Monday, December 29, 2008

Home Sweet Home

We've just arrived home from our trip home! That is, we've just arrived back in Abu Dhabi from our trip back to Australia. It's funny having two places that you call home. While we are here we always say "back home" but while we were in Australia we were saying "when we get back home". Weird. Anyway, I digress.....

We had a fantastic time and we saw everybody, well nearly everybody. Get ready for a photo heavy post!

Highlights included (roughly in order of occurrence)......

A lovely wedding in a park in Sydney. (No pics of this one at the request of the happy couple)

Lots of gorgeous bubs (it's like they opened up a factory over there since we left I swear!)

Time in the garden with Nanny....

A day of knitting at my LYS and some of my Wollongong Stitch'n'Bitch pals.

A shop til you drop day with the girls on Oxford Street in Paddington.

Christmas with my Marmy (you know, like in "Little Women").

Spending time with our boy Lionus who now lives with his Grandma (my mum).

I was worried that I wouldn't want to come home (Abu Dhabi home that is), but by the end of our trip I seemed to be okay with it. Now what does that tell you?

Sunday, December 28, 2008


Yes I know this has been a long time coming, but due to crazy work and a trip back home (yes, I will tell you all about it soon, I promise!) I've been a bad blogger. Anyway, here goes.

Tah dah! Here they are....

Firstly, here is the lovely Zena, looking stunning in her "Cherry Pie" complete with red ribbon and little brooch.

Zena ended up adding the snaps (or press studs) in between the buttons on the button band and as you can see, she has every reason to be really happy with her effort. The RYC Cashcotton that Zena used was absolutely scrumptious to touch. Yummy. All of the specs and mods for Zena's Cherry can be found in the previous posts here, here and here.

Now for my effort.....

During the finishing stage of this I became a complete perfectionist (which is unsual for me) and grafted the the shoulder seams and grafted on the button and neck bands. I wouldn't bother with that normaly, but I really just wanted to ge the extra mile for this cardigan and I'm really happy with the result.

Here we are together. Aren't we pretty?


Are we feeling proud of ourselves?

You better believe it baby!

PS. You may notice all the lovely yarn stacked up behind us. That's because we were enjoying a wonderful day of knitting at CR & K Daisy Designs in Fairy Meadow, on my recent trip home. What a perfect setting for photographing finished objects, don't you think?

Friday, November 21, 2008

Top 5

The top five ways that you know you have been working bloody hard, physically AND mentally.

And the winners are....

5. Your voice is going from shouting over the noise of it all

4. Your whole body aches from running up and down stairs all day

3. You've eaten junk food for every night for a week

2. Every time you blow your nose, black stuff comes out (Ew!)

and the number one tell tale sign of too much work.......

1. You have barely done any knitting at all!!!!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Cherry Blossom

Late on Thursday afternoon I got an IM from Zena saying....
It is done...

I am very tired so am going to bed.

Will block tomorrow. Should get some photos for you. Hopefully i can stretch it a bit during blocking, it's a bit snug at the moment!!
I could not believe she had finished it already. She is a machine!

This morning I received this in my mailbox....
Well it is done! I just laid it out to block and took some semi-happy snaps for you. Something seems to have gone west with my gauge as it is quite snug, yarn band says 22st/10cm, my swatch was 22st/10cm (just) so who knows what happened. before blocking it was more like a 33-34" than a 36" (I need it to be 35"). I've pinned it out to 35" but not sure how it will hold up. I am pretty dissappointed at this stage, as it feels like the shaping would be perfect if only it was a bit bigger. The buttons are just tied on so I could try it one properly although I quite like the simple mother of pearl and I think the size is about right too (will still need to buy buttons though as these are actually slightly different sizes/styles). Photo's attached for the fans.

Oh dear Zenes! I'm sure that once you try it on, the wonders of negative ease will kick in. I'm keeping my fingers crossed for you darling! Doesn't it look fabulous though. I just love the colour.

