Pages

Friday, 27 April 2012

Procrastination

When it comes to certain projects I am definitely a procrastinator. Take for example my Tiny Elf. I cast him on in October last year but he has languished in the bottom of my work basket as a sad one armed, legless elf since then.




Oh I had plenty of excuses, like there was a newer project that I wanted to work on, or swap knitting to be or the fact that Christmas was over so the elf knitting was a bit out of season! During the week I finally got my WIPs down to two, my Lintilla and this little guy. So I couldn't procrastinate any longer. So out of the work basket he came and after a couple of hours of work he was finished. 



There was so little work left to do it made me wonder why I procrastinated so long! Now he's sitting on my mantle piece waiting for Christmas.

One last project I want to share is little man's first jumper for this winter. The pattern is Tama by Kelly Brooker. It's a really quick knit, I cast on very late Friday night and finished Tuesday morning. I think he might need another one of these.




Wednesday, 25 April 2012

The first cut is the deepest!

It's been over a week since I took a steeking workshop but I'm finally getting around to writing about it now. But then again I only sewed on the buttons yesterday so I really had to wait until the headband was actually finished - that's my excuse and I'm sticking with it!


On the 14th, I spent a lovely day with my sister in law, E and other knitters taking a steeking workshop with the wonderful Kate Davies at This is Knit. For homework we knitted a lovely colourwork headband in the round. This was my second colour work project ever but I was very happy with how it turned out. Then at the workshop it was down to the cutting aaaahhhhh!


First up, Kate gave a great presentation on her steeking technique the "steek sandwich" with lots of step by step instructions and photos to prepare us. Then we were told it was time to steek. First we did some crochet reinforcement.




Then we cut between the crochet. I was obviously so scared by this I forgot to take a photo but you can see some over on E's blog.


Once that was done, the rest was straight forward. We made the "sandwich" and did an i-cord bind off. See that light blue bit along the button band, that's the "sandwich". It helps tidy up and further stablize the steek while reinforcing the button band too. I really like this sandwich technique because of the double protection of the steek, no worry about it unraveling unexpectedly.





The workshop was also blogged about by This is Knit and by Kate Davies. Myself and E are shown on Kate's blog in the middle of cutting. That may look like extreme concentration but there was also a mantras of "don't unravel, don't unravel"  and "why in God's name am I CUTTING my knitting" going around my head.


All in all it was a great class and a great day out for this mammy. It's rare that I have a day out of just me without little man so I get the most out of them when I do. Although I'm happy enough that they are rare, I like spending time with my little man too much.


Oh and I should get a plug in about the shawl pin mentioned at the end of Kate's blog. It was designed by my sister in law exclusively for This is Knit and can be found on their website here.


Finally, I thought I'd leave you with a yummy recipe for meatloaf (which we had for dinner last night). Julie (joolieknits on ravelry) gave me the link to the recipe she uses. It's by the pioneer woman and can be found here. The blog gives great step by step instructions and it is possibly the easiest recipe ever. The only things I changed was to use basil instead of parsley as that's what I had to hand the first time I made it and prosciutto (Serrano works just as well as I found out last night) instead of the bacon. Then for the sauce as I really don't like tabasco, I used about half and half ketchup and hot chilli ketchup. It all turned out yummy in the end anyway, so I'd recommend giving it a try.



Thursday, 19 April 2012

Scaredy cat gets brave

Let me tell you a story about a scared little cat. In January last year, himself and I decided to adopt another cat. Our first cat had passed away a year before and we thought it would be a good idea to get some company for our cat Pearl. Well when I say "we" it was himself's idea and I wasn't going to argue as I'd broached the subject before with not a favourable response. So having checked out the local rescue centre Ash Animal Rescue's  website (they do a great job rescuing and homing animals). We spotted a couple of kittens which we thought would be lovely to give a home too. A cute little grey tabby and an even cuter ginger tabby. After contacting Helena we discovered that the grey tabby had found a new home but the ginger was still available. I decided to visit Ash and look at the many cats and kittens they had before making a decision. Well I did look but I kept coming back to the ginger kitten. She was so frightened looking but when I took her out of her cage and held her she put her head on my arm and purred so hard her whole body shook. I really believe that in these cases animals choose you not the other way around and I took that to mean she had picked me to take her home. So take her home I did but first stop, the vet to give her a good once over. 


When I took her home, we introduced her slowly to her surroundings and to her new big sister Pearl. Well for the first day or so all she did was hide. As you can see she was the skinniest, sorriest looking creature and absolutely terrified. The poor thing had had a tough start to life. She and a litter mate had been found on the side of the road when she was about 5 weeks old, half starved after their mother had been killed.




Pearl was a bit put out about having to share her home with this newcomer but within a few days they were best of friends.






So a year on, Jasmine has settled in very nicely and has grown into a chubbier little cat who loves nothing better but to chase her toy mouse around the house and lie in front of the fire or curl up in her basket.


So what has to do with her getting brave? Well both our cats are outdoor/indoor cats. They get outdoor privileges once they're neutered. While Pearl happily goes out and hops up onto the wall and has a bit of a wander, Jasmine was never that brave. She'd happily stay in the back garden but never ventured onto the wall. Until this week.


First she braved jumping onto the compost bin and sitting there along side Pearl. Then onto the wall. Then eventually having a look around the top of the neighbours shed.....



and a wander down along the wall. She looks very brave running down the wall in these photos but those first few steps were a bit shake-y looking. There would be a step, a bit of a looking around, another step until finally she felt brave enough to run down along.



Once she popped down from the wall, there was a celebratory roll around with Pearl.




So my scaredy cat like the cowardly lion from The Wizard of Oz has found her courage. 











