Sunday, December 31, 2006

I Licked An Ant's Bum!

Day 8 - New Year's Eve

Went kayaking around the Cape today. Our guide was a real Aussie bloke called Stu. Everyone was to him either a brother, sister, mate, love, or possum. Gotta love that.

He's one of the most laid back people I've ever met. Whilst on Myall Beach he picked up half a dozen coconuts that'd fallen onto the beach. We carried them on our kayaks back to his 'office' which is basically an outdoor tent canopy and he hacked them open with a machete. We drank the juice and ate the flesh, which he also hacked off with a hunting knife.

Then Stu decided he fancied a walk in the 'garden' and gave us an impromptu bush tucker tour. He climbed a tree and found a jack fruit (tastes like bubble gum), then pointed out a cashew tree to us (cashews are actually a nut grown on the end of apples, see below), a lime tree (we could pick as many off as we wanted), a macademia tree (nuts still green) and then, he pointed out a fruit covered in green ants.

Stu tells us the ants have a lime flavour in their green butts so what does he do? Gives us each an ant to lick.

It really has a lime taste! Very potent too!

Anyway, pics to come when we have the technology.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Hot Hot Christmas Holidays

Day 1 (Xmas Eve) - Cairns

Got up at 5am for 7am flight. Arrived in Cairns around 9am.

Slept most of the day. However we did manage to go out for dinner. Had a seafood platter with prawns, mussels, bugs, oysters, calamari and fruit! Nice.

Here's a picture of the lagoon in the middle of the city. And here's a sign accompanying...

Read the bit about water tight swimmers? Gross.

Day 2 (Xmas Day) - Palm Cove

Drove to Palm Cove (20 mins from Cairns) where we'll be staying for the next 3 nights. This is Trinity Beach enroute to Palm Cove. Just one of about 7 beaches between Cairns and Palm.

And here is Palm Cove.

All the beaches are really nice but I still think beaches in Sydney and Byron are nicer. Sand on Palm Cove is pretty coarse but there's shade everywhere thanks to the abundance of palm trees.

Weather's been good. No rain so far and not extremely hot but still around 31 degrees each day and quite humid. Thank goodness for air-con!

Spent the rest of the day at the beach and just chilling out. Finished my book (The Innocent Man by John Grisham). Well worth a read.

Day 3 (Boxing Day) - Great Barrier Reef

The whole day was spent snorkelling at the GBR. Weather conditions were perfect. Needless to say it was FANTASTIC.

The tour was a full day one to the outer Reef. Took 1.5 hours on a boat to get there. Will post pics in a separate post, including some underwater ones! (ps. pics have now been posted on my flickr! Teaser below!)

We did 3 dives at sites called Ray Ban, can't remember the 2nd one and Turtle Bay.

Heaps of tropical fish (plenty of Nemos), different varieties of coral in an array of colours, and a turtle! Had so much fun and didn't get sunburnt (except on the top of my head and my left ear... ouch!)

Day 4 - Still at Palm Cove

Today was our laze around day. Went to the beach in the morning before it got too hot, then back to the resort for a swim in the pool.

We then decided to visit Mareeba and Kuranda in the Atherton Tablelands, west of Cairns. The drive took an hour up some pretty windy roads. When we got there, there was nothing but a coffee shop! About 90% of the coffee produced by Australia is grown in Mareeba - which is why we decided to visit since I am such an addict.

I was kind of hoping for a tour about the roasting process of the beans (above) or something. Instead there was just a shop and cafe. Pooh!

Here's a really ancient expresso machine.

Best thing about the drive was finding some really cheap mangoes and lychees. My 2 fave fruits! Look at Jerms fondling those juicy juicy mangoes...

What?! $3.50 a kg? Give me 2!

Another highlight was driving past a town called, wait for it... Speewah!

Yeah. Small things amuse small minds.

Don't worry folks, I haven't been neglecting my knitting - even in this heat! Here's the beginings of the Phylotaxis Scarf, my 2nd Knitting Nature project.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Completed Cloud

I'm coming out of hibernation.

Finished the Cloud Bolero a couple of nights ago but only got round to blocking it last night. I hovered the steam iron over it cos' I didn't want to flatten the scallop stitching, plus this yarn is really soft and fluffy.

