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?

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Sunday Sky: Jacaranda watch - week 4

But first, given it's been pouring rain today (albeit without thunder and lightning), a musical interlude (I'll provide the words, you provide the tune):
Raindrops on roses
And whiskers on kittens (that one's for you, Alwen!)
Pancakes for breakfast
And tall spiky flowers
Jasmine flowering over the verandah...

These are a few of my favourite things!


Now, back to that jacaranda...I thought I was going to have to disappoint you all but when I went out to take today's photo, I found purple flowers on the uppermost branches!
You still can't really see them in the photo, but trust me they are there.
Soon enough, the ground will be carpeted with the purple flowers too!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Oh a lovely lovely day

Husby and I spent a lovely couple of hours lunching with some of my favourite people at a fab little pub in the Southern Highlands of NSW (for those of you who remember the film Babe, which was made in this region, rumour has it the director, George Miller, spent a fair bit of time at this particular pub!)

I forgot to take a picture of the pub itself (d'oh! it was gorgeous! One of those English style two storey pubs covered in vines with a lovely verandah out the front, built in around the late 1800s I think).

But I did get some from the garden, looking over the hills behind the pub. No doubt at least one of my companions will post some more photos!

What a glorious glorious day. Perfect spring weather, sunny but not too hot, good pub food, excellent desserts, and fabulous company. Bliss. I really didn't want to leave!

Friday, October 23, 2009

FO Friday: Well, almost...

I had grand plans of finishing this in time for today's post. But I didn't quite get there - I still have to set in the sleeves and sew the sleeve seams.
But I thought I'd show you anyway, or at least a sneak peak. With any luck, I'll actually have it done by next Friday! With buttons even! So I'll give you all the details then!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Thanks all round

Thanks everyone for the lovely comments on yesterday's post. I've been longing to share my story for such a long time. I asked husby how many comments he thought I'd get on the post and he thought about 30! He was truly amazed and touched by everyone's well-wishes (as was I). And to the couple of commenters who have had a similar experience to us, but without the happy ending, we are both so so sorry - it just sucks, as simple as that. Hugs to you all.

I also want to thank Amy, who had the good timing to post a lovely parcel to me which arrived today (with a thump on my front verandah, waking me up from a lovely sleep in!).
Look at the lovely goodies! I had to laugh when I read the card, as Amy had sent me some genuine Rhode Island maple syrup (her home state!) and wrapped it so thoroughly (triple layer huge bubble wrap stuff and a zip lock bag!) to ensure it didn't break or leak! I had a giggle when I opened it! And I am definitely having pancakes for breakfast on Sunday!
And yummy lobster pot dyed yarn (so cool!!) and handmade linen tea towels stamped with autumn leaves from Amy's own backyard! So very cool! Plus a little present for my mum, as she helped out on something I made for Amy's baby girl last year. Thanks Amy, you rock!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

WIP Wednesday: My latest WIP

Before I get into the WIP details, I'd like to tell you a story - it's kinda long, but I hope you'll stick with it, because there's a good payoff at the end. Or at least I think there is.

Once upon a time there was a Girl. This Girl had decided that she really wasn't that keen to have babies (when the time was right) - she thought she was too selfish, and also squeamish, for that. And that she was too short-tempered and impatient to be a good mother.

Anyway, one day the Girl met a Boy, and eventually they decided to get married. They talked about babies beforehand, and the Girl, who was a bit more mature by then, decided that it was a good idea to have babies, but not right away (the Boy agreed with that!).

In late 2004, about 5 years after the Girl and the Boy got married, the Girl's father became gravely ill. As is common with serious illnesses, it made the Couple realise that they shouldn't wait any longer to take the important step of having a family.

Fast forward to 2006. The Couple still do not have a family. They decide it is time to seek out some assistance. At around the same time, the Girl meets another girl who is in a similar situation, and who is also a knitter (knitters are the best!). These two Girls become firm friends, even though they live in separate cities, although thankfully in the same country!

After 6 months on basic drugs, the Couple start full IVF treatment. Their first embryo is transferred on the Girl's father's birthday. But it doesn't work. Neither do any of the other 7 IVF transfers performed over the course of the next 2.5 years.

