Wednesday 23 November 2016


So it's the most hectic time of the year for teachers....  (I am a teacher in case you didn't know that about me) - hence the quietness of the blog of late.

I haven't managed to work on much of anything, except deadlines, let alone rustle up a blog post!
I have to admit that after the year we've had, I'm utterly spent.

I'm making myself take an enforced break today (I even chose to mark student work because it means I had to sit down!  Things are getting desperate when I'm this tired!).

So I was pondering my knitting.  And why I haven't been knitting as much lately.

I have some lovely projects that I *want* to make.

Some projects I'm *preparing* to make, including this Gilmore Girls Mystery Knit-A-Long* that I'm seriously excited about.

I've got some things that I did finish recently - also the result of Knit-a-Longs*, but I haven't had a moment to share them with you (coming soon!)

So back to the pondering...

I realised I do have some projects underway, but they're just not calling my name at the moment... The reason why?

I have to rip** them

It's a sad day when a knitter comes to the realisation of the need to rip a project.

A lovely podcast I follow (the Yarniacs, I do recommend!) a while back mentioned that the 5 stages of grief apply quite aptly to the process of coming to terms with undoing all those hard-won stitches!

It's taken a couple of weeks to process whether I *need* to begin again, and then a little more time for the acceptance...  Now I have to come to terms with actually undoing my projects.

You may be wondering why I am going to undo some perfectly lovely knitting (because surprisingly in this case, it's not due to knitting mistakes - that kind of undoing does happen on a regular basis.  And yes, it makes me come a little undone as well as the knitting).

Princess asked for a shawl of her own.  I'm thrilled to oblige!  We decided to use the remnants of a ball of Star Finch by CircusTonicHandmade that I used to make my Sweet Pie Socks (more information will come some day!), which serendipitously matches perfectly with a ball of coral Luxury from Bendigo Woollen Mills.

I assiduously researched Ravelry to find a shawl that I could knit the body in the solid colour, and then gradually incorporate the variegated yarn at the edge, which ideally would be some kind of simple lace.  Something suitable for a girl.
I do love the snowflake detail emerging on the edge

I found a lovely pattern called Snowflake Party.  If you know me (and Princess), you know how much we love snow!  I got all excited.

Which made me forget that it needed to be knit horizontally so that the lace could be in the variegated yarn.  I remembered *after* I started knitting it!  The Snowflake Party shawl is knit diagonally.  It could still be lovely, as there will be more snowflakes towards the end, but it still wasnt quite what i envisaged.  The pattern is lovely, and I will return to it for a future shawl!

Instead I think I'll make the Blossomfield Shawl designed by one of my favourite designers, Meg Gadsbey.  It is knit horizontally, and designed so that the lace flowers are knit in a lighter shade.
Symmetrical Gradient :)
My other project waiting to be ripped is a pair of rainbow socks.  I was excited to buy some yarn that has a symmetrical colour gradient.  It's designed for knitting two socks at a time, using the outer end and inner end of the yarn at once.  I tried to cast on two at once, but got into a dreadful muddle.

Instead, I pulled out my teeny tiny little sock needles, to knit one at a time.  I'm getting used to the little needles, and quite liking the technique.  It's easier than using a magic loop or two circulars, as you just keep knitting around and around.

But as the socks have emerged, I think that the stripes are a little too wide.  So I'm going to knit a larger sock.  This will mean that the stripes will be a slightly narrower, and should create a fun sock!
Big Stripe!  I haven't even reached the end of the first colour yet!
Of course, I could continue with both of these projects as they are, and they would be perfectly lovely.

But I make things for the joy that it brings, and I think both of them would be better if I change them slightly.  I'd rather undo this relatively small amount of work now, than wonder if the alternative would have been lovelier once they are finished!

It may be crazy, but it makes me happy!

Now that I've come to terms with it all, I'm off to undo some knitting!

Do you ever undo projects?  Why?  Have you ever continued with a project and then regretted it?

* Knit-a-Long = knitting along with a group of other people working on the same project or theme, usually on Ravelry.  Bonus if prizes are part of the fun; Also: Lots of fun, learning, swapping tips!
** rip = undo knitting

Saturday 8 October 2016

Let's talk about ...

Nope.  Not going to say it.  My aim is to avoid the S word right through this blog post.  In fact, I'm going to try to avoid all the embarrassing words in this blog post.  Just to make things extra funny...

