Friday, January 28, 2011

Purple, nurple, wurple...

Shhhh... I'm not here. You can tell when I've got edits to do. I avoid them.

But I'll give myself 5 minutes of procrastination to share with you this pizza.

I cribbed it from this recipe. One of my BKFFs came over for a research day, so we shared. Mind, I think I could have eaten it solo, it was that good. Black beans aren't common here, so I had to search them out, but... seriously, yum. As we were working, BKFF suddenly called a halt, sniffed: "I smell pizza." We immediately went to the kitchen and served big slices to ourselves... then almost immediately went back for seconds. There is no more pizza. BKFF assured me I had to take the photo: "it's definitely bloggable."

Oddly enough, after our research day, I logged onto Twitter and Wil Wheaton had just tweeted a recipe he tried for dinner, black bean and tomato quinoa (who said following actors was a waste of time?). Since I bought up all the cans of black beans I could find, this is next on my list.

Is it also procrastination or sensible planning to work on your professional wardrobe? Particularly if, say, you have exciting places to be later in the year? I picked up this cardigan and the tights on sale. I then found this fabric, which will turn into a skirt. I'm just so pleased with the colours.

Yes, I'm not exactly a wear black and grey kind of girl! I'm not sure about the tights yet... but the skirt is definitely going to work with that cardigan.

Then it struck me that this blog post is in shades of purple - counting the purple tinge of the black beans - so I can share one of my most favourite QI moments.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Chocolate Paws

In celebration of returning my nose to the grindstone, so to speak, I set aside a few minutes in the evening to finish redecorating Wee Davie's room (aka the laundry).

It has been a scary room for a very long time. It was the last room we needed to repaint, but since it was filled with odds and ends and the previous paint job was flaking quite a lot, we'd naturally put it off. Over Christmas, however, Papa came armed with a tin of mint green paint and the determination to give Wee Davie a place to sleep that wouldn't terrify him with its insipid pinkness (I like pink... just not that pink).

Last night, I finished off the job. What does a mint green paint job require? Chocolate paws.

No, I didn't paint them on. I cheated. The colour isn't quite right in this photo, but you get the idea.

Incidentally, I can finally show you some knitting I did over Christmas, inspired by tales of incredible snow falls. It was snowing on friends of mine. Obviously, they required mittens.

Plus, I'd been dying to knit up Barbara Gregory's Ringo & Elwood. (I will add that if I had to pick a Beatle, it'd be Ringo. He had the greatest sense of humour. But I am more a Rolling Stones kind of woman.) A little Bendigo Woollen Mills Luxury 4ply (in Cream and Delphinium Blue) later, and I had snow critters!

This is just the most amazingly cute design. Look at how those thumbs are tails! And it's all reversible! I couldn't decide between critters, so I did one of each. That seemed perfectly reasonable.

There were also other hands requiring mittens, but these hands needed the fingers to be free, so I adapted sublimialrabbit's Bella's Mittens to fingerless, as many have done before me. Only, I stopped the cabling a few rows early and added a couple of rows of moss stitch and the entire mitten, knitted in a finer weight (Bendigo Woollen Mills Luxury 8ply in Cream), turned out much more elegant.

The mittens finally made it - and before the snow stopped for good!

Okay, nose back to grindstone...

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Things To Do With Cookie Cutters

I have a weakness for cookie cutters. I've been coveting Old River Road cookie cutters. One day I shall have some.

In the meantime, I've been breaking out my usual collection.

I tried out a new gluten free cookie mix and made my own coloured sugar to sprinkle on top. Mossy teapots. There's none left.

I also tried out a recipe for peanut butter cookies for a certain wee individual.

Then I tried out needle felting for the first time. And earned my first needle felting wound. They aren't kidding when they say the needles are sharp! I've been meaning to try needle felting for ages, but when I discovered that you can needle felt using cookie cutter shapes... I had to stop 'meaning to'. This is my first attempt.

He's a little fluffy, but I love the way the colours mixed. It's a great way to use the fibre samples from some of the boxes I picked up in the past, too. Hmmm... spinning. That's the other thing I've been meaning to get the knack of.

