Sunday, 29 May 2011

So What Has Been On My Needles?!

Over the last two weeks I have completed another Boho scarf for Knit Club and the Neck Deccy. I am also nearly 3/4's through a top secret swap project. I'd love to tell you about it, but it may spoil the surprise and I couldn't do that! However, I can tell you that I am enjoying doing it and am liking it very much. There is temptation to keep it myself, but there is no time to even think about doing anything else, let alone actually doing anything. After I have finished this, I must dedicate time to catching up with the ABC Blankie. Whilst I am doing that I shall decide what to do next. I'm sure there are lots of things that would turn my head and that is before I consult the back of my Knitting Journal, where I have my wishlist.
My thoughts are starting to turn to the Woolfest at the end of June. For the first I should be able to go, all being well. I'm looking forward to it. As it my mojo, I know it will be boosted, just the thought of all those lovely yarns and the temptation again to learn to spin. There is a Spin-In on the Friday night. Spinning, for me, will have to wait some time. Free Time and space are not plentiful for me currently. I had a yen to dye yarn a week or two ago. It didn't happen, needless to say. I don't have any yarn to dye, and I think I would be quite rusty, it's been quite a while! I'll put it down with Spinning, something to do in the future.

ABC Blankie Wk 3

I'm falling behind already. I haven't done a single stitch this week. I'm on Row 31. I have been knitting, but not the Blankie.

Monday, 16 May 2011

Inspired by Hugh - Parsnip & Thyme Bread

I watched Hugh on the telly last sunday - River Cottage. The whole programme was devoted to bread making, to which I have a passing interest. I was inspired. I already have to book to accompany the series. I had it as a christmas present in 09, when I had just found out I was expecting. At that time, even looking through a cookery book was far too much for me. It erm, bought on the Morning Sickness, at whatever time it was.
So I was sat on the sofa, watching Hugh, with a dilemma of whether to put my knitting down and look in the book to see if the recipes he was showing were actually in the book. My curiousity won over as I couldn't concentrate on my knitting (the ABC Blankie). I decided that I wanted to make bread. Properly.
It took me till yesterday to make the Parsnip and Thyme bread. It came out rather like a scone. But very very tasty. Will definitely make again. It will be gorgeous with a hearty, rough soup or a light pasta. I didn't take a picture as the loaf just didn't last that long.........
I also want to do Sour Bread. This needs a 'Starter', using flour, water and the yeast that naturally occurs in the air. It is left for several days, if not longer, and fed with more flour. When it is right, part of it can be used as a base for the bread and the remaining starter can be added to, to keep it going. I've got the stuff to do it and I have spotted a place to keep it at the right temp (hopefully). Just need an evening when I'm not too tired to get it going!

Inspired by Tavish - Buffalo Wing Sauce

Some while ago, I was sent some Buffalo Wing Sauce from my friend Tavish. HK took a very strong liking to the sauce and hadn't had the proper stuff for a number of years. I tried researching a recipe to make some. Most recipes that I came across used a Louisiana hot sauce as a base, but none seemed to be made from scratch.
We found a jar of 'cooking in' sauce in the local Co-op and that went down well. Before I threw it out, I checked the ingredients, made a list, and the rest is history. It uses a lot of herbs and spices, some I couldn't source locally, such as habenero chillis. I made the sauce using passata as a base and added half a teaspoon of each ingredient and a healthy dollop of Lousiana hot pepper. Success! HK loved it. I used it as a cook in sauce with some quorn fillets. It's down on the 'Make Again' list!

Saturday, 14 May 2011

ABC Blankie, Wk 1

At the end of Week 1 of the ABC Blankie, I have completed upto row 22. Target row was 26, so I am -4 rows. D'oh!

Friday, 13 May 2011


Whislt looking out of the window (being a bit bored wiht the telly) I saw a big rainbow. I jumped up and saw that it was actually two rainbows! I got all excited, grabbed the camera and trotted outside. This rainbow's end seems to be between us and next door, we're in the foreground.
The view across the road. The second rainbow is more evident. I must get used to using my posh camera, instead of grabbing my old small one all the time. The blob on the right hand side of the picture is a thing that happens with the camera every now and then.
I've made this one a bit bigger as it doesn't have the justice it deserves. In the arch of the rainbow I could see the colours repeating themselves. Shame you weren't there with me!

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Boston Red Sox Gal

Mary-Jane was given two Boston Red Sox vests when Auntie Ann (AnnInAmerica). She really suits them. Whilst in Cleator Moor, of all places, I saw a teddy bear in a shop window. I had to do a double take - a genuine Boston Red Sox Bear! I was grinning for hours after. This little gal is going to be a Red Sox Gal!

