Friday, 30 November 2007

Is it the weekend yet?

I have two very important things to do in this post, so bear with me and make sure you read it all.

Firstly, Pay it Forward

I recently participated in a 'Pay it forward'. In the next year from this post, the 3 of you who participate will receive a handmade gift from me. All that is required is that you promise to 'Pay it forward' yourselves, to 3 people. You have a year to do it and a year to send the gifts from the date you make the post.

If you would like to join in, and you think you can 'pay it forward' then please leave a comment before Friday (7th December) and I will draw out 3 names at random. (of course that is if there are more than 3 comments)

OK... secondly, There was one idea I thought I would ask an opinion about. What would you think of doing a sort of sock collection for the poor kids in Arad (where I work with a charity). It would involve, for one year, the collection of handknitted socks to give out next winter to very poor kids and poor families. I was thinking about starting a ravelry group and trying to get people involved ( i think I would wait till after christmas though) and then over the year, collect up socks and keep a note up of how many pairs we have. People would only need to knit one pair, but if several people knitted one pair we could give socks to really desperate people who have really cold feet. Like these kids....

It gets really cold here, the kids we work with don't live in what you can call houses, many in shacks that don't have doors or even proper walls. Most of them don't have winter shoes and the majority of them don't have socks.

Its just a really tiny way that lots of people can help to make a difference.

I hope you all have a lovely, warm weekend. See you on Monday.

EDIT: Dont forget 'pay it forward' for friday. I think that the point of pay it forward is not to force people to do such, merely for you to do your bit, and hope that others will do theirs. Feel free to leave your comments without worrying about the other end (paying it forward yourself), these are supposed to be 'random acts of kindness' so everyone has the same rights to them in my opinion and I would love to send any 3 of you a handmade gift from me.

Thursday, 29 November 2007

As promised

finally, and a little late perhaps......
This is the lovelly fabric that I recieved recenly

And these,... well, these were a first attempt without a pattern. I am surprised they stay on his feet. I am now working through the kinks for my pair (wink). They were made with lovelly thick wool fabric, with an insulated sole.... very toasty

Man has big feet as you can see. He likes them and they keep his tootsies warm.

He subtly suggested that it might be time to finish sewing up the nativity as we might want to use it soon. And of course I have to finsih christmas presents for family. Busy busy busy.

Will be doing a pay it forward soon so if you are interested keep an eye open....

Sunday, 25 November 2007


I survived the weekend. Helped distribute christmas parcels in one of the Roma communities (yes I did say christmas parcels, but there are 3000, we have to start now or we dont get them all out)

There was ZERO creativity, however, I did discuss logistics of the re-usable shopping bags to sell on etsy so that I can raise funds for the charity.

My kindly mother and father brought oodles of fabulous fabric back from their trip for me. Very lovelly. I will (promise) post pics tommorow.

Right now I am going to bed. Hope everyone enjoyed their weekend and thanksgiving.

Wednesday, 21 November 2007

Unfinished business

Well, Man was complaining that he couldn't keep up with what I was knitting these days. I rolled my eyes and pretended I had no idea what he was talking about, but... um.... well

I havn't finished stitching up the nativity

I havn't finished the second drops jacket (it's hibernating)

I havn't finished my autumn colours top (knitted)

I havn't finished autumn colours top (crocheted)

I havn't started second first-timer sock

I havn't finished Mans jumper (I frogged it last night, infuriated with the pattern and yarn)

and well..... don't tell, but I cast on another jumper. It's going really quick though. The yarn was just sitting there and I thought it's just messy not being used. So... um....

I suppose I should go and hang my head in shame....or knit...

Oh yeah, and this is only my unfinished yarn related items.... there are thousands of unfinished shop products and christmas gifts. Ouch.

Monday, 19 November 2007

Special request : : Christmas Pudding

Well..... Rani asked about Christmas pudding...

To begin with, I'm not crazy and I realize we still have a way to go till Christmas, however, the best Christmas puddings are made at least 4-5 weeks before Christmas allowing them to almost mature. The best puddings have a while to get themselves right before Christmas day.

We make ours according to British traditions (man is Aussie... at some stage that was the same thing). The style we have made, the round pudding is traditional style, for most of the twentieth century, particularly later on, the Christmas puddings have been made in bowls so they did lose their round shape. To make them in a round you have to first make the mix, then cut a piece of cloth and make sure there is a layer of flour all around the pudding. , wrap it up tight and tie it with string (once more, Jute to the rescue) and then boil them, the time varies by weight but ours was mammoth, so it took 6 hours.

