Thursday, November 10, 2011

My Creative space

 Have you ever been knitting away with joyful abandon getting closer and closer to starting the next section of the project, only to realise once you get there that you've gotten the stitch pattern back to front right from the start?

I have.
The line of stitches between the holes should be all neat and straight rather than all messy and leany. Oops.
Having gone from casting on 10 stitches to having 284 stitches on the needles, I decided that rather than ripping back the ENTIRE thing, instead I would work on the theory that it might block OK? Ahem. At the very least, it will be a design feature...!? 

Next time, remember to read the chart from right to left!!

Creative spacers congregate here.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Picnic knitting


Fantastic weather...

Good food...

Great company...

And a sock.


Monday, October 17, 2011


It's a bit dusty around here...!

Life has been pretty hectic over the last few months. Among other things, I've gone back to work two mornings a week, which is long enough to feel like I'm staying in touch with the job I've been trained for, but short enough that I don't feel like I'm missing too much of the girls growing up.

And they are definitely growing up. The smallest turned one a couple of weeks ago! Time really does fly past without being noticed, especially when kids are small and each day can seem like an eternity. There is good sense in taking a moment to STOP, and mark these milestones properly.

Liquorice Allsorts and Raspberry Bullets are rather useful cake decorating luxuries!

And even though I haven't been particularly successful in recording it, I've been making stuff fairly enthusiastically. Recently I've been working on...

...A stripey beanie for a friend's six month old...

...The beginnings of my first knitted lace shawl...

Hopefully I will be back before long with further evidence of my productivity!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Space invaders

Sometime during late summer, our vege patch was consumed by self sown pumpkins.
While it's out-of-control nature is frighteningly reflective of the chaos in our lives at the moment, there have been some up sides to the invasion.
[Yes, that is a pumpkin growing in a Camellia]

42.4 kilograms of pumpkins later, I think we might be set for winter?

Thursday, April 7, 2011

my creative space

Early this year, I secretly* decided to set myself the goal of knitting each of us in the family a garment of some description. The smallest is getting a cardigan, the big girl is getting a stripy jumper, I will be getting a vest (gulp - first adult sized knitted garment ever to me made by me - I hope I like it!), and my husband is getting a scarf. I know scarves probably don't technically count as a garment, but for the purposes of this self-imposed goal, it does. He approved it and chose the colour so hopefully that means he'll wear it!

Over the last couple of weeks, I've made some good progress toward that goal.

One purple Garter yoke baby cardi (Ravelry link) 75% done and just waiting for me to find the right sized dpns (I know I have some somewhere!) so I can do the sleeves and finish the buttonhole band...
One well-and-truly underway Wayfarer scarf using Shelter yarn in pumpernickel...
And another pair of socks. Oh, hang on, socks aren't on the list! These are just another piece of evidence to support the theory that when the sock bug bites, it won't let go very easily...
These will be Spring Forward socks in Ms Gusset yarn which I like an awful lot!

Good holidays with lots of car time when you discover that, contrary to belief, you can knit in the car (when someone else is driving) leads to very satisfying knitterly progress.

For lots of making inspiration, visit Kirsty's place.

*It's not so secret any more, is it!?!

Monday, April 4, 2011

A road trip

About three weeks ago, we embarked on the biggest road trip we've done since having kids. Before leaving, there was a suitable amount of angst about how we would entertain a 2 year old and a 6 month old on several days where we'd be driving for up to seven hours, as well as how on earth we'd fit everything we needed in the car! But we did it, and not only did we survive, but we had a really enjoyable holiday.

Here are some of the highlights:

1. I discovered the joys of car knitting!

I've often read about others knitting in the car on long car trips but had decided that it wouldn't work for me because I get car sick if I read, but I can do it! I can knit in the car! Much knitting was done on this trip as a result.

2. Kids can cope quite well travelling long distances in the car. Surprising! Some tips for increased pleasantness:
  • Leave as early as you can and plan extended breaks (at least 30 minutes) along the way.
  • Pack a picnic lunch so you can stop when you need to.
  • Make sure you have a variety of kid's music on hand. Listening to the same 3 albums over and over for thousands of kilometres will drive anyone completely mad, even if you thought they weren't too bad to start with!
  • Collect up a pile of small age appropriate goodies and make them up into surprise packages to be handed out throughout the trip. We used stickers and paper, a tub of playdough with a plate or tray, Mr Men and Grug books (slightly less successful for a 2 year old who can't read yet), and crayon rocks.
  • Humbly accept the offer of a car DVD player and DVDs from a friend even though you'd sworn black and blue you'd never ever have one. We only used it twice, and watched episodes of Play School, but it was greatly appreciated late in the afternoon of the second day of the Melbourne to Armidale leg, and again late one afternoon as we hit the crazy Sydney traffic.
3. I think Dad liked his mittens. The main reason for the trip was Dad's 80th birthday party, so I made him some fingerless mitts as a present. I still need to ravel them but will do so soon!

