Saturday, 24 December 2011

Christmas cheer

The turkeys in the oven, the table is set, and all the presents are now wrapped and under the tree.  Today has involved a tiny bit of last minute shopping (at 9am to miss the Xmas rush), a bit of kiddie craft, collecting a parcel from the post office, and the stuffing of the turkey with pork mince, dried blueberries and sage.

I'm having a Chrismas Eve dinner at home - then tomorrow we visit extended family. It will be a great Aussie Christmas with temperatures expected to reach 31 degrees (its not a real Christmas here unless it's HOT!).

My crafting time has been spent doing kiddie craft (the lovely stocking shown above, snowflakes and cards). I also have a new project - making begonia granny squares. The yarn is acrylic that I bought for almost nothing at a local op shop - and while the colours are great, it is a bit splitty and does not sit as well as I would like.  But I'm loving the pattern.

I hope you all have a lovely Christmas, and enjoy your day with your family.  And thank you for all your kind comments and support. It constantly amazes me how wonderful people are out in blog land.

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Nonna Linda's Amaretti Biscuits

Baking biscuits for Christmas has become a tradition of mine for some years now.  Usually it's gingerbread men, but this year I really wanted to do some italian biscotti.

This recipe was given to me by my stepmother - whose mum (Nonna Linda) is the most amazing cook. It is a very easy recipe with fantastic results.

Last night I baked a batch and today my hubby and I gave half of them to our work colleagues.  The rest  will be brought along for Xmas lunch.

Here's the recipe for you all.

Nonna Linda's Amaretti Biscuits

1/4 cup of vegetable oil
1/2 bottle of almond essence (approx 25mL)
5 eggs
400g self raising flour
400 g caster sugar
500 g almonds
icing sugar to coat
3 tbls of cocoa
1 tsp of cinnamon

Process almonds in a food processor. In a bowl, add almond, flour, sugar, cocoa and cinnamon.

Beat eggs, add oil and almond essence.  Make a well in the flour mixture and add egg mixture, and fold together.  Roll into a ball and cover with icing sugar.  Grease trays and put balls quite separate. Bake in 170 degrees fan forced oven for 15 minutes.

My tips - when you roll the balls, I used a tablespoon to scoop some mixture out, and put some icing sugar in my hand as I rolled them so the mixture did not stick to my hands.

Thursday, 15 December 2011

A bit of johnson love...

Ops shops, salvos, thrift shop...they have so many names. Just near my work is my all time favourite op shop where I love to duck off to during my lunch break. Here's my latest finds.

A retro orange crock pot - that cooks a beef and wine stew beautifully. I was sooooo excited when I spotted this little beauty on the op shop shelf.

And here's the ceramic pot itself - when the beef stew was ready I took out the ceramic pot and placed it right on the table.
And for some of my johnson love, love, love....
And these johnson cups and saucers and cake plate are my very first johnson finds.

What do I love about johnson crockery? It's Australian, it has Australiana stuff on them, they are very 60s/70s retro style, and I love that they are made in Australia.  There's not much crockery that was ever made in Australia. My mums a potter, so I've got a good appreciation of ceramic ware.  I also love that they are earthy colours, and have a solid feel to them.

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Tuesday tallies

The giant granny square blanket is done. Complete after 52 rounds. Now covered in wrapping paper, to be sent away for a christmas present.

The plan is for it to be a lap blanket as it measures (when comfortably sitting on a couch) perfectly covering one's lap and feet.  To be honest I couldn't bear for it to have been much bigger, and was quite pleased when I was running out of wool. I found this a tad boring, going round and round and round.
I decided not to block it and left it as is. There's some slight curling at the edges, but otherwise it sits nicely.  I've found this wool - Moda Vera by spotlight wonderful to crochet with.  And the border I've done simply with double crochet in the orange. I tried a few borders (picot and scalloped) and they all looked strange.  So left it with double crochet.

On ravelry here


Thursday, 8 December 2011

Christmas projects

The Christmas projects...

