Knitting

A Good Haar Day

Yet another migraine morning for me today and wee Elisa had a horrid night with fever – I tell ya, we’re all glad here it’s the weekend!

12070624_1687310361499186_1537387375_n The Haar is in this morning – that’s the sea fog that envelopes the Firth of Forth and the surrounds. It’s really thick and visibility is about 10 metres at the moment. (Picture added later when it had started to burn off) It’ll hang around for a little while by the looks of it too. I remember being at a friend’s place and watching it roll in – reminded me of the dust storms in Melbourne many years back.

This morning is a quiet one in. I’m going through our list of meals to organise the week and the shopping. I love online shopping but I do miss the walking around and instant inspiration of seeing products on the shelves.

One thing I’ve noticed is when trying to find new dinner options it’s actually not that easy. You can readily find sites with thousands of recipes, and it’s all very well seeing recipes that look amazing for restaurant quality fussiness but what do people actually eat for dinner? You can easily find a recipe for an elaborate roast with amazing artisan and rare to find veggies, but how easy is it to find a decent recipe for lamp chops and veggies? What are your plans for dinners this coming week? Are there any staple dinners that you always seem to fall back on?

Later today I’ll be heading off to Stockbridge to join in the fun of a knitting Tea Party. WHile I’ll be there in person there will be a concurrent virtual event happening so anyone can join in. This is to celebrate the launch of Clare Devine’s fabulous Tea Party Collection of knitting patterns using Jess of GingerTwist Studio’s wonderful hand dyed yarn. We’ll be casting on for the knit-a-long while there. I figure I need a winter hat so why not make a lovely one with friends where there’s a reason to finish quickly and not eat into Christmas knitting time. I’m really looking forward to the event tonight. It’s so nice to get an adult break, now if I can only get my stupid head to cooperate!

Elisa, Katja, Knitting

2015 Crafty Disaster No. 1

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It’s only three weeks in and I’ve already hit my first craft disaster of the year! This does not bode well..

Now I have a confession. I didn’t swatch. Instead I was cocky and figured that as I’ve done some colourwork in this yarn before and got gauge with that there wasn’t any point. And to be fair, it starts off fine but it grows. I started with 7 stitches to the inch and now I’m getting 6. That’s a 3″ difference over 128 stitches. So I’m not so sure that a swatch would have seen off this particular nightmare.

I had been thinking of lining this one with something super soft and slightly less itchy, but now I’m not so sure that this will be enough to save it so I’m trying to emotionally come to terms with the idea of ripping it all out and starting again. The only saving grace with that is that as I want it to be smaller I’ll be able to reuse the yarn – good thing I hadn’t sewn in all those ends yet!

The smaller size is only 4 stitches difference so I guess I’ll go down a needle size and also down a hat size. But right at this very minute I want to shove it all in a bag and throw it into the back of the cupboard 🙁 Such a shame – I was really enjoying this one!

How would you handle this one? Would you rip back or try to somehow pull it in? Would you toss it aside or get started on a new one straight away?

In other news

We went to the Camera Obscura with E and A last week and the kids had an absolute ball. The Camera people were putting on a Toddler week and they did a brilliant job – they even set up one of their meeting rooms to be a break room complete with high chairs, toys and coffee. That was truly inspired – more venues should do this.

Elisa is now walking, albeit unsteadily unless she’s holding onto something. It’s quite scary considering she’s only 9 months old but I guess the incentive to keep up with Katja is probably a great motivator.

Yesterday E and A popped round and we did some biscuit baking, lots of fun. Although next time I think I’ll premix all the ingredients to save some time.

My Lifestream, My Week in Pictures, Parenthood, Shopping

To Market, To Market…

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Friday morning Elisa and I headed into town to check out the new market that will be held at Waverly Station. It’s great to see an undercover market in Edinburgh – it’s something that is sorely missing. There was roughly 20 stalls selling handcarfts, vintage goods, and artisan food/drink. The only ready to eat foods were breads and cupcakes. And no fresh veggies.

