Jan 31, 2013

Day 25: Counting base-4

Today I made the fourth of six base pairs and the first of the orange-blue set (GC).

Jan 30, 2013

Day 24: I ran out of time.

I cannot draw. Certainly not with my finger on a tablet. As proof, here is an army of ants, dragging a cube through the empty expanse, kicking up grey dust as they go.

I think I will learn drawing with a tool, like pencil or pen.

I will not be sharing this post.

Photo cube project: Done!

Done diddly dun-done!

The six different cubes

Below: Top and bottom rows are the feature fabrics; middle rows are the two sides.

Knock 'em down! KNOCK 'EM DOWN!!

Jan 29, 2013

Day 23: Sigh of content

The last of the hand-stitching is complete!!
Pics of the set tomorrow :)

Jan 28, 2013

Day 22: My comical child

I made another Burnt Orange & Cinnamon Teacake for my mum's 79th (!!) birthday, which happily falls on the Australia Day holiday this year. On the way there I made another base pair. On the way back I made this comic using the iPad apps halftone and Pic Stitch.

Also, see this? This is wrong.
And therein lay the perils of knitting on the South Gippsland Highway.

Jan 27, 2013


With teacake I've always thought of store bought tea cakes - rather heavy, dense, dull - and I'm not sure I remember having any other. They're not bad, really, with their creamy, thick lemony icing, but not dazzling either.

This one is from CTAW and I've used a variation of the Cinnamon Teacake. You sprinkle cinnamon and sugar on top before baking, and I've added a layer in the middle as well. Inspired, I know. Who knows how that will go but surely it won't suck, right?

The other variation is the actual topping. Someone gave us jar of burnt orange and cinnamon sugar for Christmas. I took it as a sign.

If it tastes half as good as it smells, I'll have to get a serving plate that actually fits.

Jan 26, 2013

Day 20: Australia Daying

I celebrated Australia Day by voting in the Spoonflower competition of Australia-inspired designs. So many beautiful patterns created; somehow I narrowed it to 25 favourites.

Two more cubes completed too. Only two more to go!

Cookery the Australia Day Way

What an appropriate book to review today!

This book has been used as a secondary school Home Ec text for years. It was first published in 1966. My mum had an old dark blue cover edition and she gave me this 6th edition in 2000.

I'm not too sure what makes Australian cooking Australian. I could say it's lightness, but we love fish and chips and rich British puddings. I could say the diversity, but we still label Lamingtons and pav as our favourites. Maybe it's the use of metric and Celsius, a lack of salt, and our massive sweets sections, especially chocolate.

Maybe it's because it includes damper.

Reasons I love this book in no particular order...

Jan 25, 2013

Day 19: See shells...

Today I finished the machine sewing of the photo cube shells.

I also did a bit of an ad hoc creating.
Bub got her hands in a piece of ribbon, and was desperate to have it. I could secure it to her bouncer well enough but it kept fraying and I was worried about her swallowing some strands. I managed to prise it out of her grip for long enough to sew it up.

It's not very pretty, and I couldn't be bothered swapping the thread to match but it does the job and she's delighted!

Jan 24, 2013

Day 18: Again!

Another base pair, an upside down pineapple cake and the shell of another cube were made today.

The cake was from Cookery the Australian Way. It's made with 250g of butter, half to go with the brown sugar and pineapple in the bottom, the other half in the cake. Tends to induce a sugar coma.

Jan 23, 2013

Day 17: Give me some Base!

Buoyed by my completion of the protein strands, I began the base pairs today.

I used 4ply for this project because that's what I had, and using a baby yarn (Shepherd Baby Wool Merino) seemed pretty appropriate for a toy. I didn't double it to make 8ply as the pattern required because gauge was unimportant.

However, now I kinda wish I'd used 8ply because these base pairs are really fiddly! Only 9 stitches to work in the round makes it so easy to fumble at the start. Only now, at row 5, am I sure I haven't twisted the work. It's very hard to get started on them. There'll be three in pink/green and three in blue/orange. Part of me wishes they were stronger colours, but I suspect it will all look better once put together.