When I was expecting Dude and Princess wanted to know about how the baby was going to get out, my wise obstetrician's advice was to use distraction effectively...

Something like:

"Well the baby's got a special way of getting out.  Hey! Would you like some chocolate?"

Which is kind of funny, seeing as she specialises in getting the babies out.

But I guess she doesn't specialise in telling small people all about it.

Although I dodged a bullet there (that answer worked by the way), I figured that wasn't a long term solution.

The questions started coming from the Dude too I guess, and it seemed like a good opportunity to satisfy their natural curiosity.

I am absolutely no kind of expert in this area*.  but I love picture books, and I've spent a fair bit of time teaching children*** so I figured I should find some resources.

I seemed to have imbibed a few approaches from the ether:

* using correct anatomical names for body parts in order to:

  • be matter-of-fact (no shame); 
  • educate; and 
  • empower (it's supposed to be a good protective strategy in potential abuse situations
* trying to give a good answer to any question while keeping it age appropriate - I don't want my kids to feel like there is any shame in their curiosity and questions; but I also didn't want to freak them out.

We have also been privileged to attend a seminar at my kids' school called "Amazing Me" - Princess is in Year 3, and to be honest, I wasn't quite ready for her to hear 'the talk' yet.

But I preferred that she hear it from someone good at delivering that information, and to hear it with me.  I definitely didn't want her to hear it in the playground with embellishments...

The educator was awesome.  She delivered her stuff informatively, with humour, and with sensitivity.  I learned a lot about how to talk to my kids from her approach.

My impression of the evening was that all us parents wanted to crawl under the seats with our awkwardness about the topic, I suspect most of us were a bit red in the face.  Luckily no-one was game to look around.

But the kids?  They just absorbed it all as fascinating information.  They were desperate to answer the questions they knew, no embarrassment there!  Which was great.

I've also noticed that when I talk to the Dude about his questions, he's just fascinated by it as interesting information.  There's no concept (yet) of just how *embarrassing* this could be...  So I'm glad he's asking the questions now, and we can talk about them, because I think he's at a great age just to take it all in as fascinating facts.  And that's got to be powerful - he'll know how things work, and take it all for granted, before he gets to an age where it is embarrassing or shocking to discover.

Anyway, back to the point.  I have absolutely no idea what I originally googled when I went searching for resources for kids on this topic.  I'm sure it was embarrassing.

I do recall checking out the A Mighty Girl website, which is a treasure trove of fabulous resources, particularly aimed at empowering girls.  One of my favourite parts of the site is the book list - there are awesome resources on all sorts of topics.  It's well worth checking out.  The topics range across all sorts of topics from  History to Social Issues to Fiction to Understanding Yourself (including understanding issues like Aspergers) to Nature.

I looked at several of the books they suggested, and then took some time to read through the reviews on Amazon.

(as an aside, I always use the site, not the Australian one, because it has more on it). 

People take the time to write such detailed and informative reviews, and I really appreciated it on this occasion, because it allowed me to eliminate some books that are probably great, but weren't what I wanted.

I chose a few books.  Some suited to younger children, or as a reference for either child, that I'm happy to leave on the bookshelf for them to look at whenever they want.

One of the books is definitely one that I have put aside, and will pull out at times to look at specific pages.  It's for older children, and is more detailed.  Some of the concepts in it are better for us to read and discuss together.  It's still an awesome book, but I do think it's important to decide for your own family what you are comfortable with and what feels appropriate.

All of the books communicate the value of our bodies, how amazing they are, and reinforce a value of our right to ownership of our bodies (even if it's not explicit).

I've really tried to capitalise on the opportunity with my kids to let this reflect on our amazing Creator!

Amazing You!: Getting Smart About Your Private Parts
by Gail Saltz.
This is such a great book.  It is positive and simple, and suitable for young children - from around Preschool age, but could be used with slightly older children too.
The explanations of bodies and where babies come from is appropriate for younger children.  The way the illustrations work, also would allow you to expand upon caesarean and 'normal' deliveries if it's something you want to discuss with your kids.  This is one of the books that lives on our bookshelf, and which gets pulled out by the kids.  I did read this with the children a few times first before the book appeared on the bookshelf.