Here are the project details:

Pattern: FREE from Yarn Forward magazine, by Ysolda Teague, in the M size
Yarn: 2 and a bit balls of Rowan Polar in Silver Lining
(This yarn is discontinued but I found some from Cucumberpatch in the UK. They have excellent service and shipping rates. Also fast shipping, even to a backwater like Australia!)
Needles: 8mm circulars
Notions: Button or ribbon as fastener - I haven't got a proper ribbon yet, the one in the photo is from some left over Christmas wrapping

Modifications: The pattern calls for 2 balls of Rowan Polar if making the XS, S or M size. However, it also has provisions for extending the cap sleeves by 1 pattern repeat (4 rows) , which I did, and therefore ran out of yarn just before the cast off row.
I also lengthened the bolero by 3 or 4 pattern repeats I think.

I LOVED the pattern, despite the strife I had with reading it at first. It was such an interesting knit and so well designed. It's knitted in one piece from the collar down with NO SEAMING (yay). The cap sleeves appear magically as you increase the number of stitches in each row. Also I loved the fact that you try it on as you go and make adjustments along the way so that it's a perfect fit.

The only thing I would change about the pattern is probably adding a button hole at the collar. This isn't written in the pattern and by the time I thought of it I had already gone too far down.

If I was making it again (very likely) I would also print out the pattern with spaces between each row's instruction. Nearly went blind reading it.

Monday, December 11, 2006


The new Knitty is up!

This would be quite tempting to add to my growing collection of handmade stuff toys....

On a more distressing note, I ran out of yarn for my Cloud Bolero on the weekend. I'm making the M size which requires 2 balls of Rowan Polar according to the pattern, but because I made the longer version of the cap sleeves (i.e. added the first 4 rows of section 1b before moving on to section 2), I only have about 30 cm left when I got to the bind off row. Plus I plan to make it a bit longer than required now that I'm going to need extra yarn anyway.

I've ordered another ball already so in the mean time it's back to the Jo Sharp bolero.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Cloud Disaster

I needed a break from the monotonous stockinette stitch of the Jo Sharp bolero last night (plus I was getting RSI from the small needles) and decided to start the Cloud Bolero using the Rowan Polar that arrived yesterday.

It started out being a really interesting knit as I couldn't tell from the pattern how it would turn out so it was a bit like secret knitting.

Unfortunately it also meant it was impossible to pick up any mistakes. It wasn't until row 20 that I realised something had gone terribly wrong....

The total number of stitches was correct but the numbers between stitch markers were out by 1 or 2. It didn't help that the instructions are written in this format with no stitch chart...
Row 20 (RS): k3, (yo, k1) 3 times, (k2tog) 6 times, (yo, k1) 3 times, yo, slm, k1, yo, k1, pmB, (yo, k1) 3 times, (k2tog) 6 times, (yo, k1) 3 times, k1, yo, slm, k1, yo, pmB (k1, yo) 3times, (k2tog) 6times, (yo, k1) 6 times, (k2tog) 6 times, (yo, k1) 3 times, yo, slm, k1, yo k1, pmB, (yo, k1) 3 times, (k2tog) 6 times, (yo, k1), 3 times, k1, yo, slm, k1, yo, pmB (k1, yo) 3 times, (k2tog) 6times, (yo, k1) 3 times, k3. 130 sts.
And that's just one row!

I counted and recounted and counted and recounted but couldn't find the mistake for a whole episode of Grey's Anatomy (will have to watch that one again). Eventually I found a mistake IN THE SECOND ROW!!!!!!

To be honest I don't think that was the only mistake but I was so fed up with counting by that stage that I just ripped the whole thing out. That was round about midnight....

One problem with being someone who is highly competitive when it comes to math-related challenges is that I can't rest until I've solved the problem. So there I was up til 2 in the morning redoing the whole thing until I got to row 20 and made sure that the pattern was actually right.

Needless to say I'm not my usual Little Miss Sunshine self today.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Super Geek Of the Year

Jerms sent me this link today with the note "well, it appears you may have married the wrong nerd..." Indeed!

