Sunday, December 27, 2009

Merry Christmas!

I've really enjoyed seeing so many christmas posts on blogs from people living in the UK and US - with all their magical snow! Landscapes, even urban ones, look so amazing when covered with a layer of snow.
But as much as I like to look at the pictures, to be perfectly honest I think I'd hate to live in an area which had such deep snowfalls - the thought of having to shovel it away to get the car out, of having to drive on snowy or even worse, icy roads, of having to rug up in layers of clothes and boots just to go outside (and then peel them all off again when inside) really doesn't appeal to me (although I know if that's what I grew up with, I'd be used to it).
Give me a hot summer Christmas any day! Growing up, we always had a cold lunch for Christmas - a leg of ham, maybe a turkey breast (never a whole one, because no-one likes the brown meat), and lots and lots of salads. Always, though, a hot plum pudding for dessert, because while our seasons are different, we have inherited a lot of cold weather Christmas traditions from our British ancestors.

This year, for the first time, we hosted husby's family at our house for Christmas. Everyone brought food and it was so easy. All I had to do on the day was glaze the ham, a bit of tidying, and after the main course, cream and decorate the pavlova, and then sit down and enjoy!
Then pick at the leftovers for dinner. Mmmmmm, christmas ham. Totally my favourite!

The day did turn cool and rainy towards the end, but everyone is so glad of the rain that there were no complaints.

And for my overseas friends, here's how I spent some time on Christmas day last year - for some reason, I didn't post photos last year, but we had Christmas at my brother's - he lives in a new suburb on the outskirts of a large country town, and his house backs onto undeveloped land. Land which is inhabited by a small herd (?) of kangaroos - which jump down to a nearby small dam at dusk to have a drink.
So we walked down to see them and managed to get surprisingly close. Very very cool.
I hope you all had a relaxing enjoyable Christmas. Thank you all for reading the blog and particularly for your comments - they are like a little present to me every day.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Baking baking baking

Something about Christmas makes me want to bake bake bake. Not entirely sure why, because it's not like there is a dearth of food to begin with, but it really is nice to have a bunch of sweet goodies in the cupboard and the fridge - not only are they just plain yummy but the homemade goods also make great last minute (or not) presents!

As she's only school holidays now, I thought my 10yo niece might enjoy a spot of baking with me, so yesterday we fired up the oven and the magimix and various other kitchen implements, and produced these:
Hedgehog slice and my mum's party slice - both actually very similar recipes but with slightly different results.

and these:
A selection of gingerbread men and other assorted shapes - all dependent on the cutters in my drawer!
My niece had fun decorating the gingerbread men/shapes - in fact, it was the quietest I've ever heard her!! (oh, and the ones she are holding are iced in purple, although it does look a bit like chocolate - purple is her favourite colour after all!)

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Mittenses with Kittenses

Whilst I've been a bit of a selfish knitter the past few months, a gift project or two has snuck into my knitting schedule.

I'm particularly happy with this particular gift project, a collaboration with Bells (but of course!) for our buddy Shazmina Bendi, who is currently living in the brrr-chilly UK, and who had to leave her beloved cat, Princess Meena behind in Australia.

Yes, mittenses with kittenses!

Pattern: Cat Mittens by Jorid Linvik. A fab pattern, with lots of pictures and a matching hat as well (which we didn't knit!). Very easy to follow although I did have to number the chart rows to help me keep track of where I was up to. I did the right mitten and Bells did the left one!

Yarn: Colinette Jitterbug in Salty Dog (blue) and Oyster Blush (browny/grey)- a very nice pairing, if I do say so myself. And we only used, between us, about 30-40g of each colour, so there's plenty leftover for the matching hat, or another project. I was amazed at how little yarn the mittens used!
Sticks: I really wasn't sure what size sticks to use, as others on Ravelry who've made this pattern with this yarn using sticks ranging from 2.25mm to 3.25mm! So in the end, we opted for 2.75mm. I think if I were to make these again, with a similar yarn, I'd use at least 3mm sticks, as they were quite snug, even on my relatively small hands. Having never made (or worn) mittens before, I'm not sure whether it's desirable for mittens to be snug or a bit loose etc, so I hope these are practical as well as pretty!
Time: I don't know why, but fair isle seems to go faster than regular knitting! I did the main part of the mitten in about a week, but then let them sit without a thumb for some time. And boy did I hate knitting the thumb. Don't know why, as it wasn't hard, but it was just fiddly. I suspect I won't be knitting gloves any time soon! 19 October 2009 - 18 November 2009.