Meanwhile I am still faffing with sleeves and spending way too much time thinking about buttons!

Here are the results of those deliberations.

Half an hour playing and dragging poor Chi Wai in to view five different button options! I also went through all of these options with the girls at SnB yesterday hoping for a unanimous decision which of course I did not get. I have managed to narrow it down to either the pink plastic flower buttons (two top squares to the left in the photo) or the creamy shell buttons shown in the centre square. Also note that I am planning to go for seven buttons rather than the five specified by the pattern in an attempt to limit gaping. See what I meant by "thinking too much about buttons"!!!

I have however finally made a decision on the sleeves. I've taken a similar path to what Zena has done. I wrapped the back ribbing section around my arm to see how many stitches I would need (61), cast on that many and then evenly increased after the ribbing to get to required number of stitches (74). I think it has worked okay. Sleeve one is knitted and blocking with sleeve two about half done on the needles. I still need to seam everything up and knit the button band and neck band. Still a little way to go before I catch up to Zena.

The saga continues.....

Getting our knit together!

We had another very successful SnB yesterday. Yes, I know we have been talking about naming it something else, but when we get together we always preoccupied with other things. Kundi has a few great suggestions here. I personally like "U-knitted Nations".

We had another two new members join us yesterday bringing us to 10 people! Our two new members Asma'a and Rama are both new to knitting, in fact we were giving them lessons right there in the cafe. Hala always comes prepared for this with a spare set of needles and ball of yarn. Asma'a and Rama were both very excited to be learning to knit, and not at all put off by the level of obsession of the rest of us. Yay!

There was a bit of excitement at the Marina Mall yesterday while we were there. The Korean Navy Band (go figure!) was playing on the ice rink, complete with little dancing men banging on drums with streamers on their hats making quite a racket!

It was quite a lot to compete with, still we managed to lift our voices above it all and continue. I think this was our longest get together yet. We were there for five hours. Go us!

I've said it before and I will say it again. It's so nice to have some knitting friends that I can get together to knit with again. Yay!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Cherry Pie

Last night I had a dream that Zena and I were both knitting the same cardigan. I walked into a room to find Zena's cardigan blocking out on the bed, almost finished. It was completely assembled except that the right front was not quite finished being knitted (impossible I know, but it was a dream, okay!). In the dream the cardigan had long sleeves, a small cable pattern all over it and this really interesting flared peplum done in short rows. It was more like a structured jacket than a cardigan I would have to say and I think it was pale blue. In the dream I was no where near this finished and there was a definite sense of panic. Weird!

In real life, we are both still plugging away at our Cherries, at slightly different paces, stopping to work on other projects from time to time, until the other person (me) has a chance to catch up a bit!

After my comment last time about the possibly small sleeves, Zena had this to say (earlier in the week)....
Ooh I see what you mean about the sleeves! I just cast on for the first one, only knitted two rows of the rib and I can see already that its not going to fit! The sleeves are cast on 57 stitches, rib for an inch and then do a bunch of increases to get 76 stitches. I just wrapped the back of my cardi around my upper arm and I need 75 stitches to get the rib sitting comfortably- which is pretty much exactly what I'll have after the ribbing and increases in the pattern, except that 57 stitches will definitely not fit. Therefore I think I'm going to make the call to cast on 75 stitches, rib away for an inch and then increase 1 stitch to get an even number and continue as per the sleeve cap in the pattern. It means my sleeves won't be puffy but hey I never expected them to be! At least this way it should fit AND I won't have to mess around with the sleeve cap- this is my first proper adult fitted sleeves so would like to just follow the pattern this time!
Can you see why she is my best friend! She is so clever. I still have not blocked my first sleeve to see how my solution to the problem turned out. I think I'm avoiding it, and I have a strong suspicion that I will just end up doing what Zena has done. Instead I went straight on to the left front and worked on something I knew would turn out okay. My usual denial technique!

