Monday, 26 September 2011

Baked and Made - puddings and sleeve

Watching dh breathing IN this am to do up his shirt makes me think that maybe a home baked pudding every week is not such a good idea, and TWO puddings? .. oh well .. here goes: apple pie made with a different pastry comprising plain and SR flour together with cornflour AND custard powder .. phew .. it took me fair five mins to sort the ingredients from the cuboard never mind weigh and mix them!
If I'm completely honest, I think that plain regular pastry is just as nice! but it does have a nice added sweetness to complement the apple filling which unfortunately I left to boil to practically apple sauce consistency - had I been cooking roast pork indeed I might have done so! but we had one of those slow roasting shoulder thingies that sits in a pot on a pile of veggies and herbs steaming gently in a pint of stock for 3hrs and crumbles at the end rather than slices but is wonderfully tender and tasty! (and CHEAP!).

The reason for such indulgance?  its our no.1.son's last week home before we drive him to Uni at the weekend and as such everything he enjoys WILL be made, baked and cooked and EATEN! even IF it means he feels slightly sick!!  Tonight I'm cooking him a sausage/pasta dish that he has requested and tomorrow its fish pie OR mince'n'onion and I'm fully expecting to expand by the end of the week so NEXT week am hoping will feel so miserable and lost without him, that the worry will cause my weight to drop off .. hmm .. FAT chance!  nothing I'm afraid puts me off my food.  usually.  well. apart from that short lived episode of unwellness 4yrs ago which saw me lose 3st most of which in under 3months and was hardly picked up on other than an envious comment from a Nurse after I'd requested a note of my weight loss on my records that I'd "done really well!!!" .. had I ? well, I suppose HAD I been trying I suppose I would have!  Perhaps I ought have said I had? been trying? dieting? but dieting doesn't seem to work for me but after this week I think I might have a rethink on what I am eating!   In the meantime I'm resolved to not fussing about what I'm eating and just get on with it!

Apple pie was mostly for no.1.son and dh, no.2.son does not enjoy cooked fruit and as chocolate is his favourite pudding of choice I decided to have a go at the intriguing sounding "self saucing chocolate pudding".  it is DELICIOUS.  I'm not myself a particular fan of chocolate cakes/puddings etc, I do like them, but I can think of others in preference eg a nice lemon tart which NEARLY got made until I came to my senses and worked out that two desserts is pushing it a bit for our waistlines never mind the purse!

Slight panicky moment when reached the point of "now gently add the 500ml of BOILING WATER to the pudding and bake for 40 mins" .. but I can see how it gets its name, the water clearly does something to the mixture to make a "sauce" that is really chocolately despite the fact that apart from 50g of cocoa powder there isn't any chocolate in fact added!! 
Rather yummily we ate our puddings with icecream!

mixing by hand
I mixed the pastry by hand for a change just to see if it made a difference, I'm sometimes disappointed at how I roll out the pastry and feel I'm not rewarded with a better finish for my effort but tbh I wasn't any more rewarded but I felt slightly "better" for the mixing!

uncooked ready to bake

mixed and ready to bake
I timed it that I would bake the apple pie ahead and warm it through while eating dinner and as the chocolate pudding required boiling water adding just prior to baking for 40mins, got that ready to the point of adding the water/baking and flung it at the oven while I rested the meat ..

choc pudding burnt cooked

applie pie cooked
Pleased! with both! I know the chocolate pudding looks burnt.  (technically it is, having caught a bit but as its the sugar and not the dessert as such I don't think this counts?)  It doesn't taste burnt though! it tastes chocolatey! and anyway, once you cut into the pudding it reveals the reason for naming it "self saucing" as its filled with liquid chocolate spooned atop hides any burnt bits! hurrah!!

Choc Pudd & Icecream

Apple Pie & Icecream
No.2.son had the chocolate pudding and no.1.son had the apple pie ..

Tender: sleeve 1
After all that pudding what I needed was a good long walk! instead? another long night in front of the tv!  this time a marathon session of Xfactor (again!) followed by Spooks and then Downton Abbey .. all of which meant that the left sleeve for Tender got knitted!  I think I went a bit wrong with the final shaping but by 11.30pm I'd had enough and my eyes were going peculiar with all the tv viewing not to mention to get through such listing I'd had three large G+T's .. anyway, am hoping a bit of tugging and timely stitching will ease the sleeve into place .. slightly concerned/nervous about the yardage left for sleeve.2 and neckband - if I run out again I shall HOWL! 

