Sunday, 31 January 2016

A short jaunt to Copenhagen

Copenhagen is a medium sized city, by European standards, with a population of around 1.2 million.  From the top of the Round Tower it appears to be a city made up of high density living for most of its inhabitants.  Though 'high density' doesn't appear to be any higher than 5 floors (or the length of fire hoses in the 1800s as Copenhagen that has suffered in that regard - two separate fires which each burnt about 50% of the city in the 1700 and 1800s.)

It's definitely a walkable city, though there are ample public transport options (including the driverless metro) and at least 50% of the city's populace gets around by bike. Most of the sights are on the east side of the main canal (marked on some maps as lakes, delineated by the bridges that cross the canal). As with any old city, the streets aren't particularly straight but the tourist maps are pretty detailed so it's easy enough to get around.  Note though that there aren't maps in the streets as there are in London.

Highlight 1 - The Round Tower
Round Tower, Denmark, Copenhagen

Finished in 1642, the Round Tower houses a ramp most of the way up, making it easier for the then King to ride up the tower on his horses.  The paving on the ramp is worn in interesting ways, presumably by the carriage wheels.  The last little part of the tower is a very slender spiral staircase and then you come out on top of Copenhagen. 
Round Tower, Denmark, Copenhagen

While you're not that high up, given the short buildings that surround the tower, the view stretches out for an age.  It was interesting to see the steeply pitched roofs on the houses - I bet normally covered in snow in late January.
Round Tower, Denmark, Copenhagen

Highlight 2 - Changing of the guards
Copenhagen, Amalienborg, Palace, Changing of the Guards

Very low key, compared to Buckingham Palace, the changing of the guards at the Amalienborg was attended by fewer than 30 people and the 'crowd' was managed by 2 friendly policemen.  The guards march from one palance to the other, arriving in formation at midday.  With no barricades or crowds the guards marched right up to us before executing a sharp turn. A number of the guards disappeared - to do the paperwork no doubt and then they change places around the square.

Saturday, 30 January 2016

Mint slices!

A cold, wet afternoon in London.  We sought refuge in a regular coffee haunt - Leyas on Camden Rd. Sitting downstairs I was drinking a flat white when I looked around and actually noticed a photograph adorning the wall next to our table.  It was a red-earth encrusted sheep - unmistakably Australia.  

London, Mint slice, Arnotts, Nars, Schiap

It's amazing how homesickness can be triggered in the most unexpected of places. 

London, mint slice, mint slices, arnotts

To then return home and find a package in our letterbox, containing mint slices courtesy of the lovely Woollenflower was absolutely the antidote!

Saturday, 23 January 2016

Some knitting gymnastics

The yarn - Skein Australia Top Draw Sock in the True Love colour

I purchased this red-purple yarn in Skein's 2014 Black Friday sale.  I used 3 full skeins to knit a pullover which I'll blog about at some stage.  I had used the start of the 4th skein to swatch for that pullover so had about 90% of it left for this project. The pattern called for a full skein of yarn so I was a little concerned about running out mid-project! 

The pattern - Intrepid by Norah Gaughan for the Fiber Company

I found 2 difficult moments in the pattern.  The first, absolutely mor eminor, was that the chart should be read flat - that is, right to left on the knit side, and left to right on the purl side.  I emailed the designer as I suspected this was the case, but it would have been better if it had been written on the pattern itself. 

Norah Gaughan, Fiber Company, Intrepid, Skein, Skein Australia, Top Draw Sock
 Just a few rows into the chart, the yarn over loops look quite messy

The more significant gripe relates to the layout.  The chart is laid out across 2 pages, oriented to portrait.  However, there is no 2-page view provided so I ended up printing the pattern and cutting off the edges, and sticking it together. This meant that the project wasn't particularly portable as I needed an A3 space to layout the pattenr.  I wonder if the chart could have been rotated 90 degrees in a landscape orientation. 

The knitting

This is not a pattern that is suitable for beginners.  Firstly, it calls for a yarn over at the start of each row.  Patterning is on the right side only, and calls for increases, decreases and twisted stitches, and then kept in pattern on the purl side. 

The flat, pointed, lower section is 91 rows long, starting with just a couple of stitches.  I used about 30grams to complete this section. I then joined in the round and knit a few rows before my first set of knitting gymnastics. As I mentioned, I was worried that I didn't have enough yarn so I decided to knit the bottom edging - so I had 2 sets of needles on the project at once. 

