Pages

Tuesday, 31 December 2013

2013

And so another year comes to a close and it's time to take a look back on the creative year that was.

I've completed 42 knitting projects including:
8 hats
2 pairs of socks/booties
1 shawl
12 cardigans/sweaters - all baby and kids sizes
6 toys
5 washcloths
2 cowls
1 blanket
4 blanket squares/strips as contributions to larger group projects.
1 romper
1 tunic/dress

Down a bit from last year but hey I also created a baby in the year which along with the little man kept me busy! Well that's my excuse anyway and I'm sticking to it out ;-)!

I've also released 4 patterns which can be found in my ravelry store here.

On the sewing front I only did a little here and there. The main thing was that I finished little man's quilt just in time for his birthday! I've also just sandwiched together a very simple cot sized quilt for my friends baby due to make his appearance around February. I've picked out the fabric for little lady's quilt so I'll hopefully get a start on that early in the new year!

I've a few projects left on the needles -
1. A hat for a very special lady, this I suspect will be my first fo of 2014. I will also be writing it up as a new pattern release.
2. Daisy Chain cardigan - this will be for the little lady. It's such a cute pattern and I'm looking forward to picking it back up as it was set aside to get some last minute Christmas knitting done.
3. Miranda - a sweater for me, I'm still on the yoke increases. This will be next on my list to finish. If I get distracted by anything else it will never be done!
4. Vanilla latte socks - one done, one half way down the cuff.
5. The never ending log cabin blanket for little man. I think finishing this should a goal for 2014!

And so I wish you a wonderful new year filled with laughter, love and crafting! May the best of 2013 be the worst of 2014.

Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Slaney Cowl

I've just released a new pattern for a cowl. There are a few different length options so you can wear it wrapped once or twice. It's knit flat with a provisional cast on and then the stitches are grafted at the end.

The sample shown is size small knit in Plymouth Yarn Baby Alpaca worsted. This is a lovely soft yarn but is closer to DK weight than worsted and knit up nice at a DK gauge of 22 sts/10 cm.
Malabrigo Silky DK is also a nice yarn for this project.


This sample has now gone to a new home but I think I will need to knit yet another one for myself.

The cowl is named for the river that flows through the town where I live. The cables remind me of the current flow on the surface of the river.

It can now be found in my Ravelry store here.

Happy knitting!


Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Harvest Morning


Better late than never but I'm finally posting about my latest pattern, Harvest Morning. I thought my friends little boy was in need of a winter hat and what better than an ear flap hat to keep him toasty! A slipped stitch pattern adds a bit of interest to the hat and topped off with a pom pom for added cuteness. It's written for DK yarn in 4 sizes from 0-6 months to 2-3 years (shown here in 2-3 years on an average sized 2 year old). The ear flaps are knit optional too.

I have a cowl that will soon be going into testing and a couple of more hats in the works too so watch this space for updates!

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

A party and some creativity!

In the few weeks since I last posted I've been busy. The little man turned two! I can't believe it TWO! How did that happen?! He has grown in a blink of an eye from the wrinkly, little baby that he was on the day he was born....
... to a little boy, full of energy and mischief.



 I made his cake. It's a chocolate sponge cake with chocolate butter cream filling and icing (to mimic a muddy field!). I was going to attempt to model a tractor from fondant icing but himself made a very good suggestion of just using a toy tractor which I did. The green lettering was used to look like the "grass" left in the field. It didn't turn out exactly as I had imagined but I was happy with in nonetheless. It was quite yummy and I was glad that himself suggested using the toy tractor. I have a very bad habit of giving myself way too much to do and making way too much food when we're having any sort of party or even having people over for dinner. So not having to model a tractor was one less thing to do. Just as well as I was icing cupcakes about an hour before the party was due to kick off and about 15 minutes before some of the guests arrived.