Happy Birthday Shazmina!!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Red more red!

Since I appear to be on a roll posting red projects, I thought I'd better add another one!

Here is my Solas Caomh (Irish for "tender comfort") - crocheted cables! I think it is just the most amazing pattern, and while it's a bit fiddly and the cottton is a bit hard on my hand (because of the way I hold the yarn when I crochet), I really am enjoying making this.
But it will be a slowish project - each cable row takes at least an hour, and the return back row probably 20 minutes. So two rows a day is about all I can manage (and clearly I don't work on it every day!!).
But I am about a quarter of the way through, so I should be able to get it finished by May I reckon!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Getting over the knitting blahs

I had a bad knitting day on Tuesday - I tried to do the tubular cast-off technique as described in Wendy Johnson's Socks from the Toe Up, on my bamboo stripey socks. I realised I'd made a mistake early on, so ripped back a couple of rows and redid it. Then after separating the knits and purls onto separate needles, and then kitchener grafting all 64 of them (gah!!) I discovered I'd obviously done something else wrong, because the cast-off was not at all stretchy. In fact, it was t-i-g-h-t. So it will have to be undone (I've no idea how...I suspect I might just cut it off....) and redone. I was so cross I did no more knitting that day.

And the next day I was just feeling blah about all my knitting. Yep, even though you can have 20 or more wips, it is totally possible to feel uninspired about all of them, and want to start something new.

So I did...(I'm pretty sure that surprises no regular readers!). And it is a project I've wanted to knit for ever so long but have kept putting it off. Well, no more!
So here's my Shetland Triangle in lush Karabella Magrite, an 80/20 merino/cashmere. This is going to be my huge cosy winter wrap. And I'm ever so happy with it, and my knitting!

Monday, December 07, 2009


I finally managed to sew the buttons on Loppem, which I finished about a month ago, and organise husby to do a photo shoot for me. Fortunately it was a nice breezy day so I didn't feel totally ridiculous and/or hot wearing a worsted weight cardigan/vest thingy in the sun!
Pattern: Loppem, by Norah Gaughan, from her Norah Gaughan Collection volume 3. Lots of errors in the pattern so make sure you print out the errata before you start! But other than that, it's an easy pattern and knit all in one piece, which, while it seems slow, at least means you have no seaming at the end. And it's bottom up, so the rows get nice and short towards the end!
Yarn: Naturally Sensation, a wool/angora blend, in the most gorgeous red. Of course, this colour is now discontinued. And only 6 skeins!! I can hardly believe it. I've got 2 skeins leftover. And I thought I'd be running close to the wire on the yardage. I wish I'd known, because I would have made it longer. As it was, I made it longer than the pattern specified by nearly 2 inches. If I could do it again, I'd add at least 2 or 3 more inches again to the bottom.

Sticks: 5mm KP Harmony options
Time: 29 September - 15 November 2009
What I learnt: Check the chart when doing cables! I ended up doing an extra cable crossing on one of the cables (but fortunately on both the left and the right side) so I had to make a feature of it - by alternating the actual cable pattern with my modified cable pattern. It worked out fine, I think!
To be perfectly honest, I'm not entirely sure this is the right garment for me. A round yoke with a relatively high neckline does not do wonders for my bust...but I think it'll be a good layering garment, even if I just wear it around the house! But the colour, oh my I love the colour!

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Keeping Track - November 2009

I admit, I've been putting off this post...but can wait no longer. Darn Bendi for having a sale (which, by the way, is still going - you've got until 11 December to make me feel better about my purchases!)

