We all fall down part 1.

Tosh Merino Light in Jade

Beautiful birthday gift Madeline Tosh Merino Light

When I first started crocheting I had two things I was determined not to do. I was not going to acquire stash that did not have an associated project and I was not going to acquire unfinished objects that would languish, mere mothbait, in bags around my flat.

Partly this was fear of clutter. I’m not the world’s tidiest person and I have a hatred of accumulating stuff as a result.The fewer things I own the fewer things can end up on the floor or in piles on every flat surface.

Partly it was just frugality. I’ve been living on a fairly tight budget for the last few years and the idea of building up a stash of yarn when I really need an emergency fund was scary to me. Partly it was a hatred of the part of myself that is a starter and not a finisher.  The part that enters projects ablaze with enthusiasm and whines when things get rough.

Oh but I am only human and there are so many pretty patterns in the world (too many of them in my head) and there are many, many pretty yarns. Oh and the yarn shops will find a way to tempt. With their sales and their last-chance-to-buys and their skeins that aren’t quite big enough for a whole project so you have to buy two. And don’t get me started about enabling friends…

JC Rennie at Nest

JC Rennie at Nest for my slouchy sweater

I now have two clear plastic boxes full of yarn. That’s apart from the skeins in project bags halfway through being made into projects. Oh and the big plastic bag of Sirdar Big Softie that I will be making into cushion covers.

I’ve sorted the yarn in boxes  into two types. Box A is the good box. Box A contains all the yarns that I know what I want to do with. My neverending shrug project and my two current lace shawls (and the other one that I have designed but not started) and my slouchy jumper and the last bit of ribbing for my mauve cardigan.

Box B. Now Box B is a different matter. Box B is the naughty box. Box B is the box that sits in the corner mocking me with it’s fibres rare and strange saying “you bought us, now what are you going to do with us?” Box B contains the little packets of sale yarn. The ends of skeins of past projects. The mohair and the handspun that I have been offered as gifts and couldn’t bear to refuse. The bright shiny tencel that I might be going to make into motifs, if I didn’t kind of hate motifs. Box B is a joker and a tease. Box B is everything I was afraid of.


Carrots oven-cooked in molasses glaze

Carrots

Carrots

I have been asked to put up more recipes so here’s one.

If you are a veggie you don’t need the bacon but you will need to season with salt and pepper and possibly cover it for the first part of the cooking process.

I suggest adding a pinch or two of paprika as well and/or a tiny dab of marmite.

To serve four:

4 medium/large carrots peeled and cut into large pieces (eg in quarters lengthways thenhalves/thirds )

1 large onion

...and raisins

...and spices and raisins

2 dessert spoons black treacle (molasses)

1/2 teaspoon each: dried ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon
three bay leaves

three cloves

a handful of raisins

8 rashers streaky bacon

a large splash of red wine

1, Preheat the oven to ~200C

Carrots, spices and treacle

...and treacle

2. Slice the onion and place in the bottom of an ovenproof dish with the bay leaves

3. Add peeled and cut carrots

4. Sprinkle over spices and raisins

5. Drizzles over treacle and wine

6. Layer over bacon

7. Put into oven. Cook until it begins to smell good.

8. Remove from oven. Baste with the juices thoroughly and return to oven.

9. Leave another 5-10 mins and repeat.

Covered in bacon and ready for the oven

...and bacon!

10. Repeat until the carrots are cooked through but al dente.

Serve with duck or green lentils or something. I don’t know. I made 1.5 portions and ate it by itself with bulgar and more red wine and it was bloody delicious.

 

Updated to add pictures kindly sent over by  the lovely Rachel who has made this and liked it.

 

 

 

Ready to eat, served with a glass of red wine

Yum yum yum


A Playful Afternoon

Surrey is, as my friend described it ‘the only county that’s an apology’. Home of the stockbroker belt and similar commuterishness. Tory heartland. (Do they have hearts? Anyway there were flags on everything.) Oh and yes, lush, pretty, green countryside and self-consciously quaint villages and all that nonsense. I’m a town girl. Can you tell? And I’m from the other side of London. Surrey can go jump.

Interknit Cafe

Interknit Cafe

Apart, that is, from the Interknit Cafe in Farnham, where I spent a lovely afternoon with Greentrianglegirl from A Playful Day and friends. The journey down is best left undescribed. Suffice to say Sunday train timetabling and a young woman with her family who thought just having turned 21 entitled her to yap persistently into her mobile phone in the quiet carriage made it a less than enjoyable trip.

