Friday, December 31, 2010

Photo A Day January 1st, 2011

So, around here, one thing we are happy to promote in the kids, is a love of reading. Both myself and the MacBeast love to read, and what this picture represents is the haul of books from this christmas alone, for all four members of our family. It also represents what all four of us have spent a lot of time doing over the last week, and will most likely spend a lot of time doing throughout the year, too. It seemed fitting to have this as the first picture of the year. 
When it gets to the first day of 2012 and I go 'where did the year go, and why didn't I get as much done as I thought I would?' someone direct me to this picture. 

Unwrapped, to wrap it up.

Well another Christmas, and another year, is now over. It's been, to put it mildly, a bastard of a year. Quite a few good and amazing things happenned. 
And quite a few shocking and downright nasty things happenned, and much of it took a toll on us. BUT - we are still here, we are still going strong, and we've just come through a decent christmas and fantastic New Years Eve. 
While many people do a photo collage of all the things they knit for the year, that is a bit much for me at the moment given I embark on the new year clean out, clean up today. Instead I will re-cap Christmas and show the few latest things. 
Every christmas Big Mac and I attempt to make hampers of home made goodies for our parents, siblings and as many of our friends as we can manage. This year was no exception. Included was Christmas tree Bark (thanks to Jade for the recipe), Crostoli, Lemon Cinnamon Shortbreads, Maple - chilli roasted nuts, Peanut butter balls, but my favourite inclusion was the Cherry and Apple Jam we made. 
It was made from organic split cherries which we bought from a local orchard - they were the tastiest cherries I have ever eaten, and true to form, made the tastiest jam, too. I'm really rather glad we have another two big jars of it sitting in the cupboard for ourselves. 

Also this christmas, I knit some things. (I know - surprise! right?) In fact, in the month and a half leading up to christmas, I managed to knock over two shawls and a pair of socks. Granted, the socks were finished in the car on the way down to my parents, and I don't have photo's of them because of that, but trust me. They got done. 
The first Shawl finished and off the needles was for my MIL (mother in law). It is knit from Zauberball yarn which is soft and single spun, with a slow colour change. The shawl pattern is called 'Shaelyn'. 
and just for a better idea of the colours

The second shawl, completed and blocked JUST in the nick of time, was for my mum. It's knit from Mayhem and Chaos Silk Lace, in the colourway 'Tusk'. 
The pattern is the Shetland Lace Triangle, which I have been meaning to do for a while, but have only just got around to. 
It's beautiful and silky and drapey and she just loved it. So strangle to hold something in your hands that encompasses your shoulders, but is so light, it is barely there. 

All up, a big christmas was had, with us crossing from one side of the state to the other over the course of week. We ere home in time to ring in the new year with friends, which was a blast for all of us. We look into the rest of this year interested to see what it brings!

And later, I will be back with the first photo-a-day for the month of January, to ring in the New Year. I'd like to say I will do a photo a day for a whole year, but I think I will just content myself with January as a goal. To start with at least. 

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Beginnings and endings.

So... to re-cap. I've been quiet a while. There have been reasons. Plenty of them. 
But, right now, here is where we are at: Master Mayhem has now turned FIVE. Unbelievable. Tomorrow, Miss Chaos turns FOUR. To me, this is even more unbelievable. 
We around here will be heading into summer at the end of this month. To feel the weather around, you wouldn't know it. It has been the mildest, coolest Spring season I remember. Also the wettest. I am hoping this translates to a mild summer also, as me and baking heat don't go so well. I'd be happy for the spring season to hang around a lot longer, with it's yummy smells, pretty flowers and all creatures.. well. Doing what they do this time of year.
Including me. 
Which brings me to the real reason there has been so little knitting or blog updating, or spinning, and the real reason why the thought of a searing hot summer fills me with dread. The wee Mayhem and Chaos family is growing it seems, and we are due to have a new addition joining the household in mid-May of 2011. For my own part I've spent the last 3-4 months mostly feeling insanely ill, and all knit and spin mojo exited the building. A few weeks ago I started feeling better, and began knitting again only to come down with a headcold. Which then turned into strep throat. And then morphed into headcold with strep throat and an upper respitory tract infection. Yay me. 
I was at my lowest point on Thursday when my diet for the day consisted entirely of iced water, and salty tears of self pity. By Friday I had begun to progress through the liquids - Iced Water - warm tea - soft drink - hot tea - soup. Saturday I progressed to those food forms which can be reasonably classified as 'goo'. Custard, jelly, yogo and ice cream. By last night I was proud of my progress to the level of 'mush' which is where I remain today. Pasta and mashed potato are my friends right now. This illness is a doozy and i think it will be at least another week before I am feeling right again, but I am taking it easy and resting up, per doctors orders. This is evidenced by the fact I am in bed, with my laptop, and don't particularly feel like leaving.  

