Friday, December 31, 2010

Goodbye to 2010

And so another year draws to a close.  Don't you find that each year seems to go by faster and faster? 

New Year's Eve always finds me kicking back and thinking about the year behind me and what I achieved.  In all honesty, 2010 was fraght with difficulty, and I'm finding it hard to remember the positive things.  All I can say with one exhausting sigh, is that although I have the odd battle wound, I've survived another one!

Tonight I'll be bringing in the New Year with the TV, fire place blazing at a more than pleasant 26C, and with a drink in one hand and my knitting in the other!

I've already phoned all my family in Australia to wish them a happy New Year.  It's now 12:30pm on 1st January in New South Wales.

So I'm gonna end this year's blog with some photos from the last week or so.

Emily's lovely Christmas card for me

The pavlova I made for Christmas dinner on 24th December

Christmas dinner on 25th December

These are the most amazing scones!! I made these over the Christmas break.  So simple!

Never Fail Scone Recipe:

There are three ingredients ONLY!  Can you believe it??  To make 12 scones:

1/2 cup of Sprite or 7 Up
1/2 cup of cream
2 cups of sifted SR flour

Place sifted flour into a bowl, and make a well in the centre.  Pour in cream and Sprite/7 Up.  Mix lightly with a fork.  Tip out on a floured board and press to 2cm thickness.  Cut quickly with a round cutter and place together on a greased tray.  Bake at 220C for 15mins.

The Boxing Week Sales were so tempting!  I have had my eye on an automatic bread machine for quite a while, and with the great sales on after Christmas I bought one!  So of course I've been making bread...and it tastes sooooo good!  Except my first loaf....that was an abomination LOL.

Cheese and herb bread from my bread machine

Sandi Pandi Neck Warmer

Nick's 8 month old great nephew, Hunter


Monday, December 20, 2010

Fabulous Felines 2011 Calendar from Yarnmarket

AND yes, it's gone straight to Sandi Pandi's head!

It's official!  Sandi Pandi Smooch Pooch has been immortalized in a calendar!  She, along with twelve other fabulous felines, is now in print.
The Fabulous Felines Calendar has just been launched and is on sale at Yarnmarket for ONLY $8.50. All profits will be donated to Mary's Kitty Korner, a rescue organization in Pleasant Valley, CT because that's where Rajah (Mr April) was adopted from.


Sandi Pandi Smooch Pooch is Miss July!  So appropriate since she is Canadian and Canada Day is on 1st July!

(this is not the picture in the calendar!)

Many thanks to Deborah Knight from Yarnmarket for putting this together!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

My "Everything" Post

That's right... my brain hurts, my fingers are still numb from last night, and I want to go back to bed!!  I'm just getting too old to be drinking and out til 2:30am!

So, I've rolled "everything" up into one jumbled post....just because I can.....and in case you haven't heard....the bird is the word.... I'm a mean Aussie [laughing].

I'll start with my my Kitty Catnip Critters.  The original pattern is Friendly Little Bugs, by Dawn Finney.  It's a very easy pattern that knits up in no time at all - an hour or so tops.  And it's great for using up little bits of left over yarn (5-10g).  You can use any weight yarn and needles.  Since I was filling mine with polyfill and catnip for Sandi, Shelby, Sterly and Gin Gin, I used worsted weight yarn and 3mm needles so they'd last longer [hehehe].

Kitty Catnip Critters

Oooooh, yes.  I got a couple of photos of my friend Kanna's baby wearing his little knitted outfit.  So cute!  I knit this for him when he was born in October.  The pattern is:  Cable Cardigan and Hat SRK 164 by Sandi Prosser, and the yarn is S.R. Kertzer Angel Baby.  He's big enough now to wear it.  It's wonderful to see recipients wearing knitted gifts.  I often wonder how many gifts are worn and how many are shoved into a deep, dark drawer!

Cable Cardigan and Hat

And last night I went to an "Evening of Murder"!  This, of course, ties in with my opening paragraph!  I'd never participated in a murder/mystery before and didn't have any idea what to expect.  All I knew was that I needed a costume.  My character was "Cookie Daniels" and my costume suggestion was: tight, revealing dress, black nylons, high heels, long blonde wig, strong perfume, makeup and large diamond ring.

