Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Oh what fun it is to ride in a one horse open sleigh! Hey!

Now that Christmas day is over and all of the presents have been opened, I can make the final reveal of the Christmas gifts.

For my friends Zena and Alison, I made the Strawberry Clutch from Knitscene Spring 2007. It's knitted in Cascade 220 which was held double and then felted. This is the same yarn that I used for the Christmas decorations. The Christmas decorations actually came about because of a swatch I knitted to test the felting process. I felted the swatch by hand and it was such a pain I decided to have a go at felting my finished strawb's in the front loader. The first photo shows Strawberry No. 1 before felting.

This was my first proper go at machine felting and with the complication of the front loader I was more than a little nervous about it. I did some experimentation with the washing machine and managed to work out how to stop the machine mid-cycle (by turning off the power to the machine!) and with great trepidation I threw the first strawberry in with an old pair of jeans. I remember reading in a felting book to use the highest temperature available on your machine, so I set the machine at 95 degrees Celsius and turned her on. I stopped the machine quite a few times to check the progress and each time I did this I would have to re-start the wash cycle, hence adding a bit more water. The result was water all over my kitchen floor! Also I should have realised that 95 degrees was way too hot. The colour ran quite a bit, the white dots had become pink. Anyway, it felted pretty well and here is the result.

The gap between the columns of stitches is still visible in some places but I just couldn't seem to get rid of them. I had the same problem with my swatch. Maybe it has something to do with my guage. The pattern specified 9mm needles which I don't have so I used 10mm ones. I didn't think it would make much difference but maybe it did.

The next photo shows strawberry No. 1 felted and strawberry No. 2 before felting. You can see the difference in the colour of the yarn after felting quite well in this one.

Before felting the second strawberry I made two decisions. Firstly to drop the water temperature in the machine from 95 to 60 degrees. This worked out quite well as the colour did not run nearly as much. The second decision was to not stop the machine. The first strawberry took much longer than the machine's cycle to felt so I thought it would be safe to let the machine do it's thing and then when the wash cycle was over to check the progress then and restart the machine. This decision unfortunately did not turn out to be such a wise one. During the first wash cycle the strawberry got all scrunched up and must have stayed this way as the creases became permanent and in the depths of these creases the felting process got left behind. Even after I removed, flattened the piece before the second cycle, these spots never caught up and the creases were never really removed. It wasn't a complete disaster, but is definitively a lesson learned. You can see what I mean in this photo.

So the moral of the story is, 60 degrees is more than sufficient and check your felting progress regularly!

With the felting process over, the last thing to do was to sew in the lining. Did I mention that I found a little craft store in down town Abu Dhabi? It's a funny little shop called the Green Branch. It has oil paints, pencils, a few balls of yarn and knitting needles, some patchwork fabric and even buttons (a big container of miscellaneous buttons!). Much of the stock looks like it has been there forever. For example the steel press-studs had gone rusty on their cards. So with the help of the Green Branch, Chi Wai helped me chose some fabric to line the bags, and this it what it looked like....

All in all, I pretty happy with the end result, and I hear that Alison and Zena are pretty happy with their Christmas present too! Merry Christmas girls!

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Christmas Cheer!

Merry Christmas everyone!

Our Christmas this year has been an unusual one. There was none of the usual Christmas lead up social activities where you catch up with everyone you know before the big day. No work Christmas parties and not quite so much of the mad shopping frenzy that comes with the Season. Without all of those things it has felt a little less like Christmas, and highlighted how far away we are.

The part I have missed the most has been the happy gatherings that come with this time of year. The dinners, the champagne, the friends and family. That is my favourite part about Christmas.

Despite all that, we still had a pretty good Christmas. Last night Chi Wai, Brian and I went out for a special Christmas Eve dinner to a Japanese restaurant. It was very festive. Paper hats and all.

In the first photo, Chi Wai and I are showing off our haul from the posh Christmas crackers. Chi Wai's gift was a travel cork screw and mine was a retractable soft tape measure. It was like they knew we were coming!

On Christmas morning there were presents under the tree....

and my family was right there with me.

The far away family and friends were made to feel a little bit closer by the wonders of the World Wide Web.