Here's the left front (button band and all!) beside the back, after blocking,

and a bit of an artistic shot showing off the pretty stitch pattern. So much better without the flash!

I am now happily working away on the right front, still avoiding the issue of the sleeves!

Zena on the other hand has tackled it head on. A few days after making her hypothesis on the sleeves she had put it into practise. She sent me this....
Here are some progress photo's of my cherry- its growing!

I decided to go with the modified sleeves as we discussed earlier - I cast on 75 stitches for the 36" size, ribbed for an inch and then increased one stitch to give 76 stitches as called for in the pattern after the increase row. This meant I could just follow the pattern for the sleeve cap. It means the sleeve isn't puffy at all but it does fit and I think it looks fine. It was fun trying to fit the sleeve cap into place- I've never done a proper adult one before but it wasn't as scary as I expected.

Showing off her methodical approach to fitting the sleeve cap here,

and here with a sleeve that fits.

Note the yarn in the back pocket. Nice bum Zenes!

Ever the perfectionist, Zena has some concerns about the placement of birdies along the front openings.
I'm still really happy with the way this is progressing although I'm not 100% sure about the birdie placement in some areas- my guess is that it was designed for a smaller size (Miss Bell looks to be a bit slimmer than a 36") and the scaling up has thrown things out a bit. I won't really know if its a problem for me until its all finished, which feels a bit risky but hey that is knitting- if I wanted certainty I'd be buying a cardi in the shops not knitting it myself!
Looking at my photo above, I think the birdies along the front opening look fine once the button band is in place, and I hope for Zena's sake that she thinks so too. Otherwise I fear a lot of frogging. Yikes!

Just a little history on Zena and I. We met on the second day of University after moving into on campus accommodation and finding that we were next door to each other. Zena was studying Environmental Engineering and I was studying Materials Engineering. Being the only two female engineers in the place they must have figured that we would have something in common and that we would get along. They were right! That was fifteen years ago!

About five years ago (a little less) Zena and I continued our history of independently doing the same thing when we both decided (without any discussions between the two of us, hard to believe I know) that we wanted to learn how to knit. I had seen a blanket pattern in the "Better Homes and Gardens" magazine that I thought would look good on our new lounge in our new little house. I was newly married and must have been nesting. Zena found a fluffy white scarf that was a must have but didn't want to pay the $90 asking for something that was in her mind so simple.

Typical for the two of us, I went out and bought a book, and asked my Nanny to teach me how to knit, while Zena worked it out all by herself from her memories of knitting as a child. Zena still wears that scarf today (fluffy white angora in garter stitch with lots of tassels, just gorgeous) and my blanket did indeed look good on our new lounge. The rest as they say is history!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Cherry Ripe

Yes I know you are all positively dying to know how Zena and I are going on a Cherries! Well no one has asked actually, but we are going to tell you anyway!

I have finished the back now and I've also blocked it to size. I think my guage is a little bit off (too tight), but this yarn is so stretchy, once it was wet I had no trouble getting it to co-operate. Here's a photo after blocking. It's not a very good photo, but this is what you get when you get home in the dark and have use the flash, yucky photos!

I have used short rows to shape the shoulders and have left the stitches live so that I can use the three needle bind off (or grafting if I'm really feeling energetic!) later on. Here's a photo earlier on which shows off the stitch pattern a bit better. I also think this is a closer representation of the colour.

So it was going pretty well up to this point.

Zena has this to say about her Cherry progress.....

Here is a photo of my Cherry to date.

Progress was going great until I looked at it and decided I didn't like the bits where I had omited a birdie because I couldn't fit a whole one in- and if I don't like it now, I'm really not going to like it when its finished, which means I won't wear it. Rippit, rippit, rippit!

Note the needle threaded through the middle? That is where I have frogged to. There are no post-frog photo's, its too sad.
I am actually more surprised at my surprise about all this, I don't think I've ever knitted anything for myself that hasn't involved a LOT of knitting and frogging and re-knitting- good thing I like knitting eh?!

