Friday, January 29, 2010

Cooking challenge

So last week I didn't do my cooking challenge, for various reasons. Am making up for it this week by making two new recipes (although I must admit, one of them hardly counts as a recipe, or really for that matter, cooking). Both are from Nigella Lawson's How to Eat.

First up, Pea Risotto. I've never made risotto before. All that stirring really put me off, I suppose. But I liked the sound of this and since part of this challenge is to try new things, I thought I'd give it a whirl.
It was really very good! I think I could have cooked it a tad longer, but I was running out of time. And the constant stirring really wasn't that bad (listening to the Australian Open tennis in the background probably helped!). I would definitely make this again, especially as it basically uses ingredients that you would most likely already have in your pantry and fridge/freezer.

Next, a dessert. I do love a dessert! Roasted Sugar-sprinkled Peaches. Here's the before (I used white sugar on one and brown sugar on the other):

And the after:
Yum!! I think brown sugar works better, although they both tasted very similar. These are so easy, all you do is cut the peaches in half, remove the stone, put some dots of butter and a teaspoon or so of sugar in the hole and on the flesh of the peach, bake for 20 mins in the oven, and serve with icecream. SO EASY! I will definitely be making these again! Probably this weekend!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Babette-ing along...

I've been pretty much obsessively crocheting my Babette squares for most of this month. So far I've used 6 balls of yarn and have made almost 3/4 of the required squares.

I decided I'd lay them out today to give myself an approximate size for the finished blanket. I didn't try to organise by colour or anything, just used the layout guide in the pattern to set up the two longest external strips.

I'm pretty darn pleased with my colour choices, I have to say!! (I've used 3 different Regia Kaffe Fasset Design Line sock yarn colours, 4251, 4253 and 5261) (although they look a bit more blue-er and washed out than they actually are!)

I think I will add an extra strip to make it a tad bigger. As it is now, it will be about 87cm/34" along the shorter side, and about 95cm/37.5" along the longer side. An extra strip will add another 20cm/8", which I think will be better. Of course, these measurements are all pre-seaming and pre-blocking, but I'm not sure that will make a lot of difference given I'm using machine-wash sock yarn?

But I am loving making these squares. An extra strip just means more of them! Weeeeeeeeeeee! (shhhh, don't mention the extra seaming!)

Friday, January 22, 2010


Lately I've been starting lots of new projects willy-nilly, without having finished anything already on the needles. Very undisciplined. Which is pretty much the way I like it, I have to admit. Not that that is necessarily a good thing. A bit of discipline comes in handy for whatever you are doing, knitting included. Especially if you actually want finished objects out it.

So I'm happy to present my first FO of 2010. I only procrastinated for a day before sewing on the buttons - all 9 of them! (Yes, Nine! Nine buttons on a baby item!!)

This is Pebble. It's a baby vest pattern based on Jared Flood's Cobblestone jumper. It was designed to use handspun yarn and it completely unbuttons down one side and on one shoulder, making it easier (I hope...) to put on the baby.

(this is the best colour representation - the rest of the pictures wash out the green a little)

And since I happen to have a gorgeous skein of handspun - made by Donni from Pigeonroof Studios fibre and gifted to me for Christmas - I thought "Perfect!". And it was. It's so lovely to knit with handspun yarn, seeing the way the yarn looks, the different feel of it in your hands, how the colours come out. It's a lovely experience.
And makes a lovely garment too, I think!

Pattern: Pebble by Nikol Lohr. This is a free pattern, and is one size only, but could easily be sized up by adding extra stitches when you cast on. It's knit all in one piece, so very easy. As my gauge was off, and on the advice of the mothers in my SnB group that all baby things ride up, I made it longer in the body by adding 2 extra buttonhole repeats (20 rows), and made the garter top part (armholes etc) slightly longer too. It does seem a bit skinny and long, but I think it will stretch outwards and fit nicely. I hope so anyway!
Sticks: 3.75mm Addi circular. Haven't use the Addi's for a while but all my KP tips were in use, so I pulled out the Addi. It was nice for this project! I didn't need really sharp tips.
Yarn: Donni's handspun, using Pigeonroof Studios fibre. I used approx 62g of a 100g skein, so I reckon I'll have enough for a little hat too. Nice!

