Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Instant Gratification Knitting aka Keeping A Lazy Knitter Happy!

I have completed my top secret project that I decided to do a night or two ago.  I can't do the big reveal as it's going to be a gift for a friend and she doesn't know about it yet.  When I finished it early this evening I wanted to do a cowl or a neckwarmer to go with my new Colinette Hat.  It was a toss up between two patterns - Extra Chunky Neck Warmer or The Eleventh Hour Cowl.  I was leaning much more to the Cowl, then the Neck Warmer yelled at me and I cast that one on.  I do want to do the Cowl, but another time.  I've put the links through to Ravelry, as I really don't know where I stand making direct links to peoples free patterns.

I made the neck warmer in the Rowan Big Wool on 12mm needles.  It took 65g (measured in 5g intervals).  So I have some left over.  I cast on another neck warmer thinking that I could let in the surplus colinette, but there wasn't enough colinette to even do this.  The Warmer complements my Colinette Hat in every way - and it took no time at all to do!  I've not taken a photo of it as it's black and I don't beleive it will show very well at all in a photo.  I need to find a button for it and have a few ideas where I could locate an ideal one.

Tomorrow I shall start knitting some Christmas Vintage Hand Towels.

Oh and if you were wondering - I haven't yet purchased any beeswax sheets.  HK was pleased that I didn't.  However, after explaining how I felt yesterday, he suggested that I buy some sugarcraft books on his behalf, for Christmas and they can be my Christmas Present from him.  How understanding, patient and supportive of him is that?!  Lucky Me!

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

The Start of The Christmas Fairy Sugarcraft Project

I'm back from my sugarcraft class.  I was really fired up to start my Christmas Fairy, but have fell foul with Lack of Inspiration.  I am keen to be able to do all sorts of fairies.  First of all I added too much dye to the paste for the skin/body etc, so the poor fairy was orange.  No such thing as a Chav Fairy.  I added lots more white and it got a bit better, but not much.  So I bagged that up, with a thought of adding some brown to it to make it into the log the fairy can sit on.  I made the head, body, arms and legs.  What do I do next?  Let the pieces dry and work on the rest of the display.  This is where I got proper stumped.  I didn't have the board to put it on, so couldn't prepare the base or do the log.  The teacher suggested doing other things and to look at other peoples for inspiration.  I started doing a snow man, that got squished.  I thought I could do a lamp.  I began that, but didn't have the correct thickness of wire to support that.  I decided to do a small lamp that could sit on the log.

Inspiration!  I thought.  That thought was short lived as I just couldn't get my lamp to look right.  By that point I knew I really wasn't in the mood for this and what ever I did wouldn't work out.  I know what I'm like when I get like this.  Trying to do anything remotely creative is well off the cards.  Such a shame!  But best in the long run for me to walk away and try again another time.  I have learned this lesson many times, and try to heed to it when it calls!  The only trouble is that sometimes I just want to do something creative but the creative juices just don't flow, so I spend ages trying to find something to do and end up getting quite frustrated with myself.  *

I had a look on another blog and saw some hand rolled beeswax sheet candles.  Easy!  I thought, I could make them and they will look sooooo pretty.  I found somewhere online where I could buy some beeswax sheets from at a reasonable price.  Actually the site looked pretty useful - full of tips and how to roll the candles and how much beeswax you needed for what candle size etc.  I was starting to take a serious look at the colours to order some.

I then thought STOP!  Think about what you are doing!  Transferring your need to do something and have a result.  All I would achieve tonight would be to order some sheets.  It would be a whim to compensate for not being creative and achieving tonight.  I have bookmarked the page and will look at it when I am feeling more creative.

What I really need to do for my Christmas Fairy project is to do the base and log and PLAN other things I may want to include, like a fir tree.  I need an overall idea and go with that,  And not beat myself up that I didn't do much or couldn't think of much tonight.  Now that would be an achievement!

* When I used to get like this with my knitting and really couldn't decide what to do (because of the type of mood I was in), or when I was at odds with myself, I'm sure most people can relate to this, I used to have pre-prepared projects for such occasions.  I would put together a simple project that would need little concentration and was straightforward to do.  It would be a pretty thing and I knew I would like it when I was finished, so I knew I wasn't knitting for the sake of it.  I would find a pattern - usually for a cloth, and put some lush ball of cotton/yarn with it.  A ball that would cheer me up as I looked at it.  Sometimes I'd even put the needles with it, so I would be ready to go and need to locate nothing.  These little project bags worked absolute wonders for me.  I have told a few friends about the idea, they have tried it and they found great success with it.  It's also good when you're down in the dumps and need a quick boost of 'look what I've made!'  Try it!