1. My Christmas dove is now complete.  She will either end up on a wreath or the tree, not sure which.

2.  Holly leaf and berries in 75 Birds, Butterflies &Little Beasts to Knit and Crochet .

3.  Greedy for colour's christmas baubles.

4. Attic24 Christmas baubles

5. Christmas Socks from Le Monde de Sucrette blog

I found these two gorgeous advent calendars that are just too big a project to take on now, so are now saved in my ravelry....for next year...a holiday garland and advent garland.

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

My one a day tally

Luckily for me my one a day project - the giant granny square blanket - is now a christmas present. So I've been busily crocheting round after round with only 10 days before I have to pop it in the post. 

I am up to 42 rounds, with each round now taking longer and longer.  The blanket will be done once I've run out of wool - which is about 10 rounds away.

My crochet time has been occupied with making christmas stuff and presents.

Please go check out Gingerbread girls blog for the latest updates on everyone's one-a-day projects.  I'm off to check them out now.


Wednesday, 23 November 2011

My one a day project

My giant granny square blanket is coming along nicely. I've added 5 rows this week - total 31 rows. The rows are taking longer and longer, and I'm getting sidetracked by Christmas projects.

But I've definitely decided the blanket will become a Christmas present.  I can really picture this blanket in this special person's lounge room, and I know she will LOVE it. So must get it finished in 32 sleeps (yes, thats right, only 32 sleeps to Xmas!).

My other Christmas project is from this book , 75 Birds, Butterflies & Little Beasts to Knit and Crochet.  My, oh my, it is fun to knit her.

Can you guess what she is?

The other Christmas projects are some tree decorations and crochet bracelets.  But more on those another day.

Please go over to Gingerbread Girls blog and have a look at the other one a day projects.  


Sunday, 20 November 2011

Easy Peasy Knitting Project

My favourite knitting book at the moment is Easy Kids Knits by Claire Montgomerie.  I've picked up knitting again as I love knitted kids clothes and crochet clothes don't really do it for me.  Baby crochet clothes I love, but those designed for children 4 and up have little appeal.

I highly recommend this book if you're looking for easy projects - for both girls and boys aged 3-10 years.  It has projects that are typical knitted jumpers - like sweet cardigans, hooded jumpers, cabled vests, and v-neck sweaters.

While on holidays I completed my first ever proper knitting project- an easy peasy bolero for my 4 year old.

Knitted with Sirdar Snuggly Baby Bamboo and a size larger than needed so she can wear it for a couple of years.

Ravelled here.

Am considering which project to embark on next - either a sweet cardigan, or maybe a v-neck sweater in her school colours as she is starting school next year.

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

One a day tally

Having just come back from my holidays and being in the middle of university exams - I've made no progress on my African flower hexagons.  When on holidays, I only took with me my knitting WIP, and my crochet hooks.  I didn't want to be lugging around a bag of wool.

I was about three days into my holidays when I made a whirlwind visit to Spotlight - to buy some wool for my new crochet project.
I've been banging on about wanting to start crocheting a new blanket - so now its a giant granny square blanket.

Travelling in a car for hours, relaxing at our holiday cottage, and having cups of tea with my nonna provided me with lots of time to crochet.

This is where I'm up to - 26 rounds.  This will be my second one-a-day project.  My intention is to do one round each day.  Some how I lost the dark green wool ball in my travels. It's now replaced so I can get back at it.

My original intention was for this blanket to be our couch blanket.  But it may end up being a present for someone. I will see how I feel about it once completed.

I'm also working on some Christmas decorations.  Last year I did some of those lovely bauble decorations from Attic24.  I loved making them, and intend on doing some more this year too.

Have you got any Christmas projects planned?

Please have a look at some of the other one-a-day projects over at Gingerbread Girl. I'm looking forward to seeing how much progress everyones made while I've been off-line on holidays.


Wildflowers and wildlife

We are now home from our family holiday in Perth and Margaret River.  While we had a fantastic time, it is great to be home.  Living out of a suitcase certainly palls after a week.

Our trip mainly involved catching up with my extended family in Perth - barbecues, bush walks, eating and more eating, and lots of coffees (with tea for me, the odd one out!).  I especially enjoyed catching up with my Nonno and Nonna - who are 86 and 84 respectively.  My Nonna gave me a tea set which I will have to show you at some point.  While it is not quite my taste, it's very interesting, and I do appreciate having something of my Nonna's in my house.