Plan to CO for second sleeve tonight.  (double Corrie I think! hurrah! - apologies for being such a slave to the tv!  when I tell people I'm totally addicted to the tv I don't think half of them believe me! but I'm afraid its true! sigh).

focus next on GLOVES.  Have decided to knit a pair of knotty for myself in grey/raspberry and a pair of plain gloves for sil - fingerless and another pair of blackrose to gift ..

Sunday, 25 September 2011

Had a bowl of grapefruit - not bled to death yet!

Well I had a quick look on the internet and couldn't find anything that I could completely trust understand - i'm sure my anti-coag-nurse is quite correct, but the tin just called to me and I fancied something fruity for breakfast and so I ate some. bah.
This is the trouble with having half bits of stuff told to you - I've been eating grapefruit for ages now and if it hadn't been for a chance conversation I'd not have thought to mention it so now am wondering about what ELSE I oughtn't be eating?  Anyway, I've picked up a pin cushion and "found" several pins pushed into my fingers and the bleeding looks about "normal" for what one might expect so I've concluded that perhaps a small bowl now and then isn't going to do much harm?

Practically ripped out sleeve one last night down to first stripe, and reknit after I counted the stitches and discovered I'd either misread the instructions or - more likely - FORGOT the increases.  Too late I reknitted on 5mm needles before remembering that I was supposed to remain on 4.5mm until AFTER the first stripe .. One of the frustrating aspects I've found is that post-2nd-ablation blood-clot incident I can't REMEMBER quite the way I think I ought to!  I can COUNT my stitches - its gone. annoying.  recount them, remember the number .. reach for the pattern - its GONE! AGAIN? .. seriously I've even FORGOTTEN by the time I've got my pencil poised to write it down!  but not ALL the time.  just SOME of the time.  Frustratingly when I sit in front of the Dr intent on grilling him about HOW frustrating this IS my memory suddenly sharpens its focus and I find myself remembering EVERYTHING he's ever said in minute detail while his eyebrows widen and open and I can SEE his brain attempting to connect quickly enough before engaging in conversation likely to set me off on one - hmm NOTHING WRONG WITH YOUR MEMORY THEN?? .. no. apparently not. TODAY.  anyways.   Well I've got another appt coming with the Neuro/Cons next month and I'm trying to decide whether I'm "improved" or whether I'm just getting better at finding ways to minimise the inconvenience of a dodgy memory.
It hasn't taken too long to work out that the FAMILY are taking advantage!
Huge waffley set of instructions to no.2.son yesterday evening - during I admit a football match on tv so perhaps wasn't the best of times TO be setting about with waffling conversation? - anyway got to the end and paused - no.2.son turned to me and said "what was that Mum .. ? .. wasn't listening .." to which I too paused before dh chuckled and muttered "thats my boy!" but MY reply : "I can't REMEMBER!" BAH! so annoying! have just waffled for several mins on deaf ears and even I can't remember - can't have been important? prolly not. but thats not the POINT?  anyway. I did remember. later.  something to do with HOMEWORK.  and THAT continued to fall on deaf ears too.

Brilliant night spent knitting up my sleeve - Doctor Who, X Factor, QIxl and Jonathan Ross - by the end of which marathon I was fair FED UP with knitting! but my sleeve is now at a promising point where I can start to see myself wearing the jumper! hurrah!
Pics to follow, I promise!

NEXT plan up my sleeve is GLOVES.  having realised that the Sept KAL that I've now basically missed is nearly over I've got the choice of joining in with the Oct one OR just knit the gloves anyway - thing is I need to knit at least one more pair of fingerless mitts for sil but also fancy a pair of "new" gloves for my "new coat".  I am leaning toward Mitt Envy OR Knotty.

