Sunday, 17 December 2017

a rude awakening

I woke this morning at 6:30 and sat up in bed swinging my legs around to touch the floor. As I lowered my feet to the floor, there was an almighty bang, pretty well simultaneous with a tiny flash I saw out of the corner of my eye.  I thought there had been an explosion or perhaps a gunshot.  Even without hearing aids in, the noise hurt my ears.  I had been thinking of going back to bed to sleep some more but after the noise, I knew that wouldn't happen. My feet were on the floor and I could feel the vibrations through the building from the noise.

It was thunder, but I really did think of gunshot or explosion at first.  I got up and stumbled down the hall to the bathroom.  Flicked the light and to my relief it came on.  In the kitchen I turned  coffee machine on and was relieved to see it too was still working. I make two cups of coffee in the morning and for the rest of the day I drink mainly water.   so I really appreciate them.  I don't know what the lightning hit but it was close, very close.  I thought perhaps one of the lightning conductors on the roof, then thought of the Vodafone tower nearby which is higher again.  Whatever, the vibrations through the floor were something I have not felt here before. Some rain came after the thunder but not much really, enough to say it was raining.

It has been hot here but reasonable today.  The next three days are forecast to be well into 30s.  Not happy.  I have made leftovers so I do not need to cook in the heat. I have been enjoying the superb quality of fruit and vegetables from my new supplier.  The service is very good and helpful and the produce is also excellent.  The family has been in the business for years and has a reputation for quality.

There were extras in the order.  Twenty beautiful passion fruit, some home cooked choc chip biscuits and  a couple of other things.  The picture shows my take on an old recipe of Mum's.  An innovative cook, especially at the time, her food was lovely.  This dish was made with sultana grapes.  I had very firm and fresh black seedless grapes.  I had thawed a large pack of nine chicken thighs and decided I would do her dish.  I checked recipe with my sister and made it.  The thighs were well browned on both sides in oils.  Some onion and some garlic went in too and a slight sprinkle of salt.  I sprinkled some arrowroot powder over and stirred it into dish.  I use that as it is gluten free for three family members.  It is easier to stick t the arrowroot then I can't use the wrong thing.  What look like olives are Midnight Beauty seedless black grapes.   White wine is added and my sister told me too late that there should be chicken stock powder too.  I have no idea what wine mum would have used, but I used pinot noir.  Almost covered the chicken, turned the gas down and covered dish.  Cook till thighs were ready.  I was really happy how they turned out.  Sometimes memories can be deceptive.  I served one meal with salad and have kept the rest for other meals.  There are two or perhaps three meals left, again with salad.

This cowl is a Christmas present.  The colour is Delphinium and the yarn is sock weight from Three Irish Girls bought at the Convent and Chapel woolshop in Rylstone.  Another example of extra good service which is important to me. This is for a family member and the colour is just right for her.  I also knitted in a strand of creamy alpaca of a similar weight so that I could knit it more quickly.

I finished it this morning but it needs blocking, something to do tomorrow.

I was at a loss as to what to do now.  I have more Irish Girls yarn to use  but that is for me.  I pulled out a partly done sock from some yarn from Craftsy.  I bought yarn and patterns together but hated the pattern meant for this yarn.  It was slow  to do and not really very noticeable , so I had frogged it and knitted to just after the heel.  It is quite different knitting and I am coming down the foot. The needles feel tiny after the cowl.

Saturday, 9 December 2017

durrow shawl

It was at the beginning of the year, possibly February, that I decided I wanted to do the Durrow Shawl by Lucy Hague as a winter project.  Lots of concentration needed and winter would be a good time to do it.  On the same day, a yarn shop with whom I had dealt before announced that they were putting in an order for Malabrigo sock yarn the very yarn suggested in the pattern.  So I put in an order and waited.  And waited.  I sent several emails which were not answered and finally I was told that Malabrigo takes orders and fills them as they have the yarn.

Nothing happened, no yarn , no news. Winter came and went and still no yarn. I had told the shop that this was a firm order so thought all would finally be well.

