Saturday, April 29, 2006

Limericks and Odes to Knitting

Kitty has been trying to work out how to get the gas-log heater to work. She has discarded the alpaca blanket that I knitted her and is looking for the "on mechanism". She can't get through the glass or she would be inside it .

I got Robert to light the woodstove so that we could have a roast dinner from the lower oven. We have had it and it was lovely. I have now got a percolator sittijng on top and bubbling away with some coffee.The kitchen is very warm and it is at the heart of the house so it's cosy for the colder days.

The sock looks like it is pink, blue and white. It is really ruby, emerald, sapphire and amethyst! I'm thrilled with it and every ten rows on this sock, I do two rows on the red sock. I don't want that "forgot about it" look for the red sock and that ridge where the stitches have been left on the needle for too long.

I shall post a more realistic colour next time. It has been very rewarding doing the dyeing and then seeing it knit up so well. I can't wait to do more but must be careful not to enhance the stash too much, without realistic plans for items to knit.

There was an old teacher whose knitting

was, not always very well fitting.

So she cast on some socks

from stash in her box

and made plenty from where she was sitting!

Cheers to all, how about some more knitting limericks or even an ode to sock knitting? I'd organise a competition but I dont have the computer skills. Anyone want to join in. I'll do my best to do my share

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

What a Wind-up!

This is the dyed skein on the swift. Once again I hung the long skein from two door handles at each end of the passage and walked carefully back and forth winding onto the niddy-noddy as I went. From the niddy-noddy, I loaded it onto the swift. I bought both the swift and the niddy-noddy on ebay. The swift is an old one and cost about $20 two years ago, because no-one seemed to know what it was. The niddy-noddy is a new one and was about the same or less and the bloke had more.

From the swift I wound it on the ball-winder. I bought this about three years ago from Wondoflex for $80 plus p&p. I was done and I knew it, but I was desperate to have one. The sad thing is that Wondoflex is now "off" my list of places to go. It is possible to buy them on ebay for $40+ depending on how lucky you are and be careful to check postage.

Ebay is getting really professional now and the old, amateur garage-sale atmosphere has gone. In the early days I was quoted postage which turned out to be a bit too high so the woman sent me some stamps as a rebate! Now people charge for putting stuff in an envelope and call it a "handling fee".

Here is the complete ball from the winder sitting next to the remains of the original white Bendigo Mills wool. The dyed ball weighs just over 100gm so should be plenty for a pair of socks and all you need to do to match up the stripes is start with the same colour again.

So here I am in my favourite knitting spot on the back verandah, enjoying a wonderful calm and sunny Autumn day and ignoring the second red sock!

Will the second red sock ever see a foot or will it be for ever a UFO?

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Dyeing at Long Last

At long last I got on with some dyeing today. I decided to start with self striping yarn for socks and chose four jewel colours of emerald, ruby, sapphire and amethyst. I now have very pink hands and some lovely yarn drying in the shed/studio.

This is the table, covered with a house-painting drop sheet. On the drop sheet are long stretches of gladwrap. (Gladwrap ended up being the most costly item, because self-striping yarn done in a 40m skein needs 40m of gladwrap) The yarn is placed across the gladwrap and painted with suitable dyes, then wrapped up in wrap and put in the bucket.

You can see in the second picture that I have just finished the green/emerald stripe. 40m of yarn for four colours, means paint a quarter of the yarn in each colour. I had the ruler handy to check the lengths. Wrap each section in gladwrap and proceed.

When it is all done put it in a plastic zip-lock bag with a bit of the zip open and steam it or microwave it. Steam for 20 minutes or microwave for 2 minutes, then rest and cool then 2 minutes more. Microwaving is more risky so watch it carefully and keep sniffing in case you get a whiff of burning wool! DH asked me what I was cooking because I don't think he fancied it for tea.

When it is cool, rinse each section and then press out moisture in a towel and hang to dry. I shall wind the balls tomorrow. If I wind half of it in one ball and then start the next ball with the same colour, I should have two matching balls of self-striping sock yarn. I counted the skein rounds as I went and did 42 so the sums should be easy!