If not for 7 big balls of Bendi cotton (these are 200g balls or the equivalent of 4 regular sized balls!):
And two sock club shipments - one: Yarntini Self-Striping - totally indulgent but I couldn't help myself, her self-striping sock yarn is SO COOL!
And the other being Knitting Inspirations Summer shipment - lovely Fleece Artist Sea Wool:
Then I'd be ok this month. But of course, I am usual.

In: 32 x 50g balls
Out: 10.5 x 50g balls (OMG these two numbers are exactly the same as last month!!)
YTD: 218.5 x 50g balls
I wonder if I can ensure December, at least, is yarn neutral. Or even, wonder of wonders, yarn negative!!

Friday, November 27, 2009


I bought an outfit for the Baby yesterday:
I think he'll look pretty cute in this. Especially if I make a matching eye-patch and single black sock aka faux peg-leg. And possibly a parrot for his shoulder...

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Hello friend!

When I went out to hang out some washing this afternoon I found this little (or big, really) fella sunning himself (or possibly herself) on the pavers:

It's an eastern blue-tongued lizard (I think...) - it was probably about 40cm (16") long. I snapped this photo before hanging out the washing and by the time I was done it was gone! So I didn't get to see it flash the blue tongue! Oh well, maybe I'll see him (or her) again some time. I hope so, because they eat snails and slugs - great for the garden!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

A commitment

Sorry about the dearth of posts lately - my mum has been visiting the last two weeks and it was just a bit harder to take photos and write posts etc. Not that we were out and about a lot, I have to admit there was a lot of sitting around and knitting and me teasing her about knitting for other people instead of her next grandchild - not that it had any effect!

But even though she didn't mention it once while she was here, her visit did make me feel guilty that I STILL have not finished the lace shawl I started for her in April 2007 (!!!). The last time I knit on it was April this year! Oh dear! So I pulled it out on Sunday after she'd gone home and realised I'm just over half way done (a bit more than I thought - hurrah!).

(sorry about the crappy photo - it's too long to fit anywhere to photograph easily!)

I know I can't get it finished by Christmas, but her birthday is in early April, so I figure I've got 5 months (including November!) to finish it - that's 10% per month, or 40 rows - totally do-able, right?

In fact, since Sunday, I've done two repeats - that's 16 rows - only 24 more to go until the end of November! Weeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

I have a dilemma

Hmmmm....what should I do?

or Knitting?
I shall have to have a piece of cake while I ponder this weighty issue.
(thanks Husby for my birthday presents!! OK, I know I chose and bought the Barbara Walkers but you did real good with the Julia Child!)

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Sunday Sky: Jacaranda watch - week 5

I know it's Wednesday, but I did take these photos on Sunday, honest!

After a month of next to nothing, while all around me jacarandas are a sea of purple, my jacaranda has finally decided to flower (mostly...there are more than a few leaves on there too, which really shouldn't come out until after the flowers are pretty much done).
Hurrah! And to give you an idea of the purple carpet we'll get soon, here's a taste - husby mowed the lawn only a few hours before I took this photo, so you can imagine what it would be like after a few days!
Jacarandas are really best seen at a bit of a distance - I think that's a huge part of their appeal - in amongst the general green of most trees, you get these gorgeous bursts of purple - it's a delight to walk down the street and see the purple haze.
And for Alwen, and others going into winter, here's some flowers - my rose bush, bursting out all over the place:
And the pink roses - which were mere buds last week - are now in full bloom:
(Well, they were on Sunday, after yesterday's 37C (98F) scorcher, and subsequent cool change and rain, most of them are now petals on the ground!)

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Keeping Track - October 2009

You know, I really thought I was going to be good this month, I had such good intentions. Well, you know what they say about good intentions - road to hell and all.