Saturday, 24 September 2011

Princess Kate Shawl - FINISHED

FINISHED. At last.  My Princess Kate shawl.

from the front

at the back
Sorry for the rather poor photo's - I've draped it over a hanger and flung it at the sofa to "balance" for the picture mostly on account of rather scary hair-day which prevents me from allowing anyone to take a shot of me wearing it!
I get that a lot.  It has a life of its own.  My hair is very thick and generally quite well behaved but sometimes it becomes a little over-thickened and I find myself aware of masses of bush like fuzz bouncing about my head and judging from some startled expressions from people I've bumped into I know that its not just my imagination.
Take last week.  I am pretty sure the GP wanted to flatten me.  flatten my HAIR.  ok, probably did want to flatten me too .. I could see him training his eyes NOT to stare just the same as you know when you get a spot people are trying NOT to notice? 
It drops out in handfuls - when I wash it I have loads come out - and still have to get it thinned when cut by the hairdresser to manage it and thats with the side effect from the Warfarin of thinning-hair!
When my hair settles I shall try and persuade someone to take a shot of me ..

new kitchen gadget
Forgot to add the photo of my new kitchen mixing gadgety thing.  We all had a go and the lads both declared it quite "exciting" ..  on the menu for this weekend - some sort of pasta/bacon thing with mint and peas and soured cream and an apple pie with a pastry using cornflour and custard powder and NO I've NOT confessed that small detail to the family - yet! (will wait and see if they spot the difference before confessing too!) and a "self-saucing chocolate pudding" which sounds interesting and looks fattening interesting!

Lined up for tonight's knitting - Doctor Who and X Factor.  tonight's knitting will be Tender which is comimg along beautifully now and yesterday saw me finish the front and start one of the sleeves, I've done three colour stripes on sleeve 1 and hopeful that I've got sufficient yarn to complete the pair.  Slight dodgy moment when I picked up the first colour and panicked over the small amount of yarn before realising I still had a complete unused ball in the bag! phew! I do NOT want another running out episode!  I'm keen to finish this now not least because I want to move on to other things!  I've resolved to finish this before even thinking of starting something else but I'm conscious that the 2nd of the glove KAL's starts 1st Oct and I'm already "late" for the Sept start on first .. Need to look through my patterns and decide which to knit and might with some regret choose just ONE of the kal's.
Arielle is resting nicely in a plastic zippered bag but I'm keen too to pick up on this as I still feel that it will be wearable in at least some of the warmer months ahead and even if not,  I need to finish it soon ready for next spring!
The Union Jack scarf is resting on the table and next week I might pick this up and have another bash at it, else I will unpick and use the yarn for gloves.  disappointing.  I had fancied the idea of the scarf but not going to force myself just for the sake of it.

Next week is our son's last week before we take him to Uni - he's stopped work but elected to remain on their books in case he needs to top up his savings in the holidays (and doesn't/isn't able to get a more local job).  We plan to take him clothes shopping (at his expense!) and as a family go out for a meal about the middle of the week (at our expense!) and THEN we take him! Can't believe its come around so soon I keep thinking there must be a mistake? surely he's never 18yrs? and surely he's too young to leave home? (and doesn't he WANT to stay home-with-mum??) apparently not.  It will be a mixed day of emotions I'm sure for all of us and for once I'm hoping that it will be worse for US than for our son.

Friday, 23 September 2011

Library books and magazines

library books
this months reading
I always get a mix of books from our local library and often include a cook book, I enjoy the Hairy Bikers tv programmes and am watching their current series - meals on wheels and have already planned two or three recipes from this one.
Yesterday I picked up issue 42, Knit and decided to buy a one off Knitting-issue 94 mainly because of the free gift: labels! decided it was worth it for the labels never mind the content!
free gift labels
Not properly read the magazines yet - but I was surprised to see my "teddy" in fabric bag appear AGAIN in the Readers Gallery in this current edition of Knit as it did have a small pic last time.

my teddy!
Its nice to see something you've made in print - I think teddy looks lovely hanging out of the pocket!

Fabric bag and teddy gifted

2nd bag and teddy

pair of bags
its just as quick and economical to make TWO.  so yesterday I finished off another tiny teddy and gifted the second bag.
I didn't have sufficient yardage on this occasion to "mix" the fabrics so they are identical - but given the recipients are unlike to mix with each other this won't matter.

What I cooked on Monday!

