Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Blanket Love!

Who would have thought that a baby blanket could bring a room full of grown women to tears!

Well this blanket did, twice!

But this blanket has a story behind it and the story is what is stirring up all the emotion. This blanket was specially knitted for my baby by my knitting friends back in Australia. Each of these friends (Zena, Ailsa, Donna, Kerry, Rae, Annie, Kate, Shirley, Becky and Sharon) knitted one or more of the squares and then Zena, my best friend, assembled them all together to make this absolutely stunning baby blanket. The yarn is Heirloom Bliss, a gorgeous soft merino which is machine washable for practicality and yet feels soooo luxurious. As Zena said on Ravelry, it will be a wonderful hug from all the girls when the baby arrives. I just don't know how to thank you all enough, it truly is so beautiful and so special.

Each of the squares is different and was identified with a small white tag as to it's creator. Here are shots of a few faves.

So what's all this talk of crying. Well, when Zena found out that my mum was coming over before the birth of the baby she sent the blanket to her rather than posting it directly to me. The post here in Abu Dhabi can be a little unpredictable and my guess is that she didn't want to risk something so precious to the possible perils of the UAE postal system. When mum saw it she couldn't help taking it to work with her to show her colleagues. Just a bit of background there, mum is a high school teacher, teaching Home Ec/Textiles and Design and most of her immediate colleagues are female. There has been much talk about the arrival of mum's first grandchild in the past few months. When mum produced the blanket at a special afternoon tea that they were throwing for her, the day before she was flying here, it was tears all 'round from the "Home Ec Aunties". They could really feel the sentiment behind the blanket.

The next round of crying came last Friday at our monthly Amiras meet up (our Abu Dhabi based knitting group). I proudly brought the blanket along to show to the girls and again the tears were flowing! Here's a shot of Sydney, myself and Rama, admiring the blanket at our usual haunt. Note the not very effective hiding of the bump!

I of course cried too when I first opened the blanket. Seeing all those little while tags with the names on them. Knowing that the girls were sending their love in this special way, really made me quite emotional. It might sound kind of corny to some, but this blanket really is going to be so special to me and my baby.

Thank you so much girls! Big hugs and kisses coming your way!

Friday, September 25, 2009

Baby Shower Bliss!

I am so late in posting about this but even though it was two weeks ago I couldn't not post! So here goes.

Two weeks ago it was our monthly scheduled meet-up of the U-knitted Amiras, our Abu Dhabi based knitting group. Because it fell in the middle of Ramadan, our usual hang out location was closed so Kundi very kindly offered to have us all over to her place, and because of the new locale it had been decided that we would have ourselves a little yarn dyeing shin-dig. Well, that's what I thought was the plan anyway.

When I arrived (half an hour late due to a brownie cooking emergency!) I was greeted with "Surprise!" and cameras flashing. The girls in secret had planned a huge Baby Shower, just for little old me! I had absolutely no idea and was completely stunned, although not lost for words of course!

In true American Baby Shower style there were fabulous themed decorations and party favours for everyone!

And once I had arrived, everyone was allowed to eat! Yay!

Such a yummy spread the girls had put together. And then, it was time for presents!

Just look at all those gorgeous colourful gifts. I was completely overwhelmed!

I have to make a special mention of the hand knitted and crocheted gifts, because of course that is was we are all about.

First of all there are the adorable crocheted booties and cap from Eva. I can't wait to try these on our little guy when he arrives.

Next we have the adorable knits of Miss Lindsay! One of the very clever Danger Craft Monsters and a gorgeous cotton blanket designed especially for cuddling up baby in when he gets out of the bath. (Ravelry project links here and here).

The monsters are just great and I can see them being a real favourite with bubba when he arrives. The big one is quite large, perfect for toddler baby bear hugs!

When Debbie (Rav link) decides to make baby gifts, well she just really goes to town! Check out this hoard of goodies from her!

There is an adorable little vest in purple Alpaca, the cutey cute Felix cardigan and an absolutely stunning crocheted blanket in lovely spongy merino that will be used for years to come.

And lastly, also from Debbie, presenting the Romper Stomper!

The romper is a vintage pattern from a South African knitting magazine (Debbie is from SA) and it has been knitted in a gorgeous soft and very UAE friendly bamboo yarn. I think it is just fabulous! Can't you just imagine fat pudgey baby legs coming out of this with white socks?

After presents there was cake!