Monday, 28 November 2011

The Ultimate Lazy Knitters Hat

After Stash Surfing and having a good look round Ravelry, I found a pattern for my Colinette Point 5.  It pressed all my buttons - one skein of yarn, no sewing up, completed in two hours and looks rather good! The pattern is designed by Allison Blevins of Tangle.  I'm not sure if it took me two hours or not, as I was picking it up and putting it down at first.  And I think I would have knitted quicker if I'd been able to locate my shortest cable for my circulars.  So I did it all on dpn's.  The ones I have for this size are a decent length.
Here is the finished hat!

View from the top, lookin good
And another front shot!  I'm undecided what to do next.  It is strongly likely to be along the lines of another hat.  Or cowl.  I shall make a snap decision and go with my heart.  Can't tell you at the moment what my decision is - it's a secret for a couple of days - sorry!

Sunday, 27 November 2011

MJ's Teeth, A Giant Pastie And Another Crochet Hat

Mary-Jane loves to have her photo taken, as you know.  As soon as she hears the whirr of the camera coming on, she's there all smiles to have her photo taken.  I tried to take some of her in the kitchen this afternoon, but she heard me with the camera and came toddling over.

She is one happy girl x

 She loves to put her head back and grin.  I love this photo as it shows all her teeth off!  No wonder she had a bad time teething, especially considering they all came through with about two weeks - but she did her best and tried to stay happy throughout.  This picture just makes my heart smile.

I have had thoughts in my head for a few weeks to get my head around making pies.  I knew if I was successful there would be no turning back.  My first attempt was very successful!  I must admit that I cheated with the pastry and used Jus-rol ready made all butter puff pastry.  It did the job.  I couldn't believe how big it came out!
 Just to put things into proportion, I put my mug on the baking tray for you to see!  It's the biggest pastie ever!
 It is a cheese and potato pie.  I used 500g all butter puff pastry, 600g spuds, cut into big chuks and boiled for just under 15 mins, 150g stilton & 150g strong cheddar, two small onions and a pinch of cayenne pepper.  I glazed it with a beaten egg.
 I would quite recommend it.  And it is so versatile, and easy to do.  It will be done again!

I also managed to go Stash Surfing today.  I got out my christmas cottons, ready to start using in a couple of days.  I found the Colinette.  I have two skeins of it, beautiful pinks and black.  It is thicker than what I thought.  It recommends 12mm needles.  I had a quick think - and rummage - as to what else I could use that was a bit chunky and perhaps differed in thickness, so went thick and thin.  Is this slub yarn, I really don't know.
Anyhow, I came across some Debbie Bliss SoHo.  I have had this a while.  I bought it at a show a few years ago at the Birmingham NEC, if memory serves me right.  It is pure wool.  I think I have tried felting with it, but not with the results I wanted.  I started crocheting another hat.  I'm using a 7mm hook.  The ball band recommends 5.5mm needles.  I wanted quite an open texture.  Once is is worn I think it will open out a bit.  I'm using the orignal hat as sizing for the crown and doing it slightly smaller.  What I've done so far has taken no time at all do, and that to a Lazy Knitter is appealing!

Saturday, 26 November 2011

Un-Named Scarf Completed

I have finished my Un-named Scarf.  Here to model it is Mary-Jane's Raa-Raa!  I seemed to have got it done in no time at all, compared to the previous one.  I think it should match my long coat which is blue and black.  I shall see tomorrow.  It is a quick and handy scarf to do if you need a present - or a scarf for yourself - in a hurry.  Plus it's good for stash busting and using those odd balls of yarn.

 Talking of stash busting.  The weather was against me to go stash surfing today.  I was all prepared and was convincing HK that I would wrap up warm and that I wouldn't be out too long - there has been a high cold wind and lots of rain today - he wasn't liking the idea of me being outside when he announced that I may be alright but he didn't like the idea of the push bike and the petrol mower being out in the rain whilst I was looking through my yarn.  He said if the weather was better tomorrow then It would be better for me to do it then, and if I could bag up the yarn that I wanted to take out then that would save time (or make more time for me to stash surf).  He was making sense, so, fingers crossed for tomorrow!
Now I can say that I have had a Craft Hat-trick of completed projects this week - the Fuchsia Arrangement, the Crochet Hat and now my Un-Named Scarf.  That must be a first!

