Sunday, 27 May 2012

The Final BFL Skein Is Red

You guessed that I succumbed to dyeing my last skein of BFL.  I made two dye baths as I wanted a subtle variation in colour.  Overall it's not too bad, I would like it to be more red, a true red.  I am sure it will knit up fine.  I was thinking of dyeing it again, but am not sure at the moment.  The left side has three sachets of Cherry and the right has three of Tropical Fruit Punch.
This is not the best angle for the photo.  I would have liked it to come out as red as the dye bath on the left.  I can now start trawling for likely shawl patterns, gosh that will be hard work!

I had inspiration for further dyeing.  I have got quite a few cones of yarn, most of them do not say what they are.  I may do test samples, with KA to see if they are wool and so are dyeable.  I had pulled them down off the top of the wardrobe to start doing this evening.  I have decided not to, not tonight.  I'll have a night off, and perhaps try tomorrow.

It is still very hot here.  I have only been outside once twice today, into the garden.  Even now at 9pm it is still on the border of uncomfortably hot, the temp remains in the very late twenties and early thirties.  MJ and HK have suffered with the heat again, MJ not quite as much as yesterday nad HK more.

I am having a break from the ASJ and making a cloth for a swap.  I am having fun doing this cloth.  I must remind myself that I must not cast on another project until I have finished either the ASJ or the Lydia Crescent Shawl.  Yeah, right.  Keep telling yourself kiddo!

Saturday, 26 May 2012

5 + 2

I started dyeing a further two skeins last night, finishing them off this morning.  I wanted fairly strong colours, but not a solid colour.  No Nemesis Pink in sight.  On the left is Ice Blue raspberry and on the right is Lime-Lemon.  I mixed five sachets with a pint of water.  When the yarn was immersed I sprinkled on a further two sachets.  I left them overnight to soak up all the colour.

I am pleased with the results.  I took the yarn out of the baths, gently squeezes excess water out then microwaved each skein for two minutes on medium - our microwave is quite a powerful one - then let it coo, then nuked it for another two minutes.  After letting it cool again, I rinsed them thoroughly then draped them over the washing line to dry naturally.

I think I can see shawls for each colour.  I am tempted to do a cherry red skein as well. Hhmm.  I will.  I gifted the Nemesis Pink to my knitty friend D.  She saw it this afternoon and went oooooooh, so I let her have it as an early birthday pressie.  Two happy knitters!
It has been terribly hot here again today. Mary-Jane has been out of sorts.  Early afternoon she asked me to take her bo-bo's (to bed to sleep, bo-bo's means to sleep).  She got hold of my fingers and virtually pulled me out of the room.  She has not had a nap during the day since about October.  However once I put her on her bed, she screamed the house down, thus didn't nap.  HK is being knocked about by the sun and the heat as well.  I was going to make some biccies today, but I decided not too, the heat rendered me to 'can't be bothered'. 

Friday, 25 May 2012

Dyeing Results

After posting last night, I got the grumps for the Nemesis Pink.  I decided that if you can't beat em then join em and added a few packs of black cherry (I think).  Then I had a change of heart and pulled the yarn out and fixed it.  This morning I got my old KA out of the barn.  It is about two years past it's best before, but I thought it was worth a go.  I re-soaked the Nemesis Pink and then put it in a dye bath of 500ml water and 4 packs of old Grape.  The colour did take (hurray!) and I have lost the Nemesis Pink.  I like the new colour more, but I don't know if I like it.  I think if it didn't remind me of less successful dyeing ventures of yesteryear, I might like it more.

However, on the upside, I am pleased with how the orange came out.  I wanted a strong orange with pale orange along side it.

I am tempted to do another skein tonight.  Green is on the cards.  I googled KA colour charts and found one with a lovely celery green.  I'd settle for that or a spring green.  What I have got is several packets of old lemon-lime.  I shall probably end up doing it, knowing me.  Once I have got KA sussed, I shall move onto food dyes - the pastes rather than the liquid ones.  By then I shall have to wait to get some more yarn to dye.

Thursday, 24 May 2012

Dyeing Again

This evening was the evening.  Time to Dye.  I soaked two skeins of 100g laceweight Blue Faced Leicester in luke warm water for about an hour
I made two dye baths.  All baths had 400ml water.  In the one on the right I put just one pack of orange Kool-Aid, the other had three packets.
The bath on the left has one packet of grape and the right one has one grape and about 1/3 strawberry.  This has not turned into my nemesis pink.  It is a dusky pink, which so many of my experimental or mixed colours end up.  I really don't like it.  To me it says 'I've gone wrong'.  O found previously with the kool aid that red 40 is exceedling dominant.  It has kept to this dominance.  I might leave them over night so to get deeper colours.  Plus it's 11pm and my bed time.  I don't want a late night.  So far, touch wood, Mary-Jane has murmered and mooched, but not awoken properly or started crying.  Bonus.  It is still many hours till morning though!