I do have a finished object to show though, one measly one throughout all this. This is a 'Peasant Shawl' knit from Ixchel fibres BFL/Bunny sock yarn. 

It turned out to be an enjoyable, relatively quick little knit in the end, and is the start of the silly season knitting.  This little shawlette is destined to go as a gift for the kindergarten teacher who has taught Miss Chaos 3 year old kinder this year, and Master Mayhem 3 year old kinder last year. Her assistance has been invaluable throughout everything, and given that next year Miss Chaos leaves her care to step up to four year old kinder, I wanted to do something special to show our appreciation. I hope she likes it as i felt the colours were entirely up her alley. 
And so it begins. From here on out until the 25th of December there will be knitting, there will be baking, there will be hamper making and shopping. After christmas will see the shop ramp up again in a big way, with loads more updates, base yarns, fun times. I've loads of ideas! I actually really put my all into enjoying christmas and making it enjoyable for the kids too. Many more pictures of pretties and tasties and quirky links to follow for your madness and pleasure. I'll also post the recipe for my super awesome nuts :p

In the meantime though, I'd like to know - do you have a recipe which you would love to receive in a christmas hamper? In the past I've tried for a mix of Savoury and sweet nibblies, nicely packaged in cellophane bags and divvied up among family member so that everyone gets a bit of everything. If you were making one of those hampers to give as a gift, do you have a recipe to share which you would make? I'd love to see them :) I'll show you mine if you show me yours. 

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Old, new and so much more than blue..

So, we have finally finished moving, and cleaning up after ourselves. We are 95% unpacked and organised, and it is a relief to have a place that feels like home again. Of course over this weekend just gone, most of the state of Victoria has seen a LOT of rainfall. There's been flooding in and around Bendigo, and parts of Shepparton and Wangaratta are on evacuation watch due to rivers having burst their banks. 
The rain, when it came was relentless, ferocious, and dare I say it, impressive! We have a lovely balcony at our new house which gives me a sheltered view night and day of a fair bit of Bendigo. It's a really nice place to sit and watch the goings on of the street, and also a nice place to sit and watch the rain - if a little deafening given the tin roof, common of houses this age. 

The old house is not entirely filled with new things though. I may have mentioned it before but I LOVE alot of things that are old or quirky. I love to take old things and make them new again through re purposing of giving them some love! Or just finding some things that are just in need of someone to appreciate them. 
This is my little teacup collection, and some old glass jars (with proper cork toppers!) that are brightening up the mantelpiece in the lounge with a splash of colour. Yellow, red and orange were all gotten from the local opshop (or thrift store / charity shop for overseas readers :p  Hi Sarah! ~waves~) as a set for 7 dollars. The green one is not old at all, but is part of the Turkish Delight collection from T2, that BigMac bought me for christmas last year. The three small jars though, are rather special. All three of them I found while cleaning out mum and dad's pantry, and I am told they belonged to my great grandmother. I've been carting them about from house to house since I got them, though normally I put them on a windowsill to catch the light. 

Clearly after setting that up I was in need of some more colour. I had been working on some new pants for Miss Chaos that were destined to be the subject of this particular blog. However the pattern and I disagreed and in an uncharecteristic show of obedience, i did what the pattern said. FAIL. Stupid pattern. Result, unwearable pants. To make myself feel a bit better I pulled out a different pattern, the Bettsy Kingston Market Skirt (link to where I bought it, too!). I yanked out some fabric I bought from a season clearance at Spotlight a while back, and got funky with some bright colour. 

The result is a bright, funky skirt that should fit Miss Chaos through this Spring, Summer and well into next Winter too. In under an hour, no less. 

As an added bonus, I made it so that it is completely reversible (bonus as she can be a little bit messy). I reccomend the pattern! A line skirts are not exactly rocket science, but for the cost of this pattern, it has a size range from a baby girls size 1, right up to a ladies size 18. Yay for versatility! One for me, next. 