Well if I can't maybe some of you ladies out there can.

On an even more knit related note, I have a progress pic...

I'm onto the 2nd sleeve now. I'm knitting the sleeves in the round using the brilliant 2 needle method up to the shoulder shaping, yes to avoid any unnecessary and dreaded seaming....

My stash is also returning to a healthy level after I flogged off a stack of stuff on eBay to make room in my stash drawers. Yesterday I received 2 packs of Jo Sharp Silkroad DK Tweed - the Autumn colour one will be used to make the Phyllotaxis Scarf in Knitting Nature...

... and the lilac colour probably for a cardigan from Jo Sharp Knit 2, next winter.

And just as I'm posting this, the mail lady today came with a package - 2 balls of Rowan Polar in Silver Lining, which I'm using to make the Cloud Bolero by Ysolda Teague, a free pattern from the new Yarn Forward mag.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Where is She?

It's not like I've gone off blogging. I've just been too busy putting my leftover stash on eBay... including this ball of DB Cashmerino Aran for anyone who wants to knit a pair of Fetching.

I've already made mine!

There are some real bargains there as my main aim is to clear some drawer space for new stash. Including some Jo Sharp Silkroad DK Tweed for my next Knitting Nature project.

At the moment I'm beavering away at the Jo Sharp Bolero. Am up to the 1st sleeve now. Progress pics to come.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Quick WIP

Have started the first of my summer knits! Although progress is slow considering we've had several days of 35+ degrees (Celsius) in the past couple of weeks.

It's the short sleeve bolero in the Jo Sharp Knit 2 book.

I'm using some Debbie Bliss Cathay in silver I got on eBay for a sweet sweet price. Here's where I'm at so far.

I decided to knit the back and fronts in one piece, then separate the stitches from the sleeve shaping, but still knitted right across - to avoid losing count of rows (this means I'm working with 3 balls of yarn at the same time - which has its moments).

The DB Cathay is unexpectedly soft to work with, considering it's a cotton blend, and has a really nice sheen to it - looks much nicer in reality than in the photo.

The project is meant to be my holiday project when we go to the Great Barrier Reef and Daintree this Christmas (can't wait) but I think at this rate I'll finish it by then. I might make a singlet with the leftover yarn instead.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Tea Towel Bags

ISBN 4579110412

I've been meaning to share this Jap craft book for a while now (it's one of the few books I actually bought IN Japan).

Some really great projects apparently made from just tea towels... including bags, seat covers, heat mats, tissue covers and MORE BAGS!

As with most Jap craft books, this one has some really stylish photos despite the simplicity of the objects.

Here's a picture of the materials...

This bag was the reason I bought this book...

I'm yet to find a tea towel that actually has that lovely flower pattern though.

I remember looking at haberdashery shops in Japan and they actually sell fabrics similar to the ones used in this book! Those lucky buggers in Japan....

Anyway, a few more pics in my flickr for the really keen.

Ta Ta!

The long awaited photo shoot of the finished Asymmetrical Cardigan turned out to be a bit of an anti-climatic hurried job. Done in about 2 minutes before we ran out of the house to go to work this morning...

And with the buttons undone...

This is a dancing back shot (very silly, yes)...

Overall it was an enjoyable and interesting knit. The 'star of David' pattern took a while to get the hang of so it maintained my interest. Also I LOVE things that are knitted in one piece.

For this cardigan, the fronts of the cardigan including half sleeves were knitted separately up to the collar then joined to knit in one piece. The only slightly annoying thing was that it got too big and heavy after the fronts were joined and I couldn't carry it around on the train anymore, hence the slow progress towards the end.

The collar and button bands were also knitted in one piece then sewn onto the cardigan. I was a bit dubious about how the asymmetrical collar would look in the end but it worked out exactly as the book illustrated. A highly recommend project!

So, project details...