I am sorely tempted to over-dye this to try and get rid of Nemesis Pink.  What colour I don't know.  No rash or hasty decisions tonight.  Our room is going to stink of kool aid by tomorrow.  It does already.  How I miss my own Knitting Room to play in.  I really do.  Let's hope life overall picks up and improves, I'm working my best to that end.
I have seen an orange shawl in Jane Austen Knits so was inspired to dye orange.  I am tempted to see if I can get a really nice bright red, somewhere in the regions between a lady bird red and a pillar box red.  But that shall be for tomorrow, not tonight.  Oh and I am keeping notes of all the dyeing that I do, good to refer back to.

Mary-Jane Learns To Wash Up For The First Time

Following on from a disturbed night, I decided to keep a tired Mary-Jane as busy as I could today, to hopefully going someway to her - and us - having a better night.  It's in the balance at the moment as I can hear her mooching on her bed - she is either awake or in a very light sleep.  We have had a few highlights today.  HK has been out fishing today, for the first time in months and months.  I am so pleased that he has got out.  Not as pleased as he is though.  It has done him a world of good.  I am eager for him to go out fishing again as soon as possible.

After we got back from dropping HK off at the pools, I kept Mary-Jane free range round the house.  The TV did not go on.  I kept her occupied and entertained.  She sat at the kitchen table whilst Granma ate her toast.  Granma was ably assisted in the toast eating by MJ.  Who in turn was able assisted by Bandit.  When MJ had finally finished her toast, she asked for her hands to be washed.  I pulled her chair up to the sink, stood her up and turned the taps on.

This spontaneous hand washing session turned into Mary-Jane doing her first ever pot washing.  She was stood at the sink for nearly an hour, washing up and playing with the water.  Thouroughly enjoying herself.

She washed Grandad's breakfast plate and mug a million times over.  She washed my mug and her cup.  I showed her how to put some eggs in the egg box.  This was preciptiated by MJ putting an egg in my mug which was half full of tea.  I'd stopped drinking it as she had tried to wash the cats fork in my tea.
I did get her to swap the cats fork for the washing sponge, I don't know it's proper name.

After doing all that washing up, MJ had her lunch, then it was time to go out shopping with Granma.  We went into Whitehaven to Morrisons, Aldi, Iceland and Home & Bargain.  Exciting.  At half three we picked up a happy HK from the fishing pool at Mirehouse.  He has really caught the sun.  I hope he fairs well with being outside in the heat for so long.  Him and hotweather do not mix, and it is not HK that gets the upper hand.

I am so proud of Mary-Jane learning to wash up and ask to wash her hands.  I shall encourage her each day to wash up and be at the sink.  She was pleased as she now has a hook in the kitchen with her apron on.

Another Quiet Day And A Disturbed Night

We have had a generally calm and peaceful day.  We went in the garden for a while, then came in as it was getting a bit hot for HK and Mary-Jane's arms were getting a little pink.   I could have stayed out longer, especially if we'd got a parasol up on the table.  Ours broke in strong winds in the autumn.

It's surprising what you can find in a rhubarb bed - here is Bob the Cat having a nap
Thursday 24th - Mary-Jane woke up again, crying, so curtailed yesterdays post.  She awoke again around 1am for a while.  I put her back on her bed about half an hour later.  There was minimal play and interaction from me and HK.  Hopefully she will learn that it isn't that much fun to be in Mummy & Daddy's bed in the middle of the night.  She was awake on and off the rest of the night, thankfully not crying.  I coughed at some ungodly time and heard a 'cough, Mummy coughing', from Mary-Jane.
She had a lie in this morning, not waking until just after 8am.  I have kept her on the go all day - oops but all that is for the next post!

Mary-Jane did enjoy her crisps - crisps are now called 'surprises' as they are a surprise when she has them.

It was good to have a quiet relaxing day together and spend time outside

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

April Itsy Bitsy Swap

I recieved my ?April Itsy Bitsy Swap today.  It was from Nancy in PA, USA.  I'm really chuffed with it.  Nancy sent me three balls of Peaches N Creme, a packet of chocolate mousse marshmallow rabbits, and two packs of wonderful cupcake papers.  I shall choose the cupcake recipe very carefully when I use them, which will hopefully be soon!

Nancy made me three cloths.  I love the colours and the shapes.  I will save the small one for Mary-Jane.  Big Thanks for Nancy for everything!

I have been to Carlisle today.  It was very hot, even drivimng with the window down.  My right arm is now distinctively more pinky brown with more freckles than my left.  I was at Carlisle to go to my first WI Home Crafts Sub-Committee Meeting.  All very interesting.  I actively took part in the meeting and contributed.  I got there and back without a snifter of getting lost, which I was quite chuffed about.  I'm usually quite good at finding my way around.  Saying that, I can remember getting lost on Kilburn High Street around 1990.  All I did was cross the road to see a friend onto a bus.  I had had a few though, that was my excuse......