I'm of a mind now to make another hat.  A knitted Beanie in the same yarn as the scarf, to match it, perhaps in garter stitch.  I'm off to look at patterns on Ravelry!

Friday, 25 November 2011

What Does Black Friday Mean To Me?

HK and I yesterday were having a discussion which kinda went like this:

Have you heard about this Black Friday - do you know what it's all about?

No I've not really watched the news for ages, there have been a lot of protests and strikes.

And there is all that going on about Climate Change Meetings with all the countries.

Yeah.  But I've noticed it on the internet popping up here and there.  Mainly to do with the Americans.

Ah, they're not always agreeable with global climate policies and stuff.

I'll google it and see.

Ah!  It's the day after Thanksgiving in America, where everyone goes shopping and there are bargains galore to be had.

Question Answered!

An Un-named Scarf

Late last evening, I cast on a new scarf.  It is the same pattern as Sally's Birthday Scarf.  I thought the yarn may have been Patons Reef, but it is not.  I'm not sure what it it to be honest!  Some of it has been knitted with already, but you can't tell now it's re-knitted.  The stitch structure is more evident, which I quite like.

 The yarn has a certain elasticity to it.  This does not particularly effect the knitting, not that I have noticed yet.  The yarn is paler than what I would normally choose.  It's good to peek outside of the box every now and then.  Hopefully it will be done in an evening or two.
I wore my crochet hat out today.  I managed to find some grips that I had left with another hat (a good idea of mine, I knew where to find them, but the pack of grips remains AWOL).  The wind was rather doing it's thing and the hat did not move a bit.  Saying that all I did was walk the length of Tesco's car park and back and bring the shopping from the car.

I'm not sure what I will do next.  I still have Mary-Jane's purple lush skirt to finish and a red cape for her to start.  I have put a note in my diary that from the 1st of December I shall start my Christmas Knitting in earnest.  This is going to amount to the now essential vintage handtowels and a few cloths for the kitchen.  I can't see me getting much more done to be honest.  I shall keep them just for Chirstmas though.  I suppose I really ought to put my orange towels to one side ready for next autumn and try to keep seasonal with it.

I haven't had chance to go Stash Surfing today.  I could have created the chance, but it was far too windy out.  My stash is kept in the barn/garage.  As I want to start the Chirstmas things soon, the sooner I swap my balls of autumn/halloween colours in my bag for Christmas colours, the better.  I have tried to be a little organised and left all the Chirstmas colours neatly lined up at the top of one of my stash boxes for easy access.  If only everything else in life was that simple!  I will be tempted to look for the Colinette I was on about yesterday, or anything similar that might shout 'crochet me into a hat!

I need to find a name for my scarf - any ideas?!

Thursday, 24 November 2011

My First Crochet Hat

I have finished my very first Crochet Hat!!  I'm very pleased with it.  It is a little big, so I will have to tie some of my hair back to create a bit of volume and secure it with hair grips.  It's not as loose as it sounds, and I don't like my hats to be tight especially over the forehead.  You can't see the shaping so well in this picture.  I tried taking a few photos of me wearing it, but they were not overly successful, so I used the blender unit from the kenwood as a model.

I used Rowan Tapestry and a 5mm hook.  It is all done in double crochet - dc - I don't know if that is the same or not in US terminology.

 The pattern was very simple indeed.  I started with a small loop.  The first round I dc twice into each hole.  The second round I dc twice into every other hole, single into alternate.  The third round was doing a dc into every third hole, with one dc into all other holes.  This pattern continues until desired size then continue going round doing a dc into each hole, with no increases.
 The edging was created by 7 chain into alternate hole all the way round.  Simples, as the meerkat says!  I'm eager to start another in a different type of yarn - a chunkier one.  I may have a Colinette in mind, I don't know if I'll have enough.
I bought the Colinette on a trip to Great Malvern, a knitty day out that I remember fondly.  I bought the yarn with two balls of rowan biggy to make a bag, which has never (obviously) been made.  I must admit that I can't remember if it was two balls of rowan and one colinette, or two balls of colinette and one rowan.  Stash Surfing tomorrow - Woohooo!!!

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Fuchsia Composition Completed

I didn't get to complete the fuchsias in class last night.  I didn't realise that every single stem/wire had to be wrapped in florist tape.  The lady next to me, J, helped me to do some as she had done hers - she is not a newbie to the class like me!  I was very thankful for her help.  She also gave me lots of hints and tips.