Then after a couple of orders, I had a look at  Convent and Chapel Wool in an old building in Rylstone, with wonderful yarns.  I had dealt with them before and been impressed by their range and pleasant service. We had a lot of email and phone discussions and they sent me some ideas and suggestions.  I made a choice and they sent it off.  My son who now collects parcels for me at his work brought it down last night.  I am thrilled with it.  The colours are different to what I had ordered of the Malabrigo, but they are lovely.  I think the third and fourth skeins should be swapped around.  I did make a record of what I was ordering and how it corresponded with the original pattern but I did not look at it when I placed these on table.

Here is a link to this variety of yarn from the shop, Hand Maiden Merino Slim.  An enormous range of colours can be seen from the dropdown box.

My original order? I had been hopeful for months and even after buying this new lot of yarn from Margot and Gemma, I would still have bought the other if it had arrived.  I had said it was a firm order and I would have kept my word.  That shop closed today.

Saturday, 2 December 2017

Mess. With yarn

 One thing I have learnt over years of knitting is that I should trust my intuition. Sometimes it is described as listening to the yarn.  Did I do that?  No and I wasted some time.

The blue yarn is some more of the Three Irish Girls sock yarn.  A pretty colourway called Delphinium.  I was making a cowl as a Christmas present. I paired the yarn with some Garn Studios alpaca which I had picked up some time ago at a sale.  About the same weight as the blue and it would knit much more quickly to be finished before Christmas for a present. Nothing very fancy but the yarn was stubborn and not behaving well.  I struggled on, determined to knit what I had envisaged.

In the end I gave up and ripped it out.  You can see the mess to the right.  Metres and metres of it.  I did try to be careful with it as I pulled it all out.  Too much trouble to separate the two yarns, so I left them piled together in this heap.  I should have listened to the yarn and to my intuition saying this was never going to have a happy ending.

So I started again.  I planned a long scarf.  The yarn looks much better now and will be better after blocking.  I have changed my mind slightly.  I will make it long enough to go over head two or three times and then cheat by joining it.  I think this will work just fine.  I was up early this morning so after breakfast I sat outside and have done several more inches than this photo shows.  I now feel confident in what I am doing and barring a major disaster, this should be finished well before Christmas, even though it is December already.

My son continues to make progress.  It is so encouraging to hear the improvement as he speaks on the phone to me.  He is returning to the confident person he has always been, and it shows in his voice.  The dreadful painkiller drugs, multiple horrible things,
are being reduced although there is still a way to go. He and DIL are house sitting for a friend who is overseas.  There is a pool and he can practise walking in it whenever he feels like it.  He can't swim yet, kicking while swimming twists the body, but walking in water strengthens the muscles.

Summer time and the living is easy.  It seems like a good year for summer fruit.  Often it is not at its best till after Christmas, but part of breakfast today was a very good yellow fleshed peach.  Lots of juice and full of flavour. just look at the deep golden flesh.  Sunshine in a peach.

Breakfast too has been easy.  I have always liked Greek yoghurt and for a long time I bought Jalna.  I have now found a brand which is even nicer, Tamar Valley from near Launceston.  I love both the flavour and the texture.  I bought blackberries from my new source of fruit and vegetables.  A perfect marriage, the tartness of the yoghurt with the black berries.These were a special two punnets for $8 I think, certainly a good deal cheaper than supermarkets and they were very good quality, not a mushy one in the whole punnet.

I have been buying from  a market supplier, Chris Antico.  Antico is a well established name in green groceries here.  I am paying a bit more but the quality is amazingly good and the service is great.  Actually the money evens out.  The quality is high so I can use it all.  I often end up having to throw out supermarket vegetables as they often go bad quickly.  I am about to make lunch with some Kangaroo Island eggs, also in the delivery.  I used to buy them locally but then they disappeared. Pancakes or patties depending on the consistency.  Some fresh marjoram and basil and made with almond meal mixed with flax before sale.  No, I am not going gluten free, I just like the flavour.  Served with salad they will be good and breakfast was at just after 6:00 am, so I am well and truly ready for lunch six hours later.