Sunday, 27 January 2013

Tapping fingers... baking stollen and eating eclairs!

In limbo; waiting waiting, making more phone calls, hassling and waiting with increasingly impatient patience. The final stage of relocation has to happen in the next 10 days otherwise we will be wishing we hadn't recycled the tent when everything went into storage. Hopefully we are moving into our own house a week tomorrow and can start settling in properly to the area.  However, with the hindrance of the stupid English legal system, we still cannot be totally sure it is happening. so we cannot say to the removal company when they will be delivering our stuff out of storage and moving us from the rented house to the new one. Of course they may book up by the time we know for sure.

So in anticipation of the move I have not managed much knitting, no crochet (shock horror) but I have achieved a lot of comfort baking and eating. Last weekend I finally made the Christmas Stollen for Sunday breakfast. I make the rich buttery and eggy dough with sultanas, dried apricots, cherries, mixed peel and almonds in my bread machine from Delia Smith's recipe, and then knock it back, wrap it around the  marzipan (use by October 2012) and leave to prove in the fridge or cold garage overnight. Bake whilst making the morning cuppa, ice with lemon glacĂ© icing and enjoy!  Lovely toasted the next day too.
In the week it was still cold, and the school one had a cold, so I baked  Oaty Banana Nutella Muffins to avoid throwing two very black bananas away, and Nutella was on offer. Smoothies might have been healthier! I "wassaped" the school girl to let her know that after her cold walk home in the snow feeling grotty (I am a rotten mum, I send them to school with sniffles) that warm muffins awaited. She turned up with two friends in tow, it was lovely having 16 year olds sat round eating muffins, drinking tea and chatting after school, just like Primary School days.

Then all week we have enjoyed a short revival of Great British Bake Off for Comic Relief. One night they made eclairs, I haven't made choux pastry for at least ten years so I thought I would see if I still could on Saturday afternoon. The pastry turned out OK but my piping skills are still atrocious. Uneven, different sizes and  knobbly bits but the "bake" was good and filled with whipped cream and topped with lashings of chocolate ganache they certainly tasted good.
Hopefully the colds have been shaken off, the snow has gone and I can get out on my bike again and get some exercise and start packing for the move, rather than eating all the time! However, there are 6 unfilled eclair shells in the freezer...and the top down sweater is just 6 cuff rounds of sleeve ribbing away from being finished.

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

One-a-Day 15th Jan 13 Tuesdays Tallies

Attempt at today's Tuesday's Tallies # 2. I just posted and managed to wipe the original by having multiple windows open on my phone and pc, I should know better!

Great news, the sun came out and I managed some "bathed in sunshine" shots of my French Stripey Throw. It is measuring just over 40cm, but I will need some more yarn as I have used a third of the gorgeously soft Drops Merino Extra Fine. I love the colours, and feel of this yarn. Not very much progress on that this week because...
I've been knitting! My 16yo came in from a friend's asking if I could knit her this Rowan design she had found herself. However after reading other people's experiences of this pattern on Ravelry I was not so keen but I was keen to knit her a sweater as it is the first time she has asked me to knit her something. In the end she decided she only wanted a plain stocking stitch sweater and we have agreed on a Comfy Raglan Sweater which at least is a top down pattern (new for me) and in the round too (no seams!!) We decided on yet more Stylecraft, this time Chunky in the lovely denim colourway. I bought the yarn on my first foray to a Knit and Natter at Get Knitted in Bristol last Friday. It was a lovely morning as the Friday morning session is new so the 5 of us were all new together and nobody knew anybody else. The jumper is upside down in the photo as the rib is the collar and I have just placed the sleeve stitches onto pink yarn to pick up once the body is complete. I hoped to be finished in a week as it is a winter sweater.
Top Down
Comfy Raglan Sweater
Hopefully next week it will be a finished and modeled shot, and not one trying to disguise our messy living room that now has four different piles of yarn lying around in it. Hopefully we will also know by next week if/when we are moving. It will be nice to be back in a house we can call our own!

Monday, 14 January 2013

Crochet Cloche Hats

I loved the cloche hat that Lucy made on her blog, Attic 24 back in November. Although I am not overly fond of hats as they are claustrophobic and itchy! However, I thought they would be fun to make for our three lovely daughters for Christmas. I was not very sure they would like them and in the end I only just managed to make the hats.

