31 March 2008

Baggy Bag

This is a kinda fun meme - OK, what's in my handbag (well, it's a little leather backpack, really) ?

• black leather Valenti purse
• Nokia phone, a cool one which has GPS, calendar, 2 megapixel camera, and everything (I'm a bit of a techno-junkie!)
• lots of keys, including my tiny sock moose, ALDI trolley coin, PayPal digital security code thingie, and video shop membership tag
• a change of address form that I keep forgetting to submit to Australia Post
• 2 folded plastic bags, for those times I forget a 'Green Bag'
• fit-over sunglasses - daggy, but they're the cheapest option when you wear glasses
• a cute pill box from my London sister
• pain killers
• a few old shopping lists
• a cryptic crossword, just in case I get stuck somewhere boring
• a Pacer pencil and Uniball pen (purple, my favourite)
• a bus timetable for our local bus
• Extra sugarfree mints
• ChapStick and Revlon 'Super Lustrous' lip gloss
• 'hypo kit' for my daughter - jellybeans and a muesli bar, in case her blood sugar goes dangerously low when we're out

That's all - a fairly lean collection, in fact. There's no room for any knitting in this little bag - that accompanies me in a bigger knitting bag!

The Row Counter Bracelet tutorial is proving surprisingly popular - it's been picked up by a Spanish craft blog, Lime & Violet, Knit.1's blog, a Fitness blog of all things (as a way of counting Weight Watcher points), and lots of personal blogs.. it's all rather amazing!

And last night I cast on a new project! Stefanie Japel's Minisweater (aka Boobholder) which I've had my eye on for years now. I think it could work well for bellydancing class. I'm trying it out in the very thick cornflower blue cotton which I've had for ages, and have been trying to (unsuccessfully) turn into a singlet top. Stay tuned for pics!

30 March 2008

Lace of all sorts

Ta dah! It's done! This is Ice Queen, with beads and picot edging and everything! And even better, the weather is cooling down so I should be able to wear it soon :)

I'm pretty pleased because for the first time ever the provisional cast on WORKED - I was able to easily unravel the cast on edge, and it left proper live stitches - i can't of course remember what I did, so this may be a one off, but hopefully something will have sunk in and I can get it right again!

A new painting has been sketched out - my first attempt at painting fair isle, wish me luck! I'm featuring the Tam that I knit for my SIL Deb's birthday earlier this month.

And something that I just love - the lace shadows that are cast on my window sills ... they always make me smile.

27 March 2008

Swiftly now!

Just had to share this one - how to make your own yarn swift.... and there's more related projects in the side bar too (on the Instructables site, not here), such as how to make portable yarn containers... Oh dear, this is a very addictive web site!

The Row Counter Bracelet seems to have struck a chord - my tutorial has been listed on BoingBoing and Craftzine! How totally cool is that???!!! Thank you QuiltingMick for submitting it - very very kind :)

26 March 2008

Row Counter with Knitting

I've had a few requests for instructions on how to make a simple row counter bracelet, so today I finally did the 'photo shoot' (Work with me, baby!), wrote the instructions, and put it all together on my web site. They're basically a little abacus for your wrist, and great for knitters and crocheters!

I'm making good progress on the Meida Socks - this is the first one ... I went down a needle size (from 2.25 to 2mm) and I'm hoping the fit isn't a bit *too* firm.... hmm. The heel turning is quite unusual, and I really liked it... a whole bunch of Estonian techniques to learn on this sock!

While knitting this sock I've discovered (probably last in the world to figure this one out) that another advantage of Magic Loop socks is you can try them on as you knit, even top down socks!

And my Ice Queen is nearly done! I'm into the Picot Casting Off Rows with Beads that Shall Never End 0_o Photos soon!

ETA : the toe of the sock isn't finished yet - what you can see is the KnitPicks 2mm short circular needle (2 silver needles & purple cord), and a stitch marker (beads) that mark the start of the round.

23 March 2008

Nom nom nom

We all know that Easter is The Australian Chocolate Festival. So to get into the spirit of things, and to go with a Mexican meal, I made this Mexican Chocolate Tart with Cinnamon-Spiced Pecans. It may have accidentally become a double batch ... mainly because my spring-form cake pan is large, while the recipe calls for a small one (9" across). Oh dear how sad never mind.

First of all, whip up sugar, egg white, cinnamon and cayenne pepper (yup) and add in your pecans.

Bake for about 10 minutes ... these are seriously delicious, the cayenne pepper isn't overwhelming, just adds a bit of heat. A bit like chilli chocolate. Nice as a snack any time, I reckon!