I've managed to get some knitting done tonight, hurray!  I'm starting to get itchy fingers to start a small project or two.  I do need to do a cloth for a swap, I have it in mind to start tomorrow.  I have seen another scarf/shawl pattern in a magazine today, that has got my interest. I must finish the other off first.  I was nearly tempted to start dyeing this evening.  The need to put my feet up and relax won over.

Mary-Jane is having a settled night so far, fingers crossed.  There have been a couple of moments when I thought she was waking.  Last night she woke up and we had her on the bed for about 50 minutes.  She was as cute as anything, with what she was saying and doing.  Today she has been quite tired and it has been too hot to take her outside in the garden.  Yes I did say too hot.  As the local weather presenter sais this morning - it is summer this week!

Monday, 21 May 2012

Delightful Day In Brief

I have spen a few hours researching vintage singer sewing machines for a friend.  Before that I was sussing why my friends baby cardi was not right - quite a few errors on the pattern and one in the knitting of it.  Now my head is pickled, and it's way past my bed time.  I have had a pleasant day and have spent the afternoon in the company of three crafty friends.  We have chatted, knitted, drunk tea and eaten scones and meringues.  Delightful.  I would like to tell you more, but I am pooped and my eyes are stinging now!  Night Night! xx

Sunday, 20 May 2012

ASJ and Plotting And Planning What To Knit Next, With Some Help From Jane Austen

The end of another week.  Not my personal best, on the upside, yesterday was good.  Today we have been out to Workington, nothing exciting, only called in at Dunelm and Asda.  I still have baking on the brain and am still thinking about a second run of the Disaster Cupcakes.  Monday and Tuesday are a bit busy for me, so I will have a few more days contemplation.  I will also see if they freeze okay.  It goes against the grain somewhat to freeze cakes for me.  I want to get the recipe right, and not mess with the quantities, just do exactly how it appears in the book.  I don't think we can get through 24 cupcakes before they go stale, so if I can freeze a few I will.  If I can't freeze, then it's back to the drawing board.

I'm still slugging away at ASJ.  The rows are starting to get longer now.  I only have 14 more ridges to do till the next part of the pattern.  Then I decrease 15 stitches at either end.  The centre section will then have 225 stitches.  The increases continue until there are 270 stitches on the centre.  So that is, hang on I need to work this out......brb.....Houston I have a problem that my tired mind can see through at the moment.  At the point I decrease the 15 stitches, I will have 225 stitches between A & B (the increase points).  I need to continue working the increases until there are 270 stitches between A & B.  This doesn't add up to me at the moment - all to do with odd and even numbers.  The stitches are increasd 2 per row, so I can't go from 225 to 270.  I'm sure it will be as clear as mud with the cold light of day!  I think the answer is to increase to either 269 or 271 stitches.  I don't think it will make much difference to be honest.

I'm sure all this rambling means nothing unless you have done and Elizabeth Zimmerman Adult Surprise Jacket where K=an odd number. 

I may be taking a natural break from the ASJ over the next night or two as I have a cloth to do for a swap.  I have found a pattern I want to do.  Until it is swapped, I can't really let on - it may spoil the surprise!

I would like to get as much of the ASJ done by the time the new Jane Austen Knits arrives on my doorstep, which should be in the next week or two.  I am counting on being tempted to do something as soon as it comes!  I want to have a look over the last JAK magazine as I there was quite a few things I wanted to do in there.  Mostly shawls, a pair of gloves or two and a few pairs of socks.  And I have the new Knit magazine waiting at Fobbles for me - collection shall be tomorrow.  Last months preview showed a small shawl that got my interest.....  I must get cracking with ASJ and make some headway with the Lydia Crescent Shawl.  All this knitting and so little time!

Saturday, 19 May 2012

Beckermet Sports Day

Beckermet Sports Day took place today.  It started with a Fancy Dress Parade through the village, from the garage to the school.  There are various stalls where you can byu cakes and drinks etc, plus plants and bric-a-brac etc.  There is races later on in the afternoon for the children and a cross country event, as well as a Moby demonstration, bouncy castles, climbing wall etc.

I'm not quite sure how long the Sports Day has been happening.  The Fancy Dress Parade is for the children.  This years theme was 'Kings and Queens', surprisingly.  Mary-Jane was dressed as The Queen of Hearts.  Mum made her cape late last night.  She has strawberry jam tarts in her pot.  I was so proud of Mary-Jane.  We were the last to arrive for the Parade, so walked at the back with the younger children.  There was only perhaps ten or twelve children dressed up.  At the front of the parade was a small van playing rousing classical music.  It was quite exciting.  A few people came out of the houses to watch, as well as everyone else who was parading with the children.
Mary-Jane at the start of the Parade
Mary-Jane paraded really well.  She walked half way through the village.  By this point we were well behind everyone else.  It was gently advised that I put her in her buggy and push her the rest of the way as the judging would happen as soon as the parade arrived on the field.  I put Mary-Jane in her buggy and we caught up on the last stretch of the parade. 
Once at the school, I got Mary-Jane out and got her in place for the judging.  She was in the Pre-school group.  Two of the other girls were dressed at the queen of hearts also.
My beautiful little girl was awarded First Place.  I was so proud of her.  I did shed a tear. She had a medal and a certificate for taking part.
Here she is with her medal, eating her jam tarts and watching the activity on the playing field.