Pattern: Asymmetrical Cardigan from Knitting Nature by Norah Gaughan
Size: Petite (I'm nowhere near a petite but the book has quite generous sizing)
Yarn: ALL of 14 x 50g balls of Nundle Woollen Mill Pure Wool 12ply in Grey (I unraveled the gauge swatch to get enough yarn)
Needles: 5mm and 5.5mm
Notions: Shell buttons from my LYS
Modifications: Pretty much to spec except I added an extra button

1. Right front neck shaping... BO 4 st ONCE, not twice (to match the left front neck shaping)
2. Back length... only knit 10" in pattern (NOT 13") and then 3" of 2x2 rib

Friday, November 10, 2006

Some Asymmetrical Action

The Asymmetrical Cardigan is almost finished! I'll be getting some buttons from my LYS this weekend. (Also hopefully some 'hair' for the poor neglected zebra.) Here it is all seamed up!

And a close up of the collar...

I must say I had some doubts about how the collar would turn out before I seamed it. Aside from its odd shape, it also looked too narrow compared to the collar on the cardigan. But after some serious steam iron blocking, it actually worked out well!

I was also worried that I wouldn't have enough yarn for seaming but thank goodness I left long enough tails at the end of each piece. In fact when I finished I had about 5 inches to spare (I already undid the gauge swatch in order to finish the button bands). Phew!

I lightly steam ironed the whole thing once it was seamed and that's also made a world of difference. The yarn actually feels softer and the stitches are a bit more even. The ribbing especially has flattened such that the whole piece fits quite nicely (I was worried I'd made it one size too small).

Anyway, hopefully will have more photos to show next week. Stay tuned!

Thursday, November 09, 2006

New Stash Update 2

I promised more stash update in a previous post but I've been too busy with work and managing my eBay sales.

Anyway, here it is...

For years now I've been salivating at the publications by the French yarn company Phildar - they have a huge number of knitting magazines, or 'catalogues' filled with interesting and modern designs. But they've always been in French! Until now.

They've just launched their English website and online store in October. They only have 6 of their catalogues translated in English so far and postage is exorbitant, but I got two anyway. (The magazines were 8.28 euros ex. VAT each but postage was 16 euros for both!!!) I suppose it's really expensive because the magazines are actually quite thick, and the English translation is actually a separate magazine.

The one shown above is the Winter 1 magazine. You can flip through all the projects in each magazine online, which is great. The few things I have my eyes on are...

I also got the Special Twenty magazine, which has a Kate Hudson lookalike on the cover and a few interesting pieces like the poncho below...

Monday, November 06, 2006

ARGH! I've Run Out of Yarn!

This work in progress of the Asymmetrical Cardi is long overdue. It'll be a month tomorrow since I started working on it but I have been distracted by a number of other projects - like the zebra, and Fetching.

Last night I finally finished the collar and neckband - that's the strange looking piece in this pic.

All weekend I have been haunted by the dread that I will run out of yarn. I had to undo the gauge swatch to finish the 2nd neckband - with only around 3 inches to spare!

I still need more yarn for making up the cardi, but thankfully I left long tails of yarn after each BO. Now we have to wait and see whether that's enough. I managed to do the left sleeve and side seam last night using the tail from the left cuff. Looking good so far...

Monday, October 30, 2006

Stash Bustin'... NOT!

I've been selling off some of my stash on eBay (no, I've not gone mad)... to make room for new stash. A lot of new stash.

New stash include...
  • 8 x balls from Nundle Woollen Mills (to make a mystery present),
  • the new Jo Sharp Knit 2 magazine, and
  • the Fall 06 issue of Interweave Knits (yes it's a bit late to be showing this off but believe it or not my issue arrived 2.5 months late - it's a long story)

Before you say this is a disappointingly small stash, let me tell you that this is only part of the big picture. More to come later.

New stash, new stash, new stash!

Monday, October 23, 2006

Stripey Dog/Bumble Bee?

We have lift off with the Zebra.

The pattern is from this Japanese craft book.

I got the socks for 8 bucks at a sock stand in Chatswood Westfield (2 pairs for $15!) - unbelievably it's the only place I've been able to find this type of socks.

It turned out to be a tad more difficult than the monkey as there's a lot more hand sewing involved. And I couldn't get the head to shape like the one in the book and the body ended up being too long - well my first attempt at the body was too short so I had to redo it with the other sock (thankfully these socks are longer than the ones required).

Anyway, here's a progress shot...