I shall have to make an effort to finish the second red sock first. Can't have two pairs of socks on the go at once. Can I?

Handling the long skein can be a bit of a problem. I wound it, originally from a cheap ball of Bendigo machine washable 4ply/fingering from one door handle to another at the end of the passage. This worked well but be careful not to cross over the yarn! This can result in an unseemly display of tears for someone my age.

Tomorrow, I shall look for some well placed door handles again and walk back and forth and be a lot more careful. Now is not the time to bugger it all up. I could hand wind it but I think I'll niddy-noddy it as I walk, then put it on the swift and use the ball winder so that it looks more professional for pics.

My next dyeing will also be stripes but I smugly thought that a double ended skein would be fine for make two matching balls and now I realise that separating it afterwards into two balls will indeed, be tricky. Serves me right but I'm still thinking it over and may even follow advice and get another ball-winder. I must admit I would have bought another one long ago but couldn't think of a reason for having it! Also I shall have to teach DH how to use it and wind at the same speed as me. At the moment, that's the best idea, thanks Taphophile.

It all takes a lot more time than I thought so off now to make tea

Cheers for now to all out there

Monday, April 24, 2006

We went into Melbourne yesterday to go to my friend Peggy and her partner Mitch's wedding. It was in St. Kilda, which is an old suburb on the Bay. We decided to treat ourselves and used a last minute internet booking to get $50 off what would otherwise have been an horrific price so that we could have a view of the bay.
I took the red socks ; sock two, which has been going for a while now and I posed for this pic with it. To be honest, the mistakes in it are getting to be too frequent and obvious so it has sinced been frogged a good couple of inches and re-started
The actual view from the window was so splendid that we did little else but get changed and leave for the wedding which was a short walk away. St Kilda is one of those suburbs that does food, and food and drink, and drink and food.

This view shows the pier and breakwater to the right and the refurbished Sea Baths to the left. There were people in the sea when we walked the pier , the next morning. They were hugging themselves with the cold of the experience and none of them went in over the top of their legs! There is a wonderful memorial in the middle of the gardens below for the "Boer War" soldiers from the area.

This amazing stucture is not a wreck but a sculpture of a wreck (I think).

On our way back we had some breakfast at the Foreshore Kiosk because the newly re-built one, at the end of the kiosk (the original one burnt down) wasn't opening till noon.
It was lovely and we had the freshest rolls and coffee and fed the pigeons and sparrows with our crumbs. then we walked from the Lower Boulevarde to the Upper Boulevarde over the footbridge. In that short time we must have seen at least two hundred cyclists in full gear and large, friendly, vocal groups "going somewhere".

This second sock of the second pair of socks is not going smoothly. It has been frogged three times and the last time was this morning while Robert had a bath at the hotel. I took it back about two inches and got it back on the needles with 97% of the glitches and mis-stitches removed. I must admit I didn't want to explain to people for the rest of my life, why the front of my hand-knitted socks had obvious blobs on them.

As you can see, I love crosswords. Particularly, cryptic and esoteric general knowledge. I love commas too and try to use them judiciously rather than vexaciously. In fact what has happened to punctuation? Was it all too difficult? I notice that the "Adverb" has died a death and no-one seemed to complain. Was it all too hard to do the 'ly' ending onto the adjective. I was greatly pleased to hear Peter Harvey and others, today, talkabout a ceremony rather than a cereMOANy.
Cheers Gillian

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Lesson One: Dyeing Wool with Cats

This is the hank that I wound from the "Bendigo-Knitting Mill-back room" machine washable 4ply. It was sold really cheaply because it had two ends! I thought to myself that two ends can't be too bad, so I bought it and some more. I wound two threads of 4ply white, machine-wash pure wool on my niddy-noddy.

I worked out that each full wrap of the niddy-noddy was 150cm. So I wound it 120 times. Most sock wool is 130-160 m a sock-ball so,... I reckoned that after dyeing and rewinding, which can lose up to 25%, but usually about 12%, I would have enough in each ball to knit a sock.