4. Our holiday at the beach was brilliant. The water was 26ºC and the weather was magnificent.
The cottage that we stayed in was great, and had a lovely view up the river from the balcony... well as some interesting wildlife!
We'd like to stay at the same place this time next year, but for longer. Five nights was not quite long enough!

It's nice to be back, though, and I'm looking forward to rediscovering the rhythm of life around these parts. And doing more knitting. Of course!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

my creative space...

Fingerless mitts for my Dad's 80th birthday(!).
One down, one to go. Pleasantly, they're nice and quick!

My Creative Space here.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Hooray times two

The first Hooray:
My monkey socks are finished (ravelled here)! According to my sister, they look reptilian enough that if I sewed buttons for eyes on the toes I would frighten lots of people. Hmmm. Even so, they're warm and comfortable, and I might even get away with wearing them out and about under my jeans this winter! Maybe?
I have now cast on for a pair of fingerless mitts for my Dad's birthday which is in a couple of weeks. I'm optimistic that I might get them finished in time because the pattern is from Joelle Hoverson's More Last Minute Knitted Gifts. The first one is two-thirds finished so I'm still hopeful!

The second Hooray:
I'm finally back menu planning again! This is rather exciting because I find that menu planning gives me a sense of slightly more control in the highly chaotic world of parenting young children. It will also hopefully mean a reduction in food waste and less takeaway.

In addition to choosing meals using my normal methods, I've implemented Vic's Random Recipe system*. I have far too many recipe books for my own good, so I'm hoping this strategy might result in some of my neglected books getting some use. So far it's been rather successful, and I've found a couple of things I probably never would have cooked otherwise. To eliminate personal bias, I'm using to randomly choose a shelf, then a book from that shelf, a page from the book and if necessary, a recipe from the page. Though this week's Random recipe was originally Fried Bows, a Spanish sweet biscuit. Rather than serve these for dinner, I used my commonsense and generated another random number for a recipe from the same book. I figure if the recipe or book chosen isn't a dinner type of thing, I can take one step back and try again!?! I might start to experiment with non-main-meal type recipes at some stage, but for now I'm working with a single theme!

Another change to my planning at this point is that I'm not allocating particular meals to particular days. Rather, I'm just selecting 7 (or so) meals to be eaten during the week, so that I've got some flexibility if I don't get to the right shop on a given day for particular ingredients. Right now I need a sense of control without rigidity, so hopefully this strategy will deliver.

This week's menu:
Gnocchi with tomato and pancetta sauce
Zucchini, bacon and onion quiche or frittata
Beef stew (from freezer)
Chinese chicken wings
Red Mullet baked with breadcrumbs and Rancio wine (Random Recipe from 1080 Recipes)
Eggplant Parmagiana
Zucchini pasta

*Vic has also started a Meal Plan Monday Linky thing, so if you're interested in joining in or checking out some other meal plans, visit here.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Space junk

When you have small children, lots of STUFF gets all over the place. While there are many disadvantages, like treading on something small when you least expect it (ouch! You'd think I'd learn to look more closely...) and every space in the house being taken over by kid clutter, I've discovered that some of it is actually useful!
Take this rather unattractive ball, for example. It's perfect for neatening up my toe grafting on my socks.

Which are now finished! Comfortably before the end of February, which was my self-imposed deadline, though not without a setback involving a two-year-old and the removal of all four needles that we wont talk about.

I will try to post proof of the completed socks in the next couple of days.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

It's official

I was sitting in the waiting room at the osteopath the other day, knitting away on my particularly frightening monkey sock as I have done the past few times I've been in there, when the receptionist said to the lady she was chatting to, "Look at what she's knitting. It's a sock!".

And the lady responded, "Oh, yes, I know. I've seen her knitting in the medical centre!"