This meet-up just happened to coincide with the 1st anniversary of our first ever Amiras meet-up, when we sat in the empty mall because it was Ramadan then too. When I got home from the baby shower is was feeling quite emotional about it all (baby hormones so they tell me) and thinking about how much has changed in one year. A year ago I had been living here for over a year but had still made very few friends. Now a year later I have this beautiful group of friends, all passionate about our craft and so thoughtful to have gone to so much trouble for me. I was really so touched. Big hugs and kisses to you all, thank you so much!

An extra special thanks goes to Lindsay who did the majority of the shower organising, to Louise for the gorgeous decorations, to Rama for the great part favours, to Kundi for having us all at her place and to all the girls from Dubai who made the trip specially. What a fabulous day it was!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

What a difference a day (or two) makes!

On Monday I was having a really bad day. Nothing serious, I just felt really tired, I was having to walk around in the heat at work and I just felt awful. Seriously, the heat in the factory is another thing all together, it actually feels like my skin is getting burned.

Flip forward to today and I am feeling soooo good! It's my 35th birthday today and normally that would only make things worse. I have a bad relationship with birthdays normally, but not today. Today I feel happy, thankful and overall good about life. You've gotta be happy with that!

I seem to be really bad at this blogging gig at the moment. I start writing posts and then re-read them, think they are boring and give them the sack. Let's see if this one gets out today.

One of the issues is that I don't have any knitting to talk about. There has of course been plenty of knitting, but I have been knitting presents and so I can't talk about them yet. Knitting is always easy to talk about.

And so I have to talk about something else. Here goes.

A few biggish things have been going on lately. Firstly we have hired a nanny/maid. She has started working with us now so that I can get to know her before the baby arrives. I'll refer to her as G. She's working full time for us already and living in our house (in the "maids quarters") and also cooking most of our meals. I have to say, it has been a very strange experience to let someone into you home and start looking after these things. I am by no means a clean freak (far, far from it) so having her doing the cleaning has been amazing, but when it comes to the cooking, I am struggling with the loss of control. Don't get me wrong, I love coming home to dinner on the table, but the idea that I don't know exactly what is going into each meal is difficult to get over. Back on the cleaning side, it is also very strange to have someone tidy up after you every day. Reading a magazine at breakfast in the morning at the dining table? Well it won't be there when you come back in the afternoon, and my make-up brush roll which has always laid open on the bathroom counter gets neatly rolled up and put on the shelf every day. Truly a strange experience. The other part is, I'm a working class girl, and having a maid (let alone a full time, live-in maid), makes me feel completely indulgent. I'm sure that I will get over that eventually!

The other big thing that has happened in my life (being pregnant aside) in the last few months is a little hard to talk about, but here goes. Without delving too much into my family history, I have two half-sisters which I have up until now never known. A few months back my brother Marc and I finally got up the courage to make contact with them. We've been talking on email since then, trying to make up for lost time, and I am so glad that I finally took the step to get in touch. It's been amazing to see all of the things that we have in common with each other, especially considering the age gap. My sisters are Caitlin, 19 and Jaime, 17 and they seem like really great girls.

The big discovery with the Caitlin, is that she is also a knitter! How amazing is that! I'm not sure that she is quite as obsessed as me, but I plan to work on that. When she found out that I am also a knitter and that I am pregnant, she got to work straight away. Last week, this is what arrived in the mail.

Isn't he adorable! He has proper working joints in his arms legs and neck, and such neat stitches. I'm still trying to come up with a name for him. Current suggestions range from something in Chinese to something that is derived from the word sister to signify his auspicious origins. Maybe I should find out (Chi Wai?) what the Chinese word for sister is! I was really touched to recieve this and I know he's going to be very special to our baby. Thank you Caitlin.

Last but not least, something else very special arrived in the mail last weekend. This!

It's always so exciting when friends start to do clever things. knitabulous, one of my knitting friends from Wollongong has started dyeing and selling her own yarn. This is her fabulous colourway "Count Sockular"! I love it! Knitabulous is doing some amazing things with colour, mostly with semi-solids which I always find more versatile. You can check out her Etsy store here.

Okay, I'm going to hit the "Publish Post" button NOW before I over think things!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Mother Knows Vest!

My facination with the baby vest continues with these two projects.

Firstly we have what I like to call "How now green owl!"

Pattern: Owl Baby Vest by Jodi Haraldson
Yarn: Knit Picks Comfy Sport in Honey Dew
Needles: 3.25mm
Modifications: A few, see below

This pattern only comes in one size, 9-12 months, and recommends a DK weight yarn. I wanted a smaller vest so went with a sport weight yarn and hoped for the best with the size. It has turned out really small, minute in fact, a true new born size, so it will probably fit our little guy for all of about five minutes after he pops out! It's so adorable though, being so small. I think I might use this as part of his coming home outfit so he at least gets one wear out of it.

