Sunday, August 29, 2010

Ishbel Beret

It is finished. Finally!

I started this beret (the first time) in June last year. That's rather a long time ago! However, while this is (at least) the fourth time it was started, it's the first time it's been finished! It's definitely not perfect, but it's lovely and soft and I think the pattern nearly looks right. There's something slightly odd going on with the crown, and a few holes that look a bit bigger than others, but on the whole, I'm really happy with it.
Knitting this beret involved a lot of firsts for me. It was the first time I'd attempted a provisional cast on (I'm much better at it now than I was!) and the first time I'd done a folded knitted band (and used three needles at once). It was the first time I'd attempted lace knitting, and I now feel much more confident 'reading' my knitting to work out where mistakes are, and also at unknitting lace! It was also the first item I'd knitted in the round. So for a project that involved so many 'learning opportunities', I think I'll declare it a raving success! I love how logical the pattern was - my struggles were I suspect primarily a result of a slightly dysfunctional brain rather than an overly convoluted pattern - so I think I'll be trying another Ysolda pattern before too long.

Pattern: Ishbel Beret by Ysolda Teague
Yarn: Eki Riva Supreme
Duration: Far longer than possibly anyone else who might ever knit this pattern!! Possibly a couple of weeks of decent knitting time if you take out all the time I spent studiously ignoring it...

Ravelled here.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

At last!

Shoes for peanut finished! Phew. Another thing crossed off the list. Now I just need to work out what to knit next...
On a slightly different note, I have worked out how to facilitate the fast knitting of things that would take me forever. Like this adorable little cardigan. I found the pattern and bought the yarn, and put both in the post to my mother-in-law. Hey presto, less than two weeks later, the finished product arrived on our doorstep!
I eventually found the perfect buttons at the Be Be Bold stand at the Quilt and Craft Fair, so now it's being worn with much joy and enthusiasm!
Yarn: Bendigo Woollen Mills Luxury 10 ply in Lake
Size: 2 years
Mods: full rather than 3/4 length sleeves

Monday, August 23, 2010

A series of minimally related thoughts...

Last week, I managed to pick up some cardoons from the Farmers Market, and found a couple of different ways to use them over the course of the week. They were yummy as part of a pasta sauce, but they were magnificent like this!
These were simmered in lemon juicy, salty, floury water for about 40 minutes, before being crumbed with parmesan and breadcrumbs and shallow fried. Sprinkled with a little salt, they were fantabulous, and even met the 'more?' request from my daughter! If you ever find cardoons (most likely direct from the grower or in your own garden), I suggest you try them, especially if you like artichokes. Yum.

I've spent the last 48 hours or so going from being utterly disgusted with the election result, to thinking that it's probably a very good representation of the way most Australians currently feel toward either of our major parties (they're both a bit of a joke). I've decided to attempt to remove myself emotionally from the whole debacle and watch with interest what happens next (though if Tony Abbott becomes PM, I'll have a fair bit of trouble coming to terms with that, I'm afraid! Even if my husband has promised to take me out for a fancy commiseration dinner if that appalling possibility actually comes to fruition. And yes, I'm nailing my political tendencies to the mast. Why not?). I think that next time we move I'd like to move into a swinging electorate, because so far we've managed to live in safe seats held by one party or another, and it gets a bit frustrating knowing that my vote is effectively irrelevant. Political rant over. Grrr.

And returning to normal everyday life, I'm intentionally not planning a menu for this week. Both my husband and I are involved with an event that is running every evening this week, and one of us is likely to be in there most nights. BUT, we're not sure which ones yet, so rather than attempt to plan the unplannable, I'll attempt to do some seat-pants-flying. It could get messy!

However, if you're in or near Melbourne this week, and are interested in learning a bit about what Christians actually believe, you might like to come along to some or all of the sessions that are on this week in the city as part of Christ Expo. Here are the details:

What? How can we believe?
Christ Expo
Talks by Don Carson (different talk each night)
Where? Storey Hall RMIT
342 Swanston St (diagonally opposite Melbourne Central)
When? Monday to Friday this week
7 for 7.30pm

There will be people available to talk to at the end of each evening, but there's no obligation to talk to anyone if you don't want to!

And here ends a rather disjointed post. Possibly representative of present state of brain function.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

My creative space

Apparently, when you have 7 weeks to go before a baby is supposed to be born, the most important thing to do is to make baby shoes. Far more important than going through baby clothes to check if you need anything else, and exceedingly more important than sweeping the kitchen floor.

I'm not sure I can explain the logic behind it (if indeed there is any), but the need is pressing. Insistent, even.

This pair in purple and orange.*

One down, one to go.

Anyone got any good, super-fast baby hat patterns? (Pressing need #2, just slightly less desperate than shoes. Apparently.)

Check out Kirsty's place to visit a whole load of creative places!