It started with the Stash Reallocation afternoon tea. Yes, I planned just to get rid of stuff, not bring stuff home...oh well. I did get rid of 4 x 50g balls - and only brought home the equivalent of 6 x 50g balls - so not too bad, really. Couldn't pass up Rowan All Seasons Cotton and Heirloom BabySilk.
And then Ecoyarns had to go and have a sale - 75% off SWTC Yin - this is a lovely yarn, a blend of wool, bamboo and silk. The lovely Ms 2Paw had given me a precious skein earlier this year, and so the chance to add to it, to make enough for a garment - at 75% off (did I mention that already?) was too good to pass up. So now I have 9 lovely skeins - it's an 8ply (DK) with a generous 150m (165 yd) per skein.
Finally, I had to buy yarn to make the crochet cable blanket - it's done in cotton, which I don't tend to stash (well, except for dishcloth cotton), so clearly I had to buy some! And crochet eats a lot of yarn, so I had to buy quite a bit! Six big 150g balls!
Best get knitting and crocheting, hadn't I!
Oh yeah, and this:
In: 32 x 50g balls!
Out: 10.5 x 50g balls
YTD: 197 x 50g, that's nearly 10kg of yarn I've added to the stash this year...oh dear.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Day 31

31 days of a post a day...and I've made it! I made a list in the first week of October, a list of blog post ideas - including things I knew I would post about, and ideas just in case I needed them. I'm surprised to report that I haven't really picked up any of the general ideas - even on those days where I really didn't know what I was going to post, something always came up.

And of course I was lucky because this month coincided with my ability to post about a very exciting event (and the ensuing knitting!), as well as a number of knitting buddy get-togethers. I even got into baking again (finally!)

I wasn't sure how I'd feel about blogging at the end of this month, but I have to say I am feeling quite invigorated about posting, after having a bit of a slump for a while. I won't keep up daily posting, but I will try to post at least 3 times a week - I think the key to avoiding the blogging slump, for me anyway, is regular posting!

And I know there'll be some disappointed jacaranda watchers if I don't keep you updated on my tree's progress!!

Thanks so much to everyone who's kept up with my monthlong blogfest and for all your comments - as always, they are much appreciated!

Oh, and Happy Halloween to my US friends!

Friday, October 30, 2009

FO Friday: Peapod cardigan

As promised, an actual finished Finished Object! (oh well, except for the buttons ... I may end up using these but I think I'll have a look in the city next week to see if I can find some alternatives - these are a good size, but I think might be too white).
Pattern: Peapod Cardigan by Kate Gilbert - this was an internet only download from the Summer 2006 edition of Interweave Knits - thank goodness I downloaded it when it was available, as IK's subsequent withdrawal of the pattern from their website caused great uproar on Ravelry. A very easy pattern, with the body all knit in one piece (to the armholes) and the arms separately. I've made it in the 3 month size, good for the baby's first winter.
Yarn: Bella Baby Layette, an 80/20 bamboo/wool blend yarn from the stash (huzzah!). I used 2.5 x 50g balls. The green is slightly too pastelly I think (and doesn't show up properly in these photos in any event), but this cardigan simply must be made using green yarn, and this is what I had! It's a bit splitty, the yarn, but feels nice and washes up well. And apparently is machine washable!
Sticks: 3.75mm Addi circulars - I don't pull out the Addi's very often, but I was using my 3.75mm KP tips on other things, and I really hate taking them off a project (even though I know that's what they are meant for!).
Time: 25 August 2009 - 30 October 2009. I started this project when I was in my 9th week - according to a baby growth website, at that time the baby would have been about the size of a peapod. So it was meant to be. Not to mention the leaf pattern - you all know I'm a sucker for a knitted leaf pattern!

Thursday, October 29, 2009


I've been thinking a bit about Halloween, after Donna Lee posted about it a few weeks ago. To put it simply (and using the words of an infamous former Australian politician, as well as her distinctive accent, which I must always do when I say this phrase), "I don't like it".

I've been trying to work out why I feel like this - and I should clarify, it's only the attempt to insert Halloween into Australia that I don't particularly like. Very happy for Americans, the English, Scots, Welsh and Irish (and whichever other countries have this tradition) to go for it (or to celebrate it here, as I know some do!). I wonder if it's because it's particularly associated with the US (due to seeing it on US tv shows all the time!) that I resent attempts to introduce it here. I feel like our culture is Americanised enough already...but maybe I am being close-minded?