His birthday also made me get busy an finally finish his quilt. I had it all finished and basted just before the little lady arrived but then things got extra busy and I didn't get around to finishing it until now. I also needed to get a walking foot for my machine. So for the two weeks before his birthday, during nap times and after bedtimes I got the sewing machine out and quilted and bound the quilt. I'm quite happy how it turned out. It may not be perfect but it's hand made with love and that's all that matters. It's also my first attempt at a quilt so I'm very proud of it.



In other creative news, I've released 2 patterns this week! I'm very proud of them as I'd never designed anything beyond a few dishcloths before. After sewing so much and knitting very little for a few weeks, I needed something small to get into the swing of things. The little lady needed new booties and so A touch of lace booties were created. They're knit in sport weight yarn and are knit in two sizes, 0-6 and 6-12 months but could easily be sized up by adding a few rows to the foot and sole shaping or using DK yarn. Those are the little lady's feet modelling the booties. They stay on really well too. I have very wriggly babies who kick off booties and socks all the time so the ability to stay on was a big thing in my design.

Next, is a hat pattern that I have had in the works for a few weeks now. The Little Harvester hat has some very easy cables which remind me of wheat. When I designed it, it was harvest time for the farmers in the area so that was the inspiration. It's a beanie with a generous fit for growing heads and could be easily sized up by adding extra repeats and a bit of extra length before the crown decreases. It's written for DK and worsted/aran weight yarn both in 4 sizes, 0-6 and 6-12 months, 1-2 and 2-3 years.



 I have a few more designs in the pipeline at the moment and I'll be back to tell you all about them when they're done.


Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Autumn Apples

It's a miserable, grey, wet October day here. This of course means it's a perfect day for baking. In particular, baking something of the warm, comforting dessert variety. I still had a few of the last of this years apples from the trees in my parents garden so of course that warm, comforting dessert that the day called for had to be an Eve's pudding. To me this is like a baked hug - warm, comforting and capable of lifting your spirits.

So here's the recipe if you feel like something yummy on a grey, rainy autumn day. 

Filling:
Approx 1 lb of apples, peeled and chopped.
1 oz of sugar - the amount you use will depend on how sweet the apples are and also how sweet you like them to be in a pudding. I like them to be a little on the tart side as I like the contrast with the sweet sponge on top.
1-2 tsp cinnamon (optional)

Sponge:
6 oz self raising flour
6 oz sugar
6 oz butter
3 eggs
3 tbsp milk


1. Preheat oven to 180 C/ 160 C (fan oven).
2. Put about half the sliced apples in a pan with the sugar and a little water (about 1 tbsp) and stew until they are nice and mushy, like apple sauce. Mix in the cinnamon and the rest of the sliced apples. I like that mix in texture of pureed and sliced apples but you can just puree all of the apples of just slice them and not puree any. 
3. Place the apples in the base of a pie dish. The pie dish I use has about a 9 or 10 inch diameter and 1.6 L capacity.


4. Now make the sponge. Put the butter and sugar in a bowl and beat until light and fluffy. Mix in the eggs and flour and the milk.

5. Place the sponge mixture on top of the apple. It might look like there isn't enough but don't worry it will spread out and rise up while baking.



6. Place in the preheated oven and bake for about 40 minutes until the sponge is well risen and golden in colour. A skewer placed in the centre of the sponge should come out clean.



 Serve with custard, cream, ice-cream, creme fraiche or even toffee sauce and enjoy!!



Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Country Living

We live on the edge of a small town in the foot hills of the Wicklow mountains and are essentially surrounded by farmland and nature at its best.

This weekend showed us just what country living is about. We had a cow with wanderlust take a liking to the grass on the green across from our house. The little man had a great time shouting "moo" out the window as he had a look.



She then had a stroll up the road to have a look in a neighbours window, before being shown back to her field by another neighbour of ours.



Of course, there was a frog to be watched by the little man in the back garden. I think this one thought that climbing the wall might be a good escape route.




 And this morning, a neighbour calling with some fresh picked courgettes! (One of the best things about the country). They're huge! I guess more like marrows than courgettes, but so yummy! Now what to make with them?!