When they finish, you dry them, and hang them (all still in the cloth and the seal made by the flour) in your pantry till Christmas.

Traditionally, everyone was allowed to help stir the pudding and you also threw a sixpence into the mix for luck.

Our recipe was from mother-in-law.

250 g flour
250 g breadcrumbs
pinch salt
500 g of butter
500 g of brown sugar
500 g of currants
500 g of sultanas
250 g of citrus peel
250 g of raisins.
9 eggs
1 gill brandy
half nutmeg (grated)
125 g slivered almonds
1 level dessertspoon mixed spice
1 level teaspoon carb soda.

As you can see, its SOOOOOO rich, but was also SOOOOO huge. You only actually eat little servings at Christmas. This will easily serve everyone at Christmas dinner about twice. (on different days) We also modified somewhat.... no currents, we used dates and apricots instead and used fresh citrus zest instead of dried citrus peel.

Serving it on Christmas day is great fun.

You put it on a big plate, you pour brandy over it and you set it on fire (obviously not for long) and trim it with a sprig of Holly on top. Then you either put some icing on it (we've never done this), or you have it with brandy butter (which is like really rich alcoholic icing, a favourite of Man's grandmother), you can have it with custard, or, my personal favourite, or you have it piping hot with cold whipped cream *drool*.

Hope this helped understand the strange hanging bundle in the previous post.

Another similarly strange custom is that of the Christmas cake, which is made months before Christmas too (the longer the better).

One of the best Christmas puddings I ever had was 3 years old. It was marvelous. I don't think I will ever have one like it again.

Sunday, 18 November 2007

He cooks......

Satuday morning brought this.....

Our first snow this year. Was so cold outside but was perfect for our christmas pudding plans.

Meanwhile, my sock was progressing nicely

I picked up extra stitches along the heel flap, and I knitted them so they would twist, resulting in this....
A distinct lack of holes along the heel. Very neat. Much happier to knit socks now they come out like that. I was begining to wonder if i had finally encountered my nemesis in the form of a multicoloured sock.... but it turns out that is and adventure for another day.

So this is my end product. Photographed in the icey blue morning light on the balcony

We (and by 'we' I mean the man) had a late start on the christmas pudding. But once it got going it was so much fun. Not to mention yummy (snacking on spare ingredients)

Lots of dried fruit... Apricots and dates here

Smashed almonds... we coulndt get flakes, but anyway having bigger chunks seemed more appealing...
Hamish was really helpful as you can see...

A huge square of cloth and some flour served as our 'seal'

And this is the pudding.... Did I mention that it was huge.... the little almont on top was to give some proportion. So yummy, I cant believe we arnt allowed to eat it till christmas

'Plop' into the water to boil for a delightful 6 hours (this meant we were up tll 2am)

So all in all, a slight increase in productivity.

Hope you are having a great weekend.

Thursday, 15 November 2007

Thursdays of doom

Its Thursday. I don't like Thursdays for a couple of reasons :

1. I have a really boring epidaemiology lecture in the after noon.
2. Its not quite Friday but it feels like it should be
3. (wost of all) I teach on Thursday nights.

Teaching is not so bad, however, it's the two hours with a little boy who has the attention span of a gnat thats tough. He's a lovely boy, great at speaking English and he's pretty smart too, it's just he finds the parrots / dogs / walls / outside noises/ anything more interesting than work. I need a white walled empty soundproof room to teach him in I think. The best bit of the lesson is that we read Enid Blyton together. Can't get enough ginger beer and lashings of cream.

Will post craft-wise later. Am off to psyche up for the lesson.

Wednesday, 14 November 2007

present progress

Top sheet for table cloth number one is complete. This one is more 'disorganised' there is no overall pattern except the alternation of green and red. The second of the two has a diagonal pattern as well as the green/red alternations. I like it. its cheerful.

In other (sock related) news... this is where we are :

Sorry about the poor pic quality. I am about to shape/turn (what d'you call it) the heel. We seem to have recovered well from frogging with minor injuries, hoping this time round with the heel goes better (thanks to a little advice from advanced sockers)

Am off to do more quilting. I want to get them finished and posted as they are for the aussies (mans side of the family).

Tuesday, 13 November 2007

sock update

Ok, So here it is, as you can see I have som whoppers of holes here

You may also have notices some frogging going on.... yes.... back up to the leg to try again

see... look... more holes

Other than that though, I love it. Look how cool this wool is.

And my fabby ribbing work...

I love how this wool comes out. So i frogged a little and I will take a running start at the heel when I get to it again.

Thanks for the advice. I am not really sure how wrong I am getting it. I will see next time round.