Mary-Jane thoroughly enjoyed herself.  We had a quick look in the school at the stalls, then we went outside.  It was a warm day in the end, despite the weather people saying it would rain.  Then again to say that it might rain is a safe bet around here.  MJ called the school rooms the kitchen.  At first she was happy to sit in the wooden playhouse and look out.  When the Moby demo started (Moby is a dance excercise, which is supposed to be very popular at the moment), MJ was very interested.  She walked to where the demo was and watched.  She didn't like standing near the speakers so moved her self closer to the dancers and started doing a dance and giggling. At one point she ran right through the middle of the demonstation then stopped at the other side to have a dance there.  After that she was running around the field, wanting to sit on some of the play equipment.  She found a football and carried that around a bit and gave it a little kick about.

By 3pm, she was geting tired.  She was so excited and taken with everything around her that she didn't want a drink.  With protest, I picked her up, got her in her buggy and bought her back to the house.  She was one tired and happy little girl. And I was so so proud of her

Friday, 18 May 2012

Disasterous Cupcakes

Today.  What can I tell you about Today?!  This afternoon I set to to make some cupcakes - dalmation cupcakes from Betty Crockers 'The Big book of cupcakes'.  They were a disaster.  Not a complete disaster as they tasted nice and the texture was lovely and light.  I have sat and super-anyalysed what went wrong with them.  The recipe said it made 24.  I got to 24 without scraping the bowl out.  I think US cupcake papers are slightly bigger than what I used.  My papers were cupcake rather than fairy.  The main thing I believe what happened was that the recipe was in 'American' and I translated it wrong.  The measurements were in cups.  This did not phase me as I had looked up the metric equivalents before I started.  Afterwards I carried on looking up conversions, only to find that leading baking books give slightly different quantities.  For example, I have found 35g difference in flour, 25ml difference in liquid.  These quantities may seem small, but they make a difference with cupcakes.

Until I get some more clarity on these measurements, such recipes and books will only be used for inspiration and not exact recipes, which is a great shame.  I shall persevere once I've picked myself up and dusted myself down.  I have never had to throw out 24 cupcakes in one go!  What I do like about the US cupcake recipes is that they are so vastly different and the ideas and decoration is so far removed from the traditional fairy cake 'fancies'.

I had originally planned to do another batch of cakes, maybe two and if they went really well, then perhaps a batch of biscuits.  I threw the towel in after the one and only batch.  I was a bit disheatened.  All the other recipes that I had chosen were from the same book.

On top of that, when I was mulling over the cupcakes just after they had come out of the oven, I had a phone call.  A friend of mine (a brief old flame friend) had died.  I have not seen him for about 22 or 23 years, other friends had stayed in touch.  He had died in a Hopsice on Wednesday of bowel cancer.  I shall be taking some time to remember him.

this evening I have kept to 'safe' knitting.  Yes the ASJ has had a few more ridges added to it - I'm now on ridge 71.  There is no overall number of ridges I need to do, planned or worked out to do.  I just like to count them.

Thursday, 17 May 2012

Pasta, Craft & Yarn

I bought a pasta making machine this morning.  I have been after one of these for quite some time.  I saw an ad for some and hot footed it into Whitehaven.  I hope I can get on with it okay.

This afternoon was our Craft and Natter at Beckermet.  It was well attended - 12 people altogether.  I forgot to take my camera.  It was good to see people doing various crafts - knitting, crochet, sewing - machine and hand, and cross stitch.  We were talking of making the session for three hours instead of two.  We were also thinking about whether to put on a day long C&N, perhaps in September or October.  I think it would be wuite fun.  We have enough time to spread the word and if it is successful then we can have them quarterly, or something like that.  I will post more about this on the C&N blog.

I took my ASJ to do.  I was also very kindly gifted someone's knitting needles and crochet hooks.  J does not knit anymore, so has passed her needles onto me.  I was quite honoured.  Again more on the C&N blog.

My lace weight Bluefaced Leicester arrived this morning.  I have not long since opened the package.  The yarn smells, well, as you think it would, woolly.  I am soooo looking forward to dyeing it.  I think the first skein may just be shades of purple, followed by a pinky one, then maybe a red.  I'm quite tempted to do an orangey one as well.

The sinusitus symptoms are still knocking around, although are being kept at bay with regular paracetamol.