For Christmas lunch we (Chi Wai, Brian and I) were invited to Zeina's house. Zeina is a colleague and it was so nice of her to invite us into her home for Christmas. Zeina and her family are originally from Syria and a traditional Christmas dinner consists of Arabic style food. This is the fantastic spread that she put on for us and her other guests.

Please note the dark brown football shaped morsels of goodness roughly in the centre of the photo. They are called Kebbeh (the spelling varies depending on the restaurant) but they are delicious and a particular favourite of mine. They are a bit difficult to describe but here goes. They outer crust made of similar ingredients to a falafel and the filling is spiced mince meat with pine nuts and the whole thing is deep fried until crisp. Yum!

Needless to say, we were well and truly stuffed and I had to have my traditional Christmas afternoon nap when we got home. Thank you Zeina and Joseph for having us!

Okay, so that's Christmas unwrapped. To all my friends old and new who read this, I hope your Christmas was a happy one.


Sunday, December 23, 2007

Jingle all the way.....

Okay, the Christmas presents have arrived in Australia and some of them have been opened so I can start talking about them.

For my darling surrogate nephews and niece I made some Christmas decorations. They started life as a knitted swatch.

It's Cascade 220 held double on 10mm needles. Next I felted it by hand to produce this.

Add some embroidery, some sequins and a bit of ribbon and this is what you get!

Personalised Christmas decorations for the gorgeous Ruby, Dalton, Sam and Archie!!! Yay!

I was pretty happy with the result. I think Ruby's one is my favourite. I would have liked for the embroidery to have stood out a bit better, but other than that I was pretty happy. I really like the look of the reverse stockinette side of the felt. Chi Wai said it looks a bit like the stitching on a Cricket ball!

There are still two more presents to be discussed, but I will leave that until Christmas day. I wouldn't want to spoil anyone's surprise!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

India in a hurry!

I just had a few days in India! It was all organised at the last minute. I just got back last night. What a whirlwind!

I traveled with Brian (my house mate) to interview potential employees for our factory. We interviewed about 25 people in two days and it was completely exhausting. Then we flew to Mumbai and interviewed three more. It's hard work I tells ya!

We went to a city called Vadodara (the city formerly know as Baroda) via Mumbai. It has a population of about 1 million (about the same as Abu Dhabi) but is such a different city. It's mostly low rise with a domestic airport only. We stayed in one of the two four star hotels and it was pretty comfortable. Here's a photo of me with the door man. His moustache was real and it was spectacular.

We ate some great food..... and no, it's not all for me!

The people we met were all really friendly and really happy to talk to us. One thing that really struck me was how beautiful the women were. Gorgeous big eyes, curvy bods and big white smiles. They looked so elegant in their saris and tunic with the long sash across their shoulders, hanging down their backs. Stunning.

Before this trip I had never really considered India for a holiday destination, but after this small taste, I really want to get back there and see more.

I'll leave you with one more image from India, one of the sacred cow. In Vadodara there were cows walking around the streets everywhere. They had long floppy gorgeous ears. Check out that udder!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Sweet FO's

Can you believe that another friend of mine has had twins?

Sonia and Richard are now the proud parents of little Carlie and Sophie!

Such gorgeous little things, and here's my offering, ready to go into the post.

I just wanted something quick but sweet for two little darlings. They were knitted using Cleckheaton's Bambino Merino and the pattern is from a baby booklet I picked up from and Op Shop in Newtown. I can see them being worn over a little white romper.

In other Finished Object news, the Christmas presents are finished and posted. Here's another teaser.

I just hope they arrive in time.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Anniversary Weekend.

It was our fourth anniversary on the weekend. Four happy years of being married to my sweetheart Chi Wai. We decided to go Dubai for the weekend and kick up our heels a bit.

There was wineing....

and dining....

and Cinnabon!

It was a great weekend.

Lastly here's a photo of us four years ago on our wedding day. Aren't we gorgeous!

P.S. I started writing this weeks ago. I just seemed to turn my head and away they flew. So here's the post at long last!

Monday, November 26, 2007

I think I have a problem!

Look what arrived in the mail last Thursday.

As you can see, it's all from Knit Picks, and as you may have noticed, nearly all my other projects that I have blogged about so far (which have all been knitted since arriving in Abu Dhabi) have been knitted in Knit Picks yarn. This has led me to wonder, do I have some sort of Knit Picks addiction? Do I need to attend Knit Pickaholics Anonymous?

