Monday, July 31, 2006

Books Paths and Recipes

I borrowed this book from the North Fitzroy Library quite a few years ago and have been unable to track it down since. Then I thought of and of course they had a copy. it arrived today. It is my all time favourite pattern book. It has a wonderful chapter on washcloth patterns. I know this is a weird reason to want a pattern book but it is done so well. It also has the most gorgeous ever Daisy shawl pattern and so much else. Another bit of news is that they are digging up our front path and re-doing it in concrete. This is very sad as far as I'm concerned. The pavers are hand-made-and-laid concrete set in a diamond pattern. This was a job creation scheme after WW2 and employed many soldiers returning from the war and was the first lot of real footpaths in Bacchus Marsh. Up until then it had been mud and grassy bits. We were so proud to live in one of the streets with period houses and the original footpaths.

Until 7.30am today!
Then the bobcat dug them all up!
After some discussionat home, we agreed to rescue half a dozen and find a home for them somewhere in the garden as a sort of historic monument. Then it became apparent that they would make a really good paved path where we were going to put gravel.

I went and asked the workmen if I could have some more and they brought round forty on the bobcat and left them in the carport. We must now get up before 7.30 am tomorrow to help load as many more as we can onto the bobcat from the pavement at the other end of the road to finish off the path.

I had some requests for recipes so here are two of my popular standbys


As I said before this is a green apple, green tomato recipe as follows

1kg Green Tomatoes, chopped (and cored if necessary)

1kg Green Apples, peeled, cored and chopped

500gm Onion, peeled and chopped.

This all goes in a large saucepan and you add to it....

250gm raisins, 500gm brown sugar, 500ml brown vinegar, 1tbs/15gm salt, 1tsp/5gm mixed spice powder and 1/2tsp/2.5gm ground ginger powder.

Stir while bringing to the boil and then chug/plop/simmer with a bit of stirring now and then for a couple of hours until it is thick and dark brown enough to suit you.

I put jars in the oven at 180degrees C for twenty minutes and then bottle the hot chutney straight into them. This saves having to process them. It makes about 8-10 250ml jars and it lasts for ever.

I'll put the marmalade one on tomorrow

Cheers Gillian

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Not So Much Knitting and a Bit More Cooking

I've been busy making jars of stuff. Actually I should say "we've" been busy because Robert has been very helpful with the tedious chores. At the market, once a month, I sell about 50 jars of stuff and so every month I have to make about 50 jars of stuff, to keep up the stock.
What I have here is (in clockwise order from the top left) English Pub Chutney, Summer Berry and Juniper Jam, Dried Apricot and Almond Jam, Lime Curry Pickle, Kashmir Chutney and last but not least Gherkin Relish.
Only a couple of jars of the relish because a woman asked me to have a go at making some. Her daughter lives on it and the only brand she can buy in the supermarket is really, bright, emerald green. She wanted to know if I could make some without all the added numbers on the nutrition label that designate the colours and preservatives. I did quite well and then to my own dismay, realised I had used gherkins with numbers on the label! This year we will plant lots more cucumbers so that we can overcome the number s problem by making our own gherkins.
Next week I will make the Lemon Curd/Butter so that it is fresh.

I'm in the process of making some more "English Pub Chutney". I call it this because it attracts people's interest and they taste it and like it and then buy it. It is a very simple green tomato, green apple, onion and raisin chutney and is the sort that they seem to serve in English Pubs with a "Ploughman's Lunch" or even a plain and simple cheese sandwich. Please let me know if you want any of my recipes. I don't post them because this is primarily a knitting blog but if I'm not knitting I'm stirring away in the kitchen.

I also show you this picture of a tile that is behind the gas cook top. The tiles are scattered amongst the plain cream ones and each show a different herb and a rhyme from a Mediaeval Herb book. I didn't realise what this one said for a few months after I had the tiling done and then I read it more closely.
The herb is Solomon's Seal, which I don't know about but the advice is ...
The root of Solomon's Seal stamped while it is fresh and greene and applied, taketh away in one night, or two at the most, any bruise, black or blew spots gotten by fals or women's wilfulnesse in stumbling upon their hasty husbands fists, or such like. Gerard's Herbal
Thank goodness I don't need any for the prescribed causes but it might be handy for a general bruise.
I have done some knitting and the Jet Cardi No. 1 in Bendigos' Rustic has reached...back and half a front...stage
Last but not least, next door's Camelia tree which I can see from the kitchen window and in which the blackbirds return to nest each year, is blossoming. There is always one branch which gives a mutant with light pink outer petals with dark pink inner petals. Here is one alongside it's unitone siblings.
I shall go and ponder it again now while I do a steak and chips lunch.