Monday, 12 November 2007

progress and cables

These little pretties are my new handmade cable needles that I ordered from debhd on Etsy last week. I have to say, they are lovely.

She very sweetly sent me a 4th one along with the 3 I actually paid for.

I made progress on the sock, but its too depressing for words. My main problem is picking up stitches along the edge of the heel flap, they always look like humungous holes or like i dropped multiple stitches or something. I just dont see how I can do it any better, very frustrated and almost ready to pack in socking all together. couldnt even face photographing them. other than that they are going perfectly.

On the other hand though, the wool comes out really cool.

I'm off for sandwiches.... will update with scary sock pics tomoro.

Sunday, 11 November 2007

weekend and wool

Well, in terms of project completion, this weekend was not very lucrative. however, in terms of stash building :) it was ok. not a patch on rani's gorgeous haul though.

this little mix is to make some fetching and cosy wrist warmers.

this is the yarn my gran got for me... this will make fabby socks

this is the new simply knitting magazine with alan dart goodness in it

and this is all the work i got done

the new calculations for this piece are as follows

4 rows = 0.5 cm
4 rows = 1 hour of knitting

so new estimated time till completion = 160 hours

this means that in about 10 years i might have a lovely wool top.

The rest of the time was spent separating bickering little girlies, cleaning up after them and giving my sister moral support. Oh yeah... and the movie night. We watched 3 excellent films this weekend.

The lake house
: an interesting little film about love which develops over a 2 year time difference. It isn't all and easy solution and sickeningly soppy. It was really quite a good film.

The sentinel : Fabulous film about a plot to kill the president (um, that sounds bad, but i just love suspense)

Hollywoodland : It doesn't really go anywhere much it is interestingly done with flashbacks and present day (in the 50's) clips. We'd watch it again.

This reminds me... recently we watched the world's fastest Indian, which, while it's not a brand new film, was just great. Really love Antony Hopkins as an actor anyway and I think he just played the role perfectly.

Enough of my amateur film critique, I'm off to prep for tomorrow. Forensics first thing is definitely something you have to psyche yourself up for.

Wednesday, 7 November 2007

street smart

All that urban gorgeousness made me finally splash out on the patons street smart pattern book. Yes I may never have the knitting capability to finish one. Yes I may have to frog repeatedly. Yes I may be out of my depth but gosh-darn it I'll try!!

this is the one i am in love with...
The unfortunate truth is... even if I finish it perfectly, even if it is a masterpiece, my lifes work.... i still wont look as good as everyone else in it. fluff!

ok enough moping. oooh I am also waiting on my elizabeth zimmermann book... knitting without tears (how very apt) I saw a hat in it that I deeeeeesperately want. Its getting really cold here now too and i want to have my hat .... ok so I have others (many) that I could and probably should wear but the other one will be fabulous.

Progress on the advent calender...well... its now tablecloths.... i decided that the advent calender can be next years gift and this year they are having quilted christmas cloths. mmmm. so am about 1/2 way through number 1 of 2.

I am trying to only give handmade gifts wherever possible.

Hmm I think thats about all for now. Or at least, it should be. off for a cuppa

Sunday, 4 November 2007

String bag pattern

This was knitted back and forth as I dont know where i would get circular or double pointed 15mm needles. You can adapt it if you do...

\\ Just Jute //

You will need
1 x 200g ball of jute twine (available at stationers or supermarkets etc)
1 pair size 15mm needles

(all knitted in garter stitch)

cast on 13 st
R 1 : increase in every stitch (26 st)
R2 : kn
R3: increase in every stitch (52 st)
R4 - R24 : kn back and forth
R25 : kn 10 st, cast off 6st's, kn 20 st, cast off 6 st's, kn 10 st
R26 : kn 10st, cast on 6st's, kn 20 st, cast on 6st's, kn 10st
R27 : cast off.

When finished tie up the edges and bottom with a line of jute twine.

This is an easy knit. The garter stitch means that when it's empty the bag will spring into a smaller size and stretch when it's full. If you make sure you tie up the edges and bottom well then the bag will hold a great deal of weight without any signs of strain.

Saturday, 3 November 2007

Button button, who's got the button

I have been busy....

It took 2 hours..... but I managed it in the end. even more strangely I actually enjoyed it.

So, this is my button stash.

This makes me feel calm. The little compartments with all the different colours and categories.
mmmm order.

In other news.... this be my newest fing.

In about 10 years time (cause thats how long this will take to knit) this will be a top. I adore this wool, but its so fine and I am knitting on 3mm. It will be worth it though, such lovely colours.