Saturday, 7 May 2011

A Tale of Six Stitch Markers

I picked up the ABC blankie last night. I thought that I would go a step further with my planning and use stitch markers to delineate each square block - no wavy lines for me. I counted all the squares on the graph, and recounted, just to be sure. And even counted the amount of stitches in the border. I want this right. I knitted happily for a couple of rows. Then I ran out of stitches on my last block, I had lost three stitches. How on earth had I managed that? All other stitches were present and correct. I couldn't see where I'd gone wrong.
Instead of tinking it, which would have taken forever, I decided that the only thing to do, as I was only on row 6, was to frog it. Before doing this I re-counted the stitches on the graph, nothing amiss there. With a heavy heart but knowing that I was doing the right thing, I frogged the whole lot.
In my mind was distant rumblings of what had gone wrong. The up-shot was that I had placed one stich marker in the wrong place. It was one for the edge border. It's a little complicated to describe without a picture, it's a trust me situation. But the way I should've worked was that one border has a few less stitches that the other. If I had realised this, then I wouldn't have had to have frogged it, only move the stitch marker. Big Bugger.
On the up-side, my cousin would like the blanket. Onwards and upwards - and get knitting!!

Thursday, 5 May 2011

Completed Lime Boho Scarf

Last night saw the completion of the Boho scarf. I was glad to have finished it and that I had got such a fairly simple think right. As it was a bit late and HK had been in bed for a while, I didn't think it would be a good idea to wake him and ask him to take pictures. He is enthusiastic with my knitting but waking him up like that would have been pushing the boat out some what!
I did an extra 20 pattern repeats in the middle to get a decent length. I think it would look rather lovely in a lighter weight yarn using biggish needles. The limits of my late night (for me) creativity are limited, hence the only thing I could think to drape it round was a hook on the back of the door.
Or me, taking a photo of myself. Yes I do look pooped and yes they are my new glasses. The scarf is enjoyable to knit and is on my list of Things To Knit Again.
The scarf was dispatched to it's new owner in the post this morning. A surprise gift for a good friend. I thought of her alot whilst I was knitting it, it seemed the right thing to do to give it to her.

ABC Blankie

My cousin is expecting her first baby in November. I have decided to knit her a blankie for Baby. My chosen one is Debbie Bliss's Alphabet Blanket, in The Baby Knits Book. I have this blanket myself. It was gifted to me by Christine, a Knitty Friend, at my Baby Shower. It is the blankie that I wrapped Mary-Jane in when we bought her home from the hospital. We used it every night whilst she slept in her moses basket and uses it now on colder nights. So to me it is very special. My cousin is also a teacher, so I thought that was a quirky edge to the choice of blankie.
I have given myself 26 weeks to finish it - I cast on this evening and have done the forst two rows. I have also taken a leaf out of Sally's book of 'Hints and Tips - Baby Blankets'. This is to pace myself and do so many rows per week - and stick to it! To complete by 5th November, two weeks before Baby's due date, I plan to do the main area in ten weeks doing 26 rows per week. Each border has been given 4 weeks. At the moment it seems quite daunting and I question completion with the limited time that I now have to knit. Each row of the main area has 187 stitches. I shall give it my best welly. At least I have targets to work to. It will be worth it - just need to check that she will want a hand knitted blankie before I get too carried away!

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

The Cake Days Book

HK treated me to The Cake Days Book, by The Hummingbird Bakery, for Easter. I've had my eye on this book for a while. Watch this space for bakes from here!!


Mary-Jane and I went to Playgroup for the first ever time today. We were first to arrive and were welcomed by a lady named Anne. Altogether there were eight other children. Mary-Jane was the youngest by about 9 months. Mary-Jane thoroughly enjoyed herself. She took everything in her stride and did not seem to be wary of anything. She even allowed Anne to give her a pick up cuddle. MJ sat proud and played with a few different toys. She was quite intrigued by the other children playing and running around. At snack time, MJ sat on my knee, ate strawberries and cheese and tried drinking out of a normal beaker (she's not quite got the hang of these yet, the flow is a bit fast for her, but might try her again tomorrow). After this MJ had more time sat on the floor, then had some tummy time.
When we got back she was shattered. Cratesville was in order, (a nap on her bed), just long enough for me to have a cuppa. MJ then had some Daddy Time whilst I put the washing away. The day must have tired her as she was wanting her bed by half past five, so after saying her night-night's, up she went. We could hear her on the monitor, playing on her crate, then she settled down. Playgroup will now be a regular thing on a Tuesday. My little girl is getting bigger.

