Archive for May, 2009

Lucky Girl

I’ve been a lucky girl recently. Not only with my awesome birthday gifts, or my fab family.  No, I’ve been given some cool stuff too…

My friend Anthea has about 35 feijoa trees on her wee lifestyle block. She has been valiantly stewing, baking, and preserving them (jam, chutney, sauce), as well as taking some on her jaunts around the country.  When we moved in here nearly 5 years ago, one of the first trees I planted was a (supposedly) self-fertile feijoa. 5 years on and not one fruit. It’s nicely bushy and thriving, but I think I should plant a mate for it if I want any produce. So, the lovely Anthea has been providing us with feijoas every time I see her. Mmmm, feijoa crumble! Fresh feijoas! Delicious. I feel very lucky 🙂

Yesterday I tried something a bit different, which I thought I’d share with you:
Feijoa, Passionfruit and White Chocolate Muffins

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2 C flour

2T Baking Powder

3/4c caster sugar

1/2 c oil

1 c milk

2 eggs

4 fejoas, peeled and chopped roughly

1 passionfruit, scooped out

1/4 c white chocolate buttons, broken up

Mix all ingredients except fruit and white chocolate well.  Add fruit and chocolate, stir.  Put in muffin tins and bake until cooked (15-18 min) in 200 degree oven.  Enjoy!

I say 4 feijoas because I used more, and it was too many. I don’t think they would keep very well with so much feijoa in them. Although I might never find out, as there were only 3 left at the end of the day. Thankfully I can blame that on having guests around!

I will definitely be making these again, but without the passionfruit as that was the last of ours until summer again.

In addition to this bounty, I have been nominated for not one, but two blog awards. Now, being new to blogging, these are the first ones I’ve been nominated for. So I hope I’m doing this right.

The first one is the Imagination Award, which I was nominated for by the lovely Tink’n’Frog.

 

Here is how her friend Darcy described it:

This Award was created by Bella and Ces in honour of their friend Renee, an incredible lady who in the face of a frightening life battle is tackling each day with great spirit and courage.
Here is what Bella says of this award: “this is a brand new award and I have the pleasure and honor of spreading the seed, watching it grow. I hope it finds it’s way to those who are like Renee: the acorn, becoming a tall and sturdy oak, giving acorns…”

Now, I was chosen as she was rather taken with one of my  Thirteen Things “I’m a cloth-nappy-using, tandem-extended-breastfeeding, vegetable-gardening, recycling, non-hippy freak.”

Now, at the moment I’m raising more of a crop of weeds than vegetables – hazard of the fallow season combined with two-essays-due-in-two-weeks neglect I’m afraid. But the rest remains true…
So, in the spirit of the award, I really have to nominate the lovely Leanne . This incredible woman has her own chooks, an amazing vege patch, and more fruit trees than you can shake a stick at. And her crafting (!) She makes the  most incredible clothes for her children, and has generously made available a number of awesome free patterns for modern cloth nappies. You rock Leanne!
The second award I was nominated for is the Imagination award, thanks to the lovely Amybel.
The Rules:
Tell 5 things about your crafts you like the most…what inspires you to make home made gifts.
Send this award to 5 bloggers.
So, 5 things 🙂
1. Value for money! You can afford to be more generous when you add your time to the raw materials.
2. Thoughtfulness.  When someone crafts a gift, you know it is the result of lots of thought about them.
3. Satisfaction. There is something emminently satisfying about making things for others.
4. Challenge. Time pressure, the pressure to create something beautiful and worthy of gifting is a good thing.
5. Creativity. I love putting thought and time into chosing patterns, yarns, colours and themes together.
And the easy part… 5 creative bloggers to nominate. Well, you are an amazing bunch of women and such talented crafters, so this is easy!
So, I nominate:
Gabes at SweetP
Sharon at Sharonnz
Christine at Purdy Peas
Told you I was lucky!

Birthday girl or mutant?

I had a birthday this week. And, lucky me, I have a husband who is well trained. He *asked* me what I wanted, and top of my list were two sock knitting books. I told you I was addicted to sock knitting, eh?

First on my wish list was Sock Innovation by Cookie A. I drooled over the patterns when it first came out, and having seen some finished products on Ravelry, I’m still drooling now. Only one problem – it’s sold out on Amazon! So, this part of my birthday present will be delivered in a couple of months time. One way to prolong the celebrations.

And second on my list was Wendy Johnson’s Socks From The Toe Up.  This is newly published, so I thought that I could offer a bit of a review.

First, this is a beautiful book, with lovely clear illustrations, each sock is pictured numerous times, taken from different angles. The patterns in the book are intended for solid of semi-solid yarns and are pictured in a range of lovely colours and beautiful yarns. The layout of the book is logical and accessible. Beginning with a section on techniques, it then moves through three basic sock patterns, and then onto sections on lace socks, gansey socks, cabled socks and sportweight socks. Within each of these sections there is a range of patterns, and all begin with the most simple patterns first and get progressively more challenging.  This allows the knitter to choose wisely, and gives a sense of the difficulty involved.

