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Monday, October 30, 2006

socktoberfest??

Not quite... but after watching the magic of a heel-turn, Tuffers requested some hand-knit socks.

Here is sock #1 - I frogged what I originally had knit for him (I'm not a big fan of rib on DPNs) and decided to do a toe-up jay-walker instead. The heel instructions I found online for the toe-up j-w ended up looking like a nose-warmer, so I had to invent my own heel turn for toe-up socks. I am happy with the result - you get a nice bit of shaping around the ankle that stops the sock from falling into your shoe, however, it does make it difficult to get the ankle over your heel. Tuffers says it the most comfortable sock he has worn - so I guess it isn't too much of a problem to put it on.

And as for second sock syndrome? I am half way for through (up to the gusset increases) on the other sock. I am knitting in 6ply on 3.75mm needles, so the knitting is fairly fast, and I love the way the self patterning yarn knits up in these cool zig-zags.

Anyway.. I must hang my head in shame. After years of bagging sock knitters for wasting time and money (a $20 skein yields one pair of socks) on something you can buy for 3 bucks at Target I am a converted sock knitter... Big apologies to any sock knitters out there I may have offended in the past. Posted by Picasa

International Scarf Exchange OR I'm a lucky girl :)

Look at the stash of goodies I got from my spoiler pal Sharyn (not to be confused with my spoilee Sharon :)

First of all, not one but TWO Scarves. The loverly shade of pink is knitted in bamboo, and feels so silky - I will use it to tszuj-up outfits on cool summer evenings, and the gorgeous aqua verigated/tweed is a wool/mohair/cashmere blend. It will a fantastic neck warmer when the weather gets cooler. Needless to say, I love them both.

Included were several other goodies:)

For me - yummy ginger candy, huckleberry chocolate and a mini halloween trick-or-treat stash, and a couple of funny postcards from duckboy, and a postcard that makes me and Tuffers both want to go skiing in Montana. (Neither of us are what you would call experienced skiiers, but we wish we were!)

Pierre also got a stash from Sharyn. I LOVE the handknit and felted bowl, which was then personalised for him with some needlefelting (I have heard of needle-felting but never seen it done, nor know how to do it - this makes me want to learn more!)
The treat bowl, came laden with treats, which Pierre (and Max) loved. Infact, it appears that Pierre is not only a yarn-snob, but also a felt-snob. He tried attacking the bowl, so it will live in the cupboard with his food and only come out at treat times so he doesn't completely destroy it :)

However, Pierre also gets a halloween treat - A squeaker jack-o-lantern that I will let him play with all the time :)

Now, sadly, I don't think Sharyn has a blog, however she has a business webpage. Jump over and check it out - However, I take no blame if you get a little clucky (some of the things there are soooo cute!)

On to the other Sharon... She is also blogless, but has posted on the scarf exchange blog that she recieved her gift from me. I have a couple of other goodies to send to her that didn't make the first mailing because I'm on vacation.
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Saturday, October 28, 2006

Jamie's Kitchen in Melbourne



My Sis managed to get a booking at Fifteen, so we decided we'd go see what all the hype was...

The booking was for a late sitting - 8:45pm. The first impression was pretty good, there were windows directly into the kitchen and we could see one of the cheffos pouring his heart into making ravioli on the pasta machine.

We arrived on time, but were ushered to the bar where we sat for about half an hour (at least) waiting for the sitting before us to vacate our table. While we were waiting, staff bought out some crumbed, chilli stuffed, deep fried olives to placate us, and we had a chance to get a good look around...

First of all, not to sure about all the wiring hanging from the ceiling - could that be a fire hazard?? and secondly, see those uniforms? Black stocking with white dresses and grandpa slippers. I think the front of house / floor staff were supposed to have a 'just too cool' sort of look around them, but I think it was a bit of a miss. They just looked daggy. I know Fifteen is supposed to be all about the chefs, but when your paying a high price for a meal I think everyone should look professional, not just the cooks.