Monday, 26 August 2013

Wheelbarrows


The little man is loving wheelbarrows at the moment.

Whether it's getting a ride in his granddad's.....

... or his daddy's...


... or using his own little one to carry his breakfast around.




Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Of Bugs, Bats and Baking

The little man and I have had an interesting start to the week. 

On Monday, he and bunny had to investigate the caterpillars chomping away on my kale. Next year I will remember to put the netting down before the cabbage whites lay their eggs!! The little man might be fascinated with them but I'm not so happy with them setting up home in my vegetable patch!!





Then yesterday, there was a ladybird to be examined.

As well as watching a bat flying around in broad daylight.



I was worried that the yellow ladybird that I showed him was in fact the invasive Harlequin ladybird and I had a bit of a moral dilemma putting it back in the garden but with a bit of research I found much to my relief that in fact it was a native 22 spot ladybird. As for the bat, I realise it was a dull day but I've never seen a bat out catching bugs at 3 in the afternoon. I know there's a roost nearby as I've seen and heard them often enough in the evenings. Myself, the little man and little lady encountered it when we out for a walk and spent a while watching it swoop and fly around filling up on flies. It was tiny and from the description on the bat conservation Ireland page it was probably a pipstrelle.

To top off the day we also baked some bread...



... and some chocolate chip cookies!


Yum!



Thursday, 4 July 2013

A New Toy

I got a new toy yesterday. It's something I've wanted for a very long time but because it's an expensive purchase I've always put it off. This year however I decided to save in earnest for one and yesterday my savings came to fruition. Isn't she pretty?? It's a Kenwood Chef Major Premier (KMM710). It was on sale, 40 % off so a great deal for a higher spec mixer than I thought I could get!
Obviously, I had to try it out as soon as possible, so between naps, nursing the baby and giving the toddler his lunch I whipped up a batch of pizza dough in less than half the time it takes me to do it by hand and also a batch of chocolate chip muffins. I see this being used a lot!


For those of you who are interested the recipes are below.

Pizza Dough

700 g strong white flour
2 tsp salt
1 sachet of fast action yeast 
450 ml lukewarm water

  • Sift the flour and salt into a bowl, add the yeast and stir into the flour.
  • Add the water.
  • With the dough hook attachment mix on low setting (my mixer has a 1200 W motor, so quite powerful so I used setting 1) for about 5 minutes until you have a smooth and elastic dough. If doing it by hand, knead on a lightly floured surface for about 10 minutes until you have the same result.
  • Place in a lightly oiled bowl and cover with cling film. Leave in a warm place until it has doubled in size.
  • Knead the dough again for a couple of minutes until it's smooth and divide in 4.
  • This will make enough for 4 approx 9 inch pizza bases depending on how thick you like your bases.
  • Add your favourite toppings and bake at 220oC for 15 minutes.
  • You can freeze the dough in individual portions too!! Just give it a light knead on a floured surface when it's completely defrosted. 



Chocolate Chip Muffins

200 g self-raising flour
150 g sugar
3 tbsp cocoa (not drinking chocolate!!)
100 g chocolate chips
200 ml buttermilk
2 tbsp milk
1 egg
85 g melted butter


  • Preheat the oven to 200oC. Put muffin cases into a muffin tin.
  • Sift the dry ingredients into a bowl. Add the chocolate chips.
  • Mix all the wet ingredients together and add to the dry ingredients.
  • Stir just enough to mix together. You don't want a smooth batter as too much stirring will make the muffins heavy. This light stirring and sifting the dry ingredients make them light and fluffy.
  • Spoon into muffin cases and bake for about 20 minutes until they're springy and firm to the touch. 