Our trip to Margaret River involved sun, beach, bushwalks and caves.  And let's not forget wine tastings and yummy food.

We swam at the most beautiful beach - Gnarabup Beach, just near Prevally Beach. Well sheltered from waves (and sharks).  There had been three people taken by sharks in the last few months, so we were pretty determined to only swim in completely shark inaccessible areas.

And here's my daughter (in the white t-shirt) and I - middle centre in the turquoise bathers.

And a highlight for this trip was the amount of wildlife we saw. My daughter and I ticked off in a little native bird book each of the types of birds we saw.  The highlight was seeing two emus crossing the road in front of our car. Sorry, couldn't pull the camera out in time so no pics. The bird below is the splendid fairy wren that visited the bird feeder at our cottage.

Our cottage was in the middle of protected bush land so we took a walk every evening along the bush paths.  This guy was one creature we found.

And this mother and joey were one of many kangaroos in pasture land near our cottage.

I hope you enjoyed my pics.  Some more will come - I still really want to show you my Nonno's vegetable garden - it is awesome.  But that will have to be for another time.


Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Whirling - one a day week 3

This week has been a whirl – a birthday party dinner at my place, a fly in visit from my father, planting tomato and basil seedlings, studying for my university exams,  preparing for our holiday trip…and a bit of crocheting and knitting!

As a result I've been a very slack blogger - only lurking on other people's blogs, and not blogging myself.  Me bad!

I’ve got the hang of join as you go method for the African flowers.  I used this blog tutorial as a guide.  I’m now at the point where I’m crocheting a new African flower and joining it up – and ignoring those in my pile as the colours are not quite right at this point.  They should be ok for the reverse side.

I made sure to take this photo during morning daylight – making it a bit better on the colours.

Its two more sleeps until we fly off to Perth to visit my family.  Having an Italian heritage - I have a very, very large extended family over there.  My hubby always finds it a bit overwelming! There's going to be a big bbq for my father's 60th birthday with amazing food.  My daughter is the only grandchild and great grandchild - so she will be completely spoilt and the centre of attention, the best way to be.

We will be travelling down to Margaret River, staying in a mud brick cottage in a middle of the bush - for a mini holiday on our own. For those of you who aren't familiar with Margaret River - it's a relatively small town with amazing beaches, beautiful forests, great winerys and lovely food.

Pop on over to Gingerbread Girls blog to have a look at the other one a day projects.


Tuesday, 18 October 2011

One-a-day tally

Ok, I'm up to 26 african hexagon flowers - only 5 this week, but I have joined some up.

The colours don't quite show up right when taking photos at night - oh well.

I'm pretty happy with the black yarn surrounding the hexagons.  My plan is for them to be a pillow for my lounge - which is black colour. This is a pillow on flickr that I'm using as a model.  Have a look at the granny strip pillow next to awesome is that?

Make sure you check out some of the other blogs doing one-a-day...there are some really diverse crochet and knitting projects going on.

I'll leave you with a yarn bombing story in my city....the yarn bombers are fighting back!  See how many bad puns you can spot in the story.


Sunday, 16 October 2011

Bunny Nugget

Here's little bunny nugget - he measures 2 inches high.  Isn't he adorable?!?

He's made from 4ply wool and size 2 dpns. Oh my, using such small yarn and needles was a CHALLENGE.  I had to rip him up and start again a few times.  You can tell I did the right hand ear second just by how much neater it is. His ears are 6 cast on stitches, knitted on the dpns. The best way I found was to have a book under the needles - to keep them straight in their little triangle.  Otherwise they became twisted which meant I had to start all over again.

The pattern does not specify the size of yarn - so if you want a bigger bunny, use 8ply wool.  Luckily my daugher has asked for a middle sized bunny next...Phew!

I found the free pattern via a blog, via twitter. Its from Rebecca Danger's blog.  She has some other free patterns of cute creatures.

I've ravelled my little project here, it includes the pattern link. I'd love to know if you knit one...and I should warn you, they are a tad addictive.