Wednesday, 16 May 2012


I have been reading another blog - Roobeedoo - and have been inspired.  Roobeedoo makes her own clothes, and features 'Me Made' Months.  I have been toying with starting dress making again.  The thought has been lurking in the deeper darker recesses of my mind for a long time.  It is not the first time recently that I have gone surfing for dressmaking patterns, only the second.  I would like to have a go at sewing again.  All the knowledge is in my brain waiting to be unlocked.  What goes against me at the moment is time (to sew and do), space (to sew and do) and money to buy patterns and fabric (to sew and do).  I shall keep my eye out for bargain patterns and fabric.  If I can find a basic block pattern, then I can revise and de-rust my memories of pattern cutting and grading, which once upon a time, were very good.  Following on from this, I could design my own patterns.  Something else that I am capable of doing, just have not done for many, many years.  A long term project in the making.  But I am inspired.

I think I have got a bout of sinusitus.  All the symptoms are there, and are currently being kept at bay with paracetamol.  I did take one co-codamol when I went to bed last night and that did the trick then, although I did wake up with a very dry mouth.  I have spent most of the day mentally trying not to go into 'monging mood' where I am vague and feel distant, a good indicator that I am not feeling well.

I did plan to go to St Bridgets church, as part of the Viking Trail after HK signed on this afternoon.  I even put the guide book and camera in my bag.  Once we had done the recycling, I thought it was best that I went back to the house and not for a small sojourn, in case that tired me out completely and made me feel worse.  I did think to make some biscuits, I had decided on the custard creams, for the craft group tomorrow, but was beaten to the kitchen again. 

Talking of biscuits, I have been googling banana biscuits and have found about three recipes which I wouldn't mind trying.  The ones I looked at in the main had either oats or walnuts in.  I have oats in the cupboard and walnuts are on the shopping list for Friday.

Last night Mary-Jane was awake for about an hour before she settled back to bed.  She got quite distraught at one point.  Tonight she has been awake and crying, we bought her through to our room, for nearly an hour.  She has spent the last half hour playing and chattering on her bed.  Fingers crossed she will settle to sleep soon.

ASJ - just started ridge 61

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Banana Biscuits

I nearly got as far as blogging last night, I got as far as cheicking emails etc, then Mary-Jane woke up crying.  I wonder if she had had a bad dream.  I heard her draw a deep breath, shout out 'Mommy', then cry and cry.  Luckily she was back in her bed about an hour later and stayed settled for the rest of the night.  Lets see what tonight holds.

I am changing my evenings around a little, to accomodate laptop time more effectively.  Hopefully.  When HK goes up to listen to the radio and read, instead of watching the TV for an hour or two, I'm going to do laptop time.  This way around I might get more time to do what I need to do, then knit and watch TV.  It may also encourage me not to waste so much time surfing around the t'internet.  A trial run is what is needed!

I made some banana biscuits today.  They are not quite what I wanted.  They are soft, like thin slices of cake.  I was looking for something more crunchier.  They taste okay, they will not go to waste!  Her is the recipe -

Banana & Walnut Cookies

225g plain flour
1tsp baking powder
125g butter cut into cubes
175g soft light brown sugar
100g walnuts, roughly chopped
1 large banana
1 egg
50ml milk
  1. Preheat oven to 180c/350f/gm4.  Lightly grease 2 baking sheets
  2. Sift the flour and baking powder into a bowl.  Add the butter and mix with flour until it resembles breadcrumbs.  Stir in sugar and walnuts
  3. Mash banana, beat in the egg, stir in milk.  Add to bowl and mix unitl well combined
  4. Drop spoonfuls of the dough onto the baking sheet.  Bake until golden, about 15 minutes.  Transfer to a wire rack and cool completely.  Can be stored for upto 3 days.  Suitabel for freezing up to 2 months.
I omitted the walnuts as I didn't have any and I don't want Mary-Jane to have nuts just yet.  If you know a different banana biscuit/cookie recipe, please let me know?!

My Kool Aid has arrived today from AuntieAnnInAmerica.  I'm excited.  A step closer to having a play with dyeing yarn again. MJ is crying now, catch you laters!

Sunday, 13 May 2012

Another Quiet, Rainy Sunday

This morning was very sunny and bright, at around 7am.  The weather has got steadily worse throughout the day, ending with lots of rain and even more wind.  No playing out in the garden for us.  However we did go to Tesco after brekkie and managed to get Mary-Jane four pairs of pj's.  I got her aged 2-3.  My little girl is growing fast.  I was looking at some of her baby photos just, from when she was only a few weeks old.  It seems another life time ago.

I have been lucky enough to look on ebay again today.  Mary-Jane usually protests very loudly if I am on the laptop when she is around.  I have treated myself to some sugarcraft cutters.  They are coming from Hong Kong, so it will be a few weeks before they arrive.  They are about a third of the price as I would get them here and no packing and postage to boot.  I shall have to start doing some sugarcraft before I get too rusty with it!  I also got a pair of Mickey and Minnie cookie cutters.

The ASJ is coming on - 16 increase rows.

I think I am still feeling a bit peeved after Thursday, although am starting to come around a bit.  I think HK might be thinking that the sugarcraft cutters will go some way to cheering me up.  They will.  I would have liked to have done some baking today, but I am not the only one in the house that want to use the kitchen!