Then make the biscuit base (yay for food processors!) and bake ...

Time for the Mexican chocolate (found at The Essential Ingredient, in Kingston) and a block of bittersweet chocolate.

Whisk the chocolates into hot cream... (I never said this was good for you, it's just good ;)

Oooh yummy. Add in lots of vanilla and cinnamon. Pour into the prepared tin. Refrigerate.

When it's set partially, place the pecans on top.

After some more hours, carefully remove the tin and paper lining, dust with icing sugar. Serve THIN slices with cream and berries (my addition).

You want the recipe, don't you? Here it is!

My notes :

Firstly, read the Review section of the recipe. Very helpful.

Cook the pecans for MUCH less than the 30 minutes stated in the recipe. 10 minutes at 160º fan forced worked well for me.

For the crust I used Arnotts' Choc Ripple biscuits. I didn't have enough crust to go up the sides (as I was using a large tin), but lining the tin with baking paper did the trick, the filling didn't drip out, and it's solid enough to stand up by itself. Bake the crust for a bit less than the recipe calls for, too.

If you can't find Mexican chocolate, substitute 30g semisweet chocolate, 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon and 1 drop almond extract for 30g of Mexican chocolate.

Be warned, this is exceedingly rich! A single batch is easily enough for 8 people...

Happy Easter all - I hope the Easter Bilby was good to you :)

21 March 2008


The deed is done! It's very dark purple, a bit hard to see, but good in sunlight!

Hubby did the hairdressing for me ...

I love this pic... all arty like.
Waiting for the dye to do its job...

Looks good in the light!

The final result, which should last for a few weeks...

If you'd like to sponsor me, for the Leukaemia Foundation's World's Greatest Shave (and Dye), there's still time.... just go to my page for credit card donations (and the site is no longer tied in knots, unlike last week). I can also accept BPay payments (Biller Code 939488 Reference 20399796).

Thank you everyone!! It's been fun - and has helped raise funds for a very worthy cause.

20 March 2008

Peeping at fashion

Look - my first lace socks! These are the Meida's Sock pattern from IK's Favourite Socks book, and made with Patonyle which my Dotter dyed for me... it's a bit hard to see the pattern - there's a cool Estonian cable, and then various lacy bits.

KSee and I arranged a little Easter swap, seeing as I didn't know what Peeps were, and she didn't know about the Easter Bilby! Look what turned up - a little bit more than the small box of Peeps I was expecting!! Lulu quickly claimed it for herself, of course.

The extra goodies were a lovely surprise - 2 balls of Patons Classic Wool, excellent for felting; more chocolates (mostly mint choc, my favourite!), some very silly bunny ears, and a host of KSee's favourite sock patterns, and some knitting mags! Thank you KSee - what a treat!

This little sweetie was also in the box, and very ready to be out of its confines.... Lulu was very taken with her. She may be called Precious, and she may be Lulu's good conscience in lamby form - what do you think her chances are?!

After a very pleasant impromptu lunch with Tinkingbell, Bells, George and QuiltingMick at LOUI's in Civic on Tuesday, Tinkingbell and I went for a small shopping spree - she needed a local to help her find places in the Canberra Centre. But she led me astray! She seems to be unrepentant about being an enabler.. ah well, we've all been there, haven't we?

The source of my downfall? TS 14+. Why have I never seen this shop before? Why?! Why??!!

Well, I do know why, really, all angst apart. I rarely shop for new clothes, never at the 'fashionista shops', and practically never go to the Canberra Centre... but OMFG - this is the first fashion shop I've ever been to - in my whole life - where I want to save up to buy more of their gorgeous things!

Don't you just love the hem details....

And the fabric - covered with dictionary definitions, strangely appropriate ;)

One of the assistants told me how they get women in angrily demanding to have these designs made in SMALLER sizes - why can't they get them in Size 10?!

Bwah ah aha ha haaaa - excuse me while I laugh the evil satisfied laughter of the larger curvaceous woman who has never had cool fashion to wear, and can now lord it over the thinner population, just for a little while anyway!

I refuse to slide into middle age wearing boring plan stuff and getting more dowdy with every passing year... and TS14+ will save me. They have pants with skirts, people - like my cool sister in London wears!! Bliss!

17 March 2008

Purple Earth Hour

The votes are in, and PURPLE HAIR is the clear winner for my WGS Dye Job this Saturday! Thank you to those who voted, and even bigger thanks to those who have already made donations!!

I have the semi-permanent dye (Rusk Scream - Purple Burst) ready to roll! George my little serious cheetah cub is looking after it for me (WELL out of Lulu's reach!!).

