Sunday, June 29, 2008

And then this one time...

And then this one time, at knitting camp (groan...ok, I won't continue!!)

Just had the best weekend - knitting camp at Wollongong's fabulous Mt Keira Scout Camp with a bunch of fabulous women. I've been looking forward to this for so long!!

Made sure I packed enough projects:
From bottom right - Pearl Buck, yarn options for a new project, February Lady Sweater and McDreamy socks, which I'd hoped to get finished, but didn't quite! I guess it was really enough for at least a week I'd say, but you have to be prepared for all eventualities - I mean, something could have happened to force us to stay up there for a week, you never know! Also remembered to pack some wine, some chocolate and some timtams, as well as nice tea bags.

Apart from much knitting both inside and out:
there was dyeing (I didn't do any, but others did - check out Ailsa's red 'n' yellow striping sock yarn there);

in the outdoor chapel up the walking track from the lodge where we spent most of our time:
and Christmas in June dinner on Saturday night:with much hilarity (I guess you had to be there!) (oh, and the eggnog helps too!):And for me, my first fair isle:
I can't begin to tell you how much I loved myself this weekend knitting this!!

Best of all, uninterrupted knitting time with fabulous women, with someone else cooking for us. Oh, I wish I could go to knitting camp every weekend!

Friday, June 27, 2008

You can never be too young for jeans (or too old!)

I think it is true that denim (or demin as I prefer to call it) suits pretty much everyone, all ages, all genders and most sizes (everyone except my mum, that is - I've never seen her in jeans and I can't imagine her wearing them!)

I've always thought these were exceedingly cute, and so the impending arrival of George's bump provided the perfect opportunity!
Pattern: Denim Drawstring Pants (demin pantses!) from Last Minute Knitted Gifts (3-6 month size). This pattern is written to knit in the round (hurrah!) with minimal seaming. It's in the 4-6 hour section of the book. Either that's an optimistic prediction or I'm a very slow knitter - I suspect quite possibly both!
I like the moss stitch cuff, which can be turned up or down - cute feature which adds length too - very helpful if the baby has giraffe like legs!

Yarn: Rowan Denim, 2.5 x 50g balls in shade 229 (Memphis). I really like this yarn. It is stiffer to knit with, like all cottons, but it is still quite soft and it just gets better the more you wash it. I know lots of people experience it bleeding on the hands or needles, but I've never had any of that - partly because I've never used bamboo needles for it, and also possibly because I've knit with it in winter, rather than summer.
It definitely does fade when you wash it, which I hope you can see in this photo.

Sticks: KnitPicks Options, 4.5mm, long cable to allow me to magic loop the entire project.
Time: 3 June 2008 - 15 June 2008.
What I learnt: For this project, I made both legs at the same time by magic loop (using this book as a guide - thanks MadMad!). It took a while to get used to it, particularly having two balls of yarn and two tails of yarn, but I got into the swing of it which made it a lot easier. And it guaranteed both legs were the same length, which I think, you know, is fairly important in a pair of pantses.
It's also the first time I have sewn down the cast off edge - ie rather than casting it off, you sew it down to make the turnover bit at the top of the pantses, where you put in the drawstring. The pattern suggests to run a line through the top where you will be seaming, to make sure you seam in a straight line, but I didn't bother with that, I just made sure I picked up the stitch right next to the last one, and that worked fine. I like the i-cord drawstring but I'm never sure what you do with the tail when you make i-cord - it doesn't seem to be able to be darned in - what do you do? (I knotted it, and then knotted the end of the i-cord itself, which I thought might make it a bit less inclined to come out of the pantses as well).
I think these are fab (if I do say so myself)! One of my work colleagues wants me to make her an adult sized pair, although somehow I'm not sure they'll be quite as cute!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Oh dear, I've given someone the clap...

This clap thing, it's contagious! Once my resistance broke down, there was no going back. I even got a double dose. Then I thought I'd pass it on, spread the love so to speak! The occasion of Snoozen's big birthday presented it to me as a great opportunity!

Pattern: Clapotis by Kate Gilbert, from Knitty. I did 6 increase repeats (I think!) - not as many as the pattern called for, as I wanted it to be more of a scarf and less of a wrap, although still wide enough for a light wrap. I did a lot more of the straight repeats, about 18 or 20, to ensure it was a good length - post a light steam blocking it ended up being 196cm/78".
Yarn: I bought the yarn last year on a day trip to Robertson, in the Southern Highlands of NSW. I always thought it'd be good for a dose of the clap. It's a handspun, slubby yarn - thick and thin texture - in some places very very thin, like cobweb weight!! I bought 3 x 100g skeins and I just had to start the 3rd skein about halfway through the decrease rows at the end.
(mmmm, nubbly goodness!)
Sticks: I used 5mm KnitPicks Options, which gave a nice drape.
Time: 27 May 2008 - 20 June 2008 (at around midnight the night before the gift-giving - talk about cutting the deadline fine!!)