Saturday, 12 May 2012

Getting Closer To Dyeing

I'm still feeling a little fed up, but trying not to dwell on it.  It has been a fairly sunny day today.  This afternoon, Mary-Jane, Mum and I went to Workington primarily to get Mary-Jane some new pyjamas.  I couldn't find any with long sleeves.  Bit of a bugger really!  If she had short sleeves, she may scratch the inside of her elbows, which flare up from time to time.  She is a scratcher, so I want to reduce where she can get to to scratch.  Back to the drawing board on this one.

I discovered last night that there is a new Jane Austen Knits magazine, from Interweave, due out later this month.  With increased heart rate, I pre-ordered my copy from Hulu as fast as my fingers could type.  I can't wait.  I very much like the first one.  It is a little ray of sunshine for me at the moment.

I am having more serious thoughts about buying some yarn to dye, then selling it.  I have looked on a couple of sites for yarn.  It seems that without buying bulk, there is very little profit in it.  I need to keep looking.  One site I went on said that their first minimum order was £200, which is beyond my budget at the moment.  I need to start slowly slowly, not too slowly.  I think I will go for finer yarns, rather than the heavier weight ones.  I would be quite tempted to go stash surfing in the yarn that I dyed previously and have a go at making some felted bags.  Not to sell or anything like that.  Just to use the yarn up and remind myself how much I like dyeing yarn, making something with it and felting.  Hhmmmm.  Thoughts might have been sewn here.  A new felted bag.  I've not had one of those for a long time, not counting the one that Knitr54 sent me  early last year, which I still use everyday.

For a very long time I have wanted to make a mitred tote style bag.  I saw the pattern done in a recycled sari silk and it looked wonderful.  I assume it would work as a felted bag, anything where there is colours.  I am not yet needing a break from my ASJ.  I am now 8 ridges into the increases.  I know I'm not of the frame of mind to do lace work.  I might just have a cathartic look round ebay.

Underlined words

Are you seeing underlined words with links to searches?  I am, I've not seen them before and I have not put them there.  Does anyone know how to get them off?

Friday, 11 May 2012

A Few Sleepless Nights And A Sad Decision

Mary-Jane has been having some restless evenings and nights.  This is what has kept me away from blogging (and knitting).  Just something to be expected really, and we have been very lucky with her sleep pattern so far.  Some of the days she has been tired, following a not good night. She won't let herself take a nap.  At best she will have a 'slob' on Daddy, a rest and relax and a cuddle on Mommy's lap and that will do her. 

I did manage to get out to the WI on Wednesday evening.  The speaker was a lady who weaved.  I was taught and weaved a fish on a fishing line out of willow.  No picures as yet.  When I got back, Mary-Jane was exercising her lungs and definitely not asleep!

Thursday, I acted on a decision.  I have decided not to continue with The Country Market for the foreseeable.  It broke my heart to reach this decision.  The main reason for this is that, as HK is on benefits and is claiming for me, we are only allowed to make £10 per week, anything above that is deducted from our benefit.  I would also have to keep formal accounts and show these and invoices etc each time HK signed on.  I would have to be classes as Self Employed.  All the paperwork and financial deductions do not make it a viable concern for me.  The amount I would make at the market is not much, it is pin money rather than money to support a family.  I was enjoying trying out the market and did see it as a long term starting point, to build upon.  But I can't do it for £10 per week and do formal accounts etc.  It just doesn't equate.

I spoke with the Ladies there and let them know.  They were in the main quite flabbergasted at the situation.  The Country Markets, or the WI Market, as it was previously known, was set up in the post war years, all over the country.  They were to help women with families to get back on their feet, to use surplus garden produce etc and to make money to help support their families etc.  I think I quite fitted this ethic.  But in today's modern times, things are different.  If I sold my home bakes at the market and didn't declare it to the social it would be deemed as Benefit Fraud.

I shall have to find a different way.  I am down but not beaten.

On to Happier Thoughts. Mary-Jane has taught herself a new yogu postion.  Yogu, is yoga, on a childrens programme 'Waybuloo'.  Today she did The Kite.  She put her hands above her head so the palms and finger tips were touching, then whilst sat down, bought her head to her knees.  I was so proud of her.  She copied this from the tv.  I am so proud of her.

I have been continuing with my ASJ (Adult Surprise Jacket) when I have time.  I am a little dubious about proportions.  I am thinking that it may be too wide and not long enough.  I will continue with it and have some blind faith.  All the others have worked wonderfully, so there is not real reason why this one shouldn't.  I am a few ridges into the first increases. 

Monday, 7 May 2012

NSPCC Plant Sale at Calder Bridge

I got volunteered to help at the NSPCC's Plant Sale at Calder Bridge.  I can't really say I was press ganged, just got volunteered for it.  I was allocated to help serve refreshments.  The first image shows some of the cakes and bakes to eat there, there was another table in another room with cakes 'to take home'.  It got very busy, manic at one point.  The washing up was phenomenal.  We took nearly £100 just here.  Now can you imagine the washing up when each cuppa was 50p, scones were 50p and cakes 60p. 

