Sunday, 26 June 2011

Knitty Problem – Solved!

Hey There,
I left you last time with a half finished scarf that I had no idea how to fix…it looked terrible didn’t it? It was all loosey goosey and blech! (The photo didn’t help, but meh! )

Scarf all loosey goosey
A couple of days after my last post I sat down with my Marshmallow yarn and some much, much smaller needles and had a play. On the side of the yarn band it says you should use 12mm needles,

Look at the label-12mm needles. Pfft whatever!
but when I went into Spotlight the other day the swatch that was on display looked like it had been knitted up on much smaller needles and looked a lot better than what I had knitted on my 12mm needles. So to the person who decided that 12mm needles should be used I say FAIL!

So anyway, anyway, anyway. I went home grabbed my 4mm needles (and had my 5mm on standby) and I knit the cord between the puffs twice. Sounds confusing I know, but if you ever work with this yarn you will know what I mean.

I knitted a few rows and I liked what I saw. I wasn’t able to do my slanty stitch thing with this method of knitting because that would mean I would have to think too much so I kept it as a standard squarish scarf. I think that’s ok though, because the yarn gives it sooo much character on its own.
I kept knit, knit, knitting and then I ran out of yarn! It was only about 30cm long…

1 ball's worth - is that all!
and I only had 1 more ball of the yarn. Eeek! I had better get more yarn.

I trundled down to my LYS (for those who aren’t in the know that’s crafty short hand forLocal Yarn Store – that’s right everyone loves acronyms!) which really isn’t that local, I digress, and went rummaging to find more yarn. But they didn’t have any more in the same colour! *groan* I always do that buy too little of a yarn. So I came up with an alternative. I would have to buy a different colour and work something out. So I bought 3 balls of a darker brown yarn and went on my way.

When I sat down with my new balls of yarn and the section I had already done, I HAD to do some thinking, but it ended up being pretty easy. All I had to do was make the 2 ends the light brown colour I had originally bought and make the middle section the dark brown colour that I had just bought. Easy!

And now it’s starting to look smashing!!!

Marshmallow Yarn Scarf all lovely and snugly looking
That is all for now my sweets, until next week. Enjoy yourselves and don’t work too hard – it’s ok not to, the sky won’t fall

Until then, get your craft on!
V xo

Monday, 20 June 2011

A Yarn about a Knitty Problem

An Itch to Knit
This weekend has been pretty laid back for me. But I have managed to get some crafting in amongst all the relaxing and compulsory chores.
I have been crocheting a lot lately. I’ve been crocheting this…

Crochet Project 1
and this…

Crochet Project 2
and I’ve been feeling the urge to get my knit on. It’s been a long time and I just wanted the sweet familiarity of a little knit and purl.

The Problem Yarn
I took a quick look into my yarn drawer – which you’ve seen – and I found some marshmallow yarn. I thought to myself, “this will turn into something interesting”. So I took these…

Moda Vera Marshmallow & size 12 knitting needles
and started to knit… or try to. I didn’t like what was happening to the yarn as I knitted. It didn’t sit right and it was looking uneven and blech. I was wrangling the yarn but it just wasn’t working :(.

I jumped online to see if fellow knitters had worked it out. I finally stumbled upon something saying that I should only knit the cord between the “marshmallows” so I did that and it seemed to work. So I started to knit, knit, knit my little heart out and I was creating a very boring typical square scarf – I didn’t like it. So I frog, frog frogged and started again.

I started knitting the scarf on a slant – increasing the row at one end by 1 stitch and decreasing the same row by 1 stitch at the other end (does that make sense?) – and this is what became of that….

Marshmallow Scarf attempt 3
But I still am not happy with it. It too loopy and there are weird loopy marshmallow bits on some of the rows. But I think I have found a solution – smaller needles .