The next question is whether I should bleach my (very fine thin) hair first... advice, ladies? Keep in mind that I want to dye my hair with a permanent very dark brown after the purple has washed out (ie in a few weeks).

You can still make donations to the World's Greatest Shave online, or via BPay, cash or cheque (e-mail me for details).

The Leukaemia Foundation web site has been pretty overloaded and crashy in recent times, but it is worth trying again if the online credit card donation page has defeated you before.

The amazingly good news is that my uncle's latest bone marrow biopsy shows that he in remission (astonishing all his doctors, as it is one of the most deadly and rare forms of leukaemia); he's now into his second lot of chemo to 'mop up', and he may even be able to go home before too much longer! I suspect he's also going to be featuring in medical papers!


And another worthwhile thing, that is free (and I'll stop bombarding you with worthwhile causes after this, promise) - you can sign up to Earth Hour!

It simply means turning your lights off at home or work for one hour, but we all do it at the same time..cool huh? Saturday 29 March is the day, 8-9 pm is the time (for EST Australia anyway). This is something that started in Sydney last year (we participated as well), and is now going global. Spread the word!

Hmmm, their site is running very slowly at the moment, it's probably overloaded ... maybe wait for a bit! If you're in the US, use the American site.

PS George was named about 4 years before I met Our George, so there's no connection. Really there isn't... honest!

14 March 2008

Tammity tam tam tam

Here it is in all its glory - Version B of the Three Tams .... ta dah!

Bit tricky doing blocking in acrylic - hmmm. It did flatten out and 'relax' somewhat, but you can see the top is still a bit bunchy uppy (technical term). I'm not sure how well it will hold its shape... I don't know if I should have put it into water to block, but couldn't find a whole lot of info on how to block acrylic knitwear.

But basically I'm very happy with it! It's been shipped off to its birthday destination. The Smoothie DK was a pleasure to knit with.

13 March 2008


I have been very remiss - TWO lovely surprise boxes of treats have arrived for me in the past two weeks, and I need to share the joy!

Firstly this arrived from my no-longer-Secret Pal, Abbeykins. This collage looks better close up (click on the pic).... but there are (take a deep breath) :

Crime Scene bandaids (nearly worth being injured...); a Socks That Rock emergency sock yarn key chain; a whole collection of delicious soaps (no, it's OK, I'm not really going to eat them... well, maybe just a little nibble...); cute as anything Christmas-themed Post-It notes; a mini sock-moose keyring (it works great - easy to find in my messy handbag!); great Grizzly 'bear claw' salad servers; Blueberry Jam which I'm Not Sharing; a Double Musky Inn cookbook (yummmmy!); some beautiful note cards and writing paper and a brilliant 'Knitting' tin bank.

The Blue Q tin bank is hilarious. The man is saying "Is wool your dirty little secret,too?" - and the top reads "Put money here for wool fix". On the side a 1950s woman with needles in hand is on the phone, saying "I need a half a gram of wool and quick! I'm starting to come down..." LOL :)

So thank you Abbey - it was a great surprise, and a wonderfully thoughtful selection, as ever xxoo

Note to self : the coin bank is designed for American coins. $1 coins will go in AND come out. 20¢ pieces will go in and NOT come out. Moral of the story? You can figure it out... ;)

Then a few days ago a mysterious box arrived from Roxie! Lookit! Sparkly shiny dancey yarny goodness!

What an amazing surprise, and your belly dancing goodies will have a new life over here in Australia. Thank you!!

If you'd like to have a go at repairing your own photos (like I did below) all you need is a scanner and a copy of Photoshop or PaintShop Pro (it doesn't have to be the high-end professional version - all versions of Photoshop have the basic tools for doing this sort of work) - do a Google search for 'How to repair photos Photoshop' (or something similar) - this is just one of many!

And last but not least (from I Has A Hot Dog) :

funny dog pictures
see more loldogs are funny dog pictures!

10 March 2008

Restoring Beatrice

Last year my mum gave me a family portrait which was badly damaged - cracked across the whole photo, with a lot of surface scratches and rust damage, as you can see.

I've scanned it and digitally repaired it, also removing the rust damage and hairs etc. It took about 12 hours to do, mainly using the Clone tool in Photoshop CS3. I also had to recreate my great-grandmother's neck and shoulder, and added subtle film grain effects to replicate the look of the original grainy photo.

You can see before and after in the two screen shots below :

So here I present to you - my mum's maternal grandmother Beatrice Irene Donaldson (a formidable woman - she received The Order of the British Empire (Civil) in 1969, as Vice President of the Finley Red Cross Society) and my great-grandfather Allan, on their wedding day (2 September 1914). She was a school teacher at the time of their marriage, and he was a farmer. They lived in Finley, NSW.

