May progress and catch up

It’s May! It’s been 2 whole months since popping in here, I’ll try to catch you up on some of the things!

We had Easter this year (as opposed to last year), so we made sure to celebrate it by getting together with my family.

The Easter Trifle came from Burch and Purchese and it was outstanding.

D had an Easter Bunny costume laying around that he had used for work, so I took it along to my family-do to see who might like to wear it. It turns out everyone thought that I should wear it… that idea certainly back-fired on me. I had my photo taken with all of the kids, but it turns out one was missing, she held back because she wanted her own photo with bunny. Then just as I was about to get out of costume, my mum also insisted on having her photo taken with me. Too funny.

I knitted just one of Arne & Carlos’ Easter decorations from some left-over yarns. I think there were 12 different eggs designed in conjunction with a daily video podcast they did in the lead-up to Easter.

In April, I returned to Hepburn Springs with some dear friends. Here is Bek modelling my ‘failed’ attempt of the Birkin sweater. It didn’t look like a failure when she wore the yoke, quite the opposite in fact. I have indeed cast this on again in a larger size for more ease. It is going wonderfully well now and I’ve knit past where I was. Who knows what might become of the original attempt?!

I’ve knit much further than this now, and I’m well into the body of the sweater

I finished knitting my Susurrus sweater in April. You may note that there are not any modelled shots of this FO that took a whole lot of knitting time. To be honest I’m not sure that it suits me, and the shaping is a bit odd, which is all my doing. I think it’s a failure, only this time I won’t be re-knitting it.

Let me explain.

I cast this on in a size with more ease than I normally would. I’m afraid my experience with Birkin had me second guessing myself and the size I should be knitting for myself. Once I divided the yoke into the sleeves and body, I realised there was too much ease. At this point I decreased the number of stitches down to a smaller size. Drastic action much?

I have blocked the sweater now, and I know it could work with the right clothes, or on another body completely. I just don’t think it suits my body.

Did I tell you how wonderfully well my Birkin is looking now?

Yesterday I attended the Handknitter’s guild annual Yarn and Craft market at Coburg Town Hall. It was such a joyous event after having so many things cancelled last year. I went without a shopping list, and bought a lot of pink yarn. But not too much, because you know, Bendigo is coming!

The Enchanted Mesa

I finished knitting my Enchanted Mesa sweater a few days into March, then over the weekend I was able to get some photos of me wearing it.

It’s everything I hoped it would be! It is a ‘dream knit’. The kind where you envisage to make something for yourself, but you never have the time to cast it on (because you’re always knitting something else).

The stars were aligned, when it came to stash yarn and pattern match. This gorgeous Lux Adorna Knits Cashmere DK was biding it’s time (since Stitches West 2015!) in my stash to be made into something worthy of it’s extravagance!

Sadly, I hear the indy yarn company is/has gone out of business just recently. Whilst I was still knitting the yoke, I wondered whether I should try to get ‘more’ of a certain colour. But there is very little left on their website and apart from white, none of the colours matched. So there was no ‘panic’ buying and I saved myself a lot of money by not purchasing anymore. I won ‘yarn chicken’ with about 7 grams of yarn remaining. Hurrah!

The design was really fun to make, and I’m quite convinced that Stephen West is a genius. I hope to make at least one more of his garment designs this year.

Goal setting

I have set my ‘loose’ knitting goals for the year and I promised to share them with you, so here they are 🙂

My sock drawer needs a massive pep up, so my first goal is to knit a pair of socks for myself each month of this year. I completed a pair of socks in January and I’ve almost finished a second pair, so I am on track. Socks for others are not counted in this goal, they will be additional. A lot of my socks are wearing thin, with this WFH business, I’m beginning to avoid wearing certain pairs because their ‘wearing days’ are numbered.

I enjoyed the ‘cast-on a new sweater/cardigan every month plan’ so much last year, it gave me so much joy. I plan to begin that once again once I finish my remaining 2 sweater WIPs. I completed my Granny Square jumper in January, I should… be able to finish Enchanted Mesa in Feb, Susurrus in March… so I’m free to cast on something new in April. This will also amount to a 12 sweater goal this year, for as long as the plan goes…

The problem with these 2 goals is, I also see large blanket projects happening this year. I need to ‘gobble’ up the 8ply leftovers I have, they’re taking up a lot of space, so much space. They are delicious, so I don’t want to destash them. I can also think of at least 2 very important people who would appreciate a blanket. So maybe I can swap out a jumper for a blanket in those months. That would seem sensible.

My goals are not much different from last year. I can’t wait to finish my WIPS so I can get that new project feeling in April.

As mentioned, I’m currently knitting Stephen West’s Enchanted Mesa, and it is just so fun. If these lockdowns continue I expect I’ll end up with a lot of Stephen West sweaters in my wardrobe this year, and I don’t even care.

Granny Raglan Pullover

Before the failure of the sweater that shall not be named… I finished crocheting and knitting and piecing together my Granny Raglan Pullover.