God how I miss the Queen Vic with it’s 7 hectares of undercover goods. The noise, the crowds, the smells and the colours. It’s one of the top Melbourne things that I honestly wish I could just transport over to every city I live in.

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After the market I popped into Next and had a look at the kids clothes. I was struck by the shoe wall. The boys side included quite a few pairs of rugged, sturdy, stay-on shoes with decent treads – perfect for running in hot weather. The girls side was full of thin-soled things with flowers or butterflies and lots of thongs (flip-flops for the non-Aussies). Nothing suitable for running at all.

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I had a realisation that if this is what is available in the affordable market then what message does that send? Boys get to choose function over form, girls get to choose pretty over practical. Do the stereotypes start before a child is even aware of gender? Is this where the glass ceiling really begins, with the boys running and the girls sitting on the sidelines watching? I know that I can find good shoes that are also pretty, but I shouldn’t have to spend 4 times as much and go out of my way to seek them out – not everyone is in a posiion to do that.

News & Updates, Parenthood

Welcome Elisa

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As we headed into the hospital on Monday morning we had every expectation of being home on Tuesday or Wednesday at the latest. This expectation was based on prior experience – when induced for Katja I was delivered just 7 hours later. However it soon became clear that this would be a very different experience.

Finally on Thursday came the welcome news that my waters could be broken. We waited for Christian to finish up at home and make his way in and then we headed to delivery room 8.

Now I’ll spare you all of the details and just say that after my waters being broken it took just 4 intense hours until little Elisa was placed on my chest just past 1 on Friday morning. It was fabulous having Christian there – he asked for the morphine injection once he judged that my pain level was close to when I had needed it for Katja.

But that was not to be the end of the story. After being judged low risk and being installed in the birthing centre’s plush post natal ward I lost some blood, reckoned to be about a litre and enough that when you added my ghost white face and the fact that all I wanted to do was sleep meant that I was soon wheeled back down to a room where there were lots of machines going ping, hooked up to monitors and drips and became the centre of attention for a while.

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In the end it wasn’t until Sunday evening that they were finally happy with us leaving – an entire week in hospital, the longest I ever have spent before and hopefully the longest stint for a long time to come.

I have to say that all of the staff I encountered were absolutely wonderful, and all of the interactions I witnessed between staff and students (Edinburgh Royal Infirmary is a teaching hospital) leave me confident that anyone who gives birth there in the future will also have as great an experience as possible.

My only complaints were that one of the meals labelled a “real Cornish pasty” really was not at all, and that one of the women on my shared ward decided that making a continuous round of shouty phone calls until past 11pm was an acceptable thing to do. Oh and the internet access was woeful – which meant that I couldn’t look up the how to vids and find out how to finish my socks!

Anyway, it’s wonderful to be home. It’s delightful watching Katja interacting with “Baby” and so lovely to have our completed family.

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Travel

I know a little place…

When a friend asked for recommendations for places to eat and things to do in a number of European countries recently I realised that I had been to almost all of the places on his list. So, rather than keep my opinions confined to a small group of people on facebook, I figured it would be worth writing an entire blog post – here goes.

In general I love just being in a new city and the old towns are fascinating. I like to seek out local museums rather than the big ones (although some of the bigger ones are worthwhile) and I also like to go to a local supermarket to see what kinda stuff the locals buy and eat.

Impression Amsterdam 1_photo used on flyer

Amsterdam
Rijksmuseum, definitely worth seeing. If you are pressed for time, just go in and look at the Milk Maid and the Night Watch.
Tour the canals, takes you around to most places and is very good value
Amsterdam museum, I do love a local city museum and this one is lovely
The Museum of Bags and Purses has a fascinating collection and was a gem of a find for me

It’s been too long for me to be able to offer reliable eatery recommendations, but in general you’ll be getting things like Stroopwafels, Profertjes and the like. You can have fairy bread in the morning and it’s considered breakfast. Tea does not come with milk unless you ask specifically for it. Mind the trams, they’re on the wrong side of the road for a Melbournian and it can be quite disconcerting. Also, bikes have right of way over pedestrians.

