Sunday, April 29, 2012

The Jumper

A tale, unravelled... 

Do you ever walk past jumpers or cardigans in op shops and wonder what it would be like to pull them apart and knit them into something else?

It's a secret fantasy of mine to do this - sustainable fashion at it's best. I found just such a jumper the other day. I just had to bring it home.  I admit, the $6 price tag did help sway me.

That cosy torso warmer was wool..I'm thinking with maybe a touch of mohair? It had a hairy little halo happening (fuzz?) and being white I thought it could be transformed into any colour of the rainbow..oh the options!

I have to say  it was with some regret that I made the first cut, I loved the snowflake design and chunky cables but alas, just could not see myself wearing this jumper any time in my future (being two sizes to large may have also had something to do with this..).

Once the seams were clipped apart, the pieces unravelled fairy easily. It was calming in a way ..being able to see how the previous knitter had assembled the garment and what little tricks they had put into place. It was with great interest that I examined the weaving in of loose ends, it was extremely satisfying to see how someone else had done this!

The front, back and sleeves were skeined straight onto the niddy-noddy (funny looking wooden contraption above), and as I had a huge pot of dye leftover from another project, decided to use this for colouring the wool.

That very same afternoon, the skeins had all been dyed and were hung outside to dry. A bit patchy in places as there was a lot of yarn squeezed into that big but obviously not big enough pot!

That's ok though, I'm good at living with imperfection :)

The colour is kind of a washed out denim blue (which was the result of the first exhaust from a navy blue dye bath). 

I still cringe a little when I think of how much work went into the jumper the first time around and wonder who knitted it and if they are missing their snowflake sweater.

However, soft natural fibre yarn like this doesn't come by in the op shops all that often and I hope I can give the wool a whole new life. The yarn is about an 8 ply/DK thickness and quantity is 530 grams. Again, the options! At this stage, I'm leaning towards the Tappan Zee cardigan on ravelry, although this could change as easily as the weather!

Have you pulled apart a garment and knitted it into something else? Tell me, I'd love to hear!

Friday, April 27, 2012

Creative Friday - handspun hat and fingerless gloves

This week I've been creating some warm woollens for the 10yo. She is going off to camp soon and needed to check a beanie off her list. Some fingerless gloves also seemed the order of the day. Using handspun wool makes my heart sing and it was a joy to knit these couple of items in soft merino.

Combine this with the speedy continental knitting method and magic loop knitting, I was left wanting more!

Linking up with Linda today at Natural Suburbia.

Natural Suburbia

Easy fingerless gloves for 10yo - 8-10 ply yarn, 4mm circular knitting needles.
Cast on 28sts and join in round. Knit in rib until desired length to thumb. Cast off seven stitches, continuing in pattern. The following round, cast on 7sts over the previous cast off sts. Knit until glove reaches  knuckles and cast off loosely.

Hat was knitted top down using figure 8 cast on, adjusting stitches to suit head measurement along the way.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Arctic blast..

Brrr! I don't know what happened to the beautiful Autumn's completely gone! Replaced with heavy rain showers, chilly temperatures and a noisy hail storm. Although I think my title should really read Antarctic blast..considering we are all the way down in the southern hemisphere!

The knitting is out, as is the spinning and the fire is going. It's good to feel cosy again, that is when one isn't taking escaped goats back into their paddock for the third time that morning! Hmmph!

A few kitchen pics from the week to add fuel to the cosyness...
{'nacho' pizza - made with leftover chilli con carne, cheese, homegrown capsicums, corn, tomatoes and garlic. Oh and a good sprinkling of chilli!}

Tomatoes are still coming inside every few days to finish ripening before the birds get to them..

Cheese and chive scones, recipe here.

I couldn't wait any longer to preserve those apples. A shocking discovery was made though..I need to stock up on more bottling jars - all of our Fowlers jars are now full!

And it's pretty hard not to feel cosy when a lemon meringue pie is baking in the oven. It's been absolutely ages since we've had one and using fresh, homegrown eggs, it makes the experience all the more sweeter...

Hoping you're enjoying the day, Antarctic blast or not. 

Lemon Meringue Pie
This is a good pie recipe that holds it firmness when cut and refrigerates well. 

1 pre-cooked pastry shell (I use a basic shortcrust - flour, butter and water mix)

1/2 cup cornflour
3/4 cup sugar
1 cup water
1/2 cup lemon juice
80g butter, chopped
1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
3 egg yolks (save egg whites for meringue)

Meringue topping:
3 egg whites (separated from the yolks used in the filling)
1/2 cup granulated white sugar, caster if it's around ;)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 170c. 
Filling: Place the water and lemon juice into a medium saucepan and add the cornflour, sugar and lemon zest, stirring to combine. Add the chopped butter and place over medium heat, bringing slowly to a boil, stirring occasionally. Once thick, remove from heat and stir in egg yolks, set aside. 

To make the meringue, beat egg whites until soft peaks form. Slowly add sugar and continue beating until mixture is thick and glossy. Add the vanilla, mixing well. 