The tables had table cloths and fresh flowers

The smaller area of the plant sale
This is the  main room for the plant sale.  I did get photos shortly after it opened to show how busy it was, but it was just a sea of people.  Very busy indeed!  You can just see the corner of the other cake table.  I think about £2000 was made, after decuctions.  A very good fundraiser.

When the Plant Sale finished, and all the pots were washed, dried and put away, I went home.  It was about half three and there was still lovely sunshine.  I took Mary-Jane outside in the garden till tea time.  She had been quite tired most of the day, and as usual enjoyed her time in the garden.

Saturday, 5 May 2012

Not Joined Up Thought Leads To Biscuits

I have felt miserable all day long.  I know why, yesterday wasn't brilliant and I am talking myself round.  I have been browsing a few baking books, looking for a suitable thing to bake today.  I was going to bake banana ginger parkin.  I even bought the bananas for it.  Since I saw the recipe and found that the difference between parkin and gingerbread (the spongey sort, not the biscuit type) was mainly oats - parkin has the oats, I have had this thought in my head.  Just kinda floating around when I think of baking.  So when I donned the pinny, and looked at what ingredients I needed, then and only then did I achieve joined up thinking and realise that I need oats for the parkin.  I didn't have any.  Only an hour before this, Mum had gone shopping and asked if I wanted anything.  Oats popped into my head, but I dismissed it as I didn't know what oats I needed and thought I would pick them myself.  I am conspiring against myself not to make this parkin at the moment.  Perhaps when I do make it, it will go one of two ways - it will either turn out to be really pants or be one of the best things I've ever made.  Guess I will have to wait until I get the oats!!  And joined up thinking........

I did do some baking, however.  Yes it was therapeutic baking.  I had been looking for a simple biscuit recipe, so that Mary-Jane and I could sit together and decorate them.  I had a particular type of biscuit in my head, so I knew I what I was looking for, when I found it.  I didn't find the exact recipe, but came very close.  Successfully close in fact!  The biscuits are on the 'Re-Bake' list.  It seems like forever since I baked biscuits.  They take so little time to make and bake, that I strongly feel that I should bake them alot more often.  In fact I found another recipe that is close to the first that I want to try.  I was going to do both.  When I had finished the first batch, there was just over 30 biscuits, so I thought there was not much point making any more at the moment.

I used a star shaped cutter and a heart shaped cutter.  I wanted to use shapes that MJ recognises.  I did pick out seven shapes, but I thought she may want to try one of every shape in one sitting, so narrowed it down.  The recipe is:

Chocolate Biscuits

Makes 20 - 30+ depending on cutter size

225g/ 8oz self raising flour
100g/ 4oz caster sugar
3x15ml spoon sieved cocoa powder
100g/4oz marg
5x15ml spoon of milk
few drops vanilla essence

  1. Heat the oven to 190c, 375f, gm5.  Grease two baking trays
  2. Mix flour sugar and cocoa, then rub in marg
  3. Add milk and vanilla essence.  Bring together with your hands and knead lightly on a floured surface
  4. Roll out to 1/4", cut using a 3" cutter.  Bake for 8-10 minutes.  Cool on wire rack
  5. Decorate how you want, chocolate glace icing is recommended.

Almond Biscuits

Makes 20 (although I've not tried the recipe out yet)

175g/6oz self raising flour
pinch salt
75g/3oz caster sugar
50g/2oz ground almonds
150g/5oz marg
few drops almond essence
blanched almonds

  1. Heat oven to 180c, 350f, gm4.  Grease two trays
  2. Mix together dry ingredients, rub in marg
  3. Add the essence and mix well, bringing together with your hands
  4. Roll out thinly and cut into rounds.  Place half a blanched almond on each
  5. Bake for  15 mins.  Cool on wire rack

Custard Creams

Makes 17 - 18 completed biscuits

170g/6oz block marg
50g/2oz caster sugar
200g/7oz self raising flour
30g/1oz custard powder
  1. Heat oven to 180c, 350f, gm4.  Grease baking tray
  2. Cream together marg and sugar
  3. Add the flour and custard powder, mix well
  4. Roll into small balls, about the size of a walnut, dip one side into the caster sugar
  5. Place on baking tray, sugar side up.  Press a fork once across each biscuit
  6. Bake for approx 25 mins, until lightly coloured
  7. When cold, sandwich together with butter icing

I also want to try the custard creams, with a view to producing some for the Market.  Anything new I do for the Market, I want to give a trial run.

I liked the chocolate biscuits.  HK said he liked them quite a lot - I forgot at the time that he can be a biscuit fiend.  If we have a tin of biccies, he will have 'one or two', which translates as having one of each sort on each layer.......  Mary-Jane enjoyed her - she kept saying mmmmmm nice and giving me the the most massive of grins.  Must have hit on a good recipe!