(or rather what I ATE on Monday!!)
Actually Monday and indeed all week has been very good for "making" both in craft terms and in the kitchen! First off I bought a hand mixer! yay! a gadget! next to craft gadgets I like kitchen gadgets! (still trying to form the right sequence of persuasive argument to put to dh about WHY we NEEDS to buy a bread-making machine!!)
Coming home from a VERY expensive shopping trip yesterday afternoon we chatted in the car about what we'd like to be able to (afford) buy first for our son who leaves for Uni next week - NEXT WEEK! NEXT WEEK!?? SO SOON? - and it got around to what would we buy ourselves if we won the lottery.
A car ahead of us had a super plate that appeared to say "luxury" and dh expressed some interest in a sporty model before adding that perhaps at rising 66yrs was a little too old now for that sort of flashness and would, he said, settle for a more modest but "elegant" car and waffled about millions and squillions of pounds and how you don't see many Rolls Royces these days?  In fact I saw one just the other day! We couldn't, we decided park up in a flash car at our house in our street and get away with it we'd have to move! we'd move, we decided to a large kitchen. I've always wanted a large kitchen!  hence the bread making machine; IF I said, IF we had a large kitchen I'd want a dish washer, a tumble drier! .. and a bread making machine .. what I asked, would HE want?  an au-pair. apparently.   what for? I asked? given that our lads are grown up and our kitchen is now stocked with gadgets and appliances? several mins later we approached the right hand turn and dh was either half in mind of the sporty but elegant car he'd mentally bought and/or half in mind of WHAT the purpose of the au-pair would be either way he JUST managed to make the turn to the startled expressions of the oncoming car ..
THAT I said, has decided it.  NO au pair OR flash car for him!  As we turned into our road we settled for more mundane chat about how long its going to take us to clear the credit card from all the purchases for our son .. a long time! sigh ..

I'm certain we've bought far too much.  But as this is our first experience we've really got nothing to go on and chatting with the sales assistant at Bhs we came around to agreeing that what we WANTED was to send our children off to Uni (their first home) with ALL the comforts and conveniences of OUR home - that we've spent a long time in gathering and affording all the appliances and gadgets too!  I was trying to think back to what I left home with .. not very much - that you can fit in two suitcases!

In amongst all the practical household stuff I'd flung in nail clippers, plasters and paracetamol - for the hangovers? dh enquired? no. I said! for the headaches from the all night studying!?  hmm.  Our son applied online for SIX club night tickets for his first week for "something to do".  something to DO? in a CLUB? for SIX nights? he'll never manage it! I made him "remove from basket" three tickets and said that THREE nights in a club was quite sufficient to get over missing home/us! not to mention how much three nights at clubs would COST!
I suggested to dh that we get a first aid kit and pondered over the "diseases" that I seem to remember hitting the headlines as sweeping through Uni communities of students - meningitis and something else .. what was it? .. something glandular? .. VD? my dh said helpfully? - luckily we'd pulled up at our home before I could recommend a nice bedsit for him to move out into ..

Oh well, we've treated him to a rather posh and flash laptop! and a nice new duvet! fortunately for HIM he managed to show SOME enthusiasm for the laptop at least .. (I feel that the rather nice zipped cover would suit my craft needs rather well and plan to bring it home and put to good use with some fabrics!! lucky for ME then that its conveniently PINK!?)

ALL this expense and as we hurled the lot at the sales assistant dh flung his staff discount card and as we'd been well informed that "today" is "discount day" we effectively got a good deal!  a lot of the stuff was reduced in price, had a 20% discount for the "day" plus our staff discount of additional 20% on top meant that the till roll as it printed off and curled up and over ended up giving us back nearly £100!  Slight moment of panic when the assistant enquired as to dh's posiition in the company and upon hearing "distribution site" went off on one about some disaster that morning with a mixed up delivery which fortunately for dh was nothing to do with him!   (some slight fear that no.1.son might have had some involvement being as he'd been transferred for his last week in his summer temp. job in their internet picking site TO the packing dept but dh felt reasonably reassured that it wasn't anything to do with "us"! phew!).
rather useful carry case?

very useful laptop contained in case!
With all the excitement of the monies being flung back at us by way of discounts I suggested to dh that I ought buy a winter coat! then? (this was before the au pair vs bread making machine conversation) and with some resigned expression of IF you SAY so .. he duly stood guard over our packages while I proceeded to try on the entire coat collection on the shop floor before deciding upon buying the SAME coat as I'm replacing (but in a slightly different pattern/colour) ..
In the end even HE agreed that nice though the other coats were, this one did indeed suit me ..