BUT once I arrived all was good cheer. This is a lovely little local yarn shop with the emphasis on yarn. They have a gorgeous selection and how I managed to leave with only a set of stitch markers I don’t know since I seem to be on a massive stash binge at the moment. There was very nearly some special offer Hacho in my bag. Oh so very nearly.

There are lots of books and patterns around the shop and the owner is very knowledgable and helpful (although she says she sometimes tends to sit and knit and chat and not notice customers asking questions until they’ve asked three times).

You can get a good cuppa and they do nice biscuits and I’m given to  understand that the fish and chip shop around the corner is a wonder, although they were closed when I was there so I can’t personally verify this.

Give and Make Up

Give and Make Up

What I can verify is that I had a lovely afternoon with GTG and friends and would willingly go back in spite of it being in Surrey and thus not only outside the M25 but heading in the wrong  direction. GTG was also on a donation drive for Give and Make Up a very worthy cause which you should absolutely  support. We had fun. Go to Interknit and I suspect you will have fun too.


Mums are brilliant!

Well, mine is anyway.

I have just had a big bowl of apple crumble because my mum came up to see my sister and me just after her birthday and she brought us gifts!

Lots of yummy fruit and veg from the garden. Mmmm…

So I now have loads of tomatos, some little squashes which will be perfect for stuffing and baking. Although if I’m feeling lazy I’ll  just slice ’em and roast ’em in lots of oil. And apples… LOTS of apples.

My parents live in the countryside and have multiple apple trees and so this year we have a bumper crop. I see apple sauce in my future. And at least one more crumble. Another reason why my mum’s brilliant is that she is a fantastic cook . She taught me to make crumbles. Pretty much my favourite dessert.

I haven’t taken a picture of the crumble because, well,  you know what apple crumble looks like. You also know that I don’t have a good enough camera to make it look pretty. I really should invest at some point. If I’m going to write a food blog, having a reasonable camera is kind of a good idea.

The best thing about making apple crumble is that you can have it for breakfast. Coffee and apple crumble. If you haven’t done it, you really should. Especially if like me you use 50/50 flour and oats for the crumble, so you can kind of kid yourself it’s like having porridge (but better)!

Folded crocus scarf

Folded crocus scarf

Anyway, so it being Mama’s birthday El and I got together and spent an hour or so hunting through patterns on Ravelry and narrowing down our choices. El had a much clearer idea of our mother’s taste than I do and made suggestions of what I should look for, while I plugged ideas into the database and pondered yarn choices and yardages.

We decided on Laura Rintala’s Crocus Scarf but decided to do as many extra pattern repeats as we could get out fo the yarn because we wanted something a bit more luxurious looking than the photos.

Then we popped down to Loop in Islington and caused chaos pulling all the DK and sock yarn out of the shelves and failing to stack it back again properly. (I think everyone does this but it’s hard not to feel self-conscious as you take your hand away and it all comes cascading down on your head… again!) Eventually El came to a decision and we went with the classic: Malabrigo sock in Botticelli Red.

Now I don’t need to wax lyrical about Malabrigo sock yarn. If you’re reading this blog the chances are you know about Malabrigo sock yarn. Pure, soft, soft merino lusciousness and beeeeeyooooootiful colours. Sigh.

The whole scarf

The whole scarf

So I set to work and found that this was a really addictive and fun pattern. It’s simple to memorise but interesting enough to  give you that ‘just one more row’ feeling. The way the pattern works up is cool and it looks far better in real life than in any photo I’ve yet seen. Congratulations Laura for a job well done.

Having done a couple of extra pattern repeats I wasn’t in a position to  do the edging that the pattern recommends for each end so instead I just did a quick row of UK dc/US sc down the sides to neaten things up. A light blocking and we were done.

This was a very quick and satisfying project and thankfully, yes, she likes it. I want to make sure she gets at least another birthday present or two but for now I’m really happy to have got this done and that it really was a joint effort with El in design and me in manufacture. And if you’re thinking of making a quick lace scarf I definitely recommend the pattern. Fast, fun and a great result.