Sunday, 15 April 2012

Hedgehogs

As I mentioned before here I'm taking part in a swap set up by Mel in the itty bitty knits group. The swap has a H theme and while we must include a hippo or hedgehog, we have to try describe our other items/goodies with a H word (no matter how loosely the word applies)! So far my parcel has been coming along nicely. I only have a couple more things to add and then all going to plan I should have it posted by the deadline. One item I like to add to some of my swap parcels is a cotton washcloth with a design that suits the swap theme. There are plenty of these on ravelry so there usually isn't a problem finding a suitable pattern. This time was a bit different. While I found a couple of patterns for hippo washcloths there were no hedgehog ones and I wanted a hedgehog! 


So I decided it couldn't be too hard to design one myself. They were just a square made up of knit and purl stitches afterall? Nothing too scary. After a lot of frustration trying to use a free knitting chart program that I had downloaded, I decide it was best to use simpler means. Out came the pen and squared paper and I was off and running. Over the last week I managed to design and write up the pattern for 3 different hedgehog washcloths which I very imaginatively called hedgehog washcloth #1, #2 and #3!! I'm actually quite pleased with results. Each takes less than 50 m of aran weight cotton. I knit the 3 of them out of one ball of Tivoli Cruise Aran with enough left over for probably another one.








As each was ready I uploaded to the pattern to the Ravelry database so that the other ladies taking part in the swap could have the patterns. They can be found herehere and here. I've been pleasantly surprised by the response. Of course the itty bitty knitters have all been very encouraging and have given me plenty of compliments. Some of them have shown photos of the ones they've knitted up which has been all very exciting. But what has been really surprising has been the response by other ravelers. I've had many really lovely messages from them about the designs. The first two designs are now been downloaded over 40 and 30 times respectively since I uploaded them on Sunday (April 8th) and Wednesday (April 11th) but the most popular design by far has been #3 which is heading for it's 100th download since I uploaded in on Friday (April 13th). I know it's only a drop in the ocean compared to some of the patterns on there but it far exceeds me expectations. So to those of you who have downloaded the patterns, whether you've knit them or never get around to it, I saw a big THANK YOU, you've really made me smile.


These may be the first and only things I design but it was fun and maybe in time the artistic side to my brain may come to the fore again.

Monday, 9 April 2012

Yum!

I seem to have a bit of a thing for sponge puddings at the moment. The latest a Rhubarb, Orange and Ginger one.


Recipe


500 g rhubarb
Juice and zest of 1 orange (or about 80 ml orange juice)
Approx 1/4 to 1/2 inch of fresh ginger peeled and smashed a bit and tied in a muslin bag


For the sponge:
110 g butter or margarine
110 g caster sugar
2 large eggs
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
110 g self-raising flour
1-2 tablespoons milk






1. Preheat the oven to 180C.
2. In a saucepan place the chopped rhubarb, orange juice and zest and the ginger. Cook slowly until the rhubarb is soft. Remove the ginger bag at this stage. Stir in the caster sugar until dissolved. Set aside for later. 
3. Now for the sponge. Beat the butter and sugar until fluffy (and you can't feel the grittiness of the sugar any more).
4. Add the eggs one at a time with the vanilla extract.
5. Stir in the flour. If the mixture is very stiff at this point add some milk.
6. In a greased pie dish put the rhubarb mixture at the bottom then drop on spoonfuls of the sponge mixture. Spread the mixture out a bit. It might look like there isn't enough sponge mixture but don't worry it will spread out and blend together while cooking so you just have to spread the mixture out a bit. I find if you drop small spoonfuls evenly over the rhubarb mixture it's easier to spread them out  a bit.
7. Bake in the oven for about 40 minutes until the sponge is cooked (a metal skewer will come out clean)  and golden. The cooking time will depend on your oven so check close to the time.
8. Serve hot (my preference) or cold with custard, cream or ice-cream.




I like ginger so you can use more or less ginger in the rhubarb mixture or omit it altogether. How much sugar you add to the rhubarb will also depend on how sour the rhubarb is and your own personal preference. So taste a bit and add in more if needed.
Another nice variation on this is to omit the ginger and add halved strawberries to the rhubarb mixture later in the season. Have about 2:1 rhubarb to strawberry. You'll need to add less sugar as the strawberries will be quite sweet.


Enjoy!



Monday, 2 April 2012

Eve's a peach

Yesterday we had himself's parents over for dinner. For dessert a did a take on Eve's pudding. For those who don't know, Eve's pudding is a baked dessert consisting of a layer of apples topped with sponge. For my take I used tinned peaches and a chocolate sponge mixture.


The juiciness of the peaches give the chocolate sponge pudding mixture a lovely gooey chocolate-y centre. Here's a photo of it just out of the oven. I didn't think to take one later.






So the recipe:


6 oz / 150g self raising flour
6 oz / 150g butter
6 oz / 150 g sugar
1.5 oz / 38 g cocoa
3 eggs
2 x tins of peaches in juice (although syrup is ok), drained


1. Preheat the oven to 190 C
2. Sift the flour and cocoa together in a bowl.
3. Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
4. Mix in the eggs a little at a time with the flour and cocoa.
5. Place the drained peaches in a greased ovenproof pie dish and top with the chocolate pudding mixture.
6. Bake for about 30-40 minutes until sponge is cooked.
7. Leave to cool for 10 minutes or so and serve with whipped cream or vanilla ice-cream.


Note: The sponge can be made using the all in one method by placing the flour, cocoa, butter, eggs and sugar in a food processor and blending until you get a smooth batter which has a dropping consistency. If you find that the batter is still a bit too stiff add a tiny bit of milk until you get the right dropping consistency.


Oh and I used a 1.6 L pie dish with a 9 or 10 inch diameter.


Enjoy!