She likes it anyways! I think it looks super cute. 


Wednesday, September 1, 2010

A Moo of Cow(L)s

So - the move is done. Mostly. There's still cleaning to be done, unpacking to be done, the usual detritus. But everything that must be moved across, has been. 
Funny thing about moving though. It always costs a lot more than you think it will. It always takes more time than you think it will. And there is always a lot more effort involved than you think there will be. 
Also, there's always hiccups along the way. Like Telstra. Oh yes. Let's not even go there, shall we?

So I can now share a couple of finished items, one of which was a gift I couldn't share earlier. 

A friend of mine proposed a 'sad mothers swap'. No deadlines, no massive budget, just a nice simple knitted item swap for those of us who have difficulty being involved in more traditional swaps because of strict deadlines that are often interfered with by the uh.. little people in life. 
I had some handspun singles of some Merino/Rose fibre, dyed by Mandie at Ewe Give Me The Knits. 
Heavenly soft, this stuff is just gorgeous, and being single spun it spun up into lovely, definitive stripes. Also being single spun means much more yardage out of one braid. 
I knit it up into a feather and fan cowl, and some Veyla inspired mitts. 

Cowls are one of my favourite things to knit. They are quick, can be textured, plain, lacey - you name it. With buttons, or without. Unlike a scarf, you can fold 'em up and stuff em in your back pocket. They are easy on and off for the constant shifts in temperature we enjoy around here. and you can make them snug, or loose, and if they are loose you can fold them over and secure with a shawl pin or a brooch or even a badge if you feel the need for a bit of extra warmth that day.

So I made another one. For me. 
It rarely happens that I see fibre and know exactly what it wants to be. But this one did. 
Purchased from Charly of Ixchel yarns and fibres at Bendigo sheep and wool was this wee 50g braid of Merino/Cashmere/Angora.

Which got spun up into 150 metres of 3 ply / Fingering weight yarn a couple of updates back. 

And has since become another feather and fan cowl, for me. 

Both cowls used pretty much the same pattern, but the first I knit on smaller needles, and threw a garter stitch round in there to take advantage of the stripey goodness. 

I love this shawl pin. You might have to tilt your head but it's a treble clef. 

Both cowls made with handspun, slight variant on the same pattern, both super warm and very soft. 
I like living in my tactile world, wherever it may be based. 


Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Of Shawls and Spring and OpShopping

Everywhere around the place, bulbs are pushing their heads out of the ground, wattle trees are a riot of golden colour and cherry blossoms look like small pink and white firecrackers, going off with a fizz and a bang on the side of the road. Nature would have us believe it is spring, and in a week, the calendar would have us believing it too. 
I call bullshit. If you were in or around where I live today, that would seem pretty hard to swallow! I doubt it reached double digits in the temps all day long, it poured with rain and even after being in front of the heater for hours now - I still feel like I've barely begun to defrost. 

Today was spent starting to take the first (second, third and fourth) of many small loads of stuff over to the new house. So this may explain the frozen feelings. There was a nice interlude though, where I got to give a friend of mine a gift, someone who has been so amazing and supportive over the last 9 weeks or so of hell. 
For Lisa, in a riot of bright colour is this Multnomah shawlette. 

It is knit from Zauberball 'crazy' yarn, that I managed to score when I went down to the craft show at Jeff's Shed. 
It hasn't taken long to knit, is nice and warm, and the striping of the long colour repeats is so effective!

The main thing is that she seemed to like it though, and thats what it's all about :)

I also managed a score of my own the other day on a visit to the opshop. I was trying to find bench stools, and while I didn't find any, what I did find was a few metres of a really nice charcoal jersey fabric, and a pattern I quite like which the jersey will be perfect for. 

All for the princely sum of 4 bucks. Bargain!
I love me some opshopping and re purposing. 

