Thursday, November 27, 2008

Much to be thankful for

G'day all!

This is our second Thanksgiving in the States. This year I noticed a greater theme of thankfulness here - I guess the financial meltdown has given people some reminders about priorities....

(Pics are all a year old, from our Thanksgiving trip to Minnesota. Kudos to those who know where in MN!)

So what am I thankful for? Pretty much everything except the zit that is trying to erupt on my cheek. We have a roof over our heads, we can pay the bills, we can afford to eat well, I can indulge myself in my hobbies and make enough money each month to pay for most of my yarn and fleece habit (except oopsies like Rhinebeck).


I am thankful for good friends who invite us into their houses and feed us, and offer us a place to stay,

who share their lives with us, and provide pets for us to pat and play with.

We tend to forget our good fortune, ignoring our blessings and hoarding our miseries close to our chests, forgetting kindnesses and the beautiful world around us.

What are you thankful for this Thanksgiving, even if, like us, you aren't American?


Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Twas the night

G'day all!

Twas the night before Thanksgiving, American Thanksgiving, and all through the house... the upstairs neighbours are rampaging and squeaking like a mouse (a REALLY BIG mouse). Actually, this night will be very long. The sun sets at 5 now, but cos it RAINED all day and the clouds were lowering, it was almost full dark at 5pm. Reminds me of the worst weather days back 'ome.

I have to make pah for tomorrow. I am wondering if I have enough pie crust mix to make an apple pie and a punkin pah. I made pumpkin pah last year and it almost worked (given that getting the ingredients for a gf/df one was difficult in New Ulm). This year I have a good crust mix, I just have to get the rest right.

I was a bad, naughty spankies girl today. I went up to Bobbin's Nest and bought some nice material to play with. It is pretty but I don't have pics (see abovemention of rain). Most of their fabrics seem to be $8.50 a yard, well all the ones I picked up were, which is pretty darned reasonable I reckon. The quilting places and chain stores charge about $10 a yard, pretty much the same as back 'ome.

I've been bad naughty girl recently. I bought sock yarn and some Cotton Ease at Michael's. I try to avoid buying yarn at Michael's but when they have

I'd never knitted with Kroy before I dyed it up and started hammering away.

stretch cotton wool blend! In pinks, of course.

And, OMG, I bought Red Heart. But it is a wool blend!
It even has aloe (vera). Will wonders never cease?

And this, for a crocheted something to be decided:

Then I got given some really nice yarn by Chelsea at the knitting meetup. I am going to knit some charity items, but first I have to knit the commissioned cardi, a pair of socks, baby pants... I dyed up some of the yarn yesterday cos it is black and white, and hence unknittable. Now it is primary colours and black and while - much better! Much more suitable for a baby surprise jacket that is sadly overdue.

I also did some dyeing. It had a most interesting accident today. I'll show you the results when it is a) dry and b) light here.

That's it for the nonce. Happy Thanksgiving to those who are thankful and


Tuesday, November 25, 2008


a herring!

G'day all!

Toof is good. Hooray!

Last week I showed off a box. Leanne in Adelaide and Cathy in Kambalda both guess it was a sewing machine.

And they would be right!

It's a Singer (gosh, you can't tell?) 7468? Hmm, gotta go find the box, which is full of CVM fleece.... It works. It sews. It didn't come with a heap of bits and bobs but we are coping just fine.

I have a soft spot for Singers. I learned to sew on my Mum's old Singer. It was something like a 1969 model, only a little younger than me. I kept it after she died - my sisters both had their own machines. It finally expired with a pop and a sigh 5 or 6 years ago - it popped and the smoke got out. I nearly cried - this machine was Mum's and was a part of her (just like *the* mixing bowl that I dropped two or three years ago - I did cry over that!). The Janome back 'ome just hasn't got the same history, even if I did sew my wedding dress on it.

Now here is the set up for a question for you. I can't reply to comments with any ease using Blogger. Indeed unless you've set certain options or I already have your email address *and* I know who you are, I *can't* reply to your comments. If you choose "email follow up comments to (your email addy)" then I can send a comment to everyone.

Anyway, the question is "Does this influence whether or not you will comment?" Is getting a response important to you? I guess it is polite but it is pretty hard for me to return comments by email if I don't have your email address. Obviously if you are anonymous or block your Blogger profile, I have little hope of knowing who you are or visiting your blog.

Given that I am only getting one or two comments at most per post, sometimes none at all, I can only surmise:

  1. you want me to reply to you, otherwise you go find someone nicer and more polite to talk to, and/or
  2. I am a boring twit and there are more interesting things to look at out there (very true!) and/or
  3. nothing I show off is worth commenting on and/or
  4. it takes too long to comment on my blog and there are lots of other blogs to get through every day or so.