Assemble the pie by spooning the warm filling mixture into the pie shell and then spread the meringue gently over the top, spreading all the way to the edges. Bake in a 170c oven for 10-20 minutes or until meringue is golden on top and set. (If more time is available, a lower oven temperature and longer baking time will reduce the amount of 'weeping' associated with these types of pies as the meringue has a chance to dry out. Although if your eating it warm from the oven, this usually isn't a problem! ;)

Serve warm with cream. 

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Back in the garden, April '12

Hello nice people! I hope you have had a good weekend :)

Over here I've been busy in the garden. I've been thinking a lot lately about food security and what I can do to improve our own situation. It is one thing to grow a few veggies out the back and say your 'doing your bit' but quite another to embrace the goal wholeheartedly and look at it from a more serious angle.

We (as in our family) could do more. A lot more. We have the space and I have the time, health and energy to put into such a plan. I like the idea of being reliant upon ourselves for as much as possible, knowing at the end of each day we are living and eating the best way we can - both for ourselves and the planet.

Our garden became quite neglected last year due to a number of reasons but I now feel ready to jump back in and focus on growing our own as much as possible.

With that thought in mind, I've been tending the sad looking veggie patch near the chook pen. The beds were never edged properly and as a result the soil would always wash away in the rain and it was just generally hard to look after. While nothing fancy, I've spent the last couple of days rigging up a semi-permanent bedding system that will hopefully allow the chooks to free range in this part of the garden from time to time, weeding and keeping the grass down between the beds while the crops actually have a chance to grow!

Did I say they love it in here? Such room for them to move. I do love seeing an excited hen sprint to her companions in the hope of finding a bug!!

The beds are edged in a flexible plastic, secured with cable ties to tomato stakes, bamboo canes and pegs. The 'hoops' are made from poly pipe that I had bought from the tip shop ages ago. Cable ties again came to the rescue. All up, each bed took around 2 hours for me to assemble.

Then looking around the edges of the little plot, I do confess to going a little hoopy loopy on the raspberry canes.

They were so straggly and jungly that I was glad to hoop them into place...

..and another packet of cable ties opened ahem

An experiment in one of the beds - growing potatoes over winter:

Have you tried this before? I'm interested to see how they'll go as last winter we kept getting volunteers shooting out of the ground. As our property misses out on the majority of frosts I'm willing to give it a go..

It was a relief to have the netting in place (at last!).
Carrots, which were saved just in time from those hens of ours.

Hopefully we'll see more than two autumn raspberries?

Just outside the little plot, blueberries are announcing that it is well and truly Autumn!

Food security

Do you have any thoughts on this or ways to achieve your goals? 

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Soaking up the moments.

I feel like I have crossed a big emotional hurdle this week. As a result I haven't felt like posting much, preferring rather to take each day as it comes and soak up the moments the week has offered. The 'hurdle' took us all the way to the north of the state for an overnight  stay and while I won't go into details, it feels comforting to have a sense of closure. I feel ready to look forward and tackle new things, including crazy projects and hopefully some hair brained schemes!

During the past couple of weeks I've been witnessing the most gorgeous changes in colour in our area. Each day is a new surprise to see what tree has turned (and to count how many people with cameras are out this day, as compared to yesterday!)

Would you like to take a little walk with me today?

I do hope you are finding some time to soak up the moments the week is offering you. x

The River

"It's a good life!"  RB

Tooleybuc, NSW

Saturday, April 14, 2012

More yarnings..

So..I suppose this will be Part 2 of my little knitting posts this week. I was really glad to finish the lacy scarf I had been working on. The pattern is called Horseshoe Print...

Yet to be raveled. I found working with thin yarn to be quite enjoyable. That is, once the tension issues were addressed! And goodness me I don't know what hit me but I even blocked it! I'm really looking forward to wearing's not too long as I only used a 50g ball of wool and finished when the wool ran out. A little brooch I have will hold it closed at the neck without any problems. 

Below are a couple of skeins that appeared this week. Well not entirely true..the one at the back was already spun, I was just sick of looking at it in it's creamy coloured natural state so I threw it in a pot of leftover dye from our Easter eggs! I really like this colour, from memory I think I used rose pink food dye with a couple of drops of blue. It was also a great feeling not to waste the leftover dye from the eggs! (Yarn is an alpaca/wool combination).

The yarn at the front is the alpaca that was dyed here. I took a little excursion to a most wonderful fibre-ey shop last week and couldn't resist some purple lurex to ply it with! It has still kept it's softness after spinning and plying which I'm so pleased about! I have a project in mind for the 12yo using this glitzy number. (Skein is around 280yds).

Finally, The Hulk has not exited the builiding just yet...another small ball was turned into a pair of fingerless mitts over the course of a couple of evenings. They were kind of made up as I went, knitted on straight needles and stitched up the side, leaving an opening for the thumb which was later crocheted in (rather ad-hoc!). A little picot edging up top finished them off.  The cabley pattern is called Eyelet Mock Cable Ribbing - very easy using just knit and purl stitches with a yarn round needle in some spots...

Did I say that I'm really loving this colour? Botched dye attempts are just the best!!

