Tuesday, April 02, 2013
A little news

We've waited (and tried!) for over three years for this, and with all the anxiety of it going splat again, I've kept it under wraps for a little longer than I needed to. 

We're having a BABY!!

Currently sitting at just under 26 weeks along, and the bump is long past being hidden. I should  face it. this bump was visible from about 10 weeks, let alone 26 weeks! We have had scans and tests and so far, all is well. Our little boy (yes, a boy!) is growing well.

He's an active little one, quite different from Alex in-utero. I don't remember Alex ever being quite so active, and wriggly. This one (whom we have nicknamed Blueberry) informs me at 9am, midday, 4pm and 7pm if I have not eaten by then. He tries to kick and punch his way out through my belly button. I dread to think what this means for demand feeding when he is born! 

With a 6.5 year age gap between the boys, this is like another first-time pregnancy. My body is reacting differently and it's all quite bizarre. So much for having done it all before. being pregnant with Alex was much easier and far more smooth-sailing, and I suppose being over 6 years older has something to do with it all. I recall previously having had a return of energy levels in the second trimester and now as I approach the third trimester, I realise my second trimester energy burst has gone AWOL, and most likely will not make it to me before third trimester exhaustion hits.

For the last month, I have been plagued with atopic eczema. I have never had eczema before. This is all new to me. So when the doctor misdiagnosed it as scabies or mites, I was none the wiser, and proceeded to treat the whole family and house - TWICE! Nobody else got itchy, and my skin just got worse. My obstetrician took one look at it and sent me off to see a dermatologist the next day. Believe me, I know how lucky I am to have gotten an appointment at such short notice. She diagnosed it as being severe atopic eczema, questioned my asthma medication and management and has prescribed lotions and potions. Less than a week later, I am much less itchy, though still looking rather plagued. I do hope this is the last of my pregnancy surprises. I have a new found empathy for eczema sufferers. If this is the ONLY unpleasant surprise I have this pregnancy, I will be very thankful indeed.

I'm off to do the glucose tolerance test today - wish me luck - and I have more follow up visits with doctors in the coming weeks for the asthma and eczema. 

Oh, and why is the little one nicknamed Blueberry? When we first told Alex that there is a baby growing inside, he wanted to know how big the baby was, and we told him it was about the size of a blueberry, and hence, the name was conceived. Blueberry is now about 800g in weight and probably about the size of a small pineapple or most of a bag of flour. Maybe I should rename him?

Tuesday, July 17, 2012
My needles are on fire!

Last night I finished this, which was a test knit.

It was a quick knit, and the construction is simple and effective. The vest is knitted in two strips which are seamed on the sides and the back. Since it was all garter stitch, it was easy to knit while watching tv. If you decide to knit it, I would recommend marking the start and end of each section and matching the number of ridges between the markers. This makes the seaming much easier. Trust me.

And how about this quirky little number?

It is another test knit. looks like I am doing a whole lot of test knitting lately. Well, I have a reason. A couple of my friends is having a baby - their first. I am stocking up on baby knits for them. Little bubba is due any time now, and I look forward to waking up to an email from them announcing the birth of their long awaited baby.

On the needles right now, I have a pullover I am knitting in exchange for some lovely Mad Tosh merino light in ink. The pullover has lace and cables down the front and cables on the sleeve so that's my "not so portable" project that requires a lot of concentration. Pictures when I actually have a bit more to show. The cable is easy and effective. I think I am going to be reusing the cable on some other garment.

Thursday, July 05, 2012
Nupps and all

I finally finished knitting the Estonian lace shawl, but it is more of a scarf than a shawl.

It was a quick knit, taking only about 3 weeks from beginning to end with a few other things thrown in as well. The final measurements are 14in by 55in, so not quite wide enough nor long enough to be a proper shawl.

I do have a couple of other small things to show off, but one of them is still blocking and lacks buttons. It's cute, but not for me. It's for a friend's baby, soon to be born.

Sunday, June 03, 2012
Lace Knitting Set Up

Someone asked me a while ago how I manage my laceweight yarn when knitting. I offered to take a picture of my setup but never got round to it and now I have forgotten who asked. Anyway, this is my set up:

What am I knitting? It's an Estonian inspired shawl. Nupps and all!

The spindle that the yarn is sitting on is something I bought a while ago and it comes in handy for when I am knitting off a large ball of wool or cone. The spindle is free spinning which means that as I pull the yarn off the ball, no extra twist is added to the yarn.

I test-knitted this for a fellow Raveller. The pattern is here. In the larger sizes I think it's probably more suitable for a girl than a boy but I look forward to seeing how the other testers go. I don't think the neckline would suit a boy but then, I am always happy to be proven wrong! It's easy and quick - I knit it over 2 or 3 days. Perfect gift for a newborn!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012
Knitting again

My knitting mojo went on holiday for a while but it has now returned. lots to show off, but where to begin?

There are babies being born around me so I have been busy making itty bitty things. It's been a while since I knit baby pants, and I had quite forgotten how cute they look with their disproportionately long rises and short legs.

I love the flecks against the bright blue. the blue is actually brighter in sunlight than the picture shows and contrasts nicely against the red cord. I think the flecks are great for grubby babies!

This is what I am currently working on:

When done, it's going to be a little baby pullover with a crossover front. There should be plenty of room for the baby's big head as the crossover front stretches a bit. I think it will be cute worn over a plain skivvy or all-in-one.