Who Has What?: All About Girls' Bodies and Boys' Bodies (Let's Talk about You and Me)
by Robie H. Harris
This is for slightly older children.  It's a little longer and more involved.  It relates differences between girls' and boys' bodies to familiar animals such as pets so children can draw a link between things they have seen in their environment.  I think younger kids might not understand the links quite so clearly, but it's a great approach.
It is less about how babies are made, and more about our bodies are awesome, and their similarities and differences.
It's another book I'm happy to have out for my kids (again after reading it with them), but I think younger children would benefit more from having an adult read it with them.

It's Not the Stork!: A Book About Girls, Boys, Babies, Bodies, Families and Friends (The Family Library)
by Robie. H Harris.
Another book by the same author as "Who Has What".  This is definitely for older children (but still suitable for primary age).  It's got lots of fantastic information, and answers more specific and common questions about exactly what goes on, including questions kids ask, like where the baby is, and how it eats!

Great diagrams to answer kids' questions
Having said that, it is also a book that I keep away, and will bring out to respond to specific questions, or explain concepts.
It uses the construct of some extra characters:  a bee, and a bird (Yes! How appropriate!) to provide other voices which can be curious, or grossed out.  It's a clever construct and fills an important role. However, I think they make it more complex to follow the main ideas of the text. I've found this in experiences with other factual texts for children, It's another feature that makes me think this book is better for slightly older children.
Importantly, it also includes a section on child protection:  safe touch and unsafe touch, which is excellent.  This is a page, however, that contains some information that some families might be a little uncomfortable with.

Here's a photo of the contents so you can see the topics that are covered.

There are several other books written on these topics by Robie H. Harris - I think they were for older children.  If you are keen to keep researching, I recommend the Amazon reviews as a handy place to find reflections on great books on the topic.

I'm also intrigued by "My Underpants Rule" which I've noticed being advertised online.  I haven't done any research into it, but a quick look at the site makes me think it looks like an excellent approach for helping protect children, and helping them learn to protect themselves.  I'd love to hear if anyone else has looked into it, and what you think!

Please excuse me while I go purchase another book!

In fact, if you have any wisdom or advice on this area, we'd all love to hear it!  Please let us know in the comments or on facebook.

*I am absolutely no kind of expert in this area, and this is a very limited list of resources.  I wrote this blog post to save boring the pants**off a few friends while I rabbited on about some books I found on the topic.  This way if they are bored they can wander off and have a nice cup of tea.  And a lie down.  Or both.  And I'll never know ;) 

** yes, that is an unfortunate turn of phrase given the topic, but it made me laugh.  I hope it makes you laugh too

*** I'm not going to tell you how many years, because then you might figure out how old I am.  And we can't have that.

Friday 30 September 2016

Pomegranate Fudge?

I have only ever once tried to make fudge.

It was a dismal failure.

So I gave up on that.

10 years later, now owning a Thermomix, and often being the recipient of someone else's yummy fudge, I decided it was time to conquer my fears and try again.

A box of fudge seemed the perfect accompaniment for a brief holiday with friends by the water.

So I tried again.  My only problem was finding a recipe that was constituted from ingredients that were in our house.  I did try to go shopping with an actual shopping list.  But I still managed to forget important fudgy components.

Finally I found this fantastic recipe from Tenina which, for some reason, doesn't contain glucose syrup.  I'm not sure why this is important to most people (gluten? intolerance?  feel free to enlighten me!) but it was important to me because we have no glucose syrup.

I followed the recipe carefully, even milling the sugar an extra 2 times to avoid any grittiness as mentioned in the reviews.  Everything was in:  the condensed milk, the vanilla, and the butter.  Oh, the butter!

But I forgot to check my golden syrup supplies.  Golden Syrup is just always there when you need it, surely?  Even my trusty neighbours had run out.

It was too late to back out, so I had to find Plan B

After watching the merest dribble of syrup fail to meet the requisite amount, I searched the pantry.  The best thing I could find was Pomegranate Molasses.  I bought this for something important I had planned and never gotten around to.  I too find it incredible that there was no golden syrup, but pomegranate molasses were in stock.

I hoped it would have a great flavour, and the same gooey consistency.  I thought I'd better taste test first - it's quite tangy, so I wasn't entirely confident.  But then I figured there was already enough sugar in the mixture to make this work.  It also isn't gooey like golden syrup.

I followed Tenina's instructions for the cooking process and time, and also her instructions for the fudge to cool for a long time, preferably overnight *not* in the fridge.  Husband had to be warned away so that he didn't burn himself with the mixture....