I basically ignored the pattern after the cable and did my own thing for the armholes and v-neck placing. I did not like that the v-neck did not line up with the middle of the centre owl on the original pattern so I rectified this. I also added the shoulder opening as well. Leaning from the "Little Boy Blue" vest experience, this time I made the button holes between the ribbing band and the shoulder strap so that the button holes are a little further apart and I am much happier with the result this time.

Next up is "Mother Knows Vest!"

Pattern: Improvised
Yarn: Knit Picks Comfy Sport in Cashew and Honey Dew, Knit Picks Shine Sport in Willow.
Needles: 3.00mm
Size: 3-6 months

This one is knitted flat to avoid the stripe jog. Yes, I know that there is a way to avoid the jog in the round but I was too lazy to investigate it and I have no issue with a little bit of mattress stitch. The yarns were carried up the side between each colour change. Same deal as above on the shoulder opening. These cotton yarns from Knit Picks really are perfect for baby knitting. So soft and so cheap! Yay!

So why all the vests? Well for one thing, its about all that my baby brain can handle at the moment. The other factor is that I think as far as knitted baby garments go living in Abu Dhabi, a little cotton vest is going to be the most versatile and get the most wear. If we do get some cool weather in December/January (it does happen!) I can put some long sleeves underneath and short sleeves for when it is warmer. See how I spend too much time thinking about these things!

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Hey baby!

Yes I know it's been a while but I'm here now!

I'm now 23 weeks pregnant, more than half way, so I thought I would share some of my thoughts on this whole pregnancy gig.

Firstly, here is a picture of me showing off my bump!

This photo was taken about four weeks so things have grown quite considerable since then.

I would have to say that I am having what would be considered a good pregnancy. I suffered some mild morning sickness in the first trimester but was still capable of travelling to Australia, then London and Paris within the first 13 weeks of my pregnancy so really I shouldn't complain. So far there have been no real complications apart from being a bit anaemic. I've been sleeping fairly well, no need to get up and pee in the middle of the night, although I am starting to get a bit uncomfortable at the moment. I'm not suffering from any water retention (yet!) which is surprising given how hot it is here now and I seem to have been able to escape many other common pregnancy ailments. My only real complaints would be tiredness and some mild back pain.

Still I wouldn't describe myself as one of those people who loves being pregnant. I'm definitely in this game for the end result. I'm not a process knitter after all! To all the ladies out there who have had difficult pregnancies and then have gone on to do it all again, I salute you!

Apart from the physical side of things, the main thing that I have noticed is how much this has changed my life already. Already my brain is completely occupied with baby stuff! Which pram to buy, thoughts about cleaning out all the cupboards to make room for the baby's stuff, doctors and hospital appointments. I love to read and I am a member of a book club, but I have been having trouble reading anything that isn't related to being pregnant or parenting. Lastly, all of my knitting lately has been baby related. I have been trying really hard not to be one of those people that can only talk about baby stuff, it's always been a thing that has bugged me in the past, but I've got to tell you it is really hard, and I fear that despite my effort I am failing miserably! Big apologies to all of you that have had to put up with me going on, and on, and on.......

Speaking of going on and on, at this point I feel like I'm ready for it all to be finished and the baby to be here. He's kicking me everyday now and both Chi Wai and I are anxious to meet our little guy. Still, I have four months to go and really we do need some more time to get ready. There are still so many things to buy! It's a great marketing racket I assure you, but we have been sucked in like all the rest. At this stage we have bought a pram which we managed to get at nearly 50% off which was a bonus, and some baby clothes. I have been trying to be restrained with the baby clothes because everyone keeps telling me how quickly they grow out of things. There are so many cute things though!

Next time: Baby related knitting! See what I mean, I really can't talk about anything else at the moment!

Thursday, May 21, 2009


Is your cat plotting to kill you?

Oh Phonky! How could you?

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Not lazy, busy!

I've just read two blog posts where the writers were talking about how they have not been blogging regularly enough. One blogger had not posted for two weeks while the other had not posted for five days! Makes my five weeks of no posts look really bad.

So what's my excuse? Well it's not that I haven't had anything to talk about, actually it's quite the opposite. Life has been busy, and I've had plenty to tell, just no time to do it in. Well that's probably not entirely true, I could post if I made the time, there are just so many distractions!

Anyway, I am here now, so where will I start? With knitting of course! Although some of you might like to know how the baby stuff is going as well. I'll get to that later.