Clearly, I'm becoming the local crazy knitter lady.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Date and Apricot Loaf

Several years ago, I asked my mother-in-law for her Date Loaf recipe, because my husband had told me several times how much he loved it. As it was possibly the easiest recipe ever, it's become part of the repertoire! And it's a perfect baking option for those mornings when you desperately need to amuse a two-year-old who has the attention span of, well, a two year old.
Until you realise you don't have enough dates in the cupboard. Thankfully my problem-solving brain is beginning to show some signs of life (finally), so I added apricots to make up the difference. I think the addition was rather nice, though I'm not sure that the purist (husband) thought it was quite as good as the original!

Date and Apricot Loaf

1/2 cup dates, chopped
1/2 cup dried apricots, chopped (or just use a whole cup of dates if you're a purist)
1 cup sugar
1 cup boiling water
1 tsp bicarb soda
60g butter
1 egg, beaten
2 cups self-raising flour
1 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp mixed spice

Preheat oven to 180ºC.

Stir together fruit, sugar, water, soda and butter. When cooled slightly, add egg, flour and spices. Pour mixture into a greased and lined loaf tin, and bake for about 45 mins, until a skewer poked in the middle comes out clean. Serve sliced and buttered if you like, but it's yummy just as is, too.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

My creative space...

An experiment.

One I've been wanting to do for quite a while, but haven't found the five minute space required until now.
I'm trying out my interpretation of instructions for drying lavender from the garden provided to me months ago by Tanya.
I'll let you know if it works!

The home of My Creative Space is here.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

my creative space...

Our vege patch is requiring some pretty intense zucchini centred creativity at the moment. To say that they're prolific would be an understatement. This 1.6 kg monster was a stealth zucchini, hiding in the garden until it was so big that we couldn't possibly NOT see it!
In an effort to turn it into an edible meal, I decided to cut it into rounds, cut out the middle and fill the holes with stuffing. It was surprisingly yummy, even if the skin was a little tough. You could use any type of stuffing you liked, but this time I used a pork, basil and parmesan stuffing and cooked it with a basic tomato sauce. Obviously, you don't need a giant zucchini to do this - normal zucchinis cut lengthways and hollowed out would be yummy, too!
Zucchini with pork, basil & parmesan stuffing
(serves 4)

1 extra large zucchini cut into rounds with seeds removed (or lots of little ones halved lengthways with seeds removed)
Olive oil
1 white bread roll
1/4 cup milk, approx
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
400g pork mince
1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, finely shredded
1/2 cup finely grated parmesan
salt & freshly ground pepper
1 jar tomato passata
salt & pepper

Preheat oven to 180ºC. In a large, oiled baking dish, place the zucchini in a single layer, rubbing tops of zucchini with a little oil as well. Pull the insides out of the bread roll and put it in a bowl with enough milk to soak through all the bread. Set aside. Fry the onion in a little olive oil until translucent, add half the garlic and cook for another minute then set aside to cool slightly.

In a large bowl, mix together pork, basil, half the parmesan, bread and milk, onion and garlic, and season well with salt & pepper. Divide the pork mixture between the zucchini slices and bake for about 15 mins.

Meanwhile, place remaining garlic in a cold saucepan with about 1 tablespoon olive oil and set over medium heat, keeping a close eye on it and stirring frequently. When it starts to colour add tomato passata (be careful, it will probably spit), bring to boil and allow to simmer for about 10 minutes. Season to taste.

Remove zucchini from oven, carefully pour tomato sauce around the zucchini and sprinkle stuffing with remaining parmesan. Return to oven for 20 mins or until zucchini is tender. You may need to cover the dish with foil if the sauce is drying out or the cheese browns too quickly.

Serve with salad.

The Thursday hub of creativity can be found here. Check it out for some serious inspiration!

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Zucchini and a rainbow

What happens when you plant zucchinis in your vege patch and then go away for a few days?

They're just slightly enormous.

I've discovered that cutting them into rounds, removing the seeds and stuffing the cavity works rather nicely for oh-my-goodness-it's-a-monster-zucchini. We've also been eating a lot of vaguely normal sized zucchini at the moment: zucchini and feta frittata, zucchini parmagiana, zucchini in stir fry, zucchini on the side... If you have any yummy zucchini recipes that you'd like to share, please let me know! And we only planted 2 seeds!?!