This is our back door neighbour's cat (not sure of his name but we him call Black & White) checking it out!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

SHOESday: Tricksy!

(just realised yesterday's post was my 400th! 400 for a 40th! Love it!)

The problem with starting to wear brown, when you've pretty much always worn black, is that black boots just don't cut it with brown clothes. Gosh darn it, that meant I had to buy more boots. How terrible!
I bought these on sale a couple of years ago - not long after I read about a shoe repair service in the city that can expand knee high boots - oooh, the opening up of the options for knee high boots for those with shapely calves! Since these were reasonably priced, leather, and had a straight inside leg zip, they make the perfect candidate for alteration.
Not all shoe repair places can do it, they need a special machiney thing (oh yes with the technical terms) but if you desperately desire knee high boots, but have the shapely legs, knee high boots are within your reach (without having to resort to Duo Boots, which are a fabulous, although somewhat expensive, option).
The adjustment is not invisible, but if done well can look like an additional gusset, and they do mean you have the glory of skipping down the street in your flirty skirt and knee high boots! Weeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!

Monday, June 23, 2008

Gloriouser and Gloriouser!

What a fabulous winter weekend I've just had - both days were clear and sunny and saw me eat only one meal at home (and that was last night).

Yesterday we picked up husby's niece and her boyfriend, who are staying with us for a week from Brisbane, while they are on university holidays. We took them into the city, walked around Circular Quay to the Opera House and then had pizza and a beer for lunch at one of the cafes along East Circular Quay - sitting in the warm sun, in winter, drinking a cold beer, just like a tourist - fabulous!

But the really big fun took place on Saturday. This year is the year of the 40th birthdays for husby and most of his uni friends. This week is the turn of Snoozen and since it is a special birthday we went to Berowra Waters Inn, which is just out of Sydney, on the northern side. You are picked up from the nearby wharf by a private little ferry/taxi boat to be taken to the restaurant, which is right on the water.
Upon arriving we had champagne and a little complimentary starter, while we perused (heh!) the lengthy menu - they do degustation style, where you can choose 4, 5 or 6 courses (or more if you want) plus you have the option of having the matched wines. So we choose away, and I was very glad I'd had no breakfast that morning.

So I started with grilled sea scallops with cous cous and baby zucchini:This was the best course, for me.
Then spinach and buffalo ricotta ravioli, fresh chantarelle mushrooms and sage butter:
Wow! The mushrooms were so fabulous, not really meaty like normal mushies but really good flavour and picked up the ravioli immensely!

Then braised lamb shank with bone marrow dumpling wrapped around it:
Look at the presentation of the food - so gorgeous - I guess they thought we were nutters taking pictures of all of our food! Braised lamb shank is one of my favourite winter meals - all tender but slightly gelatinous and just delicious.

And the mains ended with fillet of wagyu beef with grain mustard shallots and potato gnocchi:
Everyone at our table except one had this! (there were 7 of us all together).

And then! We did a selection of each of the four desserts - granny smith apple jelly with cream and a doughnut - the jelly was just amazing - just like eating an apple, but squishy - I think it was my favourite. Pecan and date pudding with vanilla bean icecream and caramel sauce - yum!Rhubarb and hazelnut crumble with yoghurt sorbet - I didn't have this - I don't care for rhubarb or yoghurt - but I was happy to leave it for others, as it also meant more room for the white chocolate panna cotta with poached pear. Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm!
And as if all that wasn't enough, we finished with coffee and petit fours...we couldn't eat them all. Actually, I think it was the petit fours that tipped me over the edge!
Lest you think we ate all this in short time, we arrived at the restaurant at about 12.20 and we left at 5.30pm, just as the sun was setting. I almost had to be rolled down the jetty to the boat. I did have a little nap on the way home, and we did not have any dinner that night (or breakfast the next morning!)

It really was one of those "once in a blue moon" experiences. Husby and I hardly go out any more (you can't get much knitting done at a fancy restaurant!!) so it was a great treat. Especially as we could see how the other half lived - this couple was being picked up by seaplane to fly back to Sydney!
And the people on the boat you can see behind the plane had their desserts taken back to the boat so they could eat on board, rather than in the restaurant!