It has been a very long time since I’ve knit a garment in pieces. There’s a much higher level of trust needed to get through knitting something in pieces for me now. Thank goodness I finished this before the Birkin incident.

I was sceptical of this ‘Free’ pattern by Lion Brand. Combining knit and crochet in one design, all the while using scraps of yarn of slightly different gauges, surely I was asking for trouble! After knitting the front and back pieces, I went ahead and knit the first sleeve and blocked the pieces as I went. It kind of looked like it was going to fit together, so then I knit the second sleeve as well.

The pieces were crocheted together from the wrong side, that was awesome and quick. Then finally I knit the neckband, and it was done!

I’m very happy with the result. I would make another one in a heartbeat, you should make one too. It’s a super fun pattern; it’s like wearing a snuggly granny square blanket all day and who doesn’t want that?

My Birkin tale of woe

So many lessons can be learnt from attempting to knit Birkin, the infamous colour work sweater by Caitlin Hunter.

These things have come to my mind in the last day:

– If you’re going to fail, fail fast and hard and then move on

– Pattern reviews are super important, but not even as important as the shared experience of your knitting friends who have been knitting ahead of you. PAY ATTENTION to their advice. AND If you don’t remember what size you cast on, STOP and CHECK!

– Good colour choices are not the most important thing, they don’t make ill-fitted sweaters fit any better

– I’m not going to have the same issues as other knitters, disasters don’t happen to me. YES THEY DO! I’m quite capable of messing up, thank you very much

– I’m not knitting it again, nope

Without further ado, here’s the last photo you’ll see of my Birkin:

On the theme of failed yoke sweaters, here’s my new Cowl 🙂

Whilst I was tidying up some WIPs, I made the decision on this freeform yoke that I began in a class several years ago. It’s so important to get the shaping correct, right from the start.

Despite the Birkin setback, my Granny Square Crochet Sweater is finished and I love it. I need to take some photos when the weather is less sweaty. The WIP count is going down in time for February. Yippee.

Making Plans

If last year taught me anything, it was to not make any plans… at least not too far in advance and not too far from home.

My only plan that was not destroyed last year, was my notion to cast on 1 pair of socks and 1 new garment each month. It was glorious and it made me giddy.

I’m still weighing up my knitting plans for this new year (whilst trying to dispense with the left-over WIPs). I like making plans, it gives me something to look forward to, and don’t we need that right now? I’m not allowing myself to get excited about ‘Bendigo’ or travel or seeing family and friends at important events, because I just don’t want the disappointment. But I can… get excited about knitting.

In my planning, I know that this year, I’m going to need to focus on SOCKS for me…

These 6 pairs of socks have become threadbare and holey underneath the soles of my feet in 2020. I can’t be bothered mending them (they’ve been well-loved), there’s even a pair of Patonyle socks in there, sadness!

Last year I ended up knitting just 4 pairs of socks for me:

Not enough to replace the outgoing socks in my sock drawer!

The striped pair is the Richmond Knitters Christmas yarn from 2019, hand-dyed by our favourite dyer, Danni of Half-baked Hand dyed on Etsy. The pink and blue pair are Arne & Carlos Regia yarn, which I nicknamed my Corona socks, because I couldn’t get the pattern tension right on the second sock, see the aqua wave on the top sock? That’s how both socks should look.

I also used my own hand spun yarn to knit a further 2 pairs for me.

So I did some numbers… if I knit as many metres this year as I did last year, and if I knit nothing else, I could knit myself…

50 pairs of socks!!!!

Now, I’m not going to do that, but it’s fun thinking about it.

Here’s my sock box of potential for the year, with the finished Norfolk socks already finding it’s bragging place in the box for the next 11 months (I might wear them at Christmas)

There’s enough yarn in here for 18 pairs of socks. I love having this set out in my living room like this, I find it so inspiring. Even if they don’t all get turned into socks this year, they bring me joy to just ponder.

My ‘Hug Me Later’ coasters made an appearance on Arne & Carlos’ special podcast this week, I love those guys.

Looking ahead

I’ve begun 2021 with many unfinished projects; the consequence of casting on with reckless abandon a sweater and a pair of socks every month of last year… until November. And I have no regrets!

I begin this year with 4 jumper WIPs and 3 sock WIPs and I love each of these projects. I’m going to try to finish up a couple of them in January to get the UFO count down. Then come February… well, we’ll see.

The first project I’ve picked up is the Granny Raglan Pullover by Mari Lynn Patrick. This has been a dream knit of mine for some time. Kristy Glass Knits made a really lovely one, as did some other knitters on Ravelry. My version was cast on in June of last year.

It looks like the beginnings of another blanket, sweet, sweet crochet. So comforting!

The project is a great little stash buster. The main yarn (the charcoal) is repurposed yarn from a cardigan that didn’t suit me. It’s Zara Plus and it’s gorgeous. The other colours are odd balls and left-overs.

The jumper is knit in pieces combining both knit and crochet. I am little nervous that the sleeves won’t fit in with the crochet shaping when it comes to sewing this together. Perhaps I could pick up stitches at the armhole and knit down instead?