Cheers to all, Gilian

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Bendigo Bounty

I bought some really lovely wool from Cheryle at Andyle while I was at the show.
She has sheep which produce wool of this beautiful, almost black shade. I just bought one skein but she can provide more if I need it because it is undyed and plenty more where it came from. She calls this colour "midnight" and it is. At the Wool and Sheep Show I also got some lovely little bits of wood. On the left of the picture is a mini niddy-noddy. It slots together to make a small hand winder if you are "out and about" and need to take a niddy-noddy in your pocket. Ashford make them but if Taphophile
wants to add one to her woodwork list I'll draw a template for her. The two pieces slot into one another and make a niddy-noddy which winds a really small skein.
Then I treated myself to a hand-turned crochet hook. I say "treat" because I rarely crochet and I have to get the "How To" manual out if I feel the urge and also in the picture is a turned cardi-pin. All I have to do now is knit the cardi.

We wandered around and checked out the working sheep dogs and the prize winning sheep and alpacas. The alpacas are really cute and many are taken for walks around the show by their owners because they are very tame and can be patted as they go by.

Then we headed off to Bendigo Woollen Mill. It was busier than usual, probably because of people making a day of it with the show on too. There weren't any really cheap bargains that suited me in the back room but I was thrilled with my purchases of some more sock wool to dye,

Some 12ply in a discontinued colour for half price and
Some 12ply Rustic in a lovely dark green tweedy look, to knit myself a cardi and
Some light green cotton 8 ply at half price for a summer cardi.

Yep. My English origins are definitely showing up here. How many cardis can a woman need?

A "couple more" is always the answer.

Cheers Gillian

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Blue wrens and Bendigo

The other day, we had a couple of wonderful little visitors. A Blue Wren and little Mrs Brown Wren, as shown in this steal from a bird watchers book. Each bird is about 3inches/8cm across and the male is as startlingly blue as this picture and his tail is irridescent. The female/s follow behind him, tidying up the left overs as they go! When we lived in Melbourne we never had something so transfixing in the garden, and neither of us can remember ever seeing one so close up.

We were so transfixed we didn't dare move for fear of frightening them off so.....OK this picture shows, with very careful scrutiny, Mr. Blue Wren sitting on the front gutter. I have tried to centre him, but my camera is too poxy-pixel to allow me to enlarge it without turning it into a police "wanted" poster with the face pixelled out. So.....
I now show you a picture of a garment section that you have seen before. It is my attempt to make a garment out of "not quite enough yarn". I have a love for bargains and experience a thrill when I get one. This is half of a sleeveless top made from "not quite enough yarn" to do it properly and knit it to a suitable tension. I have made allowances for the NQEY by using larger needles than advised. I am still wondering whether to continue to do a front to match or frog the back. I have had advice on this before. Thankyou. But I just put it away without making a decision and I need some more advice now.
I am trying to teach Kittykate how to knit. She is not the slightest bit interested. I have high hopes of getting her 15 seconds of fame on this

I know that it is really me who wants the 15 seconds of fame so here I go with my latest efforts.
The wool/silk, sampler scarf is progressing well and I'm enjoying finding new patterns to keep it square as I go.

I had a lovely day yesterday, dyeing some yarn for becky who won my competition and although I have pics I'll wait till she gets it.

Bendigo tomorrow. I shall be up really early cos it takes two hours to drive up there. First the Show, then the Mill shop, then lunch at the pub round the corner from the mill (really good and well priced, it's called Lakeview even though you can't see a lake). Then maybe some other venues and then home. I am even prepared in advance with food for the evening meal and only have to grill the lamb chops to go with the rest of it. BLISS, BENDIGO, BOUNTY

Cheers to all Gillian

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Competition Results

In a gallant attempt to rationalise the English language, Heide plugged "bestly". There's no doubt that it could catch on but the best way to alter a language rapidly is to make the wanted change part of a memorable jingle or pop song (true, that for many of us a memorable pop song is an oxymoron but back to the point). Perhaps we can work on that one next. Thankyou Heide, for entering the comp and for helping me out so kindly.

