Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013 in FO's

Here's a tiny snapshot of my 2013 in knitting. 
Hats, sweaters, socks and scarves. 

Favorite patterns for the year include:

I just had a read over my 2013 knitting resolutions and I'm happy to report that I've achieved a fair few of them! 
I've knitted a lot of hats this year, I think 10 now, and eight of them have been gifted - another of my resolutions was to knit more for others. 
I had an article published in Pompom Quarterly and a pattern included in Bespoke zine's  e-book, Craftilicious. I'm hoping to branch out with my writing even more this year.
I didn't quite get to steeking and cutting up my knitting, but I did knit some set-in sleeves for the first time. Not quite as scary, but definitely a new technique learned! 

Now, time to go finish the thumb on that mitten and get ready for a happy new year!

Monday, December 30, 2013

I've just realised these mittens aren't for me!

Around the rental property visits, the holiday and watching season one and two of Sherlock in time for the season three premiere on New Year's Day, there's been a fair bit of knitting going on.

I've nearly finished Mitten #1 of my Long Lovely Mittens.
The silk and alpaca blend is so scrummy. It's one of the softest yarns I've knit with in a while and is great for a little bit of luxury. 

While I was progressing these today I remembered I'd promised to make some turquoise arm-warmers for a friend who lives in London. Another mutual friend of both of us is coming back to Auckland in February, and he said he would deliver them to London for me when he flies back. 

I had intended these mittens for myself (since it's the middle of summer and I totally need them right now) but they aren't destined for me. I must've somehow known to knit this pattern in turquoise yarn in good time for February. 

I'm thinking I'll still make a pair for myself. Maybe in dusky pink. I'm not a pink person, but it's a new year, and time to try new things!

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Cheese-making kit for Christmas? Yes please!

Christmas 2013 was great. Not only did I reign supreme at the petanque singles' tournament in the back garden, I spent a relaxing day with friends and family, eating food and exchanging gifts. 
My mum and dad got us a very cool Mad Millie Italian Cheese Kit, so what better way to spend Boxing Day than making our very own mozzarella?

Draining the curds from the whey for mozzarella.

I've dabbled in cheese-making once before. I made my own ricotta a couple of years ago from a recipe in a magazine, but other than that, I'm a total beginner. And that's where Mad Millie has really got the cheese-making kit thing down. It comes with everything you need to make delicious fresh at home, including citric acid, vegetarian rennet and sterilising solutions and extremely clear instructions. Just BYO milk! 

Shaping the mozzarella into balls and chilling them in ice water.

Both husband and I got in on making mozzarella. Once we'd heated, cooled, reheated and drained the curds and whey, it was time to get our stretch on and make the mozzarella into balls.

It's like the funnest science experiment ever. And it tastes so good! 
Since we'd made our own cheese, we figured we'd go a step further and make some pizza dough too.

I thoroughly recommend checking out Mad Millie's range of cheese kits. I'm already starting to save my pocket money to get a Specialty Cheese Kit to make some blue vein! They also sell kits to make sausages, cider and preserves too - pretty much all the essentials of any diet.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Our Christmas curveball

Knitting the Skyping beanie at Silo Park Cinema on Friday.
No time to lose!
I've said many times that 2013 is the Year of the Hat. I can plot each major event since January by what hat I had on the needles at a particular time. December's hat, a second Skyping Beanie for husband's Christmas present, will in future remind us of the time that our new landlord had a sudden change in circumstances and required the property for her own accommodation. 
After what has probably been the best month and a half in my favourite house since moving out of home four years ago, we now find ourselves back on the property hunt with 40 days to find a place.
Yesterday I was devastated. I won't lie about it, I probably cried for about four hours. I think my face has only just started to recover from the puffy crying eyes. 
But today, I'm more motivated to find us a new home. I'll just keep knitting through!
We were hoping for a chilled out holiday break, but at least now we do have the time to house hunt.
2013, also the Year of Moving House. 

Friday, December 20, 2013

Bring on the crafty holiday!

Oh my goodness. Summer is here. Work has shut up shop for two whole weeks. 
The sun is out and the beach is beckoning. 
These are all good things. But the best thing is that my summer crafty supplies have arrived.

Yes, that is a copy of some not-so-amazingly-written knit-lit. But I don't care. I'm on holiday. No fancy reading with highbrow plot-lines for me. The last thing my brain wants to be doing is thinking!

Knitting Yarns, however, should be a bit more intellectually stimulating. I'll save that for after the knit-lit. 

And look. Squishy Maxima yarn from Manos Del Uruguay has arrived for my Beaubourg Sweater. When I opened the packaging I was a bit concerned that it had all unraveled. It just looked like a giant tangle of knots until I released that the hanks weren't twisted and just squished into the parcel together. After recovering from that slight panic attack, I spent about 10 minutes staring at it all.
I can't wait to get started. But I must finish my Christmas knitting first. Might help if I actually start it.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

When life gives you lemons... make a vintage dress!

Anyone who's popped by this blog on occasion has probably noticed that I have a thing with all things vintage. I'm a borderline vintage hoarder. It's a good thing our new place has good shelf space otherwise I'd be struggling to contain the tea cup collection. The vintage dress collection is another matter entirely. My wardrobe is bursting at the hinges, but I just can't help myself.

