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!!