Friday, September 21, 2007

New toys

Well, there has been talk around here of knitting - and its true. Somehow the knitting has overtaken the photography, so there is a bit of a backlog, but here are my Monkeys! (apologies to Esmerelda for taking so long!) I really don't need to say anything about them, being the ubiquitous internet-knits of the season. However, they were great fun to knit, and a good first lace project. (Sorry about the indoor pics - limited sunshine for the last few days!).

The yarn is lovely hand-dyed stuff from Fearless Fibers, in the Chocolate Pink Cherry colourway (it really does look like a mashed up Cherry Ripe!), and I had a fantastic time knitting with it. The variability made me want to keep knitting, but it was subtle and with very little colour pooling. This is a great yarn! I held off knitting it for a bit as it was a huge skein of yarn, enough to make knee socks, but I just really liked this pattern, and I think the yarn works with it really well (although S thinks they are better named 'inside out Monkeys') . There is enough for some baby sized treats left too.

The yarn was a generous gift from my Sound Swap pal Chris, who also introduced me a heap of new music - we actually just took possession today of a CD by The Builders and the Butchers, which was one of the bands on the CD she sent me. My new favourite driving music.

Another gift that I received today was from my Dad! I am waiting for some needles to turn up so I can start a Jo Sharp cardy/jacket, and I would like to have a pin/skewer thing to fasten it (rather than leaving it open as per the pic in the pattern). But I couldn't find many online, and none really that I liked. So I asked my dad, pointed him in the direction of some similar things I liked, and look what arrived in the post....

Aren't they great! Yay for clever dads. They are about 15-20cm long, and work really well. They are made of (from top to bottom in the picture above) teak, celery-top pine, and Tasmanian myrtle. The last two woods are indigenous to Tasmania, and the pine is actually from an offcut from their kitchen benches! The colours are pretty good, although the myrtle is a bit 'pinker' in real life - a wood I really love. He is thinking of making some to sell - any suggestions from you folks out there? Are they too big, too small, too plain? I will put some photos up soon of them in use so you get a better idea of size.

And finally ..... the gorgeous Esmerelda nominated me as:
How cool is that! And I nominate Tikrimari! I love reading her blog - if only she would write more! So here is my nomination for her (hopefully, she will post some more pics of her new puppy!)

Saturday, September 15, 2007


Of course, there were millions of chocolate shops in Belgium, but the window display of this one was phenomenal....
Chocolate Pirates of the Caribbean!

Heee!! Happy Friday!

Monday, September 10, 2007

Berry good

Tis the jam season! Strawberry and greengage. The strawberries were on special at the supermarket because they were a few days past eating best, but ideal for jam. I am not a huge fan of strawberry jam and always have difficulty getting it to set (this time was no exception). But it is tasty enough.

The greengages were bought for eating, but were a bit mushy, so in they went for jam - my first try at greengage jam and it worked a treat! It is lovely, tasty rich jam. I had to do some searching for recipes, and there was some conflict on the net about what to do. Here is what I ended up doing, and it worked well: for every 100g of fruit, add 20ml water, and boil gently like you are stewing fruit. Once it is soft and cooked, add in about equal parts sugar to fruit (although I prefer to add as little sugar as possible, and this worked well at around 10% less sugar than fruit). I also added around 4 pits, 1 per 100g of fruit, for the cooking part (removed before bottling). I cooked this until it reached setting point, and ended up with one full jar and a little extra for immediate eating. Yum! By waiting just a bit for the jam to cool, the fruit setttled throughout the jar well.

A long yarn...

I finished dyeing this yarn a while ago, but haven't got 'round to blogging it. This is my Walnut yarn:

The darker, rustier yarn is the second dyeing, where I used a vinegar rinse prior to the dye bath. I really like the two colours individually, although I am not sure about them paired. They are sitting waiting for inspiration for knitting. Maybe a hat?