The good thing about not posting for a while is that now when I show off my FOs I'm going to look really prolific! Don't be fooled, some of these projects have been completed for quite a while, as far back as February! The downside is that a lot of you would have seen these pictures already on Ravelry as I am much better at keeping it up to date.

Speaking of February, here's my FLS, finally photographed!

Pattern: February Lady Sweater by Pamela Wynne
Yarn: Malabrigo Worsted in Emerald
Needle: 5mm
Modifications: I ditched the eyelet increases for a M1 increase on the yoke. I decreased the additional cast on stitches under the arm so that I wouldn't get a bulky sleeve and for the longer sleeves I changed to a 4mm needle to reduce some of the bell shape.

I'm really happy with the end result, although I have been toying with shortening the sleeves. It will be a good cardi for the arctic conditions of the cinema! Yes, feel free to comment on the visible bump in this photo, but don't say anything about the chubby cheeks!

I had five balls of the Mally for the FLS and after completing it I had nearly a whole ball left. Just before we left for the UK I decided to knit up a quick hat for my brother's girlfriends Jo. Here's the result.

Pattern: Hurricane Hat by Andrea Goutier
Yarn: Malabrigo Worsted in Emerald
Needles: 4.5mm
Mods: None

A great quick hat pattern. Unfortunately I don't have any photos of the lovely spiral on the top of this hat, but I think the gorgeous Jo more than makes up for this. I still have more yarn left, maybe a baby hat?

Next we have the project I am most proud of at the moment. My first ever shawl! I just keep wanting to look at it, it's so pretty if I do say so myself!

Pattern: Ishbel from the Whimsical Little Knits Collection by Ysolda Teague
Size: Large
Yarn: Malabrigo Yarn Lace in Molly, 1 skein.
Needles: 4mm
Mods: None

I know it is a really simple pattern as far as shawls go, but I am still feeling quite chuffed with this. I have no idea what I will actually do with something like this. The most likely option will be to wear it a la the last photo, next time we go somewhere cold. I've read mixed reviews on the Mally Lace, but I really liked it. Then again, not being a true lace knitter I'm probably not the best judge of a lace yarn's character. I love the vibrant colour. I'm really into coral at the moment.

Last but not least is the first in what is sure to be a long line of baby knitting. Presenting "Little Boy Blue".

Yarn: Artyarns Supermerino in Colourway 149
Needles: 3.25mm for the ribbing and 4.0mm for the stockinette.

I used a few different baby patterns to get the rough dimensions and then just started knitting. Knit in the round to the armholes, three needle bind off on the left shoulder and button band on the right to allow for big baby heads. I will not make that mistake again!

A few weeks ago we found out that I am having a boy, hence the blueness of this, but I have still not decided that I will keep this for myself. There are other boys on the way as well! I'll probably make a few of this type of thing, so next time I will space the button holes a bit further apart. I might also try putting this over a little t-shirt to see if the armholes are big enough. I'm thinking that they look a little too small. Still, cute, don't you think? The puppy was in one of the first gift parcels that we have recieved, from our good friends Jason, Shino and their own gorgeous little boy Hinata.

Thoughts on this whole being pregnant thing? Next time. I'll be back I promise.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Next, London!

Wow London!

By the time we got back to London we were pretty much museumed and art galleried out! This meant we spent more time wandering in parks, shopping, and doing some of the more touristy things. Also one of the big draw cards of London for me (apart from being never having been there before) is that my baby (6'4") brother Marc has been living there since not long after we moved to Abu Dhabi.

We started the trip (before heading off to Paris) with a visit to the famous Portobello Road market in Notthing Hill. It was full of colour and too many people.

The best part was all the interesting food stalls and fresh flowers. Here's Chi Wai and Marc enjoying their German sausages that we had for lunch. Yum!

The day after we got back from Paris we had a lovely morning walking through Hyde Park/Kensington Gardens, admiring the flowering bulbs, chasing squirrels and stopping off at the Diana's Memorial.

We had a lovely lunch at the Orangery Cafe next to Kensington Palace. The Orangery Cake with a pot of English Breakfast after lunch was divine!

After lunch we spent the afternoon at the fantastic Victoria & Albert museum, the only museum we went to in London. The V&A museum houses objects such as furniture, household items and fashion. It was really interesting to see the different fashions in home decor through the ages.

This was the chandelier in the main foyer. We thought it was cool, plus I like this photo that Chi Wai took.

That night we went out for dinner with my brother, his lovely girlfriend Jo and also her family, to a little Thai place near where my brother lives.

Here's Marc and Jo.

And here is me and Chi Wai. Chi Wai is sporting a lovely red wine glow!

