Monday, January 28, 2013

A quick knit holiday hat and a 200th birthday

I am getting good at these knitting deadlines  - they are really working for me.
Maybe it's because of my journalism background. I finished this Rikke Hat for my pal, Daisy, as a leaving gift. She's off to China for six months and it be cold!

This is the second Rikke Hat I've finished this month, and I really struggled to part with both of these hats. I am a bit of a hat person, I wear them all the time in winter, and both of the ones I've made have been in great neutral colours to go with everything.
This one was made in Naturally Aspire DK  in shade 1013 - greys and blues.

And I must wish Pride and Prejudice a very happy 200th birthday.
She is definitely one of my all time favourite books, and I re-read her every year and always find something new. She helped me appreciate the classics, and great BBC television, and I am very hopeful to continue the acquaintance.

For those of you in Auckland - enjoy Anniversary Weekend. I plan on knitting, and maybe reading some Jane Austen.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Vintage tea pots, Rikke and Almost Vegetarian week four.

This week has been crazy busy. I was hoping this year to be able to blog more than once a week quite regularly, but that hasn't quite worked out. Maybe it's because I've actually been knitting...

Some of you might remember last year when I mentioned my continual quest to find vintage plates for the wedding. I've given most of them away or back to charity shops, but I've kept one set. It's a mix of Myott and Churchill Finlandia, and I love them! I was lucky to find a set of four dinner plates, side plates, saucers and cups for $25, and I love the blue pattern. In my hunt I managed to find a few more, and have now acquired matching bowls and this amazing teapot.

I ordered the teapot last November, hoping she would arrive in time for the wedding, but she only arrived today! I thought she was lost forever, but now she's completing the set. I've spotted some egg cups and a sugar bowl too. Those are next on my list!

I've also set myself another crazy deadline - another Rikke hat to be finished by Sunday. A good friend of mine is going to live in China for six months or so, and it'll be cold! So I'm knitting like a ninja to get it done before she heads off this week. A long way to go yet - I don't see myself doing too much else this weekend!

I haven't done an update on my Almost Vegetarian Year for a while - so far I'm going pretty good. Although I did eat chicken last week - I ordered a yaki soba from a new Japanese restaurant and little did I realise, there was chicken in it - not just the usual seafood.
I ate it though - not wasting $15 worth of food - and oh my goodness, it was amazing. 
If there's one thing I miss most, it's chicken. Followed by bacon. Followed by Big Macs.

I did have a yummy dinner last night though - pea and feta fritters.

So delicious! 
I think next time I will cook extra peas, puree them and blend them into the batter.
I also need to make sure I'm eating lots of vege with all the nutrients I need - I guess it's just as easy to develop lazy habits when you're vegetarian too!

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Met my deadline - Happy Go Knitty stripes

All finished - Happy-Go-Knitty merino/silk self striping sock.

And as a treat, one rasberry chocoate cake, recipe borrowed from I Am Baker.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

More DyeForYarn - a new yarn addiction

Generally I buy yarn with a project in mind. I pick a pattern, then I go get the suitable yarn for it. But there are two brands of yarn that I have an addiction to, and tend to buy even if I don't have a project in mind. One is Happy-Go-Knitty, specifically the sock yarn. 
My latest love though is DyeForYarn
I first got some of this awesome yarn for my wedding shrug, and now I've just got some silk and merino DK in a really dark navy. It's almost black, and has a beautiful shimmer. The OOAK colourway is called "Black damson falls off the twig" and I plan to knit it into a really simple hat, maybe another Rikke

What I love about their yarns is the vibrancy of the colours. I could quite happily purchase the whole store!

But before I even think about knitting a hat, I need to finish a sock. I've given myself a deadline of tomorrow. And I have no excuses left.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Not the climate for knitting

Whenever I think of December and January I think of cold, rain, and potentially a bit of snow if I'm lucky. Then I remember I haven't lived in the UK since I was nine and in New Zealand, it's a bit sunny, summer, and extremely humid.

The last week or so has been so hot and sticky that the last thing I feel like doing is knitting.
Knitting my super squishy Camilla Pullover is almost impossible. The thickness of the yarn is just too much to work with in the humidity and the weight of it on my lap is unpleasant. That's nothing to do with the pattern though - I love how it's turning out and can't wait until I can get back to it.

It's even the same with the smaller patterns I'm working on. One sock and a hexipuff and the yarn just feels sticky as I work the stitches. It's like the yarn is starting to felt as I go - not quite the effect I'm after! I know not many people prefer winter to summer, but I certainly do!

Friday, January 11, 2013

Another vintage find

 Two more bargains from Trademe - both for $15! I understand they are by Johnson Brothers in the UK, but the markings on the bottom of each don't really tell me much. 

I love the flower pattern and detail - I've been looking for a nice just I can use for water for a while, and this one definitely beats the one I found last week with the chipped lid!

Hexipuffs - my new addiction and challenge

I've done it. I've joined nearly 5000 Ravelers in casting-on scraps of sock yarn to make Tiny Owl Knits' amazing Beekeeper's Quilt. 

I've admired this quilt for ages, thinking it was such a great way to use up yarn and even though the entire project would take ages, each little hexipuff wouldn't take too long. 
I started last Sunday, and I've knitted five so far - pretty much one a day between work and other projects.

I'm not the only one obsessing about this quilt. Alana at Never Not Knitting has recently podcasted and blogged about her Beekeeper's Quilt and her obsession with knitting these squishy little things.

There's a whole community making them. There's a giant Hexipuffalong on Ravelry and members are busy swapping mini-skeins of yarn that are just the right size for these tiny knits.
Others are giving advice on how to use different weight yarn and recommending charts and cable patterns to get creative with each hexipuff.