Here are my Fuchsias.  The view is from above.  (I ought to start looking at using my 'posh'
camera for such pictures, I think they would turn out better).  I finished this evening.  I was free-wheeling it alot with where to put what.  I have never attended flower arranging either, but gave it my best welly - and am pleased with the result.  Tell me what you think?!!

 As I look at it, I'm starting to think 'Wow!  I made that!'  It ain't perfect, but for a first go, it's good.  This is the omega end (lower).  A few gaps here and there, but hey.
 The alpha end is on the right here the two buds are.
 A close up.  The lilly of the valleys really lift the piece, they just haven't photographed well.  I'll see if I can take better pix tomorrow when I'm not so tired.
The next project I'm tackling is two christmas fairies, one sat on a log and the other stood under a lamp post - or something like that!  The more experienced in the class have theirs well under way.  I have just ordered the moulds for them, plus an instructional booklet teling me how to put them together and how to dress them.  Hopefully they will arrive in enough time before the next class for me to get cracking with them.

I am enjoying the sugarcraft and am spurred on by a fairly successful first go.  There is so much to it and it is an expensive hobby.  I've not yet dare have day dreams where I can make dazzling cakes and sell them!  I am, as I've said before, looking forward to decorating the christmas cake on the 10th.  I have been reliably informed that to get it finished on the day, you have to work like the absolute clappers!  After Chistmas, the class is doing Spring Flowers.

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Getting The Fuchsias Together

Over the last few evenings I have been working hard to get everything ready to create the final composition of my fuchsias.  It didn't take quite as long as what I thought it would, but it took long enough.  I was going to bed with eye strain, not so good.

Here are the Fuchsias and the leaves

The fuchsias and leaves from a different angle.  The are supposed to be dusted and lustered/glazed but I have only the dust colour for the purple inner leaves.  It has been quite fiddly at times.  It is my first sugarcraft project so the nerves were getting to me a bit as well!
Lilly of The Valleys - 27 balls and 18 flowers.  The dark things are fuchsia buds, made freehand.  By the close of Monday, I was quite happy that I had caught up and was ready to put my dispaly together on Tuesday evenings class........

Sunday, 20 November 2011

On The Go Sunday

I feel like I've been on the go most of today.  I didn't get to make the soup last night.  Admittedly I was pooped and was thinking that if HK was still off his food he may not want to eat.  So I went to bed.  After breakfast  I made HK the parsnip soup.  We were both pleased how it came out.  Now I've said that I've had abusy day, I'm trying to rack my head as to what else I did!  MJ, M and I went to Tesco in the afternoon.  I had to get some diesel primarily, plus some bread and milk.  It gave HK a bit of peace and quiet.  He still has that pain in his side that doubles him over at times.  But will he take any pain relief? Nope.  Well not at the moment anyway.  I have been nagging him.  He is trying to teach MJ - 'What does Mommy do - nag, nag, nag, nag, nag'.  Very tongue in cheek, he doesn't mean it, don't worry!

After MJ and HK went to bed - they went at the same time and I tucked them both in(!) and after having my tea and cleaning the kitchen, I made some Mars Bar Cake.  I've never used mars bars like this before.  I think I may need some more chocolate on top, but I'm sure it will taste just fine.  I've not tasted it yet as the top chocolate hasn't yet set. 

Then I did some sugarcraft.  Yes I was getting quite tired by this point. I have made all my lilly of the valleys now - 18 flowers and 27 balls for the sprays.  Tomorrow I need to do the outer petals on about 15 of the fuchsias and ten hand rolled fuchsia buds.  Once that was done, I made a cuppa, sat down on the sofa with my feet up and had a pain au chocolat (a treat and very nice it was!) and did some of my crochet.

I've also been looking at some main meal dishes I can make.  Most of them are with pastry.  I did by some bought pastry today. A bit of cheating won't hurt. One dish was stuffed leeks , hmmm, and I've got some scrummy looking leeks in the cellar.........

The car is going in for Service and MOT tomorrow.  I hope they don't find too much the matter with it.  I'm thinking it may need new tyres, maybe new brake discs or pads, I can't remember which wears down quicker, and the motor on the windscreen squirter doesn't work.  Perhaps I shouldn't fret overly much.  I am not doing anywhere near the mileage I used to do - I was doinghat was nearly a 1,000  miles a week.  Yes a thousand miles a week.  No wonder I used to get through tyres and brakes things.  No wonder I was sick to death of driving all the time.