Time: 8 January - 21 January 2010. It's a much quicker project than this timeline indicates, I have mostly been Babetting this month! You could easily do it in a couple of days, making it a good last-minute project for a new baby in your life!
I really like this little project. It's great for showing off the beauty of handspun yarn, is seamless, and it's unisex - you can easily pretty it up for a girl through yarn choice or by embellishment (if you so desired!). I'm looking forward to seeing Teddy in it in a couple of months.

Friday, January 15, 2010

what to cook, what to cook?

I have all these cookbooks:

And yet hardly use any of them...with the exception of Nigella's How to Be a Domestic Goddess, of course! (and Stephanie Alexander's The Cook's Companion -what an essential for every kitchen!). And I got two more lovely ones for Christmas (thanks Bells and DrK!).

It was really the addition of the new books which made me decide I really must expand my evening meal repertoire - by using my books! So I plan on making a new dish (or side dish at least) every week, at least until May...who knows what will happen after that!

This of course requires some pre-planning for the grocery shopping, but that's hardly a bad thing, if it means less wastage in the end (which I'm hoping will be the case).
So this week I made something relatively easy, and quite good - husby is always happy to have a vegetarian meal from time to time: spinach and feta pies, from one of my new books - Donna Hay's Seasons. This is a lavishly styled book, with recipes organised by each of the four seasons, which is quite handy, I must say!
The recipe is quite straightforward, but I didn't really enjoy working with the filo pastry - it was my first time - and I found it a bit of a pain. I wouldn't be putting these on my weekly cooking roster, but I will make them again I think. Very nice with a bit of my mum's tomato relish on top and for husby's lunchbox the next day!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

SHOESday: 1 in 12

Last Thursday started innocently enough ... DrK came up to Sydney for the day (and night), we met up in Kinokuniya (and did not buy any knitting books) and went to SnB. And it all went up from there!

Margarita arrived and was wearing the MOST DIVINE shoes! OMG! Red! Patent! Criss-cross straps! All things I cannot resist! And when we found out she bought them from the nearby Camper store, on sale, DrK and I looked at the shoes, looked at each other, and almost agreed telepathically that we were heading there when SnB finished (well, the first half of SnB, before we change locations to a nearby hotel bar).
With almost indecent haste, we packed up our knitting and almost ran to the Camper store. And when we spotted the Shoes, I think choirs of angels were heard in the background. They had the Shoes! In both our sizes!
And I knew immediately that they would be mine.

DrK, although she felt the same love, took a little more convincing. I discovered from the sales assistant that the two pairs of the Shoes (in our sizes!) were the last ones in Australia, and that Australia had only been sent 12 pairs of these Shoes in all. So whispers of "1 in 12", "practically unique", "red!" "patent" and the like, accompanied with much giggling like a schoolgirl, ensured that we both left the store accompanied by a bag each with the Shoes!
So good! So red! So patent! So comfortable! So cool! So goes with everything!
So excellent.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Oh no you didn't...

But first, a quick community service announcement:

The vegemite (or peanut butter, nutella, jam, mustard, whatever floats your boat) smiley MUST be performed with a knife and then spread on your toast or whatever! Using your finger (or other bodily part) and eating it is just disgusting and childish!! Heh!
Onto today's post...

It often surprises me when a pattern which I've seen around a lot, and not particularly liked at first glance, grows on me until I decide I like it so much I want to make it. It happened to me with the clapotis and the monkey socks - I've now made 1.5 of each of these patterns. And no doubt others too. I don't know what it is that makes me change my mind, whether it is just simply seeing everyone else make it and not wanting to feel left out - or thinking well, it must be good if so many others have made it, I should see what I'm missing out on - or whether it is seeing versions in colours or yarns which appeal to me, or what it is.

And so it is with another pattern - the Babette Blanket. I suppose I have always quite liked this crochet blanket, but was always scared of getting the colour combinations wrong. With 17 different colours (of Koigu no less!!) in the original pattern, and a relatively random organisation of different sized crochet squares, it has a lot of potential for looking great - if the right colour combinations are used - or pretty ugly - if you get the colours wrong. I never had enough confidence in my colour choosing ability to do it right, and so this pattern was admired but not enough to commit to as a project.