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And what review would be complete without me throwing a sock pattern onto the needles? I had been thinking about casting on the Noro sock yarn I bought a couple of weeks ago, and wanted  a stripy pair of socks. So, I cast on one of the basic sock patterns, the Gusset Heel Basic Socks.  It is a simple knit with a wide toe and an interesting gusset heel rather than a heel flap, not something that I have come across before. 

Now, here’s the mutant part.

The pattern says to knit the length of the sock 5- 6.5cm shy of the length of your foot before beginning the gusset. Which I did. Yet when I tried it on later, it was too long. I decided I must be a mutant.

Until I finished it and tried it on the other foot. And it fit.

I forgot I have one foot longer than the other.

Mutant.

So, now I have to decide: do I knit the other sock the same length and have it slightly too long, or do I knit it to fit my smaller foot. They are going to be fraternal twins anyway – totally different colour combinations so I think that I might make it a centimeter shorter and embrace my inner mutant.

Aside from this, it is an easy pattern. It would be an excellent pattern for a first-timer, with a Turkish or Judy’s Magic Cast On, simple gusset heel, and not a lot else for challenge. I chose to do a sewn bind off -my first blast at it – which is described in the techniques section. I like this a lot, and see myself using it for my toe up socks. I don’t like the really wide toe though. I think I prefer a narrower toe, but that will be easily remedied.

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I can see that I will be knitting lots of patterns from this book. It’s an excellent buy. And by arriving two months before its competitor, it has the jump.

A good find

When we were in Christchurch, my auntie gave me a wee unfinished jersey for Miss 2.8. Mum and two of my aunties are involved in knitting blankets for an orphanage (shamefully I can’t remember which country it is in right now).  Part of their mission is to score as much cheap DK weight yarn as they can to knit with – Mum did 4 single bed sized blankets herself last year, which you can imagine chews through wool rather quickly! So they scour second hand shops for jerseys they can pull apart, and suitable 100% wool sold cheaply.

In one of the bags my auntie picked up, there was this wee jersey…

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Now, I’m not particularly into picture knits – it’s certainly not something that I would knit myself – far too much effort  I’m more into cables etc. But Miss 2.8 loves it, as you can imagine. She loves cats!

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But it did get me thinking, what on earth would possess someone to give away a nearly completed jersey? When I got it, it was all knit, and sewn up all except for one side seam and one arm. Oh, and a few hours worth of sewing in ends to do (Sigh!). I can’t help but wonder if some little boy or girl suddenly stopped liking cats. Or if by the time the jersey was finished, the intended recipent had started high school…

I don’t know what the jersey’s story is, and probably never will. But I have one grateful wee girl here. Not grateful enough to model it for the camera, but grateful nonetheless.

Command Performance

Okay, so a command performance of the Whisper Cardigan. Here it is modelled. No way were these going to be outside – only 9 degrees today!

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And a chance to show off my cool new t-shirt too. I picked up a couple of different prints of these t’s in Christchurch.  They are made from Organic Cotton, and bought at none other than The  Warehouse! Cost? $22.99, buy one get one half price. Cool eh! The other one I got was a silver fern print on grey background. Also seriously funky 🙂

Back to the cardigan… I knit the back an extra inch longer, making it nine inches, as I like my cardigans long.

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And since we’re still here, from the side…

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When Interweave published this pattern, they also included it in their Knitting Daily gallery, which shows the sample cardigan on several models. It was absolutely slated by many people, which was at odds with its popularity on Ravelry. I think that I will get masses of use out of this, once the weather is better. I love the fact that you can still show off the top underneath – that’s one of my pet peeves about wearing sweaters and cardigans. You might never see the top underneath, a pain when you make an effort with your outfit. Whisper doesn’t have this problem.  And as I said earlier, I think a second Whisper will be joining my wardrobe once the weather is warmer.

FO: Whisper Cardigan

Picture 2162 NaKniSweMoDo #7 is complete.

When my Spring Interweave Knits was purchased, we were enjoying warm autumn days, so the delightfully airy Whisper Cardigan appealed to me. I thought it would be great for spring and autumn.  I got mired a couple of times on this project though, so now that it’s finished, it’s much too cold to wear it!  Yup, we are in the middle of another cold snap!

So, excuse the lack of modelled pics please, I just couldn’t bring myself to take off my long-sleeved merino top to take pics! I’ll update you with pics later.

Anyway, the pattern is Whisper Cardigan. I knit it in sock yarn – some black Patonyle, which is 80% wool, 20% nylon. It was intended to be from stash, but the reality is this… it took about 220g, and, well, I picked up a bit more black at sale prices in Christchurch last weekend, so I now have another 180g of the same yarn in my stash. Oops!

The good bits: it’s an easy pattern, casting on in the round on one sleeve, decreasing every 8 rows, then going onto straight needles across the shoulders like a shrug before going back to the round for the second arm. Then you pick up the stitches for the ribbed section, and finally cast off the collar, and continue on the lower body stitches. You increase to create the drapey bits at the front.  Very cool pattern, and not too boring to knit.