I took the white wool from a ball onto the niddy-noddy to do this and counted the times I wound it through one full wind. You can see the anxious look on my face as DH takes the pic and I try to remember where I was.

I ended up with a hank made from a ball of double ended wool. This means that I can make a pair of matching socks because two strands will be put through the same dyeing process.

All I want to know now is...How do I separate the two strands when all is done? Any ideas out there on how to separate two twin-strand-dyed wool.
I'll have to do something soon because as you can see FatKitty has already taken to kitty-nesting in the next hank of wool to be dealt with next.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

My Picture

This is the picture of me that I want to appear as my pic on my blog , which transfers with me when I send a post or comment. Will it be easier to get this up than all the other things I've tried? Any help would be gratefully received and if you're within 50 km you could even score some jams and/or chutneys.
Cheers Gillian Posted by Picasa

Better News But Still No Pics

I spoke to My mother last night and although still croaky, she is much better and at Sister2's. Sister1 was coming for her to take her home to Durham and stay with her for a while. The problem was an infected and impacted wisdom tooth that she didn't know she still had. They have removed it and she is still on anti-biotics for a few days and her face is still swollen. But it was so lovely to hear her voice and she was so glad to be going home to her own little flat.
She had had her other tooth fixed and I must apologise for doubting her.

I have been consoling myself, the last few days by cooking up a storm.
*Pink Grapefruit and Cointreau Marmalade
*Muscovado Sugar Marmalade with a hint of Ginger
*Lemon Butter/Curd
*Green Tomato and Apple Chutney
*Crab Apple and Rose Water Jelly
and this afternoon I shall skin the tomatoes for some Spicy Tomato Relish, make a Shepherd's Pie for tomorrow from the left over roast lamb from Easter Sunday's lunch and make a Chicken Florentine for tonight's tea.

Every time I picked up knitting needles I made a mistake and had to frog, pick up and re-knit. The second red sock is back to where it was but the black waistcoat is still a bit of a tangled mess. It's a novelty yarn and dropped stitches disappear and then seem to dissolve away the surrounding fabric till a very large hole makes it obvious that it's not just a variation in the yarn!. I'll have a go at that later because I was hoping to wear it to a friend's wedding on Monday. Not very long to go now!!! (Monday is not such a strange day for a wedding because Tuesday is ANZAC day which is a serious Public Holiday here in Australia when wars and military personnel and nurses, are commemorated with dawn marches and due solemnity)

I had some lovely mail. I bought a niddy-noddy on ebay and it arrived quickly, was a cinch to assemble and I've already made a hank of wool out of a ball so that I can dye it . AND so that I can dye it, I have received in the post a lovely catalogue from Bonnie at KraftKolour, because their new web site is not up and running yet as promised, and shall send away this afternoon for some dyes. I also unearthed my swift and think that I have established its true purpose. And last but not least, I purchased this morning, a stainless steel pan with two layers of steamers and a glass lid/set at the reject shop for $18! All this will be put into a photo essay about my first attempts at dyeing some wool to knit socks....very soon.

It turns out, from a quiz I did on from a programme on "Choices", that I am an Excessive Maximiser. This is why I spend so long getting ready and researching things to be absolutely sure I have maximised my benefits from the choice I will make. It also suggests that such people are prone to depression because all the preparation before decision making is too much for them. I haven't ever been depressed but OMG do I burst into tears easily if something goes wrong after I've worked it all out not to go wrong. I have found myself relying on numbers to make choices, eg "I'll buy the fifth pair of shoes I try on". Today I took them back and swapped them for a size larger. Wonderful Nigel at the shoe shop just took the next size out of the box and put mine (unworn) in and textered out 10 and wrote 91/2 .

A man in an enormous truck has just delivered a timber arbour/pergola for the back garden. It is a put-together-yourself-one so it may be a while before a picture of it appears. The $10 Reject Shop one will go to join its twin over the vegie patches and support the peas and beans.

