Archive for February, 2010

Needle roll!

February 16, 2010

My lovely and talented friend Libby sewed me the most amazing needle roll for my birthday/Christmas present last year, and it was finally finished last week! And like all gifts that are handmade with love and thoughtfullness, it was well worth waiting for.

I know it’s hard to tell the exact size from that picture, but let me elucidate in part by saying this thing fits ALL my needles. With room for more.

I don’t sew (but wish I could) so a custom-sewn gift is very exciting for me. I knew this was coming, and got to choose the inner fabrics at the last Handmade Markets. Then it was a matter of giving Libby all my not-immediately-needed needles, and anticipating the finished product.

Libby has the basics of knitting, and understands a knitter’s needs. This roll has pouches for different sized straights, dpns, and circulars, with a few special pockets for scissors, needle gauges and the like. It has a generous fold-down flap to ensure the needles stay securely in their slots, a tie to keep it rolled up, and best of all the whole thing is washable cotton. And I love the cute fabric she picked for the outside.

A work of genius, no?

Thankyou so much Libby, for the cutest, most useful, most thoughtful present ever :)

A hat for Alex

February 15, 2010

It was my friend Alex’s birthday on Saturday, so I made him a hat.

This hat was part of a larger gift that Alex was presented with on Friday (Alex being a work friend meant he got his present a day early). At work we have a tradition for birthday gifts of everyone contributing a small amount of money, and someone buying a large present from all of us. It’s a lovely idea, and I always particularly cherish the card, with its sweet messages from all my friends.

Alex is one of those wonderful people who usually have an idea of what they want for their birthday, making the task of the gift-buyer (me this time around) so much easier. He’s a gentle, thoughtful, and very well-travelled person, and one of those men who doesn’t feel the need for machismo. Best of all, he appreciates the beauty of handknits.

Last year, Alex informed me that his three ideal birthday gifts were (don’t laugh) handknit socks, flowers, and candles. So that’s what he got—a potted cyclamen, a sandalwood candle, and some Noro socks that took me forever to make. This year, he expressed a wish for a warm, slouchy hat to wear in bed, as his pillow lies right underneath a window—chilly for the ears in winter. Hence the hat, which was wrapped up with a huge bunch of flowers, some T2 tea balls, and a stuffed wombat (Alex’s favourite animal since coming to live in Australia).

The pattern is Ripley by Ysolda Teague, made in the soft, squishy, and very warm Freedom Wool. My gauge was a bit large so I knit a size down and all turned out well. As an aside, don’t believe the Freedom Wool ball band when it recommends 10mm needles. I’ve worked with this yarn twice and find 6 or 7mm to be much more appropriate choices.

I just love the rich, luminous navy of this hat, as well as its softness and warmth.

Alex seemed very pleased with it, and so did newly-christened William the Wombat. Maybe I should make William his own hat…

Pink flowers = love

February 14, 2010

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Markets

February 13, 2010

Some treasures found at the Farmer’s Markets and the Gorman House Markets today.

Vintage buttons, silver-plated Grosvenor ‘Christine’ coffee spoons, and heirloom cherry tomatoes :)

Seedlings

February 7, 2010

Some of the seeds are already beginning to sprout.

Gardening

February 6, 2010

We’re adding a new garden bed.

Herbert’s new home

February 5, 2010

This just in, some pictures of Herbert exploring his new home!

Herbert seems to be taking to his new surroundings with his characteristic inquisitiveness and arrogance. I could swear that as he’s looking into that mirror, he’s thinking, ‘Who is that handsome devil?’ (or possibly, ‘Chocolates! They must be for me.’)

I’m sure he and the lovely Suze are going to get on well, and that she’ll be able to keep his wilder tendencies in check. Happy birthday again, lovely!

Holidays = cooking

February 3, 2010

I don’t know why that’s true, but it always is for me. Even when we go back home at Christmas, crossing half the country to kitchens strange and eerie, we do heaps of cooking. If I have a day off to potter around the house, I end up with a pantry full of food. I’ve decided it’s not worth fighting.