The recipe tastes AMAZING!!  But I wouldn't call it a fudge.  The texture is more like a caramel, perhaps because of the consistency of the molasses vs the golden syrup.  It is incredibly moreish.  It is sweet and yummy, and the pomegranate molasses give it a tangy juicy quality.

If you're up for some experimenting and have the patience to cut the caramel up (it does require  commitment - thank you Husband) I can recommend you try this.  It keeps best in the fridge, and is just divine with a cup of tea!

Isn't it wonderful when cooking experiments create new delights!

Wednesday 28 September 2016

Roast Pumpkin & Chorizo Soup

Spring is most definitely on the way now, despite my being lucky enough to squeeze in a crazy ski trip last weekend.

It may have involved some shenanigans that resulted in injury.  I'm all better now and still maintain that I'm not too old for adventures!

The children and I have been enjoying spotting each new bud and blossom in our garden.  Even the weeds bring my dude great joy - they are sunshine yellow after all!

Still, we've had some unexpectedly chilly days lately, so I'm making the most of the opportunity for more soups.

I had pumpkin, and a surfeit of chorizos*.  I also wanted to use the Thermomix to cook this meal - feeling far to lazy to bother cooking my usual Pumpkin Soup recipe on the stove...

So, here's my experimental Roast Pumpkin & Chorizo soup.  It turned out surprisingly yummy, if I do say so myself!  It's a hearty, sweet, chunky soup.  I'll try to improve my recipe layout for you later, but for now, here it is to enjoy!

1/2 Butternut Pumpkin - remove seeds
1 Sweet Potato
Olive oil
1 onion
2 chorizo**
knob of butter
500 ml Chicken Stock
Maple Syrup - splash

Preheat oven 220
Roughly chop pumpkin into quarters (you can leave it whole, but this quarters makes it quicker)
Cut sweet potato into large rough chunks
Drizzle with olive oil
Roast in oven approx 20 min until soft and starting to brown.
Place onion & chorizo in Thermomix:  Chop 5 sec, speed 5
Cook 2 Min / Varoma / reverse speed soft with butter
Repeat until you are happy it's cooked through / starting to caramelise - 1 repeated 3 times.
Scoop out the flesh of the roasted pumpkin & sweet potato.
Add to Thermomix
Add 500 ml chicken stock.
Add a splash of maple syrup.  Because Maple Syrup is always good right?
Blend for 30 seconds, starting at speed 1 progressing to speed 3 to blend carefully (due to the chunks of veg, and the amount of liquid)
Repeat until you are happy with the consistency, gradually increasing the speed.
Check your soup and see if you like the chunkiness of it - this is for a hearty, chunky recipe.
If you prefer a smoother soup, add a little more stock, milk or even cream!
Add it gradually so that you are blending safely and so that you can check as you go.

If you use boiling water to make your stock, you won't need to re-heat much, but you'll need to take even more care with blending.
If you used cold water (like me) you will want to bring your soup back up to the heat.
I cooked it for 10 min more at 95 degrees, reverse speed slow

Serve with a dash of yoghurt or sour cream.

**For a stove top recipe, dice the chorizo into neat little cubes, fry them, starting with a cold pan to allow them to render their tasty fat for the soup, then remove half.  Leave half of the chunks to cook and flavour the soup.  Add the remaining half after the blending process to add texture.

* I hate online shopping.  But occasionally I use it so that we can get food into the house without my having to go get it.  In an online shopping fail, I managed to order 2 kg of Chorizo.  I blame Woolworths.  That may or may not be fair.  Luckily we like it and it freezes well.  I have a couple of great recipes incorporating Chorizo, which I'll share soon.  2 kg is really quite a lot - I'd love any of your favourite chorizo recipes!

Wednesday 14 September 2016

Shawl v2.3

This shawl has had so much more backwards progress (ripping, tinking and starting over!) than forwards.

Finally, I think I may be heading in the right direction.

Lots of careful counting and re-counting.  And a little cheat - my numbers were out, so I did a sneaky increase in the middle, because I just could not find the mistake!

I love it when I start to 'understand' the topography of the pattern.

The pattern is the Daelin Shawl, the lace looks a little like leaves.  Or from another angle, like hearts.*
* I just found Miriam Felton's blog, and the lace is a lute...

the stems of the leaves are just starting to emerge - how appropriate for spring

Today has been a day in which it's hard to breathe.