Sweet Eleanor Scarf/Wrap

Sweet Eleanor

Sweet Eleanor


This pattern was inspired by the Octoberfestdoily by Denise Owens. I wanted to make something special for my sister’s birthday. She likes simple elegance and warm tan/neutral shades so this was a natural choice.

The thread I used is quite a heavy thread from the Handweaver’s Studio and Gallery and it’s 50% cotton 50% linen. It is quite soft and has a nice rough texture that adds interest to the simple pattern. About 400m of similar weight thread should get you somethign a similar size. I used a 2mm hook.

Thanks to Lilacia on Ravelry for testing this for me. She used fingering weight yarn and suggests a size G hook i.e. 4mm from which I would conclude that she has a tighter tension than me (almost everyone does).

British notation is used. EDITED TO ADD: British double crochets are the same as American single crochets. Tension is not important.

Ch167.

R1. Dc in 2nd ch from hook. Dc in each remaining ch. Ch1 turn.

R2. *Dc5, ch6, sk 6st* rep from * 15 times. Dc in final dc. Ch1 turn.

R3. Dc in 1st st, *ch6, dc2 in loop, dc in next 4dc, sk1dc* rep from * 15 times. Do not ch. Turn.

R4. Slst in next dc, ch1, dc in same dc, dc in next 4dc, dc2 in loop, ch6. * Sk1dc, dc in next 5dc, dc2 in loop, ch6* rep 14 times. Dc in top of dc. Ch1 turn.

R5. Dc in 1st dc, *ch6, dc2 in loop, dc in next 6dc, sk1dc* rep from * 15 times. Do not ch. Turn.

R6. Slst in next dc, ch1, dc in same dc, dc in next 6dc, dc2 in loop, ch6. * Sk1dc, dc in next 7dc, dc2 in loop, ch6* rep 14 times. Dc in top of dc. Ch1 turn.

R7. Dc in 1st dc, *ch6, dc2 in loop, dc in next 8dc, sk1dc* rep from * 15 times. Do not ch. Turn.

R8. Slst in next dc, ch1, dc in same dc, dc in next 8dc, dc2 in loop, ch6. * Sk1dc, dc in next 9dc, dc2 in loop, ch6* rep 14 times. Dc in top of dc. Ch1 turn.

R9. Dc in 1st dc, *ch6, dc2 in loop, dc in next 10dc, sk1dc* rep from * 15 times. Do not ch. Turn.

Continue this stitch pattern until the scarf is the width that you are looking for.

EDITED TO ADD: Lots of people have asked in the comments what I mean by this and I apologise for not have clarified sooner. Each row you’ve worked so far has involved dc sections and chain sections. The chain sections stay the same length, the dc sections each get one stitch longer every row.

So on odd numbered rows you are working two dc stitches into the beginning of each chain loop on the row below and then skipping a stitch at the beginning of the next dc section. On even numbered rows you skip a dc before each chain section and work two dc into the chain loop on the row below after it. Using this pattern you continue to grow the dc sections as long as you want. I hope this helps.

Be aware that every row increases the length as well as the width. I did 35 rows.

Sweet Eleanor scarf detail

Sweet Eleanor detail

Final row should be an odd numbered row.

Final row: Dc in 1st dc. *Dc6 in loop, dc to next loop* rep from * to 1st from end. Sk final st. Bind off and weave in ends.

I chose not to block this scarf as I liked the way it was hanging already. You may decide yours needs blocking but I imagine the spiral shape  may make blocking tricky.

I am more proud of this pattern than anything else I’ve done. It feels like a big step up from some of the other things I’ve made.

As ever comments and questions are welcome.

EDITED in response to a question:

dc2 in loop = 2dc in loop created by the six chains not in any particular stitch. Sorry for lack of clarity!


Busy busy

Adrienne's Noro Windowpane Scarf

Adrienne's Noro Windowpane Scarf

Hallo

Long time no see! Sorry I’ve been out of touch for a while but my work life has picked up substantially so I’m out and about a lot and haven’t had a chance to catch up with you all. I do apologise!

So… what’s been happening? Well, I finished a cute scarf for the lovely Elly of The Vintage Cookbook Trials. Of course being a complete dope I forgot to take a photo before I gave it to her. But the pattern was the Noro Windowpane Scarf by Adrienne Lash and I made it in Yarn to Knit 100% Bluefaced Leicester laceweight in the colourway Red.