A week and a half ago I went to the Deco 2 Retro pop-up market and I met the lovely Frances from Mintage. Frances makes beautiful dresses from vintage patterns and fabrics. How often is it that you get a dress made? Unless you can sew yourself, it's probably not something that you experience on a regular basis. But it's an experience I recommend!

 I fell in love with this lemon dress. Frances had her on display when I met her at the market, made up from a vintage Vogue pattern in this stunning lemon-print cotton. One fitting later and here she is, all ready for Christmas. It's great to wear something that fits perfectly. And it's great to wear something made with love and care, in the same place that I had a fitting. 

If you're after a vintage style dress and based in Auckland, check out Mintage for something very special!

Sunday, December 15, 2013

December booklist

With only one more working week to go until a two-week rest, I've been planning my summer reading list. It involves my two loves - knitting and food.

I've been staring at the patterns in Metropolitan Knits for a while now. I love the cardigan on the cover. 
I got it out from the library last week and can't wait to have a bit more spare time to read it.

Today I got really bored and decided to window-shop at my favourite vintage and indy spots.
I wasn't really intending to buy anything but it just happened. A new addition to the crafty bookshelf is The Crafter's Devotional by Barbara R. Call. 

And last but not least... Save with Jamie. I figure if I'm going to keep buying yarn and books at the rate that I currently do, I need to save money elsewhere. Eating cheap is my solution. Thanks little brother for the awesome birthday gift!
What books are on your holiday reading list?

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Christmas craft markets

The Christmas season is well and truly here. I think there were five craft markets on locally this weekend and I had chance to get along to one. One of my favourite vintage shops, Deco 2 Retro, put on a pop-up market with the neighbouring Humbug Cafe. 

Mama Js was there selling all sorts of sewn and knitted goodies.

I'm a bit inspired to make some knitted bow hair clips. I also need a moustache cushion.

Helene from Happy Go Knitty was there selling her lovely yarn.

I had to get some more silk/alpaca blend to make my long mittens. I was a little worried that I'd be a few yards short, so I had to get more. I really had no choice. 

I've also fallen in love with her lace weight. Apart from the fact that I dislike knitting lace (too hard, too much concentrating) I'm quite interested in starting a lace stash just so I can stare at all the goodness.

Inside the shop, Mintage had a great selection of dresses made from vintage fabric and patterns. 

I've got one set aside to get fitted - more to come on that!

And I couldn't resist getting a few snaps of the amazing objects in the shop.

I always have to contain myself and resist the urge to buy more Crown Lynn. Yesterday I was very good but I'm sure I can put up a good case to argue my need for more Colour Glaze teacups. 

And since summer's coming, I'm sure I need more picnicware.

Next week there are even more craft markets on in time for Christmas. The countdown is on for the summer break and a bit of time to get crafty. Now I just need to finish those rainbow socks so I can start on some more exciting projects.

Monday, December 2, 2013

My knitterly holiday planning

Kind of freaking out a bit that it's December already. I have no idea where this year has gone. I feel like I haven't got quite as much done this year as I wanted, but when I think back, I've done a lot of stuff. And a lot of knitting. There's only a couple more weeks left of work before a bit of a break and I'm starting to plan my holiday crafting. 

Beaubourg Sweater - Craftsy.com

I've just ordered a sweater kit for myself - a little Christmas gift and my summer knitting plan.
It's the Beaubourg Sweater kit from Craftsy. I've never knit anything with dolman-style sleeves before, so that will be a bit of a learning curve. The design, by Julie Hoover, is pretty much everything I've been looking for in a big sweater. Clean and simple with a touch of class, and it looks pretty snuggly. The kit includes Manos Del Uruguay Maxima yarn another new yarn experience. 

I am also planning on making myself some full length mittens! (As you can see, I'm totally ignoring the fact that it's officially day two of summer and knitting winter stuff anyway).

Long Lovely Mittens from Purl Bee
I fell in love with these mittens as soon as I spotted them on Purl Bee last week. They just looks so glam. I need them in my life. So as soon as I've finished my rainbow socks (giving myself deadlines - must not cast on anything new until they are done...) I'm casting these on in my Happy Go Knitty aplaca / silk yarn I got at the Auckland Art and Craft Fair. I may or may not have already asked Helene to put another skein from the same dyelot away for me just in case I need a bit extra to finish them!

Around all that, I'm plotting my Christmas baking for the holiday - at least this year, with the way the dates fall, I have about four days off before Christmas Day - plenty of time to make cookies!

Sunday, December 1, 2013

I've overcome the beanie issues!

I'd been sulking over this project for a week. The decreases at the top just weren't doing it for me. I even complained to my friend who I was making it for that he was just too difficult to make stuff for and it was all his fault for ruining my good hat-knitting streak. I was joking, but still, this hat was frustrating me. I put it away for a week and carried on with my forgotten rainbow socks instead. 

But then I figured, if I didn't take a bit of time out of my weekend to get my head around the in-pattern decreases, there would be no way my friend would be getting this before Christmas. Luckily today I had a breakthrough! And there was a tiny error in the pattern (a typo - 24 stitches when it should have been 22 on a decrease round) so I wasn't going completely insane.

Anyway, I'm very happy with the finished product. I'm wearing it right now. Might have an issue actually removing it from my head to give to my friend, buy I'm sure he can wait another day or so...