Wednesday, 31 July 2013

good service

I rather liked this sign.  No offence meant to vegans but yes, cows eat a vegan style diet.

I'm not a vegetarian but certainly don't have meat every day.  I quite enjoy many vegetarian dishes and in many cases, using legumes, lentils etc makes for tasty winter dishes.

Yesterday I had an order  from the Butcherman.  This firm delivers to individuals as well as to restaurants and I've been using them  for over ten years now.  I first used them when I ran the small canteen.  The meat is superb quality and very well packed in tightly sealed vacuum packs which keep well in the fridge.  They are dearer than the supermarket but not by a great amount.  They have some very expensive stuff but I just buy the usual range of chicken and meat and I try to stick to those which come in small packets so I can use them easily.

It's well butchered, no scrappy bits of chicken passing themselves off as tenderloins and no little bits of bone on chops etc just waiting for the unsuspecting eater.  Good  service from them.

More good service and a total surprise to me came yesterday from the people at Shibui Knits.  I commented on a thread in a group I belong  to on Ravelry that I had found two knots in the Chinese Red sock yarn when I was making  the sock shown at the  right.  It was more or less a comment in passing as I'd just finished the first sock, although I did make the observation that the big balls of yarn from  Bendigo don't have knots in them.  I glanced at the thread an hour later.  The next post was from Shibui Knits posting as a guest in the group and saying that knots were unacceptable.  Could I please email them?  A lovely person named Kristin is looking into the yarn and will follow through at the mill.  If I gave her my name and address, she would send a replacement.  That was quick, and absolutely totally unexpected.  Thank you very much.  More good service.

As you can see, the first  sock is done.  I'm a good halfway down the leg of the second sock.  I think it has gone quickly as I make myself finish the four row pattern before putting the knitting down.

News on eldest son's back problems.  The disc is obviously unstable and will need one of two operations.  However, some blurring was showing on the scans which apparently is an infection picked up in the first operation.  He is now taking some horribly strong antibiotics twice a day and the situation will be reassessed in three weeks.  He could not have another operation if the infection were still there.  He may need more than the three weeks as such infections are notoriously hard to shift.  He's taking yoghurt but also probiotics in the middle of the day to help his stomach deal with the antibiotic which is about eight times as strong as any normal dose.  While the infection hasn't caused his latest problem with the disc, it hasn't helped the whole thing.  His immunity is compromised, he tires more easily than if there were no infection there.  He and DIL are discouraged but try to take things a day at a time.  What helped last week can cause more pain this week and so on.  Very frustrating.

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Something new every day

I've admired knitting by others when they have been daring and different.  I've continued on my way doing what I have always done.

However, the Shibui sock yarn in Chinese Red from Renae at Suzy hausfrau in Canberra has inspired me to branch out.  I used this link to a for a tubular cast on which Renae had given on her Facebook page a few weeks ago.  The link has video and written instructions.  I used the written instructions and it's really perfectly simple.  Why I didn't try this a long time ago is beyond me.  I love the result, stretchy and perfect for socks.  The only comment I would make is that it would be good to have a strong colour contrast between waste yarn provisional cast on and the actual sock yarn. Stitches are picked up from three rows down and I found the stitch sometimes hard to see, even using my daylight lamp.  The result is a very neat looking start to the socks.  So easy and I think I have found my new favourite cast on for socks at least.  I also think it would be good for bottom-up jumpers and cardigans.

While I've been branching out and trying new things, I have also had a seniors moment or something similar.  I had done the ribbing on this sock, found myself a lacy insertion pattern and set off down the leg.  I suddenly realised the ball of wool looked small for a pair of socks.  Checked the ball band and yes, I had bought only 50 gm.  I ordered another from Renae and had an email confirming the package had been posted just on half an hour after my order.  Nice work, Renae, thank you.

