Tuesday, 13 December 2016


The Ashburn shawl, designed by prolific knitwear designer Melanie Berg who describes it as

'… an eye-catching triangle shawl with asymmetrical flair.  Garter and slipped stitch patterns create a subtle medley of textures, and an endless combination of color choices lets you be as demure or as bold as you like'

I used a bright blue from Easy Knits (he calls it Tardis blue) and a skein of Madeline Tosh Spectrum (a blue/purple/green lightly variegated lace weight that I held double).  It’s mostly garter stitch, with some slipped stitches thrown in for texture, and is quite easy to knit in front of the TV or while chatting.  A side note, the blue was absolutely colour fast – I was very impressed given the intensity of the colour.

The combination of decreases and increases at each end gives it the shape of an extended, asymmetrical triangle.  Ultimately though, I thought the triangle was too shallow, so I cut some paper in the same shape and played around with folding it into a cowl. 

Voila, I wrapped the cast on corner around and stitched it down and I ended up with a cowl at a good length to double-wrap without risk of strangulation.  I particularly like that more of the slipped stitches are visible, as it sits quite flat across my chest, like a bandana. 

If I were to knit it, or a shawl of a similar shape, again, I would slow down the decreases – perhaps I would only decrease half as often as required. 

Sunday, 4 December 2016


The Yarnporium came to town at the start of November, and what a small but glorious show it was!  Over 2 rooms of the beautiful Kings College (the Strand campus), as well as classrooms, a lovely array of yarn, notions and related accoutrement was laid out to tempt yarn lovers.  Organised by Yarn in the City (who also organise the Great London Yarn Crawl), the event ran over the course of the weekend, and included multiple classes as well as the marketplace – and I enjoyed the whole weekend!  From my Saturday morning shopping with my friend Alison, helping on a booth, taking a class and then helping with the pack up, I had a full on yarn weekend.

I took Renee Callahan’s ‘Brioche Next Steps’ class – I already knew how to do brioche stitches, but really struggled with the increases and decreases (don’t look too closely at the crown of the brioche hat I recently made for Geoff).  Renee’s class was enjoyable and well-paced – we covered a good amount of material, and the 3 hour session was the perfect length. 

Saturday afternoon I helped my friend Woollenflower (Jules) on her booth – it was such a nice experience to talk to people interested in her yarns and pouches (I just love my tartan pouch). 

Shopping wise, I bought some Smoke at Easy Knits (a custom blend for them from John Arbon), and some Frisky Sock from Debonnaire (in the loveliest midnight blue/black).  I picked up a Pom Pom Quarterly, some lovely Jul closures and a Christmassy project bag.

It was a great opportunity to meet some fun knitters – it’s always lovely to see London dyers like The Wool Kitchen and Travel Knitter, as well as designers like Helen Stewart and Stephen West!  And also a lovely opportunity to admire the knitwear – the building blocks shawl looked amazing in almost every colour combination, and there were some really amazing cardigans as well.  All in all, it was a great weekend, full of yarn and friends!

Friday, 25 November 2016


From Geoff...

Gin, in most of its forms, is delicious and my summer go to-drink aside from Pimm's. So in an attempt to pretend that it is still warm, I joined a gin club! The promise of hard-to-find gins and tonics was too hard to ignore.  First up, X-Gin, a really novel gin that is a long way from the traditional London Dry. It attempts to recreate the smell and taste of Mayan Chocolate, with strong cocoa and vanilla flavours coming through the standard base of juniper and spices.

I thought it was pretty good, with a nice balance reached between the old world bitter juniper and the new world chocolatey smoothness. Probably wouldn't get a bottle of it, but definitely one to keep an eye out for in pubs.

The gin came with Fever Tree Tonic and a small bag of cocoa nibs. I was a bit disappointed to get Fever Tree, which is available everywhere, but I guess they needed to pair the gin with a neutral tonic to keep the gin as the foremost flavour. The nibs was a very nice addition, as they would be hard to find and are suggested as the garnish on all the suggested recipes! Other garnishes that worked well were lime and black pepper, making it feel like you are drinking a gourmet chocolate bar. All up, a really good start to the gin club with a well-thought through box. Hoping for more of the same next time!

Monday, 31 October 2016

We have the best new neighbour

Geoff and I recently welcomed a new next door neighbour.  A young Turkish guy, who says he works from home and travels a lot, so we don't expect to see him much. We recently opened our door to find our new neighbour with an offering of pistachio baklava.

oozey and delicious.

