Monday, February 26, 2007

Baby Fever

With a new niece/nephew on the way, plus some friends in the baby way, baby stuff seems to be on my mind...I have decided to knit a baby blanket for the new family member, as they live in the hottest of hot hot deserts in Australia (think an average of 45 degrees C in summer!) and so woollen clothes are not really an option. But everyone needs blankets, even just for snuggling. So blanket it is - I will keep you up to date. So far the only decision is green & cream Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino.
But in my blog-reading time, I keep finding ever cuter baby stuff! So here are a few things that I just have to share - Mum, these are especially for you!
Baby Shedir: this is just too cute! It is a baby-ised version of the adult Shedir from Knitty, which is also gorgeous.
More baby versions of adult knits.. the Cardigan for Merry, which Amy has beautifully re-designed from Kate Gilbert's A Cardigan for Arwen, which is divine (and on my list!).
Also, I looked at this from Hello Yarns and thought 'pah!', but then had to look twice (and thrice!) thanks to Brooklyn Tweed, who made a kickarse version (see his blog dated 13th Feb).
Also, just to feel inspired and humble, check out his February Baby Sweater (blog date 19 Feb) - the man is a Knit God. I want his Urban Aran Cardigan too. Hmmmmm. Lots of knitting to do.

On a different topic - food! Made Caramelised Onion & Parsnip soup on Friday - it is great! Great! Simon liked it and he doesn't even like parsnip. So basically, just slow cook some onions & garlic in a little olive oil & brown sugar - a heavy pan helps with this. After a while, chuck in some chopped parsnip & a cup of white wine. Let this cook with the lid on, then top up with stock & puree once cooked. I reckon you could leave the wine & use stock from the start, then stir in a little sherry at the end...? Is very very good.
Just put a batch of preserved lemon in the cupboard, cause we are about to finish off the last of the previous batch, to have with some whole trout tonight...mmmmm. But right now there are Anzacs to bake!
I really should go for a run.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Not so great socks

Behold....not very nice socks!

Yarn: Regia 4 ply Jaquard (colourway 5175), bought in Bad Gastein, Austria, far too hastily - I liked the colours but didn't look at the little picture on the back that showed what pattern it would knit up into. In fact, it is interesting how much harder buying yarn in German is.

Needles: 2.75mm aluminium dpns.
I really don't like these much - I think the colours are lovely (this pic has them about right, they are quite muted and wintery), but I don't like the pattern. Fun to knit up, but not for me. Interestingly, I decided to rib the legs and I like this much better - breaking the pattern up into more random looking stripes suits me better!

These are my first toe-up socks, and there are bits I love about this way of knitting socks, and bits that are just no good.

First the good bits -
I love this toe! I did a crochet cast on, and knit two rows either side to start with, and I love how there are no seams or knots or anything around my toes! It is so so comfy, and I don't feel like my toes are going to poke out through the sides. The decreases are nice & neat, and the whole thing works. Also, it is super handy to be able to knit without a pattern - just knitting to fit my foot worked heaps better, and these socks fit (unlike my other socks!). They are great.

No good bits -
a first short-row heel, and it is not pretty. I don't think I fully understood the double-wrap thing, and ended up with reasonable holes, leading up to a giant hole (which I have fixed in some sort of fashion). You can still see the smaller holes here. They are ok - nothing to worry about too much, but I much prefer the heel-flap method - looks so much tidier. I have done a bit more research and found a number of ways to try & tidy up short-row heels, and it seems that this problem is not limited to me, so I will probably try again one day. The only other thing I don't like is casting off around the calf - the cast on is much more comfy than having a slightly tighter cast off - although I cast off pretty loose. Anyway, I think I can live with them, and I would really only wear them around the house or under boots anyway.
But I think that from now on it will be solid or striped sock yarn for me. Interestingly, Simon is even slightly interesting in having a pair now...he will just have to wait for the next projects to finish! Am going to swatch for Anemoi mitten gauge today - wish me luck!