This is the main dining area (there is no-one seated there because we took pictures after our meal and we were the last to finish due to our late seating)- a pretty funky looking place - I am a bit fan of the herbs, firstly creating the half wall in the arches, but also growing in the fishbowls from the ceiling...here's a closer pic if you don't believe me!
when we were finally seated, we were all offered a complementary glass of bubbly (bottled especially for Jamie's restaurants from a vineyard in Italy) and although it was a set menu, we got a choice for a pasta and mains.

The food was really good - but to begin with came out really slowly. I was worried that the seven courses wouldn't fill me up. My favourites were the peach, rocket and proscuitto salad, the slow cooked gnocchi (oh so soft) and the margaret river beef with lentil (thou not such a fan of the horseradish sauce - was a bit too wasabi for my liking) The dissapointment was the 'tiramisu' for desert. It had rice in it instead of cake... what the???? I am annoyed that I ordered a (bitter, overextracted) cappuccino with the cheese plate instead of a hot chocolate - it was a real hot choc, came out in a bowl and everything!

The other dissapointment was the loos! I swear I have used public toilets in downtown Sydney that had more class than those! Two cubicles, all painted black with very little lighting. Not the sort of 'powder room' you expect when your paying $90 bucks for a feed....

So the big question - was it worth the $90??? with the free Bubbly and bar snacks thrown in, I felt like I wasn't ripped off. But otherwise, I would suggest going to the bar for a hot chocolate and skipping the meal. It's casual dining with 3hat (or 5star) prices. Posted by Picasa

Grizzly explained...

So from memory, I said a Grizzly was a twice the size of a Malamute, chocolate brown, soft and fluffy...

Doesn't leave you with much... How about if I told you that the Malamute is a personality that lives on LucyLou's sofa...

Okay.. its a threw for a carch... (if that confuses you, google Kath'n'Kim) That just happens to look like a it once lived on the back of a Malamute...

Tuffers wanted something similar for our couch, only bigger, fluffier, and chocolatier. This was the result...

After cruising through a few homewares stores that had dreadly expensive, yet inferior products, I convinced Tuffers that I could make one better for a similar price. After a covert trip to a Lincraft store in Canberra (Tuffers did leave his sunglasses on the whole time we were in there - egad, a big manly fellow like him couldn't be caught in a fabric and craft store!) Tuffers chose this lucious chocolate faux fur, and this beautiful thick tan polar fleece for the backing.

Step two involved aquiring the use of a sewing machine. LucyLou has been looking to replace her Malamute, so she was happy to help me out with the pinning and sewing of the Grizzly.

There were a few issues...

Hiccup #1 - The Grizzly has a definate grain/nape. And being glossy and fluffy that stuff sure is slippery. While we were trying to lay the polar fleece on top of it for pinning, we found the nape had a tidal effect on the fleece - it kept ending up about a foot further east than where we wanted it.

Hiccup#2 - Polar fleece is stretchy while Grizzly is not. We had trouble pinning while not distorting both fabrics.

Hiccup#3 - we didn't bother to tack the two fabrics together. We just pinned, crossed our fingers and went straight to the machine....

Hiccup#4 - Lucious Grizzly and thick polar fleece ends up being quite chunky. Perhaps if we had something to manufacture rugs, it would have coped better than the domestic sewing machine - it had trouble pushing the chunky layers of fabric through so we had to pull the grizzly through the machine.

Hiccup#5 - Lucious Grizzly and thick polar fleece in two metre measures is incredibly heavy. Due to the amount of fabric trying to fall to the floor, it was impossible to sew straight seams. We had to set up a card table next to the sewing machine in order to hold the excess weight of the Grizzly.

Who knew four straight seams could be so difficult???

The final product, however, is wonderful. Tuffers saw it for the first time today, and is currently curled up underneath it on the couch, with Pierre on his lap and Max at his feet. However, I will bite my tongue next time I tell Tuffers "don't spend money on that, I can do one twice the size with nicer fabric for the same price if I had a sewing machine..."
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Pierre's extended family

Time to meet Pierre's extended family - who he has only known existed for the past two weeks...
First of all, the grumpy old man of the family, Pierre's great uncle Max (short for Maximillian). Max resides at my parents house, and in case you can't tell, he is the reason I wanted a Papillon. Next to Max (who looks like the King of Pride Rock), Pierre is really tiny. Eventually P will become just as fluffy, grand and majestic. Now, the reason Max is the grumpy old man - he is pushing 11 or 12 years now, rather old for a dog. This dang kid hanging around, wanting to play all day just doesn't suit him.