I will say, Knit Picks yarns are not my favourite yarns, I like them a lot but I wouldn't say that they were my favourite. So why the predilection to Knit Picks yarns? This is what I have come up with:-
  1. You can't buy Knit Picks yarns in Australia, so there is definitely a novelty factor. You can't technically buy them here either but I have set up a mailing address in the U.S. to circumnavigate that issue.
  2. The Knit Picks website is a bit of a one stop shop. I have yet to find a yarn shop in the U.A.E, I can't even find a shop that sells buttons, so I have to buy all my supplies online. For this reason, Knit Picks is convenient. They have a wide range to cover a lot of projects.
  3. They are cheap! Even with the postage, it works out to be very reasonable, and I'm a tight @rse at heart!
So, do I have plans for all this yarn, all 2kg of it? Ah, of course not, it's because they had a sale on, I'm a sucker for a sale!

I do however have plans to make this.

It's from Stefanie Japel's "Fitted Knits". Actually I'm already 2 balls (out of a total of six) into it and enjoying every minute of it. It's knitted top down which is a first for me. I will post some progress photos soon.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Can I just say.......

How gorgeous are these two boys!!!

And, ooh what a nice blanket in the background!!!

I wish I was there to give them a cuddle.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Jingle bells, jingle bells.....

I am currently making some Christmas presents for two lovely ladies and their little ones. As it is quite possible that they might read this, I cannot post any pictures of my progress. Here's a hint instead.......

On a completely different topic, this morning when we left the house the whole city was covered in a heavy fog. We were quite amazed as nearly every day we have been here it has been a big blue sky day. Here's a picture taken from the car on the way out to our construction site. Can you see the date palms on the medium strip?

It gives you an idea of how consistent the weather is here, the fact that I am getting excited about a little fog! I dream of rainy days.....

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Hello Josephine!

Okay, here is another finished object. It is called The "Josephine Top" from Interweave Knits Summer 2007. I started this some time ago, practically finished but ran out of yarn with about half a ball to go. By the time reinforcements had arrived I was fully ensconced in the baby blanket and other baby related projects. Now finally it is finished, blocked and everything and I'm pretty happy with it.

It is knitted in Knit Picks Shine Sport in Coral. The colour was brighter than I was expecting but it has grown on me. What do you think?

This next photo is an attempt to show off the texture of the knit (not my boobs) that I really enjoyed knitting.

The only modification that I made to the pattern was to use a mitre in the centre of the "V" and to knit the neck trim in the round rather than joining it at the front after knitting. I'm happy with how it turned out. I thought that the short row sleeves worked well too.

Now back to creating some Christmas presents.....

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Abu Dhabi Knits (Part Two)

Here is part two in my knitting backlog saga.....

Next we have the knitting frenzy in preparation of the arrival of the twins, Sam and Archie. The first picture is of the button-less cardigan. It is an old vintage pattern knit in Knit Picks Merino yarn (the name escapes me). The reason is is called the button-less cardigan is that I could not find any buttons here in Abu Dhabi, so it was sent off button-less! I'm not saying that I could not find any buttons that I was happy with, I'm saying I could not find a single shop that sells buttons, full stop!!! Can you believe that? The cardi is shown with a pair of booties from Debbie Bliss's "Simply Baby" knitted in Cleckheaton Bambino Merino. These turned out a little strange. Chi Wai's comment was that they looked like they were made for a baby with stumps. Needless to say I didn't knit another pair.

The cabled baby blanket is next. Its another pattern from Debbie Bliss's "Simply Baby" and knit in Knit Picks Swish DK in "Skybourne". Its a machine wash merino and it quite nice and soft. When I was knitting this, the cable pattern was all pulled in together so I had my fingers crossed that the blocking step would perform for me and it did. Yay! ZB described it as a triumph, so I was happy with that.

The final effort for the boys was the two vests shown below. The pattern, again, from Debbie Bliss's "Simply Baby" were knit in Knit Picks Ambrosia (80% Baby Alpaca, 20% Cashmere). So soft and luxurious for two little baby boys! The pattern had a round neck but as a variation I put a v-neck on the green one. I think they would look cute with a little white t-shirt underneath.

There, now I'm up to date, and I can start to talk about some current knitting projects. Until then, ciao!

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Thursday Night - Movie Night!