LAST years "old coat" (minus the scarf)

THIS years "new coat" (exact same scarf)
NOW having started off on what I ate cooked on MONDAY I ought finish with a round up?

I switch to "winter foods" around now.  Same as for craft, I sort of feel that though I prefer the spring summer seasons weather wise I actually find autumn/winter slightly more inspiring and useful! and lets face it you can only "enjoy" so much salad and muesli?
this week I had my appt with the anti-coag nurse to check my INR.
which has dropped - again - and as per normal for me! to 1.6 .. I've tried suggesting that leaving it a whole month inbetween isn't wise but I think they get so excited/relieved when it hints at the desired 2.5 that they rush to hurrah! themselves and leave me to the dose another month ..
anyway. in discussing the drop and likely reasons, I did mention my dietry changes which sees me moving away from muesli or cornflakes or toast to porridge! (yum!) usually with sliced banana but seen here with golden syrup & sultantas OR scrambled egg and grapefruit.  GRAPEFRUIT? grapefruit?! no. NO grapefruit!  it doesn't, she said, "go" with warfarin.  (I'm supposed to KNOW this? its NOT in my yellow book of basic instructions).  Apparently grapefruit is not compatiable with warfarin or some heart meds either .. not sure quite what tipped her over the edge about my tendancy for self managing my meds - the addition of the SPINACH and CABBAGE twice each day in homemade soups and accompanying steamed veggies for lunch/dinner OR the discovery that WHISKY actually does a rather better job at quietening my irregular heart rhythm than the Ivabradine I'm supposed to be taking! .. oh well. that aside I left her furiously typing up my notes in a "tell-tale" manner no doubt to be picked up on by the GP at some later point?
After some discussion about how my blood will thin to water and I'll bleed to death with a rocketing INR I pondered this before asking WHY, then? was my INR "down" to 1.6?? shouldn't, I suggested, shouldn't it be HIGHER? then? .. THAT closed the conversation!  yes. it ought. but it isn't. so? either the machine is faulty? or the whole system is flawed and proves that testing needs either be done every other day for complete accuracy OR might as well leave it a month! then?  anyway, I've got to return in 2/52 and meantime INCREASE my dose of warfarin.  are you SURE? I asked? slightly worried now about the delayed effect of having had both grapefruit and spinach for breakfast/lunch that day not showing ON the reading I was quite relieved when I poked my finger with a knitting needle and found it didn't pour out like a tap .. sigh ..

(and I do like grapefruit too!)

Last week I made my fave: butternut squash soup with chilli! and this week I made a new one: sweet potato and choritzo/spiced sausage also with chilli!  I like my soups flavoursome and HOT and generally dh prefers his in a tin. but yesterday on his day off he decided he'd try a bowl.  forgot to warn him about the chilli .. cough ..

Bakewell Tart

Strictly speaking the bakewell tart was baked on Sunday.  A new recipe this one was made using my new gadget! the hand mixing thingie! which doesn't have an on/off switch and is scarily FAST - both sons had a "go" at it and I think the pastry type case got a bit "over mixed" and was slightly more crunchy than perhaps it ought have been, but nonetheless very tasty and got the thumbs up from no.1.son and dh!
with strawberries & creme fraiche

didn't have raspberry jam, used strawberry instead, but fortunately this complemented the few strawberries I had left! topped with creme fraiche it made a nice sunday "pudding".

Cottage Pie
On Monday called for the baby-gift bag to be delivered to friend and I cooked a large family sized cottage pie which is always a favourite in our family, and a nice way for me to "sneak" in stuff - eg mashed leek with the cheese topped potato.  My family are well used to this trait and often inspect their food for evidence of adding swede, butternut squash and other "stuff" into their foods and I find anything that has a "top" like a pastry/pie or this type of meal has more chance of being undiscovered.
The cats are the same.  For the last month I've been battling to convince them that there is nothing IN their cat biscuits after I made the mistake of switching brands to one they decided they don't like! I've been adding handfuls and mixing it in to disguise them and thought was getting away with it, I ought have been grateful for the small success and not then added the LOT to the acceptable brand and should have known that even a good shake up wouldn't fool two cats!?  there is a lot of mess on the mats now as they painstakingly muzzle their way through their bowl of biscuits picking out and eating the brand they LIKE and spitting out the brand they DON'T like ..

bread pudding!