Oh and how about this little hat that I made on the fly? My nephew is now the owner of it. Isn't he a cutie?!

It was an easy hat, crocheted from the top down. I made a circle and then continued downwards without increases. When the hat was long enough, I added on the earflaps. The cords were added in the last round of crochet and then the hat was bound off. Only 2 ends to sew in, one at the top and one at the bottom. I used most of a 50g ball of yarn. Easy-peasy, as Alex would say.

All these little projects and nothing big? Not true at all. this "little" project has been keeping me busy:

I don't have a photo of it being worn because it is not for me. I took it on as a project from the "work for yarn" group on Ravelry. The idea is pretty simple, really. You knit in exchange for yarn. Kerry was offering up an assortment of yarn that I knew I wanted to try and some other that I knew would come in handy with all the babies popping out around me, so I struck up a deal with her. The pattern is the 'Plain and simple pullover' by Veera Välimäki. I have wanted to make one for myself for a while, but I have always been unsure that it will look good in real life. So this was the perfect opportunity for me to try the pattern out. I have not decided that I will make myself one, but I will cheat. Instead of 4ply fingering weight yarn, I will use an 8ply or DK weight yarn. It will be thicker and warmer, and not be as drape-y but I think it will work out. Less knitting too! the endless stocking stitch rounds were driving me balmy!

That's all for now. In a few days, if work and other things don't get in the way, I might have a completed baby pullover to show off.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012
Travelling Tea Box

This year, I signed up for the travelling tea box exchange again. The idea is that someone starts with a box filled with an assortment of teas and yarns (since we're all knitters or crocheters in this exchange) and the box is sent from person to person. Each recipient has the chance to take out some tea and some yarn and replenish the box with other teas and yarns. By the time the box has done the rounds and makes it back to the originator, it will most likely have completely different teas and yarns.

I am the 8th person to receive the box. I saw it just before it set off on its voyage, and the assortment of yarn and teas has already changed significantly.

The teas:

The yarn:

Do you see the cute little crocheted frog there? Her name is Kee-mun. She's the box mascot. So far, Kee-mun has been travelling in my handbag. She's visited my gorgeous newest nephew:

She's had lunch with us:

Is that fried chicken you see? Sure is! We found a little Korean eatery beside the "downstairs" Asian store on Victoria Ave in Chatswood that serves really really good fried chicken. The cheese and egg roll we ordered was a little odd, but Chris liked it. Imagine an egg omelette rolled up into a log smothered in melted cheese and drizzled with tomato sauce and mayonnaise. Yes, odd. The chicken was good, though. really really good. It was pricey, at about $20-$25 per serve, but the serving size is huge.

Kee-mun will be coming with us to the park this afternoon. if we're lucky I'll get some photos!

Saturday, April 14, 2012
Hot cross buns, a week late

I was inspired to make hot cross buns yesterday, with some help from Alex. He's home as it's school holidays, and some days we just need something to do. They turned out quite well. The texture was beautiful and the only changes I will make next time is more spice, more fruit and more sugar.

For the buns, I used
4 cups (600g) bread flour
1/4 cup sugar ( I will use 1/2 a cup next time)
2.5 tsp dried yeast
350ml milk (slightly warmed)
1 egg
60g butter
1 cup sultanas (next I'll use more)
1 tsp mixed spice (I'll try doubling this next time)
1 tsp cinnamon (I'll try doubling this next time)

Mix the flour and spices in a large bowl. Rub butter into the flour (like you're making scones) Mix yeast, sugar and milk separately and leave to stand for about 10 minutes. It starts to get slightly frothy. Stir in the egg and mix with the flour mixture. Add fruit. Mix well and then knead for about 10-15 minutes. The dough should become fairly elastic. I do this in the Kenwood mixer but you can knead by hand if you wish. the results should be the same, but your arms will be more tired. Cover the dough with a clean tea towel and leave it to rise for about 45-60 minutes. The dough should double in size in that time. Then punch the dough down and knead it again. Break it apart into balls. Roll each ball gently and place on a baking tray. Leave a bit room between the buns so they have room to grow. This recipe makes about 12-15 buns. Cover the buns with the tea towel and leave them to rise. Pre-heat a fan-forced oven to 180 degrees. Before baking, lightly brush with a mixture of one beaten egg and 3 tablespoons of water. Mix 1/4 cup of self raising flour with water to form a thick paste. Fill a piping bag with this paste and pipe crosses on the buns. I didn't have a piping bag so I used a ziploc bag and cut a small hole in one corner. It works just as well. Bake for 10 minutes on 180 degrees, then turn the temperature down to 170 degrees and bake for a further 12 minutes. If you have bigger buns (only 10-12 buns) then bake for 15 minutes, but if you have smaller ones, then 12 minutes should be sufficient.

Serve warmed with butter. Delicious!

Alex's first professional haircut
He's 5 and half (nearly) and I have always cut his hair. Last week, Chris had his hair cut (no, I don't cut his hair - he refuses to let me!), and we thought that we'd get Alex's hair cut as well. He started out pretty shaggy looking:

By the time we were done (and I do mean "we", as I had to hold him still for part of that time) he looked a lot neater:

It was also the first time he had any sort of hair product applied. Not a bad look, though I doubt I'll be running out to buy a tub of the stuff any time soon. From this experience, we learnt a few things:
- clippers and Alex are not friends
- scissors are much better
- hair that looks good with product through it may not look as good once it is washed (note to self: look at the hair do before they rub stuff into it!)

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