If you haven't done IVF, the Girl (and her friend) can tell you that it is hard, that it is heartbreaking, that it involves many many needles, many bloodtests, many ultrasounds (and no, they are not performed externally!), many hormone drug induced moodswings, and many disappointments. But despite all this, the Couple persevered through the treatments, as they thought it was their best chance of achieving the family they so now very much desired. The friendship of the other girl was invaluable support to the Girl during this time. Only someone going through the IVF lottery really knows how it feels and what to say and what not to say (example of what to say: "Oh, that sucks, I'm really sorry you have to go through this, I hope it works for you"; examples of what not to say: "Oh, you just need to relax, and then it will all happen"; or "I KNOW it will happen for you" - no you don't! If my specialist fertility doctor doesn't, then you sure as heck don't!).

When the last transfer didn't work, the Couple decided that was it. They weren't going to spend any more time (or money) on IVF. If it didn't work after 8 times, it wasn't going to.

If the story ended here, then the moral would clearly be "be careful what you wish for". But this isn't the end of the story.

As the Girl headed towards acceptance of the fact that she would never carry her own baby, and the Couple had initiated adoption processes (itself no easy feat and also no guarantee of a family), the Girl noticed something weird. She felt like she was about to have her monthly cycle, but it didn't happen. For days. So she found an out of date pregnancy test in the back of her cupboard, and she thought, "what the hell, I'll take it".

And she did. And it was positive. But it was expired - it might be wrong! So she bought another test (well, 2, because they come 2 to a box). And she took the next test. And it was positive! And the next day, before a blood test to confirm, she took the 3rd test. Yep, it was positive too! And all confirmed by the blood test.

In a state of disbelief, the Couple somehow passed the couple of weeks until an early ultrasound, where they could see the little blob and most importantly, hear the little heartbeat. Still almost fearing to believe it was real, the Girl started making arrangements for doctors and hospitals (because you have to book so early!! OMG). And managed to pass the time (sans morning sickness - hurrah!) until her 12 week scan, which was all good. The Girl slept really well that night.

And here's a picture of the 12 week blob. The head is on the right, with the right arm over the head, and the spine is the white line along the bottom. The legs are crossed (most modestly!) over the body.

So that's my latest WIP. Because of course, the Girl is me.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009


Like Bells, I must admit I'm suffering a bit from posting fatigue. I felt like I was going ok there for most of the month, but today hit and I've got next to nothing...
But here's something I am happy about - we had it installed last week, before the hot weather really hits us - every time we see the weather report, we kinda hope it's going to be HOT so we can fire it up (so to speak). Although of course, I do try to keep the house cool to minimise the need to switch it on. But the run of 38-40c (that's 100+F) days we had this past summer convinced us we need to get it.
And of course, the ability to knit on whatever WIPS I want during the summer had NOTHING at all to do with our decision!!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Baking - more baking!

Roxie asked what I made to take to the stash reallocation afternoon tea on Saturday.

You need wait no longer!

I made Schnecken!
You can read all about it here. And then immediately go and make some for yourself. They are one of the best things I've made from Nigella!
(and for those of you who want to know what yarn I bought home with me on Saturday, you'll have to wait a bit longer!! But don't worry, I will reveal! I can tell you that I only brought home 100g more than I took! Not bad...!)

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Sunday Sky: Jacaranda watch - week 3

Gah! Still no blooms!
In the absence of jacaranda blooms, let me show you our callistemon (or bottlebrush as I always call it):
And our little shrubby rose bush, which has a few early blooms:
and which promises to burst forth full of flowers very soon:
What a lovely spring day today! Come on Jacaranda, you're missing all the action!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

A lovely lovely day

I had such a great day today! Our SnB group decided to have a "Stash Reallocation" afternoon tea today - the idea is that we all bring along any items of stash we'd like to "reallocate", along with some sort of afternoon tea goodness, and see what happens! Someone even brought a small suitcase of yarn to destash!!
Of course, I had grand plans of only getting rid of stuff and not buying anything ... I'm sure you all know how that turned out ...

But in an effort to distract you, here's the huge afternoon tea that awaited us after de/re-stashing! Gee, you need a good feed after yarn shopping! (the devilled eggs didn't last very long!)
And this was our resting spot after, because it wouldn't be an SnB afternoon tea without knitting going on!
What a lovely afternoon it was! Thanks so much to MissFee for so generously hosting!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Julie & Julia ... and me

Tonight husby and I had a date. We went for dinner to a local cafe and then a movie at our local cinema! Except of course, husby was late for dinner (he blamed the new train timetables!) and then he fell asleep in the movie...(thank goodness I noticed and woke him before he started snoring!)

