Tuesday, January 31, 2006

in the market for a panda

"...the secret to life is obvious: be here now, love as if your whole life depended on it, find your life's work, and try to get hold of a giant panda. If you had a giant panda in your back yard, anything could go wrong - someone could die, or stop loving you, or you could get sick - and if you could look outside and see this adorable, ridiculous, boffo panda, you'd start to laugh; you'd be so filled with thankfulness and amusement that everything would be ok again."
~ Anne Lamott (via The Dish)

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Saturday, January 28, 2006

socks 101

No one could ever accuse me of thinking about something for too long before jumping in and having a go. This attitute has served me pretty well in the past. Well - there haven't been too many stuff ups. Well - not that I can remember.

Anyway, I am feeling a little bit of pressure, having signed up to this sock swap. I know I am in the beginners group, but I thought a bit of preparation and research wouldn't go astray so that my sock buddy doesn't get something really dismal and better suited to headwear than footwear, etc. So I am studying Knitty's Socks 101 and am currently attempting to construct something recognisable from Kate's top-down sock training pattern.

After four false starts (so far), this is where I'm at:
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Sitting at the table where I can most easily wrestle the double pointed needles - knitting temporarily stalled after discovery of an unwelcome extra stitch - sustained by a rapidly diminishing supply of kiss biscuits (though still a good number for pleasing geometrical arrangements)...

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Biscuits were inspired by a new fresh jar of homemade raspberry jam sitting in the pantry from MIL. It is really yummy sandwiched between bikkies made from the Vanilla Angel recipe in Donna Hay's Christmas mag. The recipe was attractive as everything just gets bunged in the food processor - they came out a bit tough and may be better made in two batches with my "compact" processor - nicely saved by the jam though and satisfyingly buttery, crumbly and moist.

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Tuesday, January 24, 2006


I am sooo excited! I've joined my first knitalong! Alison of The Blue Blog is hosting her third sock extravaganza, in which knitting bloggers and likeminded people sign up for a great sock swap fest.

I stumbled across her blog right in the nick of time and signed up as a beginner. Everyone is allocated a person to knit for, and we have two months to create a pair of socks and post them off to our secret sock buddy (secret from their point of view that is). Then a special pair of socks arrives in the post from a different person for me!

I hope my beginner buddy doesn't request anything too complicated. I was thinking it might be a bit sad to post away my first ever handknitted socks - but lets face it, without a kick in the pants like this I might never have started them! Once my sock knitting career is launched I can make another fab pair for myself :)

Right, off to research sock patterns and yarn. Thinking I might need to order online for this one. Any recommendations anyone?

PS. Look at the sockapaloooza button over there on the right! My first button! Woo hoo!

PPS. Speaking of socks, how cute are these tiny socks knitted by the aforementioned Alison? I'm also very inspired by Di's numerous pairs of delicate and lovely socks. I would be really happy I could create something as fun as these by Jane!


Friday, January 20, 2006

some like it hot (not me)

Oh it is so hot! This photo is from this morning during a huge thunderstorm (edited to add: photo by Ian Stewart of Hobart). It was taken about 1 km from where I work in the city.

Unfortunately our building was spared so we all have to keep working away in the non-airconditioned heat. On Sunday it is predicted to be thirty six degrees, weather not seen in Tasmania since the huge bushfires of 1967 according to some.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

advice needed please!

Firstly, some more screenprinting show and tell.... I bought some linen and made these Jill-label tea towels for my mum's birthday. I'm very proud of these as they're wholly designed by me - I especially love how the daisy came out - it was inspired by a photo in a gardening magazine. I was hoping the purple would be a bit purpler but I think they look quite good anyway. Borrowed a sewing machine to do the hems. I think that may have to be my next capital purchase.
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To the advice... as a novice knitter I don't know much about... well anything to do with knitting really. Maybe an exaggeration but I am having trouble deciding on a yarn substitution. I want to knit Samus but Brown Sheep Lamb's Pride Worsted [85% wool/15% mohair; 190 yds/171m per 100g skein] doesn't seem to be available easily anywhere here.