In other creations, I made a self-saucing chocolate pudding for supper. It's from the marvellous Cookery the Australian Way. I love the mild and fluffy cake part and the rich sauce. Lots of puddings are rich all over, but this one is lighter, with a lovely chocolate flavour that doesn't overwhelm you. It's not a new recipe for me, but I reckon it counts. My sister is coming to collect her daughter / our guest and will be here for dinner tomorrow night. What's left is what I'd call enough for me... Awkward.

Maybe I'll make something more...

Jan 22, 2013

Day 16: Got my protein

I had some lovely visitors today and we watched episodes of Supernatural together. It's an excellent day of catching up and hanging out. I usually do some crafting while we're at it because I'll have already seen the episodes were watching.

Today I finished the second of my protein strands for the DNA toy :D

Jan 21, 2013

Day 15: Busy

Today I pinned and hand sewed the seams of one cube. It's not much, but with appointments, guests and shopping I'm pretty ok with that!

In other news, did you know that those sharpeners with two holes are actually for the one pencil? One size is for the wood and the other is for the lead. They require different angles.

I kid you not.


Jan 20, 2013

Day 14: Trip knitting

Rows 100 and 110 marked... on our way to 130.
Today I did some more rows on my DNA toy during our trip to Warragul.

The views from my seat...
I didn't get it finished, although I could've with the car time we had, but Bub needed comforting. She's still getting used to car trips.

Jan 19, 2013

Day 13: Unnatural food

Today I made Turkish Delight from this marvellous cookbook.

I think I've been looking sideways at this recipe for 18 years, ever since I started making toffees in high school.  So, I finally remembered some rosewater and tartaric acid and got to it.

It uses a surprising amount of cornflower and icing sugar. Well, not that surprising when you think of what the stuff is, but I still forgot to check my stash and almost ran out of both.

Needs lots of icing sugar and cornflower to coat it.

I also forgot to take a pic of the most interesting part, which is the last 30mins of 'boiling'.  It's boiling, technically, but really it is gloriously viscous and blops away like the bog of eternal stench. I suspect it was actually the corporeal form of an evil soul monologuing about my doom. Either way, quite yum.

I also made a chocolate mud cake, from the Donna Hay Chocolate Essentials cookbook. I accidentally made it with milk chocolate instead of dark. By the time I realised the buds had already been melted, so I figured we'd see how that turns out.

Still cooling in the tin.

Both these things are for my sister's 50th arvo tea tomorrow.

So we have the uncomfortable experience of having a whole fresh yummy cake in the house that we will not cut tonight.

I might have to make another before I go to bed.

Bless you AWW and your Cooking Class Cookbook

When I left home I took the liberty of collecting a few cookbooks from my mum's shelf. I'm pretty sure I asked, but now I feel a bit guilty: I took the gold.

We had a pretty extensive set of Australian Woman's Weekly Home Library - the stapled, glossy kind. Far out they're awesome. Generally a recipe per page with step-by-step photos. All I could ask for further is a list of cookware for each recipe - a 'you will need' for tools.

I've entry been trying out a few recipes from my favourite of the series: Cooking Class Cookbook. It's such a daggy bible but just to prove how awesome it is - how nostalgic, romantic and somehow a teeny bit racist* - I'm listing the recipes for you.

Have a look at what they chose for each section - especially the short ones.  Just try not to get a copy for yourself.

Poultry: Beggar's Chicken; How to joint a chicken; How to roast a chicken; Chicken Chasseur; French Herbed Chicken; Chicken Kiev; Duck with Orange; Chicken Maryland; Chinese Chicken Sticks; Coq au Vin; Chicken Liver Pate.

Meat: Wiener Schnitzel; Beef Stroganoff; Beef Wellington; Crown Roast of Lamb; Veal Cordon Bleu; Moussaka; Sates; Osso Bucco; Boeuf Bourguignonne; 
Brawn; Pot Roast.

Fish: Trout with almonds; Crisp Fried Fish; How to fillet fish; Garlic Prawns; Baked Snapper; Chinese Fish; Salmon Croquettes.

Soups: Hot Sour Soup; Minestrone; French Onion Soup.

Vegetables: Potato Scallops; Chips; Fried Onion Rings.

Rice & pasta: Spaghetti Bolognese; Fried Rice; Lasagne; Ravioli; Gnocchi.

Batters: Waffles; Crumpets; Yorkshire Pudding; Pancakes; Prawn Cutlets.

