Wednesday, April 27, 2011

An Autumn walk

Green, yellow, orange and red.

I love how the same types of trees can be next to each other, but some are still holding onto their summer colours while others are embracing the change.  Some of the reds are so dark they didn't photograph well in the late afternoon light.

Green and gold.

A cheeky sulphur-crested cockatoo (aren't they all!)

In our own backyard - tansy in flower.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Chocolate Easter Egg Cake

A simple chocolate cake, cut into a vaguely egg-like shape, iced with ganache and decorated with chocolate buttons.  A cheery and easy cake for an Easter BBQ (barbecue) with friends.

Monday, April 25, 2011

My First Socks!

I've read so much about how wonderful hand knit socks are.  But they scare me a bit - all those double pointed needles forming a tube sounds terribly confusing.  And there are always so many other projects at the top of my list that I haven't been saddened by my lack of hand knit socks.  But then two things happened.

1.  I had lots of 8 ply yarn leftover from my husband's stripey jumper; and
2.  I found instructions for socks knit on straight needles.

So we adapted the stitch count from a 10 ply pattern to fit the 8 ply yarn and I knit forth.  Unfortunately changing yarn and increasing a pattern's size at the same time involves a lot of maths.  Although we are both good with numbers, knitting is in a world of its own and halfway through the first sock we realised that we hadn't increased the sock size enough to fit my husband's Australian shoe size 13 foot (European shoe size 48).  But with a bit of late jiggling it fit me (size 6.5/37). 

The only downside of knitting socks on straight needles is the seaming.  I don't mind the side seam, but the toe seam feels a bit bulky.  But the socks are toasty warm and rather unique - since I'm using leftover yarn, one sock is all grey, while the other is half grey and half blue!

We did some more maths and I've cast on a sock for my husband now - hopefully with enough stitches!!

The socks are Erika Knight's 'Slouch Socks' (from a book I borrowed from the A.C.T. library).  Oh, and I've finally done something with my Ravelry account, so if you are on there you can find me under my user name of 'TansyMagic'.

Almond cake

My husband really likes this cake, but I don't.  It reminds me too much of the marzipan cake I used to eat when I lived in Denmark (not sure why I ate so much of it.  I think it just became a habit..!).  It's a good cake if you love almonds.  It is also flourless.
Buttery almond and coconut cake - from 'Mix and Bake' by Belinda Jeffrey.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Evolution of a skirt

I've been really enjoying my course, and I am getting something out of every class, but the class that excites me the most is pattern making.  I love the possibilities it generates - taking a plain pattern and transforming it into a hundred variations.

Two of our classes intersected recently when we sewed a skirt in Clothing Production from a pattern we had drawn in Pattern Making.  Here is its story...

The front and back halves of a basic skirt pattern - we were given this by the school.  The school has a very cool pattern printer which prints patterns to full size from a computer drawing.  (I just did a google image search, and the printer looks something like this. Our teacher said that if you were to start a small business you would probably need one of these and they cost about $30,000 to buy.)  It is very cool to watch it print!

We transferred this basic pattern onto cardboard.  These are our 'Basic Skirt Blocks' and they are what we use to draw every skirt.  With modifications you can create any skirt from these simple blocks.  The blocks are only one half of each side.  The idea is that most clothes are symmetrical, so you only have to draw one half of the pattern, and then cut two identical halves.  Our teacher drummed into us that when drawing a pattern, always have Centre Front closest to you and Centre Back furthest away.

This story follows the top skirt - a short skirt with panels, back zip and back vent.  From this sketch we drew a full size pattern.

This is called the pattern construction, to draw this, you trace the basic block, and then make modifications to create pattern you want.  The block has two darts but this skirt only has one dart, so you have to adjust the dart size and add a panel.  Then add a zip and vent.  We also dropped the waist and raised the hem.

From the construction you trace your pattern pieces and cut them out.  Don't forget to mark the grain line!  Then it is time to cut your fabric ready for sewing.  (In case you are wondering why there are lots of sewing items on the pattern, I'm just covering my name).

Finished skirt!  The front - panels and a single dart on each side.

The back - with vent, invisible zip, panels and darts.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

It's been a while

Hello friends and family in blogworld, I'm terribly sorry that I have been so remiss in writing lately.  So you don't think I have completely forgotten you all - here is some news from our part of the world...

Early last week Butter Chook passed away.  We don't know why.  One day she was fine, the next she was dead.  There were no visible signs of anything wrong.  It is very sad.  Phili Chook is doing well - and her feathers are slowly coming back after her massive overnight moult a couple of weeks ago - but she is lonely in the chook house and it will probably be a couple more weeks before we can get her some new housemates.

Autumn is in full swing in Canberra and the changing colours of the deciduous trees is a wonderful sight.  We've already had a few overnight temperatures of only 1oC (33.8oF), but no frosts yet so some of our summer vegetables are still producing (although in reduced quantities).  I have planted lots of seeds for winter vegetables, and have started pulling out the old summer vegetables that have stopped producing.  The garden looks very different from a couple of months ago.

I have been on school holidays this week and have been so busy that I have hardly had time to draw breath - but I have squeezed in some crafting so keep an eye out for some posts about it soon! 

Sunday, April 10, 2011

A new haircut

"With my fringe cut short you can see my big, puppy eyes and you'll let me get away with anything..."

A petite pumpkin

With the cooling weather we decided it was finally time to roast and eat last year's pumpkin harvest.

Is this the cutest pumpkin ever??!

This week's cake

Every week I make a sweet, tasty treat to keep us happy at snack time.  Here is this week's treat...

Macadamia and choc chip cookies

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Never again!

My husband's jumper is finished!  It took about a year from start to finish, but it is finally done.  If this project is anything to go by - I'm pretty sure that it will be the only jumper I will ever knit in 8ply for someone that tall! 
My blog shy husband in his new jumper.  He helped weave in the ends (of which there were many with all those stripes!).

Gratuitous puppy photo - taken just after I finished the jumper.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

My best friends in the garden

Our second ever batch of home made compost.  It's hard to believe that a few months ago this was just a pile of kitchen scraps, newspaper, chook house leftovers and garden clippings.
And one of my favourite garden tools - a pair of gloves that live up to their claim of keeping your hands dry no matter how muddy the soil.

Hope you all had a great weekend!