Sitting in the sunshine, enjoying blossoms, petals floating to the ground, inhaling the fragrance of jasmine, butterflies, and my buddy, along with the meditation of knitting has helped.

The repetitive motion.

The concentration required, knit, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, purl.

Check and check again.

Brings it's reward.


Lace beginning to emerge.

I can't wait to see it revealed.

What do you do so you can breathe?

Wednesday 7 September 2016

Moments found

a time for sorrow and remembering

balm to comfort
like a gentle hug

sunshine to cheer the soul

sharing a burden, lifting the weight of one's own

providing lunch, sometimes preparing food is too hard

inhaling the joy of boy & puppy, destined to be friends

treasures found


cosy comfort

an unexpected blooming

Monday 5 September 2016

Balm to the Soul

I have just finished knitting up a beautiful shawl called Balm to the Soul.

And it really has been.

I needed something simple and comforting, and this has been perfect.

The pattern was easy enough for my concentration levels (low), and although there are mistakes in it, they have become features.

I've been able to complete it in a fairly short space of time too, which is satisfying.

The alpaca yarn from Adagio, is beyond description.  It is soft, snuggly and light.  It has a smoothness to it, that seems like lanolin, but can't be, because Alpaca doesn't have any.  I hope someone knows and can tell me what it is.  Or perhaps it's just part of the glory of Alpaca!

If you've been thinking of trying some of their yarns, I highly recommend you do.

I was inspired by the Adagio Alpaca facebook post, about a pattern called Curl Curl designed for their yarn by Meg Gadsbey, who has lovely, modern styles. Their kit contains the yarn & pattern for a beautiful simple and warm cowl.  You can get it here.  I was all set to cast on, but I had more yarn than the pattern required, which I really wanted to make the most of.  If you are looking for a simple, snuggly cowl to knit, this would be a great project - also good for learning to knit in-the-round.

This led to a Ravelry search for something else fabulous.

If you aren't aware of Ravelry, and want to get into knitting or crochet, it's just amazing.  It's an online collection of patterns, yarn databases, forums, groups, you name it.

The search functions within Ravelry are awesome.

I was able to search for a shawl with the type of yarn (DK / 8 ply), and the yardage.  Then I browsed through the options that came up, and the name of this one caught my eye.

All the options you can choose from are listed down the side of the page.  Here is what it looked like once I had chosen them.

Another thing I love about Ravelry, is that they have regular updates to their Home Page to help you learn how to use all the features of Ravelry.

I have enjoyed knitting something chunkier and softer than the fine sock yarn I have been working with on other projects.  And it was lovely to knit something quick (I'm a slow knitter).  The yarn is called "Clouds", and has the loveliest of greys in it - there is the slightest amount of subtle variegation within the strands of the yarn.  It's a little bit 'knubbly' with an imperfection here or there - which I think adds to the cosiness of the yarn.  It is such a beautiful yarn to knit with.

I know there is a larger 4 ply shawl pattern called Contrail coming out later in this yarn, also by Meg Gadsbey - I can't wait to buy it - it's a modern, striking design and it looks fantastic. I'll let you know when the pattern is released!

Balm to the Soul is what I have needed in this season, and this knit has been it!

It was soothing and comforting.

There was time to master the basics of the increasing pattern (on the spine and border) before the other aspects of the pattern began.

I'm so pleased with how the lace worked out.  Simple, not too fussy, and totally suits the alpaca.

If you are thinking of giving this one a go, here are my thoughts and how I changed the pattern.

It is a fairly small shawl.  Probably a 'shawlette' really.

I got worried about this during the knit, wondering how it would be big enough to wear.  I took a close look at the pattern pictures, and spent time reading through the comments on the Ravelry site - these can be a goldmine for you if you are considering a pattern, and want some perspectives on how other people found it.

It is most definitely a triangle shape - which means it isn't long for draping around artistically.  It is the perfect size for wrapping snugly around my neck, and tucking the ends in - perfect for a cold weather shawl.