How I Found My Solution
Yesterday afternoon I was struck with an itch to sew, but I didn’t have a specific project in mind. I was thinking “what is a small sewing project that would be quick to complete and would take the edge off” then it hit me – a mug rug (I may as well give this crazy craze a chance ). So I thought “I’ll just duck over to Spotlight and find some lovely complementary fat quarters and whip up a mug rug”

So after visiting with my lovely friends Miss Sarah – of Stitching Lyrical – and Miss Colleen – her mum who is amazingly creative and cultured – for some tea and scones and some of Sarah’s lovely marmalade, I drove to Spotlight. I was met with a lot of temptation and creative stimulation and it was all a bit overwhelming. At one point a had an armful of fantastic supplies, but then I paused and thought “Do I really need all this? The purpose of me getting crafty is to use up what I already have”. So I walked out with only 2 balls of yarn (which I bought because I already had the same types of yarn but only a couple of each – not that I have to justify it so shut up :-P )…

Yarn from Spotlight
and no fabric for my mug rug.

HOWEVER, I while I was wondering around Spotlight I did come across a sample swatch of marshmallow yarn that was lovely and sturdy and not too loopy. I took a closer look and found that there wasn’t 1 stitch in the cord between the marshmallows but 2! I had what my close personal friend-who-is-no-longer-on-television Oprah would call an ‘Aha!’ moment. The trick is to get smaller needles and knit 2 stitches. So I will try that the next chance I get and let you know how I go.

Sewing Itch
Although I didn’t quite scratch my sewing itch I did manage to sooth it by getting my hands on some of the fabric in my stash. I have cut and ironed my pieces for my mug rug and they are ready to go!

Mug Rug Fabric
Can’t wait to get my sewing machine dusted off! Alas me thinks that will not be until next weekend – but I can wait .

Until then, get your craft on!
V xo

Have you come across any crafty problems? Did you solve them? How? – Leave a comment and share your story

Monday, 13 June 2011

Chinese Bellflower Omiyage!

I have finished my Chinese Bellflower Omiyage that I started in January! Yay!

I received a book from my sister for Christmas last year – Omiyage by Kumiko Sudo
[I can't believe that was 5 months ago! That means that Christmas in now less than 6 months away! Argh! Where is the year going?]
Omiyage by Kumiko Sudo

I decided in January that I would create the Chinese Bellflower Omiyage that features on the cover.
I cut out all the pieces and started sewed like mad for the first 2 months. Then, as I usually do, I got 80% of the way through and I lost my steam. So it sat there in this state for ages – the flower complete, the leaves complete the casing for the drawstring complete, just waiting to thread the ribbon drawstring and sew up the ends of the drawstring.

Incomplete Chinese Bellflower Omiyage

This weekend I was hell-bent on finishing this baby. So I gathered my bits and pieces retreated to my bedroom and stitched while I watched ‘An Idiot Abroad’ on my laptop [you HAVE to see this show it is HILARIOUS!]. I stitched, threaded ribbon, tied knots and stitched some more.
My needle got stuck but I found a cute trusty red thimble covered in flowers my friend Stitching Lyrical gave me only last weekend and stitched on!

My trusty red thimble

I finally finished my lovely Chinese Bellflower Omiyage, and here it is!
I made the lining black so it would look like the hidden pouch was deeper than it is [sneaky! hehe]

Chinese Bellflower Omiyage - Pouch open
The drawstring closure is nice and firm so no goodies in the pouch can’t escape!

Chinese Bellflower Omiyage - Pouch closed
Looking from the front you wouldn’t think that there is a pouch inside.

Chinese Bellflower Omiyage - Front
It is entirely hand stitched – no cheating. I’m amazed that I didn’t cheat because I am sooo impatient.
Being a first attempt I didn’t buy the materials specifically for the project I just found scraps of cotton from other projects and cut them. I also didn’t have matching cotton for a lot of the sewing so you can see the different coloured thread peeking through at the seams. But all in all I think it’s pretty great for my first shot at Omiyage!

