Friday, February 5, 2016

2016 FO #1: Embossed Leaves Socks

How is it almost the second week of February? Where has the year even gone! I certainly haven't used any of it blogging - it's been six weeks since I posted here last. It's strange - usually I start they year enthusiastic and full of plans to blog everything and get better at photography and be a more active member in the online community. This year I feel a bit meh about the whole thing - like is there any point in me doing this? More and more bloggers are moving to other platforms like Twitter and Instagram and it's not even like anyone would notice if I never blogged again. That said, I do like blogging - it's a great way to write without the pressure of academic publication and it's nice to have a record of what I have made. Clearly, I decided to keep going, inspired by the resurgence of the Mason-Dixon women. After not blogging for a long time, they're back at it with a vengeance and it's been great. So, here I am, blogging away, talking about socks. It's like I never stopped/

In knitting news, this year has been pretty good so far. After Christmas, Sam and I went on a road trip to South Australia. I'd never been there before - Victorians famously like to hang shit on South Australia all the time for basically being not as awesome as Melbourne is (in fairness, Melbourne is pretty awesome. We're pretty hard to beat.). I think we should stop - South Australia is fantastic! There are like a hundred wine regions, all of which have great wine that is often cheaper than Victorian wine and they don't charge for tastings. Plus, the scenery is gorgeous! 

The Adelaide CBD is not great but the Art Gallery was fantastic. Plus, there are places within half an hour of the city, like Hahndorf, that are fabulous centres of art and artisans.

I could happily have spent a fortnight in the South Australian countryside, visiting tiny towns and wine regions. I would be very fat when I returned home, but it would be worth it.

The best thing about road trips is the time they leave for knitting. On the way out of Melbourne, I cast on for a pair of socks using the Frog Tree Pediboo that I bought at the Australasian Quilt Convention last year (pattern is Embossed Leaves from my favourite sock book, Favorite Socks).

I got to the calf on both pairs of socks before I got home then finished them off over the next few weeks.

The are so soft and squooshy!

To get the most out of this yarn, I knit them toe up with a short-row heel. That means the leaves are pointing up instead of pointing down, as per the pattern.

I actually think that looks better, with the leaves springing clearly from the heel.

All in all, a great pattern that was intuitive and speedy to knit combined with a lovely soft sock yarn (80% merino, 20% bamboo) results in a very nice pair of socks.

I am definitely not giving this pair away!

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Happy New Year and lots and lots of pairs of socks

Another year is drawing to a close. I do not know where this year has even gone - it has been a blur of work, work, sleeping and then more work. I have been going at life pretty relentlessly since January which (honestly) has sucked a little bit sometimes. It all seems worth it at the end of the year, though, when you see how much you have done.

One thing I was very pleased with this year was my Christmas knitting. My dad got some socks made out of Regia Design Line by Kaffe Fassett, that were completed way back in November (this is his photo since I gifted them without taking a photo because I am a terrible blogger).

Sam and his brother got matching-ish socks made out of Regia Pairfect. With this yarn, the ball is divided into two identical halves, separated by a section of yellow yarn. Weirdly, even though I made these two pairs of socks exactly the same way, on one pair I had to use the yellow dividing yarn to finish the toe and on the other I did not. Regia's inconsistency with yardage strikes again.

The final pair I finished on the 23rd of December. I made Sam's parents his-and-her spiralled socks using two colourways of Patonyle. I (modestly) think they look great.

So, I got lots of pairs of socks done in time for Christmas - four of them for adult males - without stressing out but with a lot of hard graft. That is seriously the most boring story ever! However, it does fairly accurately capture my 2015. Here's hoping that 2016 is a bit more fun but with just as many socks. 

Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

WIP Wednesday: A (Boring) Day in the Life Edition, With Bonus Pancakes

In my job, I occasionally get bookings that have a really quick turnaround time - 24 hours rather than five days. When I get these bookings, because of the time constraints I clear my entire day to make sure the booking is done on time. Today was one of those days. I let all of my other clients know I was unavailable for 24 hours and this morning I was at my desk at 8am, bright eyed, bushy tailed and with coffee in hand. However, my client did not keep their part of the deal. When I opened my email, there was no file waiting to be worked on. Instead of jumping out of the gates to get the file delivered on time, I was sitting there, twiddling my thumbs with not a lot to do.

I read the paper, drank my coffee and periodically checked my email. No file had arrived at 8.30am, so following the no-watched-pot rule, I decided to step away from my computer and make some pancakes.

They were made with oats, cinnamon, vanilla and blueberries and were topped with a lot of butter (for the calcium, of course). They were very nice. I really love pancakes.

I got back to my computer and there was still no email. I then made another cup of coffee and took my knitting outside. 

I established clearly once again that I am not a good photographer, no mater how many angles I take photos of my scarf from or solar lanterns I use as props (one and one, respectively).

I am making a Honey Cowl using the leftover yarn from my wine bottle sweaters.

I love the way the fabric looks different on both sides.

Lucy kept me company as I read Sense and Sensibility, checking my email at the end of each chapter.