The next day we met Marc and Jo in the Spitalfields area (near the famous Brick Lane) to have lunch and to check out the markets there. These markets were much better than those at Portobello Road. Lots of funky hand made things which I love. I bought some gorgeous handmade baby bibs (cluck cluck) and I even found a stall selling yarn where I bought some scrumptious cashmere, some divinely soft bamboo and some yarn made from banana (well I never!).

So that rounded off the weekend. During the follwing week we did some shopping in the city, the open top bus tour, took a trip out to Windsor to look at the Castle and went to the Tower of London.

The open top bus tour took in all the major sights of London. You know, Big Ben, Tower Bridge, Buckingham Palace, Trafalgar Square. It was a good way to see a lot in one day.

We also stopped off, had a cruise along the Thames and went on the "London Eye".

The best part of this day, came right at the end when we signed up for what was advertised as a walking "Ghost Tour", part of the bus tour ticket price. When we arrived the tour guide (a slightly mad Irishman) advised us that the ghost tour was boring and that he would be taking us on a pub crawl instead. Everyone (including us) seemed quite happy with this arrangement and off we set. The guide took us to six fabulous traditional English pubs complete with low ceilings, winding staircases and pork scratchings. We met some great people on the tour, had a great time and got home after midnight (a late night for me in my current condition). We really enjoyed it because it was something that we probably wouldn't have done by ourselves and Chi Wai got to drink beer while I watched!

Windsor is an hour train ride from London and is home of Winsdor Castle, the place where the Queen likes to hang at the weekend. It's a working castle but quite a large section is open to the public.

The most interesting part was being able to watch the famous "changing of the guard". Talk about pomp and ceremony! The whole thing , complete with a huge brass band playing toe tapping jazz classics, went for about 45 minutes! I found it mildly hilrious and intriguing at the same time.

Chi Wai rather thought he'd like to get a job as one of the Queen's guards. What do you think?

All in all we had a fantastic trip. We loved both Paris and London. Great people and public transport in both cities! Paris was so beautiful and romantic, while London gave us the feeling that it was a city that would be really easy to live in. It was great to see Marc and finally meet Jo as well.

I'll leave you with one last picture of Chi Wai and I in a little park just across the road from our hotel in Paddington.

PS. Here's the answer to the question I posed in my last post in order of appearance.

1. Preppy Vest (in the winged voctory photo)
2. Loopy Scarf (top of Arc de Triomphe)
3. Fair Isle Tam (Notre Dame Photos)
4. Green Branching Out Scarf (Notre Dame Photos)
5. Chi Wai's Brown Irish Hiking Scarf (Pate photo).

The white fluffy hat threw a few people off. It's not a handknit, although it is knitted. So there you go!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Paris First!

As promised the story continues..... (Beware a photo heavy post coming up!)

So four days after we arrived back to Abu Dhabi, we again headed off to the airport, this time going to London and Paris! I was so excited about this trip. Our first ever trip to Europe!

We had two days in London (I'll come back to the London experience) and then we caught the Eurostar train to Paris. It was really so convenient and I would highly recommend it. This idea of being able to catch a train from one country to another is really so foreign for us Aussies!

We had five nights in Paris and I was determined to see as much as we could. In the first day we saw the Lourve,

Chi Wai at the Pyramids
Winged Victory of Samothrace (just amazing!)

le Jardin des Tuileries,

Musee de l'Orangerie,

Monet's Water Lillies "in the round"

the Champs (des Champs-Élysées) and the Arc de Triomphe.

on the street

up the stairs (hard work!)

view from the top

us at the top

Phew! The next day I was completely exhausted (I was in my first trimester remember) and we only managed to see Notre Dame and walk around the Paris streets.

Over the coming days we did more museums (Musee d' Orsay, Rodin Museum, Pompidou Centre) and monuments (Eifel Tower, the Pantheon) but the best part was just wandering the beautiful Paris Streets and relaxing in the street side cafes watching the world go by.

Another highlight was was having Pain au Chocolat (like a chocolate filled croissant) and coffee (hot chocolate for me) for breakfast every morning.

Here's Chi Wai enjoying his in the park near our hotel. One of the downsides of travelling while pregnant was that I could not really enjoy all of the fabulous foods that France is famous for. No French wine, soft cheese or foie gras (a favourite of mine) for me. I did manage to come home with a tin each of duck and goose foie gras ready for me to tuck into when I come home from the hospital! I'll leave you with Chi Wai about to devour this huge slab of foie gras, and I just had to sit and watch!

Quiz: How many hand knits can you spot in these photos?