This is a gorgeous gift from my upstream Secret Pal, Esmerelda, to say thanks. Such an unexpected and wonderful gift - thank you!! I have been unable to resist and started knitting already! It is a bit of a secret, so I won't show you until it is done (or unravelled in despair!)

Monday, September 03, 2007

Pageant of the Golden Bough

Warning: Picture heavy post (again!) When we arrived in Brugges, we discovered that we were just in time to see the Pageant of the Golden Bough. This pageant occurs every 5 years, and has done since the middle of last century (I have misplaced my little book, so I can't remember exactly, but it is around then). The pageant tells the story of Brugges, using the marriage of some Burgundean nobility (Margaret and someone else!) as a central theme. Initially I was a bit underwhelmed, but I have to say, it was an amazing sight! I have millions of pictures, so I tried to pick just a few of the best. There was even sheep & a weaver! Brugges was a textiles area, so there was lots about fabric and textiles. It was pretty crazy - there were 3 wise men, giants, Norse fables about swan men, King Arthur - the whole gamut!

The pageant walked past us for nearly two hours! There were lots of kids in it, who looked pretty tired, and so many animals that were very well behaved! Some of the horses were spectacular, and fairly highly strung, but it all looked very organised. It was an amazing thing to stumble across. Sometimes the best things about holidays are like that - the things that you happen upon, rather than the tours and plans that you have made.

A return to sewing

Ever since I can remember I have sewn things. The first needlework/craft I did was embroidery, which my Nan taught me. I loved lasy daisies, but most of all, I loved satin stitch. It was great. My nan used to crochet lace edges to my doilies and hankies. I still have a few. But sewing was always there, and as I got to be 12 or so, I started to make my own clothes. Many of my attempts were disasterous, and there were many tantrums and fights with my mum. My memory of sewing from a pattern using a machine is that it was the hardest thing in the world to do. There was just too much to think of, and you had to be able to plan ahead, which apparently I couldn't do very well.
As I got older, I went back to making clothes a few times, mostly when money was hard to come by, and material was cheap. Some of my efforts hung around longer than others, and I still have a few pieces in my wardrobe that are efforts from when I had to do professional placements, but wasn't really earning anything.
I have recently come back to sewing, but not because I don't have any money. This time it is because I can't find the clothes that I like! I know, in this day of mounds of cheap clothes, especially in the UK, you think I would be spoiled for choice. But I am a bit fussy (me?!!!) and I just can't find simple, well made, well fitting clothes that suit me.
So I invested in some lovely cloth, hauled out the poor old uncaredfor machine, and voila!
Now, its not the best picture, I apologise. I wore it alot in Belgium, but being the one with the camera, there aren't any pics (ok, there are pics, but they are 'orrible). I will try and get some next time I wear it. Also, it has a big crease down the middle as I hadn't washed it at this stage. The brown at the bottom is the lining. I am not all that fond of the hem seam, and probably should have slip stitched the hem, but then I wouldn't have been able to wear it! As it is now finished and wearable, I can't see that situation changing. The zip is ok, not terribly tidy, but ok considering I lost my zipper foot (oops!). Anyway, I had fun, I love my new skirt, and now I have a bit more confidence to get onto the other fabric (which is even prettier I think!).

And mum - it goes great with the sandles and little sleeveless top you gave me when I was home!

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Public Art Brussels Style

Warning: Photo heavy post!
I loved Brussels. Every review I read and every person I spoke to warned me that it was a dull city. Maybe I am a dull person, but I thought this city was great. It was a city I could easily live in. There were big plazas and small laneways, a wide range of cuisine, everyone eating outside until the wee hours, fun and frolics without public drunkenness, a great pride in local produce, funky small boutiques and outlets, and not so many high street stores. It was clean, engaged the old with the new, and was generally a great place to be (except don't even think of driving around here - it is madness).
Anyway, there was quite a bit of public art, the most interesting of which took the form of many large, building sized murals.
And some was just odd...