So after a couple of hours between Goodwill and the Dollar Store, I had almost everything I needed.  The wig was the one big hurdle, but thanks to Erinkate's brilliance and means of transport, I found a perfect wig at a party store in north London.

Cookie Daniels (not a great pic, but you get the idea!)

Our evening of murder began as follows:  Our friend and fellow gambler, Chuck Mavery, had been murdered.  I was a suspect, along with seven others, including my billionaire fiance, Nick Lucopoulos.  I was there in Las Vegas gambling at Wizard's Casino when this dastardly deed was committed.

We all had scripts to follow, and as the investigation unfolded, we all found it harder and harder to read our scripts!  Damn that barman!  In the end, the murder was solved, the winner receiving a wonderfully inscribed trophy, and poor little Cookie Daniels was hauled off to her jail cell, kicking and screaming!

It was a totally fun night!  Can't wait for next year's!

Can I go back to bed now??

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Colour Knitting

I designed a new stranded hat pattern. On paper it looked brilliant. But, there was one teensy design complication ... the colourwork section required me to have three colours per row! Unfortunately, (or fortunately if you like to research and learn), I could not change the number of colours in the pattern. For those of you familiar with colourwork, I'm sure you can see the dilemma!

But, I'll explain anyway :-)

When I think about ircorporating colour into my knitting, I consider using intarsia, stranded, fairisle or slip stitch techniques. Using any of these methods, I can easily knit two colours per row. Being a continental knitter, I simply hold both strands of yarn in my left hand.

But what happens when I want to incorporate a third colour into a row? I just couldn't figure out how to carry and weave the yarn in at the back with three strands. What I could imagine was a big tangle and a lot of cursing!

So, I put down my test knitting and started my research. It took a lot of reading and googling, but finally I found the answer.

Thank you to the brilliance of TechKnitter (TM), a support blog for knittters! There is a trick to knitting three colours or more in the same row. You simply combine stranded work with slip stitch work! Huh! So clever! TechKnitter does a fantastic job of explaining it here.

I returned to my test knitting, and put the theory into practice. I grant you, it's a little fiddley, and you have to concentrate - remembering which stitches to slip, which ones to knit, and which yarn to carry. But it's totally doable! And did I mention it's ingenious?

Here's the end result:

Aussie Transplant Hat

Aussie Transplant Hat

Inside the Aussie Transplant Hat

Monday, December 13, 2010

Sandi Pandi Yarn has Arrived

Finally my package of Fabulous Felines yarn arrived from  It got caught up in Canada Customs, and yes, they hit me with HST and duty...[grumble, grumble]

I bought two skeins of other Fabulous Felines yarn - Monet and Fidgesaurus Rex, but the yarn I was really looking forward to was that of my darling little Sandi Pandi Smooch Pooch.

What amazingly soft and shooshy yarn!  I *love, love, love* it!  Sandi and Shelby have sniffed it from top to bottom and they approve!

I'm going to design a pattern for the yarn, so keep your eyes out for it!  Given the yardage and that it's chunky weight, I'm thinking a cowl.  I don't think there's enough for a hat.

Shawn, the winner of a skein of this yarn, has already knit up a gorgeous cowl from it - the Quickie Cowl by Fawn Pea.  You can see it here.  Nice job Shawn!

Thank you again to Deb from Yarnmarket for the wonderful honor bestowed on Sandi Pandi!

While I think about a suitable pattern for her yarn, here are some pics of Sandi Pandi Smooch Pooch:

Sandi Pandi Smooch Pooch Yarn

Sandi Pandi Smooch Pooch Yarn

Sandi Pandi with her yarn

Shelby with Sandi Pandi Yarn

Shelby wanted his photo taken too - he doesn't like the special attention Sandi's getting :-)

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

The Day After...

Thankfully the 30cm of snow predicted for today was just pie in the sky!  We had the odd little flurry, but for the most part, it was dry.  Even the sun made a few guest appearances!