Friday, February 23, 2007

Eye Candy Friday (4)

How I love hyacinths....

so many small, waxy flowers

with that beautiful darker stripe down the centre of each petal...

and those glorious green swords of leaves...

and our house smells like heaven

Thursday, February 22, 2007

new stuff...

Here is the yarn that Simon's mum sent me for Christmas - sorry about the drab background, but it was snowing the day I tried to take the pic and the light was terrible! The colour is about right though....

As you can see it is Paton's Jet wool & alpaca blend.

Also, a non-knitting craft finished object or cushion covers! The ones in the house we are renting were a bit nasty, and while these are not to my normal taste, they do suit the house & the curtains - and they are kind of velour-ey and cuddly! Not brilliantly made but sufficient for a house that we are not putting heaps of effort into. You can't see the backs as I have to go & buy buttons on the weekend to fasten them! But the fronts look ok.

Also - another craft! Wood splitting! great for the stress release! Although it is a great shot of the nasty end of the garden! That junk isn't all ours I promise!!

Sunday, February 18, 2007


Well, I have had a bit of a reading binge in the last few weeks. I finished John Berendt's 'The City of Falling Angels' the other week, which was interesting. Not interesting in terms of content - although probably made more interesting by the fact that we are off to Venice in a few weeks, but interesting in terms of how it reads.

Basically, it is a journal-style view of Venice, documenting a period of time when Berendt was living there. But it feels like a cheap, gossipy view. It is very 'high life' - these are not people you are ever going to meet, nor are you likely to see many of the buildings (at least from the inside). Probably this is just a personal dislike of style thing - nothing actually wrong with teh book, but I would have preferred more about Venice & its history and less of the bitchy gossip of who did what to whom.

Then I had two days without a new book! Gasp! I read some journal articles instead, which I guess is probably good.

Then after a quick trip to the local second-hand book shop, got my hands on a copy of Umberto Eco's 'Baudolino'. I had bought a hard-cover copy of this for my mum a few years ago, as she really liked Name of the Rose (like me), but never got round to reading it. I am glad in a way that I waited as this was a great book to wallow in and take time over. It is much more 'readable' than NotR, with notably fewer sections in languages other than English! There is also a lovely aspect of the 'newness' of English. Even better, however, was reading this having previously read Mandeville's Travels (also known as the Travels of Sir John Mandeville) . I would say that if you are going to read Baudolino, read Mandeville near to it (before, during, after - shouldn't matter much), it really gave alot of it a more honest resonance. I think it would be pretty easy to label much of the book as odd or fantastic, without the knowledge that people were told and believed much of it in the 1300's. According to Wikipedia, Christopher COlumbus had a copy of Mandeville's Travels on his boat as a reference book! The book is like the original Lonely Planet for travellers to the east, except it was even less factual than good old LP (think unicorns, men with only one foot that they hop on and use as an umbrella, phoenixs, anthropophagi (men with no heads but mouths on their stomachs) and all sorts of wonderful stuff (there are some prints at this museum of hoaxes site). A must read in itself, but irresistable when read with Baudolino. Highly, highly recommended, this book rocks. Eco at some of his most accessible and fun!

For more info & reviews see Wikipedia , Powells , and Reviews of Books.

Unfortunately, finishing this once again leaves me bookless. Time for some re-reading I think.

Thursday, February 08, 2007


Terrible title. Sorry.
Well, just an update on the dreaded vest. I ended up removing the ribbing around the neckline (almost all of it anyway) & basting it on where it looked good, then sewing back on & voila! It is fixed. So much panic for naught. The stitching isn't as neat as the basting makes it way harder (who would have thought) but at least it is wearable. It is now sitting on the table waiting for a wash & block. Given that I am working from home today due to snow (!) this will probably happen at lunchtime. Yay!
Now...for that next project! I have some sock yarn - might do some toe-up socks? I really wanna start Anemoi mittens but need new needles...maybe order them today. & Simon's mum sent late Xmas presents which arrived yesterday - I got yarn! Lovely Patons Jet wool & alpaca blend in a beautiful dusky pink. There were two parcels, and first I thought I got 3 balls - but turns out I got 5! So thinking maybe a shrug would be good...been looking at them for a while as my trashy black one bought for not much in Ireland is falling apart. ANd they are very handy. Hmmmm.....
Maybe socks first.