I did change the pattern slightly:

* I added a few increases in some of the stocking stitch sections - to encourage the shawl into more of a crescent shape than a triangle.  This has only had a subtle effect on the shape of it, but I'm glad I did.  It did mean the shawl became bigger sooner, and therefore, used more yarn.  As a result I didn't repeat the lace section (The DK pattern indicated a repeat).  I actually prefer it with just the one lace section

* I did the wrong number of rows in the moss (seed) stitch & garter stitch sections.  I incorporated that into how I did the remaining scarf, to keep a 'balance' to the sizes of the different sections

* I repeated a section of stocking stitch / garter stitch to increase the overall size of the shawl

* This changed my stitch count, which affected the lace stitch.  The lace pattern repeat was in multiples of 12 stitches.  I increased the number of repeats, and kept enough "left over" to still incorporate the lace elements that were not part of the repeats.  I think I ended up with a wider section of stocking stitch near the spine of the scarf, but I like how it has turned out.

* There was one criticism of the pattern in the comments - one knitter felt it had mistakes in it.  I am not sure whether there were actual mistakes, but you did need to realise that the "border" and "spine" elements needed to stay consistent regardless of what else was happening.  I think the pattern was a little unclear in this, although the notes did explain it well.  I really appreciated the detailed notes, and I learned a lot about knitting shawls from reading them.  I also really love the story behind a design - a pattern just isn't as appealing to me without that

blocking in the waves
* Blocking For The Win.  The blocking process was expedited because I *may* have spilled a cup of tea on my new shawl!  I love that the lace is called "Crest of the Wave". One of my (and my mum's) favourite places has always been the ocean, so this element is important to me.  Although the outer edge of the shawl didn't look very 'wavy', it responded so well to being eased into the wave shape while blocking.  I'm thrilled!

Nice day for sunbathing!
The shawl was designed for teaching Shawl knitting, and I think it would be a great knit to try if you have stuck to scarves so far, and want to expand your knitting repertoire!

Sunday 14 August 2016

Look! I knitted a Hat!

I finished my hat!

I love how it comes together in a star in the centre

I did some serious knitting this week (never mind housework and other responsibilities) and whipped up a hat.

Yes, you read that right, I finished a knitting project fast enough to describe it as 'whipped up'.

All for a fun Knit-A-Long for the Hey Sister Podcast.

I found a great hat recommended by other knitters in the Hey Sister Chat thread - the Ziggy Hat pattern, and I loved it.

It's a little large, but that's entirely my fault - as I picked up a yarn I had hanging around, unlabeled.  Turns out it's probably 12 ply, and the pattern is for 10 ply.  I still love it - it's that great slouchy vibe, and I can fix the loose 'cuff' by sewing through some shirring elastic.

I'm calling it my Serendipity Ziggy

Wish I'd had it for the snow - it's got some serious warmth.

The pattern looks lovely - it's a zig zag (hence the name) but I also think it's kind of like leaves on a vine.

It was simple enough for my (limited) concentration span, and forgiving enough to cope with a few mistakes (unless you look really closely and I won't let you!).

It was nice to do a quick project and get instant gratification.

It was much easier than I expected. Have you ever knit a hat?  I'll definitely be knitting more.

I need your help: Shawl Problems

Isn't that just lovely

I started knitting up my glorious Hellomello handspun sock yarn into a shawl.
I was so excited about it - the yarn is beautiful to work with, and light as air knitted up.

Perfect match for our plum blossoms


I chose the Shetland lace patterned Midnight in Sydney.  Which is a beautiful pattern, and I just love it.  I thought it would be fairly simple, with lots of garter stitch and a *ahem* simple lace pattern on the edge.

I'm not an advanced knitter, so I thought I'd chosen something I could manage.

I still love the pattern, but I don't think I can knit it.

I used a safety line at the start of the lace pattern, which was a fantastic idea, because I had to keep ripping my knitting back to it.   At least 4 times.

I couldn't even get to line 4 of the lace pattern (there are 26) despite repeated efforts.

I've decided to give up on the Midnight in Sydney pattern.

I don't know whether it's my (limited) abilities - there is a knit-4-together, and knit-4-together-through-back-loops that I find extremely difficult to do

Or whether the lace pattern is just not intuitive for me - I've found in other knits I've done, that there is a rhythm to the pattern that I gradually discover.

I know I only got to 4 rows, but the lace pattern was repeated along the row - these rows have lots of stitches!!!  I just couldn't get into the swing of it even though I could see how the lace was evolving.

It is highly likely that the issue is my concentration - I couldn't seem to keep track of where I was up to.

I refuse to admit that my eyesight is getting worse, although that may be a contributing factor...