Next in the family is my brother's dog Gaz (I don't think that is short for anything.) Gaz lives in my brother's backyard, which just happens to be next door to my parent's house. Gaz is about a year or so old, so he has energy enough to out-excite P. To try and give Gaz a bit of entertainment, my Dad built this window in the fence. Pierre likes to stop by everytime we go outside to say hello. Max also says hello every so often (Puppies are fine if there is a fence separating them from him) Pierre did crawl into Gaz's yard a few times when we first go here (through the teeny tiny gap in the fence) but we blocked that up because it was too difficult to get him to crawl out again.

And finally, the 'babies' of the family (I use the term loosely as they are already at least 3x the size of P) My sis's 4 mounth old hounds, Toby the spoodle and Elvis the mini-schnauzer. As you can see, Pierre loves hanging out with these two. Believe it or not, he is the dominate one out of the three - he steals food, bones and toys off the other two. We spent the past few days at my Sis's, but due to the fact Pierre is a bad influence on these two, (she says he is untrained, I say he is stubborn...) I think she was glad when we left. Posted by Picasa

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Show continued...

Now.. there may not have been any sheep in the wool pavillion, but there were plenty in the animal nursery / petting area. It was very tempting to take this little inquisitive lamb home with me, but I don't think it would have liked the roadtrip back up to Sydney... and then there is the problem of convincing our landlord to let us keep him...
Finally, we stopped by the blacksmith demonstration hut, and I fell in love with this lucky wine rack. See the miniture horseshoes that hold the neck of the wine bottles? If Tuffers was here with me I am sure he would have had a tough time walking away empty handed, especially if he saw the chandellier inspired wine rack hanging from the awning. Unfortunately the photo I took of that wasn't too good, but it was the same sort of idea as this one - horse shoes and all :) Posted by Picasa

The Royal Geelong Show

Completely Coincidial, I managed to make it to the Annual Geelong show. (similar to a State fair in America - there are farm animals, homecrafts, tractor pulls, sideshows, rides... but no deep fried coke...yet)

And as you can see... most people have a sense of humour about it all (and yes, we did check out all 350 good looking birds, and a couple of cute chicks as well)


Unlike my adolescent years, I had no interest in the sideshows or rides, but was very keen to check out all the boring stuff my parents used to drag us around to see every year. The homecrafts, the animals, the guilds, the schools section, the dogs, etc etc. The reason the show exists...

There were several cool homecrafts, especially the quilts, which I would like to try sometime. But this cute red bear was my favourite knitted toy. He looks so docile and adorable. There were also several woven items I liked (that I can't quite do on my loom, but will keep in mind for when I upgrade!) and Mum was especially impressed with the mitred square blanket. I have to teach her how to make them before I go back to Sydney.
After we had finished in the homecrafts, my next must-see destination was the wool pavillion. There were lots of sheeps, and a couple of lambies, and a few spinners and weavers from the local guild. My camera was having conniptions while we were there, so unfortunately no piccies. Mum and I went back today, but the guild had departed, the sheep were replaced with miniture horses with the only one left being this cutie made from hand spun yarn.
We did find these gorgeous and elegant llama's hiding in one corner of the wool pavillion. Their eyes look so intelligent - who could resist a face like that? However, if Tuffers won't let me have a couple of sheepies or alpacas I have buckley's of owning a llama. Ah well, I can dream... Posted by Picasa

LYS review and a couple of knitting goodies :)

I have to mention this gorgeous LYS (local yarn store). Wild Purl in Point Lonsdale, Victoria. My sister and I went there for a SEX (stash enhancement excusion) and while I indulged in a little Opal Sockyarn (Which I think may be the funky rainforest tiger one), I found the books and mags there to die for!