And here's what it looks like so far - bit like a cross between a dog and a bumble bee.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Asymmetrical Away

I started the Asymmetrical Cardigan from Norah Gaughan's Knitting Nature er... nearly 2 weeks ago.

Was going to post some progress shots but have been too lazy to whip out the camera. And this knitted up sooo fast!

By the time of posting I've already joined the two fronts and am doing the sleeve-back-sleeve section.

Project details on the KAL.

In a milestone, I finally frogged the Rebecca 28 sweater to give me the yarn I need for this cardi. Did I mention I LOVE my ballwinder? It channels the destructive instincts in me.

This weekend however, I'm putting the cardi aside and starting the ZEBRA. No more procrastination!

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Butter is for Basting

Yay! Darren Hanlon's new album Fingertips and Mountaintops is getting some great reviews. Read them on the Candle Records site.

The clip for 'Happiness Is A Chemical' is on YouTube. It showcases Darren's unique dance style and is highly amusing.

Here's what he says about the clip on his website...

"The clip features me as an evangelist guitar playing preacher spreading the word of happiness. I got the character idea from Robert Mitchum in Night of the Hunter. In it he has the words good and evil tattooed on his knuckles. I wanted to write sad and glad on mine but it looked silly on film. Also look out for a cameo of the amazing young Jindbyne actress Eva Lazzaro. She's the most intelligent and funny 11 year old I've ever met. She told me her favourite CD at the moment is Cat Power. She also likes The Shins but prefers their first album to the last one. She also told me to 'think of the animals darren' when I ate a lolly that contained gelatin (horses hooves or cow skins)."

And this is him on his addiction to craft...

"I usually become anxious in the weeks leading up to a tour and try to fill each day to take my mind off it. Last week I realised I'd inadvertently become addicted to craft. I went insane and spent 2 days building this 'thing' out of cardboard and paper mache for the window at Polyester Records in Melbourne. The diorama even has a scale model of the theatre we recorded the album in!"
Apparently it'll be on display in Sydney next week at Fish Records in Newtown.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Arisaig Finished!

I finally decided not to make the contrast colour tie, after trying 2 different colours and giving up about 10 inches into the 80-inch (!) tie.

I decided to fasten the side with mini shell buttons instead. Here's a closeup...

And this is what it looks like on the inside.

So, details about this project...

Material: 11 balls of Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino in 207 (and I needed every bit of that - I had to undo the gauge swatch to have enough yarn for the button loops)

Pattern: Arisaig from Knitty Fall 05 in the small size

Pattern modifications:
1. Used 3.0mm needles throughout - i.e. did not use smaller needles for ribbing
2. Lengthened 2x2 rib section significantly - I think it's about 3 inches
3. Ditched the tie around the collar - I picked up a large number of stitches and knitted a few rows of garter instead
4. Fasten with button by crocheting a button loop on the side of the right front

So there you have it.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Up Til Dawn

I'm STILL working on Arisaig.

I blocked and seamed it on the weekend and it took much longer than expected. Here's what the back looked like pinned to the ironing board. (Yes I steam ironed the whole thing! I have no shame. It was the only way to get the ribbing to flatten.)

All the pieces of the puzzle are ready!

I'm pretty happy with the seaming - the seams are reasonably invisible although you can still see some bumps near the top of the shoulders. I'll try blocking it again later. Here's a close up of the sleeve seam.

I started on the tie in a contrast dark rose colour last night but decided I didn't like the colour combo. I'm also not sure whether a knitted tie would really work, or whether it would just get stretched.

Long and short of the story is, I decided to ditch the tie and pick up stitches around the collar in the main colour and knit a few rows of garter stitch to match the sleeve cuffs instead. I bought some buttons on the weekend which I thought could be used to secure the fronts instead of the tie.

Did I mention I'm hopeless at picking up stitches? I worked out I had to pick up around 330 stitches in total. Before I knew it, it was 3am in the morning... and I'm not that happy with the result either. The edge is not very flat along the top of the V part of the collar (as shown in the pic above).

I think it's going to be a long night of unpicking... at least I have nice buttons!

My Darren Hanlon CDs also arrived right this moment! At least I can listen to new music while unpicking tonight!