Hello friends! Welcome to a wet and cool spring Sunday on the south coast of New South Wales. It’s definitely not a day for spending outdoors but it’s great for watering our new lawn. It is growing very well though we’ve had to water it several times this week until the rain started last evening. It’s only a steady rain but that is great for the lawn. You can see the view out from our loungeroom window. The garden is next up on the list. We are still working out what type of edging we are going to use. I started the blog outside this morning, on our new outdoor setting but it got a little bit cool.
Monday started with an early bike ride to Huskisson for a catch-up breakfast. There was an early heavy fog and it was interesting riding the bike. As I neared Huskisson, the fog had settled in properly and I had to remove my sunglasses as they fogged up as well. Our normal cafe is undergoing renovations so we went to Pilgrims instead. It’s a vegetarian Mexican restaurant and I ordered the banana pancakes. They were great except they were sitting in what I could only call maple soup! Tuesday morning’s bike ride was a little later and it was to my hairdresser at Huskisson. I arrived a little early and grabbed a coffee at Nutmeg before going in for the chop. It doesn’t seem that long since the last visit but I had plenty to cut off. I managed bike rides on Wednesday and Thursday as well. On Thursday Robert and I drove up to Warrawong to look at outdoor furniture and get quotes for blinds. The furniture was available immediately but we’ll need to wait almost until Christmas for the blinds.
Friday was a busy day, starting with a barbecue breakfast. Robert’s swimming group occasionally have barbecue breakfasts and I joined in with this one. The swim was at Iluka but there are no electric barbecues there and fires are not currently allowed, so we popped around the corner to Greenpatch. Greenpatch is a very well known camping and picnic spot where visitors enjoy the beach and the copious numbers of local birds. You can see how friendly they were, mostly looking for scraps. The kookaburras are quite daring and can take the meat out of your sandwich if you’re not paying attention. They’ll just swoop past and can be dangerous. The parrots and rosellas are a little bit annoying, flapping about you to see what they can get. There were also magpies and a pair of bower birds. The female bower bird can be seen on the tree in the last photo below. It was a very enjoyable morning. That was followed by Carol’s art studio. I was running a bit late and couldn’t put my hands quickly onto my paints so I grabbed some knitting and enjoyed the time chatting with the girls.
Yesterday turned out to be a busy day again. I had been wanting to cook up some fruit that was getting a bit old and was able to get it done yesterday morning. It ended up being a cook-athon! I had bought some strawberries that were really cheap – they are lovely at the moment, and I wanted to make jam. I had seen some jam at Huskisson with strawberry and pink lady apples, of which I had several, so that’s what I started with. I based it on this Recipeland strawberry and apple jam recipe. I used some Jamsetta sugar that I had in my pantry along with lemon juice and apples but I still got a runny jam. I don’t have a lot of luck with strawberry jam. The last lot was also runny but it was really yummy. This would probably work really well with the traditional scone/jam/cream method. I understand that you should put the cream on first? The strawberry jam could then be drizzled on top as I’ve always wondered how you spread jam over cream. 😊 I had some pears that were a little bit beyond their best so I googled and found this pear and cinnamon muffin recipe from The Imagination Tree and it worked really well. I made that one as per the recipe. Next, I had some bananas to use up – it’s amazing how these ripened so much overnight! I had a look at NotQuiteNigella’s website and she had a page just for the Ultimate Banana Bread Recipe Collection Banana Bread Bake Off with something like 79 recipes. I don’t know how many I scrolled through before I found Molly’s Recipes Banana Teacakes. That was the one I settled on and it turned out great. This one will be made again! Instead of making this as teacakes I used a loaf pan, so that needed a little bit longer to cook. I also didn’t have any nuts so I added some desiccated coconut (some – I didn’t measure it). For the dried fruit I just used sultanas and, for the dairy, she suggested sour cream, yogurt, buttermilk or a mix of any. I had a little bit of sour cream in the fridge and a little bit of yogurt which both added up to the right amount I needed. I didn’t use any almond extract as I didn’t really think I wanted that flavour but I was happy to use some non-special whisky that’s been sitting in my alcohol stash. I definitely recommend this recipe!
After standing up in the kitchen all morning, the outdoor furniture arrived and we set about putting that together. The table, chairs and coffee table came in boxes but the lounge suite was just plastic wrapped around the middle. I think that may be why there were some scratches on the metal and I’m waiting to hear what we can do about that. The table weighs 100kg (just over 220lbs)! I can say it was certainly an effort to get it upright and then moving it around to decide which way it was going to go. The top looks like a grey timber but is actually tiles and I think that’s where the majority of the weight is. We looked at a few timber tops and this will be better as the tiles won’t warp like timber tends to do over time. Anyway, now it’s all up and we’ve moved things around a few times, I am really pleased with it all and looking forward to the spring weather to settle in.
Studio Update: Phew, what a busy week! In amongst all of the above, I did manage to do some work in the studio. Things are getting sorted but there’s still a lot of mess. I know that it will always be worse before it gets better but I can see real progress now. My old Ikea tabletop was earmarked to be cut to fit in the section with the new Ikea tabletops. This tabletop was cut down when I first bought it to fit in where I needed it so I was happy enough to cut it again. You can see what the tabletops look like inside. We need to finish off that end somehow but it’s not noticeable at the moment as it’s against the wall. I need to move my newest Janome and my old Singer overlocker from the studio dining table onto that table but I need to finish the end first. I also want to put up an Ikea peg board on the wall to the left of the tabletop first. I have now filled one of the bookcases with yarn – really filled it actually, and there’s more that I’d like to put in there, mainly cotton/linen yarn. I need to use some of my yarn to make some room! The other bookcase has patchwork fabrics and I have more to add but that’s taking more time as I’m folding them to a particular size as I go through them. Dressmaking fabrics will be stored in a different area.