Apart from the frogging, I'm really happy with this so far. The RYC Cashcotton DK is lovely, a weird mix of cotton, angora, cashmere, viscose and a bit of plastic (polyamide). Incredibly soft although I do miss the spring that comes with knitting wool and I think this going to need some serious blocking. I'm a bit worried about the arms though, these fuhduhbuhdahs might need a few extra stitches for a comfortable fit!
Zena isn't the only one worried about her fuhduhbuhdahs (flabby arms for those who have not seen "Kath & Kim"). After finishing the back of my Cherry I went straight on to the first sleeve. The ribbing is done on smaller needles (3.25mm) and after my first attempt, there was no way the sleeve was going to fit around my meaty upper arm! I am thinking it must be a gauge issue. According to the pattern the finished size of the sleeve in the size I am making is 33cm, which is fine for my arm (I checked!), but on my first attempt I was only getting about 23cm! I frogged it back and re-knitted it on the larger needles (4.0mm). This time, it will be big enough, but only if I block the bejeezers out of it, so I'm not sure what I should do. Do I block it and see what it looks like, or should I add more stitches and then hope that I can fit the sleeve cap into the arm? The third option would be to work out my guage issues and end up with the right sized sleeve, but that just sounds way too difficult. Any suggestions anyone?

That's all for now on the Cherry saga. Until the next Cherry update, ciao from Zena and me!

PS. I am typing this, stirring the risotto with one hand, glass of wine in the other! Am I multi-skilled or what! Or perhaps the risotto is burning, my blog post is full of spellos and the only thing that is being done properly is the consumption of wine! Heh heh heh!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Knit One, Sip One

Yesterday we had a bit of an impromptu SnB because well, sometimes once a month is just not enough!

We got together in the morning this time and on a Saturday for a change of pace, but at our usual location, the Caribou Cafe in Marina Mall. We even had new ladies!

What was most exciting was we had a visit from a lady named Jennifer who lives in Dubai and is going to start her very own yarn shop! Our very own lys, well almost local, Dubai is about an hour and a half away, but still very do-able!

Here's Jennifer (right) with Eva (left) eyeing off the yarn catalogue. Hmmm.......

And here are the other girls playing with the yarn that Jennifer brought with her!

From right to left we have Lindsay, Sydney, Lulu and Sharon, with all the lovely yarn on the table in the foreground.

Quite a few of us were tempted. Of course I came home with more yarn, which I need like a hole in the head, but this time I actually got to see and feel the the yarn before making my choice. What a luxury! This is earmarked for a particular project but I will talk more about that later.

Mission Falls 1824 cotton! I have always been curious to see what this was like in the flesh and now I have some of my very own. It's mine I tells ya, a-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha (evil laugh)!

You may remember last time I talked about our new SnB group, I mentioned Sydney (named after our fair city no less!) who is a non-knitter. Well, check this out! Lulu was a very patient instructor and Sydney managed a whole swatch of knitting and purling. We were all very impressed and I think Sydney was quite excited with her effort! I knew we would manage to convert her!

This is what I managed to knit in the few hours we were there (this photo really does not do it justice, ugh!).

I was inspired by Hala who was working on this the last time we met. Is called the Petite Pochette (meaning little bag!). It's a progressive knit-a-long with new instructions each week and Hala is kindly translating the instructions for me from the original French. The pattern is really easy but is a good mindless diversion from Cherry and I think the finished result will be a really cute clutch purse. I've had the yarn for a while and it was just begging to be turned into an evening purse of some kind. It's Tilli Thomas Disco Lights in Ruby Wine. Lush!

I am really loving having some knitting friends in the same country as me, again!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Cherry Baby

A while ago my best friend Zena and I realised we had "queued" the same project on Ravelry. This really isn't very surprising for us, we have very similar taste. Whenever we go shopping together we are constantly reaching for the same item. When we were at university we would return from the summer break having been shopping with our mums, only to have purchased near identical clothing and then turn up to uni wearing the same thing!