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The House Of Mouse

My name is Cinder. I belong to a small Mister Mayhem. I was going to be named 'Arthur' but it was pointed out that I was, actually a girl. So he changed his mind and named me Cinder. As in, 'Like Cinderella Mum, duh'. 
Of the three mice that live here in our little cagey house, I am the smallest, the fastest, the darkest, and the most daring and brave too. When the dog got a little too close and tried to poke her face into the cage, I nibbled her nose. She won't be doing that again in a hurry. 
Also, because I am so small, I often get beat on by my other two sisters. We all live together. Ninja is a bossy so and so, and she nibbled my ear. Not cool, man. 


my name is Star, and I belong to Miss Chaos. Of the three of us, I am the most timid and easily frightened. But I have my own bag of tricks. I like to climb onto the sides of our cage, and sliiiide all the way down to the bottom. Occasionally I like to sleep on the roof of our little house too. It's a bit odd, but I like it. I'm the medium sized mouse within the three of us. I'm also a bit of a trickster. I like to get a laugh by waiting till Ninja is going flat out on the wheel, then I stop it with a paw, and watch her go shooting out the side of it. Ha!


I'm Ninja, and I belong to the writer of this particular blog. I'm the biggest mouse here, so don't forget that yeah? There's a definite pecking order that needs to be followed. My hobbies include sleeping, beating on my sisters occasionally, and I love the wheel. It's my wheel. I use it the most, I get it going the fastest - therefore - mine. 
It's funny. We spent nearly a year reading Miss Chaos's favourite book 'Shh Little Mouse' I never thought of getting mice till we visited someone who had three of them in a cage. Then the kids wouldn't shut up about getting them. So we did, but I never for a moment thought they would be as.. interactive.. or downright amusing as they are. I could watch them for hours, living out their mousey little lives within the cage. They have squeaky little arguments with each other, they fight, they play tricks on one another, and they curl up and sleep all huddled together, tails wrapped around each other. 
In other news, we picked up the keys to our new home today, and we start to move the smaller things across tomorrow, so that should be good. I also went to the GP this morning to find I have 5 infected spider bites on my back. I'm unimpressed, but would certainly explain why I have been feeling so craptacular. 
I should have more purdy pictures soon. A couple of gifts for friends, one crazy colourful, the other muted and elegant, and a cowl for myself made out of the squishy green softness handspun in my previous post. Cast on last night, finished tonight. Hows THAT for a speedy little knit!?

Monday, August 23, 2010

Wheels are spinning (and I AM going somewhere!)

Spinning round, spinning round. 
With so much going on in my head at the moment, I find the fastest way to calm down and get things ordered, is spin. If I have a conundrum, I sit down at the wheel for a little while, and I soon have my answer, after letting my mind wander a little in the rhythm of the process. 

The upside of all this of course, is that it is quite productive.  
'Coloured Stone' Blue Faced Leicester Sheep. 
I've been going on this for a while. It was a Ewe Give Me The Knits fibre club installment ages back. 
3 ply / light fingering weight and 762 metres. Whee! That's a BIG hank right there. 

Also, I purchased a weeny 50g braid of Cashmerino Bunny from the lovely Ixchel / Charly at Bendigo Sheep and wool. Such a lovely blend of mossy greens I could not resist. 

Again, a 3ply / light fingering weight yarn, this one comes in at 150 metres, and is quite frankly the softest stuff I have ever felt. It will soon be knit up into a lovely cowl, just for me. 

I'll endeavour to update more frequently from now, even if it is just a random series of photo's with no seeming link to them. But it is worth noting at this point that the little Mayhem and Chaos family are on the move again - this weekend in fact. We are hoping for little to no break in communications, but of course.. you know what they say about the best laid plans of mice and men, right?

To a new start! (again)

Saturday, August 14, 2010

I know, I know

It's been a while. 
Short pictorial catch up:
There has been spinning:
'Clown Factory' Handspun. 3 ply, Superwash Merino, dyed by Ewe Give Me The knits

'Golden Orb' Handspun. 2 ply, oatmeal BFL, dyed by Southern Cross Fibre

'Barry' Handspun. Single spun. Merino/Rose fibre dyed by Ewe Give Me The knits

There has been Knitting, too:

'Black Tea and Sympathy' Cardigan (also known as Tiny Tea Leaves) in BWM Luxury

'Goldfish' Cowl. Knit from Merino/Bamboo handspun, dyed by Ewe Give Me The knits

Hand knit socks for Miss Chaos, Knit from Colinette Jitterbug

Of course, in there, the great fest that is the Bendigo Sheep and Wool Show occurred, as did the Ravelry events that go along with them. I will say a good time was had by all, and there is no pictorial evidence to be blog shared - mostly because 99% of the pictures I took were of people, and I have rules about not sharing pics of people without their permission on the blog. I had a blast though! Roll on 2011, and in the meantime I will continue to try and whittle down the various stashed to make room for more stash. 