My sitemeter says I get about 100 visits a day. I figure that even if most of those hits are from web crawlers, there must be some real people looking at my blog - the stemeter host list indicate personal visits, not crawlers. I get one or two comments per post. I know that there must be more than one or two real people looking at my blog cos people look at the Flickr pics I post - some have 5 or 6 views.

Mebbe I should turn comments off if I am going to get fussed about not getting any comments. At least there's a reason for not getting them then! And my email is in the corner of the page.

LOL. I don't even know why I am burbling at you. I am whining about not getting comments and can't see how whining at my audience is going to help. Maybe I should get that grumpy old woman button "would it hurt you to comment" for my blog. But that won't work if there is nothing worth commenting on! I dunno. It just makes me sorta sad, having a one way conversation with the universe like some sad whacko shambling down the road talking to himself.


Monday, November 24, 2008

Eye candy Monday - a new sock

G'day all!

Toofy-peg is fixed. The novocaine/whatever was pina colada flavoured - much nicer than the bitter plain one back 'ome, only I can't feel half my tongue, part of my pharynx or most of my left lower jaw. Except of course the tooth itself, which is throbbing! Between that and swallowing being a trial (now with added the drool from the numb side), I fear I won't be much fun to be around for the next while.

So let's have some Eye Candy Monday instead.

Here's my Kroy sock, from yarn I dyed and then overdyed cos the first time around was clown barf - you guys know I *love* bright colours but I had dyed this yarn severely wrong.... The second dyeing is not pretty to my eyes but parts of it are very special indeed, at least to me.



Look at this bit of yarn. It is plasticine coloured - remember how when you mixed plasticine, it turned purple with blobs of other colour? (the bigger pic will show it better)
If I can reproduce this effect, I'll be rather happy :-)


It was meant to be a self-striping sock. Still seems to be:

The toe of the first sock:

Kroy is thicker than the yarn I'm used to. I'm using a 2.75mm needle and the fabric is fairly solid. The bows are kinking up a bit too, makes for weird ripples in the material. Twil be interesting to see how it comes up!


Saturday, November 22, 2008


G'day all!

In fifteen minutes last night, disaster struck not just once but twice:
a) the filling that has been giving me problems fell off!
b) I stabbed myself in the rib joints with both the underwires in my bra.


So now I have a whopping big hole on the side of a tooth and can't eat easily (not that I could before the filling fell off), and I have intercostal muscle spasms (the intercostals are the muscles between your ribs) so I keep thinking I'm having a heart attack (silly goose - if I press in certain spots, it releases the muscle for a while). But will that ruin my weekend?


I am going for a drive today with DH. We will go check out Natural Bridges and find the Monarch butterflies we've been told are overwintering there. Plus I shall visit a yarn shop (= happy me) that apparently has a good bakery next to it (= happy DH). Well that is the plan anyway.

Why am I not seeing a dentist asap? Cos I can't find one that is open on Saturdays! Heck I couldn't find one that was open on Friday! By the time I found a group that was open, they had closed at 5:30 and I rang at 5:34 and go the most unhelpful live answering service evah!

So anyway, to bring this back on topic, here's my Icarus shawl as of a couple of days ago:
(I note people have been sneaking peeks at my Flickr! Three whole views of this pic before I posted it here it is on Ravelry though.)

I am being very bold and doing it in two different yarns, ie I didn't have anywhere enough of one yarn so I played matchy matchies for the really lacy part.

Looks like it will block out ok too!

Haveagoodone, don't do anything nasty to your teeth (or other parts of your body) and


(PS, if anyone knows of an emergency dentist in San Jose, let me know, ta!)

Friday, November 21, 2008

An ancient WIP

G'day all!

Many, many moons ago, I used to hang out at the city branch of Marta's yarns (alas now gone, along with Marta herself). Marta dyed yarn. She loved colour. She made lots of beautiful yarn. I often wished I could do some sort of apprenticeship with Marta. Anyway, I would fondle yarn and daydream, and occasionally actually buy some. One of my favourites was the thick and thin spun hand-dyed yarn.

The other week I was digging through my stash when I came across an old scribble lace project. It must be about three years old. It's made of Marta's yarns. Well I took it along to the craft faire to knit on - makes a nice difference to socks! The jump from 2.5mm needles and throwing the yarn to 15mm needles and continental was nice, if confusing, too.

People exclaimed over it, one little girl was bold enough to ask how much it would be... Given that I spent at least $33 on the yarn, it was a bit out of her price range.