Saturday, 15 October 2011

Garden round up

The weather is warming up and the sun is shining today.  After weeks and weeks of cold Melbourne weather, I think we have finally turned the corner to Spring and Summer.  While I sit here, hubby is diligently  mowing the lawn. 

Our vegie garden is very bountiful - and over grown.  My plan for the weekend includes getting in there and weeding.  I also have some new pea and zucchini seedlings to plant out - heirloom seeds from Diggers.

My vegie garden October round up... purple podded Dutch pea plant seedlings, seedlings trays, first time figs, and flowering sage with 7ft broad bean plants in the background. 

The broad bean seeds are from my Nonno - he has been self selecting these seeds over many many years. My family and I will be travelling to Perth soon, for my father's 60th birthday party.  I must remember to take some photos of my Nonno's garden to show you.  He is an extraordinary gardiner, good at both flowers and vegetables.

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

One a day - week 1

Tuesday tallies...I'm up to hexagon 21 for my one a day project.  I started doing one a day on Saturday - adding 3 to my growing pile.  Doing one a day is exactly what I need to get me working on this project that's been left, abandoned in my work basket.  It's African hexagon flowers.  I love making them but got distracted by other things - other craft and day to day life. I'm hoping to have the project finished in a couple of weeks.  My  next step will be to start joining as I go.

Here's my nice little stack of hexagons.

And all of them in their colourful beauty...the bottom three are those I've done since crocheting one a day.

My plan is to join them up into a rectangular pillow or maybe a hexagon.  I'm still searching blogs and flickr for some pillow inspiration.

Head over to Gingerbread Girl to find more one a day projects.  Some are now complete!

Monday, 10 October 2011

Amigurumi green tree frog (in a bird cage)

I embarked upon my first ever amigurumi (shocking word to spell!) as part of a University creative art assignment.  It was an opportunity I could not miss to merge craft with science. The crocheted frog in a birdcage is to symbolise the role frogs will play as an indicator species of climate change....they are the canaries in the mines.

I'm pretty pleased with how the bird cage came out.  I had to figure that one out myself - its made with jute twine, commonly known as hessian.  The base is made up of trebles, crocheted in a circle, and the bars are dcs supported by wire.  The peaked roof is trebles again, but with a decrease treble every 3-4 stitches. 

The green tree frog is made of Heirloom cotton 8ply yarn, and the pattern is from here, by Roman Sock.  She has some wonderful patterns on her blog.  I found the gree tree frog pattern to be very easy to follow.

More details on Ravelry here.

My daughter loved the frog - what do you think?

Sunday, 9 October 2011

One a day project

Gingerbread Girl has put together a new ravelry group - One a Day - to help to tackle a big project.  The idea is that by doing one piece - a granny square or a row - each day, the project will get completed.  More info about it is on Gingerbread Girls blog.

I've jumped on board - as this will motivate me to get working on some WIP that are sitting around and not progressing.

The One a Day project I'm working on is my African Hexagon Flowers.  Apologies for the retro tablecloth - that detracts (or maybe distracts?) a bit from the flowers!

They've been sitting in my work basket for a couple of months now.  I'd done 17 hexagons and I need (I think) around 46.  My plan is to turn them into a pillow for our lounge room couch. I followed this tutorial  for the hexagons, but instead used a size 4 hook.

No success as yet on finding a pillow pattern or instructions, though I've found some lovely photos on flickr of rectangular, square and hexagon shaped pillows that will be a good reference.

Progress - 19 hexagons done, 27 to go.

My other WIP - the knitted shrug (mini cardigan) for my daughter - is now progressing well.  If you recall - I had completed around 2/3rds of it - and lost it...somewhere.  Over the weekend I had a conference I had to attend - where I had to sit and listen to a lot of speakers.  A perfect opportunity to do some knitting.  I got a few strange and admiring looks - it was NOT the sort of place one normally does knitting.  But, it means I'm now a third of the way through...good progress.  

Have you ever done your craft in some strange places?  It's a first for me.

OK.  I'm off now to check out and see what some of my favourite bloggers are up to before bed time.  Cheerio.

Thursday, 6 October 2011

Lost but not found

I'm a bit sad today.  Last night, I went to pull out my WIP - from its little bag. 

