Tuesday, 27 July 2010

thank goodness for knitting

I bought some Melody from Bendigo in several colours a few months ago.  It's a lovely yarn, merino, cashmere and microfibre.  This navy yarn was well into the Celtic Hearts Shawl when somehow I reversed the directions and began patterning on the wrong side.  I was interrupted with two rows left to frog and put it aside.  Of course, it hasn't been touched for weeks, so I ripped it all out.

It appears black here but is  really a rich shade of navy.  It's a very easy yarn to knit.  I'm using 5 mm Harmony circulars here for it and the pattern is showing up quite well.  Pattern is Brandywine which I have done once before.

I have done eight of the fifteen repeats after the bottom fifty-six rows.  This, of course, is still unblocked but it will be great when that is done.  I'm very happy with it.  The yarn is still available on Bendigo website but some colours have  sold out.  At $4 ball, it was good buying, particularly considering that another brand, which appears identical, is much dearer than that.  I've used that other brand and this certainly seems the same to knit.

I've been very grateful for my knitting lately.  It's been great on the stressful days I've had recently particularly over the last month.  I didn't take it on court appearance days, as I wasn't sure I'd get it past security and also as I was somewhat more dressily dressed than I often am.  I did not want knitting bags etc breaking that appearance.  The Jindabyne Cowl which I did then at home was very useful.  It was good wool, almost, but not quite mindless knitting.  There was just enough patterning and counting to take my mind off other things, but not so much that I made mistakes when I was distracted.  This shawl is easy in that the patterned lace part stays the same all the time.  The increases show up in the garter stitch centre panel.

Hopefully I can soon pick up something more complicated and concentrate on moving my life forward.  I had a call from my solicitor at lunch last Friday, (today's Tuesday), that final papers were ready for me to sign.  This signing should have been done at least two weeks ago but was delayed by stupidity and also by stubbornness.  A threat that court could not only sign for him but that he may well be in contempt of court brought results.  I raced out to Penrith from Sydney, signed them.  They go to court for final preparation and seal and I'll have them back in about a week.  There's still the house to sell, and that won't be pleasant, but the end of this is in sight.

I sat on Penrith Station in the cold afterwards, feeling rather numb.  I've found the procedure quite unpleasant.  I've moved past any emotional attachment long ago, circumstances forced that, but the end of so many years was hard.  There was no inter-urban train due  for quite a while, so I caught the much slower suburban train, just to get off the cold platform.

It was cold and dark when I reached my station and was also raining.  I had to ring to get my son to pick me up.  While we waited for DIL to arrive home, so we could eat dinner, I checked my email.

Second blow for the day.  My sister is a survivor of breast cancer for thirteen, nearly fourteen years.  It's returned a couple of times and she's had a reconstruction  done by a top plastic surgeon in Sydney after a full mastectomy.  The other  breast had had a reduction so both matched.  She's raised  many thousands of dollars for research, rows dragon boats in racing, raises money for other charities.

It's back.  It's back in the pectoral muscle we all have on chest.  However this lies under the reconstruction. Cancer there is not totally unknown, but it's very rare. She almost died in that reconstruction operation when a re-routed blood vessel did not work for a while.  Both the plastic surgeon and the cancer surgeon will be required for the operation she needs in early August.  She may lose the reconstruction.

Not only that, but there's a spot on her lung which worries me more than the recurrence.  It's very small, shows on PET scan, but is  too small to biopsy.  If this is also cancer, then it's the first sign of a secondary from the original breast cancer and that is very bad news indeed.

I felt gutted as I read her email and was very ragged  around the edges all weekend.  I've been knitting and letting things play around in the back of my mind.  There is little I can do about my sister.  I don't know where I want to live in a few months or whether I want to buy or rent.  I have great family and friends who care for me and look out for me too.  I will be fine, although things  will be rough for a while yet.  The knitting is a soothing presence in my life.

Tuesday, 20 July 2010

brangian II

Here's my second brangian shawl.  It's turned out much larger than I expected it to be.  My first was done in fingering weight while this is laceweight from Ailsa. It was 19 wraps/inch when I measured it.  I wasn't sure how far the yarn would go, so was careful in knitting. I've done four repeats of the first chart and then the edging third chart.  I had some yarn left over but not a lot.  I could have done perhaps two more rows of edging but couldn't be bothered.

A first time for me... I blocked this about a week ago and then found the edge was too tight in the cast off.  I knit fairly loosely and have never had this happen on anything before, certainly not on the first shawl of same pattern.  I was annoyed so left it as it was for about a week.  Yesterday I took a look at it.  This is intended for a  gift, although the recipient knows nothing of this.  There was no way I could give it away with the edge tight and curling.

