Reviews and reflections


It may not seem like the end of January is quite right for wrapping up the previous year but well I’ve been busy running around in the snow 😀

December was a crazy month and while I got a lot achieved not all my goals were met. Stockholm was packed into my travle bag incomplete but with  determination that it would be finished.. eventually.
All in all 2012 was a bit like a longer December, some things that I wanted to get done were managed but many were left unfinished or even not even attempted. So lets see how far I was from my goals.

  • Stitching Goals 2012

    • Finish Bramble and the Rose I did pack this on the holiday but it remained as it had for the whole of 2012.. untouched
    • Finish Rose of Sharon Progress was made on Shaz this year but yet again new year has come and gone and my headless lady remains a steady companion.
    • Complete QS Lost
    • Finish the PINN stitch Bangkok Lady
    • Page 4 of St Nick
    • Stitch on three old HAED wips

    Pretty much everything else was abandoned in 2012. I think I may have put a few stitches into Violet but largely my stitching was neglected, something I hope to remedy in 2013 a little.

  • Knitting Goals 2012

    • Dr Who Scarf Done done done and I am still over the moon that I don’t have to work with that evil yarn anymore
    • Lace Shawl I have made good progress on both woodland and Holden but neither is finished at this stage

    Holden Shawlette

    • Mitts to match Etta Hat Nope not even cast on
    • Scarf for Mr B Stockholm will be his when complete but not in 2012

    In addition to this though I did knit a baby hat two adult hats and a cowl as gifts as well as completing my cardigan so not too shabby.

  • General Craft Goals 2012

    • Learn to crochet A work in progress
    • start piecing a quilt/ similar project I’ve played around buying fabrics and kits but wasn’t quite ready to jump.
    • Sew a dress / skirt I got an A-line skirt made and hope to make some more of my own clothes in the coming year.

    I’ve also picked away at my spinning and made a few small presents for people so all in all 2012 wasn’t as dismal as I was thinking especially with the long hours work demanded throughout most of the year.

    2012 mosaic



Time for an adventure


Well I thought I would have time to post a few pictures and update my progress on my projects but I was wrong.

There is no time for pictures and the camera is packed.

Christmas was a whirlwind trip up to Brisbane catching up with friends and family and while it was busy and hectic it was really nice to see everyone.

Now though starts the big adventure… I’m about to embark on probably the biggest trip I’ve done so far. London –> Norway –> Finland –> Sweden and then back home.

The nags are packed and the winter woolies ready to hand. the camera is loaded and there are plenty of SD cards ready to try and capture the Aurora Borealis. Four currencies for just as many countries and I am hoping that everything foes smoothly.

The knitting is packed (probably way too much of it in fact) books are loaded on my ipad and I think I’m as ready as I can be.

I’m not sure how much access I will have to the internet while I am away but i will upload photos to my flickr account where possible if not posting directly to my blog.

I hope everyone has a wonderful New Year and although I may be a little late posting them I have been working on what my Goals for 2013 will be.

Stay tuned there bound to be as hilariously unattainable as always 😀



The end of an era


Well it seems that way at least.

Finally after almost three years my journey with the yarn from hell and the scarf that seems it would never end is done. Washed, trimmed edged and ready to go. Even though it seemed to take forever I am really happy with how it turned out and super pleased that I will be able to deliver it in person the to recipient this weekend 😀

100% complete

 It’s been a crazy busy week since School finished up but also a very productive one after getting all my baking done it has been full steam ahead for trip preparations (that’s another post for another day) and squeezing in as much craft time as possible, which really hasn’t been that much unfortunately, to try and get a few things finished. While I don’t think I will get the Holden shawlette finished before Saturday which is when I would need it to gift it there is a chance it will be done before the end of December.

I did manage one other finish this week though. I finally got around to adding the facing for the yoke and hemming the skirt I started back at the retreat at the end of September. I probably should have made the smaller size as this sits on my hips rather than waist but I am just happy to have finished a sewing project again. I miss making my own clothes and making this highlighted how rusty my sewing skills are.

Skirt!
When I got this pattern form a local quilt store I also picked up some great fabrics to make a few paneled versions (some for work some for fun) the one thing I will say about quilt fabrics though is that I am not convinced on their use as bulk fabric for a garment. Cotton just creases too easily and requires too much ironing for my liking.

I am still debating as to whether or not I will add a black lace trim to the bottom of this but I don’t have time to do it now and it is always something I can add later on.

So there you have it two finishes (though I am cheating using the scarf again but it is a BIG finish).

Next up… future starts and travel plans… I mentioned things have been busy around here right?



