Winter Works in Progress

Keeping it succinct in order to actually finish something. Biggest learning of being a new parent is the number of unfinished chores, conversations, emails, errands and knitting/sewing projects on the go. Even cooking and baking takes a few goes. So here’s what’s on the needles at the moment:
Honey Cowl in a gorgeous red 5ply Sanguine Gryphon Bugga on 3.75mm needles. I’ve named it my Cardinal Cowl owing to the red and that I became slightly addicted to the Borgias tv series when I started it and that’s all about the power of cardinal red!

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Cullin Cowl in Quince& co’s Puffin, 12 ply Dogwood (pale pink), 10mm ndls. Love how squishy this yarn is and I thought it best to stick to a thicker yarn for a few gifts or I really won’t get them finished in time.

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Bellyphants cardi on Millamia 5ply fuchsia and putty, 3.25mm. Here’s a pic of one I made earlier for my baby boy Sean out of Madtosh sock and Wollmeise Twin. The pink grey version is for another baby I know. Love this yarn for children’s garments, wears well and lovely to knit with.

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Monkey socks in Koigu 4ply on 2.25mm that has been in my stash for a while. Great yarn and pattern and I’ve nearly finished the first sock!

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Hooray Cardigan in Madeline Tosh DK Tart red on 4mm. I’d love if I could finish this before end of winter to wear it this year but totally prepared for it to become next seasons cardi of choice.

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It’s all about relatively quick, finishable knits is beautiful yarn, fun patterns and for those who appreciate hand knits. Time doesn’t permit for much else.

Of course my favourite work in progress is Sean!

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Posted in anniversaries, family, hand made, Knitting, Socks | 2 Comments

Breaking the waters

Turns out I didn’t break the drought with my last post. A mere blip to confirm I hadn’t dropped out of the blogosphere entirely. The main reason is the mega post I wanted to put up before anything else, about our Summer Holiday in the UK in June. I will still write this post but for now…

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You see, what began in June, somewhere in the Cotswolds, was a little person. Our dear baby Sean was born Sunday 17 March 2013 late in the evening to the absolute overwhelming delight of his father and I. Entirely fitting he should be born on St Patricks Day as 1) the Irish heritage on both sides of the equation and 2) owing to the Guinness his dad swore was the best he’d had since we’d been in Ireland (over 10 years ago!) while we were at the Swan Hotel in Stratford-upon-Avon.

I’m sure, like any pregnant woman, by the end I couldn’t wait to meet our little boy. He wasn’t due until the 19th and I can only assume that in this regard he takes after his father (my side of the family are rarely on time for anything). Note: this trait was somewhat curtailed in me when DH was left waiting on corner of Oxford St and Regent St, London one February Saturday morning in 1999, brrr.

We’d had a pretty usual Saturday. I was keen to go for lunch outside in the glorious sunshine. Fish and chips and berry smoothie gobbled and a few extra bits and pieces for the house acquired, a usual dinner and knitting with movie, we turned in around 11:30pm. I’d just wound the extra Swans Island Winterberry (red) yarn that arrived Friday in order to complete the ‘take anywhere’ Decouverte knitted sleeveless Cardi (ok vest, but it just doesn’t seem ‘floaty’ enough a name for the design). Ideally I was to finish this before baby arrived. I was also onto the last strip of the pram blanket for him. Which I planned to complete last week.

I looked at the clock at 1:32am Sunday when I got up to pee, only to realise, well um, my waters seemed to have broken. I told DH, to which he replied something like, ‘you’ve finally wet the bed!’ and promptly, sleepily said ‘its ok, we’ll just move into the guest bed’. He did that and was nearly asleep again by the time I returned having called the hospital to confirm that ‘yes, my waters had really broken’ and we should come in. He had a coffee, I took a shower and off we went. No traffic on the pacific hwy at 2am that was for sure, but still a long 20 min journey, filled with ‘this is really happening’ type remarks.

In the birthing suite we we greeted by Sandra our midwife. Back to sleep (kind of) while we waiting for something else to happen. By 9:30am nothing much had apart from intermittent contractions and we started with the Syntocin to help them get going more acutely. Which is what did start to happen. By 11am the contractions were in full swing and there was no chance of eating anything, they were just too frequent and painful. I continued to focus on my breathing to ride each contraction with the exhale breath. That and gripping the bed rail or DH’s hand as hard as I could. I didn’t go with the gas and air as I thought I would, I was in a zone and didn’t want to tempt a wave of nausea on top of everything. A warm bath was next and that eased the situation a bit for about an hour, then the worst hour of the afternoon hit from about 3-4pm. This really was the lowest point, the pain was excruciating and I was starting to tire so badly I was forgetting to breath which made things worse, but even more so that I was still only 2.5cm dilated. Talk about feeling ripped off! There was no way I was going to last like this to 10cm. More significantly though, it was now starting to look like my cervix just couldn’t dilate as much as necessary. Regardless, it was time for the epidural.