But the bad bits… a couple of weeks ago, DH got all excited about cleaning his computer desk, and somehow in the melee, a huge (10cm or bigger) pull emerged in my unfinished Whisper.  It was made worse by the loose weave – this is 4 ply knit on 4.5mm needles after all! I spent at least 2 hours trying to fix it gently tugging this way and that, with various implements – knitting needle, crochet hook etc. I sought help on Ravelry, read articles on Knitty, and ultimately ended up cutting it in half and kitchener grafting it back together (the pull was on the straight part of the back). And to be honest, it was hard to get it to look great. It’s acceptable, but not much better 😦  The other part that was difficult was the motivation to knit 3 inches of 1×1 rib with rounds of 300 stitches plus. But that’s just lazy old me!

Despite all of this, and my disinclination to model it, I do like both the pattern and the finished garment. I chose black because I wear a lot of black, and I think this will get lots of wear when I head back to work. I would love to knit another in brighter colours. Perhaps when the weather warms up.

Knitting and Adventures

After five lovely nights away, the girls and I are back home.  A couple of months ago I mentioned that I was going to go on a Knitter’s Weekend, and this was the reason for our trip. We were fortunate that a) it was held in my parent’s hometown and b) that I scored cheap flights, making it all possible.

It was lovely staying with Mum and Dad, and catching up with my PIL too. FIL headed off overseas the day after we arrived, but we enjoyed a lovely dinner with them both before he left, and we had a great time with MIL on Saturday morning at the museum cafe, crunching leaves in Hagley Park and browsing at the Arts Centre afterwards. Miss 2.9 delighted me with her recall of previous visits, saying to Nana in the car “Oh, I had fun last time I was here!” and telling me where to turn for Granny and Grandad’s driveway on our trip out there.  Miss 11 months delighted her grandparents with daring displays of walking – although Nana counted to 28 steps at one stage, they were more like a shuffle and she was still only half way across the room! Daddy noticed she is gaining in confidence now though, and I think we will ce calling her a walker soon.

The Knitter’s Weekend didn’t exactly go as planned for me though. I was slow to register as I was waiting for my friend to decide what workshops she was taking, so we could co-ordinate. She ended up pulling out, and somehow my emailed registration form was never received. So when I turned up for my first workshop, I found it has been cancelled.  I was disappointed as it meant I missed out – they were running the same option the next day but I had another one to attend then.  The organisers couldn’t be nicer or more apologetic. They encouraged me to attend the dinner that night after I put the girls to bed, and I had a fun evening.  There were knitting related quizzes and games. I even came away with a prize. The task was to knit with a partner – we had to hold one needle each – one hand only per person – and knit as many 10-stitch-rows as we could in 3 minutes.  My partner and I knit the most, and this was my reward…

Picture 2159Two balls of brand new, not even on the market yet sock yarn! From Naturally, a NZ company, it is a blend of merino, nylon, alpaca and merino. And sooo soft! Lucky me, eh!  My partner also got some, in a different colourway.

Speaking of goodies, there was also a goody bag. I gave a few bits and pieces to Mum, but here is what I bought home with me.

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I don’t think I’ve ever owned one ply yarn before – temptingly soft though! And a gorgeous colour. Mmmmm!

I only ended up doing one workshop – the one on steeks. We had really small numbers and thus lots of personal attention. We had a go at three different methods – and oversewing method, machine sewn, and crocheted.  They are pictured below right through left – excuse the mental cast on on the far right!

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Some were definitely more secure than others – My pick is definitely between the machine sewn and the crocheted one – but definitely picking up stitches through two loops to knit on from there. So much stronger! The workshop was lots of fun, and it was nice to meet a fellow Raveler and blogger Libby there too. I was also able to identify a few others I met on Saturday night as Ravelers – after the event anyway – Diantee and Kate 🙂 It was lovely to meet you both 🙂

I would highly recommend the Knitters Weekend to fellow Kiwi knitters – it was lots of fun, and despite the slight technical hitch with my enrolment, I couldn’t fault the organisation. There was lots to see, heaps of special events in-store, interesting people to meet, and lots to learn.  And I’m not just saying that because I got goodies, either!

Cold Snap

When we woke up on Monday it was cold.  Really cold.  And it stayed cold all day.  When the clouds lifted on Tuesday, this was the view (from our front yard).

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This was the first dump of snow for the year, and it’s a big one – I can’t remember the last time the ranges had snow on them, and they have a decent coverage on the top.

All of this has made me very glad to be a knitter. And made me even more obsessed with sock knitting. Which is just as well, as this is what arrived in my letter box over the last week….

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At the back is some Noro Kureyon sock yarn, front is Arucania Ranco Multy, both are 4 ply sock yarns.

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And a super bargain from Fyberspates in the UK, 5 skeins of DK sock yarn which worked out at $60 including postage, arriving in less than a week – gotta love Royal Mail!  The one on the far left is earmarked for a pair of socks for DH, the green next to it is gorgeous IRL this pic doesn’t do it justice, and is probably my favourite, although the plums and reds is lovely too 🙂 

With all of this lovely yarn tempting me, I’ve been knitting away, and I will finish my Whisper Cardigan very soon, and then I think I’ll knit a couple of pairs of socks so that I’m prepared for the weather.


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