But the scenery was free!
A little bit of luxury with great food and great service, great weather, great company - one of the best days I've had in ages. Happy Birthday Snoozen!!

Friday, June 20, 2008

Oh alpacky, how I love thee!

This little project really has been the collaboration of cool knitters. Last month Kim sent me this gorgeous Blue Sky Alpaca 100% alpaca yarn - two glorious yummy skeins of it.
Look at that little alpacky on the label - so cute!
Even though I had plenty of other things on the sticks, I felt the need to immediately knit with it - although I have to say, I was just tempted to wear it around my neck like so:
But, you know, I figured the skein would get tangled eventually and it would be a total pain to wash, and besides, by just wearing the skein I would be denying myself the pleasure of knitting with this yarn.
Thanks to Nora, I found a link to a project with a great stitch pattern. Since I had two skeins, I thought that would be too much for a cowl, so I figured I could make a short scarf - scarflet really - and button it closed. So a cowl-but-not. I even swatched!! I had to work out how many stitches to the inch, so I knew how many stitches to cast on - since I knit this lenthways, rather than from the short side.
And then, with more thanks to Nora, I got a great button! Let's all say in our best Sesame Street voice: "Co-op-er-a-tion!"
Yarn: Blue Sky Alpaca 100% alpaca, 2x50g skeins in colour 508 (lot 9604) - gorgeous charcoaly grey softest soft alpacky.
Sticks: 5mm KP Options - this is really a sportweight/5ply yarn, but I wanted it really drapey, and the 5mm sticks were a good choice I think.
Pattern: The stitch pattern is so very easy:
Row 1: (k1, sl1 with yarn in front (wyif)), repeat to end
Rows 2 & 4: sl first stitch p/wise, purl to end
Row 3: k2, (sl1 wyif, k1) repeat to end
I cast on 150 stitches and just knit until I ran out of yarn, adding a buttonhole in the "right" spot when I got to it - in the end, before blocking the scarflet measured 24cm/9" wide and 71cm/28" long, post-blocking it was 27cm/10" wide and 81cm/32" long.
Time: 9 May 1008 - 18 May 2008. A pleasure to knit the entire time!
What I learnt: Even using a nice flat stitch pattern, the scarflet will curl...sigh (the picture above is pre-blocking). I think I'm going to add very small press-studs or hook & eye closures on the edges near the button. I did think I was tempting fate by putting a buttonhole in the middle rather than at the edge!
But still, I do love this alpacky scarflet and the lovely knitterly goodness it represents!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

SHOESday: Back to Black (again)

After all the purpla excitement last week, today I'm back to black.

These are my first pair of knee high boots. I bought them in Dublin - I think it must have been at least 3 years ago now, possibly even 4 years ago! I remember planning on buying boots on that trip, but the London shops were disappointing - I think it was about April and so boot season really was over. But I found these in Dublin and wonder of wonders, I could get them zipped all the way up!
I love how the zip is on the outside, and the way it meanders up the leg - as it so often is, it's the little things that make the difference. I also like that the heel is not ridiculously high.

(I also have a little confession to make - I've been putting off posting these boots as I didn't think I'd still be able to do them up...but I can! Huzzah!)

Sunday, June 15, 2008

A Day in My Life: 14 June

I think this is the first time the 14th has fallen on a weekend - this Saturday was a little bit unusual but also a little bit normal, because Saturday 14 June 2008 was World Wide Knit in Public day! But more about that later.

Husby and I slept in - wonderful! Even the cat slept in, instead of her usual routine of waking us at 5.26 am every day (and yes, it is always 5.26am!!) meowing to be let out!
When I opened the curtains in our lounge room I discovered workmen in our neighbour's yard, so I thought better of swanning around in my dressing gown and decided to have a shower before having breakfast.

While the jug was boiling I unpacked the dishwasher - when my mum is staying with us, as she has been for the last couple of weeks, there's always lots of mugs to be washed - lots of cups of coffee and tea!
Weekend winter breakfast is usually porridge, with lots of brown sugar, and mashed up banana - easy, filling, nutritious and delicious!!Winter has really hit and despite the rays of sunlight trying to warm things up it was pretty chilly. Nelly managed to find a spot in the sun for a nap, but I stayed indoors and spent a lovely hour or two knitting and reading blogs, emails and catching up on Ravelry.Grabbed a quick bite to eat for lunch at around 12.30, then had to pack my knitting bag for the Sydney WWKIP day get-together, which was at Darling Harbour (yes, right near the Exhibition Hall where the Quilt and Craft Fair was being held...oh the restraint I exercised in not going back!!). I even did my bit on the way to WWKIP by knitting while waiting for, and then on, the light rail. I really must make some fingerless gloves - my poor fingers were almost blue by the time the tram arrived!