My youngest is sporting a pomegranate and plum "special", in good ol Stylecraft Special DK. She was quite pleased with her main Christmas present I think, which wasn't the hat!! I may have finished the hat, but I hadn't finished the embellishments which were the running stitch band around the central narrow band of the main colour, and a big colorful flower with leaves. I gave them the chance to choose the colours and I was going to customise them to order over the holiday.
I made our eldest daughter one in denim and aster, I had to get her to send a pic after she returned home to Holland as she had missed a posed one on Christmas Day. I wish she lived closer, but cycling a lot in northern Holland means her ears will be warm. If she wears it that is.
The middle one got an individual cloche made out of Adriafil Knitcol, a self patterning yarn that I bought her last Christmas and promised super long over the knee socks, fingerless mitts and a hat. She got the super long socks in about February and they were posted up to uni in Newcastle, and now she has a hat. The fingerless mitts perhaps next Christmas?
I was concerned thet Lucy said she had a very small head, we have big heads and quite a lot of hair (well the girls do) so I did a couple of rounds extra and the hats are a little bit too big. None of them wanted embellishments which was a bit of a shame, I doubt they will wear them but I had fun. I may have to run one up and indulge my embellishment fantasies for myself?

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

One-a-Day 8th Jan 13 Tuesdays Tallies

One a day

Happy New Year! Yes I know I am a little late with Tuesday's Tallies, but New Year's Day itself was a little too early for a Tuesday's Tallies progress post, unless we were totting up the empties, or in my case ripped out rows due to missing a stitch the night before!

How many of us have started a new project, and how many of us are determined to finish their WIPs BEFORE starting anymore?! I managed to finish my Vintage Granny in time for Christmas and have been immersing myself in a self indulgent project with Drops Merino Extra Fine aka "posh" yarn. It is stripey so hopefully I can say 2-5 rows a day. I have done around 75 rows in the last couple of weeks. Here is my French Stripey Throw story to date.
Add caption
I do have a few concerns, mainly "will I have enough yarn?" but fortunately it is a pattern I can just keep on going until the yarn runs out. It is 110cm wide and measuring about 35cm to date and I have used about 8 balls of my 28 balls. I think I may need more! I am wondering if the wisdom of this dense pattern was wise with my posh yarn but it's too late to rip now as I have sewn in so many ends. I am determined to keep up with my ends this time.

What are you working on? Even if the aim is a square or a strip or a few stitches every day then progress builds over time. all are welcome to join in even if this is your first or thousandth project,  we can all enjoy our projects and be inspired.
I made bagels for the first time at the weekend, it was really strange to boil dough before baking but they turned out OK, if a little misshapen! They tasted great
See you next week. Happy knotting.

Friday, 4 January 2013

French Stripe Throw - the beginning

A New Year and a new project. This one I have been anticipating for some time as I bought the yarn with birthday money back in September. Choosing the yarn and then deciding what to make with it has kept my brain occupied much of the time I have spent working on my Vintage Solid Granny Throw that was finished in time for Christmas, phew!
Drops Extra Fine Merino
Since rediscovering crochet and knitting in the last couple of years I have used Stylecraft Special DK for almost everything, especially crochet throws. I have loved working with it and although I am very satisfied with the look and feel, I have had a hankering to use "posh" yarn, as so many others do and somehow their projects look so special. I would love to try something like Debbie Bliss Cashmerino or Rowan Cashsoft but at over £5 for a 50g ball there is no way I could justify even hankering. However, I had seen Drops yarn, and knew their yarn was far more reasonable. When the autumn sale was announced I pounced. I purchased Drops Merino Extra Fine in 9 colours from the fantastically helpful Wool Shed. They scoured their stock, waited for a delivery to come in, and sent exactly what I needed in 2 parcels optomised for postage, 28 balls in total. I went with a mixture of blues and heathery tones reminding me of French lavender fields and the sea. 4 balls each of 5 colours and 2 balls each of 4 others. The washable yarn is so soft and 100% merino wool, a light double knit weight. It is good value at £3.10 for a 50g ball, but I managed to secure the 25% off sale price. So it is over twice the price of acrylic but not 5 times the price!