Saturday, 19 November 2011

Pea Tart And Pickled Onions

I did some baking yesterday.  I made a broad bean, pea and mint tart.  Minus the broad beans, as I didn't have any.  I made the pastry from scratch and was pleased with how it turned out.  It was shortcrust, but instead of using half fat to flour, the recipe said to use 250g flour and 150g butter and an beaten, I usually use water.  It did turn out richer and more tastier. 
You fry some shallots and garlic, very gently for a few minutes.  These are then put on the pre-cooked pastry base.  The peas are then added, these have been cooked for a couple of minutes as well.  This is topped with a mix of 3 big eggs, double cream and creme fraiche, dried mint and seasoning.  This evening, only two slices are left, or maybe just one sliver......
I also started some pickling yesterday.  I bought the onions locally in Egermont.  I boiled up the seasoned  and spiced vinegar  and left it to cool and start doing it's thing overnight.  I bottled the onions this evening.  Lo and behold, I ran out of vinegar on the third jar, so had to boil up some more.  This time I seasoned the vinegar myself, adding my own concoction.  I did not leave it for 24 hours to infuse, but just over two hours to cool.  As you can see, the vinegar is a different colour from the other two.

I want to pickle some eggs as well.  When we moved I got rid of most of my kilner jars.  There may be a few in storage somewhere in the barn.  I really could do with re-building my collection up.  I've missed the boat for pickling beetroot, but will look in the supermarket next time - request from Dad (D).  I used to make at least double the quantity and make some pretty fiery pickled onions - even I couldn't eat the hit ones, but HK and a colleague from work would devour them.  I don't really know anyone I could pickle for at the moment, so best not to do too many jars.

I'm going to make some parsnip soup for HK.  He has had a pain in his lower abdomen since last evening and it's getting him down.  He asked for some parsnip soup when the leek and tattie soup was nearly gone.  I got some lovely parnips today from the same shop in Egremont as I got the onions.  I also got some leeks as I could not resist the look of them!  The car smelled of leeks all the way home, so made me want to cook with them straight away.   I shall go and make the soup, it's just gone half nine at night here, so hopefully it will go some way to making HK feel better tomorrow.

Calder Bridge Church Autumn Fair

Mary-Jane, M and I went to Calder Bridge Church Autumn Fair this afternoon.  Mary-Jane thoroughly enjoyed herself.  Not long after we arrived, I took her out of her buggy and carried her until she felt confident amongst the people.  Needless to say this didn't take long - perhaps ten of fifteen minutes, then she was wanting down and walkabouts.  Once people started moving towards the dining area, I found a corner at the end of the dining tables.  Afternoon tea is a highlight of the fair.  At first MJ didn't not venture far out of this corner, just to the edge of the people.  She sat at the table and had two quarters of ham sandwich and two quarters of salmon sandwich.  She devoured the salmon - she may just have salmon for her lunch tomorrow!  The she had part of my chocolate biscuit and a couple of bites of scone and rum butter.  Then it was time to roam.

Mary-Jane was toddling up and down the length of the village hall and round and round the row of chairs in the middle of the room as if she was playing musical chairs.  She found a large mirro, propped up on the floor and was fascinated by it and the baby she could see.  This baby she was chattering away to, waving and dancing to.  Not to mention giving her her best dazzling smile!  Best of all the Baby she was playing with was smiling, dancing and waving back to her!  Many folk commented on how happy and full of smiles she was.

I did take my camera, but didn't take any pictures.  I think the only pictures would have been of my heiney chasing Mary-Jane about the place.  She must have been toddling non-stop for an hour and a half!

Now, when I told you about my crochet escapades on Monday, did I mention that LA had crocheted some items including a reindeer and a penguin?  Well, I was very lucky enough to get my mitts on them!  Here is Rudolf The Reindeer!  MJ was pleased with him.  I waved to LA across the village hall with him in my hands - and got a double thumbs up from LA!  Another lady, S, said I could have the pattern if I wanted - I might just have to take her up on the offer.

Here is the little penguin.  I bought him mainly for HK has he likes penguins.  Mary-Jane thought the gold pompom on the top of his hat was mighty tasty......  With my new found crochet confidence, I think I can make theses two chaps.  LA has every confidence that I can.
I also saw this snowman and just had to get it as well.  It looks vaguely familiar and all I can think of is Alan Dart in a Simply Knitting Magazine.

My Christmas knitting is not underway yet.  I'm starting to think that I may not get much done.  There is time yet

Friday, 18 November 2011

Paula's Blog Giveaway

I'm new to Blog Giveaways.  I'm entering one on this blog, please follow the link and take a peek!