Maybe I'm just a grinch? After all, it seems to be pretty much just a chance to dress up, have fun, and eat a lot of lollies - and what could be wrong with that?? Actually, I think that might be the real issue I have. Halloween grew out of several traditions (or possibly superstitions) and has evolved over time into what it is now (and no doubt will continue to evolve). Australians adopting it as it currently is I suppose strikes me as somewhat commercial (like what Valentine's Day has become) and lacks a sense of history or meaning. I think that's probably what I don't like.

And also we don't have those fabulous round orange pumpkins easily available here! (unless you want to pay $30 each for them, without the romance of going to a huge pumpkin farm to choose them!)

Guess I'd better go and put on my grinch outfit now...

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

WIP Wednesday: for the Baby

Yes, another new WIP. Why? Well, of course, because I can! Weeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!

This little matinee jacket (by Erika Knight from her book Baby Bloom) is one of those patterns I've been saving for when I have a very special baby to make it for. And I'm even using the specified yarn, a now discontinued fingering/4ply 80/20 cashmere/merino blend (I know - lush! And handwash! But I can cope with that).
It's very old fashioned, and I know it won't be to the taste of all new-mothers out there, but it's a special little garment for my little person.
So far, I've only done the sleeves - I'm procrastinating about the body, as it's done in one piece and involves a 232 stitch cast on with a yarn that tends to split. But I'll get there.

And in case you are wondering what's happened with all those lovely Wollmeise projects I started my Week of Wollmeise back in September ... well, one of the only unfortunate side effects of this pregnancy business is that I can't stand the smell of the WM! If you've never smelled it, it has a very distinctive (and usually lovely) smell, due to the woolwash the yarn is rinsed in after dying (it's called Perwoll, but I don't think you can buy it in Australia). But now, that formerly lovely scent just makes me feel a bit ugh. So they are all hibernating. I hope not for too much longer.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Techniques Tuesday: Crochet Cables

Thought you might be interested to see how the cables in the baby blanket from yesterday's post are done, so hopefully these photos will help you picture it.

In this row, I'm doing a right cross cable, which involves doing 3 front post double trebles (trebles for our US friends) behind 3 front post double trebles.

First off, thought I'd show you how to do a front post treble (dc) - basically it's the same as a regular treble, but rather than putting the hook through the top of the stitch, it goes behind the post of the stitch (ie from the front, round the back, and out the front again):
Then you skip the next 3 stitches, and do a front post dtr into each of the next 3 stitches:
The next part is the tricky bit - it took me a few goes to work it out. You have to do a front post dtr into each of the 3 stitches you skipped - but they have to be done behind the 3 you've just done - it's the behind bit that's the troublemaker!

First off, wrap the yarn around the hook twice, then you need to sort of twist the hook back, insert in the upside down v where that 3 stitch space is, and wrap it around the post of stitch 1 (as if to do a front post dtr - because that's what you are doing!):
Then, in order to work the dtr, you need to fold the 3 dtr stitches already done forwards, so you can see the hook and the wraps around the hook, so you can work the dtr. I've taken the photo from the back so that hopefully you can see what it looks like:
You work the next 2 dtr the same way:
And then do it all over again - skip the next 3 stitches and so on (this will also stretch out the stitches worked behind the others):
At the end of the row, it looks a bit messy:
But the return row (which is back post trebles) neatens it up nicely and helps define the cables:
So there you go! Clear as mud! (and in case you were wondering, I decided to go with the red - but of course!)

Monday, October 26, 2009

Crochet is most definitely not evil!

Is it, MissFee?!

I was so taken with this pattern when I got the Spring 2009 edition of Interweave Crochet. And now I am going to make it!

I've done a couple of swatches with some Rainbow Wools 8ply cotton leftovers, kindly provided to me by Jody. Check it out - crochet cables! (ignore the bit below the hook on the yellow swatch, I mucked up the pattern there!)

I've never done front or back post crochet before, let alone crochet cables - I'm glad I practised, it takes some getting used to, I can tell you, especially doing 3 front post double trebles crossed behind 3 front post double trebles.

This cotton is interesting to use - it's a crepe construction cotton, quite soft. I think the crepey-ness of it stops it from being splitty as some cottons are. Now, just to chose a colour...I'm thinking red (but of course!) - but am also considering one of the blues or greens, or possibly the orange...what do you think?