Cheers Gillian

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Obedient Children

My mother is in hospital!
That fills me with dread because not only is she in England and I'm in Australia, but she has a leaking heart valve and is on blood thinning medication. This means that she cant have the abscess drained or the offending tooth removed until they take her off the warfarin or she will bleed to death. While she is off the warfarin she could have a heart attack.
She had accompanied my sister and family on holiday to a little village miles from anywhere, in Norfolk for the pre-Easter week. She had the offending abscess before she left but had us all believing it was just a cold and sore throat. Like the obedient children she brought us up to be, we all did what she said. She had previously told me, my brother and her sister that she had been to the dentist and had the tooth fixed up to shut us up.
Of course, eventually the pain was unbearable and BIL had to drive around trying to find a doctor/dentist who would do anything. When they find out she is on warfarin and has a dodgy heart they wont touch her. So they ended up at the local hospital who put her on a drip with antibiotics in it. She is more comfortable now and is getting some much needed rest and sleep. My brother has driven up there from London ready to drive her back to Durham in the north of England. They will probably leave the tooth till she gets back to her own blood specialist at the hospital there. My other sister will go up to check on things in May. I am booked to go home for a visit in October but will change that if needed.
I know that I cannot do any more or any better than my siblings are doing but as the surviving eldest for fifty years I feel I ought to be there making sure. Quite likely, I'd be doing just what my 85 year old mother told me to do! It's reached the stage where we are all going to have to gently take over.
I know that she fears the loss of her independence terribly and that is why she misleads us about her general health. She wants to stay in her lovely little flat in Durham with a wonderful view of the Castle and Cathedral. You can hear the Cathedral bells every Thursday night and see it all lit up, and when I wake early with jet lag when I visit I can tell what time it is by the type of peal the bells give. Three fifteen is different from three thirty and again from three forty-five!
She wants to catch the little bus to the shops when she feels like it and chat to her friends and acqaintances. She wants to visit her sister and dear friends, Chris and Alan. She wants most of all to keep on doing it.
I hope she can for a lot longer yet.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Stash Additions and Socks

Well! On the way home from the Murray River and after we stopped at Elmore to buy the best tomatoes to make the sauce and relish, we went to the Bendigo Woollen Mill's factory shop. Especially to the back room where real bargains can be had. On the way into the backroom there was a special on "Miami" sock wool, so I got two packs, then out the back was some baby wool (machine washable) in 4ply in undyed white. It was really cheap because it had two ends per ball. Well I think two ends per ball is perfect for home-dyeing into two matching balls of sock wool

And then I found some pure cotton in lovely colours, which I use to knit face washers, so I got some of that in a lovely blue
I'm still having a go at my socks and am now on to the red pair and finding the needles much easier to handle. I'm still having trouble with a hole at each ankle but, like my computer skills, I manage without developing as long as I can. Robert has been doing a "Basic" computer course at the local Adult Education Centre and is really loving it. He brought home a folded, printed Easter card. It's lovely when you can demonstrate what you have learned so easily.

I bought some Paton's Creme de la Creme today to knit up a waistcoat for a wedding in a couple of weeks. I wasted ages looking for a pattern and then decided to go without. News on that soon!

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Jerusalem Artichokes Escape From Nextdoor

Well here's a picture of my mouli sideways! It was a godsend for squashing the tomatoes through and because it is stainlees steel it went straight into the dishwasher. I used to have an aluminium one which worked well but always looked discoloured and a bit tatty.

This next picture shows the bumper crop of jerusalem artichokes (I think they are also known as sunchokes) . Two kilos of them from the two plants that escaped from next door and grew as tall as sunflowers behind the garden shed.
I have roasted some of them with potatoes, parsnip and pumpkin to go with our Sunday lunch and I cooked up a heap in some stock with thyme and lemon rind and a dash of cream and then put it all through the mouli to make a tasty soup.