First and foremost, I found MOKS! (Museum of Kitschy Stitches for you that are not Stitchy McYarnpants fans!)
I have not seen this anywhere else, so to find it in this little coastal store was amazing. It had to be added to my knitting library. The quick book review - Fantastic! My mum, my dad, my engineering friend Jerry and the Danish stranger staying at my parents all wanted to know what I was laughing at, stole the book off me when I showed them a picture and read it all before I had finished. I seem to be a bit fan of these blogger authors... now if Franklin would publish a Dolores book I'd be in heaven!
Sis and I also bought a couple of magazines as well. I grabbed the last two issues of Yarn Mag (which I love the written articles, even if the knitted articles aren't alway great - I think I may buy a subscription for my North American secret pal - any comments???) and Sis grabbed a great Debbie Bliss for beginners publication with some gorgeous projects. I think I may sneak back there before I return North to at least get some more opal...

Even though I spend all of my youth in Geelong, I only found out about this great store through a Sydney knitter, LisaG's, blog. The had some LisaG needles at the store, and I will be getting touch with LisaG when I return to Sydney to grab some needles for my secret pal. I may also grab a couple of her pretty scarf/shawl pins.
As well as the stuff from Wild Purl, I have indulged in a few other texiles related toys. I bought some decent dressmaking scissors, so I'll stop annoying Tuffers by stealling his kitchen snippers, and a knitting giftset my Sis and I found in Dymocks and are going to share. It is another 'learn to knit' book, with a few knitting tools, but what I love are the stitch index cards. I wan't a decent stitchonary with charts and written pattern, and this is the closest I have got so far. Missing from the picture is Stitch'n'Bitch Nation Which I aquired whilst in Canberra. Sis is borrowing it at the moment, but I found it to be a little better than the first Stitch'n'bitch, with several cool projects. I also love the sections from all the Stitch'n'bitch groups that have popped up. Posted by Picasa

FO - The dog rug #2

Remember that dog blanket I was weaving for my sis's fur-kids Elvis and Toby...??

Well... Voila!
Of course, I haven't yet made it to Melbourne to see the rascal's with the blanket, but Pierre was more than happy to stand in as a model.... He posed rather well to begin with...
And then decided that he would rather play with the blanket and get a little crazy....
All tangle up in a good project.. just like I prefer to be... Posted by Picasa

ISE home and hosed

I finally made it to the post offfice with my ISE3 package. It ended up being held up a few days so my sis and I could compare our work on both our scarfs. This is the finished package I send, the scarf with some ball band (all knitted in loverly super-soft merino) and a couple of kitschy keyrings. One is a toy camera which shows scenes of Australian cities and 'cough' culture through a view-finder, and the other has our old, old monetary notes printed on it in minature form. I thought, seeing as I was posting to America where all the money is green, they might enjoy this 'monopoly' money. My favourite thing about it is that each plastic 'note' has SPECIMEN printed on it in bright red. The thought that someone might mistake this for real money. Now, even if Aussie Post is really slack, I think my pal will still recieve it all before the end of October. Posted by Picasa

Le Road Trip...

My oh my – The past week has been both busy and laidback… A bit of a contradiction, I know, but I am on leave, and cramming much in, yet doing it all in my own time. Making one of my semi-annual pilgrimages upriver (well, it’s south of Sydney, but I am referring to a return to my parents house and where I was born – no spawning involved!) to Geelong, I had Pierre join me for his first big road trip. The first leg was relatively easy – we made it to Canberra in easy time and spent a couple of days hanging out with (almost) SIL LucyLou and her family.

Pierre relished the idea of hanging out with Big Dog Brindi. If anyone remembers the old Warner Bros Cartoons of Chester and Buster, P and B were a re-enactment of that. Pierre was practically bounding around Brindi the whole time, and occasionally you could imagine Brindi dishing out a backhander with a “aww, shuddup” which Pierre would immediately start bounding again with a “Bwindi’s my friend cos she’s so big and stwong!