The blog belongs to my dear friend Paula, who  reads my blogs and is kind enough to leave comments to virtually every single entry I write.  She lives in Western New York, in America.  She is a retired school teacher, a fur babies Momma and avid crocheter amongst other things.  Oh and I should mention - she has a big heart and is a kingly thoughtful person!

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Mary-Jane & The Chooks

As you know, we like to be outside and we want to encourage Mary-Jane to be outside as much as possible.  We have had a few beautiful days here in West Cumbria and we tried to make the most of them.  HK and I took Mary-Jane outside in the garden for a walk and to see the chooks.  It was Mary-Jane's first proper walk in the garden.  An auspicious occassion indeed!  As ever, she loved being outside and being able to walk around.

The first port of call for her was The Chooks - she always squeals with delight when she sees them, then randomly giggles at them.

 Mary-Jane was quite independant and wanted to explore on her own two feet.  She still has to hold her arms out for balance, and looks even cuter in the process!  The hooded waistcoat she is wearing is the very first thing I knitted for her when I found out that I was pregnant.  It's kinda special to me.

 Time in the garden can never be spent without Rhinog.  He loves his new life here. I'm still Mom to him, but Grandad takes him for walks every day, gives him treats and shares his morning toast with him.  Not to mention lets him sleep in the same bedroom as him - and even lets him get up on the bed and have a kip with him!!!
 This just shows how much Mary-Jane loves being outside!  My beautiful little girl x  Oh and note the increasing amount of teeth!
 Mary-Jane kept heading for the chooks.  She was getting tired, (by this time she had been constantly walking in the garden for nearly half an hour) so was wanting to sit and watch them, but the ground not only damp, but the vest vantage point to see the chooks (she thought) was in some mud.  I love this picture of her being carried away by Daddy HK.  She is having a paddy as she cannot get her own way and stay with the chooks.
 However, MJ has always been easily distractable and within seconds has forgotten all about her paddy and is having fun in her swing!

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

More Crochet & What I've Done Today

This evening I took up my crochet hook with fervour and a clear mind - and ready to count!  This was what I did last night, my small bowl.  Despite it not being perfect, it will be used (once I've weaved the ends in, of course).  I'm still pleased with it as my first attempt.

 Which leads me to tonights offering.  Much more uniform and even tension.  Tension was a huge problem in my crochet previously.  It is turning out more of a hexagonal shape than round, but doing the simple maths to it, it's not really surprising. I shall have to find out a way of making it more round.  Somewhere in the muddle wooliness of my head, I know I know how to do it.  I just hope the haxagonal-ness of it will not interfere too much with the cylinder/upright bit of it.  Oh, did I say it was going to be a hat?  With the technique and different yarns it could be anything I want it to be.  As LA says, it's a very handy stitch to know.
I had a peek on Ravelry for crochet arigurumi, and was rather bowled over.  So much can be done.  I didn't look at the actual patterns, I thought it would pickle my head, plus I guess most of them will be written in US crochet terms and I didn't want to start translating last night as I knew it would pickle my head and I'd not get any sleep.  Or have that 'drifting off thoughtful' sleep, when you're not sure if you are awake or not but are thinking long and hard about something. 

I've also not yet given into temptation (nor have I had time) and looked through the few crochet books I have to see what I can do with my newly learned skill.  I think it will dazzle me too much.  I want to take it slowly and at a comfortable pace.  I am looking forward to looking through the books with a better degree of understanding.  Like re-looking at a book in a foreign language when you are coming to grips, but not quite fluent with the new language.  Crochet is here to stay though. It almost sounds as though I'm learning patience- in -crafting as well as crochet.  Zen and the Art of Crochet.....

Today has been a steady day.  This morning it was off to Cleator Moor for HK to have and appointment and sign on.  MJ and I go to the Age Concern Charity shop whilst HK is signing on.  I found Marguerite Patten's Victory Cookbook.  Very interetsing if you have a passing interest in that sort of thing.  Which I do.  The book is an amalgamation of three books she wrote on cookery between 1940-1954, when rationing was in force.  It was amazing how little people had to cook with.  I shall look out for more things like this.  I can truly imagine a very thriving Black Market in food goods.  I want to make a few of the recipes, although I may allow myself to substitute dry egg powder for real eggs!

At lunch time, MJ, mum & I went to Beckermet for the Soup Lunch.  We got there for ten to one, it started at 12 and is meant to finish for half one.  Unfortunatley it had been very busy and there was no soup left.  Four big pans of soup had been sold!  However we came away with a few almond slices and two jars of home made chutney.  I do now look out for chutney, jams and marmalades at these type of functions.  They are the real deal and I've not come across a duff one yet!.