I have been googling for an hour, looking for moire recipes because they dont keep more than a couple of weeks. The list seems limited to soups and sliced, layered creamy bakes like scalloped potatoes. Any ideas anyone? I must admit my favourite book (see previous post) had all the google research knowledge and recipes in just a few pages and I could have saved myself the search time but I'm always hoping that there will be something wonderful, tasty and easy to make that I dont know about. In fact, I think I could write a recipe book called "A Meal In Ten Minutes From An Armchair"

Friday, April 07, 2006

Saucy Tomato Ketchup and My New Mouli

Once again I can't get more pics up on blogger so I'm using picasa which lets me do one pic per blog when I really wanted to do three. Anyway this pic is pivotal to the story so it wins. The other pics would have been my lovely new stainless steel mouli and my finished bottles of tomato sauce.
We call tomato ketchup, tomato sauce. This should not be confused with passata or pasta-type sauce. So this is about the stuff that people put on their barbecued snags (sausages) and steaks and chips etc.
The recipe like many others I use for garden vegie gluts is from the book shown here. It was written by three NZ sisters, Mary Browne, Helen Leach and Nancy Tichbourne. It was first published in 1982 and my paperback (limp edition) is from 1986. It is subtitled "For cooks who garden and gardeners who cook". Obviously this was well before the ubiquitous take over of THAT for other pronouns such as WHO and WHICH.

It not only tells you how to grow the stuff but how to cook it and how to deal with seasonal gluts. It's fantastic and I have used it as my vegie growing and cooking bible for 25 years.

The reason for this telling is that on the way home from Echuca we stopped at Elmore and then Bendigo( more about Bendigo later ). Once upon a time, a few years ago I stopped and bought a 10 kilo box of tomatoes in Elmore for $10. They were amazingly red, had very few seeds and hardly any watery stuff ran out when they were cut open. Absolutely wonderful. So we stopped again and bought a box. YES they were just as good and I have just finished making 15 bottles of ketchup and have enough cut up and salting for ten jars of spicy relish.

But I don't know if I will be able to make the ketchup so easily again. Even though I bought a wonderful new stainless steel mouli I have run out of a vital ingredient...glacial acetic acid.

This was available at chemists in the old days but now pharmacies deal in ready made tablets and just put labels and instructions on the boxes and I shall have to go to a "Compounding Pharmacy" to get this ingredient. The great blessing about it is that you add 2 tablespoons of it instead of about cups of vinegar so you don't have to boil it all down for so long. In fact with good tomatoes the boiling down takes only about 10 minutes and the acetic acid is always the last ingredient to be added.

This wonderful book also gives the best recipe for green tomato and apple chutney and lots of others which I adhere to. My best selling savoury product on my market stall is the chutney.
Fortunately my SIL has a BIL who grows hydroponic tomatoes so that I can get them any time of the year to stock up.

If anyone can't get this book and would like recipes please ask in the comments section and I will email them to you. It doesn't just have to be about tomatoes. This book deals with everything you can grow in NZ and OZ. I love it!
Cheers for now Gillian Posted by Picasa

Redgums and Bluegums

This is the view from our motel window and although the area around Echuca/Moama, on the Murray is known for its Redgum forests, I think these are Blue Gums. This is a generic term for eucalypts and corymbias which have blue tinged leaves when they are young. We could walk straight out and through the trees to a billabong and although we were woken each morning by a kookaburra laughing I couldn't spot him.
There were plenty of magpies around and the ubiquitous sulphur-crested, white cockatoos but none showed up for this photo. Posted by Picasa

We have just returned from a few days on the Murray River. But not without a sock to knit! I have finished the blue ones and am wearing them in this picture and I am now knitting a red pair.

We had a lunch cruise on a lovely, old, restored paddle steamer called the "Emmylou" which is powered by an enormous engine fuelled by red gum logs from the local forests.

It is a quiet spell and there was only a handful of people riding each of the paddle steamers up and down the river. As you can see the weather was bright but cool, until the last day when all of a sudden it turned into winter. We are now back home with the heating on!

I cant get blogger to load more pics so will try again laterPosted by Picasa