Anyway, now I am on the hunt for a new shawl pattern.  I just can't decide.
I'll list some below, and ask you to vote.
But first, here are my guiding thoughts:
* yarn yardage - I only have approx 450 m
* I want a crescent shaped shawl (not an assymetrical triangular shawl this time)
* I'd like to replace the garter stitch with stocking stitch, as I think it will show off the variegation in the yarn better
* It can't be too tricky lol
* It can't have any knit-4-togethers.  They are my nemesis (along with a few other things)

Here they are:


(c) Carrie Bostick Hoge
Love the meaning behind the name
It's a long shawl, but I could change the stitch count to make it smaller and fit my yarn yardage.
The lace looks a little scary, but I can also see how it repeats

Daelin - looks a bit celtic to me...; and I'm wondering if it's *meant* to be in green.  Will it suit my sweet purple / pink yarn?

(c) Miriam L Felton


(c) Leila Raabe
But will it be too tricky?
Stocking stitch interspersed with lace.

(c) Maliha
Gorgeous - but would it look better with a heavier yarn weight for a nice wintry shawl?


image: (c) Helen Stewart - Ravelry
This is cool, because she has a whole set of tutorials to walk you through your first shawl.

My only issue is that I'm not a huge fan of eyelets - I prefer more of a lace, but those eyelets sure do make a lovely pattern...  And my yarn is similar to that one!

I have started reading her tutorials, and have learned such a lot already - she also has a great podcast.
You can find out more here

I really need some help deciding here!  Which one would you choose?

Friday 5 August 2016

Resting, of the Knitting Kind

It's been great to have a break from normal responsibilities lately.
I'm ready to head back to a great week at work next week, with our Winter Festival coming up.

In the meantime, my resting has turned into the knitting kind.

I've been going crazy trying some different projects, and finding some new podcasts and vidcasts.

Honestly, I prefer Podcasts, because I have very little time to watch things, and the sound is usually tricky on vidcasts, but there are some lovely people telling their knitting stories and here are some that I've found...
Hey Sister Vidcast
Knitmore Girls Podcast
Yarniacs Podcast
Never Not Knitting Podcast
Grocery Girls Vidcast

I love them because they have been leading me to new patterns and new techniques - there is so much to be learned from the wisdom of others.

And it's like having new friends to hang out with.

Although I really would love to start a real-life knitting group.  We could even combine it with a book club - the Knitmore Girls listed some of their favourite knitting-related writing last week, and I can't wait to get into some lovely stories.

I've even got a coffee shop (more importantly, it stocks awesome tea!) in mind...

Is anyone keen?

So here's what I've been knitting.

I started the Midnight in Sydney shawl - love Meg Gadsbey's designs, with my New York Hello Mello hand dyed yarn given me by my Sisters-in-Law.

As I looked at this fabric being knitted up, I thought of watercolours, and of impressionist art - reminiscent of Monet's garden.
The photo doesn't do it justice - I can't spread the shawl out because I'm in the middle of Tinking a row that I messed up by losing track of where I was.  The lace work makes it slow going.
But the yarn and the shawl are light-as-air and I can't wait to see it progress.

I've started on the lace section now, which is proving challenging.  Mainly because of the knit 4 togethers, and the concentration required!

I took advice and put in a 'lifeline' so that I could rip back if necessary - so far I've needed it twice, so it's been worth the time it took.  I'll keep moving the lifeline as I go.  It's the yellow-green yarn you can barely see - it has been threaded through the last row that I knew was correct.

I've also started a hat "Ziggy", which I'm going to call my Serendipity Ziggy because it is the combination of some unlabeled wool that was passed on to me (I think it's Bendigo 12 ply, in Oatmeal), and my using the wrong size needles by accident.

Which have turned out to be the right size, because I originally thought the yarn was 10 ply, but it's 12 ply.

So definitely Serendipity.

The yarn is so lovely and squishy and it will be so warm.    It's my first hat, so wish me luck.  I found the pattern through the Hey Sister Podcast Hat Knit a Long.  There's a whole load of great suggestions for hats in there, including for beginners!

I just love having the opportunity to learn new things, master new challenges and create lovely things (albeit slowly).

I am so thankful to my mum who taught me how to knit xx

Wednesday 20 July 2016


It's been a quiet and sad time for us lately, as most of you know.

I thought I would take my knitting with me and knit in the waiting times.

But I just couldn't - somehow I couldn't lift my hands to my projects and knit.