If I were to do it again I would machine stitch it, just because it is such a great gift idea and I would try to knock out a couple in one afternoon.I’d also take pictures of it as I put it together so I could post it for you. I would have done it for this project, but I hadn’t even conceived the idea of a blog when I started this project!
Don’t you worry though, I’ve got an idea of what my next omiyage will be and I’ll show you step-by-step pics next time!

That’s one project finished, only a dozen other unfinished projects to finish.

How many projects do you have in the works at the moment? They don’t have to be crafty ones.
Leave a comment.

Monday, 6 June 2011

Gratitude = Happiness

I was thinking about this the other day….. I am grateful for my life.

I have several friends who seem to have exciting, action-packed, dramatic lives and sometimes I envy them. Even though I sometimes think my life is boring and mundane, I have to count myself lucky for the things that I DO have. I would much rather a life without drama, with the things that make me happy. I think of myself as an optimist but like all people I have my ups and my downs. But overall I’m happy with my lot in life. Awhile ago there was a television show called Making Australia Happy. It followed several Australians who were on a journey to increase there happiness. I found it interesting because it made me reflect upon my own life and my level of happiness.

The show touched on three ways of making people happy; positive psychology, mindfulness and physical activity. An exercise the participants in the show had to do with positive psychology was to write a gratitude letter to someone who had been a positive influence in their life but they hadn’t thanked properly. I thought about this, but in a different way. I’m grateful for the people in my life and the way my life has panned out. This doesn’t mean that I don’t look at others with envy, but as they say the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence. So in a way I guess this is my way of writing a gratitude letter… posting about what I’m grateful for… the green on my side of the fence.

I’m grateful for my family. I live with my younger sister and my parents live overseas. I like living with my sister, I like chatting with her (when we can catch each other between work, hanging with bf’s and working on creative projects) about what she’s up to. We don’t have these chats too often, but I think that’s what makes them great. I talk to mum about once a week on the phone and sometimes have a quick talk with dad. We’re not the tightest knit family in the world, but we are very supportive of each other and that works for me. I like my independence and I think I would feel suffocated if I constantly saw my family all the time.

I’m grateful for my childhood, I spent my pre-teen years growing up in Vanuatu and I cherish the fact that I was able to have a pretty free and easy childhood. It makes me sad to think of how quickly some of my friends grew up and for that matter kids these days barely have a childhood. Peer pressure and consumerism, among other things, affect children so young nowadays.

My partner is pretty damn great, he makes me laugh and he’s supportive. So, I’m definitely grateful for him. We treat each other as equals and I love that about our relationship. We have similar goals and thoughts and yet have completely different tastes and ideas about some things. I think it’s our great combination of similarity and difference that make us gel so well, we push each other’s limits and that keeps everything interesting.

Friends are very important to me, I love how diverse and different my friends are. I’m grateful that I’m able to hang out with such fantastic people and enjoy their company. I love the open and free conversations we have about everything (I mean EVERYTHING!). I enjoy hearing the stories my friends have to tell and I really like seeing how creative my friends are.

This may sound like I’m up myself, but I’m pretty grateful for me. I think that as women we are the first to find flaws in ourselves. So, I think that sometimes we need to turn our thinking around and find things in ourselves that we are happy about. So here are mine. I find that I’m able to get along with a wide variety of people from different backgrounds and personalities. I love to make people laugh and I’m not afraid of making a fool of myself (especially for a laugh!). I’m an open and honest person, sometimes this gets me into trouble but I’d definitely rather be genuine than faking it. I’m often complemented about my skin, so I’m grateful for that. I’m grateful that I am the person I am and I am grateful for the events and factors that have made me who I am.
So these are some of the things that I’m grateful for.

What are five things you are grateful for? What are five things you like about yourself?
Let me know by leaving a comment below.

Friday, 3 June 2011

My Lamb’s Fry and Bacon Stew – Offal doesn’t have to be awful!

