Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Just a taste

I have a new finished object awaiting a photo shoot. All I need is some sunlight and a tank top and I'll be set to show off this lady. I'm pretty pleased, so do check back (perhaps Saturday?)

I'm still in Sydney, and still exploring. I tend to avoid touristy things like the plague in lieu of hanging out with the locals in various neighborhoods. Last weekend I went to the Bankstown Bites food festival. Bankstown is a suburb about 40 minutes from Sydney city that, apparently, no one goes to unless they live there. Let me tell you, Sydney, you are missing out! The food festival was nice, although on the small side. The real gem were all the other shops around the area. There were all kinds of Asian markets, Middle Eastern markets (including a fantastic and cheap spice shop), an Indian market that had food from Mauritius (Mauritius, people! I haven't seen food from Mauritius since I was in Mauritius!) bakeries, cheap fabric stores, great op shops. I was in heaven. If I ever actually live in Sydney, I will be going shopping in Bankstown for all my specialty food needs. The photo above is from the festival--I'm not sure what these balls are actually called, but it was fascinating to watch them being made. They basically seem to pile a whole lot of dough onto these plates, and keep rotating the dough within the depressions until they form perfect spheres. If anyone knows what to call these, bonus points for you!

Friday, July 25, 2008

A bit off topic

Ok, so this isn't really craft or sensory-oriented, but since I've been traveling quite a lot lately I've had airline miles on the brain. I tend to choose whatever flight is cheapest regardless of the airline. As a result I have a several thousand frequent flier miles spread over a variety of programs. Just the other day I learned about the Points.com website, which allows you to move points from one airline to another. It isn't a one-to-one trade, so you do lose a few miles in each trade--but for me, it was worth it. This is an airline approved website (I found out about it from an American Airlines email). It seemed like a pretty great idea to me, so I thought I would pass it along!

Monday, July 21, 2008

For the love of giant knitting

I think my dream of having a gigantic cabled rug is getting a bit closer to fruition. Check this out!

False Start Opera Gloves

I'm nearly finished with my yellow sweater...just..need...to..seam...it! So, it's about time I started a new knitting project! I fell in love with the idea of making Opera-length knitted gloves after buying a 3/4 sleeve coat and seeing a bright orangey-red pair made by the Australian company Country Road. I chose the Opera Glove pattern on Sweaterscapes. However, I decided to use a finer yarn--Centolavaggi, held doubled with US size 1 needles. I started yesterday and got this far by today:

The thing is, that I'm just not feeling it. The idea of working on teeny tiny double point needles forever isn't appealing, and I'm not wholeheartedly convinced that I'm going to love these gloves when I finish. SO, I've quickly decided to find a better use for this yarn. At the moment I'm leaning heavily toward Veronik Avery's Lace Ribbon Scarf. I think this will be a great project to keep me occupied for the rest of my time in Sydney, and then I can start on some sweaters when I return to the land of cheap and plentiful yarn. I've got some good ideas in the works--hopefully I can work out the geometry and write up some nice patterns!

Friday, July 4, 2008


One of the best things about Sydney is that it has had a very strong surge of immigrants coming in for the last couple decades or so. As a result, you can find all sort of great food--particularly of the Asian variety. I was so excited when I found an Indian restaurant near my workplace that served both South Indian food, and chaat (street food/snacks). I immediately thought that I would go there every day for lunch for the next two months. If you live in the US, you probably haven't tried either of the things I'm about to mention--most Indian restaurants in the US focus on other regions of India, and you can really only find these things if you're lucky or looking very hard. In Chicago, there are a bunch of great little restaurants on Devon Street--my favorites being Annapurna (for chaat) and Udupi Palace (for dosa, idli, and other South Indian food). The place I went to in Sydney is Jaipur Sweets. Although the chaat was very good, it seems that they don't use enough chilies in their food--perhaps catering to a presumed Australian palette? So the taste of the food was a little off (but still nice, especially if you don't know how it is supposed to taste!)

Above is papri chaat, which consists of crunchy fried bits of dough, potatoes, onion, coriander chutney, tamarind and date chutney, yogurt, and chaat masala (a spice mixture). I've made this from scratch a few times, and it took me the better part of a day! This can also be called papadi chaat, or dahi papadi chaat and probably a few other similar variations. It is delicious--a great combination of crunchy and soft, and flavors ranging from sweet to spicy to tangy and everything in between. Also pictured is a small cup of rasmalai, a yummy dairy-based desert made of a spongy round of paneer marinated in a sweetened milky broth with saffron and nuts. I think they forgot to sweeten the rasmalai at Jaipur Sweets, but otherwise it had the right texture. Strange omission from a place with the word sweets in its name.

Another favorite, pictured above, is masala dosa. Dosa (also written dosai) are thin, crunchy crepes made from rice batter which has been left to ferment overnight. It has a slightly sourdough flavor. The masala variety comes stuffed with an onion and potato mixture, which is supposed to be a bit spicy (though wasn't at all in this case). You eat dosa with your right hand by breaking off bite sized pieces and dipping them into one of the two associated condiments: sambar, which is a lentil and vegetable soup/gravy, and coconut chutney. Both can be a little spicy, particularly the chutney (though again, not at all at Jaipur Sweets!)

If you get a chance, go out and try these things some day. Though, if you aren't in India, I can't guarantee the authenticity.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Kinokuniya Magic

It has been very interesting checking out all the shops in Sydney. Although there are quite a number of American brands represented, there are also quite a lot of names and products that are unfamiliar to me. Acting on a tip from a fellow knitter, I stopped by the Japanese bookstore chain Kinokuniya yesterday. They have a pretty nice selection of Japanese sewing and knitting books, many of which were tempting. On first look, I thought I would easily spend a few hundred dollars, but on second thought, I decided the likelihood of me making the effort to sew or knit from one of these books was too small to make any purchase worthwhile.

One lingering temptation is the book Pattern Magic, which has been discussed on a few other blogs. What really got me tempted was the bodice below on the far upper right.

It looks like a lovely, exaggerated version of the Mociun dress I have also been tempted over for quite some time:

I've seen one or two people successfully attempt patterns from this book, including a great sweater by sew-mad. If anyone attempts to make either the Mociun dress, or one of the Pattern Magic bow tops, please let me know!