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.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

WIP Wednesday: Fair Isle Edition

On Sunday evening I bundled up all of my thesis to date and sent it to my supervisor for review. The file was so big I couldn't send it via email! I have some small stuff to work on but I can't do much until I get her feedback so this week I've been in study stasis. Which has resulted in...

BOOM! Fair isle everywhere.

First up, the Fair Isle Socks from Toe Up Socks for Every Body*.

I did one sock with just variegated yarn as a contrast and one with both solid and variegated. Now I can't decide which one I like best.

I tried moving them around but that didn't help.

I stood them help whatsoever.

In the end I posted a plea to Instagram and the designer herself responded, preferring the one with two colours. I agreed yesterday, but this morning I looked at them again and I am just not sure.

While I was making up my mind (am making up my mind...) I cast on the Eesti Hiking Socks from Favorite Knits. I'm using Bendigo Woollen Mills 8 ply Luxury in Lake and Ghost. I had forgotten how quickly thick socks knit up - this felt like it happened in an instant. Maybe these could be another pair of Christmas socks...

I almost like it better when it's flipped inside out.

It turns out that when I am not channelling all of my energy into my thesis then I have a lot of energy left over for other projects and my preferred way of using up this energy is knitting. Knitting is the best :)

Lucy has no extra energy:

The poor thing is completely pooped from lying in the sun all day. It's a hard knock life for some, I tell you.

*A really excellent book for those who like their socks spicy. I love it.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

FO Friday: The Knit-Purl Blanket (2014 FO #13)

I am back! But only briefly, so please don't tell my supervisor I stepped away from my thesis for a bit. This is our little secret.

The last few weeks have been pretty crazy, uni-wise. I have put on without exaggeration 1.5kg from spending so much time sitting on my arse (both working and eating chocolate). I've been trying to take breaks and go to the park and the beach but the truth is that the final part of any research project requires a bit of slogging to get to the end and there's no just no way it can be avoided. Fortunately, slogging away is an activity that goes remarkably well with stockinette stitch, which means lots and lots of finished projects.

For example, this baby blanket is finished TWO MONTHS before the baby is due. This is an event that surely has never happened in the history of knitting baby blankets before.

Where's the tension? Where's the desperate race to finish it before the mother leaves hospital? 

The pattern was simple - I cast on 100 stitches and then knit it until it felt big enough. I then picked up stitches all the way around and knit the border in garter stitch until I felt it was big enough, then I cast off (yarn is Bendigo Woollen Mills Luxury 8ply in Citrus, Frost and Ghost. I used maybe half a ball of the Frost and Citrus and about 160g of Ghost. There are lots of leftovers).

It felt seriously weird not to be weaving in ends on the way to meeting the baby for the first time.

Of course, Lucy helped me block the blanket.

She is going to be so annoyed when she realises the blanket is not actually for her.

Have a great weekend, everyone!

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

WIP Wednesday: Hello Spring Edition

Yesterday was the first day of spring! Appropriately, the day was full of sunshine, so as soon as I had completed my daily word count I grabbed my WIP bag and headed down to the beach.

I am lucky enough to live about a block away from the beach so there are lots of different places along the bay for me to visit. Yesterday I decided to go somewhere I used to hang out a lot when I was younger: near the local surf lifesaving club.

I had a boyfriend once who was a lifesaver and had a key to the building, so we used to go there so we could duck in to pee (definitely an issue that is under considered when people decide which beach to go to. I suspect that often the warm spots one feels when swimming in the ocean are definitely there because of a lack of public loos!

There is also this gorgeous (although somewhat uncomfortable) mosaic chair which is ridiculously romantic to sit on and drink wine while the sun goes down. I guarantee smooching will follow the sunset, so be careful with whom you share the chair!

For non-romantic sunset drinking, there is a picnic table which fits up to six women who like drinking chardonnay at the beach very comfortably. (It was at this stage that I realised why I hadn't come here since my early 20s - I stopped drinking at the beach!)

I put the picnic table to a non-alcoholic use and set up my two Practically Pairfect socks.

Because I am crazy, I ended up buying another set of 2.25 mm needles last week so I could work on both pairs of socks at the same time.

The striping is so fun and the socks look fantastic (if I do say so myself). 

Welcome, spring! I've missed you and I hope you're here to stay.