Sauces: Béarnaise Sauce; A good gravy; Caramel Sauce.

Pastry: Pizza; Greek Triangles; Chinese Spring Rolls; Sausage Rolls; Hunza Pie; Salmon Quiche; Melton Mowbray Pie; Custard Tart; Vanilla Slices; Indian Samosas; Greek Baklava; Australian Meat Pie; French Fruit Flan.

Bread, Buns & Scones: White Bread; Hot Cross Buns; Berlin Doughnuts; Scones; Damper; Sourdough Rye Bread; Chelsea Bun; Bagels; Cream Buns; Croissants; Indian Puris.

Desserts: Strawberry Shortcake; Lemon Meringue Pie; Cream Puffs; How to flambé fruits; Chocolate Mousse; Brandy Snaps; Apple Strudel; Biscotten Torte; Baked Rice Custard; Sweet Soufflés; Rum-caramel Pineapple; Zabaglione; Brandied Oranges; Almond Peachy Pie; Crepes Suzette.

Cakes: Lamingtons; Sponge Cake; Chocolate Roll.

Biscuits: Italian Biscotti; Gingerbread Men; Toffee Crisps; Shortbread; Monte Carlos.

Confectionery: Butterscotch; Turkish Delight; Toffees; Italian Nougat; Toasted Marshmallows; Toffee Apples; Candy Popcorn; Marshmallow Eggs; Buttered Brazil Nuts.

Something Extra: Making your own mixed peel; Italian Polenta; Melba Toast; Herb Butter; Caesar Salad; Green Tomato Pickles.

And a page of conversions for electric and gas ovens and cup & spoon measures. In the back. Where it belongs.

I love how there are just three for a few sections. Coz really, what else is there? I mean, what other kind of sauce could you need, really?
But then it's so diverse! Baklava, Turkish Delight (I mean, even a decent confectionery section), Crumpets! Pâté! Chips! Pot Roast!

Obviously, with books this size, they can't fit in everything, so these must be their top choices for each genre. It's no Cookery the Australian Way, but it does seem to say "These are the recipes of a respectably competent cook" as well as "You should buy a cake cookbook if you want more". I think it also presents a moment of Australian culture, whether it's reflective or aspirational. I suspect a lot of stereotypical 80s Aussie households hoped to be this diverse with their meals.

*I'm not sure how to clarify this. It just feels strange that they’ve specified the country of origin for some recipes but not for others, even if those recipes don't really come from anywhere else.  Spag Bol was obviously common enough to not call it 'Italian Sag Bol', but 'Chinese Fish' is certainly not the only way the Chinese do fish. Maybe there is Greek or Sicilian polenta, and Sri Lankan samosas... I don't know enough about food or those cultures to be sure.

Jan 18, 2013

Day 12: Couch

Today I knitted some more of my DNA toy. I'm hoping that the next time I sit down I can finish this section, but that might take a few Supernaturals in a row.
Last night's heat (think it dropped to 30C by 6am) made for a wakey baby and after a much-needed sleep in we had a much-needed afternoon out in cooler breezes. So, mindless couch-based handiwork was in store tonight.
Three cheers for the end of the week!

Supplementary content!

A few years ago I heard of a guy who did a drawing a day to improve his skills. It was over a long time and in his posts you could see clear progress over the years, going from slightly warped yr6-ish portraits to shaded and proportionate dragons. It found it really impressive.
I cannot find that guy's site.
[content totally changed coz I remembered] I think it may have been via Drawn, which is a thoroughly beautiful site that features artists' work and it's inspiring and warm and fuzzy and good artistic nutrition. Grab a spoon: http://blog.drawn.ca/

Maybe, if I get tired of fabric and yarn, I might take a month or so to do a drawing a day, or a painting a day, and see if I can't get my skills beyond their current Year 8 standard.

Jan 16, 2013

Day 10: ummm...

I almost finished preparing a cover for a cube - got the basting to go - but alas the day went and filled itself without me.

Let me share this awesome piece of crochet with you. There doesn't seem to be a pattern for it but I'm doing it when there is one. My nerdy heart hearts this to megadeath.

Crochet Rainbow Fractal by Andrew Salomone


Maybe nutting out a pattern for this will go on my rainy day list.
(Who am I kidding? Why do I write such things?...)