Christmas Baking & Sweets


Although I am more a Halloween lover than a Christmas fan I do love all the traditions and baking that go along with the season.

This year since I am heading to Brisbane for Christmas then off overseas there wasn’t much reason for me to be going overboard with the Christmas goodies but I was in the mood to bake. Each year at work we do a baking exchange it was fun last year so I signed up again.. but as usual no idea what to make. I had so many ideas and you are only meant to make one thing (5-6 portions for each of the 10 people involved). So on the Sunday before the exchange was due to happen I decide to cook up a storm.

On the menu: two types of nougat, Persian almond bark, brown sugar spiced biscuits, spiced nut mix and what ever else took my fancy. Of course my plans were far bigger than I was capable of in one day but I gave it a good shot.

Brown Sugar spice biscuits

First up 9 dozen biscuits: these were from last years Donn Hay Christmas Special and were very tasty. Interestingly in one batch I used dark brown sugar instead of light brown sugar. This one substitution gave them a nice crisp outer with just the right fluffy texture inside. With just the light brown sugar they were a lot softer, the differing textures added an extra dimension that worked well I think.

Spiced nut mix

These nuts are prepared using a recipe from Nigella’s Christmas book from a few years ago. They have a little sugar in them as well as rosemary, garam marsala celery salt etc. etc. They are delicious warmed slightly so the spices get that toasted yumminess to them. All up I think I did just over a kilogram of nuts which made up about 5 good portions for gift bags.

Nougat

Nougat… something I have always wanted to try so this year I did. The crucial thing with nougat is the temperature of the sugar syrup.. too high and it goes rock hard but not high enough and it won’t set properly. From the feedback I got the texture of this wasn’t too bad not to tough or too chewy. Okay for a first attempt 🙂 There were two flavours: Maple, pecan and orange and a Christmas pudding one which was essentially Christmas spices with cranberries and pistachios.

Persian Almond Bark
Last but by no means least is the Persian almond bark. This was probably the best success this year and something I will certainly make again. This is essentially a hard caramel with almonds throughout it has saffron and rosewater which gives it a great background note and then just after it is spread out pistachio nuts and cranberries are sprinkled over the top. The recipe was taken from the Feast magazine Christmas issue for 2011.. yep this year I fianlly got around to using the magazines I bought last year.

So there ends my adventures in baking for this Christmas, no cake or pudding this year but it was nice to just take a day amid the crazy that is the end of term and spend it in the kitchen. I really do find pottering about with new recipes relaxing. Maybe 2013 I can squeeze in a little more time for some chilled out baking.



That Christmassy time of year


Of course I forgot to do a goals wrap up and set new goals in my last post.

The wrap up is not so tough, with no goals set for October or November there wasn’t much to chat about.

December on the other hand is a little crazy though. It is of course that Christmas time of year and I have many projects that I was planning on using for gifts.. most incomplete. So my goals all revolve around those and my mad dash to see how many I can complete.

So the goals for December are

  1. Complete the finishing on the Dr Who Scarf ready for gifting
  2. Finish the Holden Shalwette to be used as a gift
  3. Stitch markers and bag for Tracy to match those made for Nancy and Sharon
  4. Baking for the baking exchnage at work
  5. Complete stockholm
  6. Kit up a small shawlette as a travel project
  7. Organise a crafty day with the usual suspects
  8. Games day before going away
  9. Dinner party before trip
  10. and of course Christmas shopping and gift wrapping

Hmm I forsee some busy busy days and evenings in my future, but at least it is fun stuff and not reports and marking. 🙂

 



An end of sorts


Well I am not sure what happened to October and November other than exams, reports and the usual crazy Term 4 School stuff. But here I am at the beginning of December looking back and realising that somewhere in amongst the crazy I did manage a few bits and bobs.

First up… The Dustland hat was finished off. I only read most of the Ravelry comments on this pattern once I was almost done. So I missed all the warnings that the pattern ran large. Boy they weren’t kidding. I had knit the large size as it was for Mr B and his head does run on the larger size… he often finds it very hard to find hats that fit. I wanted it to have some slouch so thought it would be ok, it is but really it is still roomy even on him. It is a lovely squooshy and very warm hat though.  It should be just perfect for galavanting around the arctic circle come January.
Dustland Slouch

The hat took about 75% of a 200g ball of Bendigo Woollen Mills Luxury 10ply, which is why it is so soft and warm. I reduced the number of pattern rows between decreases towards the end as I was concerned over just how big it was going to end up. All in all I am pretty happy with how it turned out. Hats really are great to knit, so quick and satisfying.