I am still working on the Truly Myrtle test so most of my knitting time has been spent on that project, counting, tinking back, counting, tinking back. This project needs to be finished by the 27th which is next Sunday so I’ll be able to share it with you then or maybe the week after depending on when it’s released to the world. In the meantime, I needed a small project to take on the bike with me and I didn’t have anything so I picked one of my sock sets and cast on on a pair of socks. This sock set is a self-striping yarn with matching mini from Turtlepurl Yarns – the Striped Turtle Toes in the Trenchcoat colourway (75/25 superwash merino/nylon). The second picture with the band shows how they knit up and you can see where I’m up to at the moment. I started with the contrasting mini doing one toe at a time and then I put the two toes onto the same needle to join the main yarn. I’ve reached the very first dark red stripe and I think these will knit up very quickly. It’s one of those potato chippy projects where you just want to have the next stripe, and the next stripe, and the next! It will be great for my little pouch on the bike. Sorting through all my yarn has got me thinking about using some of it and I think I might start a chunky cowl. That will use up a couple of large skeins and hopefully make a start on getting more room in the bookcase. That’s only the first item on the plan but it should be a quick finish and instant gratification.
Tour de Fleece (and Tour de France) finishes tonight and I managed to spin up two 100 gram skeins. The beige merino silk on the left (Autumn Leaves) was the first one and I’m going to use it with the three October 2019 batts to knit a jumper. I will use helical knitting with all four at once so that the plain beige one will last to the end of the project and the fabric will be balanced. I’m looking forward to starting that but haven’t chosen the pattern yet. The second finish for Tour de Fleece was the very pale purple/green (Dream Cloud) which I finished plying last night. It will go into my handspun stash for the moment as I don’t have a project for it.
What will I spin next? Below you can see my two choices. The first two photos are of one of the Ixchel Fibre December 2019 batts. The photo on the left has a blue tinge to it but is more actually grey as shown in the second photo. These batts (I have two though only one is shown here) are made up of merino, cashmere, angora, rainbow glitz, llama, silk, shetland, hemp, BFL and angelina! I don’t remember the artist that this colourway is based on but you can see the picture of the inspiration painting. My second option for spinning is a set of 20 mini batts each from different sheep. I bought this set before I even got my spinning wheel, to try out all the different breeds. Each label has a picture of the sheep, indicates the microns and staple length and has a small description on the breed. The mini batts are 20gms each and I am still deciding on how to spin these. I was originally thinking of separating each into two and spinning on separate bobbins for a two ply. My other thought was to separate into light and dark, grading from lighter to darker for each and then spinning continuously from light to dark and finally plying the two together. This would probably give a bit of a barber pole effect where one bobbin may continue a particular breed longer than the other bobbin. It would be a very subtle barber pole, I’d say. Anyway, I’m currently favouring the second option but have not yet decided. I’ll have to make that call very soon as I intend to spin tonight. My spin session these days is usually after dinner each night.
There wasn’t a lot of sewing this week but I did get a start on my Marbella dress by Itch to Stitch. I had cut out the main fabric or, as I realised, most of the main fabric. There were two pieces that needed a second piece cut out. This week I cut out those extra pieces, along with the interfacing required and interfacing to use as stay tape. After ironing all those pieces on, I started on the front bodice, making the princess seams. I realised that the fabric was quite fine and I was concerned as I wasn’t going to do the lining for this first version of this dress. In the end, I decided that the lining would probably be a good option so I will now hold off until I get to Spotlight for some lawn or something similar to use for the lining.
Before starting on my Marbella dress I needed to finish the latest Pansy dress for Evie. I only had the hem and sleeve hems to do and I didn’t want to have to re-thread several times. That is now done and ready to take up on Wednesday. After I decided to put the Marbella dress on hold for the lining, I moved onto another make for Evie. This is for another Geranium dress, with this beautiful purple bird fabric. I thought I had heaps of fabric for this pattern, and I would have if I could turn it sideways, but the birds really should be upright. That left me a little short on the width for the skirt and I ummed and ahhed over which way to go. I had picked out this mauve spot for the bodice lining and there was enough of that to use for a narrow panel on each side and one around the bottom of the bodice. I think that should look good. Will I be able to get this done by Tuesday night? Hmm, do I have buttons to match? Maybe a trip to Spotlight tomorrow.
I have continued with my latest audible book, Girl Woman Other by Bernardine Evaristo. I am enjoying this book and it’s quite unusual in that it covers characters separately. They are all linked but the narrator concentrates on each one at a time. I’m up to the fourth character and not yet halfway through so there could be more. I suspect that they’ll all come together later in the book. I finished watching Mirage on SBS and really enjoyed that show. From there, I was wondering what to watch next and I noticed a comment on the Chat 10 Looks 3 Facebook page about a series called The Split. Apparently a lot of people thought it was great and were happy to have the second season out now. This show is on ABC iView and I found that the first series was available. I have finished all six episodes and I now looking forward to starting season two! Fortunately there is a never-ending list of shows to watch to keep me company while I’m knitting or spinning. 😊 I’m not sure if I mentioned last week that I also watched the whole series of The English Game on Netflix which is about the emergence of soccer. I wasn’t sure I would be interested but the good reviews convinced me and I really enjoyed it.
This week I have babysitting duties and I’m hoping that the weather is good for a visit to the park. From there, I’ll be heading up to Sydney to see my parents. Last time was in April and they have not yet seen the new house. I will be bringing them down for a short stay from Thursday and will take them home again on Saturday. So I’m set for another busy few days! I think I’ve chatted enough now and need get back to some sorting in the studio so, until next week, I hope you are all keeping well and have lots of opportunities for your creative pleasures!