FINALLY (you are thinking: hurrah!? she's FINISHED!?) FINALLY we finished the day off with a nice bit of bread pudding!  Another one that I often make to use up left over bread unfortunately I'm the only one in the house that "likes" it, dh will have some but luckily both my hairdresser and both like it! and as my brother was taking him a dinner I managed to fling 3/4of the pudding in tin foil HIS way! saves me getting FATTER!?

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Kate Shawl nearly finished!

nearly finished!
I took this photo at the beginning of the week and I'm now just a few rows away from finishing this project!  I'm very pleased to have nearly completed it and am making it my focus at the moment as I want to get it done and start WEARING it! (cccold!!)
I will have used 4 balls of felted tweed and will try and remember to measure it when I put up a final "finished!" shot.
NEXT to be knit with determination will be Tender my stripey jumper!
On hold at the moment is the Union Jack scarf while I try and decide whether to bother!
After a lengthy discussion with knit-pal-Sally who is knitting this and other of similar themed motifs on a rather flash cardi/jacket and also had some difficulties with carrying the yarn (thus proving is not me being an idiot!) we've come up with a couple of action plans to get it knit - nicely! and I will have a go with some other yarns to test our theory!

Other projects lined up:
Christmas Stocking panel
At the same time as buying the fabric for the nursery bag, I also bought a panel for a Christmas stocking and some plain red fabric, wadding and calico and plan to sew a pair of decorated front/plain backed stockings for the new family babies - sil's grands for Christmas gift.
After taking advice from cyber-sew-pal-Debs who is expert in quilting, I've decided to line and quilt both front and back rather than just the front as suggested in the shop.

Baby Bag and Knit gift complete

The Lovely Bag filled with baby gifts.
fabrics cut for two bags
I chose my fabrics using the little socks I'd knit for colour inspiration and had to have some help in picking a third fabric (the pink dotty) but I bought enough yardage to complete two bags and cut them out and fused the lining pieces top of the week.

I like to make a bag to house my "gifts" as I think it makes the whole gift a nice presentation but unlike the little simple drawstring bag in last post, this one is actually the main part as its perfect for putting bits and pieces in and I've made it so many times now for family/friends having babies to hold baby toiletries that I now call it my "nursery bag".  In fact its one of Jan's designs and hers has appliqued pockets and though its a "mature" pattern I'm certain if anyone wanted to buy it one could approach her via her blog and ask!

I made a slight error in cutting out the pink dotty fabric/lining and unfortunately ran out of yardage to line the pockets on one of the bags - cross at myself I must have misread my rotary ruler as I also discovered I'd made my bag 1/4" shorter too!  that aside it sewed up perfectly and I've made a pair of bags in a little over a days worth of sewing time.

matching the colours to the socks
Inside the bag are the cardi and socks

baby wipes and bath products in the pockets
Little Teddie sits in charge!
My brother is calling round after work for his tea and will deliver the gift this evening.

Thursday, 15 September 2011

there's a hole in the ceiling!

there is a hole in the ceiling.
for ages now we've struggled with a curtain rail at our bay window in the dining room.
I told dh that we cannot wait for him to start "doing the room up" now that we're not due to start this until next year, he has to get the curtain rail issue resolved - now!
Our problem is that the fixing is not good and after taking advice from a pal dh decided to screw into the ceiling a length of wood.  I left him measuring up and "planning" a "how to" and came back from the shops to find HIM covered in dust and the ceiling with a huge HOLE in it.  Apparently - cough - he is going to replace the whole ceiling with plaster board .. hmm .. after several mins of ranting and some choice words have restricted him to knocking ONLY the bay window section ..
so now we have a hole in the celing and still no curtain at the window ..

(what he'd be like if he was home f/t I don't know! for all sorts of reasons and not necessarily financial I'm praying they renew his post-retirement p/t contract in January!)