So this time when we found that we liked the same pattern, rather than fighting the coincidence, we decided that we would both knit it, together, at the same time. We'd have ourselves our own little knit-a-long. Just the two of us.

The pattern we have chosen is called Cherry by Anna Bell. I am going to report on our progress here, so stay tuned!

With the help of Zena I have chosen Sublime's Cashmere, Silk, Merino blend in "Tease" which is a nice deep rosy pink. This yarn is soooo lush. I can't believe that I have not discovered before.

Zena has chosen Cashcotton by RYC in "Pool". Her Cherry is going to be so pretty! She has knitted a lovely swatch to show you all.

It will be interesting to see how the two cardigans turn out, with me using a bouncy merino based yarn and Zena with her not so bouncy cotton based yarn.

I have cast on for the back and have got as far as the 1x1 ribbing done. There has been some discussion between us about the virtues of straight 1x1 rib versus a twisted rib (knitting in the back loop). As it turns out I find my normal 1x1 rib to look much neater than my twisted rib, where as Zena prefers the look of her twisted rib. Isn't it fun how we all do things differently?

This is going to be fun. Let the knit-a-long begin!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Haaave you met Phonky!

Inspired by Donna's daily Twinkie updates and talk yesterday of Lindsay's cat Princess, I would like to present, Phonky (pronounced with an 'F' sound).

Phonky came to us from Feline Friends which is an organisation that does what it can to look after all the stray and street cats here in Abu Dhabi. They have an "Adopt a Cat" program which was how we got Phonky. He had lived in a few homes when he came to live with us, and had had a few names as well. When we got him, his name was Phonkin and in true Aussie style we shortened it to Phonky. Don't ask me what it means, or where it comes from. Other aliases include Phonk, Phonkmeister, The Phonkster and Sir Phonk-a-lot.

Phonky has actually been living with us for a few months now. He was Chi Wai's birthday present back in July. It's taken him a while to warm up to us (he was 18 months old when we got him) but he's now part of the family and even Brian is quite attached.

He loves to play with random objects on the tiled floor. Just this morning he managed to carry a wine stopper from the kitchen sink in his mouth down to the floor and then proceed to fling it all about the place! He's also managed to get into my yarn on a few occasions and make a bit of a mess of things. Cheeky Phonky!

It's so nice to have little warm furry cuddly thing in the house again (Chi Wai is warm and cuddly too, but not furry!).


Saturday, October 4, 2008

Indian Escape

Chi Wai and I have just returned from four days spent staying on a coffee plantation in a place called Wayanad in the state of Kerala in the south of India. We stayed on a coffee plantation called the Tranquil Resort.

We stayed in a tree house!

We even had a tree going right though our room!

The tree house had a fantastic veranda surrounded by trees.

There was a small creek running under the tree house making very soothing sounds. That, with the sound of bird song, monkeys running around underneath and the divine weather made the veranda the perfect place sit for hours alternating between my book and my crochet hook.

We saw lots of monkeys on the plantation, but they were a bit shy for the cameras. Here's one cheeky little guy we did manage to catch.

When we weren't enjoying the veranda, we were walking through the coffee fields,

taking in the lovely gardens around the main house,

and lazing by the pool.

The other major pastime was eating. The resort is a home-stay style resort where all meals were eaten in a communal outdoor dining area with the other guests and family members of our hosts Victor and Rangini. We were mostly served Indian food with a few Western dishes thrown in here and there. The food was delicious! Here's Chi Wai and I about to enjoy a traditional Kerala style meal served on a banana leaf.

We had such a fantastic relaxing holiday and it was made all the better by the hospitality shown by our hosts Vicktor and Rangini, their daughter Nisha and her husband Ajay. They really made us feel so welcome and looked after.

I didn't want to come home!