Wednesday, June 18, 2014

WIP Wednesday: 12 bubbles and counting

In non-knitting WIP news, this is my starter as of 9am today.

Day 5 Starter: 12 Bubbles

Peter Reinhart said it should start bubbling furiously by now. There are a few bubbles but not many, and certainly not enough to make me think this starter is working. I "fed" it to 100% hydration (equal parts starter, water and flour) and transferred it into a jar. Fingers crossed that I get some sort of bubble action tomorrow.

The World Cup socks are zooming along! I am past the gusset and onto the foot now, which is unbelievably fast for me and a pair of men's socks.

It turns out I knit awfully fast when I am trying to avoid watching any soccer. Who knew a sport could have that kind of effect on my fingers?

Now, I'm off for a mid-winter swim. Brrr!!!!!

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Viva Australia! And a non-starter on the sourdough far

Happy Monday, y'all.

I was super excited to get to my sourdough starter this morning because Peter Reinhart said there could be some bubble action happening...

..but no - it looks just the same as last time. I also found out yesterday that most people do their starters in jars rather than containers. This is about the point where I'd normally give up, but this time I'm sticking with it. I "fed" the starter some more flour and water (does anyone else find it oddly cannibalistic that the starter is fed on what it is - like it just keeps eating itself. No, just me? Okay then.) and I've sourced an appropriate jar, which I will sterilise tonight and have ready to use by tomorrow. I am determined to end up with some sourdough after all of this work!!

It has unavoidably come to my attention that there is currently a soccer World Cup happening. For some reason, people who I had previously considered sane and normal have turned into the type of people who get up at 4am to watch a game which doesn't even have their team in it! I do love footy and I watch footy all the time but only the Aussie version. I'm a bit of a bogan liket that. I'm used to lots of scoring and amazing feats of physical prowess and watching games at reasonable hours (although the AFL is doing its very best to change the reasonable hour thing). European football contradictorily makes me incredibly tense (Will they score! Maybe this time! Maybe this time! Maybe THIS time?) and puts me to sleep (Nil-all draw, anyone?). So, to deal with the fact I'm going to lose hours of my life that I will never get back to this contest, I thought I'd celebrate the event instead of complaining about it. It may be too early to start drinking at 6am but it's never too early to knit socks.

I thought it the colours would be appropriate because of green in the Aussie's green and I just bought the yarn and I really wanted to use it.

Viva Australia! And (fingers crossed) viva my sourdough starter...

Friday, June 13, 2014

Rewarding positive behaviours: stash and sourdough starters

I was reading an academic article yesterday on reward systems in the workplace. It said that employers and management should reward the behaviours they deem as positive because without reward and recognition, people tend to stop doing certain behaviours. This makes perfect sense to me - I'm definitely a fan of the carrot rather than the stick approach. Now the connection between knitting and workplace behaviour may seem a little  bit tenuous, but I think it really applies here. Over the last few years, I've made a real effort to knit from the stash. I made an epic effort to use up all of my 5-ply crepe last year and, although I bought 1.2kgs of wool last year, I have knitted all of it up already so none of it got added to the stash. This year I have bought ZERO wool, so when I had a hankering for something new and shiny this week I decided to reward my positive stashdown behaviours over the past six months by buying myself some new wool.

Okay, so I admit the logic is a bit faulty but look at my lovely new wool:

It's my favourite Opal Rainforest sock yarn. The one on the left is Veronica die Wilde (a butterfly, 2037) and the right is Hummel (bee, 1613). I bought it in a destash from another Raveller. Buying destashed wool is one of my favourite ways of acquiring new yarn - I like the idea of wool that would otherwise languish being used and loved. Plus, destashing gives me access to a much broader range of wool that I have at my LYS.

I took the picture on an azalea that has been dormant in the garden for the three years I've lived here but then a few weeks ago suddenly started growing the most beautiful flowers I've ever seen on an azalea. They're remarkable - like strawberries and cream. I didn't even know flowers could do shading like this. If I were a dyer, I'd make a series of sock yarns based on the colour of different azalea flowers. These colours would make seriously the most gorgeous socks.

I have also decided to try and make a sourdough starter (again...). I was inspired by an advanced copy of Peter Reinhart's Bread Revolution I have been reading. His passion for bread is so contagious and he breaks down really difficult (to me) things like sourdough starters into small, manageable steps.

Sourdough Starter: Day 1
What Reinhart's recipe does differently from the last one I tried was to use smaller quantities of flour and water (only about a quarter cup of each) and to add some lemon juice in with the water, with the idea that the acidity will encourage the starter to develop. I love sourdough bread but at $6 a loaf I don't get it very often. If I can make this work both my stomach and wallet will thank me.

I like to think that the fact that the photo I took with the flash on transformed the starter into a love heart is a good sign... Fingers crossed :)

Monday, June 9, 2014

Meet Buzzy (2014 FOs #9 & #10)

On this cold and chilly winter morning, I'd like to introduce the bright and cheery face of the newest member of my household: Buzzy the Bee!

A few months ago Sam and I drove down to Morning Peninsula for a seaside picnic and stopped at the Pure Peninsula Honey Farm on the way back. I do like honey but the real motivation for my visit was because I love going to the places that make this kind of thing. They have a room with a glass beehive in it where you could see the bees coming in from outside, depositing their pollen and then going back out again. There was a honey tasting station that I think put me into a brief sugar coma and lots of lovely ancillary honey products like beeswax candles and honey-based moisturisers and honey beer and icecream. Did you know there's a low GI honey that's suitable for many diabetics? Honey is a fabulous versatile product.

The farm also had a section of kids stuff - tiny clothes, blankets and toys. We picked up a bee toy as a present for a baby that is arriving shortly (literally very shortly - the mother went into labour yesterday morning). We brought him home and popped him on the kitchen bench so Sam wouldn't forget to take it with him when he left. But (and this is so ridiculous from two grown adults) he looked really cute there! He's such a happy bee and provides just the right amount of cheer for when you get up in the morning and the thermostat says that the temperature inside the house is three degrees. So I decided to keep him and make the baby a hat and booties set instead. 

The booties are the famous Christine's Stay-on Booties. They are designed so that the baby can't kick off their shoes, as they are apparently known to do. The pattern is really quick to knit and requires like 20m of yarn (I don't know if that is correct, but it felt like a teeny tiny amount. Next time I make a pair I'll weigh them).

The only modification I left out was knitting a row of YOs at the ankle for a ribbon or knitted icord to be threaded through. It seemed a bit fiddly plus I kind of thought they looked like space booties without it and I like the idea of kitting out little girls in outfits that look like they could be on astronauts. Better than giving them any of the myriad pink plastic crap that we force on young girls from birth that reinforce rigid gender stereotypes. DEATH TO ALL PINK PLASTIC REPLICAS OF CLEANING AND COOKING IMPLEMENTS GIVEN TO LITTLE GIRLS!! 

The hat was pretty easy - I cast on 88 stitches, knit till it was long enough, decreased at eight points until there were four stitches left and then knitted an icord until it was long enough to tie into a knot.

It was a little too big for Buzzy though! The poor little bee toppled over under the weight of the giant newborn baby hat.

The yarn I used was the Jo Sharp Alpaca Silk Georgette left over from my stepmother's birthday socks. The colour is more accurate in the outside shots. I didn't weigh them but I'd guesstimate the set used about one 50g ball. The yarn is super soft and deluxe and I hope this cute little set keeps the baby warm and toasty on these cold cold mornings.

Much better than a stuffed bee would, really!