Jan 15, 2013

Day 9: Errr...

Today I was a bit busy, interrupted and quite tired. I got one and a half rows of kitting done. :| Not much.

Please find this link for fruit leather, by Katie Goodman, in compensation for this paltry post. Mmmmm, yummy and interesting. My favourites. 

I can't imagine running the oven for 8 hours, but I do love the idea of the leather. Maybe a dehydrator would work too...

Jan 14, 2013

Day 8: African-can

Yesterday's cube is hand stitched and it's partner is complete! I do like the cute African animals - even the alligator is cuddly.

That's half the cubes done! :D

This coming week or so might be a little repetitive...

Jan 13, 2013

Day 7: 4.75 cubes

Before I began this blog I'd sewn all the vinyl pieces onto the side panels for all the photo cubes. What remains is sewing the sides, inserting the foam cube and hand stitching them closed.
Today I sewed 9 of 12 edges of the 4th cube. Only the hand stitching remains on this one.
Only 7.25 to go.

Baby's First DNA Toy

It is what you think it is; a DNA toy, which is knitted. The sugar-phosphate spine (the ribbons that swirl on the outside) are tubes filled with hobby fill. They naturally twist because the 30-stitch has an increase and a decrease on opposite sides.

Then the base pairs (joining things that go bw the ribbons) are made separately and sewn in place to connect the spines.

I'm keep imagining I'll use a knitting Jenny to do the base pairs, but I suspect they're thicker than that... Wonder if I can find a thicker knitting Jenny...

This is the pattern that I'm using, by Kimberly Chapman and I think it's pretty awesome:

I began this project... Um, before. Before Bub was thought of and before Swedish nephew was born but I think I originally started it for him. In the end I made a sleep sack for nephew and chose to keep this one for Bub.

Jan 12, 2013

Day 6: Cubes and Tubes

We drove to Healesville today, which is a bit over an hour each way.  It was totally worth it too, to see our good friends and their children, to have them catch up with Bub and to celebrate a 5th birthday.  A lovely afternoon at the park!

I managed to get about 10 rows of this tube knitted during the travelling.

I had to stop though coz I didn't take the stuffing and it's too hard to stuff if you turn the bend too far.

Bend? How so? What is it? What's it going to be?!
I'll post about it soon.

Postal goodness!

It arrived! I bought myself a gift pack from Spoonflower. It includes swatches of the fabric they sell, a gift voucher, a book, a notebook and a pencil.

I have yet to really look at the book but it's pretty spesh with a CD and all. It even has printed paper (like wrapping paper but uber stylish) in the back which I will never use because no occasion will ever be special enough and they’ll totally go to waste.  It even has a tutorial on how to make your own fabric patterns that you can upload and have created and mailed by Spoonflower. I do not consider my artistic skills anywhere near good enough for such extraordinary extravagances.

Ugh, now I have to decide what to buy with my voucher. Have you seen that site?! It's the hundreds & thousands of Alice in Wonderland. Drunk swimming through Jelly Bellies. Laying down in puppies.  I'll OD on the colours alone...

Jan 11, 2013

Day 5: Photo cubes - part 2

Steps 1 to 9 of this project are here.


10. Insert the cube

Align the edges to the seams as best you can.
With cube inserted. Align the edges with the seams.

11. Hand stitch your last edges.

I used a ladder stitch and two thicknesses of thread. I folded the sided panels over the top of the cube (rather than tucking them down) and closed the lid on top. I recommend working with about a ft or so of thread at a time because things tend to tangle when they're longer.
Ladder stitching the pinned panel.

Here is as far as I'm able to go today. The cube is complete the my photos are at the in-laws after a ships-in-the-night thing with the mail. But the last parts aren't mysterious...


12. Insert the photos 

Trim the pics if necessary. You may need to squish the cube a bit and curve the photo to get it in. Stand back and admire your work!

13. Hand over all your hard work to someone with very little coordination. Let it go.

Jan 10, 2013

Day 4: photo cubes - part 1

For a bit on who and what these are for, check out this previous post.  Most of this project was completed last week. Today I've done Step 9, which is about all I can fit in after a rough night, a sleep in and a trip to the beach with a baby :)


These are the instructions to make one photo cube. I haven't said "buy 20cm of 150cm fabric" although that's what you could do for each, because I think this is a good project for scraps. The squares could even be quilted if you like.