Dot modestly claimed that it was all beyond her and and then belied that statement with "I would best leave that to those who have a better clue"!

pbnj was also accurate and to the point and I hope that we can all "laugh last so that we can laugh best".

Daring Dave was spot on and pithy and he badly needs to win some sock yarn!!! and sheeprustler displayed great talent by using best as an adverb and verb in the same sentence.

The entry from trek came very close to winning. It read well, it was simple and clear and was a wonderful example of the comparative use of well/better/best as adverbs.

But flattery will get you everywhere becky . The winner on all use of best as an adverb, clearly and simply written and it made me smile when I read it!
Congratulations to you. Please email me with your contact address and colour preferences and I will get dyeing as soon as the weather gets milder or before.

Thanks to everyone. It gave me a great opportunity to meet more of you out there and I've enjoyed reading your blogs and will keep in touch
Cheers Gillian

Saturday, July 15, 2006


A friend of Mum's asked me to knit her husband a new vest. This was while I was in England so it was a fair while ago now. It had to be this exact colour, which is actually a bit greener in real life and it had to match the old one which he had worn out. I managed to get a pattern at the op-shop. I knew it would be fine because that's the era of the original. I got the right colour from Bendie in "Persian" which is a lovely soft mix of wool, mohair, alpaca and silk. I even have enough over to knit a beanie and socks to match!!!(OK. I won't)
But it all took so much longer than I planned. I had THREE goes at the v-neck. For some reason on the first two attempts, I was a stitch out at the decreases for the ribbed edging and it looked like I had just knitted a blob at the point where it angles.
I dont remember having such angst with v-necks before, but it is a long time since I've done one.

This is the lovely bag which Sue made me. It holds small to medium projects like this scarf. Yes, the wool is familiar. It used to be the start of a cable scarf but I lost concentration and buggered up the cables and couldn't unfrog it to a useful pick-up point. It is now a moss stitch scarf but it is getting boring so it may became a "sampler" scarf. This means I can play around with blocks of different textures and patterns. It is the lovely merino and silk that I got from Cheryle.

I'll be hoping to get some more at the Sheep and Wool Show this weekend.

Last but not least my competition ends today but I'll wait till tomorrow to announce winners because not all of the world is up and about yet.

Cheers for now Gillian

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Doctor Who was Fantastic!

I'm in love with the new Doctor Who already. The last one was wonderful but the new one already feels familiar, perhaps because I liked him in other stuff. Real Goodies and Baddies Stuff and a lovely twist from the Prime Minister at the end. I'm still wondering if I would have given the order to fire or not. If this is all double-dutch to you check out this
Anyway back to reality and knitting.
I sold the first little jerkin to the first person I showed it too so I started straight away on knitting another one and then just for the fun of it, one more. The blue one was finished during Doctor Who, so it got cast aside and now awaits blocking, edging and ties. These are using up my stash and the "spare" stash I got from Sue

The pattern is very simple. It's all knitted in one piece to the armholes, and then in three pieces and a three needle bind-off at the shoulders. I then blanket stitch or crochet round the edge and add a couple of double, strand, chain-stitch ties. You can find it here on the internet.

These are also good stash busters. I finished and fringed the large poncho and here's the toddler size to contrast. Trouble is, I have no idea how to size these little garments for sale on my stall. Will they fit a one-year-old or a two-year-old or what? Is there a standard chart someone could link me to. Thankyou in anticipation.

My stall will also have the addition of some of Sue's delightful baby hats and DH's pickled onions. It's alright. I have two tables and hanging and draping space so they dont have to be close. I shall take a pic of the scarf fence on Thursday cos I'm still needing inspiration on how to improve the display without opening a shop. (You may have noticed that "pic" and "cos" are my contribution to the dynamism of the English Language). I dont have a mobile phone, so I haven't got into texting. I spend more than enough time at the computer so my gr8 efforts will have to shine here.

I am very much into "food-miles". This involves obtaining food from as close to home as possible so as to reduce the energies put into transport and numerous levels of processing and storage.