My other big news is that I have finally finished all the rows on my Dr Who Season 18 scarf. A big push this last week saw me put the last rows in and cast off on the 30th of November. All that’s left now is the crocheted edge and the tassels… of course they can’t be done until I have sewn in all those ends. All things considered I am hoping to pass it on to the intended recipient when I am in Brisbane for Christmas.

Tombo 18 III

 

So there we have it Two finishes while I have been away, of course not else has been done, the Stockholm scarf sits untouched as do all the other wips but what did I do today instead of sewing in some of those ends…. Why I started a new project of course 😛

The Holden Shawlette
Time for a new start

I have grand plans of gifting this to someone for Christmas but really I know I am just kidding myself. It does use probably a skein of the oldest yarn in my stash, a skein of Knittery slim sock in Bloody May colourway. I am really looking forward to seeing how this looks once knitted up, as long as I can remember how to do my YO’s correctly… not to mention those pesky purl stitches.

 



Time away with friends


So over the weekend it was retreat time. Three whole days of chatting and crafting … and it was wonderful.

I packed up so much stuff with the hope of doing a bit of everything but of course that didn’t happen. I did manage to get a good few things done over the weekend though including some sewing on a new skirt and a bit of fabric pre-shrinking. (Still building myself up to the idea of quilting one tiny step at a time).

I did manage to get my secret project finished before we headed off though, so when we all arrived I was able to give Sharon and Nancy their retreat gift bags.
Nancy's Bag and Markers Close up of shell markers Sharon's Bag and markers Closeup of dragonfly markers

 

Each bag was made with a matching set of stitch markers and contained a themed skein of local yarn in a 10ply worsted weight, enough hopefully for a nice hat or pair of mitts.

My focus for the weekend was to get to a certain point in my Dr Who scarf and to make progress on Rose of Sharon. As always I got a little distracted but did manage some progress on each of those projects (I’ll update with pictures of those on my September goals post).

The house we stayed in was lovely and had a fantastic room for crafting, huge tables so we could all spread out and access to lamps, irons, cutting boards and a great gas heater in the corner. The weather was cold and rainy… just perfect for lazing about inside with crafts and not worrying about the outside world.

Of course I couldn’t resist a few new starts and I started Dustland Hat by Stephen West and The Stockholm Scarf. Both are being worked in 10ply Luxury from Bendigo Woollen Mills. It is a great workhorse yarn, nothing too flash but super warm, snuggly and soft. So far it has been lovely to work with.

Dustland Slouch Hat

Dustland Hat: section 1 and ribbing band

Stockholm scarf the beginning

Stockholm Scarf first three rows… following an evilly long cast on. Knit in the round.

The retreat also had some lovely flowers and interesting areas so I was happy that I took my camera up with me and armed with my macro lens I snapped a few pictures of flowers, garden in habitants and just generally intriguing things I found about the place.

A selection of pictures from the weekend can be found in my flickr albums here.

Nic, sorry but I don’t have pictures of the other girls projects. Nancy was stitchingon her glorious self charted pieces while Sharon kept herself busy with an array of different projects, knitting, stitching and sewing. It was a productive weekend for everyone really and I think one full of much needed relaxation for us all.

ne thing is for sure… I am convinced it is something I would love to do again.



The excitement of when something goes to plan


secret bits

So this weekend a plan finally comes to fruition. The girls (minus one because she is busily running about the USA) and I are getting away for a crafty retreat.

I have been super busy lately so some things are not done and planned as much as I would like but all in all I think the weekend will be a blast.

We have a booking at the Retreat in Woodend  It is fully equipped with an amazing craft studio and is nestled away in the Macedon ranges… there is even the potential for a little bit of snow.

I have been busy with secret projects ready for this weekend and have a massive pile of things to take with me because who knows what I will want to work on over three whole days of craft!

Some of the inclusions are:

  • quilting (who knows I may finally take the plunge)
  • bits and pieces for that skirt I’ve been meaning to make for ages
  • Loads of wool and knitting wips
  • There is even some stitching both HAED and the trusty old Shaz

I am still wondering how we will get all the crazy contents of three craftrooms up there but I am sure we will give it a great go.

So… no end of the month update until I get back from bliss.. given most people that read my blog will be at the retreat I’m sure I’ll be able to get away with it.

Oh and in other news my long awaited wool order has arrived… after almost 11 weeks I finally have the madelinetosh and malbrigo I bought on impulse just after the Bendigo show… no pictures yet I’ve been too busy picking out stash to take away.

Hmm guess I better think about packing some clothes too.