I’ve already cast-on for the back twice. Because 17 inches of knitting across is just not going to make 19-20 inches no matter how hard you try. I’ve cast-on again with slightly larger needles and I’m on my way again.

Any advice on knitting Raglan sleeves from picked up stitches downwards will be greatly appreciated.

Goodbye 2020

How do I begin?

I won’t be sorry to see the back of this year, and I consider myself to be one of the ‘lucky ones’. As a child, when I thought about the year 2020, 30 years into the future, I thought about how great a year it would be. By then, surely we’d be in contact with aliens and travel in spaceships; there’d be a cure for AIDs and we’d have World Peace. Early this year, all I hoped for was a return to Tokyo in September, where anything and everything seems possible. 2020 you were a massive let down.

But unlike so many others, I was lucky this year. Despite my everyday life being turned on it’s head, I’ve survived it relatively unscathed, and maybe I’ve learnt some things. Here’s hoping 2021 is a better year for everyone.

I did want to come here today, because damn it, for the last 2 years I’ve blogged from January to May, and then I’ve stopped. Clearly, I have every excuse for this years disappearance. So I’m going to make a miserable attempt at recalling this year from May until now, at least through my knitting, with some added tidbits.

Since March, I’ve been WFH full-time. Rediscovering my local takeaway coffee shop was a blessing for the few weeks whilst weening myself off coffee (not that there’s anything bad about coffee!). Winter came on and with it, so many jigsaw puzzles. I’ve completed several on my own, D is not the jigsaw type. I also have many more jigsaws waiting in the wings for dare I say it… the next lockdown or a holiday at a beach house? I know which I’d prefer.

I made our own masks, but I found them impossible to breathe in, my 1 hour of ‘allowable’ exercise was reduced to a panicked 30 mins. In the end I found the Uniqlo masks MUCH better to breathe with.

The cancelled Bendigo Sheep Show weekend, came and went. A couple of awesome people, took it upon themselves to host their own show online and on You Tube. Some excellent enabling occurred, and for me, it might have been a turning point in confidently and ferociously purchasing yarn online for the remainder of this year. I began a new version of the Birkin sweater (which was to be my knitting group’s signature sweater for the show), well, it will be ready for next year’s show now.

A few distractions occurred in my plans to cast-on and knit a sweater and a pair of socks each month this year. In my birthday month, I also decided to begin a crochet blanket that I long, longed for. And that ‘Stephen West’! inspired me to knit this brilliantly colourful shawl in the later part of this year, don’t ask me which month, sense of time is lost on this year.

This year, I knit, and knit and knitted. All in all, I completed 5 sweaters for myself (a record!), made my mum some socks by urgent request, and Damian was also lucky enough to receive 2 pairs this year! … he still wants his Halloween socks though…

I’m not sure what else happened this year.

I know this year has affected the productivity of a lot of crafters, but I found great comfort in my knitting. It is the year that I’ve knit the most in, and I’m sure if I did the numbers, it’s also the year that I’ve bought the most yarn in. Ah… pandemic, what is one to do?

Happily, it is the end of the year and I welcomed it with great enthusiasm. The Advent calendars by Danni of Half-baked Hand-dyed and also from Little Woollie, made the crawling of time to Christmas so much more joyful.

Cheers to a new year

Chicken Liver Parfait

The first time I saw Chicken Liver Parfait on a menu in a restaurant was about five years ago, and I could not believe my eyes. For the record, that was at Union Dining (sadly now closed), and I still rate it as my favourite Chicken Liver Parfait.

Growing up in a Slovenian family, chicken liver patĂ© was a staple sandwich filling in my home (and school, I don’t know how I never got food poisoning from it). Whilst I would gag at the thought of eating Chicken Livers in their actual meat form, patĂ© on the other hand is delicious…

At home, my mum called it ‘Spa–tet–o’, but I can’t find the correct Slovenian spelling for this, so you’ll have to trust me on that one.

In my search for the correct spelling, I found that according to google, Chicken liverwurst  is a good source of Protein, Riboflavin and Iron, and a very good source of Vitamin A, Vitamin B12 and Selenium. And the bad: This food is high in Saturated Fat and Cholesterol. BOO!

So why am I telling you about this?

Because in the space of a couple of weeks (and quite randomly), I have eaten Chicken (or in the case of Kyneton, Duck) Liver Parfait at no less than 4 restaurants… It was on the menu, and I ordered it… how could I resist?

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Collins Quarter, Melbourne

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Our local pub had it as a special…

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In Kyneton… Duck Liver Parfait, so good…

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Saint Urban, Richmond

I’m really glad my husband will not eat patĂ©, he despises ‘offal’ of any kind. I never have to share my ‘starter’ with him, and that’s how I like it.

My preferred condiments with the parfait are of the fruity, sweet variety. Each rendition of my favourite dish was wonderful, I scoffed them all… apart from the work lunch, I had to be a bit more contained in my enthusiasm.