I have put  the Array cowl mentioned below in the naughty corner for a  while.  That's done in the Shibui merino/alpaca and merino/silk.  I checked with DIL that son would wear the deep purple, I'm pushing things a bit here, I know.  320 stitches on 5 mm needles with the 10 ply purple.  The pattern itself is easy as only one colour is used at any one row with a slip stitch pattern. However, each row took ages and ages.  the cowl is supposedly ten inches deep.  I had done about one inch when I realised I would be bored stiff long before I reached the ten inches.  It was very, very slow.  Not only was it slow but I wondered if son would wear it looped twice around his neck, and decided he wouldn't. The 5 mm needles were producing a very stiff fabric with no drape for me, even though I knit loosely.  So I frogged it and cast on with just over half the stitches originally specified and used  5.5 mm needles.  Much better and easier to knit.  Then I noticed a mistake, so out that came.  I'll get back to it later.

One more picture for today.  Baked eggs.  I like eggs but don't eat them often but these make a good Sunday night meal in winter.  I used a very small cast iron and enamel pot which has a lid, although that wasn't needed.  I have two of these, bought originally for pâté.  Greased very well.  I put two organic eggs in it, chopped some spring onion very finely and added pepper and salt.  I had about a tablespoon of cream in the container so I added a bit of milk and mixed it all together and put that with the eggs.  Some  freshly grated parmesan went on top.  Into a moderate oven till done to your liking for eggs.  My stomach rebels at runny yolks, so eggs are cooked till yolks are firm for me.  Warming and different.  I had a piece of toast and some fruit to follow.

Wednesday, 17 July 2013

eye candy

I had not realised  just how long since I last updated.  Lots of stressful stuff here, mostly to do with my sons.

One son who had a back operation last year is facing the very real possibility of another almost immediately. He and his wife had been planning on moving to Strasbourg, France for several years with a departure date of 29/7.  I have never been happy with this idea for a variety of reasons.  They've sold their house and another they owned and are selling an investment place in Brisbane while they will keep a couple of units they own here.  DIL has been giving away much stuff and selling more.  However, the disc that was operated on a year ago  in son's spine is playing up and he is just as much extreme pain as he was then.  It is herniated (bulging) as a lot of bone was removed in the first operation to free a trapped nerve and a hole was drilled in the disc, making it quite unstable.  This operation would be to actually replace the  disc with an artificial one.  Lots  of recovery and rehabilitation needed.

Middle son still has no work except temp work after being made redundant almost two months ago and the youngest is worried about his children and decisions their mother is making with her own life and how they may affect the children.

I've been knitting as a way of helping cope with all this.  My laceweight second instalment of blue  blue faced leicester/silk mix is very slowly on its way to another Aestlight shawl.  No photos there as there's not much of interest in a garter stitch triangle slowly creeping up to 154 stitches, one stitch increase per row.  I think this is the fourth time I've have made Aestlight.

My sister has been housesitting at Gladstone in the Flinders Ranges in SA.  She says it is beautiful and green there and she's driven around  sight seeing quite a bit.  She found a butcher selling home smoked bacon and is raving about it.  Rich, dark and smoky and she'll buy more for breakfasts in her little van on the way home when she leaves at the weekend. These two pictures come from Wirrabara which has a large forest area.  The little township was neat and clean and even has a street sign to show the way to a school garden started by Stephanie Alexander.

I've never been a fan of yarn bombing, although I know people who are.  They become quite indignant when I suggest it's a form of graffiti.  I see it as imposing on the public landscape, just as I see most graffiti does.  However this photo is not yarn bombing.  It has been done at the invitation of the shop owner and is only outside the shop, not randomly scattered through the street.  I rather like the bike or tricycle as it really is.

It brightened my day yesterday when she sent these photos as I had had two days of a nasty tummy bug I would not wish even on an enemy.  It's gone now but I still feel very lethargic and washed out.  Despite eating nothing for 48 hours, all I had for breakfast was four large strawberries and I was full.

Something  else to brighten my day arrived just now from Renae at suzyhausfrau.

The deep purple is  a merino alpaca mix, 10 ply.   Its name is Velvet and it's from  Shibui.  To me the name is very evocative, it's rich and luscious, very much as velvet is.  The light grey is also Shibui but merino/silk, called Staccato and fingering  weight.  It will team with the velvet to make Array, (Ravlink), a free download.