Another minor mention goes here to everything that has NOT occurred since my last blog - no sewing has occurred (though there has been more fabric brought into the house, but that's another blog post entirely) and very few Mayhem and Chaos updates have occurred. This is mostly due to life turning to.. well. not to put too fine a point on it - shit. It's still that way, due to a number of catastrophic instances, but I am looking at things with a different perspective now and muddling through. And that's all I really care to say on the subject at the moment. 

So where to from here? Well at this moment I have some knit items blocking, two work in progress(es) on the needles, and three work in progresses on the wheel / spindles. One of which is currently being plyed:

The other braid of this has now been spun up into singles, and I am setting about plying. There is 200grams there of laceweight spun BFL singles, in beautiful Jewel coloured tones. I've plyed for two solid hours now and would estimate to be about a third of the way through. And before anyone asks - no. I have NO idea at all of what it wants to be. 

I hope to clear a path between myself and the sewing machines at some point this week, and I also hope to be able to snap a few more recent photo's of various interesting things including fabric aquisitions. 

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Lounge Room Make over part 1 OR 'Found my motivation!'

Brace yourselves. This is the second blog post in as many days. AND I've been exceedingly productive. You may need to sit down and grab a cuppa for this one, 'cause I'm gunna hog the entire show 'n' tell session like the naughty girl I am :p

To start with - remember this?
Peas, No Carrots
Peas, no carrots handspun yarn. Machine Washable merino, 3 ply. 
Well - it's all gone. Pretty much anyways, I only have a small amount left. Half of it became some fingerless mitts for my mum for mothers day, which I forgot to take photos of before gifting, like the idjit I am. The other half became its main purpose - a beanie for the Master of Mayhem, given he chose the fibre for his requested 'bright green beanie'.
Ronan in his new beanie
He thinks it's allright :) He says it keeps his ears warm, so I guess thats what matters! It was also him who chose for the left over handspun to be used for his Nanni's mitts because 'Nanni likes green too'. Clever boy, that one :p

Akward segway here - not long after mothers day, we had a house inspection. Eek. We have some mark on the wall in our bedroom which - while eminently fixable - we did not have the time to fix before the inspection. I thought and thought, and came up with the bright idea of asking my friend Susan for a lend of a wall hanging quilt to cover it up. She obliged beautifully, lending me something which matched my bedspread beautifully and looked like it belonged there. I was sad to give such a work of art back, but not before I snapped off a few pics of it hanging there for posterity's sake. 
Borrowed Quilt
Stunning, no? A short note about Susan's work though - it's not only beautiful, and inventive, but meticulously pieced with great care and a fabulous eye for detail. She has won many awards for her quilt, been in magazines and taught classes, and every accolade she has received is well deserved in my book! You will find her blog here: Susan In Stitches and it is well worth checking out. 

Now while I am not even close to measuring up to Susan's level of skill or her artists eye for design, I'm giving things a bash anyways. 
sewing pile
It was never a purposeful thing you see, for 90% of my furniture and decor to be green. Most of our things are opshop, or hand me downs. With 2 small kids, there's little to no point in having new flashy stuff. It just happenned that way that our dining table has green upholstery, the computer desk is green, the couches are green and so are the window trims in this house. I am over the green, and well over the blend of pale colours in the lounge room in particular. 
lounge of boring
I feel it is lacking personality. It's boring. Even to me, who lives here, it doesn't feel warm and inviting and homely. Given we rent our home, there's very little I can do about that, unless it is not permanent. 
So I have been sewing. A stack of fabrics from Amy Butlers Lotus revisted range, paired with some chocolate mock suede left over from a skirt I made a couple of years ago (see?! It does pay to save your fabric offcuts) made a great blend of colours. 
The first Cushion cover is finished, hand cut and sewn paper pieced hexagons injects a little bit of colour into the room where there was none before. 
sexy hexy
- it does need to be said here though that while the mock suede is soft, and luxurious and fantastic for something cosy - its grippiness does make it a complete bitch to work with. I feel the end result is worth it though!
This cushion cover is the first of many, a plan to inject some life into the room by use of loads of colours. I'm hoping that by the end, with many different cushion covers, a throw rug or two and some thinking outside the square, I can make the lounge room a much nicer place to hang out. 
The second cushion cover, this time a much bigger euro pillow size, is already over half done too. 
obi wan
Its been quite the productive few weeks really! And with loads of projects on the go, no time for stopping. There's cushion covers and throw rugs to sew, cardigans and beautiful gift shawls for amazing people to knit, Sock Clubs to dye and get out the door, and of course gorgeous colours to spin.. speaking of, there's some Golden Orb calling my name.. 