Antwerp.Belgium

Antwerp
– The world heritage listed Cathedral of Our Lady is stunning, make sure you hear the bells they are probably the prettiest I’ve ever heard.
– It’s also pretty cool if you can see some of the ships on the river, just a short hop from the central old city. Think Yarra with a cruise liner running down the middle.
– The Meir is the main shopping street and has some gorgeous buildings
– The castle, Hat Steen, on the river is a maritime museum, but in front of it is a statue to one of the giants who used to guard the river.
– You can do a tour of the sewers, I never got around to it – they suggest you take wellies.
– Antwerp means “throw hand” and you can see in front of the Town Hall a statue depicting the throwing of a giant’s hand into the river by the hero Brabo.
– The Irish Times on the Grote Markt is a lovely pub.
– Central Station is quite possibly one of the most beautiful railway stations in the world, and if you have more than a couple of days in Antwerp is a good place to get a train out to Bruge
Rubenshuis is worth a look, aside from being Rubens’ House it is a fine example of the homes from Antwerp’s height
Sir Anthony Van Dyke is a really lovely restaurant in a 15th century street, the chef gave up his michelin stars when people started killing themselves over them and has made the restaurant cheaper and more intimate as a result, fabulous food and the most romantic atmosphere but you do have to book. At the very least, walk down the street cos it’s gorgeous
Popoff has amazing desserts
Zuidterras is a lovely restaurant with a view of the river
– Belgium claims to be the home of the French Fry and the acknowledged home of them in Antwerp is Frituur N°1 – locals have them with mayonaise.
River Kwai is a lovely thai restaurant, nice ambience
De Vagant would have to be my favourite bar in the world so far. They serve over 200 different gins. There’s a restaurant upstairs, but I like to just order a few different fruit flavoured gins and the cheese and salami board. Once you’ve found a few gins you like, the shop over the road is where you can buy

In general, waffles taste best from Antwerp IMHO, you can get them everywhere but some of the cafes are supposed to be better than others (my favourite appears to be closed boo), you’ll also find muscles are big as are snails (yum!). I haven’t been here in a few years but I’ve no reason to believe that any of the restaurants have diminished.

Frankfurt

Frankfurt
Рthe R̦merberg is lovely and is the home to the old town house
– the Opera House is also very pretty
– the Natural History Museum is worth a look. They have a male dingo on display, Christian got very excited that he was able to say “as dry as a dead dingo’s donger”
– definitely stop by the Kleinmarkthalle an undercover market. YOu can get some eats there

I tend to pass through Frankfurt more than I stop as it’s on the way to Christian’s family in Fulda. I did see a great Botticelli exhibition in the art gallery a couple of years back.

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Munich
– a half day trip to Pfaffenhoefen is in order if you like to knit
– the English Garden is just a big park, unless you have plenty of time I wouldn’t place it high on the list however I would go to the southern tip of the English Garden at Prinzregentenstrasse where you’ll see scores of people leaning over a bridge to cheer on surfers on an artificially created wave in the Eisbach.
– watch the Glockenspiel at Marienplatz
– climb to the top of St Peter’s Church for amazing views
– a tour of the Residenz is worth doing, it’s a beautiful building (and features in the most recent Three Musketeers movie)
– Viktualienmarkt is the market area and is a must
– Have a meal at the Hofbräuhaus, it’s a must-do
– for something a bit posh, Dallmayr is like the Harrods food hall of Munich
– Schuhbeck is the big-wig chef in Munich, he has a restaurant – I’ve eaten at some circus/restaurant thing which he did and the food was amazing. You’ll also see spice shops by him which have some great combinations.
– Vapiano is a good solid Italien which you’ll find in a number of cities on the mainland, good for when the German zoo-on-a-plate approach gets too much
Augustiner Beer Hall does awesome Weisswurst which is a veal sausage served with pretzels and sweet mustard and which must be ordered before noon. (peel the skin off the sausage). Generally served with beer, if you don’t want to drink that early order the Apfelsaftschorle. This is one of my highlights when I visit Munich.
Weisses Brauhaus is a great place for lunch and near Marienplatz. It’s a very typical traditional German eatery, much like the Augustiner
– There’s also BMW World which I’ve never been to

Munich is the centre of the stereotypical Germany you see on postcards. Most of the rest of Germany resents that, but it’s a great fun place to be. Most of the restaurants will do an English menu and you’ll see a lot of pork.