Secret Pal 10!

Yay! Secret Pal 10 Time!
And so here is my questionnaire.....

This turns out to be a bit embarrasing at times, but here 'tis:
1. What is/are your favorite yarn/s to knit with? What fibers do you absolutely *not* like?
I prefer natural fibres - wool, alpaca, cashmere, less so cotton. Don't like synthetics, sparkly things, novelty yarns. Am truly hooked on Rowan yarns.

2. What do you use to store your needles/hooks in?
ummmm...a plastic bag. Really.

3. How long have you been knitting & how did you learn? Would you consider your skill level to be beginner, intermediate or advanced?
I learned to knit when I was about 7, from my mum. I mostly knitted cat blankets (I wasn't into dolls, & was ok at knitting squares). I didn't do much knitting - preferred embroidery as a child & quilting as I got older. Started again with a jumper in my honours year of study in 1999, and did a few bits and pieces until getting back into it in 2005. I am probably on the beginners side of intermediate, I guess, and very much self-taught in terms of anything other than straight knitting
4. Do you have an Amazon or other online wish list?

5. What's your favorite scent?
Ohhh...tricky. I wear Romance & L'eau D'Issey. I love lavender. I prefer 'real' smells (e.g., oil, dried flowers, etc.) to synthetic fragrances.

6. Do you have a sweet tooth? Favorite candy?
Yeah, kinda. I do like sweet things, but I don't crave them. I like chocolate (white and dark especially!), coffee & chocolate together, and turkish delight especially!

7. What other crafts or Do-It-Yourself things do you like to do? Do you spin?
I used to make beaded jewellery but have fallen out of that since we moved to the UK - I think lack of vicinity to a bead shop & new knitting obsession! I occasionally sew, but mostly just collect fabrics that I promise I will do something with! I would like to learn to spin one day. We are about to start our allotment, and I love making preserves.

8. What kind of music do you like? Can your computer/stereo play MP3s? (if your buddy wants to make you a CD)
I studied as a musician at uni for a few years, and my true love is classical (orchestral, particularly russian & this century) but I have very eclectic tastes & like 90's rock, metal, klezmer, folk, jazz of almost all flavours, some electronica....just not pop! Oh, and MP3s are fine.

9. What's your favorite color(s)? Any colors you just can't stand?
Well, I think my wardrobe would say green. I also like blue, but don't wear so much. Tend more towards muted colours than jewel tones. Like red, pink, browns. DOn't like yellow - makes me look odd! I tend to wear plain things, not patterns.

10. What is your family situation? Do you have any pets?
Live with my dearest boy, but sadly no pets due to temporary status in the uk. There is a squirrel that visits our back yard, thats about it.

11. Do you wear scarves, hats, mittens or ponchos?
Since arriving in the u.k., yes (except ponchos - haven't quite adjusted to them yet). A big fan of the scarf.

12. What is/are your favorite item/s to knit?
Mmmm, usually whatever I am planning to knit next! I like making hats, but have run out of people to give them to! I really like cabling.

13. What are you knitting right now?
Socks. My first go at toe-up. They are ok. They are for me! The short-row heels aren't as tidy as I would like & the self-patterning yarn isn't really me, but does make it fun.

14. Do you like to receive handmade gifts?
Yes! Of Course!

15. Do you prefer straight or circular needles? Bamboo, aluminum, plastic?
Umm, I don't really have a preference for straight or circular - I use them as needed. Only ever used aluminium until this Christmas when I was given a set of lovely wood 4mm dpns - they are gorgeous! I keep trying to find things to make on them! Am totally persuaded of the value of wood needles. Am about to purchase some bamboo dpns to have a play with too.