Click on the photos to see better closeups. I'm very happy with the repair - now I just need to print it out on glossy photo paper!

ETA : Yes, I use a professional version of Photoshop (Creative Suite 3) which is probably the most powerful image software in the world. I also have 19 years' experience as a graphic designer, and use a Mac, and a Wacom tablet & stylus, which makes this sort of image work much easier. And good idea about the paper, FoxySoxy, will have to see what I can find :)

09 March 2008

Tammy Lulu Mess

Yesterday we had a nice little Stitch'n Bitch at Coffee Guru in Tugggeranong... but look who snuck into my bag!

Lulu got into trouble, of course, trying to unravel Jenn's lovely crocheted top... or maybe she was trying to have a go? It's very hard to tell with this naughty lamb!

She wanted to steal my tea, too...

Since moving house at the end of November we have kinda dropped the 'dealing with the garage ' ball, for many reasons. This weekend I've been getting stuck into it again. Slow work. I got about 10% done yesterday ... the photo shows about a quarter of the mess... lots of boxes to sort through, organise, declutter, and so on. Man, why do we have so much STUFF?! Argh.

In nicer knitting news, I am making good speedy progress on the Tam, it should be finished in a day or so. I am really enjoying the colours and pattern, and the Smoothie DK is standing up well -I really like it. I'm about to start a new painting, featuring this project :)

07 March 2008

I give in

OK, OK, we all know - the 'weird things' meme is doing the rounds again. I've been tagged about 3 or 4 times now (Melanie, KMS, and more - I can't remember, let me know!), so I surrender ;)

I have done this twice already in the past few years, so for 11 weird things about me, visit here and here.

Here are the rule thingies, which I will now ignore ;)

1. Link to the person that tagged you
2. Post the rules on your blog
3. Share six non-important things/habits/quirks about yourself
4. Tag six random people at the end of your post by linking to their blogs
5. Let each person know they’ve been tagged by leaving a comment on their site.

I'm taking a page from Taph's book, and doing something I've been trying to focus more on in recent times :

10 things that make me happy

1. The smell of the air just after it's rained - which is great for two reasons (nice, fresh and clean, and bloody hell, it's RAINED).

2. A big cup of tea around 9pm - don't know why, but around then I actually crave tea, and that cuppa is the best one of the whole day.

3. Foot massages. Bliss.

4. Hugs from my hubby, kids and friends. Especially from my gorgeous 16-year-old Dotter, who cries "I miss mah mummeh!" and grabs me :) Actually just doing stuff like op shopping or watching TV or knitting with her is the best - we are really close friends, and I love that so much.

5. Someone else cooking a meal & cleaning up unasked (this one actually makes me cry, in a good way. You think I'm joking? Come over, cook dinner for my family, clean up my kitchen, and watch ;)

6. Casting on a new knitting project, and knitting with a British murder mystery on the telly!

7. Playing Mah Jong, using my antique bone & bamboo set which smells all musty and wonderful.

8. Painting and drawing when I'm 'in the zone' (right-brained) and it's going well.

9. Belly dancing and moving to music. A fantastic new addition to my life.

10. Time alone, often in silence, without demands.

I'm just going to tag a few friends who haven't done this yet - Honeygo Beasley, and Penny-in-Austria.

Edited To Add (ETA) : Yeah Roxie, real Mah Jong is a complicated game for 2 to 4 players relying on both skill and luck, and with an ancient history ... nothing to do with the basic 'solitaire' matching game you get online. The closest thing to it in cards is Gin Rummy.

05 March 2008

Smoothie Hips

I thought you might like to see the coin hip scarves Dotter and I wear for our belly dancing class... which is still utterly brilliant!

Today I cast on a Three Tams birthday gift for someone... they can't wear wool, and I'm not sure about other natural fibres, so for the first time in years I'm knitting with 100% acrylic.

This is the brand new Smoothie DK by Patons, and I must say it's really lovely - it feels close to a cotton / bamboo blend, and has a beautiful sheen. The yarn is 6 strands quite tightly twisted, a bit like one of those amazing Italian yarns. The 100g balls are really well priced too, only about $4.50 each. Main problem is it's a bit splitty, similar to the Lincraft Bamboozle.

Since this is an 8ply (24 sts : 10 cm), and the Tam needs a 20 st : 10 cm gauge, I've gone up by .5 mm in my needles, and got gauge spot on. This is the gauge swatch :

I'm only 3 rows into the Tam here .... so pretty!