Norah Gaughan, Fiber Company, Intrepid, Skein, Skein Australia, Top Draw Sock
While knitting the bottom edging

The next piece of gymnastics came when I was knitting on the top border, because I don't have any double-pointed needles.  I had to use a 2nd circular needle to knit the top border, which is knitted perpendicular to the cowl, over just a few stitches.  

Norah Gaughan, Fiber Company, Intrepid, Skein, Skein Australia, Top Draw Sock
 Knitting the top border on Hiya Hiya needles

Wearing the cowl

It's a drapey piece that I consider more decorative than useful in January in London!  I'm looking forward to wearing this in the spring.  I love the strong lines on the lower section of the design!

Norah Gaughan, Fiber Company, Intrepid, Skein, Skein Australia, Top Draw Sock
 Blocking really brings out the clear, defined lines of the pattern

Thursday, 21 January 2016


Women: New Portraits, an exhibition by Annie Liebowitz at the Wapping Hydraulic Power Station until 7 February - free entry!

London, Wapping, Annie Liebowitz, Wapping Hydraulic Power Station
Geoff and I ventured to Wapping on Sunday for the second day of Women: New Portraits.  We were well rewarded for our expedition by a good, free coffee outside the exhibition courtesy of UBS, who is sponsoring the exhibition. 

The Wapping Hydraulic Power Station was last in use, as a power tation, in 1977 and has been an artts venue since then (though certainly not steadily).  It must be a challenging venue to use as an exhibition space because the windows are large and very high and the light in london is variable, and tending towards white, which washes out all the colour!

The exhibition is set up in 2 separate areas.  The smaller area is a collection of Annie Liebowitz books laid out on a long, beautiful dining table surrounded by luxurious dining chairs.  The second area is bigger and combines 2 large screens and a number of printed photographs.  

The 2 screens slowly flip through photographs taken by Liebowitz.  The images are lush, rich, highly textured and even in black and white the images aren't stark.  Unsurprisingly all the photographs are of women - some famous, some unrecognisable.  All the images tell an aspect of the story of the subject, and they span the life of Liebowitz's career.
London, Wapping, Annie Liebowitz, Wapping Hydraulic Power Station

One of my favourite images is of the Williams sisters, clearly in the beginning of their careers.  The image is black and white, and has no background.  The sisters appear strong and driven, wearing beaded braids in the hair and sleeveless shirts, showing their strength  Liebowitz truly captures their ambition and drive - a compelling story to reflect back on years after the image was originally captured. 

Monday, 18 January 2016

Lumiere London

From 14 to 17 January London was awash with light for the inaugural Lumiere London, or as the organisers say, an opportunity to see London in a new light!

I have no idea what the predictions were for attenddee numbers but it was incredibly crowde.  Geoff and I decided to focus on just one area, around Kings Cross and Granary Square which is one of my favourite areas in summer.  However, some of the installations were tucked in quite awkward lanes, or dead ends, which made movement around the area quite difficult.

Lumiere London, Circus of Light, Granary Square, Kings Cross, London
 Geoff at the Circus of Light

My favourite piece was down on the canal, and looked like  equalisers that appeared on stereos when I was a kid.  Each panel turned independently of the others, and at different speeds.  This, combined with the reflection on the canal looked magical.

Lumiere London, Binary Waves, Granary Square, Kings Cross, London
Binary Waves by LAB[au] at Regent's Canal

The other installation I really enjoyed was a piece that looked like a mirrored satelite dish and captured and threw light in different patterns as it turned and the dish moved from horizontal to near vertical. 

Lumiere London, Spectra-3, Granary Square, Kings Cross, London
Spectra-3 by

Friday, 15 January 2016

The raspberry challenge

Through the combination of AQIS and sheer distance, it was much easier to cook seasonally in Australia. 

Fresh figs were available from February to April, brussels sprouts in winter, and my favourite, raspberries, were summer fruit.  It's a treat to see them at the market, an immediate opportunity for miso glazed figs or to make little apricot cakes

As the weather turned, the summer berries and stone fruits were replaced by early season apples and eventually even the tegan blue plum would cede to mandarins. Our fruit bowl once full of various purples and reds of the summer fruits, would fill up with apples and Geoff's bananas.

food, apples, globalisation
Crunchy and crispy
Winter's staple fruit in our household
Summer come quickly!

In the UK, there doesn't seem to be any restriction on mporting fresh food. A pineapple from Costa Rica costs just £1; a punnet of Spanish raspberries is £2 and lovely, red tomatoes are available at bargain basement prices too. 