On another note, I've signed up to make granny squares for Sarah London's Crochet a Rainbow project which will result in a whole lot of granny blankets being given to people who lost most (if not all) of their things in the still-happening Australian floods. Sarah is collecting granny squares from volunteers all over the world and stitching them together into blankets. For me this is great - I get to feel vaguely useful, get to make granny squares and don't have to sew them together (which I find rather tedious). I'm pleased to be able to contribute something other than just money - money is very necessary (obviously), but it feels quite impersonal, and it's good to be able to DO something.*

If you would like to crochet some granny squares too, go and check out all the details by clicking on the button below, or in the sidebar.

*I know that this is all about MY response from afar, but I think action is better than simply moving on and forgetting.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

my creative space...

Green, green, green, YELLOW!!
Green, YELLOW!!
Green, YELLOW!!
Green, green, green, YELLOW!!

Over the last couple of weeks, including some time away, a pair of socks have been taking shape. While the knitting can have it's rather surprising moments (the appearance of YELLOW(!!) in between those lovely greens can be a tad frightening at times), I think the finished result is quite pleasing.* Fortunately!

I've just started sock number 2, which I think I'd like to get finished by the end of February. That should give me enough space to work on other projects, too...

I'm hoping to have a satisfying and productive creative space this year, with a focus on the process rather than the outcome, though it will be nice to finish a few things, too! Of course, I have a long list of things I'd like to make, so it will be interesting to see how long it takes to get overwhelmed by outcomes and the process gets relegated to a requirement rather than a pleasure...

To visit the creative spaces of other more or less idealistic and optimistic crafters, many of whom will actually succeed in making what they say they want to (how novel!), go here.

*Except for the unfortunate 'Aussie, Aussie, Aussie! Oi, Oi, Oi!' parochial factor, but we can look past that for now...

Thursday, January 20, 2011


Could 2011 be the year of knitting?
Many of the things on my To Make list so far are knitted things. My first finished project for the year is a knitted thing. Or things: my Through The Loops Mystery sockalong socks are complete!
As these are my first handmade socks, I'm yet to work out how to get a decent photo of my own feet, but these socks are rather nice. I'm looking forward to the cooler weather rolling around so I can actually wear them!

It seems the sock bug has properly bitten - I've cast on a pair of Monkey Socks in a rather frighteningly bright colourway, but I think (I hope) it works when the pattern is stretched as it will be when it's worn. Since taking this picture about a week ago, I'm now about half way through the foot of the first sock, so I'm making some serious progress!
To provide a bit of variety, I've also started a shawl, which I'm crocheting out of an enormous cone of laceweight yarn that I ordered from WEBS along with at least three other shawls worth of laceweight yarn. I clearly had a one track mind when placing that order! I'd better include at least a couple of shawls on my To Make list this year...

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Well, hello there...?

It's been a while!
For me, 2010 finished a bit like a balloon with a slow leak, resulting in a slightly flabby crumpled heap effect by the end of it. Fortunately, things are starting to get back on track a little with an emerging enthusiasm for the slow things of summer, including the beach, the pool, berries, and more time in the backyard with the girls.

Somehow, in the insanity that was December (including a husband away for a week and a half, a two-year old birthday party the day after he got back, general pre-Christmas craziness as well as hosting Christmas lunch), I did manage to make a few (rather unspectacular) gifts:
A Silvan Star washcloth for Jodie's Christmas Washcloth Swap;

A Grit Stitch washcloth for a friend who had said she'd like one (Sucker? Hopefully she wasn't just being polite!); and
two Bump Stitch washcloths (Ravelry link) for another friend, who I KNOW appreciates handmade. Do you think I have a washcloth problem?

While my handmaking of gifts was rather minimal this year, I knew I'd be busy so didn't set my goals too high. It would still be nice to make a few more things next Christmas, though.

I'm hoping to make an appearance here a few times over the next couple of weeks, but it is summertime so it's likely to be slightly erratic! I'm hoping to get back into an achievable and consistent blogging routine by February.

I also have an embarrassingly long backlog in my reader because I haven't been visiting much lately. Sanity has required that any available brain output capacity was used up knitting sock* (even if it was only two rows in a day), which meant there has rarely been any left for other things. Hopefully I'll start to get back on top of blogland soon!

I'm also hoping to be able to start thinking about the year ahead this week, which means thinking about goals for making and learning. projects!

*I think I might finish sock 2 today, so there's been some progress on that front, at least!