Mary-Jane had lots of fun walking up and down the room, smiling at everyone and carrying her doll.  The doll is hand knitted by Donna in Stafford and was a gift at my wonderful Baby Shower.

Then it was home and a cuppa and a sit down for a short while.  Then up again to make a big pan of Leek and Potato Soup.  Another winner.  HK was quite taken with it.  By half past six, Mary-Jane had been in bed a while and we had had tea, pots washed up and sat down to relax.  Result.

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Crochet And A Chip Off The Old Block

Yesterday was Knit & Natter at Woodlands.  I was going to take my camera so you could see more of round and about here, but at the last moment, took the camera out of my bag.  That was such a mistake.  The drive there was absolutely stunning.  The day was clear, crisp and sunny.  The trees were in full autumnal colour and the fells (mountains) were jaw dropping in their beauty.  And I forgot my camera.  I was kicking myself, believe me!  I shall have to go again, with camera.  However, I have been reliably informed that the weather will be changing from tomorrow.....

The Knit & Natter was good.  There just didn't seem enough time to speak to people about what I wanted to say or mention to them!  One thing that wasn't on the cards was a crochet tutorial from  LA.  (I haven't asked if I can use her name on here yet, so I'll keep to initials).  She had set about to show another lady, A, and I asked if I could join in too.  Well, I did and it seemed so easy.  I already have a very very basic understanding of crochet, but a great big 'mind block' along with little confidence.  By the time we went, I could do double crochet (not sure what this is in US, I know the terminology differs) in a round, then into a cylinder shape, so as to make toys etc.  I was very pleased!  I think I need another 'have I got it right?' session.  That evening I tried to make a pot, with a moderate amount of success. And I want to cast on a hat, using the same methodology.  M had made one, so I was encourage to carry on.

When I got back, I was eager to see Mary-Jane (and HK!)  Mary-Jane cried out 'Mommy mom mom' when she saw me and came toddling over to me, I bent down to pick her up.  She toddled straight past and went for my bag!!!  Put me in my place.  She then wanted a quick pick up and then wanted my shawl off me.  I took it off my shoulders and wrapped her in it, feeling the warmth of it.

She was one happy little girl, playing with Mom's bag and wearing her shawl!

 Mary-Jane loves posing for the camera and smiling.  Underneath the shawl she is wearing a knitted top that my dear friend Sally made for MJ's First Birthday.
 MJ looks so good in my shawl, that I am contemplating making a slightly smaller one for her!
 Still a happy girl, dragging Mom's bag around the living room - a chip off the old block!

Saturday, 12 November 2011

Flower Arranging

Each month at the WI, there is a Speaker.  This months Speaker was a Florist/Flower Arranger from Perfectly Planted in Gosforth.  I'm afraid I can't remember her name off the top of my head.  This time of year must be favoured in these parts for Flower Arranging  Talks.  There have been three in two weeks.  I've only been to two.  Flower Arranging has never floated my boat.  I never saw it beyond how to put flowers in a vase.  Niave perhaps, but true.  It is quite interesting to see waht can be done with a bunch of flowers and a few leaves.  And it's made to look so simple!  I'd like to have a go, but I don't think I would take it beyond there, apart from, perhaps to do a Christmas Wreath workshop.

I like white flowers, they really catch my eye.

 These three red ones can either be presented individually or clustered together.  I think they work well either way, and would certainly look good on one's dining table etc.
 All the arrangements were raffled off.  I waited with batied breath, but wasn't lucky this time.  I was last time, at the WI Group Meeting.  By default, the lady that we gave a lift to, had already won an arrangement and another of her tickets was drawn, so she gifted me the arrangement for giving her a lift!  Awesome!  I just have to mention, whilst talking about this lady, MH, that she said in the car on the way there, that she looks forward to the Group Meetings as she can catch up with at least four of her school friends.  MH has got to be in her late seventies, of not her early eighties!  Her comment really struck a chord with me.
Some people think that red and white flowers bring bad luck and a third colour should be introduced.  The red is supposed to represent blood, and the white, bandages.  An interesting piece of superstition - or is it?!

Baking For Rememberance Day

I volunteered a few months ago to do some baking for Rememberance Day.  There is a gathering after the Service at Calder Bridge Village Hall.  I'm really not sure of any details, other than to bring the cakes down there for 2ish and the Service starts at 3pm.