Sunday, 23 October 2016

Embracing Autumn

Geoff and I took a wander around our neighbourhood over the weekend, soaking up some golden sunshine and revelling in the signs of Autumn.  

Golden yellows

Bright reds

Tinges of orange 


Wednesday, 19 October 2016

Kate and Geoff ate Paris

Before going on our trip to Paris, I joked that we were going to eat all the croissants in Paris, as we had a list as long as our arms of the patisseries that we wanted to try!  As well as lots of oysters!

In no particular order, here are some of the delicacies we enjoyed:

Butter croissant at Du Pain et des Idées

Supposedly one of the best butter croissants in Paris, and it did not disappoint.  Flaky, crispy, moist in the middle, rich and smooth.  Absolutely delicious. 

Aux Merveilleux de Fred

Apparently the cakes sold here are called ‘Merveilleux’ – little meringues, that are still slightly chewy inside, surrounded by a delicious flavoured cream, and nuts, or chocolate shavings. Light and airy, incredibly satisfying to a sweet tooth

François Pralus

Pralus sells a brioche studded with pink praline (almond and hazelnuts) and was so buttery and especially lovely with a cup of tea


We devoured a delicious piece of lemon meringue cheesecake – tart lemon curd swirled through the cheesecake and topped by billowy meringue.  Lovely.

A much more traditional looking French patisserie, and I really enjoyed a religieuse – a coffee flavoured choux pastry bomb!  Highly recommended. 

Yes, this is a cone of chocolate mousse, covered in crumbled praline.  There were 5 mousses to choose from - different chocolates from all over the world!

Friday, 14 October 2016

A touch of Melbourne in Paris

We certainly earned a coffee and éclair after climbing the hundreds of steps up to the Sacre Coeur, and used the lure of a taste of (Melbourne) home to get up the last few.

The Hardware Societe has a very small café in Paris, absolutely crammed with tables, staffed by English speakers and is the home of some coffee from Padre at the South Melbourne Markets. 

Geoff and I bought a flat white each (horrendously expensive but delicious) and shared a raspberry and rose water éclair while relaxing in the sun on the steps of the Sacre Coeur

It was a nice reminder of Melbourne. 

Thursday, 6 October 2016

All the churches of Paris

Geoff and I just returned from a very relaxing 5 day trip to Paris.  As well as eating all the croissants in Paris (more on that later) we also made a good attempt at covering a lot of Paris on foot, and ended up in a lot of churches.

The Basilica Sacre Coeur was probably my favourite.  Despite being such an immense stone building, I felt an incredible sense of lightness as the sun streamed in from the windows at the base of the dome.  

The Sacre Coeur is thick with decoration, no surface left unadorned, and the stained glass windows are particularly striking.  

It also provides one of best views of Paris – though the Eiffel Tower is only visible from certain spots, given how far west the Tower is located (and Geoff had to climb to see it!)

Of course, it’s home to hundreds of pigeons, but apparently the stone maintains the white gleam naturally (through chemical secretion).  While not built from the same white stone, the underside of the portico is really beautiful.

Otherwise, the exterior of Notre Dame is beautiful – intensely carved, heavy and foreboding. The interior is less impressive – the stained glass is dark, and the decoration on the side chapels is certainly fading. 

St Etienne (near the Parthenon) was quite plain in comparison – plenty of plain walls, windows paned simply with glass and a distinct lack of gargoyles!

It was particularly lovely to sit on the front steps and soak up the sunshine. 

Thursday, 29 September 2016

I knitted something ugly

I knitted something ugly.   It’s been a while since that happened. It’s not one individual problem, but rather there are a number of elements that I don’t like, and all combine to form an ugly shawl (in my subjective opinion).

This is the Vertices Unite pattern, by Stephen West.  There are lots of lovely versions on Ravelry, and even a few lovely options being knit by people in my knitting group right now.

The yarns feel lovely – soft, drapey, generally enjoyable to knit with.  The shawl feels nice, smooth, and soft.


I don’t like the colours together – and some I don’t even really like on their own. I think it looks busy, and messy. 