It's really easy to say 'I want to eat seasonally' or more broadly, find ways to minimise my footprint on the earth.  But I'm finding it really hard to resist my favourite foods when they are easily available. 

I'd be interested to hear any tips of following through on the commitment to eat seasonally - though we don't have a freezer to store fruits bought in season. 

Tuesday, 12 January 2016

Wintry white

It's hard to photograph white in London in winter!

The yarn - Fibre Harvest organically farmed merino
Fibre Harvest organically farmed merino
Purchased at now closed Prick Your Finger in Bethnal Green

This yarn feel substantial and dense, although it doesn't look it.  It's very smooth and because it has 4 plies it feeels very round. You can see from the loose end above that it is quite fluffy when cut and unsurprisingly, it's very soft.

The pattern - Oak Crest by Maisie Howarth published in Pom Pom Quarterly Autumn 15
Oak Crest Hat, Nars 'Schiap' lipstick
This pattern contains lots of cable turns on each active round and there are 8 different types of cable turns in the pattern. 

I used a clover lopsided u-shaped cable needles - my preference when I use cable needles.  I slide the stitches onto the shorter side, and knit (or purl) from the longer side. 

Oak Crest Hat
The knot on top took a little effort to get right, as I didn't want much sticking out.  I really just folded the 15cm length of knitting around itself and tucked the end through.  I secured it wit a few stitches, using the yarn tail. 

Oak Crest Hat, Nars 'Schiap' lipstick
Lipstick is Schiap by Nars, one of my faves!

I knit the ribbing 4 rounds longer than the pattern called for, and I knitted round 24 3 times.  If you look in the magazine, you will see that the hat doesn't cover the ears of the models, which is not very useful in a cold London winter. 

The result is a delightfully fluffy hat that is very warm and seriously soft!

Saturday, 9 January 2016

It's all in the details

I knit myself this cardigan at the end of last (northern hemisphere) summer as part of a challenge to knit the Pantone colours of the season (Fall 2015).   I chose 'reflecting pool' (a blue/black for the hem band, collar and pocket detail, and 'camium orange' for the cuffs - 2 of the 10 colours. 

The grey colour I chose for the body wasnt a fall colour but a good neutral to use as a base - and I didn't have a grey cardigan at the time. The grey yarn is Debbie Bliss Fine Donegal and the trim is Jamieson's Shetland Spindrift in Dark Navy and Flame. 

Le facteur, ravelry, knitting, jamieson's, spindrift
I used a pattern that I have used many times before, the Le Facteur by Sarah Fama (who does not appear to be releasing new designs currently).  This pattern is very well written and gives different options for cardigans and pullovers and different necklines.  The one element that is missing is a sleeve pattern because the various versions in the pattern only have short sleeves.

I cast on at the collar and knit the body, and ordered a third ball of the grey whilst knitting!  After the main body was done I picked up and knit the collar - and just kept going until I had a shawl collar.  Then, just to gild the lil, I decided to add pockets with colourwork details. Finally, I added contrast leather buttons - navy on the cuffs and green on the body. 

Le facteur, ravelry, knitting, jamieson's, spindrift
The grey yarn has held up very well, with copious amount of wear!

I enjoyed knitting and creating this cardigan - I say creating because although I used the pattern I extended it in every which way.  In fact, creating this cardigan led me to rashly declare to my husband that I was 'done' with knitting patterns. 

As you can see from my Ravelry notebook, I did not stick to that!

Monday, 4 January 2016


What's that old adage?

That's right, there's nothing new on the internet.

Like many of you, I don't have a good track record of achieving new year's resolutions.  I'm sure we've all resolved similar things - eating more healthily, doing more exercise. 

Something that seems more achievable is choosing a theme, or a guiding principle of the year (and it seems that many people that I follow on instagram, or through blogs agree). 

In 2015 the theme was 'use it or lose it' and when we decided to move to London we had to use up all the things that could be used up (which led to some interesting dinners) and gave away almost everything else.  So I would consider 2015 a success!  

The theme for this year is exploration.  

 While we won't be going to space, we will be doing some more travel (Copenhagen is our first destination for 2016), exploring the seasonality of the UK, exploring creative boundaries, exploring cooking techniques and hopefully exploring a tad more philosophically. 

Friday, 1 January 2016

A new diary

I love each year's new diary.

Crisp pages, stiff binding, unblemished covers.  Ready to plot and plan 2016.

Washi tape, moleskine

Moleskine weekly notebook (12 months), washi tape from Tiger, gel pens from Muji and pencils and pencil case from Oh Squirrel