So yesterday I took DH off to taste the products at the Mt. Atkinson Olive Grove . It is only a twenty minute drive and very close to the western suburbs of Melbourne in an area called Rockbank. It's the middle of winter here and it was just past noon so we were the only ones there, but we enjoyed our oil and olive tasting so much, we stayed to lunch in their cosy, licensed cafe. I had a delightful mezze plate with great ciabatta for only $10. DH is a very plain eater but thoroughly enjoyed some mini spring-rolls, prawn cutlets etc with sweet chilli dipping sauce for $4.50! AND I bought a lovely bottle of cold pressed oil.

My competition is growing!. I must admit I didn't prepare it as well as I wish I had, but if people can produce such wonderful responses then I shall keep up with the challenge I set.

Cheers and have a great weekend , Gillian

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Unintentional Felting

Fat Kittykate is always well behaved around my knitting but she showed an unusual fondness for the Alpaca/Wool mix that I got from Bendigo. I think it was the furry smell. She would walk in the sitting room door and her nose would go "sniff" and she would aim straight for it. So in the end I knitted her a blanket from the left-overs from fave niece's poncho.
She sort of ignored it like cats do. Then on a trip home from the cattery she had an "accident" on it so it had to go in the wash.
DH is really great about doing the washing and hanging it out so he did it.
As you can see she now has a very small felted head-rest on the 1930s "modern brick" fireplace.
She seems to like it better than before it was accidently felted.
Moral of the story is... Cats do seem to like felted stuff and alpaca seems to felt really well.
Cheers for now Gillian

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

I"ll start this again!
I clicked Publish Post and my wonderful Prose with Alliteration disappeared. I'm pretty good at spelling, really good at vocabulary and absolutely brilliant at grammar. The trouble is, that I think I am the only person left in the world who cares about it.
The thing is, of course, that the English language is dynamic, it changes, it simplifies itself. There is no need to use ADVERBS any more. So people are no longer using them. When I pointed this out to my fave niece who is doing really well at Durham Uni, she actually looked at me as if to say "Wow"
When did you last use an adverb?
Oh! Gosh! I know I'll get Heide to respond if I make it a competition!!!
No matter where you are in the world, I will eventually dye and skein enough 4ply/sock weight for you to make a pair of adult socks, with some interesting dye stripes in your chosen colours.

I dont know how to do this properly but here's a starter..........I'm after the BEST use of the adverb "best". In order to show how you know it's an adverb, you have to use it in a sentence and then let me know that you know it's an adverb by doing something to it.

I'm off to bed now sow I will check this stuff in the morning
Cheers Gillian

Sunday, July 02, 2006

A Variety of Ventures

For a long time, I wondered what the purple veined leaves were, growing in the vegie plot. They weren't the right colour or season for beetroot but after a patient wait they turned into Kholrabi.
I love this vegetable in parsley sauce but Robert is not so keen. Fortunately the next one is not so large so I will simply eat it all myself.

I visited Sue
and flicked through her knitting books and traded some of her stash. Sue has a considerably larger collection of both of them than I have. I was able to relieve her of a carrier bag full and have been busy turning some of it into toddler garments for the stall. The pink poncho is the "two rectangle" style and knitted from a lovely soft yarn called Fiddlesticks by Panda. The little jerkin is in Meteor also by Panda and edged with some unknown knobbly pink stuff.

This, of course, has prevented me from finding the time to undo and correct Mum's friend's top. I have finished the big poncho, though. It just needs sewing together and fringing. Hopefully these two items will be on the next post. I just left my post for half an hour to watch "Antiques Roadshow". I just love the things people wrap up and bring in and I love watching their faces when they are told to insure an ugly piece of pottery for $5000. I'm also amazed by the really large pieces of furniture that must have taken a removal truck to shift. They stand beside them and say things like"I don't know what it's worth but we think Oliver Cromwell hid in it!". They are then tragically disappointed to find out it was made in 1954 from British war surplus rolling-stock parts. Today one woman came all the way in to the show with an enormous "engraving" of Marx only to find out it was a framed poster, and she narrowly avoided a parking fine for more than the poster was worth.

Robert and I have spent some time developing the new labelling system for all the jars on the stall. Up until now I have had a large updated list of the products available and prices etc. I must admit that it has been a waste of time because everyone comes along and ignores the list and then bends over nearly double, peering at the labels to see what it is and then asks "How much?".
So I am now going to pile the jars up in pyramids and each one will have its own label.
They are pine with dowel in them which has a fine cut at the top and a card slots in.


Cheers to all,