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Edinburgh
– the Scotch Malt Society has a fabulous restaurant but you need to know a member in order to get in. Luckily you do.
– Holyrood Palace is definitely a must do – as is the walk up to the Castle from there.
– Starbucks on Princes Street has amazing views of the castle
– avoid the Grassmarket for restaurants, they tend to be high priced
– the Caley Sample room does gorgeous food, as does it’s sister the Cambridge Bar (burgers)
– Rosslyn Chapel is a good distance by bus but worth the trek
– The Sheep’s Heid Inn is one that Mary Queen of Scots stopped at
– St Gile’s Church has a great history
– Do a tour of the city that takes you into the underground bits, spooky but very interesting

Definitely one of those cases of too much to choose from here!

I’m going to come back to this post and update it as I remember new places to go to…

Craft, Katja, Knitting, My Week in Pictures

Week 13.27 – Lemoncello and German

Week 27 from July 1st to July 7th was one of glorious weather in Edinburgh. The city is truly magnificent when the sun shines, it’s just a pity that it shines so rarely! Mum retired this week, a major milestone in her life and kind of a watershed in mine. I’ve also had some distressing news from home which makes me feel every centimetre of the distance between Edinburgh and Melbourne, but I shan’t dwell on that now as I’m hoping for better news later in the week.

I’ve started playing with Duolingo to learn German. It’s kind of language learning by game play and so far I’m really enjoying it – I wonder if we’ll ever get to the point where more and more is taught in such a manner, imagine being able to earn history or physics by playing games. I’m up to level 6 so far and have 196 words apparently. The important thing is that I’m doing a little bit each day, currently I’m on an 8 day streak.

I’m still working on the cardigan for Katja, not much to go now – I could really get it finished in a few short hours, but I’ve been waylaid by a super secret fair isle project. I’ve never worked fair isle before so naturally I’ve opted to do a project that will test me – fair isle in the round and a small diameter. I’ve worked a practice swatch in the round. Can’t wait to show you but it will need to wait until I get the OK to do so.

Last night I did the final step to get my lemoncello ready. I started this process backin March and I have to say the results are rather awesome. I’ll do a post with a recipe at some point cos I’m definitely going to be doing this again!

And last night poor Katja wasn’t well, she’s had a bit of a fever and cold the last couple of days. Still she seems to have pretty much worked out how to stand on her own. I think the combination of being ill (teething again?) and this exciting new skill were too much, we didn’t get to seep until 3am. I reckon she’ll be walking by the end of the month. It remains to be seen which country she takes her first steps in and whether she does so before or after her Oma and Opa arrive.

Big girl can feed herself :)
130701 – Big girl can feed herself 🙂

Yellow
130702 – Yellow – saw these in a second hand shop and they looked so bright and happy that I would have bought them if they’d been in my size.

Love my amethyst stitch markers from SpinPretty www.etsy.com/uk/shop/spinpretty
130703 – Love my amethyst stitch markers from SpinPretty

Don't trust the cardboard wine carriers from @marksandspencer like this poor guy did #waste
130704 – Don’t trust the cardboard wine carriers from @marksandspencer like this poor guy did #waste. He lost two bottles of wine and made the bus smell like an old man at a bar. I would have been livid!

Home made lemoncello - nom!
130707 – Home made lemoncello – nom!

Craft, News & Updates

The First Edinburgh Yarn Festival

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Sitting around the tables with the tea, the knitting and the conversation all flowing we often turn to the same topic – Wouldn’t it be great if… This is generally followed by something like “they made all kids learn how to knit again”, or “there was the perfect cafe with the perfect lighting and free cake/tea/champagne on tap” or “it could be gloriously warm and sunny in Edinburgh for more than 2 days” or “we could all afford to quit our day jobs and just tat/crochet/knit”. In the weeks leading up to and following on from any kind of craft show the “wouldn’t it be great” was invariably followed by “we had something like that here”.

