Ravelry queue, she's probably got the most designs in it of any single designer.
(note the stunt brooch! I didn't have time to get the right button for this so I've left that to Miss J!)

I love this pattern for its clever touches - a bit of short row shaping on the fronts to make it fit so well around the bust, and for the sideways garter stitch edgings with a picot-style edge. And the slight flare on the sleeve cuffs - very chic! (I did have a modelled picture of this but of course forgot to put it on my memory stick, so I'll update the post with it tonight!)

Yarn: Cleckheaton Gusto in black (col 2088) - in the end I think I used about 7 or 8 x 100g balls. Nice story about the yarn. Miss J had bought 5 or 6 balls to make something, decided she didn't like it and gave the yarn to me. As soon as I saw this pattern I knew she would love it so decided to make it for her. When I got to the sleeves and still hadn't finished the first sleeve even after unravelling my gauge swatch, I knew I wouldn't have enough yarn. And of course by that time, Cleckheaton Gusto was discontinued and no black was to be had anywhere. So I posted an ISO on Ravelry and Carson so very kindly sent me almost a whole ball, which I thought would be enough. But no, this pattern seems to eat yarn! So I contacted the Australian Country Spinners Mill shop, hoping they might have a stray leftover. And they did! A very nice lady phoned me to say they had one ball left and she would send it to me - for nothing! She wouldn't take any payment, which was so very kind.
When it arrived I think there was at least the equivalent of 1.5 or maybe 2 balls (it wasn't wound the usual way the balls are) and so in the end, I've actually got a whole ball of yarn leftover! Which means someone somewhere will someday receive a black chunky yarn hat!

Sticks: 12mm KnitPicks Options. You know, I really don't like the knitting with the big sticks - so hard to manipulate and so heavy. If I didn't already have these, I would have bought the large sticks in the Harmony style, as they'd be a lot lighter, but since I hardly ever knit with the big sticks, I'll just keep the nickel plated ones.
Time: 25 April 2008 - 10 September 2008. I know that seems like a very long time, but to be honest, I did the back and fronts of this on the first weekend I started, and then the sleeves each took 2 or 3 nights each and the seaming another day, so it's actually a knit you could get done in a week, if you weren't a procrastinator or didn't run out of yarn!

What I learnt: You can find discontinued yarn almost anywhere if you look hard enough! And Knitters are very kind! (well, I knew that already!)

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

SHOESday: Mistake or Magnificent?

What do you think? I was all prepared to blog these as a mistake purchase, but when I dragged them out from the bottom of the box under the bed, and put them on again, I remembered how much I liked them.
And I do like them. A lot. I remember seeing them (or at least, the original designer ones these were SO CLEARLY "inspired" by) in a magazine and I even cut the picture out and kept it. They were just so fabulous. So so fabulous!

And when I saw these copies on huge reduction, I had to have them. In my size and all - I was so excited.

But see this, this thing that I very easily ignored when I bought them?
Yes, it's a pretty darn high heel (even by my standards!)

And what with the strappiness and the floppy ankle tie and the skyscraper heel, I just don't have that many places to wear these babies. Which means I haven't worn them for at least 2 or 3 years. So I was thinking that makes them a mistake...
But can shoes this magnificent ever be a mistake?

Thursday, September 04, 2008

So how did I go on the August goals?

Last month I declared August was for finishing. I listed 5 WIPS, out of my list of 14, that I planned to focus on and try to finish at least one of them in August. I'm sure you are all dying to know how I went (heh!).

I guess I'll tell you anyway!

Ruby Tuesday
Absolutely no progress at all - oh dear!

Now 80% done - I finished the first sleeve and am 1/3 of the way through the second. Then all that is left is the seaming.

Demin Pinafore
All the knitting is now done. Now all that's left is the seaming (anyone see a problem here with the whole "finishing" theme?!)

Kristie's Sock
Now 75% done - as I suspected, once I turned the heel it is going a whole lot quicker!

Lady Eleanor
done done DONE! But no photos yet - you'll have to wait...

Inga's crochet bag
Also done! Woo hoo! And here's some pictures even - they're night shots so a bit dark, sorry about that.

Pattern: Inga's crochet bag - free! Very easy pattern - although of course it does require you to sew 16 squares together and darn in those ends. Yep - more seaming! But it wasn't too bad!

Yarn: Anchor Magicline colour 1482, 5 x 50g balls plus 25g of Spotlight 8ply cotton in denim blue for the edging and handles

Hook: 3.5mm cheapo bamboo hook - got this through security and so was able to crochet on the way to and from Fiji - yay for bamboo hooks!

Time: 31 July 2008 - 2 September 2008 (yeah, I cheated a little and finished it this month!)
I'm not entirely sure I'm feeling the love for this yarn colour though. What do you think?

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

SHOESday: Mistakes - I've made a few -

Here's mistake #2:

You know, I do still like these shoes.
I always did - I bought them in shoe mecca, Singapore, on, I think, my first trip there. They were really well-priced - and a quite common style in Singapore at the time - very pointy toes which are slightly turned up at the end.

But the mistake I made with them was not so much the decision to buy them. Can you see what the problem is?
I was walking to the bus stop to get to work, and the heel tip fell off the left shoe - and in my defence, I didn't have another pair of shoes with me, but I really should have walked home and changed shoes. When I got into the city, I immediately went to the shoe repair man and had the heel fixed - but my mistake was not giving the guy the other shoe - so when he put a new heel tip on, not only is it a different colour to the original, but whole heel is slightly shorter - the heel itself had rubbed down a bit as I was walking in them.

So I don't wear these too much any more, I always feel just a little bit lopsided. So the lessons are:

-don't keep wearing shoes when the heel tip falls off!
-and if you have to, then make sure you leave the other shoe there to match the heel height!!

Monday, September 01, 2008

Keeping Track - August 2008

Wow - didn't August zip by!

So this month wasn't too bad. I did have a little splurge at Rubi + Lana - it's closing down soon and I wanted to try their "home brand" yarn, which comes in the most fabulous colours.
This is Persimmon, a lovely red toned orange, and I also bought some 3ply in the most fabulous cherry red.

And I also wanted to try some Dale Baby Ull - I haven't seen it in any other Australian stores so I thought I'd give it a whirl as well.

And there was a teeny tiny STR order...which I forgot to take a picture of (sorry!)

But all that was before we bought the house, so maybe over the last few months of this year I will actually knit more than I buy in any given month.

As for the knitting, well, my little trip and my work travel meant I didn't quite get as much knitting done as I usually do, but still, not too bad.

In: 17 x 50g balls
Out: 10.5 x 50g balls

YTD: 103.5 x 50g balls. You know, it really doesn't get any easier keeping track every month!! Believe it or not though, it does actually make me think twice about yarn purchases - and there's a whole lot of yarn NOT in my stash because I am thinking a lot more carefully about it now!