The in your face bright yarn at the end is merino sock yarn, called Chinese Red.  I am in desperate need of more sock yarn.  Not!

Edited to add:  just after posting this I decided to wind the first two balls for Array cowl.  I have spent a meditative time and have wound all the wool for the cowl and also the sock wool.  Now it's all ready and waiting.

Saturday, 6 July 2013

camel shawl

This Trinity Shawl has needed five rows to finish for about two weeks.

Yesterday I took myself in hand, did the rows, cast off loosely and even blocked it.  I still need to darn in start and  finish threads.

The pattern and the yarn both come from Anniken Allis in the UK. (Rav link, scroll down for pictures of her patterns.)  She donated this pattern to médecins sans frontières, Doctors without Borders, as a fund raiser.  There are some lovely patterns  there and they ask that you make the pattern and then make a donation to the organisation.  The yarn is the first in a three month subscription of a lace club and is thinner than sock yarn but thicker than laceweight.  A pattern which is exclusive to the club for several months accompanies the yarn.  I substituted this pattern.

I wish that there was some way of feeling this yarn through the screen.  It was a delight to knit.  Utterly soft and gorgeous and I love the colours in the mix.  The second yarn is 65/35% mix of Blue Faced Leicester/silk and the last is the 100% silk shown in post below.

It's not a large shawl, I wasn't sure how many repeats of patterns  were in the yarn. I think it may well be a  wrap around the neck where it will be soft and cosy.  It's turned quite cold here.  Our eleven full days of heavy rain seem to have come to an end and the sun has been shining .  However, since last weekend, winter has arrived.

It's halfway through the year.  See the Christmas decorations still in my plant?  They were leftover from  making the wreath for my front door last Christmas.  I strung them together and put them there.  They are now tangled up in the plant stems so I left them there.  Soon be Christmas again!

Wednesday, 3 July 2013

To suit Hercule Poirot

This skein of pure silk arrived a couple of days ago from  England.  Probably one of my last purchases from overseas for a while.  It was the third lot of yarn from Anniken's lace club.  When I bought it and one more lot yet to come, the AUD dollar was high.  It's now descended into the depths, although not as low as a few years ago.  I have told myself nothing more is allowed for now.

The photo does not do it justice.  It's a smoother, deeper colour than it seems here, even with a bit of adjusting I could not match what I could see  when I looked at the  skein. There are almost smokey mauve overtones to it and it feels deliciously soft. 500 metres give or take a few.

The colour actually reminded me of Hercule Poirot and the beautiful evening  gowns the women wore  in Poirot films.  It looks and feels opulent and decadent and very art deco indeed.

We have had sunshine for the third day in a row.  Ten solid days of rain and cold before that have made my hip and shoulders ache badly and some of my fingers have swollen too.  I hope to get back to actual knitting soon.  The pattern supplied with this yarn can be seen here, a shawl called Clementina. (Rav link).  It won't be available till October for general purchase.

The cold weather has reinforced my desire  for soup.  For several days the maximum at my house scraped 11° C and we had non-stop rain too.  I have twice bought turkey shanks, once with the whole leg bone and once trimmed as shown here.  The two here cost just under $4 for the two, hardly a fortune.  These were cooked in the slow cooker for several hours to make soup stock.  I used some of the stock last night in a sort of chicken fricassee for dinner.  Leftovers tonight.

As you can see there is a lot of meat on the bones.  I'll shred some into the soup I made today and make a  small dish, possibly curry, from the rest.  Next to no fat on the stock.

I received two very large sweet potatoes yesterday in  fruit and veg order.  Today I chopped one and an onion into the stock and put it on to cook for soup.  I added some roasted very red capsicum and blended the lot with a stick mixer  when the sweet potato was soft.  It gave a spicy flavour and made the soup quite different  to what I'd normally make.  The soup looks greasy  here.  I stirred a spoonful of good cream into it and I didn't realise the heat would make it separate a bit.  It tasted fine however, not greasy at all.  A thin slice of homemade bread and two  small mandarines mad a pleasant lunch.

Not a good photo at all, but all three were not wonderful.