Sometimes instead of chocolate chips I add toasted hazelnuts (or a mix of hazelnuts and chocolate chips). Add the zest of and orange is yummy too. 
Or if you want to have a really really chocolatey treat add some chocolate spread (nutella is my favourite) to the middle of the muffin. To do this just put a dollop of the muffin mix into the bottom of the muffin cases. Then add a tsp or so of chocolate spread into each and top off with the remaining mixture. 
This works well with raspberry jam too and some fresh raspberries added to the mix! I love raspberries and chocolate.
There are so many different combinations!!!

Enjoy!!!




Thursday, 20 June 2013

Random Act of Kindness

Apologies in advance for this very photo laden post!

Without a doubt some of the best people are knitters (crocheters and crafters in general too!!)!! Way back in January, Nicky (momoffour) sent me a message to say that some of the members of the Itty Bitty Knitters group on Ravelry wanted to do a little something as a gift for me and the baby. I was lost for words at the kindness behind such an offer. 
Well, the day after my last post, our little lady arrived and about a week later this wonderful gift from the Itty Bitty Knitters arrived. I was lost for words when we opened up the huge box of goodies. So much work was put into it! Not only had they included some baby and crafty bits and pieces they also knit the entire Spud and Chloe farm!! 

Here is the gift in all it's glory!


So first up the farm! The amount of work that went into this is just astounding and I love it all. It was made up of animals all designed by Susan B Anderson. I particularly love the colourful flock of sheep, headed up by Spud. This was inspired by the fact that sheep in Ireland are marked with coloured dye to mark ownership among other reasons. Another favourite were the two barn cats which were made to look like our cats Jasmine (the ginger cat) and Pearl (the black one).

  

Another adorable addition was a reversible bunny to duck toy. I can see kids getting a lot of fun out of this.

All the above patterns can be found in Spud and Chloe at the Farm book or in Susan's Ravelry shop.



To round out the farm the ladies made a farm land playmat and beautiful wooden tractor and truck (which the little man has loved playing with ever since!). The toys can be found at Green Bean Toys on etsy.


And as a fun addition some farm mac and cheese!


To add to all the farm-y goodness there were some lovely baby knits which followed the theme. These included matching farm hats for the little man and his new little sister and cute booties. Along with a whole stack of wash cloths and bibs!! If you ever want to an idea of what to knit as a baby gift I would highly recommend knitting wash cloths and bibs. These cotton bibs are much more absorbent than many of the ones available in shops and the wash cloths are just as wonderful. I have ones that are now coming up on 4 years old and are still as good as the day that I got them. They've been used to wash faces and clean up spills and countless other uses along the way. You can find many patterns on ravelry and can knit matching bibs and wash cloths with cute kiddie designs on them.





Finally, there was a cut sleepsuit for the little lady and a t-shirt for the little man. Oh and some towels! There is a bit of a story behind these towels. When I was pregnant with the little man Deb (lovetocraft on rav) sent me a lovely gift and included was a towel. This was the best baby towel I have ever come across. It's huge and it's still being used by my now 21 month old boy with plenty of growing room left. I wanted to get another couple for when the new baby arrived but unfortunately the 3 Marthas that produce the towels don't ship internationally. I also couldn't order them using my Irish credit card to have them shipped to an American address. Diana (grandmabuck) offered to get them for me and ship them and I would then pay her back through paypal. This was perfect. But Diana was being a bit sneaky as I found out later. She let me know that she ordered them but them said that one was out of stock and she was waiting on it. Then when she had them all she said she'd ship them once term ended (I know how busy the end of term is!). Once she had them shipped she was going to let me know how much it all was so that I could reimburse her. Well, I got a huge surprise when they were included in my gift! These are just wonderful towels and will be put to very good (and long) use!



Finally, there were some lovely crafty goodies for me. The wonderful project bag in the bottom left is made by an itty bitty Heather (mommytofive) and they can be bought in her etsy shop, Luv Bug Bags.

Details of some of the projects can be found here.

I still can't believe that amount of work and organisation that went into such an amazing gift! I'm completely lost for words. I love everything and I know that there will be many, many hours of fun had by the kids playing with everything. Thank you all so much.