I understand why there are stories about women telling their anesthetists how much they love them after receiving an epidural. It went to work and I started to not feel the pain, but our little boy wasn’t thrilled with the effect the combo of the epidural was now having together with the Syntocin. We went to the next branch of our decision tree, a caesarian section was now going to happen. Before we knew it I was in theatre, DH was wearing a blue plastic hat and at 9:10pm our little man was born! I won’t ever forget that moment DH placed Sean’s cheek next to mine while I was being sewn back up.

After a week of being parents we are still in awe, probably will be for some time yet. Each day is a sharp learning curve and I find myself looking up another bit of info each day on babycentre.com like I’m cramming for a test. Now it’s a matter of getting into a routine with breastfeeding, 2 hour sleeps between feeds and working out when to sleep during the day, when to shower and wondering when on earth I will ever knit again.

Would I change anything? Not one little bit!

Posted in family, Meditation, Nature | Tagged , , | 15 Comments

Breaking the drought

The Mighty Brush Turkey

Enough post procrastination, time to break the spell! It’s been over 5 months since my last post. A lot has happened in that time, hence the post-hiatus. That doesn’t mean I haven’t written several dozen in my head. They just havent made it to print. So here’s a quick summary to get me started again.

    • Lost the sewing bug just as soon as I caught it after the easter long weekend in April. More like fabric flu and there have been additional fabric purchases before I finished a project. I know, the shame.
    • Joined the highly organised and competent crew to host the Knitter’s Guild stand at the Easter show. Knitted a life-sized Brush Turkey for the occasion. Like you do.
    • Went to Knit Camp at Mt Kiera, Wollongong in April. Best parts were getting to know my ‘camp buddy’ Margaret a whole lot more on the drive there and back. Her one liners are legendary. A great Saturday with the usual knitters crew. Modest yarn buying – 4 balls sock yarn. Finished the weekend attending Drk’s Mozart recital which was fabulous. Can’t say I’ll be rushing back to camp though, there’s only so much camp food and scout accommodation a girl can take and I’m just as happy hanging out in places like Sewjourn and Kangaroo Valley with a smaller group of knitters who coordinate themselves and get along so well! It is a magical combination.
    • In May I taught new private clients yoga at their home, by the cosy fire in winter. True bliss.  Also knitted a baby blanket for my 1 year old nephew with my mum, great fun and result which was thankfully appreciate by my sister.
    • Trip to the UK to see the inlaws in June. Some sun was experienced, mostly in Bath and the Cotswolds (!!), lots of rain and grey skies. Plenty of cream teas consumed and photos taken. Full post to follow on this one and the main cause of my post-hiatus.
    • Spent most of July in post holiday denial, getting over the jetlag and prepping for August. Jody’s baby shower with an amazing Purple Strip Baby Blanket and purple ombre layer-cake to match
    • I also became an Aunty again to my third nephew Liam, so there was a quick trip to Cairns in July to meet him too and spend a lovely weekend with my mum, both my sisters and 2 nephews. My sister in Sydney is due her second son in November so there is going to be more knitting for boys!
    • At the start of August I hosted 70 Yoga teachers for Relax & Renew Restorative Yoga Teacher Training with my number one favourite teacher Judith Hanson-Lasater. They came from all over Australia and Singapore (oh and Judith from San Francisco) and by all accounts it was a great success. Judith has confirmed she’ll be back in Sydney in 2 years time for more. Yay!
    • Knitting weekend in Kangaroo Valley with great friends who vowed to do it all again in the future. Double Yay!
    • Updated my Yoga Australia profile and renewed my membership. Ordered replacement cards for health insurance and supermarket rewards when I realised they still were attached to the old Cairns address. Vowed to get my taxes done this month and roll my super all together again! Seems to be the month for catching up with friends finding their way back to Sydney after years overseas (some via Kosovo, Sudan, Nepal and Turkey, another via Houston Paris and London!)
    • Now deciding:
      1. which cake to make my Birthday Boy Hubby this weekend
      2. whether I get back to sewing today and do I wash fabric or clothes
      3. which knitting wips to prioritise and how best to update the Gant chart

And I literally just spent my last $10 on the Heart Foundation Door Knock Appeal. Much better than “birth control and beer” (as sung by two nice girls at camp)!