Friday, May 14, 2010

Food, Glorious Food.

While there are plenty of crafty type things I've been working on, this particular blog post won't feature any of them. Instead, today I'm feeling the need to take a wander down memory lane on the subject of one of the other great passions in my life. Food. 

I set a lot of stock in sensory experiences. I love to touch things, to smell things and to taste things. I listen and I look, sure, but certain tastes and smells bring back a lot of memories for me. The smell of velvet soap will always remind me of my Nana, because thats what she always smelled of. Last week while in a curiosity shop in town I found a box of a particular japanese temple incense that I had and used to burn at home when I was pregnant with Master Mayhem. One whiff, and I could imagine being back there in that space and time. When we lived in Bright, at the foot of the Victorian Alps, I remember very clearly the slightly metallic smell on the wind that meant impending snowfall - unique to itself, and while being subtle it was still distinct enough to cut through the smell of other peoples wood fires and the faint trace of leaves rotting on the ground. 

But taste - my goodness, taste. Talking last night, Big Mac and I were taking a wander through the memory of foods past. Certain meals or tastes that years on, we still remember the taste of if we think hard enough. My first food memories are of my mothers food, unsurprisingly. Her pumpkin soup (which try as I might I can never replicate), her vegetable soup and my favourite - her porcupine meatballs. I know the taste of her hand made pate very well, as well as the sausage rolls she made for parties. I smell her sausage rolls cooking, and I expect to hear music going, and be surrounded by a flurry of preparations for impending visitors and party guests. My parents used to hold regular dinner parties, and I remember the dessert she used to make - cherries with rose wine, soft juicy cherries served over a flaked ice concoction of cherry juice and rose wine. We never stayed up for the dinner parties and ate with the adults, but she used to save a little for me if I behaved. 
As a child I remember heading to the Dandenongs in winter for a market or festival, where my godparents were helping too. I recall the handmade coconut ice I got at the stall where my godmother was, and I recall the taste and the smell of the roasted chestnuts that Dad shelled for me, standing near the BBQ where my godfather was roasting them. Trips to visit family friends up in Mt Macedon there were sesame encrusted balls made of minced rabbit and spices served with a type of sweet and sour sauce - so tangy and delicious! The same family friends were polish, and their grandmother made these donut things which I still remember thinking I would NEVER taste anything as good as them. 

But.. I grew up. And when you grow up, a whole new world of flavours and dishes open up. Talking last night we came up with quite a few meals that we both remembered clearly. Some of them I'll never be able to get again - some are open for the taking. We often say that I tend to navigate around my state by food. I'd say that's a pretty accurate assumption. The food memories intersect with people along the way, making memories of places even stronger though. 

*In St Kilda, on Fitzroy street there are two memories - a small italian - ish restaurant called Ciccios. Their woodfired hawaian pizza was to die for, but most of all I liked their focaccia. Covered in slices of potato with cheese and a rosemary pesto it was homey and tasty and full of flavour. I know someone else who might be reading this post remembers most of all their choc mousse cake, so rich that one slice was difficult to finish on your own if you were a newbie to the experience. Ciccio's is no longer there, but I know I am not the only one that laments its loss!
*Further down Fitzroy street, Monroe's where I had one of the most fantastic Lamb Souvlaki's ever, after a night going to see Henry Rollins. 
*At the Queen Victoria markets there was a churro van which sold churros by the bag covered with powdered sugar. I've had a lot of churros since, and while some have come close, none have ever really measured up. 
*Also at Queen Vic markets, our Saturday ritual of going shopping for fresh fruit, veg and meat, then stopping off for a bag of crostoli for the trip home. Crunchy!
*In Bright, on a Friday night there was a small food van that sold burgers, piled high with ingredients and handmade chutney and relish that made them something very special. We discovered it on the very first Friday we moved up there - and re-discovered it just about every Friday thereafter while we were living locally. 
*Lygon Street, Carlton. Il Gusto always did (and still does) do the best risotto I have ever tasted,              *Lemongrass does the nicest and most innocently potent cocktail (the Siamese Princess). 
*and Koko Black will do you a hot chocolate that is so good it can only be described as pure evil, in a cup. 