But I loved it! Julie & Julia. Wonderful movie. Exactly the sort of movie I like to see at the cinemas - good story, great characters, funny and entertaining, without being shallow or dumb. And of course it had a bit of extra meaning for me, because the book upon which the movie is partly based provided a shared inspiration for Bells and I in starting our Nigella blog. If it weren't for Julia Childs being in Paris and needing to do something, and ending up co-writing a cookbook, and providing the impetus for Julie Powell to start a blog about her experiences cooking her way through that book, which blog in turn became a book, which was read by Bells and I (are you still following?), then we would never have become such excellent friends!

I was especially pleased with the Julia side of the story, as it is vastly expanded on what was included in the book (because it comes from another book about Julia) - but she really did have a most interesting life, and approach to life - she really lived it! And apart from anything else, the movie covered a range of unexpected things in small but significant ways, in particular McCarthyism.

Since Julia and her husband Paul lived until they were in their 90s, husby has decided we should also buy Mastering the Art of French Cooking and ensure we slather all food in butter, because, hello, it can't be bad for you, can it??!!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

It's time again

It's time again for Southern Summer of Socks!

We've decided this year to host the group mainly on Ravelry, since it worked really well for the Tour de France KAL.

Hopefully lots of people will join us!

As for personal challenges this year, I think it will be pretty simple for me:

1. Finish 2 pairs of socks from my personal sock club (including the ones I'm currently knitting!) before the end of this year

2. Try to finish the other 5 (yes five!!) pairs of socks I also have on the needles right now, by the end of SSoS!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

WIP Wednesday: Personal Sock Club

I can't believe my optimism at the start of this year - putting 12 packages of yarn away for my personal sock club 2009. I'm only up to package #5!!! Oh dear! Well, I think if I can knit up half the packages by the end of this year I'll be quite happy. (It's not like I haven't knit other socks this year too). And then I'll still have 6 lovely packages waiting for me in 2010.

So here's package #5. What is it, I hear you all wondering?
Ta da!! ShibuiKnits Sock yarn, in "pebble". Quite variegated, and a very different colour range than that I normally go for. Oh well, nothing wrong with a bit of variety. Or maybe these will end up as a gift for someone.
I had only one pattern idea for these when I put them in the package at the start of the year, and that is the pattern I've decided to go with.

Yes, No-purl Monkeys. A very nice variation on the Cookie A pattern from Knitty. I like this very much. Only 4 pattern rows out of 11.
Easy to remember and quick to knit. Just what I need right now!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Mmmmm, warm bread out of the oven

But not here...

You need to go over here for today's post! It's been a while between posts, but I've finally baked something! Bells, I'm pretty sure it's your turn now!!!

Monday, October 12, 2009


I don't remember having too many sleepovers when I was a kid, until I got into my teens, it seemed to happen more then (with my girl-friends people!!). Don't know why, it just didn't happen much. Maybe because I lived in a small town and it was very easy to see my friends after school as well.

Although I do remember an epic sleepover with my friend H on her farm. I remember being very jealous of farm kids, who, apart from the long bus ride to and from school, had so much fun on the farm - they could drive when they were 12! And ride motorbikes around the paddocks! And H had a dirt tennis court too! And an outside cubby. And a great dress up box! And a dam to swim in (not that I did much I don't think - ewwwwwwwwww leeches!)

We had husby's 10yo niece over for a sleepover with us on Saturday night. I think when I was her age it would have been the last thing I'd have wanted to do, since all my uncles and aunties were, like, 1000 years old. Whereas of course we are sort of less than *cough30cough* years older than her!

But hey, we have a Wii:
And we made pizza from scratch!
There can't be more fun than kneading the dough by hand! And making a face on your pizza using the toppings! We didn't even have time to make my excellent choc chip biscuits. I can foresee another sleepover in the future!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Sunday Sky: Jacaranda watch - week 2

Not a lot of change in the Jacaranda bloom watch over the course of the week. I can see what look to be small flower buds on the branches - but they are all too high for me to get a close look!

But check out that blue sky!!! I haven't seen that for a while. Hello old friend!