A simple drawstring bag

Yesterday I went into the sewing room to make up a small and simple drawstring bag to giftwrap a pair of socks - what I enjoy about mixing up crafts is being able to present something "made" in something I also "made"! the whole thing becomes a gift - hurrah!
It was nice being back in my newly tidied and decluttered sewing room but I found out one or two things : a/ its NICE to have all your scissors and rotary cutters in their own zippered pouches but not very practical! and b/ its all very well slashing your stash by more than half but then are left with not much CHOICE! I found myself wishing I'd not got rid of all those small pieces of quilty cotton for about 5mins and then I stuck in and made myself find something with what I did have!
Part of my "problem" I have to accept is that I have got plenty of fabrics, trims and the like BUT I quite like to just have them! not use them! necessarily.  get me? so in keeping my "favourites" filling up my boxes it doesn't leave me with much left to play with - either I've got to be brave about it and USE it or I've got to buy more stuff and as I'm on a strict budget for the foreseeable future, I decided to make use of what I could stretch out to create a useful drawstring styled bag.
In the end I went for a nice green and if I'd been thinking properly instead of jumping straight in, I could have matching drawstring ties too - unfortunately I got so excited at thinking I had enough fabric I forgot that the length needed to be doubled to go back AND forth in order to "draw up" and I couldn't be bothered to unpick and attempt to fashion a bodged job thus I used some nice narrow gosgrain ribbon!  which turned out to be complementary to the label I attached!
In the end my little something to gift wrap the actual gift - pair of socks! became more of a gift worth keeping and took ages to make up what with the test embroidering of the label - I had planned to write "hand knit socks" but no.1.son declared this a bit naff.  I embroidered "hand knit" but this got a sigh and a tut so did a "hand made" which got the thumbs up ..

The next thing I encountered was FINDING my instruction book for the emb machine and the overlocker - TIDYING up is all well and good if you can remember where you put things.  I spent 20mins searching everywhere for my overlocker threads!   I distinctly remembered clearing out a good 1/3 and dumping them resolving to keep only the basic black, grey, navy, cream and brown reels and the three woolly nylons but WHERE did I put them??  In the end just as was wishing I'd not started I found them! hurrah!  Slight panic as I opened up the horn cabinet and set the overlocker on the table and feared I'd forgotten how to thread up! my overlocker is a nice basic brother 925 model which has never (fingers crossed!) let me down and I achieved a perfectly balanced 3-thread stitch with just a minor adjustment to one tension dial and hurrah the fabric was overlocked in minutes.

Just a simple project but its inspired me to look at making more bags soon.

I enjoyed making the little label too and spent a couple of hours reaquainting myself with my lovely little Brother PE150 embroidery machine and made these:

I do like little bags and while I can and indeed do make them (from time to time!) I often use cosmetic bags to keep knitterly stuff in like sock needles, these are the two latest bags from recent Clinique "promotions" that I have to hand:

FINALLY all that searching through my boxes and cupboards at last I found my pack of felting needles! I thought they were lost! and now all I've got to do is give it a go ..

Monday, 12 September 2011

Union Jack Scarf

I'll be quite honest I'm struggling a bit with this!
I was keen to CO and perhaps I ought to have started it in the day when I was a bit fresher - and certainly not while the lads were screeching at the football match on tv!
Anyway I wanted to have a go at knitting with this yarn, and something with the Union Jack & thought this scarf would be dead easy!  (it probably IS, I'm most probably being a wimp?).
So. Its OTN's for now but all thoughts of knitting one for the entire family for Christmas are out the window and crossed FIRMLY out of my mind ..

start of the motif

the yarn
I had planned to knit the scarf and use one of the browns to make the gloves for the KAL - will have to see how I get on with the motif at the moment I can't even get the border right and thats just 2 stitches! bah!

I went on a "fairisle" knitting workshop and thought I'd remember how to carry the yarn at the back but evidently I've not remembered and I've struggled with the purl rows in particular and had to undo one row FOUR times and only reknit it because it was either that or cry!  Tomorrow when its quieter I'll have a look and see if can find some online "help" and have another go, otherwise its GLOVES all round for Christmas, then!?