I took a small crochet hook and the leftover yarn.  I unpicked the  bind off on the last cast off stitch and carefully pulled out the cast off stitches, about eight at a time.  This was messy as the last actual knitting row had had knit 2 together along it and some YOs.  Using the crochet hook and the extra yarn I did a crochet cast off.  I couldn't undo many stitches in one go as I'd have dropped some.  It took me about three hours to do but the tightness is now gone.  Edges need another block, but I'm satisfied with the cast off now.

Monday, 19 July 2010

one hat, two hat

Two finished objects this weekend and progress on son's scarf.  We had lots of visitors yesterday so I left taking photos of two finished hats till today.  Wouldn't you just know it.  The day was superb yesterday, loads of sunshine and clear blue skies.  There was a lovely sunrise here today, but it's now quite grey, not good for camera work at all.  Unfortunately, I've already put washing in the machine.  DIL is looking forward to getting her commercial gas dryer installed in the garage.  There was a dryer here when we moved in, but this place had been a rental place until we bought it.  The dryer has had a lot of use and sheds dust everywhere. The dust gets all over the place, even when the laundry door is shut wile dryer is used.   The timer does not move around,  so we don't like using it unless we set a separate timer ourselves.  I'll hang the washing around on the third storey deck which is a suntrap when the sun does shine.

This first hat is Coronet from the archives at Knitty.
This is Ysolda Teague's Cairn hat from the  first book of Whimsical Little Knits.  I made one of these when I first bought the book about two years ago and DIL asked  for another one.  I did most of it on Saturday and finished it last night.  The blue, which is quite intense here, matches a Panta headband, a scarf and some fingerless gloves which I've done for her  over the last couple of years.  It's more wool from Bendigo and the charcoal is a Cleckheaton 8 ply.

I've just noticed the right side looks a bit odd.  It probably just needs straightening as there's nothing wrong with it really and the insert grey is just fine.

The hat feels very warm indeed.  I find this strange, because the back is not stranded at all.  With mosaic knitting, only one colour is used at a time across the complete row.  Some stitches may be slipped to do the design, but only one colour is used, so nothing is carried cross the back of the knitting.

I wore my Jindabyne cowl shown in post below to church yesterday over a black top.  It looked really good and was very cosy.  The actual building was built in early 1880s and has very high ceilings.  The place is almost impossible to heat properly without spending a small fortune on the job.  There are some heaters on the walls but they are fairly ineffectual.  I've attended there only since moving.  It's quite different in style to anything else I've attended but I'm enjoying it very much.  Quite different to most Anglican churches in Sydney, but very welcoming.

Tuesday, 13 July 2010

long time, no write

No knitting?  No, quite a lot of knitting, but little time or inclination for blogging.

Real life ® and sickness got in the way of finishing anything, but there are now two items finished.  One and  a half actually.  I finished the second Brangian shawl, but will undo the cast off , redo on a larger needle and reblock the cast off edge.  I thought I was doing it loosely and have never had problems before.

Legal matters upset me for a few days and I did nothing.  Then last week, there were  four of my grandchildren here for the whole week.  Four beds on lounge floor, four lots of mess, four bags, four opportunities every day for forgotten jumpers and misplaced shoes etc.  Actually, they were all very well behaved, especially as Miss 5 had never been away from both mum and dad.  There were three from one family and Miss almost 10, their cousin.  They had great fun with the world's best aunty, but boy, were they loud.  Not intentionally, just four exuberant voices together.  Said aunty and I were very tired at the end of the week and things seem very quiet now.

I was away with friends on Saturday.  Something must have  disagreed with me and I was quite ill all that night.  I'll spare you the details but will say I fainted in the bathroom early Sunday morning and hit my head hard on shower recess door.  I slept all day Sunday.  I woke every couple of hours, had a bit of water, went to bathroom and was asleep again, all in five minutes.  I did that till 7:00 pm and then slept all Sunday night as well. I think the stomach upset was cause for my body to take the opportunity to recuperate from the last three weeks.  I'm just beginning to feel better and this is Tuesday.

So yesterday I finished off two FOs which had been waiting my attention.  Brangian has already been mentioned.  The other is the Jindabyne Cowl from Lush Yarns. See under kits in their sidebar.

The colour here is very washed out.  It's supposed to be fine today but it looks as if it could pour any minute.  I'm pleased  with this, it's very cosy.  I'm also pleased to have it finished.  A metre of it was beginning to be tedious.

DIL's model, one of many she owns is more sylph like than I am.  It's a bit big on her but goes around my shoulders nicely and feels very snug.  My planned trip to  Canberra with friend hasn't yet happened.  Real life again interrupted both of us.  However, we'll get there and Canberra will be cold for a good while yet.