 



Well hey now… it’s September


Here we are, sunny sSptember, hard to believe but the calendar assures me it is so.

So where did I end up with all those goals I was aiming to have done by now… lets see

Augusts Goals were

  1. 155 rows Tombo 18 (this works out to about 5 rows a day)
  2. Spin 20mins a night 3 times a week
  3. 2 hours on Shaz
  4. 1 repeat on woodland lace scarf
  5. and maybe just maybe cast on my Stockholm scarf if I manage the others.

Surprisingly I came close: 150 rows on Tombo 18 were completed in August. For a while I was even managing to do it by just doing 5-6 rows a night but as the month got busier and the nights at work got later that fell by the wayside a bit and I found myself doing “catch ups”. The scarf now reaches the ground on both sides when I place it around my neck so it is progressing…. it just still has a long way to go.

Tombo18 Sep 1 2012

As for the spinning… three nights a week was a tough one to maintain throughout the whole month but all told I would have done about 2 hours worth of spinning which is still much better than I have been doing. I am slowly getting finer singles and hopefully will eventually end up with something I would be happy to knit with in the not too distant future.

Woodland actually got a full two repeats completed this month, I don’t think it would take long to finish if I could dedicate proper time to it but that’s just not going to happen so I will keep it limping a long as well as I can.
Rose of Sharon has had a few stitches put in to her… and a few ripped out o_O when I discovered a rather significant counting error in an early stitched area. All in all I think I managed about two hours… looking at how much is still to go I need to get a move on if she is to be completed by the end of the year.

Rose of Sharon Sep 1 2012

So there we have it.. my small progress for August. There were a lot of weekend outings though during the month and the ever present work but all in all I’m happy I just managed to make some time to get anything done.

So what does this mean for September….

Well School holidays are approaching and while this time around it will mostly be filled with work I am hoping that I can squeeze in a bit more craftiness here an there.. I have a few secret projects I need to finish but other than that goals this month are focussed on making progress.

So my Goals for September are:

  • 18o Rows Dr Who Scarf
  • 20 min 3x a week spinning (Aiming to finish the second bobbin of green and get it plied)
  • 10 hours on Shaz
  • Knit a slouchy hat
  • Start on my T-shirt quilt
  • Secret stuff

Wish me luck



In the land of fluff and make believe


Hello again

Well would you believe that today I was actually home at the same time as there was no water falling from the sky? Yep it’s true, which means I finally pulled out my trusty camera and took a few snaps. Not the best mind you but a few pictures for the blog all the same.

Things around here have been hectic as usual… for some reason my brain keeps telling me that Term 3 should be less busy than it really is. It’s sneaky like that and continues to catch me out. Added to all the term 3 fun and frivolity this year is the fact that I need to get my full teachers registration completed before the end of September or I cannot legally teach… eep! Guess I’ll just add that to the already overflowing to do list.

As you may guess this has made squeezing in time for craft bits a bit hard.. the start of the month was going well and I have added well over 80 rows to the now massive scarf but I am not sure how I will go with reaching my goals for this month.

As for the spinning… well now That is some interesting developments.
Spinning Attempt II
I have filled a bobbin and started on a second (hopefully soon to be finished so I can ply the yarn). Nothing that exciting just bendigo merino rustic in green but it is going well enough that I am about ready to contemplate spinning some of my pretty fluffy bunny tops from Charly over at Ixchel Fibre farm. A good thing too with how much of her fibre I have been laying in to stash lately. I have bought 5 more tops sine the haul at Bendigo o_O

Midnight Sleeveless II

 

The other pictures I FINALLY got around to taking are of the cardigan I finished back in July. It does still need a good soak and a light blocking but the weather just hasn’t been great for that yet. I am still rather happy that I finished a full garment though. The sizing is a little off and I think the neck would of been better with a shorter length on the stand collar but it is these small learning journeys that are a good part of the fun with craft.

Even with all it’s little flaws I still love it.

It is knitted in 8-Ply Rustic Tweed from Bendigo Woolen Mills and is lovely and warm.

The colour is midnight Tweed and has quite a stunning array of purple and teal flecks through the deep Grey-Blue. It is not by regular colour palette but I think it will make a versatile piece for layering in Autumn and Early Spring at work. After 4 years I think I am finally starting to get my wardrobe sorted out for a life in Melbourne’s crazy and fickle weather.
Midnight Sleeveless Cardigan

Well that’s it from me for now. Hopefully by the end of this month I will have a few more crafty pictures to share. I know I will have at least some info on a fun and crazy idea that I am running with and is filling all the gaps and moments in my brain with plans and schemes… bring on the end of September!

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