It’s a simple churn through sort of a pattern. What A Playful Day calls a ‘potato chippy pattern’. The kind of thing that you can do on the train, which I have been as I now have about an hour and a quarter’s commute each way three days a week.

What’s been amazing is that I bought one skein of this yarn and have now finished two projects from it. Yet the yarn still hasn’t run out. I’m now making a third lace scarf with this single skein! Briliant stuff!

Violet Points Scarf

Violet Points Scarf

My new project which I am halfway through is a Violet Points Scarf by Annette Petavy. I love the simplicity of the design and am mulling ways to modify the stitch pattern slightly and create something of my own based on it.

I also finished a slip stitch crochet cardigan that I have been working on. So where are the pics? I hear you cry. Well, I blocked it. Tried it on and realised that I shouldn’t have decreased under the bust as I had made it too small for my tummy.

Siiiiiiiiiiigh!

Also I kind of made a mess of the sleeves too. So I have frogged it back to just under the bust and removed the sleeves  and I’m giving it another go.

At least I know the yarn looks lovely in the pattern though, so eventually I will be happy with it. I am determined!

Wish me luck!


Tenses or what happens when I get up early.

Scarf for Elly

Scarf for Elly

I am sorry for the dearth of posting lately. In my defense I have had a significant and much welcome upturn in my career and the previously mentioned less welcome but ultimately beneficial personal tribulations.

As part of my new work situation I have had to adjust my body-clock to a more normal daily routine and leave behind the luxurious freelancer’s world of 8.45am rising. It’s worth it to be doing fun stuff and getting paid for it but it is a bit of a shock. So, on the days when I don’t have to traipse across London at sparrowfart I still wake up in time to do so. (There is an upside which is lots of time to crochet on the train. The project in the blurry photo on the right is a new scarf for the lovely Elly.)

I breakfast bright and fresh… ok… ok… I breakfast grumpy and yawning at 6.45am and by 10 o’clock it’s definitely time for elevenses. Hence the title of this post.

So what am I having for tenses? Cooooookiiiiiies! And tea, lovely, lovely tea.

When I left home for the first time my mum gave me a load of simple recipes for the student kitchen printed on scraps of paper. I have carted them around with me on my wanderings since then and they are many of them battered and stained as all good recipes should be.The cookie recipe has become such a staple that it now lives behind the cereal on the worktop in my kitchen along with the basic sponge cake recipe. There’s no point putting them away because they’d only have to come back out again in no time.

The main reason I love this cookie recipe is its adaptability. Today I share it with you.

You will need:

100g soft margarine

150g dark brown sugar

1 egg

1/2 teaspoon vanilla essence

200g plain flour

1/2  teaspoon baking powder

50g tasty stuff e.g. chopped nuts, raisins, chocolate chunks etc

Method:

1.Grease two large baking trays. Pre-heat the oven to 180C

2. Cream together the marge and the sugar until pale.

3. Add the egg and vanilla essence, beat in thoroughly.

4. Sieve in the flour, baking powder and any powdered flavourings such as cocoa powder or spice. Fold in.

5. Stir in the other tasty stuff.

6. Spoon out even-sized teaspoons onto the baking tray and spread the mix slightly leaving a space around each to expand further as they bake.

7. Bake until firm. Personally I like a crunchy cookie so I tend to bake them until the begin to brown. Take them out sooner if you prefer more chewiness.

8. Cool on a wire rack.

Now here comes the cool bit. Although Momma’s original recipe is for a chocolate and nut cookie, I am an inveterate fiddler. I have found that amongst others you can make:

Oatmeal and raisin cookies

Remove 50g of the flour, add 50g of rolled oats and 50g of raisins and a pinch of cinnamon.

Lemon cookies

Add the grated rind and juice of half a lemon plus 50g of candied peel.

And today’s special… sesame cookies

Add a generous pinch of powdered ginger and 50g of  black sesame seeds. (I’m sure white would be just as tasty but black looks prettier.)

Tea and sesame cookies

Tea and sesame cookies

The sesame cookies are ridiculously moreish. I am getting through them at a hitherto unseen rate. (It’s also that time of the month mind.) They had a weird characteristic of being more delicious once they’d cooled than when they were fresh out the oven, which is frankly bizarre. Warm they were somehow odd and disappointing. Now they are cold though they are going down very nicely indeed with a good cuppa cha.