It and the nuno-felted scarves were the hit of my table.


It has smooth-inside glass beads sitting on the laceweight.

It is very girly and pretty.

I really like it.

I have no idea where or when I would wear this.

I am one of those people who catches on things, like the time I knitted a little frou-frou ponchette and wore it to work. At lunch, when I was out, a chap stepped out of a cafe right in front of me, looking the other way, and walked straight into me. After apologising, he tried to walk off but he had hooked my ponchette with his suit buttons and dragged me away with him. After detangling, I then had to set all the hooked threads aright.

Maybe I can use it as a curtain, a rather small curtain. It stretches to about 40cm wide.

Ideas, anyone?


Thursday, November 20, 2008

Reticule, reticula!

G'day all!

I have been working on these socks for a while. I finally finished them a bit over a week ago. I thought I'd get the pattern written up by now but nope! I am such a slacker.


I call them reticula (from the Latin for "net").


The yarn colour is what happens when I skein up a loooooooong skein to try out some new to me dyes. The yarn is Trekking Natura, and I am not totally sure that I love it, but that goes for most of the trekking yarns. The colours are great but the wool is a bit coarser than I can tolerate.


Still it is a pair of socks! Hooray! I've started on the next pair - the Kroy I dyed up. Oh am I excited about this one! If I can repeat, vaguely, the same sort of dyeing on the next yarns I dye up, I will be over the moon! Then there is Icarus, still plugging along, the cardigan I've been commissioned to make, the Christmas socks and jumper for DH, the spinning I want to do, the shawl for my SiL, the red mitts for one of my sisters....


Wednesday, November 19, 2008

A most mysterious box arrived

G'day all!

Yesterday I was sitting at home, knitting away or reading something and generally flaked out when two men appear at the gate. "Fedex," one calls. (May I say at this point that the Fedex uniforms look very smart whilst the brown and gold UPS ones, well let's just say they are much less attractive.)

So I open the door fully and they come in the gate of the patio and with a "This is for you! Careful, it's heavy," dump a box in my arms. "Crikey. What the hell is this?" I wonder as I say, "Thanks!"

Here's the box in question:

Here's a hint of what was inside:


What did I get?

(I'm so excited! Nathan is too cos he wanted it as well.)


Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Love in the dye pot

G'day all!

I've been finding me some love in the dye pot recently. Mmmm.

Sock yarn, how many ways are there to make thee glow?

Superwash merino in forestal:


Nice and cushy yarn. Mmmm....


80% merino/20% bamboo (almost sportweight or what Australians call 5 ply) in watercolour:


Such a lush, plus yarn!


75% merino/25% nylon in cherryplum:


(both sold, thanks!)

A different 75%/25% blend in gothica:



(both spoken for)

All of these have enough yardage in each skein to make a pair of socks for a woman (say size nine or so).

All of them are self-striping.

All of them are looking for new homes.

Since I am just starting up again and still working on finding out which yarn bases are good, I'm underpricing these just to get them to a (hopefully) good home. I want at least USD18 for each skein (note there are two skeins of gothica and two skeins of cherryplum but one skein is enough for socks). (One skein of cherryplum is shortish - only about 320m instead of at least 350m so we'll make that one USD15. ETA - short one is sold, thanks!) Oh, the colours may look different on your monitor to real life - eg my laptop tends to make things too light. All bar the bamboo blend will need between 2-2.5mm needles (US 0 - 1.5). The bamboo blend will need say a 2.75mm or US 2 needle. You would need to swatch for your own needs.

I'll be listing these on Etsy by the end of the week, where there are no Mates' Rates (ie price will go up!).

You know some time soon I will edit the pics of the second most recent FOs and show them off. But I have to finish writing up the pattern first. Of course the pattern would work very well with most of the self striping yarn I've dyed - that is why I started working on self-striping stuff again I guess!


Monday, November 17, 2008

Eye Candy Monday

G'day all!

Here's some pretties for you - shoulda posted them a bit earlier given that part of the world has already eaten lunch on Tuesday!

Gerberas are such great photo fodder. Almost as good as strawflowers. Not that I have strawflowers today.


And even more eye candy!
What more could I want than a charming chap holding a stalk of one of my favourite veggies, brussels sprouts! (YMMV)

You want fibre? Well there's plenty around here but no new pics to tease you with! No new pics edited... but I have been dyeing up self-striping sock yarn.... that might give you a hint of what is to appear on my shop! Plus I have started stocking my Etsy shop too... (ignore the banner problem - I'll fix that soon!)