This is what I am making, stripes, lots of stripes, inspired by Clicky Needles' Beach Stripe Surf Blanket
French stripe
The idea is just to keep on going as long as the yarn lasts, the pattern is 1dc 1 ch, then the next row you work the double crochet into the one chain space and then a chain, so it all interlocks and gives a lovely dense yet flexible fabric which is soft and very warm.
Garnstudio Drops Merino
Garnstudio Drops Merino Extra Fine L to R: 15 Lt greyish green:14 steel blue:01 off white:22 med purple:21 purple:13 denim blue:20 dk blue:19: lt grey blue:26 pistachio
The photos are washed out, although it hasn't rained that much today we have had enough of dank, miserable and wet weather around here the past few weeks, it's hard to get decent photos even in the conservatory!

I will be back on Tuesday to restart the One a Day crochet-a-long (cal) for the New Year, this is my project. Hopefully the weather will cooperate for some much nicer photos.

I will leave you with some inspiration, Kristen's original Beach Stripe Surf Blanket from her lovely Cozy Things Blog.

Edited to add, here is my French Stripey Throw finished!

Wednesday, 2 January 2013

Vintage Solid Granny Squares Blanket Throw - Done!

As promised, here is my Vintage Solid Granny Squares blanket all finished and DONE! I really enjoyed making it over the last 3 months, it has moved house with us and now has gone to live at mum's in Cumbria, it was her Christmas present and I think she loved it!
There are 16 colours of mainly Stylecraft Special DK for the squares and the 17th is teal used to do the double crochet join (just the inner two loops wrong sides together) and the border. It tones with mum's patchwork quilt and living room colours, although the gold is a bit off the wall. The colours are listed at the bottom of this post here. I forgot to take a picture in the room it was designed for.
The squares are from Little Tin Bird's lovely Elmer or Solid Granny Squares pattern, I got addicted to them making the Provencal style gingham cushion.  
The border was made up as I went along, as far as I can make out, a round of treble in teal, then double crochet in pale rose (I alternate direction working the border so it doesn't curl) then treble chain etc the third round in teal, then double crochet all around in Mint, then a staggered treble chain space round again, then double crochet in grape then a round of trebles in teal and I finally finished off with Attic 24's picot border again, just like on the cushion.
I love these neat squares, more so than ordinary granny squares, they seem more contemporary. One can be worked up in 20 minutes and carrying a ball of yarn around is so easy.
I loved the way they sat in piles on the footstool, I kept counting them.
However joining them all together, so the slightly different sized squares looked the same size, was very satisfying. I do find random very difficult though. I approached it in a Sudoku style, a colour should only appear in a column or a row just once, occasionally twice.
Here come some more gratuitous pictures, wish I could do the fancy photography others manage!
The tree was up when the border was being finished off.  
Vintage Solid Granny Squares Blanket finished 18th December 2012, it took me about 6 weeks as I started it as we went to France at half term! I was not overly happy that the border was a bit wavy, but other than trying to take the flat photo who notices? No I am not a perfectionist, but I am pretty happy with it!

FINISHED SIZE: I forgot to measure, each square was about 10cm so about 180cm x 130cm I should think with join and border.

YARN:  Stylecraft Special 100% acrylic Double Knit in 15 colours, each square is about 15m yarn. Mint and gold were other makes as they were colours lacking in Stylecraft. 17 in total. Colour inspiration was from the super talented Sandra of Cherry Heart fame and her Giant Grannie Patchs blanket
Mocha 1064
Copper 1029
Meadow 1065
Silver 1203
Gold (King Cole Big Value DK 323)
Mint (Stylecraft Life DK 2342)
Pale Rose 1080
Sherbet 1034
Claret 1123
Parchment 1218
Apricot 1026
Raspberry 1023
Soft Peach 1240
Grape 1067
Walnut 1054
Aspen 1422
Finally Teal 1062

Hook: 4mm

PATTERNS: Solid Granny Squares (or Elmer Squares) pattern by Little Tin Bird
The border was as described above finished off with Picot Edging by Attic 24


Links to the One a Day/Tuesday Tallies posts on my Vintage Granny progress are here:

Vintage Solid Granny Blanket Week 1
Vintage Solid Granny Blanket Weeks 2 and 3
Vintage Solid Granny Blanket Week 4
Vintage Solid Granny Blanket Week 5
Vintage Solid Granny Blanket Week 6
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