Saturday, December 31, 2005


when going on holiday it is important not to rush while packing, otherwise you could forget something important - like the camera.

Flash and I have just had a couple of days away alone together, we stayed on the northern coast of New South Wales,about 3.5 hrs drive from home. It was idyllic, we hiked, swam and laid on the beach (under a shade) we saw a real live wild goanna, and a wedge-tailed eagle, and mile upon mile of beautiful scenery, all of which is in my head instead of in my laptop, although we did buy a "happy snappy" camera in order to take photos of Gloucester and Stroud (inland NSW) for my grandparents (from Gloucester and Stroud in the UK) who like that kind of thing. It was so nice spending some time together, we needed to re-group, we have another year of changes coming up.
We drove inland to Gloucester, and passed a little town called Tinonee, a little way out of town I noticed a sign on the side of the road "The Spinning wheel" , and then another "angora goats for sale $15" we drove up the driveway and were immediately inundated with dogs - an elderly bull terrier, even more ancient sheepdog and tiny miniature schnauzer, who all licked and nuzzled enthusiastically, and engendered no fear at all, in fact it was great, they kept the husband busy while I loaded up with yarn! June's workshop was full of bags of dyed and undyed roving, and baskets of balls of handspun, I decided to pass on the roving, I have enough to be going on with - the spinning is improving, but not vastly so. The handspun was well priced, and I bought just over a kilo in different colour blends and fibres, all is sheep, but blended with either mohair or alpaca, each ball is 100g, enough for a hat, and I thought I might make some felted slippers too, but at the moment it is stacked on the coffee table, the kids love playing with it,it is full of lanolin and it still smells like sheep!

the colours are not showing at all, we have purple, white plied with pink and red, light brown plied with green/blue, natural brown, and teal plied with natural cream.

Once again I bought without thinking of the end product, so this too will end up in the stash (in it's own box I think) which makes me think of the last time I was a handknitter, I had a huge box of yarn in the corner of the living room, but I didn't call it a "stash" it was just a collection - which I expected would be knitted up in time, i had two skeins of Rowan Botany wool, 1 charcoal, 1 a soft mossy green, I used to pet them, and think "I really need to do something with this wool" but I never did, I didn't know any other knitters, so I didn't know that this was normal behaviour! and I used to search for sock wool in the LYS, but this was pre-internet and I just believed the owner when she said the spinners didn't make sock wool anymore.

15 1/2 years ago a friend and I went to see Kaffe Fassett give a talk in Auckland - I was mesmerised, I am sure the LYS owners saw him as an heretical upstart! if we listened to what he said we would stop buying packs of the same dyelot and mess the shop up with our "one of this, and one of that" mixed sweetie approach. Here was this man talking about colour and fibre - NZ is a wool producer, we knitted wool, but Kaffe turned me on to to kidsilk (ancestor of Kidsilk Haze) and mixing many more colours than I would have dreamed before, buoyed by his infectious enthusiasm I went home to start creating bright, original kids hats and clothes, which I sold at the local market, but I still knitted alone, I tried to join the Guild, but just didn't fit in, eventually I changed direction and handknitting was left behind, but the passion for fibre and colour remained. I am sad that this community of knitters did not exist for me all those years ago, but so happy I am part of it now.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Self-portrait Tuesday

time to relax and post a self-portrait
apple of his eye? eyes are the windows of the soul? or seeing myself as he see's me?
whatever, it's a nice way to get us both in the picture.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Merry Christmas

the race is over, if it hasn't been done, it won't be done, there is an awesome serenity that settles over the land at 5pm on Christmas Eve. The creme brulee cheesecake ( in lieu of Chrissy cake) is in the fridge, awaiting the subtle touch of a mini-blowtorch on it's sugar crust tomorrow, the presents wrapped, the stockings laid under the tree with care ...(where are the stockings they have had since childhood?... they are teenagers, this is what they want,I'll give up on perfection and have another wine)

my stocking - handmade by the amazing superwoman Sharon is on the tree, awaiting baubles and trinkets from my adoring husband ( yes hon, chocolates will do) and the equally wonderful Shannon's christmas CD is playing gently in the background.

Holly made pencil cases as gifts for her sisters...I am very proud.

and here are the chicks, (look it's enough that I got them all in the same clothes in the same place at the same get them smiling would be a miracle)

so, to my wonderful friends, and family - Merry Christmas, from me and mine to you and yours...and remember North America, we are hours ahead of you, you still have a chance to finish your Christmas knitting!