Finally, since I've had a stupid blogthing hanging around for a week, you get to see it too. Not that I think the first comment is true but a couple of then hit pretty darn close to the bone...

The Castle Personality Test

You have no problem diving into new experiences. You're so brave that you don't even notice how courageous you are.

You like to think that people see you as intellectual and wise. You consider yourself to be very smart.

You are a very romantic person. You can't help but see the world as it should be.

Right now, you feel like the whole world is open to you. You see lots of possibilities.

Overall, your life is very peaceful - if not a little solitary. Much of what goes on goes on in your head.

You feel like the fate of the future partially rests in your hands. You believe you need to help make the world a better place.


Sunday, November 16, 2008


G'day all!

I thought I had an Idea that would be great for the craft faire. I was making Yet Another Kid's Hat or Bag (Purse) (did you know that round bags and hats and bowls look very similar until the brim treatment?) when I stopped increasing after two increase rounds (oh, I start with a Turkish cast on of four stitches and knit from the crown of the hat down) and made a pouch, then added 5 i-cord tentacles to it.

All the yarn I used was feltable, so I chucked them into the washing machine and created


I though they were fantastic and for $8 each, rather affordable. Alas, only one found a new home out of the 7 or so that I made.

You too can make tentaculars! I would not recommend them for little children/babies who still shove everything in their gobs, nor for cats and dogs that like to chew on things and eat yarn.

Grab some feltable wool. Grab needles that are a few sizes bigger than you would normally use for knitting the yarn. Cast on four loops (a total of 8 stitches) using my Turkish cast on (linked above). Knit one round (8 stitches). Increase into every stitch on the second round (16 stitches). Knit one round. Increase into every second stitch in the next round (24 stitches). Knit a few round - say 6 or so, then do a round of k1, k2tog (repeated) to bring the stich cound down. Then do another round of decreases to get the stitch count to 10. Make a two-stitch i-cord (or cast on another stitch and make a 3-stitch i-cord). Make the tentacles longer than you think they should be - they will shrink by about a third. If you want increase into the end and then decreas again to make a squid-like handling tentacle.

At the end, I just pull the yarn through the last stitches and shorten it a bit so any excess yarn is less like to entangle other tentaculars in the washing machine. Then they go in for a nice hot wash! The machine here is vicious and really belts clothes around, so the tentaculars only need one go-through.

Take your tentaculars out, shape their bodies, untangle the tentacles and dry. Voila! A tentacular or 10!

(PS you can tie their tentacles together and make little pouches, tie them onto wrists, all sorts of things!)

(PPS some of my tentaculars are going up on my Etsy shop soon - I'll announce it when I have a few more items on it.)


Friday, November 14, 2008


G'day again all!

Kelly is after me for the lamingtons recipe.


She is going to kill me when she finds out how easy it is. You just need a little more coordination than I have.

You will need:

  • pale/white cake made in a square/rectangular tin
  • strawberry or raspberry jam (I used a mix of both! Devil!)
  • Dessicated coconut, two cups or so. I'm told dessicated coconut is not the usual sort in the States but I found it easily at Wholefoods.

For chocolate lamingtons

  • 1/2 cup cocoa
  • 2 1/2 cups sugar
  • tablespoon of water
  • optional 30g butter/substitute (I used buttery sticks)

For jelly/pink lamingtons
  • one packet of jelly/jello (pink, raspberry is my preference)
  • 1/3 or 0.33 of the amount of hot water needed for the jelly
  • 1/3 or 0.33 of the amount of cold water needed for the jelly
(I can do fractions and decimal in the one recipe!)

Lamingtons were originally made with a sponge cake base, but I am Not Very Good at Making (Edible) Sponge Cakes (ie I make kitchen sponges instead). So I grab a packet of GF/DF cake mix (*white* cake mix is specified) and make it up. You could make any sort of plain cake you like, including sponge if you are any good at them. I suggest putting it in a square or rectangular pan. After baking, cut the cake into cubes and then cut each cube through the centre so you have a top half and a bottom half. 2"/5cm cubes are specified but I cut it into any size that works. Note that anything under about 1"/2.5cm is likely to just crumble/melt away into nothingness. Then stick the cake in the freezer to make sure it doesn't crumble easily when the icing/jelly goes on. It just has to be cold, not frozen.

(the pink or jelly lamington in its prime habitat - the hand, about to go into the maw)

For pink lamingtons:
Whilst the cake is cooking, make up the jelly (for pink lamingtons). If you are making more than about 12 jelly lamingtons (one cake worth), you will need two packets of jelly or a jumbo size one. Dissolve the jelly in 2/3 of the hot water you would usually use. You want to make a strong jelly that starts to set quickly. When the jelly is dissolved, add the cold water, mix and set aside. If you are in a real hurry, cover it and put it in the fridge. You want the jelly just to be a bit gloopy/starting to set for best results when coating the cake.