For example. Newly returned to Canberra after Christmas, tired from the long drive and dreading work on Monday, I spent the weekend making stock. Huh? Sounds crazy, I know, but if you’ve never made your own stock, you’ve never made great soup. No, you just haven’t. Try this recipe.

Last weekend I made hot cross buns using Donna Hay’s fantastic recipe.

Awesome.

I made these once before, last Easter (would you believe?). And OMGOMG, the hot cross buns you make yourself completely flatten every other hot cross bun you’ve ever eaten.

I realise it’s not Easter, but I like hot cross buns, and don’t see any reason why I shouldn’t eat them at other times of the year. I also realise that I could quite legitimately call them ‘sticky buns’ and eat them whenever I fancy if I but left the crosses off, but then they wouldn’t be all hot and cross (or warm and upset, as Phil likes to call them). And then what would be the point?

Another tasty addition to our recent menu has been the bushels, yes, BUSHELS of tomatoes I’ve been picking from my friend’s garden. Said friend, the lovely Amanda, is away for two weeks and guess who gets the privelige of looking after the vegie garden? Ohhhh yesss. Homegrown tomato heaven here we come! There’s been Sophie Dahl’s lovely ratatouille (using zucchini and eggplant from the same garden), Jamie’s tomato and capsicum soup (with homemade chicken stock), and his tasty squashed tomato and smashed olive salad, which went down very nicely with some souvlaki and pitas.

Which leads nicely into the topic of lamb.

The souvlaki above was the first dish made from the assorted cuts of meat now in our freezer, which used to be half a lamb. That’s right folks, I wasn’t kidding when I said I loved lamb, and now an entire half of one (minus souvlaki) is sitting in my freezer, nicely portioned into cuts of my choice. And this wasn’t just a rubbing-hands-greedily kind of purchase, there is some sense behind it.

I’ve been thinking a bit lately about sustainable cooking practises and ethical farming, and decided that where I can, I’d like to start choosing more Earth-friendly-animal-friendly meat: or as I like to call it, ‘happy’ meat. Think free-range, hormone free, stress-free slaughter, organic, etc. Being a student and liking meat these choices aren’t going to happen all the time, but I figure every little bit helps—and buying in bulk is a wallet-friendly move. I bought my half lamb from Wyntrade Lamb. I’m hoping the socially conscious farming is reflected in the taste, and as we eat more of it I’ll let you know—but the souvlaki was definitely a good start.

Anyway, here’s to good eating, many more meals of lamb, and countless lazy days spent baking.

A cheeky little fellow

February 1, 2010

Hello, and welcome to the first FO of 2010!

Meet Herbert, a cute but mischievous and vain hare. This is the first time I’ve knitted a toy (if you don’t count three bunny nuggets last Easter) and though it involved a lot of seaming, it was heaps of fun. As well as the satisfaction of a quick knit, I was spurred on by the inexorable emergence of Herbert’s personality. I can’t say I’ve ever stayed up knitting a hat, or anything else for that matter, because it has a kick-arse personality.

The pattern is Humphrey Hare from the Knitted Odd-bod Bunch by Donna Wilson—a book as quirky as the store in Bellingen I picked it up in. The yarn is less than one ball of Naturally Vienna. I made a few modifications to the pattern since I was using a heavier weight yarn than it called for—basically I didn’t want Herbert to be huge. I halved all the stitch counts and cut out a few rows (so he wouldn’t look too thickset) mostly at random—but you already know that most of my knitting is rather slapdash. The project is Ravelled here.

Herbert lost no time in exploring, poking his wee nose into places he shouldn’t,

and trying to tell me how I should spin my wool.

A gentle reprimand was in order, but Herbert replied ‘I’m the most important person around here! I can do what I like!’

However, he did come creeping for a sheepish I’m-sorry hug later on.

It was lovely to meet Herbert, but it was brief: he’s already been packaged up and is on his way to someone rather special, whose birthday is coming up soon. If you think this is you, watch the post! There’s a proud but friendly hare coming your way.