And then it happened.

3 of our group took the Wouldn’t it be great and asked the next question – Why not? and then they started working.

The result, after many months of hard work and what must have been incredibly stressful enthusiasm from the rest of us (what if it fizzled?) was the Edinburgh Yarn Festival.

Mica, Jo and Linda managed to pull together an impressive list of vendors from all over Scotland and as the event drew closer and the vendor interviews went online you could feel the excitement in the air. What you couldn’t do was actually see Mica, Jo and Linda – they were far too busy.

We heard about all manner of exciting things, like cake and lots of hand dyed yarn, celebrities, buttons, banners, badges, mugs and bags. Those of us not involved in volunteering (I opted out as I’d have the girl to look after, but I did agree to teach) were squirrelling away our spare £2 coins and planning our purchases. We even had the press arrive at our knitting night! Some were also making travel arrangements – Ilze and Paul took the opportunity to have a weekend away in Edinburgh and so flew up from London on Friday night.

Not EYF
What I Expected…

To be perfectly frank, I expected to see a hall with quite a few vendors and a respectable number of people mingling amongst the stalls, squishing and purchasing at a leisurely pace. Something a bit like this picture from a holiday craft market in Flint, MI, USA.

In my mind’s eye there were some couches and a cafe serving the 400 slices of cake at a calm pace. Still, this event was set up by my friends and my friends were volunteering at it and also having their own stalls so I was still excited. At the very east I’d be able to sit down with my friends and have some cake and chat and knit. But the implications if this could actually be successful are huge – I miss the amazing atmosphere of Dublin’s craft scene and while I’ve found the most amazing group of people here, the lack of shopping makes you feel a bit on the niche side. With that in mind I set myself a generous budget and determined to spend it all on lovely squishy yarn. I even went so far as to warn my fellow Stashdown group that March would involve adding to my stash, not depleting it as planned.

Cow Sheep

And then came Saturday. Despite the horrid weather and non-stop rain we woke up feeling like kids at Christmas. A quick breakfast and sort out the baby and we were off, in the pouring rain (did I mention it was raining – it was, lots!) and onto the bus.

On our way in to town I started to get the text messages from friends to tell me there was a queue. A queue! In this rain! As we walked up the street to the venue we saw a steady stream of people walking towards us, most with yarn poking out of the tops of bags.

Luckily the queue had gone by the time we arrived and so we ran in under cover, past the Cow that was now a Sheep:

And on into the main hall. So remember that picture I showed you before, nicely ordered people calmly walking past the vendor tables? They organisers were hoping for about 400-500 people on the day, which over 7 hours works out at about 70 per hour. That’s not what we found! Once we’d squeezed past the crowds actually getting to the tables to see the stock was hard work – I haven’t seen a scrum like this for a long time! The final tally was 1600 people – 228 per hour or 3.5 people every minute!

The vendors were working their behinds off, with some of them even selling out completely and most completely forgetting to eat during the day. The cafe called in extra staff, there was even queueing for the couches. After a while we popped back out to get lunch in Leith and came back. Th ecrowd had died down a little, but was still crazy. With a slight break we could at least stop a bit and look at all the wonderful hand-knits that were on display, with lots of “ooh what pattern is that hat”, I swear it’s better than the red carpet at the Grammy’s!

I tried to get some photos but it was too crazy for good ones – these are the best I could do!

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And my class? It went fabulously with all of my students picking up the technique – 4 new needle tatters in under an hour!

My haul was rather pathetic. In all the excitement I was overwhelmed by the choices and ended up not purchasing anything except some stitch markers. I did however get home and start placing orders for things I’d seen. Oh and I got myself my new favourite mug!

All of the team, the organisers, the volunteers and the vendors were amazing and managed to pull off a truly phenomenal professional event that will be the talk of the town for some time.

I can’t wait until next year. On the back of the success of this one we all expect it to be even bigger! Now if you need me I’ve got to plan what I’m going to knit to wear for the second Edinburgh Yarn Festival…