So we took the opportunity for some digging out.  Here are the last pics of the snow storm:

Front of house

Side of house

Back of house

Car Park at Shop Entrance

Three Tier pond

Side Door to house

Grandma's pond

Well, I've just been informed that it's snowing like crazy outside (7:30pm).  Bah humbug!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Winter Wonderland

6th - 8th December, 2010

London, Ontario nearly declared a state of emergency on Tuesday after being inundated with three days of flurries, squawls and record levels of snowfall.

Environment Canada reported that some areas of London saw up to 80cm of snow on 6th December, another 20-30cm on 7th December, and yet another 10cm is expected on 8th December.

This has definitely smashed London's highest snowfall for one day, that was set on this day in 1977.

My photos:

6th December, 2010

Three Tier pond on 6th December, 2010

Three Tier pond 7th December, 2010

In the car heading home on 7th December, 2010

In the car heading home on 7th December, 2010

Snow drifts against our house on 7th December, 2010

Our house on 7th December, 2010

Depth of snow on 7th December at our front door (after shovelling on 6th December)
The path I shovelled to the shop door

Yes, and now I hurt LOL :-)

Sunday, December 5, 2010

If you Build it......

HEAT will come!

Despite some disagreement from me about the necessity of a wood stove, guess who's butt has been firmly planted in front of it since we had it installed?

MINE!  Well, not all mine.  I have to make room for two cats, and occasionally Nick comes in to.....

"throw another log on the fire....".  He hasn't cooked me up any bacon and beans, nor has he fetched my slippers.  But, this wood stove was one of his best ideas (not that I'll ever admit to thinking it, let alone writing it!)

Installing the fireplace was not a difficult job, but it did take planning, remodelling and quite some hours of work. 

First we had to move the 58ins flat screen TV (it now hangs on the wall).  Helping move and hang that thing nearly killed me!  Next, we had to move the corner china cabinet containing part of my lovely African Violet tea cup collection.  Taking that sucker off the wall nearly killed me too!  Findng somewhere to put it was the next hurdle.  In the end there was only one place it could possibly go, and that's where it went!

The drywall was badly damaged where the big china cabinet had hung, so we had to repair umpty holes, do lots of sanding, and then paint.  Of course there was no left over paint from a couple of years ago, and the colour wasn't a standard one (it was a bit o' this and bit o' that)!  We finally got a very close match, and had to do three coats!

Now that the wall was finished we had to deal with the floor.  A 60ins x 60ins piece of carpet plus the underlayment had to be removed (18ins from all points of the new wood stove).  We already had some lovely natural stone tile in storage, and just had to get a few pieces cut.  It was like a jigsaw puzzle putting it all together.

Once everything was set, it was time to mix the mortar, wash the stone, position and level them.  Once dry, we had to mix the grout and finish the tiling.  After lots and lots of wiping and cleaning, we had a beautiful tiled area for the wood stove.

The Regency F1100 was installed on 1st December.  Installation only took a few hours, and by 3pm, we were enjoying the most awesome wood fire!

The small wood stove keeps the top floor of our house heated to between 23C-24C.  We have lots and lots of hardwood and softwood.  About every hour it requires another small log.  We don't put any wood in after 8pm, and by 11pm, it's still about 21C.  Our furnace only comes on in the wee hours of the morning until about 9am.

Every morning we clean out most of the ash (simple job since it has an ash box installed directly under the fireplace in the pedestal). The glass must be cleaned with a special cleaner that takes only a few minutes.  Then we load it with a mix of softwood and hardwood, throw in a firestarter cube, and within minutes it's burning brightly!  There's hardly any smell from it - just a little when the door is opened to throw in another log.

I so love not smelling that awful oil furnace.  I love watching the fire.  I love the warmth it provides.  I love that we'll be saving mega bucks in oil.  I love that the cats sit patiently waiting for us to start it in the morning.  But what I love most is snuggling up on the couch with my knitting and listening to the Christmas carols!  Aaaah, this is living!

And YES, you girls need to come over for a knitting night in front of the wonderful fireplace!