I could not be more up to date, phew, that feels better.

Posted in family, Knitting, Nature, sewing, Socks, Travel, Yoga | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Sewing Bug

I’ve a strong urge to get the sewing machine out again and whip up a few more dresses. This is partly due to the patterns I have at home begging to be used, partly because of some gorgeous fabrics around and mainly because I’m really enjoying wearing the last one I made. I’ve also recently inherited an old Pfaff sewing machine c.1972 from my lovely Aunty Judy, who just moved to the UK. If it’s as sturdy as it is heavy it will be a good second machine for heavy duty sewing. Like denim.

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Yesterday I did a little damage at the fabric shop nearby. Couple of heavy weight cottons, some with a bit of lycra and I couldn’t go past the ladybug buttons. Not sure where they will feature, probably with the black denim in some way. There’s definitely a colour theme going on at the moment too. Here’s the latest delivery from Wollmeise – black lace, 47Ag twin and a Herzblut twin. I really need to get some lace weight knit up this year.

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But I can’t really get this going until next weekend when I’ve ‘flown’ a certain brush turkey to the show grounds for the Fabulous Fibres display. It needs more detailing. All I want to do is go back to the purple cardis and play with fabric right now.

Posted in hand made, Knitting, sewing | 4 Comments

Brows that stopped traffic!

Seriously. I dropped into the benefit brow bar on the way through the shops today, cutting across town like I do when I get a chance to get a few ‘me’ errands done. It had only been a month since I’d visited and they’d done the place up, twice the size as before. I felt like I was in a real life Sally Spa for a moment. Brows tinted and shaped and a little purchase made, all in under 20mins. My kind of lunch break. Off I set back towards my day job (yoga teaching is my ‘play’ job). I was about to cross the road when a woman stopped me and actually asked “Have you just had your eye brows done in there? They look amazing!”. I did a quick scan over her face to see if she was for real or taking the micky. She seemed for real but that didn’t stop me looking round for a ‘candid camera’ set up. “yes, thanks” I replied and scooted off just in case it really was a set up.

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Even funnier was when I returned to work. One person asked me if I’d just had my hair done, which was bizarre as my hair is now 2 weeks overdue a cut, frizzed out, and not getting done for another week (trying a new hairdresser on a recommendation). Another person commented that my “eyes looked great”. At $25, that was one value-for-money, not to mention efficient, beauty fix. Anyone who knows me, knows I like a low maintenance, anti beauty hype approach. Doesn’t stop me enjoying the girly playfulness and pretty packages now and again!

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Posted in colour, make up, Zen | Tagged , | 7 Comments

Forecast 2012: a chance of finished objet

Cardigans? Yes. Socks? Certainly. Shawls, even silk ones? Sure. Putt’n birds on things? Absolutely!

First up there are the 3 purple cardigans to complete, the linen Kimono, the Celery and Barton Cottage Shrug. I’m so keen to have all of them finished I keep switching between them and hence none of them feel like they are going to get finished. I really need to practise knitting monogamy for a few weeks and see what that produces as finished objet.

Of course when any one of these is done, there will be heavy competition as to what joins the active Cardi conga line. I think Vitamin D will be first in either a Fuchsia or Heavy Metal Wollmeise 100% or a marled grey Tern care of MissFee. There is also Honeysuckle, Florence, Long Night, Chrysanthemum and Rocky Coast capturing my attention (yarn in my stash for at least 4 of these already). Plus that Meryton Coat.

I am having shawl withdrawal big time too and haven’t had a shawl on the needles since I finished Sakaki at the beginning of September last year! The shawl queue is just as long:
Stripe Study in Sanguine Gryphon Bugga, Tomato Frog red + Blue Metalmark grey
Colour Affection in Wollmeise blues and greys
Night Blooms in Samurai Sword Knitabulous silk lace and Nuvem in 47Ag Wollmeise Lace
Bordeaux, Georgiana, Icarus, Kleio, Brandywine, the list really does go on and on (and Romi just realeased another couple…argh!)

Socks will take care of themselves this year, I’ve no doubt about that. Train travel wouldn’t be complete without sock knitting and there’s no chance of that stopping any time soon. I won’t list them all, though the priorities this year are Pointelle, Red Dwarf knee highs, and a few colourwork and cable choices. That leaves me with the adhoc projects of making birds for the show, a spot of bunting, a couple of golf covers for hubby and blanket squares for my nephews (and possibly a niece!) and perhaps a Honey Cowl and a skirt of some kind to go with the other knitted items for cooler weather.