Pierre also learnt the convenience of the doggie-door. You may think no big deal, but the doggie-door is higher than Pierre is tall. His skill at clawing his way through (truly he did claw) became apparent after I took him outside for a loo break at 5am. Pierre decided he didn’t want to sit outside in the cold Canberra pre-dawn, and wiggled through the door. After a few surprised exclamations, I found he had found a nice warm place in LucyLou and her hubby’s room… The bed. Nothing like frozen paws to wake and startle you out of your dreams. Needless to say, the next night they slept with the door closed so a repeat would not occur.

LucyLou took advantage of my visit to use me as a free baby-sitter for Dilby while she indulged in a little personal grooming at the salon. While she was primped and preened by a stylist, Dilby and I tried to create a little havoc in the nearby Westfield. We danced to the car stereos in JB HiFi, scared the guinea pigs in Pets Paradise, and narrowly avoided drooling on a shelf of hardbacks in Dymocks. I found Stitch’n’Bitch Nation by Debbie Stoller in the bookstore, and just had to buy it. I also ended up buying a plastic pink breast cancer awareness bracelet for Dilby - to distract him from said hardbacks. I figured he’s a bit of a boob man (he was breast-fed) and therefore had every right to support the cause. I was, however, quite grateful when LL finished her hair-cut and was able to play Mum again as Dilby was getting rather grumpy.

As far as craft was concerned – I used LucyLou’s (ever so slightly more modern than mine) sewing machine to wrestle with a Grizzly… What’s a Grizzly you ask, well it is about twice the size of a Malamute, silky smooth, chocolate brown and a special request from Tuffers. I will post a picture of the finished article tomorrow.

Pierre and I departed Canberra (after two days and nights of chaos) to continue our trip to Geelong. We made a couple of stops along the way, and one of the stops not made at a servo was in Tarcutta. We pulled up at a rest area on the main road, right in front of a local craft shop. I found this gorgeous hand painted wool that will become some toe-up jaywalkers. I completely understand the harlot when she says knitters have an innate ability to find yarn, even when in a completely foreign community. Posted by Picasa

Saturday, October 14, 2006

McToys

Warning - this is a shameless plug for myself...

In an effort to de-clutter I have set up a site to sell all of those old happy meal toys collecting dust. If your interested pop over to http://mchappymeal.blogspot.com/. Some of these were given to my by my family and friends, so if you think there is something I shouldn't sell or you want back, let me know. I'm not out to make a quick profit (hence I'm not ebaying the lot) and I'll give you all first dibs. I'm updating the page slowly, so be sure to check back every so often (or just subscribe to its feed)

End shameless plug

Friday, October 13, 2006

ISE3

Okay - I haven't posted any pics of my ise3 scarf anywhere, but have now changed my mind. As you can see, it is happily blocking on the ironing board, and I will send it away first thing monday. Whoo-hoo... another swap down:) Posted by Picasa

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Desex your loved ones before it's too late..

well I think we got in with plenty of time with our little adorable thing, but I'm not sure he is entirely happy with the procedure. Mainly because he has these sutures (stitches) he isn't allowed to lick.

So the poor boy, not only does he have a shaved bum, but to stop him from attacking the fishing line holding the place together where his 'peas' came out, he gets to where a plastic cone on his head.

Now having a lampshade-head may be quite cute when your a pixar animation, but when your a one and a half kilo (still no weight gain) puppy, it looks a little...


ridiculous???

We (Tuffers and I) both feel a little sorry for the tyke, but I gave him a quick reprieve today and before I could turn around he was licking his would and it had started to bleed. So I got to fight the beast to get the cone back on his head (his teeth are still quite sharp!)

The cone will now stay on until the stitches come out.

I'm such a mean mummy... Posted by Picasa

Monday, October 09, 2006

And all the stitches make...

On the needles,my simple knitted bodice is advancing nicely. (crappy photo, I know) I think I have discovered why I do not have enough of the special feature yarn to do the full three inches of lace and have enough left over for hems and collar. The patterns says two skeins was required, and that may do for the sequined 'disco lights' yarn, however, beads weigh more than sequins, and the yarn is sold by weight, so the yardage is out. I'll have to keep that in mind next time I buy a beaded yarn.