The file eventually arrived after lunch and so here I am at 8pm on a Wednesday blogging and working instead of in bed watching repeats of Friends on Stan the way that god* intended.

I hope your workdays were much more interesting than mine!

The end.

* Lucy, who only ever wants me to be in bed and despairs that humans are constantly getting up and leaving the house instead of lying there patiently waiting to be cuddled.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

3 Things I Learned This Week

In the last week, I have learned three very interesting things.

#1. Pizza cooked on the BBQ is amazing.

I recently bought an Emily Henry pizza stone. I was intrigued to see that the stone could also be used on the BBQ and last Friday I finally got around to trying it out.

(a side point: lighting a BBQ is so much fun.)

Basically, cooking pizza on the BBQ is pretty similar to cooking it on the oven. You light the coals. Once the coals are nice and hot, you put the cold pizza stone down, close the lid and let the whole thing get really really hot. Then you slide the pizza dough onto the stone, put the lid down and it's all cooked in about 10 minutes.

I did two toppings: onion, capsicum and spinach on a tomato base...

..and onions, capsicum and fetta on a pesto base.

The dough is from Gwenyth Paltrow's cookbook Notes from my Kitchen Table. I picked that recipe because it is specifically designed for Gwenny's outside pizza oven (a great investment that she recommends everyone should get). I know everyone laughs at Gwenyth Paltrow but every recipe I have made from that book has been amazing and this pizza dough was no different - it was really delicious.

The first pizza got annihilated in about four minutes.

The second one was eaten a bit more slowly. It was my favourite - the pesto base was divine!

I did make a few mistakes with this one. I left the coals in a pyramid, which is what I usually do when cooking a BBQ so you can put the stuff that needs a higher heat in the middle and the stuff that needs a slower heat on the outside. This is not the best setup for pizzas, which need an even heat. You can't see it in these pictures but the very middle of the base is overcooked while the edges are perfect.  I also should have let the BBQ preheat a bit longer - the second pizza was definitely cooked better than the first one. Even with these mistakes, the pizzas were amazing. I will definitely be making these again very soon.

#2: Souffles are not hard and are very delicious.

After spending last week cooped up inside my house working, I was going a bit crazy. Sam took pity on me and on Saturday night whipped up Donna Hay's chocolate souffle. He is not a baker - this might have even been the first thing he's ever baked! - and it was amazing. 

It was not eaten but devoured. Yum yum yum yum yum.

#3: Target opens at 8am.

If you arrive at Target at 8am, you will be the only person in the store who doesn't work there. It will feel creepy and strange but at the same time will be the single best shopping experience of your life. 

Now, back to work! 

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

WIP Wednesday: Fair Isle Fail Edition

Another week, another WIP Wednesday? Where has the time gone? 

I have been plugging away the second wine sweater but it has not been going well. I knitted the fair isle section inside out in the hope of avoid puckering over the 10 and 12-stitch floats. It's far to say that I really cocked that up.

The snowmen look less like replica people made of snow than evil snow creatures that watch you while you sleep.

I am incredibly stubborn so I finished the whole thing in the hope that blocking performs some sort of miracle to make this usable, even if only as the joke item that makes people laugh at Christmas dinner parties. I am also trying again to see if I can get some non-demented snowpeople. The next pattern in the series has really long floats, so if I can't figure out how to fix the puckering issue, there's not much use in me trying that.

Wish me luck!

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

WIP Wednesday: Stop the Presses Edition

About 4pm last Friday, my energy started to flag. I still had work to do so instead of turning off my computer and having a nice cold glass of wine as I normally would on a Friday afternoon, I flicked over to Ravelry. I am so very glad I did, because as I was browsing through my friends patterns, I saw It. You know, It - that one pattern that you were meant to make. That one pattern that you cannot imagine living a knitting life without have made. The One True Pattern.


I was at the wool store literally the minute it opened the next day. I am fairly certain the woman working at the LYS thought I was crazy ("they're jumpers for what, exactly...?") but I did not care. I bought enough wool to make about 12...

.. and started straightaway.

With Lucy's help, of course.

It was such a fun pattern to knit! I carried it around with me everywhere for the next few days so I could knit a round whenever I had time (honestly, not very often. It's a lot more time-consuming doing a fair isle row with the two yarns and having to check the pattern than it is knitting my standard stockinette sock).

Four days later, it is done!

I took the photo in direct sunlight so it's not super great and you can see the seam in the middle where the pattern moves to the next row but trust me - it's delightful. I love it! I have already started the second one and I can't see me stopping any time soon.

Christmas kitsch forever!!

On an unrelated note, I have found my summer drink. It's called a Campari spritz and it is delicious, refreshing and light enough to mean I can still safely drive after having one. In short, it is the perfect party season cocktail.

I am so set for Christmas :)

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Spring is well and truly sprung

My neighbour's blueberry hedge has started to grow berries.

These birds of paradise look kind of like a flock of emus.

These cuttings are prettying up my kitchen and (maybe) making new pretty plants at the same time.