Have you ever found that when you pick up a project again it brings back the memories of what you were doing while you knit it?

Somehow, woven into the fabric is the essence of what was around.

I have picked up projects and had vivid images of the movie I was watching, or the scenery we were driving through.

I didn't want my lovely rainbow socks to have grief woven into their fabric.

I don't want my beautiful yarns to bring sorrow while they are being made and when they are worn.

And now that we have walked through the valley, I still can't seem to pick up my needles.

I think I'm just tired.

I am looking forward to creating something again.

But for now, I will rest.

To everything there is a season and a time for every purpose under heaven. 
Ecclesiastes 3

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea.
I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. 
3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. 
‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”
5 He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!”
Revelation 21

Monday 4 July 2016

Cosy Cowls: Simple Sewing Project (easy for kids)

Co-written by Princess :D

We fell in love with some gorgeous foxie flannelette recently.  It was duly turned into PJs for various members of the family.

But I had leftovers.  And I got to thinking how cosy that could be as a neck-warmer, particularly for a young lady I know who lives in chilly Canberra and who rides her bike to school.

I got on to my trusty Pinterest, and searched flannelette cowls.  I wasn't sure whether flannelette would work for this project because it doesn't stretch.

I found some great projects, and in the end, made the design I found here, with one exception:  I made the lining and the outer both the same size - 12" x 30".  It worked beautifully.  I also had enough fabric to make another smaller cowl for Princess 6" x 30", which was still a great size to keep her warm.
You can't see the cowl too well, but she sure looks cosy!
I'm not too keen to give the cowl to her - I'd quite like to keep it!  Very cosy.

This is a good project for a beginner, because it's fairly simple cutting and construction.  It involves rectangles and straight lines!

The last seam is sewn as a top-stitched seam, which is easy to manage, although it requires pinning because the fleece is a little tricky.  I usually avoid pinning.

I was so pleased with how the cowl turned out, and fell in love with the fleece that we lined it with.
One thing led to another, and then we were on a mission to make some cowls for our snow holiday coming up soon.

Fleece is perfect for the snow because it doesn't absorb moisture, which means you don't end up wearing heavy, cold wet clothes that have absorbed snow.

Warmth = happiness when you're out in the snow!

First, we had to go back to Spotlight to get some more of the coral nursery fleece, which is extra soft and fluffy.  Warning:  it sheds dreadfully - our house is currently covered in multi-coloured fluff; and it tends to split a little along the cut edges, so you have to handle it carefully, and make sure you have a decent seam allowance.  Normal fleece is a little more resilient than this.

I had some nordic snowflake fleece set aside to make Husband and I some cheesy matching neck warmers for skiing (you can get away with all sorts of fun things at the snow!).

I could have made an ultra-cheesy matching set for the entire family, but the children had other ideas...

We looked up a few different tutorials, and worked out our measurements from there.

We made the fleece cowls a bit smaller, than the flannelette as the fleece will stretch, and we want the cowls to fit fairly snugly around our necks at the snow.

We also designed the cowls so that the contrast fabric creates a coloured border on the other side, as per the original tutorial that I used.

Princess has provided the instructions for you below: 

Cut two pieces of fleece:


decorative:12 inches
coral fleece:14 inches
for both: 24 inches

decorative:6 inches
coral fleece:8 inches
for both:24 inches

We copied from a pattern but changed the measurements  to fit better. These were our measurements.
I'm Justine's daugter and I chose a 'RAINBOW owls' fabric for me and my friends.
My brother Oliver chose doggy fabric and his favourite colour is ORANGE!there were orange doggies on it.

We are going to the snow soon so these will be good.

They make good presents too.
These neck warmers aren't just good for the snow they're good for cold mornings.

Try making one with these instructions
1. we cut the fabric to the measurements written above.
2.line up the edges, right sides together and sew down one seam.
3.line up the edges for the other side - mummy edit: you will be jiggling the narrower fabric across to do this - this will create the contrast border - sew the second long seam. 
4.turn it out the right way.
5.fold it in half lengthwise.
fold in half lengthwise, to match the short un-sewn sides
6. Line up the fabrics that match - you will be sewing a circle to create a tube...  It's tricky to explain. See picture below:   

start sewing around the narrow tube creating by matching up the short ends

The Purl Soho blog has a much better description of this process, and of the finishing part:  you have to finish sewing it up by hand.