I am sure I will be able to find an owner that can appreciate it, but this won’t be staying in my wardrobe

Tuesday, 23 August 2016

All the sand in Rio

This year I’ve had the novel experience of watching the summer Olympics in the summer (although it’s winter in Rio, don’t get me started).  I’ve found myself torn, between watching the Olympics and soaking up the fleeting sunshine in London.  More often than not, the sunshine has won.  I’ve still managed to watch a lot of the Olympics – from the obvious swimming, gymnastic and track events through to snippets of team rhythmic gymnastics and the modern pentathlon. 

More importantly, I managed to knit my Sand Layers shawl while soaking up the rays, and occasionally watching the Olympics (which makes sense as the shawl was my ravellenics project).

It’s a very simple pattern, combining some slip stitch rows with mostly garter stitch, and yes, the rows get long, but it’s very simple knitting (which is not to say that I didn’t make any mistakes!)

The Travel Knitter Tanami (camel and silk blend) is simply divine, a deliciously rich cranberry red, and pairs beautifully with the Kettle Yarn Co Beyul (yak, silk and wool blend), which is a pink dyed onto a non-white base, and the depth of the pink is fantastic – and slightly variegated. 

Surprisingly it didn’t block significantly longer (only a few inches at either end), but did grow in depth a good amount. I love pink and red together, and look forward to wearing this deliciously soft shawl all winter long.

Friday, 12 August 2016

Exploring Krakow

We managed to schedule our holiday in lovely Krakow for the week before World Youth Day (incidentally, we ended up in Madrid the week after that city hosted World Youth Day in 2011, so maybe there’s a pattern to all of this).  The sun shone (mostly) and the city sparkled, and I took a million photos. 

We did a lot of wandering, eating and sitting where the sunshine met the shade (me in the sun, Geoff in the shade), and I’ve already blogged about the food (spoiler alert – all delicious).

We did rev ourselves up enough to visit a couple of museums, a cathedral and a castle.  Geoff’s favourite  was the armoury room at the Castle. The armoury had a pretty good selection of ancient guns and shields and the like, but the best were the swords from across Old Europe. From the curved sabres of the Ottoman Empire, to the still gleaming ornate swords of the Prussians, and plenty more, it was like a Eurovision Sword Contest. Britain, nil poi! The cannons were pretty sweet too.

While I was impressed with the jewellery in the armoury room, my favourite was the bell tower that is inside the Cathedral – it’s an optional extra (along with the royal crypts) in the Cathedral.  There are 2 sets of incredibly steep wooden stairs, though each is only a few flights high and there are landings to rest at on the way.  You have to remember to duck under the beams, and the bells in places, as you climb, and then you come to the top with quite a good view over Krakow. 

I also really enjoyed parts of the exhibitions at MOCAK (contemporary art museum) – the ‘Medicine in Art’ didn’t really appeal, but the Andy Warhol installation was cool to explore, and their permanent collection is impressive.  Even the building itself is interesting, if a bit brutal.

We also went to Schindler’s Factory – an expectedly bleak exploration of the Nazi occupation and oppression of Poland, and it touched on the Soviet involvement as well.  

Probably the most moving aspect was over at the former Gestapo headquarters where we stood in the cells used by the Nazis.  The small museum attached told ‘everyday’ stories of arrests, torture and deportation, and was a sad, but important, experience. 

Finally we took the opportunity to step inside almost every church that we walked past, and were amazed to find beautifully ornate buildings just dotted throughout the city.

Sunday, 7 August 2016

An impromptu Tokyo Shawl

You may be familiar with the Tokyo Shawl.  A lovely pattern by Marianne Isager using the Isager yarn, of course.  Only available in kit form, in designated colours, at some knitting shows or perhaps online in some places. Also, confusingly available in different kits (as in different numbers of colours) depending on what country you buy it from. It seemed expensive (I have a natural aversion to kits) and none of the colour combinations were right for me.

I spend a good amount of time looking at pictures of the shawl, and similar type patterns, and just decided to go for it.  I zoomed in on images, I counted rows, I read comments and blogs for hints about how to make it work.  And I did.  I made mine narrower, longer, and with an i-cord edge.  I also used way more colours. And I really like it. 

The yarns I used were all Isager – the Spinni wool, and the alpaca lace.  I bought little bags of colours, all mixed up, and then bought some of the alpaca to have a bright (the pink) and a light (the cream).  

I think it will go with everything, because it already contains almost every colour.  It’s also blanket-like, which is my preferred scarf/shawl size.  Longer than I am tall, and oh so light and lofty, it just floats around my shoulders.