Friday, December 23, 2005

Candy cane cupcakes

this is for you Donna
vanilla cupcakes with peppermint buttercream (includes crushed candy canes) sprinkled with more crushed candy cane - recipe from 52 Cupcakes - we made 16, there are 12 left, apparently they passed the test.


as you can see I have changed the blog, still isn't exactly what I am looking for, but will do for now!

I have started the second Trekking sock, as I have finished the first of these:

Stats: pattern: Kitten Mittens - see sidebar, no changes to pattern.
Yarn: Noro Silkgarden colour: 211
Thrums: FleeceArtist roving (lost the tag, not sure about the colorway)
Fits med-large woman's hand.
I will write up a pattern, my thrums are not conventional from what I have read, so I might try another way next time, but I like these anyway! In answer to a couple of comments, I wrote the pattern with a pointed tip, as hands are NOT square, look at you fingertips, they rise to a point.

Today I will be a-flurry baking, spaghetti pies (did you try them yet Donni?) typical kindy food, the kids are on a nostalgia kick, caramel swirl cheesecake ( or Creme Brulee cheesecake?) and another 100 spice biscuits ( the last lot disappeared...Flash has been taking them to work...)

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

sticking to the knitting

now that Christmas is under control (fingers crossed!) and the Holly-day excitement has subsided slightly, I can show that there has actually been progress:

finished sock in Trekking XXL in colourway 104, I used my "basic, know it off the top of my head" sock pattern, the cool thing about this yarn is that I can knit 3 pairs from 2 balls - gotta love that, the yarn is so soft and the melange of blues that slowly change from ice through peacock to teal are quite intriguing! As Stephanie has noted so eloquently - you can't make them match, so don't go driving yourself mad trying. (well, you can make them match...but I would prefer not to waste 1/3 of a ball of yarn looking for the right starting place) I feel for her, luckily having identical twin socks is not my personal compulsion, but I do admit to an almost pathological need to match stripes on jumpers, which has been mitigated by creating a raglan pattern,to ensure that the sleeve head and body stripes are compatible, but I tend to avoid the madness by just not knitting striped jumpers..."knitter know thyself"

Gratuitous "still sock with christmas lilies" distract you from the obvious lack of a second sock. This situation was caused by the arrival of two balls of Noro silkgarden, who attached themselves to the Fleece Artist roving and demanded my immediate attention, yes I know that the weather forecasters are making threats of 40 degree heat will find me under the airconditioner knitting on this:

into thrummed mittens (now using my kitten mittens pattern - the other one was waaaay too big)...I can hear the groans, the shouts of WHY?? I'll tell you why, because in 7 weeks time, Holly will be in Christchurch, and this Mum needs to know that she has done her best to ensure that her firstborn will not succumb to frostbite. My Mama-bear instincts to protect my young are stronger than my desire to avoid fluffy wool roving sticking to me, while I knit in a tank top.

Now, a question...if your significant other buys you (the knitter) "Last minute knitted gifts" for Christmas, do you think that is is unreasonable of the the knitter to want to open it "NOW" because seriously, what is the point in getting "Last minute knitted gifts" if you cannot use it to make...some last minute knitted gifts, and is my significant other just messing with my head?

yes I know the answer - he is generous and loving man (who is buying me a Jordana Paige messenger bag for my birthday - yes honey, thats a HINT)

seen out and about:

I am loving Sockbug's christmas tree...I'm thinking felted christmas balls for next year.

52 cupcakes "Christmas series" look at those ornament cakes!

The Fred Dagg version of "We three kings" (scroll down)

We all love a secret

I think I need to re-think my school shoes are soooo over rated, is my need for this yarn so much greater? Beautiful no?

Saturday, December 17, 2005

The boys

this is my favourite Christmas spice biscuit recipe, we've been making these for 15 years. They keep for weeks un-iced. Yes Cece this is for your contest!
(thanks for the heads up!)