Unti one day in December...there I was, innocently reading blogs as I do every day, and I came to Make Do and Mend. Mooncalf had a simply INSPIRED idea to crochet a hexagon blanky using Regia Kaffe Fassett self-striping sock yarn - thus eliminating the need to change colours every row (AND weave in multiple ends) - AND with the added bonus that you know the colours will work together, because, hello - KF is a colour genius! Oh, and did I mention it's also machine washable yarn!

OMG! How had I not thought of this before?? Babette was now possible! I just had to pick which KF yarn colourway to use! I had two balls in the stash already! Perfect cot blanky for Teddy! Hurrah!

And I was off and crocheting. Before I knew it, I had a ball's worth of squares done:

The colours obviously don't necessarily change when the new row starts, but I can live with that!

But then slight disaster...I couldn't get more of this colour from a most excellent bargain yarn store in the UK (I almost don't want to give away this super special secret, but I will...) Kemps Wool Shop. They were selling the Regia KF yarn for GBP1.20!! That's around AUD$2.40 right now! (Compared to a price of somewhere between AUD$10-12 in yarn stores here!). I felt slightly guilty about buying it from o/s, but hey, when I can get 10 balls of the yarn for AUD$36 (including postage!!) as opposed to $100-120, can you really blame me!
So I checked each available colour on various websites, and I found two of them which I thought would tone in nicely with the colour I'd already used, as well as with each other (fingers crossed). And so I put in my order (I may have ordered for someone else too, for the same reason - but I'll let her share the story at the right time!) and was so pleased when it arrived, my gamble had paid off! Both new colours contain elements of the original colour, as well as of each other! Woo hoo!
So now I just have to make about 100 more squares, sew them all together, and crochet around the edge. In the next 3 months or so...can I do it?
I say: Yes I Can!

Monday, January 04, 2010

Please tell me...

Please tell me I'm not the only one who does this:
when faced with a brand new jar of vegemite!

Friday, January 01, 2010

Well, hello there 2010!

Didn't you sneak up on me so quietly and quickly! I hardly know where 2009 went. I'm not so great at making any groundbreaking reflections on where I've been or how I've changed but I thought it might be interesting to look back on what I've achieved knitting-wise over the past 12 months, because that at least is something I have an actual physical record of, thanks to my ever-faithful moleskine knitting diary.
And of course, the end of the year means the final stash honesty post for 2009 - which I think I'll get out of the way first!
This month, I was pretty good. Two ins, both sock yarn:
My Yarntini self-striping club yarn for the month - ginger ice stripe!
And a little present to myself, since I am weak and Sundara offered free shipping. More lovely orange yarn!
The outs weren't that huge, but for the first time in some time, I used more yarn than I bought! Hurrah! I knew I could do it! Stash negative for December! (let's just ignore the year end total shall we...)
In: 4 x 50g balls
Out: 5 x 50g balls!!! -1 for December! party time!
YTD: 217.5 x 50g balls added to the stash ... if I was the type to make resolutions, I might resolve to knit from the stash. What a shame I've decided I'm not that sort of person!!
As for the knitting year in review, well, I managed to finish 34 projects (let's also not mention the 43 projects I started during the same period!!). I'm crap at doing those fancy mosaics, so I grabbed all my 2009 FOs out and found I don't have anywhere near 34. Looking back over the year, I was a bit surprised to see I'd made more things for others (not counting husby) than I have for husby and me. I guess I wouldn't have thought that was the case, as I always seem to be starting stuff for myself! (I guess the secret is in the finishing...or lack thereof, when it comes to things for myself!).
So, remaining at my house:
5 pairs of socks (L-R: Bartholomew's Tantalising Socks, Husby's stripey socks, Embossed Leaves Socks, Buried Treasure Socks and Cauchy Socks - 4 of these from my personal sock club)
Accessories (L-R: RoseRed beret, Stash neckwarmer, Endpaper Mitts and Ishbel underneath)
And garments (L-R: Liesl, Pearl Buck Swing Jacket, February Lady Sweater, Loppem and Bruegel). I started the year with 2 handknitted garments, now I have 7! I'm pretty pleased with that effort!
Finally, one of the things I love about the new year is this:
Breaking out the new knitting diary! I never rip the plastic off until the new year starts...and now I have! Weeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!
Happy New Year everyone! May you have enough storage space for your stash, and enough project bags for your WIPS!