Monday, 2 May 2011

Garden Update - Last Weekend

The Garden is coming on a treat. You can really see where HK's hard work has paid off. This is the orchard, from the bottom wall end, with of course, Rhinog. The orchard has about 8 trees in it (I've yet to count and there are plans for a couple more trees to go in). They are nearly all apple trees, with one plum lurking in their midst. All are eating apples. There is a cooking apple tree in another part of the garden. Apparantly, in yesteryear, the whole field, or best part of it, was a proper orchard and filled with trees. What and why it happened in the intervening years I guess we will never know.
I am slowly starting to gather apple recipes as we are going to have a glut of apples. I think we will end up selling them on an Honesty Table out the front of the house, on the main road, along with the eggs. I am looking forward to doing all things apple.
This again is the orchard, just a different view. The blossom on the trees is beautiful. MJ likes it in the orchard. It will be lovely to have her play there and collect apples when she can walk - let's hope it's in time for this years crop!
The Spuds. We planted 36, six rows of six. The photos were taken last weekend on a lovely sunny day. HK informed me last night that now all the shoots are coming through. We had thought that perhaps we might have lost two, but they were just a laal bit late. 'Laal' is a local word, meaning 'little', it's said with a long 'a' or 'ah' sound. Bumper crop of spuds are on their way.
The Rhubarb is doing well, to say that most of it was rescued from around the garden and various pots and transplanted. As you know we have already taken the first crop, the second is not far off ready for picking. If it's mine to use, I've not quite decided what to do with it, although I would be tempted to do another cake with it, as before.
The strawbs are also coming on well and seem to like the position they are in. There are more flowers appearing everyday. Big juicy strawberries. Yum Yum! I'm looking forward to the soft fruit this year. The bed still needs some tending to get it tidy and less over grown.
The gooseberries are starting to form already and I know that the blackberries do well. Some of last years crop are still in the freezer, so need to get cracking with them to make room for this years! There are also some redcurrants, am not sure about blackcurrants. I'm getting excited.

Sunday, 1 May 2011


In the field to the front of the house are young cows. It's interesting to watch them and their antics and behaviours. If it wasn't for the tv being in the way and if the sofa was higher, then we could sit and watch them without getting up and mooving off the sofa. How lazy, but how fascinating.
The cows can be quite frolicsome and curious. I can only presume that in the near future they will be integrated into the food chain.
Cows. Good to stand and watch!

Soda Bread & Anzac Biscuits

Yesterday I had a bit of a baking session. I didn't quite get to making everything I set out to, my ankles and feet weren't up for a marathon baking session. Success ensued, well I have only tried the biscuits (as did everyone else), the bread will be sampled in a bit.
Anzac biscuits are not new to me. I thought I had made them many many moons ago. Perhaps not as none of it seemed familiar when I was making them. The recipe will go down in my Tried and Tasted Book. They are just the thing when you fancy something a bit sweet yet a little savoury, and perhaps a little chewy. They didn't last long, I don't think there are many at all left this morning.
They are called Anzac Biscuits after, as propbably many of you will know, Austrailia and New Zealand Army Corp. They were created and sold on behalf of ANZAC troops serving in Gallipoli, with the British in WWI. The biscuit remains as a popular and potent symbol of the ANZAC's bravery and loyalty. Recipe below.
I also made some Soda Bread. This was a lot simpler than what I thought it would be. I have a small mental block with hand made bread (which I must overcome). I can quite understand why this bread was a daily made bread. With no yeast, and hence no proving, it takes no time at all to prepare and get in the oven. I would like to try Soda Farls (they are gorgeous toasted, served with egg), saying that, I've yet to find a recipe for them!
ANZAC Biscuits
Makes about 20
3 1/2 oz Butter
1 tbs Golden Syrup
1 tsp Bicarbonate of Soda
3.5 oz Castor Sugar
3 oz Porridge Oats
3 oz Desiccated Coconut
3.5 oz Plain Flour
Preheat Oven to Gas 4/180C/350F. Line baking sheets with non stick parchment. Heat the butter in a small pan, add the syrup, stir to combine. In a cup add 2 tbs of boiling water to the bicarb of Soda, then tip the mixture into the butter and syrup.
Combine sugar, oats, coconut and flour in a large bowl. Add butter mixture and stir together. Drop desertspoons of the mixture onto the prepared baking sheet, leaving plenty of room in between. Bake for 8-10 minutes until well risen and golden. Transfer to wire rack to cool.
Soda Bread
6 oz plain white flour
6 oz wholemeal self raising flour
1/2 tsp bicarb of soda
1/2 tsp salt
284 ml carton of buttermilk or
300ml/1/2 pint plain yoghurt
Preheat oven to gm6/200c/400f. Put the two flours, bicarb of soda and salt into a large bowl and combine well using a balloon whisk. Make a well in the centre and add the plain yoghurt or buttermilk. Stir with a large spoon to combine then use hands to form a ball. Knead the dough until smooth.
Shape the dough into a ball and put onto floured baking sheet. Cut a deep cross into the middle of the loaf (this allows air into the loaf as it cooks). Dust with flour and cook for 30-35 minutes, untill the loaf sounds hollow when you tap it underneath. Cool on a wire rack before eating.