I will continue to remind myself that it does all just happen one stitch at a time and not forget to breath or be overwhelmed by the queue. After all it is just knitting and I’m already ahead with an extra day this year!

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Posted in Mystery Bet | 2 Comments

Ohayo Sashimi!

For our (13th) anniversary dear husband (dh) and I decided to attend a class all about making Sushi & Sashimi. We’ve had a few goes over the years making this at home, and have a reasonably good rolling technique for average home cooks, though we’re not about to open a sushi bar anytime soon. It was the sashimi slicing techniques we were really interested in. The difference we discovered, was for sashimi you cut against the grain, while for sushi you cut with the grain of the fish. Along we popped to the Sydney Seafood School down at the fish markets. It was a lovely relaxed way to spend a Saturday together and the class hit all the right notes of learning, being entertained and a meal to finish.

Our teacher was Hideo Dekura, recently recognised by the Japanese food industry as a Grand Master Chef and we figured we were in good hands. Before the food demo Hideo-san was keen to talk about the knives he would be using, their significance in Japanese culture and heritage, forged steel that hails from the Samurai era. Dh was in heaven at this point and if you’ve seen him sharpen our knives on the specially bought ceramic stone you’d understand the significance. I think its this cultural aspect that strongly appeals to us, and while neither of us have visited, we both speak a little Japanese and are now more keen than ever to experience a total Japanese cultural immersion.Needless to say our modest collection of global knives might be getting some new friends soon, possibly even the fish bone picker just because of its groovy shape. As an aside, it was a small global knife that was the first item I bought (from Selfridge’s no less!) to furnish our flat when dh and I first moved in together in London. In hindsight it was a ridiculous extravagance and so not what you buy first when you have absolutely nothing else in, including a bed. He’s never let me forget that one. I’ve never let him forget who introduced him to decent knives!

I’d also like to one day have a Japanese garden, Tea House, permanent Ikebana display around the house, learn how to play the Koto and dance like a Geisha dressed in Japanese silks. For now I’ll settle for sashimi, miso soup, Gen-maicha tea and occasionally wearing a Kimono around the house when I don’t need to worry about getting the sleeves caught in the washing up or dinner.

The dishes Hideo-san demonstrated for us included:Tamago-Yaki or Thick Omelette, mutli layered in a rectangular fry pan (need to get one of those). This was fun to watch him make and I could easily have just watched him do so for a couple of hours.Cuttlefish sushi wrapped around cucumber and salmon, with a heart shaped Garfish + salmon pearls on the side.Finger limes, not common in Sydney, grown in Hideo-san’s back yard (he said he gets about 10 per year!), not really a dish, though the condiments in Japanese cuisine are significant in their own rite.Hadaka-maki or Unclad Seaweed Rolls with mini cucumbers and carrots, topped with black & white sesame seeds, dried (home grown) cherry, green chilli powder and other condiments.Snapper Sashimi beautifully presented with lime slices on a Japanese basil leaf. I had no idea there was such a kind until yesterday. The snapper had been prepared by pouring hot water over the fresh fish to soften the skin, then placed back in the fridge for a bit to settle.

Also passed around was a real piece of Bonito, dried using fish caught off Sydney Harbour and an amazing stem of Wasabi root, another ingredient I’d never seen in this form before. Hideo-san even brought in his Wasabi plant to show us – Cute! If only I had my Wasabi Peas socks finished to add to this right now, nevermind, they’re nearly done.Then it was out turn;
Preparing the cuttlefish. It was a bit messy and I still have ink stained finger nails (and we forgot to bring the cuttlefish home to dry for our local ‘budgies’), fun all the same.On to the silver Garfish (very pretty), which frankly I’ll leave to the experts, though I was the ‘star performer’ at our bench and managed to fillet and debone a couple of decent slices.Before we knew it we had a couple of very full plates of sashimi and sushi (mine top, his below). Then it was through to the dining room to finally eat and have a chat to Hideo-san while we purchased his latest book, Japanese Cuisine which he signed for us.

What did we have for dinner? Cheese, crackers and couple of pear ciders of course. Though we do plan to attend Hideo-san’s studio not too far from home and continue our learning.

Itadakimasu!

Posted in hand made, Meditation, Nature, Zen | Tagged , , | 2 Comments