No really it doesn’t have to be awful! If you think about it people have been eating it for centuries and still do today. It makes sense to eat. It’s cheap and it stops part of an animal going to waste, although there is the “ick” factor…

The Back Story
I haven’t been feeling myself for a few months – No, I’m not changing the topic, I’m just telling you about how I got to eating offal. I just haven’t been very “focused”. I haven’t been able to concentrate properly, slightly dizzy and I’ve been feeling run down with no real reason. I couldn’t put my finger on what was wrong with me so I ignored it.

I went to the doctor the other day just to get a medical certificate for taking the day off for a cold. While I was there I thought I may as well ask about my malaise. I asked the doctor if maybe I had diabetes or something (I have a family history). He checked my blood sugar and it was normal. He asked me a few more questions and then he said, “It sounds like you might be anaemic.”

‘Well,’ I thought, ‘At least I have a theory as to why I’ve been feeling the way I have.’ So after my doctors visit I looked about on the web and did some reading on anaemia, causes and treatments. I told my mother and she reckoned it was an issue she had as a young woman. One of the things she did to increase her iron intake (low iron is one of the causes of anaemia) was to eat liver. Liver is high in iron and vitamin A. So I was going to eat liver…. Hmmm.

I hit the net to see what recipes are out there for liver. I had a look and a common theme was lamb fried in bacon fat with a side of friend onions – BORING! So I gathered some ingredients and just improvised a pressure cooker stew.

The Recipe

  • lamb’s fry,
  • sliced 2 small onions,
  • cut 3 strips of middle bacon crossways,
  • found a large tin of diced Italian tomatoes in the pantry and tomato paste in a squeezy tube in the fridge,
  • collected dried thyme, rosemary, oregano
  • and a couple of vegetable stock cubes from my pantry

Then the improvisation began, I fried the bacon in a large frying pan for about 5 minutes and set aside, fried the lambs fry in the same pan in two batches, I needed to add a little spray olive oil to the pan for the second batch.

I then moved onto my pressure cooker (I’m a little bit in love with my pressure cooker, but I’ll tell you more about that another day :-)  ). I put a little olive oil in my pressure cooker and fried the onion for two minutes or so, added the bacon and liver and gave it a good stir.

Next I put in the tomato, quickly rinsed the inside of the can (don’t want to waste that tomato goodness) and poured in the water from the can (about 1/2 a cup) added the herbs, a really good dose of each, about 2 tbsp of tomato paste and the stock cubes and a good sprinkle of salt and pepper.
I gave it a good stir and turned the heat right up to get the stew boiling. Kept stirring the pot often to stop any burning on the bottom and once the stew was steaming up a storm I plonked the lid on my pressure cooker and turned the heat right down.

I left the stew at pressure for about 15 minutes and while it was cooking sorted out the rice and peas that I am going to serve with the stew. Once the time was up I took the pot off the heat and let the pressure cooker reduce pressure naturally.
And I was rewarded with the lovely stew below. It tasted pretty damn good for offal, it wasn’t awful at all :-).

My Stew ready to serve up - Yummo!

I would have taken a picture of the stew served up on a mound of rice and peas on the side. But I didn’t do that. I just piled the rice, stew and peas in a bowl, mixed it together and ate it all up. The peas added a lovely freshness to the meal, so a definite must!

When I do this again I think that I’ll brown the liver in the pressure cooker in fewer batches instead of dirtying a frying pan (I hate making more dishes than necessary). I’d also just fry off the bacon and onion together and then add all the other ingredients. that would make it easier and quicker. I think I would leave the water from the can and instead add a generous slurp of red wine.

Is there something that you wouldn’t eat? Is there something interesting that you DO eat?

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Crafty works in progress

So here is a peak at some of my works in progress….

This thing has been taking me years, hopefully it won’t take too much longer

Something to keep warm

This was started about January this year. I’ve gotten 80% of the way through and I’m struggling through the last little bit.
Something to gift

I started this item a couple of days ago, but I feel some frogging comin my way …but only a little .
Something to wear

And that’s a peak at my crafting in the pipeline.
Seeya soon!