Horseshoe Lace Scarf
1-2 x 50g balls of lace weight/2 ply yarn (I used Moda Vera - Faith), quantity will depend on how long you want your scarf to be.
a pair of 4mm needles

Cast on 51sts. 
1st row (wrong side) - purl
2nd row - K1, *yf, k3, sl 1, k2tog, psso, k3, yf, k1; rep from 8 to end
3rd row - purl
4th row - P1, *k1, yf, k2, sl 1, k2tog, psso, k2, yf, k1, p1; rep from * to end
5th row - k1, *p9, k1; rep from * to end
6th row - P1, *k2, yf, k1, sl 1, k2tog, psso, k1, yf, k2, p1; rep from * to end
7th row - as 5th row
8th row - P1, *k3, yf, sl 1, k2tog, psso, yf, k3, p1; rep from * to end.

These 8 rows form pattern. Work in pattern until desired length for scarf is reached. Cast off and block to shape. 

Thursday, April 12, 2012


$3/kg. From front -Granny Smith, Golden Delicious, Fuji.

Yes, please!
hmm, no thanks.. 

After running a couple of errands yesterday morning we had a bit of time up our sleeve before heading home and so decided to make a stop at our current favourite pick-your-own farm (you may remember our strawberry excursion there earlier this year). The apples are in full swing at the moment and we could choose from three different varieties to pick. I love seeing those girls of mine get such delight from picking fruit! They would never get this excited about apples in the shops. I love how the excitement comes home with us too..and they munch on apples just because they are out on the table..and they happened to harvest them with their own hands.

We came home with a bulging bag of Fujis and two more of Granny Smiths. It's a good thing I haven't completely packed away the Fowlers preserving kit's just inched it's way slowly towards the cupboard in hubby's study..slowly. Easily retrieved though! The Fuji's are great for eating and the Granny Smiths will be going straight into jars.

Are you picking fruit? Or preserving some perhaps?

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Have wool. Must knit.

This is how I'm feeling this week. Between a relaxed school holiday schedule, a dye pot calling and a new/old spinning wheel just begging to be used, I seem to have yarn coming out of my ears! My head is spinning (oops! no pun intended!!) with possibilities, throbbing with the stress of knitted errors and dropped stitches and aching with anticipation with all the projects I suddenly want to complete! Do you know this feeling? Is it somewhat similar to a squirrel hunkering down in preparation for the cooler months? Hmmm.... I do wonder at times.

 I'll start today with Part 1: The Hulk
(as dixiebelle so accurately described my recent, rather frustrating food dyeing episode!)

 And thus we observe: The Hulk, a transformation..

Remember how it was? That ghastly fibre? All witchy and hulky green?  So, so far from the subtle teal shade I was amateurishly aiming for? Accchh! It pains me to remember.

However, waste not, want not. I got to spinning the lurid fibre and actually had quite a good time in the process, seeing how the different shades of green ended up on the bobbin..

But what to do with my bobbin full of green delight? I decided to ply it with an undyed single of similar thickness and throw the whole lot back in the dye pot again..this time with just blue colouring!

And do you know what? That undyed single soaked up the blue food dye like a sponge and mellowed that horrid green right out, much to my delight!

Ball winding from the skeins. A swift would be nice ;)
Close to 300g of the newly coloured yarn to ponder over..what fun! Sock weight..of a sort.

And yes, a slight 'barber pole' effect, but if it helps to mellow the green, I'm all for that!

Ahh, the options!

To answer the call of the newly coloured fibre, first up it was a neckwarmer on circular needles in a scallop pattern. So much fun to pull out circular needles again! And to follow..perhaps some fingerless mittens to match? What a sight I shall be, trotting down to the paddock to feed the goats and back again to tend the chooks - all the while clad warmly in The Hulk. Transformed.  ;)

Are you knitting? Is the cooler weather to blame? What are you knitting? And what's your favourite colour wool you like to use? 

Scallop Neck Warmer

A ball of 80g or so of sock-ish weight yarn and a 3.75mm circular needle (give or take a size).

Cast on 130sts and knit a couple of rows of garter stitch, joining in the round, placing a marker (or safety pin, ahem!) at the start of round..

Beg pattern:  (stitches should only be counted after 5th and 6th row).
1st row (right side):  *sl 1, k1, psso, k9, k2tog; rep from * to end.
2nd row: knit
3rd row: *sl 1, k1, psso, k7, k2tog; rep from * to end.
4th row: knit
5th row: *sl 1, k1, psso, yf, {k1, yf} 5 times, k2tog; rep from * to end
6th row: purl

These 6 rows form the pattern. Work in pattern until work is desired length and cast of after a 6th row. A shell edging can be crocheted onto cast of edge if desired. Weave in loose ends.

(NB - If using straight needles and joining the neck warmer together after knitting is finished, the 2nd, 4th and 6th rows will need to be reversed for straight needle stitching, ie: 2nd row - purl, 4th row - purl, 6th row - knit. Pattern is worked in multiples of 13, so if a narrower or wider neck measurement is required, adjust stitches to suit). Happy clicking!