2/3 cup golden syrup (not sure if you can get this in the USA, it is like a lighter taste and colour of treacle, it is NOT corn syrup, you could try treacle)
1/2 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
113g butter
125g ground almonds
2 1/4 c plain flour
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
zest of 2 lemons

melt the first 3 ingredients together in a pan, boil gently for 2 minutes.
Mix in the other ingredients, the batter will be quite soft
refrigerate for an hour or so, until kneadable
heat oven to 180 degrees (360)
roll out to 1/4 inch thickness, cut out shapes
bake 8-10 minutes

Friday, December 16, 2005

let the Hollydays begin!

we thought you were a beautiful baby:

we knew you were a beautiful child:

Happy Birthday Holly Louise,
what a journey, and what a person to share it with.
So you are 19...19, those are BIG numbers, the government declared you an adult last year, well this year it is my turn...this is a big year for you, leaving home for the first time, so far away that any of us in Australia or NZ will have to take a plane to reach you.
Embarking on a career that I never in my wildest dreams would be your passion - my daughter the winemaker - creativity just taking another path.

You got 2 Christmases under your belt before you had competition, from today until Christmas (the offical Holly-days)you know you will be the subject of tortured Christmas carols courtesy of your twisted sisters.

"Deck the halls with bowels of Holly" and "Mum forgot to hang you on the front door" what??? "The prettiest thing will be, the Holly that you see on your own front doooor"

You wear it well, you are a "good big sister" and I must thank you for being easy on me...oh you were (are) so bright and aware, but questions, bug hunts and books were as much fun for me as for you, you handled complicated daycare arrangements with aplomb shepherding your sisters along too. You never caused me a moments worry, while other parents were worrying about their kids whereabouts, you were happily listening to your music, watching videos, playing sports.

The friends you have brought into our lives over the years and your ability to talk to ANYONE have impressed me and made me very proud, as your Nana says " the only thing I want from you girls, is that you have a social conscience" You know more people in Sydney than I do, and you are only here for 6 weeks a year!

I know that you will succeed in your chosen path, I am excited for your future.

I love this picture of you with your cousin Maisie,'

just wait 10 years before thinking about babies of your own!

You are now 2 months older than I was when the Doctor placed you in my arms, and wished me well.

I think I did a great job.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

A little "hi"

pop my head up for a moment to say "I'm here" just not talking much.

Isn't Christmas CLOSE! this year I am very relaxed, we are doing a big dinner, but not a BIG dinner, and because it is only the "nuclear family" we are having OUR favourites, not the things you buy because Great Aunt Gladys thinks you should. I posted a note on the fridge and the kids have been writing down their fave the menu is shaping up like this:

Big roast chicken (cook 2, one for the next day)with sage and onion stuffing - both wet and dry (Flash has "turkey trauma" from his childhood - the christmas turkey had a name and lived in the backyard)
garlic and rosemary roast potatoes, Jamie Oliver's stuffed onions, green veg and loads of homemade gravy. (take the girl out of England, but can't take England out of the girl - I have to have a hot Christmas dinner)
Mini pizzas - (pastry in muffin pans, fill with tinned spaghetti, top with grated cheese, chopped onion and bacon, bake till done - kids favourite food)
Prawns - (for me)
little loaves of bread with dips
dipped strawberries
52 cupcakes candy cane cupcakes (made by Blaise)
fruit mince chelsea buns (made by Holly)
Baked ricotta cheesecake (made by moi - because I don't like Christmas cake, last year we had a triple layer mudcake- white choc, dark choc and caramel)
Christmas pudding (which I also don't like- but have to eat because it is Christmas - so i slather it with almond butter, custard and cream)
loads of fruit - and photos of kids with cherry earrings - just like when I was a kid...

Boxing day:
Chicken and stuffing sandwiches
Chicken Korma (used to be Turkey Korma - until I met Flash and learnt about the whole ickky turkey drama)

At the moment we are making Speculaas, Christmas Biscotti, lavender and honey biscotti, and stained glass cookies. I love making Christmas cookies with the girls.

On the knitting front:
finished the Shadow box and classy slip up socks, and 2 pairs baby socks

these have all been packaged up and sent. Next project - I have finally started the silk ribbed corset (in black wool/silk) I have knitted 18 rows so far, and have only tinked 1! I will use the Knitware software to make a pattern for the sleeves, instead of knitting down from the armholes. I'm in for the long haul. As a respite form the concentration needed for the corset, I am knitting the cable rib socks from the fall IK in Fleece Artist merino.