Incidentally, the henna worked out a treat. I didn't get a great deal of colour, although, oddly, once again, chestnut colour turned my hair darker rather than lighter. I'm not sure what's with that. It left my hair wonderfully soft though. The scent does linger, but I used Lush henna and it doesn't smell bad. It also washed out fairly easily. Most importantly, it didn't leave my scalp raw and painful like commercial dyes do, and still evened out the colour as I wanted.

As a final note, am I just weird, or do you sometimes look down at your cutting board and think 'huh, that looks almost like a picture from a cooking blog.' I did today while chopping up everything for my noodles and tofu.

It just looked so pretty!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Who Can Resist Pom Poms?

My hat from last post (details included) is all done. Although someone did mention similarities between the colourway and a certain 10th Doctor, I stayed with my initial decision to think of my hat as 'Flora', inspired by Stella Gibbons' Cold Comfort Farm, one of my favourites.

Flora inherited, however, from her father a strong will and from her mother a slender ankle.

Which explains why I've photographed this brilliant hat with my head in a book. At least, that's my story.

It is a brilliant hat. The design is kooky and clever and it has a great vintage feel to it. And I don't think I'll ever stop loving to knit hats out of Malabrigo worsted. They come out in one skein and are all soft and squidgy. Everything you could wish for, in fact.

Alas, it's a little too warm for hats. Today I'm getting about in a turban of cling wrap. I'm trying out henna. It was less messy than anticipated in terms of process. I do, however, have continued doubts about my application, so we shall see at roughly 6pm! I may have remarkable red streaks in all the wrong places. I may also need to wear my hat despite the weather.

Saturday, January 15, 2011


Actually, sunshine and humidity. It's never a good mix. I've been avoiding posting for a few days, because as some may have noticed, in Queensland in particular, things weren't good. I grew up in Brisbane. My family is in Brisbane and up around Toowoomba. It was a nervous few days. I was doing things like making Duck-in-the-Hole Toast to calm the nerves, which weren't at all helped by the coverage, which didn't appear to distinguish between genuine threat and some of the minor 'it always floods there' situations. So in the end, I turned off the coverage. But I still had my Duck-in-the-Hole Toast.

Not that I was too worried. I grew up with stories about the 1974 floods. Whenever we looked at property, Mum's first questions would be about flood risk. Brisbane is a river city. Rivers flood. So while our house is very close to the river, it's also high. The people who built it over a hundred years ago thought about flooding and situated it above conceivable flood waters. Thank you to those builders!

There's still some really awful stories - and some that make you cry because, gee, people are great most of the time. Of course it means a bit more to you, personally, when you're looking at places you know - places you've had coffee, driven through on countless visits to your grandparents etc. I know there's really terrible floods in other parts of the world where the loss of life has been more widespread, but these were places I grew up in.

Still, the water has receded, our fingers are crossed for other towns that are facing further flooding, and we hope the clean up goes well.

Wee Davie decided to donate a little to the RSPCA. He'd like to think that if he got caught in a flood, someone would think to provide him with a dry spot to sit and some dinner. And possibly a red ball to play with.

In the midst of all that, though, I had been working on a Cookie A. sock. I'm out a stitch. No matter how many times I think I've fixed it, that dratted stitch goes missing again. This is going to involve frogging. I don't feel up to frogging yet, so I cast on a hat.

It's going to turn into Corina Spencer's Toorie, which means a pom pom on your tam in Scots. I saw the hat and couldn't resist. Even in this humidity. And I'm currently massively in love with the Malabrigo I'm knitting it with (Charrua). This is going to be a great hat. Although, maybe not in this weather...

Monday, January 10, 2011

A Gluten Free Digression

I'm on holiday. But lazing. I like holidays at home sometimes. I have adventures planned later in the year, but for now, catching up on little things helps.

One of the things I've been doing is catching up on gluten free blogs. I'm trying not to be a bore about the whole gluten free thing, although, since I'm also dairy intolerant (apart from a cheat once in a while) and am increasingly going vegetarian (seriously, I think once you start cutting foods out, it becomes a masochistic habit), it sometimes gets tricky. Cafes where I live aren't very helpful. They will usually offer you the choice of one salad and maybe if you're lucky, a soup. Sometimes they just look puzzled and you sigh and order a soy chai latte and go home to eat. Things are better in other places. Although seriously, everything gluten free in the sweet department seems to involve chocolate. Yes, at times, you do get sick of chocolate. Moan over.

