Saturday, January 23, 2010

Bewdy bottler

1. I am a stockpiler (I do not hoard - there is a difference). If oft-used commodities are going cheap, I stockpile and use. Doesn't matter if it's undies, wool or food - I stockpile and use.

2. I hate waste.

3. Freezer space in the Taph and TOF households is always at a premium (see 1, above, although Mum, TOF and Jnr have almost finished the reduced by 70% lasagne from my bulk buy in November)

4. I like stewed fruit - it is my cereal topping of choice and forms the basis of my favourite dessert Fruit Crumble (flavour depends on fruit to hand)

5. I particularly like stone fruit.

6. I like being self-sufficient.

7. I am concerned about the environmental effects of transporting fruit all over the country to be canned, then transporting it to warehouses, then transporting it to supermarkets.

8. I am more concerned when the fruit comes from overseas to start with.

9. I bought 3 packing cases full of Fowlers' jars for $20 at the tip shop over the Christmas break.

10. I spent our Christmas money on an electric bottling kit (and paid retail!)

11. We spent last weekend bottling the two cases of peaches my SIL got me from Araluen during the week.

I estimate that's about 2 months worth of fruit and we're keen to do more. TOF is already thinking about a fruit chasing holiday for January 2012 (we're booked until then!) taking the bottling equipment and the fruit dehydrators with us.

Anyone have fruit going spare or know of some? Anyone got old Fowlers' jars they'd like to part with?

Friday, January 22, 2010

Keeping Mum (happy)

And this pair of baby socks is the fourth pair of sockees completed in the last couple of weeks. Mum's hairdresser's daughter had a little girl recently.  Mum commissioned these for little Chiara.  It's Patonyle left over from socks I made Mum.

TOF's Mum commissioned 3 pairs of baby socks for her expected great grandson (see last post), which I was happy to supply out of left overs, including these ones from a Moda Vera sock yarn (Mum got the big version for Christmas).  Sorry forgot to photograph the others.

There's another pair on the needles and then the commissions are fulfilled.  Next up, baby jackets in self-striping sock yarn.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

The Shiner

TOF's niece is having a baby in April so of course knitting is in order.  After checking with the grandmother-to-be, I opted for a blankie, any number of socks and some little jackets.

Spotlight had 8ply Sports Support yarn for $1.99 a ball during the after Christmas sale.  A 50/50 wool/acrylic blend, it's quite nice on the hand but I suspect may pill a bit.  This gorgeous royal purple is in the "Plum" colourway.  A very scientific poll of knittes and their fellas last week decided that the colour should be "Shiner".

The pattern is adapted from a freebie on the BBC website.  It's a diagonal garter stitch square knitted from 4 x 50 gram balls of 8ply yarn.  Improvised the ruffle edge from the remaining 2 x 50g balls as I wasn't fussed on the lace edging (little fingers, eyelets, not a good combo),

Using a 150cm circular needle, I knitted up stitches all around the edge (from between the edge bumps) and joined in the round.  The frill took almost every bit of the two balls.

First Round:  K1, Kf&b, repeat all around
Second Round: Purl
Third Round: Knit
Fourth Round: Purl
Fifth Round: K1, Kf&b, repeat all around
Sixth Round: Purl
Change to 4.5mm needle
Seventh Round: Knit
Eighth Round: Purl
Continue alternating knit and purl rounds until sick to death of doing 600+ stitch rounds, or the ruffle is deep enough, or in this case, until the wool ran out. (about 10 rounds)
Cast off in knit, or if enough wool, a picot cast off would be nice.

Finished dimensions 22" along each side.

I love this blankie and will knit it again and when I do it will be a little larger and the frill a little deeper.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Big read

One of the activities I let go when I took on more responsibility for Mum’s care was book group. More than that, I stopped reading altogether, having little brain power left at the end of the day. Every effort is being made to get to at least a couple of the meetings this year and even to read off list books.

Our book for discussion on 2 February is last year’s Booker Prize winner, Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel. I was excited as the prospect of reading it as I’d enjoyed this author before and I once was a Booker junkie, reading as many of the short list as I could before the big announcement. I was excited until I saw the size of the book – 651 pages. Seriously? 651 pages? You really need 651 pages?

Mantel’s hero is Thomas Cromwell, who is often portrayed as Henry VIII’s Machiavellian henchman responsible for the reforms that led to the formation of the Church of England. Here he is a self-made man of intellect, ability and passion. Entirely human and entirely sympathetic.

I’m still not quite over resenting the 651 non-skimmable pages, but I am yet to see where the editing could be done to make it shorter. The prose is dense and intense but it is not wasteful. Some passages need to be re-read to gain a complete understanding, and the family tree and cast of characters at the front of the book is necessary, even if you have an average or better acquaintance with Tudor history.

There are still a 250 pages left to be read and I’m thoroughly enjoying the journey. This is slow reading at its best. Knitting to accompany such a demanding (but completely enjoyable) read is necessarily simple. Adult and baby socks have been knitted to it and just now a garter stitch baby blanket. Complicated knitting and this book do not mix.

Normally I would recommend borrowing a copy from your public library but this time, Canberrans, if you can buy or borrow a privately owned copy do so. The ACT Public Library has 32 copies and as of this morning 143 requests on them. This means the loan period is reduced to two weeks and trying to get through this in two weeks is impossible unless you have those two weeks to lie in the shade and read.  Although it does wonders for the concentration to have such a deadline.

Friday, January 08, 2010

Early Spinning and Knitting on the Monaro

Archibald Crawford was born in 1833, in Campbelltown, Scotland and was 10 years old or so when his family settled for a year on The Dry Plain on the Monaro in about 1844. He was in charge of a flock of 800 lambing ewes. 

He writes in his memoir Eighty-Five Years in Australia (Sydney: John Sands Ltd; 1925), pp 22-23.

My mother, of whom I was very fond, used to spin all the wool for our knitted garments, of which we wore a good many. She never spoke English in the home, although she had an average knowledge of it, but always Gaelic. When she was knitting, sewing or spinning, she would sing old Gaelic songs to us; she had a very sweet and pleasing voice. One of my brothers-in-law, named Brayshaw, made the first spinning wheel which she used in this country; later on, when we went to Victoria, she got an imported one, which is still in existence as far as I know, and would probably be used during the Great War. At night I had to tease the wool for carding, another thing I did not like doing, and one night I was complaining and mother said to me, "No doubt you do think it a great bother to have to tease the wool, but you just think when you are out in the snow to-morrow how you would feel if you have no nice warm socks to wear." The next day I had reason to remember her lecture.