Saturday, October 10, 2009

The guild

Earlier this year, I joined the state knitting guild. It's an interesting organisation, run predominantly by older women, many of whom are excellent knitters and/or crocheters, but who are not necessarily up to date on current trends in knitting (including in particular the internet but also modern or newer designers and yarns). (This is, of course, a generalisation, as the guild, like any organisation, has all types!) And perhaps this is more of a perception than a reality, but there also seems to be a reluctance to share information (eg judging standards at the shows, contents of the guild library and archives etc) and a whole lot of politics. The politics is also, I know, pretty standard in most organisations.

Sometimes this apparent inability of many in organisational roles within the guild to embrace the internet and all it can do for knitting is frustrating for the more internet savvy knitters, and it results to some extent in the guild being seen as a backward organisation which reinforces the stereotype of knitters as little old ladies making things that no-one would wear. Which is a real shame, as there is a lot of knowledge and talent amongst the guild members, not to mention an element of charitable work which is also valuable to the community.

Nevertheless, I figure that things in the guild which I think are less desirable will never change if "new blood" doesn't join and take part in guild activities. Not that I expect anything to change overnight, or even quickly but it will get there. Membership is important both to help effect changes I'd like to see, as well as to see how the guild really works from the inside, and to experience what is good about it as well. I've found a branch of the guild that contains many knitters like me - not all internet savvy but all genuinely interested in learning and sharing skills, as well as having a fun time. Not to mention meeting in a heritage building with million dollar harbour views over Circular Quay in Sydney!

Sometimes I feel kind of weird about being a member of a knitting guild, but then I wake up to myself and remember I must feel proud - I love to knit (and crochet) and I love to share my pasttime with other people who love it too - and that is something that, I hope, all members of the guild have in common. So the guild, notwithstanding the concerns I personally hold about it at present, is an excellent way of doing this, as well as sharing and learning from others too (and teaching other people how to knit and passing on the pleasure in that way).

If you have a local knitting guild or similar organisation, are you a member? If not, please think about it - you might not want to get involved in the organisation side of things, which is absolutely fine, as just getting together with other knitters is such a great experience (and no, I'm not going to say it's empowering!!).

Friday, October 09, 2009

FO Friday: Chevron Tote

Ok, well I'm sort of cheating with this one, as it isn't quite finished...but I need your advice on handles, which we'll get to shortly... . I had hoped to have it completely done by today but I kept putting off the actual felting part of the project - I was a bit scared about how it would go, since I have a front loader washing machine, which makes the felting that one bit more unpredictable, as it's harder to check on progress.

Anyhoodle, let's delay no longer! Here we are pre-felted:
And with small red moleskine knitting diary for scale:
Felted Chevron Tote by Leslie Ann Bestor, from Interweave Crochet Winter 2007. A very easy crochet pattern which uses only dc (sc for the Americans) and chain. Big yarn, big hook, a lot of chevroning back and forth, but easy peasy.
Here is post-felting - again with moleskine for scale:

Yarn: Cleckheaton Vintage Hues, shade 1273, 7x50g balls. This is an EXCELLENT yarn for felting (phew!!). Of course, it's discontinued now ... sigh. I'd never knit a garment from it (the colours are too wild!!) but for a felted bag done in chevron stripes, I don't think you can find a more perfect yarn. I LOVE the way it crocheted up and the way it felted!

Hook: 7mm - lovely carved wooden hook from Lincraft (of all places!). No idea if this gave me gauge as hello! felted bag! gauge not really that relevant. I did start with a 6.5mm hook though, and found that was a bit tight for the yarn, so basically just use the size hook that feels right for the fabric.

Time: 3 June 2009 - probably tomorrow (after your feedback...)

Modifications: I made the initial chevron part about 10cm/4" longer than the pattern specified (ie 98cm/38.5" in total) - I didn't think it would hurt if the bag ended up bigger than the pattern specs, it's a bag after all! And more size would give me more felting leeway anyway. This also meant the base had to be correspondingly longer, and slightly wider too. I also added a couple of rows of dc around the top to allow for a turned inside hem (as I'm planning to line the bag as well).
Now, for your views. I bought two sets of handles for this bag at the Craft fair in June - I just couldn't decide which would be best. And I still can't (although I do have a slight favourite). So can you help me?

Should I have:
A: Cane handles - my aesthetic favourite, although they are a less practical choice than
B: Longer (p)leather handles - the colour match is pretty good and they would be more practical, but ... I just don't think they look as good as A!!

What do you think (and why!)