Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Talented people

My greenthumb friends (Anne and Michele) came to the rescue with my plants. They were near death just before Christmas and you can see the evidence on the brown leaves of the Bay tree. The whole plant had looked like that. Anne helped me (well she did the work while I watched) re-potted all three plants and gave them a new lease of life and they are thankful. There are 10 limes on the Kaffir lime tree ( the most I have ever seen, and lots of cumquats for marmalade this winter........
Kaffir Lime
Bay Tree 
And my super knitter mother made this for me!
The yarn is soft and absolutely heavenly. She knitted it single strand and the stitch is similar to all these collapse weave and machine knit structures with which I have been experimenting. This is the hand knitted version!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Not so plain beige

I am doing machine knitting at textile school this semester. The first project was to familiarise ourselves with machine knitting again and to experiment with punch card #3 on the Singer machines.

This was the inspiring sample. I often wonder how to achieve similar textures or patterns in different ways of making cloth, ie with weaving and knitting. I like the folded effect that one can achieve with double weave and this is my version in machine knitting. I am sure other people have come across this before but I figured it out on my own and it was satisfying.
I thought, it was all very well to do a small sample but what would it look like as the 'real thing'? I tested and had probably half a dozen discarded samples. In the end, I got this scarf.

It was knitted without weights as it would stretch the stitches and the folds would flatten out and also become less even.
I kept my fingers crossed the whole time that it won't jump off the machine (well, figure of speech as I needed both hands - one to steady the knitted section and the other to move the carriage).
The texture gave this colour a bit more 'life'. This yarn was in my 'discard' stash. I had given up hope of making anything interesting out of it, and then this happened!
I also like the way the edges are slightly 'frilled'.
I am going to try it again with a few other colours, varying widths, but that may have to be later in the year........

Big red

Weaving has taken a back seat at the moment. Hand and machine knitting seem to have taken over.
When I was sick last year with that terrible flu and chest infection, I wanted a warm blanket on the couch. I wondered about knitting, weaving or crocheting one. I had always admired this, but also wondered about this. In the end, I found this yarn and love the colour.
I decided on knitting and found the pattern in the 'Opinionated Knitter'. I used 2 strands of the yarn and it was 3 stitches to the inch, with only 30 stitches on the needles at any one time.
I also like the simplicity of the shape and the construction of the whole thing. The mitre corners seemed easy, I followed the instructions but decided that I did not like to see the holes from the short rows. I did some more research and found that I can do wrap short rows and it would eliminate that 'hole' effect.
I also found out about the craft clinic at this yarn shop in town. I went and met Judith. She is a wonder and helped me with my un-knitting (she calls it tinking: knit spelt backwards) and showed me how to do these wrap short rows.
I have finished the knitting part now and will have to go back to see her for help to sew it all together. The pushy cat has taken a liking to it and has staked her claim. I think that is a pretty determined look!

Figs, figs, figs aplenty

This was the text message on my phone. Before I knew it, I got 10 kg (22lbs) of figs in my kitchen. Luckily, I was well prepared and had enough jam jars on hand.

I made 26 jars (300ml each), enough to last the year for myself, for birthday and christmas presents! By the fourth and fifth batch, I have perfected the recipe and had jam that set well.
The first 2 batches was more syrupy in consistency but still good. They will probably get used first.

I also found this recipe and decided to give it a go. It turned out well. I still have some figs left and will be making this again for lunch tomorrow. The pastry was a breeze with the food processor. I rolled it out on some freezer paper and it was easy to handle.

There is also this other recipe that I will try later on. I have made a version of it with cranberry jam/hazelnut and it was delicious.