*All Seasons Hotel in Bendigo once did us a steak, medium rare in a red wine jus, with tiny crunchy pomme noisettes around the outside of the plate, and served with house baked pumpkin dinner rolls. 
*Should you ever be in Toorak Rd, there's a couple of stops you should absolutely do - Browns Bakery does the most amazing Garibaldi, crumbly and sweet, soft and crunchy all at once with thick raisins sandwiched between its pastry layers. 
*Directly across the road, M-Bar - where I did fill in work for a brief couple of days, and where we had my husbands christmas break up two years running. Their chocolate torte will blow. your. mind. High quality chocolate blended with a berry and balsamic sauce is bitter and sweet all at once with an unforgettable texture. 
*Blue Chilli's in Brunswick Street did a very raunchy rendition of a Beef Rendang with Roti bread, super hot but so full of flavour at the same time. 
*Brunswick Street also yields a delicious all day breakfast at IddiBiddi, poached eggs with hollandaise sauce on sourdough. Oooh boy. Just the thing at 1pm on a Saturday when you had a long night the night before. 
* Moonee Ponds - Jacks Satay Bar. Roti Rolls are an experience and a half, and one that I try to get every time I go to Melbourne. The Ducksi Goreng is also awesome, but Mac and I agree if there was such a thing as a 'number one' on this list, for us - this would be it. 

Final mentions need to go to the amazing chefs I worked with who allowed me (and everyone else) to taste some really mouth watering stuff. Naomi's hand made pasta with fresh peas and proscuttio, and Micheal's Irish Soda Bread and Coddle. I wish, so much, that I could still go back now and get those dishes from the people who originally made them. But I can still taste them now, and that, I will have to be content with. 
The thing that this list tells me the most is that food does not have to be fancy or involved in order to be memorable. Sometimes the most basic of ingredients combine to pack such a punch, a single flavour addition can make such a difference that someone, somewhere will remember it for a long time. Hopefully for the right reasons, and not the wrong ones.

I could ramble on all day about memorable dishes but I won't. I do want to know however, if anyone else out there reading this has memorable dishes too. What were they? Where did you have them? Are they still available? 
I wonder if it's possible to make a map of Australia, with food highlights, both past and present. 
(and then I wanna go on a great big tour and try them all!)

Monday, April 26, 2010

Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers..

I was having a conversation recently, on crafting - be it spinning, knitting, sewing, quilting or whatever floats your boat. The question was asked as to whether I am more about the 'process' of creating something, or whether I am more about the 'product' that you get at the end. I've been thinking about that.

Initially I figured I was more about the product - because generally speaking if the end result is not something useful, in some form or another, I am hesitant to make it at all. And then I thought that perhaps I was more about the process - being a monogamous knitter I like to devote all my attention to the process of creating a single thing.

I've since realised that for me at least, the answer is neither. I'm more about the potential and the possibility. I am a pretty tactile person. Self confessed yarn sniffer, fabric toucher and fibre feeler. I'm an evil horrible mother who is making my children share a room so that I can have a studio. On one hand, this is necessary for the business. On the other hand I freely admit that I enjoy having a place I can go to sit and just be surrounded by pretty things, hold them in my hands and let them whisper to me about what they would like to become when they grow up. The intricate designs in fabric, cotton and cool to the touch that feel weighty in my hands. Soft, fluffy, barely there fibre in beautiful colours - some bright and vibrant, some natural and earthy. Subtle switches in colour along the length of a skein of yarn that remind me of a present you have to unwrap - you never ever know just how those colours will move while you are knitting them - until you do. I like to plonk myself down on the floor of my studio and just - touch things. Consider their possibilities, the best way to unlock their potential. It's all so pretty and so inspiring and I always walk out of there fired up about what I want to create.

This is the reason though, that I am a mostly monogamous crafter. When I start something I like to see it through to the end, to give it the attention it deserves, and that it needs. I also tend to attach feeling to random inanimate things, so if I have numerous projects on the go, I imagine they are lonely. Then I feel guilty and stressed. LOL! I also let things marinate in the stash a long while sometimes, because sometimes it takes a while for them to tell me what they want to be. I'll go through various ideas rejecting each one till I settle on the right one.