Have made a couple of felted scarves for my Mama, one has fluffy felted "pompoms", the other has some Shibori bobbles and noro silk garden pompoms. Holly was forced to model, so please excuse the "The Unicorns - never liked you " T -shirt. If you would like instructions for the scarf - email me - Kits are also available, and will be online in the New Year.

felted laceweight with silk garden pompoms and shibori bobbles

and finally, had a play with KoolAid and some pale yellow laceweight - here is the result, "Flouro fruit salad" - planning a felted scarf with some coloured bobbles - for Holls.

so, the energy is slowly returning, am still spending half the day in bed, this 'flu really knocked me over, but the background to it is stress - stress kills, it's not just a slogan, it suppresses the immune system, and lets all sorts of nasties in. So, be calm this Christmas season, pressies online if possible ( did this for Grandparents, neice and nephew, Dad, daughter - no stress!) and shop in the evening when the supermarket is quieter, use the freezer to store cookie dough, and other baking, don't stock up immensely, the shops are open again 2 days later, you won't starve.Enjoy family and friends, make them wash up, and keep some knitting to hand!

Friday, December 09, 2005

Shout out

I am sick as a dog, worked mon-wed with the 'flu, because I didn't dare take a sick day! Now I am paying for it, but happy as because I know I will get better, and I never have to go back!.
Something arrived from Cece which blew me out of the water...I was expecting a pair of socks worth of Knitpicks...what arrived was, well...a WHOLE lot more than that, thank you Cece you made my day, I am overwhelmed by the kindness of strangers.

TWO pairs worth of sock yarn in yummy colourways (Holly is coveting the green), "paint your own" with bonus koolaid and the suggestion of a Sydney/Wollongong dye fest, cute -as notecards, pretty wee tape measure some super squishy gummies and REAL gum. A hundred times thank you Cece.

A couple of photos of a wonderful walk we went on at Wentworth Falls in the Blue Mountains recently, this kind of went by the wayside in the wake of The Resignation. This walk is long , but a "must do" pack a lunch, and your swimmers, and be prepared for vistas that will take your breath away, (and some scary hair raising moments on the ledges - especially when your husband expresses his concern at the amount of rain which has recently fallen, and the propensity for ledges to collapse)

but for the sake of a picture like this, I am willing to risk a few (fenced) ledges

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Infinity loop

Belinda spoilt me, then I spoilt Belinda, then Belinda spoilt me...ok ok you get the picture! And I think we both did a great job of pretending we didn't know. Nevermind, I had a great secret pal (I was my pal's pal...bit like I'm my own Grandpa...remember that song?)

Today was her Triumph de force

the wrapping was so cute...and boy if ever there was a day that I needed pressies, this was it.

Holly, my Christmas baby, nicked off with the embellishments and headed off to trivia night (with a boy who knits!

The cutest ornament of the season, very impressed Belinda, now I have to go buy that book

this may require some explanation:

Perky nana's - chocolate coated soft chewy banana candy, the other cool thing is my husband had something to do with their launch in NZ ...unfortunately he is away so I can't ask him (note to self....hide them from Blaise)

lush sari yarn, been wanting to play with this for ages.

Sublime stitching's transfers yummy yum, with little fortune cats (made me jump around...seriously) and sushi...I feel something interesting clothing-wise coming on.

gorgeous tiny stitch markers and a row counter engineered to hang, infinitely more sensible.

and yes you are right Belinda, Maggi onion soup mix - add a can of Nestle reduced cream, a tablespoon of malt vinegar, and leave in the fridge for an hour - there you have it - an incredibly calorific, white trash, chip dip...we will save them for Christmas!

Thank you, I loved getting to know you through your blog, unwrapping your wonderful gifts , and I really enjoyed thinking about your gifts and putting the packages together, have a wonderful Christmas.

Friday, December 02, 2005

little chick

so the Rock Chick in the last post hasn't really changed, she is still the sweet teddy hugging, gym obsessed, bright, hardworking, talented 14 year old she was before buying the guitar and hair dye, and inside that 14 year still this 3 year old

and this 5 year old (the red and black is a bit of a theme though)

and I am so proud of her, I can see it now...we'll be rocking out to her concert which her middle sister Charlotte has organised at her big sister Holly's vineyard...

In breaking news this evening, I quit my job today, I finish up next Wednesday, I did ok, no egos were harmed, no toes trodden on, I do have an exit interview before I leave though, and I intend to be candid,so hopefully there will be positive changes for those who come after me.

AND, there has been will follow.