  • Vinyl, or some kind of transparent sewable plastic - four rectangles of 10 x 14cm
  • Three different fabrics - preferably cotton/non-stretch - two 17cm squares of each cut with the grain
  • One foam 15cm cube
  • Two strips of ribbon or bias strip - 10cm long at least
  • Sewing machine
  • Needle and thread
All seams are sewn with a 1cm seam allowance. Overlocking the seams is fine, if you like to do your crossword puzzles in pen.

I'll describe how I did mine, which includes attention to the direction of photo pockets, directional patterns and loop placement.

1. Cut out all your parts

2. Organise your sewing.

Layout your cube like a net for a 3D shape and organise the direction of photo pockets and patterns. I've orientated the photo pockets all the same way. For me, the top and bottom panels have feature patterns that have pictures, as you an seem from both examples. When I have fabric with directional patterns I've alternated which way they go. Here's an example:
Net layout with loops at their corners, directional patterns alternating, photo panels aligned

3. Make up your photo pocket sides.

Centre a vinyl piece on a square and pin in place. Pin in line with the sewing line, which is as close to the edge as you're comfortable.
The pinning is important: my old Bernina minimatic fed the fabric quicker than the vinyl so I needed to be quite assertive when feeding both pieces through. I would use a walking foot if I had one. The pinning helped to keep it where it should be. Some of the stitching became a bit crooked, and the feeding pulled unevenly, but the shape of the cube pulls everything square enough.
Also, I couldn't get the thread tension right without the fabric being interfaced, but decided it wasn't that important if it held and looked OK.
Three and a bit edges sewn
Sew three edges completely (which ever three you like) and on the fourth edge, sew about three stitches and reverse stitch back to the corner. This helps hold the photo in the pocket and secures your stitching.

4. Pin the loops in place.

Lay your photo pockets back in your arrangement and place the loops. The loops will end up on opposite corners if you pin like this: on the first and third square (or 2nd and 4th, whichever) pin the loops to the right edge of both, the bottom right for one and the top right for the other.The pic at step 2 shows this better.

Planning the loop by using another object. Green pin is sewing line.
I recommend planning your loops by using another object to mark the sew line.  Here I've used a cube I've already made because I can pin the ribbon to the object. They're arranged so that the loop lays against the third seam at that corner when folded down. The edges of the ribbon won't lay flush with the fabric edge; they'll tilt a little towards the corner. It doesn't matter how far or near they are to the corner - it's up to you. 

Pinned loop - flat view
Loop pinned to corner - closer!

 Loop laying down on third seam

4. Sew the side panels into a row. 

Make sure you catch the loops when necessary. Here is how I pinned and sewed mine.
Panels arranged for pinning, right sides down

5. Attach the top and bottom panels.

Sew one side each of the top and bottom panels to the side panels. I recommend sewing the edges that includes the other end of the loops so that they're machine sewn.
Photo cube - Top panel sewn to catch loops
Top panel sewn to catch loops

6. Sew last side seam.

Photo cube - top and bottom panels sewn
Top and bottom panels sewn. Sides panel seam is pinned (at top) for sewing.

7. Sew one end completely.

This step takes careful pinning.
Your sewing needs to stop at the seam allowance at each junction. Otherwise, when the cube cover is turned out, the fabric is pulled awkwardly and the corners will buckle and look odd.

Pin your fifth panel so that the seam allowances are folded back and sew as close to the cornerpoint as possible, lowering the needle and pivot turning at both ends.
Photo cube - Pinning of top/bottom panel
Pinning of top/bottom panel from beneath

Pinning of top/bottom panel - one edge

Top/bottom panel corner sewing completed
Ready for turning out

7. Turn out and check your work!

8. Baste the edges of your final panel.

9. Mark the seam allowance on the side panels in some way.

You may choose to press them before inserting the cube, tack a line, or use a marker that can be brushed off later or sewn out of sight.
I chose to sew a long stitch around the edge using the 1cm allowance guide, but with the needle shifted to the right (about 2mm).
Basting on last panel and seam allowances marked