Got to WWKIP and found myself a seat - met some people I "knew" from Ravelry - so cool to meet in real life! I spent a very happy couple of hours knitting and drinking coffee and tea and chatting - with over 50 other knitters! It was great! Just a shame it was so cold, as it meant we had to sit inside! But the venue had large windows out onto Darling Harbour, so all the tourists could see us and join in if they wanted. Really cool to see QuiltingMick all the way from Canberra, plus Ailsa and Donna, who'd been at the fair, and were very restrained in their purchases!
Finally left there at about 5pm and arrived home to find husby asleep on the lounge - he'd had a big day working in the yard. Put the heater on and settled down with my knitting to watch the news. Checked Ravelry again - there were already pictures of the WWKIP gathering posted in the Australian Knitters Forum!When he woke up we got some dinner (takeaway - a bit naughty, but it was getting a bit late to cook and we haven't done the grocery shopping yet this weekend, so the fridge is a little bare) and as Saturday night is a slow tv night, we watched Elizabeth: The Golden Age on Foxtel. Fabulous costumes on Cate Blanchett, I loved how the colours of her dresses and the colour and styles of her hair represented (to me anyway) her mood and the mood of the times she was facing.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Is it possible?

Is it possible to attend the Craft and Quilt Fair and not buy yarn?

Well duh, of course not!!! As my mum was staying with me I took the day off work, and mum and my SIL and I toddled off to the Craft Fair bright and early this morning (well, except that it was foggy, not bright, but you get the gist...). We arrived at about 9.30 - it was hilarious - as we were walking to the venue, from all angles we could see other women, all with the same eager, determined, almost excited looks on their faces. Not unlike the old woman planning on eating Hansel and Gretel, I think...

Heaps and heaps and heaps of fabric and quilting stuff, which I didn't look at much, being conscious of the fact that I have a bunch of fabric already which I have not used and am not likely to in the short term. So I spent most of the time looking at the yarn. Oh Colinette Jitterbug, how I love thy colours. But I was good, I did only buy two skeins...
Oyster Blush (which is a bit more cream and a bit less brown), and

Sahara (thanks to Terri who is currently knitting a scarf out of this - which looks fabulous!!)

The Colinette Iona was also gorgeous, but I held off. And I didn't go back and buy Jitterbug in Vatican Pie, although I really, really, really wanted to, after seeing Kylie's when we met up for lunch!

And I was good and didn't buy any Kaalund, or Belisa, or anything from Prestige Yarns, or Touch Yarns (from NZ - gorgeous laceweight!), or Mosman Needlecraft. But Prudence Mapstone, the exotic yarn hussy, made me buy this:

Alchemy Haiku in Clarita (yes, that is 40% silk, 60% mohair) (Shazmina, you'll be pleased to know I have this snuggled in my top as I'm typing this), and this:

Frog Tree Pima Silk (80% pima cotton, 20% silk). I was only going to get 5 balls of this, but they only had 6 left, so in an outstanding act of selfless community service, I bought all of them - can't leave a lonely ball of red there can I?

Next month: yarn diet!!

Congrats to Megan who got the obscure pop culture reference! And especially for Knitabulous:

It's from the tv show Angel (a spin-off from Buffy the Vampire Slayer) - Angel, the vampire with a soul, is in love with Cordelia, although he won't admit it. She's in love with the Grusalagg ("Gru") who is a total warrior type spunk from another dimension. Gru is painting a feature wall and he reads the colour of the paint from the tin: "purpla". Angel, clearly jealous of Gru and acting like a teenager, rather than his 242 years of age, responds: "You can say 'pomegranate' but you can't pronounce a simple word like 'purple' ".
Gru (not understanding Angel's jealousy): "Pomegranate was my mother's name..."

Yeah, you probably had to be there...

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

SHOESday: Purpla!

(bonus points for anyone who gets the obscure pop culture reference in the title...)

So we've had red, black and black. I think it's time for some colour in the boot department!
Now who doesn't need a pair of purple knee high boots? I am totally sure the answer is "no-one" - because purple boots rock!Especially when they are made of stretchy faux suede fabric that easily zips up over the shapely calf.
Mmmmm, purpla.