And my newest experimentation - A knitted donut...

Only kidding. Inspired by the new books I am trying some knitting in the round, and incorporating colour into it by trying out double knitting. I am sorting out how to hold the yarn with my 'english' method of knitting, and think I have it sorted out, I just need to change them around when I alternate colours between front and back. Posted by Picasa

In knitting news... some reviews

I came home one day last week to find a giant nylon sack sitting on my doorstep. Inside was a cardboard carton carrying my Amazon order of new knitting books...

The sweater workshop by Jacquelyn Fee
A guide to how to knit sweaters in the round in one piece. It has a 'sweater sampler' in it that you knit to practise all the skills you need to finish a sweater with a professional toiuch

Knitting and Sweater Design in Plain English by Maggie Righetti
The former is a learn to knit book, but contains a lot of common sense hints, because it is written by a knitter. The latter is a technical manual to create your own designs. Both very good, and looking forward to putting it into action
At knit's end by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee aka 'The Yarn Harlot'
Nice little 'thoughts of the day' that relate directly to knitting. I actually found this one in Dymocks - and made a start on it while a friend was shopping for cycling clothes. Very entertaining.
Stitch'n Bitch by Debbie Stoller
A learn to knit book with attitude. I have advanced well past what this book has in it, and perhaps would not have bought it if I had the oppotunity to browse through it in a bookstore. However, I wanted to see what the fuss was about, and I will loan it to my sister who will get some good use out of it. Posted by Picasa

Momma and Poppa Tuff's visit

One of the good things about having such a great boyfriend is he is keen to spoil those he loves. This is particularly true when his parents fly across the country for a week's holiday - We get to play tourist and have a bit of fun ourselves.

Momma Tuff arrived a day or so before Poppa Tuff, so we had a quiet day or two before things ramped up.

We managed to do a luncheon harbour cruise (from Darling Harbour to the heads and back) with a fantastic seafood buffet, delicious fresh fruit, yummy cakes and a bit of local knowledge on the side.

The evening saw us trekking across to Fox Studios / the Entertainment quarter where these giant blue and yellow big tops were. Those of you familiar with recent pop icons would know that this means the circus is in town, and which circus? The circus of the sun, or in another language "Cirque du Soleil!"

Tuffers, keen for an excuse to see the show himself, bought tickets for us all. Having only seen DVDs and TV specials featuring this acrobatic theatre troupe, it was a dream come true to see them in the flesh. The costumes, the music, the performers, the singers - it was almost sensory overload.
Trying to cram more activity into the week we headed down to Canberra to spend a little time with Tuffer's sister, Lucy-Lou, and her family. Mostly, the time was spend doting on Dilby (L-L's son and the first Tuff Grand-child) and enjoying the mini-family reunion, but we did manage to get out an about to Floriade, Canberra's big bulb and tulip festival. Rather than put up my tacky pictures of flowers I am sure you can find some better photos if you do a google search.
However, a highlight of the day was this electric organ. With it pumping out happy tunes I felt like a 5 year old a birthday party. We requested a couple of songs (the muppet and monty-python themes). L-L and I both gave a gold coin to keep it travelling around the country (making us organ donors) and Poppa Tuff came home with a CD or two of music.

Momma and Poppa Tuff went home the next day - and hence we have had another week flash by Posted by Picasa

The Sock-wars fallout...

The killer socks arrived in the post on friday, so I am officially out. Currently making its way to the USA is one (almost) completed Sock-of-Doom, a ball of yarn to make the other Sock-Of-Doom, and some sniper inspired candy to keep my assassin motivated while she zeroes in on victim #2
And these are my gorgeous new socks, already being put to good use. The yarn is really lucious - a extra fine merino / micro-fibre / cashmere blend - far too good to put into shoes!
And I also got another goodie - some cute little sock shaped point protectors. How cool is that.
And Tuffers was completely fascinated by the skill required to turn a heel and make a 3-D garment that he has requested I knit him a pair of socks as well. Here is the beginning - made from a funky On-Line self patterning yarn. Posted by Picasa