The weight suggested to me that it would be equivalent to a 12 ply but I've tried knitting squares on several sizes of needles and keep ending up with around 14 st per 4 inches instead of the suggested 19. I've just done a square of Jo Sharp Luxury 8 ply DK Pure Wool on 4.5 mm needles which has come out at about 19 st and 26 rows per 4 inches, which is good! But it's quite a different weight to the suggested yarn. I wonder if this will this cause any problems? Are there any knitting readers out there who could suggest another good substitute?
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Thursday, January 12, 2006

lessons learned

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Some more screenprinting, inspired by another baby, wherein the following lessons were learned:

  1. Making words appear the right way around is tricky. Even when you think you have got it sorted out, you probably haven't, so have another look.
  2. Pay attention when you are dolloping paint all over the place. Don't get so carried away with your own cleverness at getting the word around the right way that you spread the paint into places where the stencil is not.
  3. Red fabric paint (Permaset Aqua) will wash out in cold water followed with warm water, some velvet soap and lots of scrubbing.


Wednesday, January 11, 2006

soy and spice

To feed the hungry workers on Sunday (did I mention that mum and Annie also did some weeding in the garden? They are being invited for lunch more often!) I tried out a new recipe from Donna Hay's The Instant Cook (p88) - flat roasted chicken - soy and spice variation - yum.

It was eaten too quickly for a photo but this is what Donna's looked like:

You cut the chicken down its back (with kitchen scissors) and roast it flat so it only takes about 45 minutes. Maybe the quick cooking time is the reason it is very tender. The chicken sits on a bed of 5 cinnamon sticks and 2 star anise (not a very comfortable bed but I think the chicken is past caring).

Simmer together 1 tablespoon soy sauce, 1/4 cup water, 3 teaspoons brown sugar and 1/2 teaspoon chinese five-spice powder in a small saucepan for one minute and brush it over. Bake at 200 degrees C (390 F) about 35-45 min or until cooked through.

I served this with pink-eye potatoes and a salad. If I was doing it again I might reserve some of the glaze to brush over while cooking (or even make some extra). Twas most delish!


Sunday, January 08, 2006

from a long line of crafty people

I had a great day today with my parents and my Annie working on and talking about projects and plans for future craftiness! Annie was patchworking; she and mum did lots of scribbling and discussing and hypothesising about what type of yarn would be best to attempt a Samus cardi in; and dad and I (well mostly dad) finally took another step with my biggest ufo!

We need more storage in our kitchen. I love those old fashioned kitchen cabinets - my grandfather had one - I especially like the quaint latches which were around I suppose before magnetic closures and self closing hinges. I found this one out the back of a dusty antiques shop. Nick was not convinced of its potential - paint peeling, rusty latches, weighs a ton, home to various 8-legged critters - but it's my first furniture restoration project!

A before shot:

and progress so far....

paint stripped, glass removed, ancient putty chipped away, belt and orbital sanded to within an inch of its life. Still to do: more sanding, more paint removal, find a couple of replacement latches and handles, replace warped plywood, decide how to finish it (thinking varnish and scandinavian oil?) and lug it up to the kitchen! By which time it will probably be time to move out!


Wednesday, January 04, 2006

New year, new you

I had such a lovely week of Christmas and New Year - catching up with friends from far and wide, sitting in the sun, reading my new books, eating and eating and eating lots of yummy fresh food, watching brilliant fireworks, seeing family, doing outside things.... now it's back to work and the weather is back to grey and it all seems so ordinary again. I should have written this post days ago while I was still relaxed and inspired!

Anyway.... I do have some things I want to do this year. I have already started with resolution one - keep in touch with people better and mark special occasions. I've bought all the cards I need for January (sub-resolution is to make some of these cards so as not to send myself bankrupt) and spoken to a surprised cousin on his birthday (pleasantly surprised to hear from me I think!).

Other aspirations include spending more time with family, and saying no more often to things that will mess with this. Trying to keep up this blog regularly is a goal for the year - and not just for fun but also to be more reflective about life. I'd like to do more crafty things like more knitting, trying my hand at a quilt, making gifts for people, maybe even participating in swaps and -alongs!

Patience is also a virtue that I feel I will need to practise in 2006. I hope I can relax a bit and take things as they come. I need to slow down and appreciate the small and wonderful things in life. Please remind me of this if you think I'm forgetting as I rush through 2006 :)