Friday, 4 May 2012

Friday Ramblings

Friday Evening Already.  I think we must both be tired, HK and I. We are showing signs of being tired.  A few early nights for me won't go amiss!  Last night I got engrossed in looking for yarns to dye, primarily to try and sell.  I was contrasting and compairing weights of yarn and type of yarn.  I did catch myself day dreaming again of being able to sell hand dyed yarn again.  This time around, I was trying to day dream more practicably.  What would it cost, what would the profit margin be, would it be feasable, what else is being sold, what is that like and what are the prices.  Then it was a case of getting in the kitchen to dye and drying the yarn.  I no longer have the luxury of having a Knitting Room, where part of it was geared up for dyeing yarn.  I have a cluttered shared kitchen, of which I am not queen.  Where there is a will, there is a way. 

I am also getting a yearning for making cup cakes.  This has been knocking around my head for a good few days now.  I've not made any for a while.  It may be about time.  I don't want to do many, just one batch.  I still want to make the Rhubarb Quickbread.  I also want to remember why I put apples on my shopping list.  I know it was for something specific - and don't say to eat - but the reason has eluded me, even when I bought some today.  Hopefully it will come to me before the apples turn!  If not, I have a small recipe book, just for apples.

Mary-Jane was very unsettled at bed time.  She didn't settle till about half seven.  I think she may have a touch of belly ache, judging from what she was tyring to say and piecing things together.  She is asleep at the moment.  Last night she awoke shortly after midnight and didn't settle till half one.  No wonder we are tired and at each other.

I have not looked again at the colours for Mary-Jane's TSJ.  My ASJ is progressing.  It is just the sort of knitting I need or can do at the moment.  Saying that though, the Pi shawl gave me a little wave today, so after a few nights decent sleep I may give that more thought.  I have more things I want to do than what I have time for.

Mary-Jane is learning to go up and down stairs.  She is doing very well.  The stairs will need to be gated very soon!

Oh!  May The 4th Be With You!!

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Baking Wednesday

Mary-Jane awoke early this morning, she was crying her sleepy cry and didn't settle.  I went in to her and bought her through to our room.  Several stories later I attempted to put her back on her bed.  No chance.  We came downstairs.  It was ten to six by then.  She has kept going all day with out a nap.  She was unsteady on her feet by mid afternoon - a sure sign of her being tired.  I took her to bed at her usual time and there hasn't been a peek out of her since.  She was shattered.

Wednesday is my new Baking Day, for the Country Market in Whitehaven.  I am slowly getting into a routine with my baking.  I started at 8am.  I have made my usual 45 scones and 12 mince pies, plus 22 Viennese Fingers and 16 Viennese Thins.  I don't think it sounds much till I think a little more of the actual figures and time involved.  Plus I had to take HK to sign on and do the recyc.  With such an early start and if I didn't have to take HK, I might have been able to do something else as well.  I have not sandwiched the Viennese things, just dipped the ends in plain chocolate.  They are quite labour intensive.

I ought to really mention here as well, that I have had a much better degree of success with them than last week, where I lost 30 out of 36.  I have 48 finished items and I think I lost about 10.  Most of those were the thins, and the broke when I was dipping them in chocolate.  So nowhere near the wastage as last week.  The answer is greaseproof paper! I have used a different recipe.  This new recipe includes cornflour and vanilla extract.  They melt on your tongue

The strip light in the kitchen has made them look yellowy.  I'll see how they sell, as to whether I make them for next week.  I could really do with a bigger nozzle for them.  For the fingers I didn't use a nozzle at all and scored them with a fork.  The Thins are thin.  Too thin for my liking, but that's me.  I shall have to see what I can do extra for next week.  It must be something that doesn't take long to make and doesn't need any post-bake aftercare - decoration to you and me!  And it must be preferably something that is not already being made.  I will put my thinking cap on, not tonight though.

I was day dreaming that I had my own bakery and hand dyed yarn business.  I thought it was a feasable day dream.  I could sell the yarn initially on ebay, the later on Etsy, perhaps, like I used to.  Now what would I call my business?  That was something that didn't even cross my mind!  Let me know if you have any ideas?!

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

New Yarn And The Home Crafts Sub-Committee

My yarn from The Wool Sak arrived today.  I was very impressed with their promptness in getting my my package.  So here are the colours.  Some of the colours are brighter than what I thought they would be, noticeably the pink and orange - they're neon.  I need to match them well before I start.  I think I have an order for them.  I shall see what the cold light of day brings.  I have a certain amount of blind faith.  HK does not.  He is very good with colours and kept on saying that they may look different once they are knitted up!

I had a letter today from Cumbria/Cumberland Federation of Women's Institutes.  They are formally inviting me to join the Home Crafts Sub-Committee.  I am really thrilled.  I will be on the committee for two years.  They - we meet four times a year. I'm eager to see what I can be getting up to - all within reason of course!  I have already returned my acceptance form.  The first meeting is on 22nd May in Carlisle.