Going to the movies has become a bit of a regular feature on a Thursday night for Chi Wai, Brian and I. Thursday is equivalent to Friday night for us here. We head to Marina Mall to get a quick bite to eat before going to see whatever is on, usually an action flick, not usually a chick flick. I'm out numbered you know!

Last Thursday night we saw a movie called "Shoot 'em Up" starring Clive Owen (hot guy from "Sin City") and Monica Belucci (hot girl in a rubber frock in 2nd Matrix movie). Here's a synopsis of the movie.

There's this guy, Clive, eating a carrot, sitting at a bus stop in a really dingy part of town. This guy, just happens to witness a pregnant woman, apparently in labour, being chased by a mob of bad guys with guns trying to kill her. The pregnant lady takes refuge in a dark abandoned warehouse type location where she is followed by the mob of bad guys. Clive, who just happens to be a former special services crack shot, can't help himself and goes in to help the pregnant woman. He proceeds to kill most of the bad guys while delivering the womans baby. One of the bad guys is killed by Clive shoving his carrot into said bad guy's eye and out the back of his head!

During the scuffles, the woman, no longer pregnant is shot dead, so Clive has to take the baby with him, much to his disgust, he's a tough macho man after all. This is the point when we discover that the bad guys were actually trying to kill the baby, and of course the chase continues. So what is our guy Clive, going to do? Enlist the help of a lactating prostitute (Monica Belucci) of course! Now why didn't I think of that?

This pretty much sets the tone for the rest of the movie which is basically full of bad jokes, lots (and I mean lots) of shooting people, a few boob shots while the sexy Monica feeds the baby and a few more guys getting stabbed with carrots.

I really just wanted to write all that down, to see if it looked as ridiculous in print as it did on screen. Still, I'm not sure if it was the best movie I've ever seen, or the worst.

I wonder what we'll be going to see this Thursday night.......

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Abu Dhabi Knits (Part One)

We arrived here in Abu Dhabi five months ago, just in time for the summer. Summer here as you probably know is extremely hot. I'm talking 45-50 degrees Celsius every day and about 30-35 at night time. HOT! It's so hot that many Emiratis leave the country for a month or two to visit Europe. So imagine poor little me (me of the white, white skin!) trying to cope with it.

Anyway, during the peak summer months (June and August) it is really too hot to be outside for more than the few minutes it takes to get from air-conditioned house to air-conditioned car. So for me it meant lots of time indoors knitting. Here are the spoils.....

Above are my first ever pair of adult socks. The pattern is Monkey from Knitty by Cookie A. I really like her designs. I've used an unknown shade of Koigu sock yarn that I bought in New York in December '06. I was feeling so happy with myself when I finished these socks, I think I made quite a pest of myself around the house! hehehe Poor Chi Wai and Brian (our housemate) had to put up with my gloating!

To be continued.....

Thursday, October 25, 2007

I'm an Auntie!!! Kinda.

Look at these two gorgeous boys!

On the left is Sam (Samuel) Arthur and on the right is Archie Stephen (such skinny little legs!), born to my best friend ZB (what a star!) and her happy hubby. It's probably as close to being an auntie as I'll ever get. They were born on the 13th of October and here they are modeling some little rompers that I sent over. I'm such a proud auntie!! I just wish I was there to give them a cuddle and to help ZB.

Just to be fair, I do already have a gorgeous surrogate niece and nephew, Ruby and Dalton, pictured below, looking fabulous as always. I miss them terribly.

A long time coming!!

So here it is. Finally I have a blog. I'm pretty sure that no one is going to read it and I think that is why I have taken so long to start one, but I have decided that there are things that I want to get "out there", so here it is.

For those of you who don't know me (just in case someone accidentally stumbles across this), I moved to Abu Dhabi earlier this year with my husband Chi Wai for work. Yep, just packed up everything and moved from Australia to the UAE.

So now I live my life on line through emails and instant messaging. So sad. This is one of my reasons for starting a blog, to keep everyone informed of our life over here.

The other reason for starting this blog is knitting related. I love knitting. There, I said it. In Australia I had quite a network of actual knitters to share my knitting related conversations with. In particular I was a regular member of the Wollongong Stitch'n'Bitch. Here in Abu Dhabi I have no one to show off my knitting to. Hence the blog.

So here goes.......