And it was gone. Seriously GONE. 

Only thing in the bag was some needles and a measuring tape.  Thinking back - I realised I had taken it out of the bag when my hubby drove us to work.  I must have left it on my lap, and when I jumped out of the passenger seat, it (possibly) fell out onto the roadway. 

I was three-quarters done - all that was left was the edging collar. The photo is from when I was half way through. The positive is that I still have two balls of the yarn left, so I only need to buy two more if I decide to start again. 

My 4 year old daughter was very philisophical when told of the missing knitting - 'Oh well, you can do it again mum'. 

Yes I can. And I will.

Thursday, 29 September 2011

Rasberry lemon and yoghurt loaf

This recipe is from Sunflower Days and is a moist, healthy loaf/bread.  
It is a very easy recipe with only a 1/4 cup of olive oil (no butter), yoghurt, eggs, flour, lemon zest,
 and brown sugar - its pretty healthy, and tastes delicious.  
Meet Me at Mikes blog got me onto this recipe.  
It's now one of my standard bakes.

Did you notice my latest op shop find?
With an orange apple on it - it's a salt container (or is it salt cellar?!) - ceramic with a wooden lid.
I'm completely in love with it.
What do you think?  Hubby hasn't noticed it yet, am sure he'll
roll his eyes when he does.

Sunday, 25 September 2011

Retro reads - James and the Giant Peach

Pip at Meet Me at Mikes has organised a retro readers club where we all read for the month of September a retro read.  This month it is James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl. Thank you Pip for suggesting/organising this. I just loved it as it's a novel way for our children to be involved in our blogging and we get to introduce them to our favourite books.

Now Roald Dahl was never a favourite of mine - as while I was an avid reader as a child - I never did read any Dahl. Having searched at my local op shop - I was successful in finding a pre-loved copy for $1. I was also successful in finding some other lovely things - a retro orange baking dish (this is the third one I've found, and they bake a pie beautifully), and some 1970s Australian craft books.  They provide some great inspiration and ideas for projects - and include sewing, knitting, crochet, needlework, macrame etc.

I've started reading James and the Giant Peach to Miss 4 year old - and am up to the part where James has met his insect friends.  It's a fantastic book and I suspect I'm enjoying it more than my daughter!  Oh well.

If you want to join in, go to the the link above to Pip's website and add your name to the list.  Pip also has a Retro Readers button you can add to your blog. 


Saturday, 24 September 2011

Shrug WIP

The Shrug I am knitting is coming along nicely.  Made of Sirdar snuggly bamboo yarn in pale pink - it has a nice, heavy drape to it.  My plan is to have it finished by the end of October - which is when we are all flying to Perth for my father's 60th birthday party.  The plan is to buy a nice frock for Miss 4years, and dress her in the pink shrug.

I have to say - the word shrug is awlful.  'Shrug' sounds clumsy and heavy.  Where as the actual piece of clothing is quite cute and romantic. I must find another word for it.  I've sort of been calling it a 
small cardigan when explaining it to Miss 4years, 'cause she looks blankly at me when I've used 'shrug'.
The pattern is from this lovely book - Easy Kids Knits by Claire Montgomery.  It's a perfect book for a beginner knitter as it includes all the basic info on how to knit - stiches, increasing stitches, casting off etc - but it also shows a variety of ways of doing things - like how to cast on in the continential methods, which is done with only one needle and this sort of cats cradle wrapping of the yarn technique.  Once I got the hang of it -it's much easier than casting on with two needles which is the only method I ever knew and used.

And what the final project will look like - just in case you didn't know what a shrug was 
(just like me until I saw the picture!). Pretty cute hey?
So I've almost completed the back and one sleeve.  All that's left is the other sleeve 
and doing the section around it to form the collar - its done with a circular needle, 
which will be a good learning experience. 
What sort of projects are you working on?  Are you like me and have a few going at the same time?  I have a crocheted African flower motifs project and my first ever amigurumi  project.  More on those to come.

I've got to finish up here - I'm meant to be working on a Uni assignment, but got distracted by the internet and blogging - and I have to run to go buy a birthday present for a little boy's birthday party that's today.  Off I go.