16. Do you own a yarn winder and/or swift?

17. How old is your oldest UFO?
Belive it or not, I don't have UFOs! I have managed to be super disciplined since arriving in the UK - I came with half a jumper and have just worked on one thing at a time since then. It suits me and my obsessive ways just fine.

18. What is your favorite holiday?
I think this is meant in the more American sense of which festive season do I like - has to be New Years Eve. If it means holidays like vacations - my favourite is always the one coming up!

19. Is there anything that you collect?
No - I am more likely to throw things out than collect them! I always end up thinking how I just have to move everything with me everytime we go somewhere else...! So practical!

20. Any books, yarns, needles or patterns out there you are dying to get your hands on? What knitting magazine subscriptions do you have?
Again, I am terribly dull. I don't have any subscriptions, and only one knitting book that I received for Christmas - The Stitch & Bitch one. I would really like to learn more Fair Isle - especially the more traditional european styles, and keep reading about how great Elizabeth Zimmerman is. I really like Vogue Knitting mag, but only have two from about 5 years ago! I look at the Rowan ones a bit, but don't have any. I am also obsessed with Eunny Jang's patterns but they are a real challenge! In terms of yarns, I would love to have a play with hand-dyed yarn - it looks so very pretty.

21. Are there any new techniques you'd like to learn?
Sure! I would like to be better at stranded knitting (although I don't wear that style much), and maybe have a go at Intarsia (although again, not really my style). I am really keen to have a go at lace knitting - also a bit fussy for my wardrobe but I think I could incorporate a scarf or shawl....!

22. Are you a sock knitter? What are your foot measurements?
I am a novice sock knitter, & still learning & looking for my ideal sock pattern. I love wearing hand knitted socks! Foot measurements are: ball of foot is 8.5 inches/19cm around, foot is 10 1/4 inches/ 26cm long.

23. When is your birthday?
December 28th

So there. Shows just how dull I really am!

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Token Picture

A picture - cause there are too many words on this page now.

I know that lots of folks in the northern hemisphere think squirrels are pests, but we are still enamoured of them. So very very cute. And foreign. Also, sitting amongst our snowdrops & crocuses posing for the camera. Wouldn't get a wombat doing that!

The best laid plans

Right here, there is meant to be a picture of my lovely new Fable Gilmore vest. Supposed to be. But isn't. After really concentrating (well, as much concentrating as you can on knit one purl one rib and miles of stockingette) and not making any obvious mistakes and even getting the confusing decreases right after writing them out (!) and frogging the armhole ribbing twice so it fitted nicely (with not too much swearing, and all onthe one night), and 15 rows of 270 stitches of k1p1 rib blah blah blah, it has problems.
I spent the weekend patiently, neatly and against all my instincts slowly seaming & blocking & making up as required. It looked great. Really great. THen I put it on. The band at the back of the neck sticks out at right angles, and somehow the front makes my boobs look weird. It kind of sits nicely on the neck, then falls open to its widest point right on the old boobies, then back in nicely to a lovely low V. I am sure this is my fault, and I am almost sure that it is a bit big. Maybe I am no longer a medium.
I know I should take the band off and have another play with it, but I can't face it. I am going to do something sneaky but tidy at the back instead. If that doesn't work, then maybe I will take the band off. I don't know what to do about the front - I am hoping that another wash & block & a bit of a press with the bands on (it was blocked without bands initially) will make it look better. Other than that, I have a really cool pea brooch with green pea beads in a silver shell - it might serve a useful purpose here!
I have been desperately trying to convince myself that I still love it, but it is sitting sadly in the corner of the couch, and occasionally receives nasty looks.
I had an absolutely mad day, and am going to go and have a bath & a glass of wine. And maybe pistachios. And a book.
Then maybe I will play with the band.
Then maybe I will try it on with all my good clothes & see if I can make it work.
Then maybe a photo. Maybe.