I have made 22 cakes, with two logos.  Permission has been sought and gained from the Royal British Legion to use the logo.  The logos are printed on to a sheet of icing, the same as the WI one.  It is unfortunate that some of the depth of colour is lost in the process.  Dad suggested raffling them off to raise funds, a good idea but I don't know the organisers.  Well, I was informed of the name of one person, someone that I do know, but I didn't know that she was involved till today and we haven't been able to get in touch with her.  Always next year.  A cake bake could be organised to raise funds.  I'd be well up for that.

 I also made a batch of Flaked Almond Cookies.  I must confess that the tin was fuller when I finished baking...........
 The actual cake is just chocolate.  The background icing is rolled regal icing.
Let's hope they are well recieved.

Friday, 11 November 2011

November Project Knit Day

November Project Knit Day was yesterday.  I had convinced myself that I had got over the worst of my cold and that I was fit enough to be out and about, albeit for a short while.  My voice is on it's way back, althoug not fully yet.  This is quite lucky.  Sometimes my voice can be gone and not fully returned for 3 weeks.  Once it went, came back, then went again a day or two later.  But enough of that.

The knitting group was well attended.  The Project was a Open Rib Cowl.  I'd got mine finished by about 11pm last night.  I'll try and get a picure of me wearing it, it looks better worn.  I might try another one, but only do it half the length and wear it as a head band.  It reminds me to re-look at the Calometry (?sp) head band.

I used James Brett Merino and 5mm needles.  It is very soft and feels warm.  Apparantly we are due snow at the month.  It's based on an 8 row repeat, with only 2 rows out the eight being patterned, as such.

I've got the dates for next years Project Days (along with a diary).  There are also three day long workshops planned - modular knitting and two on Brioche.  Things I haven't tried yet and want to.  I won't say things I can't do, just things I haven't got round to trying and want to!  Oh and there is another Christmas Gifts day.  Positive 'Me' structure to 2012.

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

WI 85th Birthday Cake

I was volunteered to decorate our WI's 85th Birthday Cake.  I have never done a cake like this before.  I felt the pressure was on as all the ladies there must have been decorating cakes literally, since before I was born.  I did have a few ideas running through my head about how to do it.  All involved a lot of time and a steady hand.  Mum wanted the logo on the cake, so when we saw our local sugarcraft shop printed edible images, one was ordered.  The rest of the decoration kinds fell in after that.

The first job was to marzipan the cake.  The cake by the way, was made by another member, the ex-president of 15 years, so I really didn't want to mess it up.  There was some marzipan left over, so I had a go at making some roses, as illustrated on the marzipan box.  Simple to do and with a bit of practice could be quite delicate and effective.

 I knew the cake had to be on a flat base, but I coulnd't find one the right size, so I put it on a piece of greasproof paper on the upside of a tray.  By this point I was really pre-occupied but calming as I had done that stage.  I knew for next time things I'd do better or differently.  It had dawned on me at this point (yesterday evening) that I should do a batch of cup cakes as I wouldn't have chance during the day.  So I whipped up 18 almond fairy cakes.  Now at this point I was shattered (I still had my cold) and flopped into a chair.  Mum then pointed out to me that the top of the cake wasn't flat.  It was flat-ish to me, nothing the icing wouldn't hide.  But no, it was the cake that was domed and it was that that needed to be flat. £$%^&&*(!!
 I sliced off the marzipan and took a knife to the top of the cake to get it flat.  Luckily this worked and the marzipan went back on easy enough.  Oh for being tired and not thinking clearly!

This morning I put the icing on.  To say it was my first time, it wasn't too bad at all.  Putting the logo on was a joint effort.  I cut the figures with a cutter.  Next time, the icing for this should be a little thinner, just a little.

As the logo is so bold, I wanted the rest of the decoration to be plain.  I thought even a small amount of decoration would look too much.
 Mum wanted the logo, Beckermet WI and the years put on round the side.  I thought it may be too much.  In the end it looked like this!  Some of the ladies complemented me and said how the plain-ness worked and that they had never quite seen a cake decorated like that before!
 By the time I came to decorate the tops of the cup cakes, I had about lost the will to live.  Most people by here tend to go for the more traditional cakes, so Butterfly cakes it was.  Quick and simple.  And scrummy.  Although I must say, the fuit cake was far tastier!
I've more baking to do for next weekend.  It's for a buffet type event following the Rememberance Day Service on Sunday.  I've not decided yet what sort of cupcakes to do (nothing fancy), but the toppings will have poppies on, that bit at least has been decided upon!