The colour is called garnet and is a beautiful mulberry shade which I really like.

This is more like it.  The colour is much truer here.

The buttons come from All Buttons Great and Small, down the Tempe end of King Street, Newtown.  I walked down one morning when all the grandchildren were out with the world's best aunty.  It was much colder outside than I anticipated and windy.  It would be good to be able to go cross country to them, but the two ways through from this side are messy.  I walked up to Newtown and then down to the shop.  I pushed open the door and oh, it was blissfully warm inside.  Not that horrible overheating as in shopping centres, but an enveloping warmth which was lovely.  Both assistants were lovely too.  They oohed and aahed over the cowl and both searched for the perfect buttons.  I had decided that if necessary, I would even have wooden toggles, but they were determined to find something we all liked.  These are the perfect colour for the yarn and although it's difficult to see in the photo, they are textured with tiny raised dots.

When I went to sew them on yesterday, I realised that a backing was needed for stability of the knitted  fabric and security of each button.  I didn't fancy the idea of woven tape which I've seen used.  I hunted in the many packets of vintage buttons my friend gave me and found nine glass buttons a good size to use.  I then found another two, slightly different but quite usable.  I've put them on the end to stay buttoned up.  The glass buttons don't show much and give much strength to the cowl.  When I told my friend about using them he replied that he thought there were still some  more buttons from his mother at his house, so I may get even more yet.

Thursday, 1 July 2010

warming winter soup

Brrrr, winter has arrived here. I have friends who live in colder climates and who laugh at what we call winter temperatures in Sydney. This windscreens of cars in several suburbs around here in  inner west Sydney were iced up yesterday.  That's cold for here.  Actually, I'm waiting till they pay a visit down here in spring and complain about the intense heat at 27° C!  I dug out a lovely beret, one of Ysolda's designs, to wear out yesterday and was very glad I had it to wear.

I've finished the Jindabyne cowl with my mix of alpaca and wool from Lush Yarns.  (Link in side bar to cowl, under kits).  I've been meaning to walk down to the button shop in the lower end of King Street, Newtown.  However, a very nasty foulup in some legal stuff had me sleep deprived for a day or so and then left me feeling very blue.  Good news today from my solicitor, so now I feel ready for a walk tomorrow.

I'm doing a second Brangian shawl in some of Ailsa's laceweight.  Because it is laceweight and the first was fingering, this will be smaller.  It's for a gift, unexpected and unannounced for an elderly lady living in chilly Goulburn.  I don't have enough yarn to do the full shawl so am doing  four repeats of the first thirty rows and then will do the final chart for the points.  I've just started the fourth repeat so should have this done in plenty of time for the end of July. It will be more a scarf than a shawl.

DIL came home today with some parsnips.  Now I know many people don't like these but we like  them here.  She'd been in to Franklins, a supermarket we rarely go to, and bought two trays, each $3 and having 600-700 gm of very fresh small parsnips.

I did a bit of a search and came up with a good soup recipe.  I've adapted it slightly, just like modifications to a knitting pattern.

So here's my take on Jamie Oliver's spicy parsnip soup.

  • 500-600gm parsnips, scrubbed.  Chop off thin end and place other fat ends on baking paper on a baking sheet. Keep thin ends.
  • 2 large onions halved. Place these with parsnips and bake about 40 minutes at 190° C
  • Place two teaspoons finely chopped ginger in large saucepan.
  • Add several cloves of chopped garlic, I used about four but you may like more or less.
  • Finely chop 2-3 large, skinny chillies.  We like things spicy so use the seeds as well.  They weren't very hot.  We prefer the tiny ones but couldn't get them this week. They are hotter but we still keep seeds.
  • Thinly chop 2 large carrots and add to pot.
  • Add one litre of stock, chicken or vegetable and the parsnip tails and the parsnips and onions from the oven.
  • Put lid on and simmer till all is good and soft.
  • Blend.  I use a stick blender, I find it easier and less messy than transferring hot soup to a blender.
  • Just before serving, stir in 300 ml thickened cream and I added a large handful of fresh chopped parsley and chives from the garden too.
  • We had about 1.5 cups of leftover mashed potato  and kumara in the fridge so I threw that in too.  It thickened the soup well.
  • Serve with fresh warm rolls.
This was very good indeed.  Smelt wonderful and tasted better.  It was very filling, so there's some left for lunch tomorrow.

There is another container of similar parsnips.  I'll keep some for  baked dinner and may use the rest in some parsnip bread when I find our big book of bread recipes.  

I've been sleeping very poorly, so may go to bed early with a eight off my mind nd see if I can catch up on some rest.