So here is my weekends fruit, spins from two fibres that have been marinating within the stash for about a year, both of them.
The first was fibre picked out by Master Mayhem when he requested I knit him a 'Bright Green Beanie' for winter this year. It's a 3 ply, fingering weight yarn, and 286 metres in it. Machine washable Merino that was custom dyed for me by Mandie at Ewe Give Me The Knits as part of the 'birthday custom' program she ran last year :)
Peas, No Carrots
There is too much there for just a beanie, so he might be lucky enough to get socks out of it too :)

The second is some steel grey natural Gotland Lamb. It has been marinating a while, because I just could not figure out what it wanted to be. I've been warned or clued in to the fact that Gotland loooves to felt. Recently I spied the pattern for some felted slippers, and I knew it had found its calling.
Worsted-ish weight, single spun and 241 metres
Gotland Lamb

That's all from me today. I've got loads of stuff to do today, but I am enjoying the much cooler weather.
I'd love to hear what anyone else has to say about the process, the product or the possibilities though! Which part floats your boat the most? And why?

Monday, April 19, 2010

Apples and Oranges..

Two quick items to flash on the blog today.
The first - if some of you may remember from a previous blog post - was knit from this handspun yarn.
SCF - Coffee
Which was spun from some superwash merino and bamboo batts from David at Southern Cross Fibre.
It has since turned into a very thick and squishy cabled beanie for the Big Mac, to keep his ears and head warm this winter, ecspecially as he now rides a bicycle to work in the mornings.
The pattern is 'Habitat' by the very talented Jared Flood. It only took me a couple of days but the pattern was actually pretty challenging. (as in - it actually required me to concentrate).

The second finished object is a 'Citron' shawl. In my view, calling it a shawl is a bit of a misnomer. Knit to pattern directions, it's not really big enough to be considered a shawl, but it IS the perfect size to be a wee bit of texture you just throw around your neck to stay warm. And for that, I love it.
The yarn is handspun, not spun by me, but by the very talented Ali (also known as wooliewombat) and was spun from a merino silk blend in the colourway 'Saffron'. The only real modification I made to the pattern was to change the increases to yarn overs because I wanted the little dots to look like seeds, or a ray of light.
I think it worked. At any rate I love it as a finished item and can see it being just the thing to throw on on your way out the door when there's a bit of a chill about during the in between seasons.

And oh yeah - I got a new haircut. :p I like it! (a rare thing for me).

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Water and Wheels

Easter 2010

I hope everyone had a great easter! We headed down to stay with my mum and dad over Easter, down to the ocean. The easter bunny came (of course) and delivered delectable treats, and there was darts playing, music and loads going on. We went to the Foster Craft Market, where the kids played on the playground, jumped on the jumping castle, and rode on the wee train run by the rotary club. We also bought the kids a kite each, then headed down to the beach so the kids could fly them while we were waiting for Dad to come back in on the boat.
Easter 2010
The kids also collected shells, watched the stingrays fly under the water near the boat ramp and generally had a grand old time when we were away.
Easter 2010

Since coming back, things have been busy and flat out. The weather has cooled significantly, which means it's now officially soup making and knit wearing weather - yay! And I've managed to squeeze in some knitting time (everything yet to be finished) and some spinning time too.
This 'Magic Ball' from Ewe Give Me The Knits
magic ball No.6
I split into three, spun each part, then plyed together. The end result is a very groovy rainbow style gradient.
Magic Ball Number 6 - Space Invaders!
Which I have named 'Space Invaders'.

Also, yesterday saw the first Farmers Market for Bendigo. We popped along and scored some fabulous currant buns and sourdough from Redbeard Bakery (my fave) tried a while host of preserves and stuff. By the time we got there most of the produce was sold out, and we tried for a snag - we really did! - but it was a case of first in best dressed, and at the time, we were neither. Next month though - we'll be back!

Today though, we headed out to the recycling centre here, in search of a 'good enough' bike for the Big Mac, to get him to work and back. We found an old racer style bike for him which was great, but we also spied a very groovy retro bike for me. Once I saw that it was in fact candy apple red ( I may be just a little obsessed with that colour) I decided it had to come home with me. It's quite old, but in good condition, ecspecially for its age. Master Sports brand, made in Australia and very cute! It's quite the cruiser :)
I want to ride mah bicycle..

That's me done for tonight, but I'll be back soon. For more info on any of the above pics, just give em a click and they'll take you through to flickr.
I've got a date with mah spinning wheel!