For lamingtons:
Make up the chocolate icing by melting it in a double boiler on the stove (I use a bowl over a saucepan of boiling water. Make sure the saucepan doesn't boil dry like mine did last time! It was still puffing out steam but was dry as dry could be!). It will be hot! Burnies! Not for small children or even large klutzy adults like me as it turns out.


When the pink or brown coating is ready, take the cake out of the freezer. Set up your production line - the icing/jelly, a drippy place (eg oven tray) for the icing, a bowl of coconut - I use a pie tin as it is nice and big and easy to roll things around in - and a plate to put the finished product on.

Take your cake pieces. Spread some jam between the top and bottom halves - helps keep them together. If you don't want the jam, don't cut the cubes in half!

(mmm, jammy goodness)

Using the utensils (two!) of your choice (eg slotted spoon, soup spoon, whatever the cake piece fits on easily), dip the cake piece in the icing or jelly. This is a little tricky - it is the trickiest part and you will develop a rhythm for how to best do it for you. Roll it around quickly but gently. (You can expect bits to come off.) Then deposit it in the coconut without getting the spoons covered in coconut. Cover it with coconut. Grab the next bit of cake and coat it the same way. When the coconut bowl is getting crowded, move the lamingtons onto the plate.

(This one has a little more jelly than needed)

I find lamingtons tend to be a bit hard to coat with coconut, but the jelly ones are very willing. Next time I make them, I'll just make jelly ones cos they are so horribly delicious and sweet and yummy and melt in the mouth!

(This chocolate lamington has about the exact right amount of coating. It is showing off its inner goodness, including a layer of jam.)

I have not found the ideal chocolate coating yet - lamingtons should be sorta squishy but the icing mixes I've used to date tend to make crunchy icing. This is not how Proper Lamingtons should be.

(The left over coconut with jelly is YUMMY!)

There are plenty of options for changing lamingtons. Make a spice cake (but not with the jelly, cos I reckon that would be pretty horrid!). Make colourful cakes (with food colourings! Fun for all the family and then watch little Johnny bounce off the walls). Use something other than pink jelly. Try them and see. The hardest part is getting the things coated evenly.

(PS. Quite a number of lamingtons were harmed in the photographs accompanying this blog post. Note that overconsumption of lamingtons leads to feelings of bloatedness and lethargy, and the vague promise to only eat one per day not half a plate!)



G'day all!

Recently I've been trying my hand at nuno felting. This form of felting uses a backing material (in my case silk chiffon, with one china silk attempt) and wool felted onto/through the backing material. It uses the classic wet felting method (rolling) not fulling (as in throwing a knitted or crocheted item into the washing machine).


I took all of these off to the craft faire last week and people exclaimed and ooh and ahhed over them but NOT ONE sold! They thought they would be hard to care for - given that they get bashed about, thrown, soaked in water and soap, they can be handwashed like you would wash any other woolly item. I use shampoo for my stuff. My asking price was not a whole lot either, nothing like what artisans apparently get in stores and on etsy.

So here they are:

This is one of my favourites, even though it is not in "my colours."
I just love the way the top has wriggled and felted.

This black window pane is pretty cute. The top is "domestic" - not as soft as merino.

This one forms a sheet of wool and silk. This sort of piece can be cut up and used to make bags or other small items.

A white version of the black scarf, only a little shorter.



If you really can't resist any of them, I'm asking USD35 for each of them. None of them are wrap around the neck twice type scarves - they are really for decoration and a little warmth. They will sit nicely under a coat rather than providing that great enormous uniboob look of a bulky scarf. They measure 3-4 feet (1-1.2m) long and 8-12" (20-30cm) wide. I'll be putting these on etsy soon (aka when I get my act in gear).

As for the craft faire?

(A few items I knitted. If some look inside out, you are right. They are. I was helping them dry by turning them inside out.)

Well, I did double the rent, which is good, but I only sold 5 items. I did not make anywhere near as much as I spent on yarn. This means I will have a fair whack of stuff to put on Etsy, see if it sells there. Some I can wear myself or give as gifts but I'd prefer to get some money back on what I made cos some of it is *not* what I like but what I think others like. I guess the people there wanted Really Cheap Stuff and I am not willing to sell things I make for the price of the yarn. Heck, I reckon some people would not even pay that! As it is, I know I'll never make my fortune with crafting, I just want to make some money back on what I buy to pay for the hobby.