It's a great way to practice a new stitch or skill because each hexipuff is so small - I'm thinking of trying out some duplicate stitch on some of my plain ones.

I can see this project taking a very long time, but being very rewarding at the end of it. The pattern recommends about 400 hexipuffs for a quilt, but really you can use as many as you'd like. This is a really good excuse for me to knit some more socks too.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

My almost-vegetarian year - Week One

I've survived the first week of my almost-vegetarian year with minimal cravings and plenty of vegetables. The fish intake has been high, but then so has the pizza intake. It can be just as easy to eat junk food even if you're cutting out most meats!
I had my last Big Mac on 31 December and started off the new year with a muesli and fresh fruit breakfast. 
Over the past week I've been pouring over cook books and slowly stocking the pantry with different ingredients. I spent almost half an hour in front of the bulk foods section at the supermarket picking out grains and seeds, and I hope to experiment more over the next week with recipes and ingredients I haven't cooked with before. I need to make sure I'm eating enough fibre and protein, so I'm trying to eat lots of wholegrains and chickpeas. 
So far my favourite meal has been a cauliflower and eggplant satay stirfry with Singapore noodles, and this week I'm really looking forward to making Israeli couscous salads. 

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Vintage find of the week

So the shelf is a very good contender for this one, but I think my new coffee pot wins. 
From my google research I believe it's a Crown Lynn and I'm going to use it as a water jug because I can't drink that much coffee - it holds about a litre. 

It cost $5 from a Salvation Army shop and has the markings "New Zealand" and "1084" on the bottom. Sadly though, the lid handle has a chunk knocked out of it.

Someone's tried to fix it up by colouring it in with a permanent marker, but it wasn't very successful.

I'm thinking of trying to fix it myself. I have a couple of ideas, but I'm not sure yet if they'll actually work or not. I'll also keep an eye out for a random lid - doesn't have to be the same colour, as long as it fits!

Also got a couple of metres of fabric - not second hand though. I have dreams of this becoming a skirt very soon.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Up-cycled furniture and other crafty endeavours

We've finally done it. After several years of me wanting to fix up a piece of furniture because it's more economical, better for the planet, fun, and crafty, me and husband sanded and stained a second-hand shelf yesterday. Might not sound like much, but between us we don't have many DIY bones in our bodies, so this is a massive achievement.

Awesome Husband - who seems to have a knack for finding awesome vintage stuff - found her for $40 hiding at the back of Junk and Disorderly. I should've taken a photo of her before the DIY began, but she wasn't at her best. There were stains, the surface was uneven and her colour can't even be described.
We got sanding, staining, sanding and staining again, and we are so happy with the result. 
Sure, there are a couple of points where the stain ran and left a drip line, but we will learn for next time.
Now our shelf is sitting in the living room serving several very important roles.

1: displaying my Tili Jar. Also purchased at Junk and Disorderly. 

2: More space for cookbooks and action figures
3: Probably the most important - it stops people sitting on the back of our couch!

And on the knitting front, I've just cast on my Camilla Pullover by Carrie Bostick Hoge.
I'm using Cascade Eco wool in Ecru and I'm really happy with how it's coming out.

I plan on getting another pattern repeat done today, and maybe get to the sleeves before my summer break ends. 

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

My knitting resolutions - 2013 edition

This year I plan on:

  • Knitting more hats. Hats are something I don't do much of, so this is an area I really want to improve on. I love wearing hats, especially berets and slouchy beanies, so if you can recommend any cool patterns, I'd love to hear about them.
  • Knitting more for others. I've just finished reading Knitting for Good by Betsy Greer, and her writing just reaffirmed everything I think knitting can be. I've always been interested in social causes, one of the reasons I became a journalist, but sometimes I've felt like I don't know the best way to help or get involved, aside from donating money. I know that money can go a long way for charities and NGOs, but I also want to help in a more personal way. I've knitted a couple of things for charities before, including a jumper for a penguin and a hat for a cancer patient, but I know there is much more that I can do. Even a small thing like knitting can change the world, and I'm looking for the right cause locally and internationally to regularly knit for. 
  • Writing a few patterns. These will be incredibly simple, because my brain hasn't figured out the math for anything complicated. And they'll be one-size accessories - I definitely don't have the math for multiple-size garments!
  • Continuing to write for crafty magazines. Sadly since Entangled has finished up, I have a bit of spare time on my hands, so I'm going to find another crafty mag to contribute to, if they'll have me!
  • Learn some new fancy technique. I've never steeked anything before, so maybe this year, I'll try cutting my knitting. Which seems crazy. I'll probably need someone to hold my hand. If not, I need to have another go at lace knitting. And complicated cables. And short rows. I'll find the right pattern and go from there!
Do you have any crafty resolutions this year?

Happy 2013!

We celebrated the new year on our flatmate's family farm in the Waikato and it was one of the best new year's eves I've ever had. There were cows, quad bikes, a pony, a tent, a bonfire and marshmallows, fireworks, heaps of food and an opportunity to wear hand knitted jumpers, hats, socks and gloves all at once.

The Christmas Hood got it's first test run - and I'm happy to report that it was a success.

I also tested out my knobbly hat that I finished last week. So warm, even if it does look like something one of the Seven Dwarves would wear. That's me, second from the right, also in my Qunice and Co Fiona jumper and my Olive and Emma fingerless gloves.

We watched the moon rise as midnight arrived, and ate too many marshmallows.

I made up for it at breakfast with muesli and yoghurt, and a strong coffee - my first meal as an almost vegetarian.

And I did some knitting - here's the Rikke hat, started a couple of days ago, that I just finished. I'm giving it to my flatmate to say thanks for an awesome new year.

Here's hoping the cat doesn't sit on it before it finishes drying!