*I had a giggle to myself when I read the first paragraph of Cath's recent thought provoking post on crafty inspiration. Purple and orange, huh? I'd started these before I read that, but who knows where the original inspiration came from!?!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010


We managed to make it to the farmers markets at the Collingwood Children's Farm this weekend. I love the farmers market, partly because I can buy potatoes by variety from the lady who grows them and knows lots about them, and partly because I can also find the occasional weird thing that I would never see in a greengrocer (even a good one!). Like these.
These odd stalky-looking things are cardoons. Cardoons are similar to artichokes in flavour, and they're also both thistles, but cardoons are the stem rather than the flower. A chat with the grower gave me an idea of what was involved in their preparation, and a flick through a few recipe books when I got home found a helpful section in Jane Grigson's Vegetable Book. Basically, you peel off the outside stringy bits and simmer them in acidulated (lemon juicy) water until tender. You can then do whatever you like with them, like fry them in olive oil and garlic, crumb them and turn them into cardoon chips, roast them in the oven sprinkled with parmesan... In my daughter's words: Um-num-num-num...

This week's menu plan:
Monday: Roasted fennel, cardoon and olive pasta (and it was good, too! Cardoons really are rather yummy)
Tuesday: Pumpkin & feta fritters (a sleep-deprived parent and child meant this one didn't happen. Pizza anyone?)
Wednesday: Coq au vin (Masterchef mag #4, p. 118, hoping the leftovers will kick-start the freezer stocking process that might get us through the first few weeks of dual parenthood...)
Thursday: Out
Friday: Salmon, chickpea and lemon frittata (Masterchef #4, p. 48)
Saturday: Beef bourguignon (from freezer)
Sunday: Soup (from freezer)

Hopefully the menu plan will be more indicative of what we're actually eating for the rest of this week...

Saturday, August 14, 2010

A swift?

One of the nice things about hand-dyed yarn is that it comes in skeins that allow you to see the colour variation along the strands. An unfortunate side of this though, is that you need to wind it into balls before you knit or crochet with it. To avoid making knots, you need to somehow stretch the big loop of yarn so that it's tight while you wind it. If you're someone who knits fairly fast and often finishes things (neither of which are true about me), you can probably justify owning a special contraption called a swift, specifically designed to do this.

In our house, my husband is the poor sucker who usually gets the job of holding his arms out for ages while I try to negotiate the ball winding business. But I think he's out of a job. (I'm sure he's very disappointed. Not.) Enter two child-sized Ikea chairs, the perfect size for stretching out the big loop of yarn, and small enough that I can wind from above which seems to help it unravel easily. I'm feeling rather clever!
So now I have two more balls of lovely hand-dyed yarn ready to be made into shoes for peanut (who is expected to arrive in less than 8 weeks...I need to get making! Fast!). And I've started.
Which is rather exciting, because due to a self-imposed rule requiring one thing to be completed before the next one is started, it means that the knitty bit of the Ishbel hat that I've been knitting forever is FINISHED!! It's currently blocking, but once that's done I'll show you some proper pictures.

Monday, August 9, 2010


Gina recently wrote a great post on slowing things down. And in recognition of slow, I'd like to have a chat about porridge. Right now, in the middle of winter, I think porridge is great. And porridge made the slow way, with real oats, on the stovetop. Don't get me wrong, my bed in the morning is nearly my favourite place in the whole world, but I've discovered that the process of turning oats into porridge is a very pleasant way to start the day. You can't rush porridge, which means my day begins slowly, which seems to result in a much calmer, relaxed approach to life compared to my rush-rush-toast-in-the-car-on-my-way-somewhere day beginnings. Porridge is good.

And after a week of excessive activity - no evening meal was normal last week: we either had people over, or were traveling to or from Sydney, or were in Sydney - I'm looking forward to a slower, more typical week regaining some rhythm. Rhythm involving eggs laid in our backyard!
On the menu this week:
Monday: Pasta bake (making it up)
Tuesday: Chicken noodle stirfry (Masterchef mag #1, p. 38)
Wednesday: Fish with ginger & spring onions (making it up)
Thursday: Spanish Eggs (recipe here)
Friday: Out
Saturday: Beef Stroganoff (Masterchef Mag #3, p. 98)
Sunday: Welsh Rarebit with Leeks

What are your plans for this week? Are you up for a busy one, or are you hoping to slow things down a bit?

Wednesday, August 4, 2010


My sister in law gave birth to a baby girl a bit over a week ago, and we're heading off to meet her tonight. She's our first niece, and we're rather excited! I decided to make her something on Friday, so it needed to be something achievable by today for my snails paced crafting!

I decided to make some baby shoes after reading about these on Briney Deep Designs. And she was right: they really are fast to make, even for someone who still feels like working with dpn's seems like holding a few too many chopsticks! The ends were woven in on the last one this morning.
Yarn: Knitted Wit hand-dyed sock yarn won in a giveaway a few months ago - it was perfect!
Sticks: 2.25mm dpns

To be ravelled when I get the chance!!

Sunday, August 1, 2010

New tenants

We have chooks!

Friends of ours are doing a major renovation of their backyard, so we're looking after their four chooks for six months. They arrived at lunchtime yesterday, and seem to have settled in very well, already giving us two eggs!

I'm not sure what breeds they are, but three are what I think might be Isa Browns, and the other is a lovely speckled dark brown one. While it will take a bit of time to get used to including the minimal chook-care tasks into our day, it seems we will very quickly benefit from the eggs, reduced food waste and toddler entertainment value!