When my parents visited for Christmas, though, Mum realised that she was feeling better sharing my gluten free diet and she's thinking gluten might be one of her problems. When I tell her what I'm eating, she often asks how I've made it, and since she may very well go gluten free herself, my standard "actually... I'm not sure... I was just throwing things in" might not go down as well. I won't post heaps of recipes, but the odd one or two so that she knows where to find them.

First, Mum, here are some chick pea patties!

Very simple. Drain a can of chick peas and add one potato (chopped and boiled till ready to mash), one spring onion (chopped), about 2 tablespoons of quinoa flour (or until you get a good patty consistency - you can add more at the end if you need to), one egg, two garlic cloves (chopped), a generous shake of paprika, salt and pepper to taste. Mash up with your food processor of choice. At the end, add a generous scoop of flax seeds and stir in. Heat a mix of sunflower and sesame oils in a pan and dollop the mixture in, making patties. Brown on both sides. Can be served with chilli jam, which is delicious.

Needless to say, this is just a rough guide! I'm still very bad at noting the quantities I use. I have also become a little obsessed with popovers since discovering this great recipe at Ginger Lemon Girl. I'm now on the search for the perfect popover pan (I used a muffin pan and they were delicious, but I know they can be even better in the proper pan) and on that search I did not find this pan that would be ideal for Firefly parties. Let's see how long I manage to hold out.

In the meantime, and since I lack any knitting ready to show, here are some shots of Wee Davie, who has spent the last few days 'flopping'.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

The Tale of One Sock

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a yarn called Bingley is simply made for a sock called Netherfield.

Which is how this sock came to be cast on, as I sat among the daffodils at Lyme Park.

It was very postmodern of my ball of Bingley to try to roll into the lake a few times. After all, it was the lake his best friend famously dunked himself in, thoroughly dampening his shirt to the delight of millions.

I've been living with this sock for a while. It's called 'Bingley's Visit to Pemberley' using Kristi Schueler's pattern in Knit It Up's Bingley. It's a pattern I love. The yarn is brilliant. So why did I just cast off only the first sock, years later??

Well, mostly, my mind melted while doing a short row heel from the toe up. One of my BKFFs had to step in and wrangle with the heel during a lecture I was giving (yes, imagine me happily babbling about English Literature while keeping one nervous eye on the progress of my sock heel down in the front row!). But by that stage, my knitting confidence was far gone and I hid the sock away in its little sack...

When lo and behold, after having wrestled with another couple of difficult patterns, I came back to 'Bingley's Visit to Pemberley' and I finally understood what I was doing and shook my head at my previous self, setting off again with gusto. And I cast it off! And such a pretty cast off, too.

Okay, I know. There's still the second sock. Part of me thinks another visit to Lyme Park would provide the necessary motivation, but I'm not sure I can sneak that in this year... there are other adventures afoot.

However, despite how long it took to knit this one sock, this one sock represents a great deal of knitting growth and I'm very proud of it. I'll be prouder if I don't end up posting the next heel off to BKFF with a plea for mercy. Hmmmm...

In the meantime, I have to fathom what to do with a bowl of blackberries from the garden (tart blackberries, I might add).

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

It's all about ribbons...

Originally uploaded by gidgetknits
Leave your Madame de Pompapig to her toilette, and look what happens.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

And a Merry 2011

Happy New Year
Madame de Pompapig

What? You don't knit pigs on New Year's?

Madame de Pompapig comes from the fabulous Knitting Mochimochi by Anna Hrachovec ('Pigs with Wigs') and is knitted up in Cleckheaton Country.

She is inspired by the Austrian tradition of giving pigs for luck at New Year's - I decided to knit my own luck! She is also inspired by Mrs Future, a fantastic pig from The Vacillations of Poppy Carew by Mary Wesley, one of my favourite books. It's not really a book about pigs. There's a pig farmer in it though. I always liked that pig farmer.

And with that glorious beehive, she's also a little inspired by Madame de Pompadour, hence her name.

I think she's rather wonderful.

Welcome 2011.