Sirdar Design E finished

Sirdar Design E
Finished the little baby cardi I knit for the sister of's former girlfriend - not sure what happened to the collar and button band can only assume was not concentrating as fully as ought have while watching X Factor over the weekend!  (ENJOYING the new series!  loving the new judges and think is an improvement although did think remark from someone on This Morning about Cheryl Cole selling Big Issue a little unkind) anyway for a baby-cardi I don't think it matters and no one but me will know anyway?
I had bought some white buttons at the same time as the yarn but in the end they didn't suit, instead  I used some of my LateGrandma's from her button-jar.

baby socks
 I knit another mini-teddie over the weekend with left over yarn and matched the embroidery to the buttons now all I have to do is buy some fabric to make a bag and the gift is complete.

Making Monday : soup

I know it doesn't look that appetising, but it is nice! so far as homemade soup is its a pretty easy-peasy-lemon-squeezy recipe too.

Roast 1 butternut squash for approx 30-50mins and about 15mins before the end, peel and cook in oil/little water some onion in a pan.  Add 1tspn cinnamon and .5tspn cloves (I like to add some chilli and today I added celery too).  Make up and add 1.5pints of veg stock and chop the roasted squash and add that for final cooking before adding fresh parsley and leave to cool before blitzing to consistency of your preference.

I like this soup.  This particular one comes from a very old Weight Watchers cookery book.   In fact I'm rather boring and tend to stick with one or two that I like and make up a batch on Monday that I keep in the fridge to last me through to about Thurs or Fri for lunches.

butternut squash soup
Reheat in microwave until piping hot and enjoy! yumm.
Something else I "made" today which I've not in ages was a big bowl of "fizzy jelly"!  Found a twin pack in the back of cupboard and had a nostalgic moment of when the lads were small - I add (usually) lemonade to mix in place of cold water (another Weight Watchers tip!) but today used some lemon & lime sparkling water.  The lads were pleased.

Monday is my day for catching up on housework and with the weather so mixed I wondered whether to hang out my towels but I'm glad I did - it was so windy they dried before my soup was made!  I love seeing the washing drying and blowing on the line and it inspired me to buy some net curtain whitener this afternoon so I could wash all the nets which are now nice and fresh.

towels on the line
The landing upstairs is fast piling up with boxes of stuff for no.1.son to take with him to Uni and over the weekend dh decided to get up into the loft to see if we did still have a box of glasses to save buying new.  While he pondered over this possibility I urged him to get up there and look! now! 5mins later I came back to find him slicing a length of cable and attaching the lightbulb from our landing light.  hurrah! he announced! has fashioned a light to see inside the loft ..
In the first instance he attempted to position the step ladders around the boxes of "stuff" and I caught him trying to leap into a gap from a funny angle with one foot dangling his flippy-floppy slipper hanging off while precariously reaching blind with said half-shod foot for the top of the step ladder which inevitably wasn't were he thought it ought to be and while HE thought it unfortunate timing that I caught this, I ranted at him that its exactly the RIGHT moment for me to be checking up on him and I duly instructed him to clear the landing, reposition the ladders and PUT something sensible on his feet!  He came back wearing his "slippy" dress shoes. which he's already had two slipping-accidents wearing hence the name "slippy" shoes .. FINALLY returns wearing sensible trainers ..
Why, I asked, hadn't he plugged IN the light he's fashioned out of cable?
He didn't it appeared want to work with it "live" while getting up into the loft ..
errm .. can you plug it IN for me, dear? he called ..
me? .. umm. ok.  is it SAFE? I ask knowing that the answer will be resounding oh! yes! quite SAFE
oh! yes! quite SAFE he calls (as I think it)
that will be the "live" cable fashioned as a light that YOU didn't want to plug in, then?
just get ON with it! its DARK up here .. plug it IN please (silly woman! stop fussing!)
well. clearly it was safe in so much that this time there wasn't any "bangs" or puffs of light or smoke and I have to agree it did indeed light up the entire loft and dh did find a box of glasses so thats saved us a couple of quid!
Now all I've got to do is wait for the bruising on my leg to settle on account of tripping over the boxes on the landing which is now in complete darkness after about 6.30pm on account of the lightbulb is still attached to the cable-light-thingie up in the loft ..

Sunday, 11 September 2011

Spent the day with a knit-pal

Sally's craft room, cosy sofa
I don't think there can be anything NICER than being sat in amongst a pile of craftiness and have a bag of Collinette yarn FLUNG at you .. ?  apart, I suppose, from having a large G+T?  wait!. yes. there can! I spent almost the whole of yesterday with my knit-pal-sally enjoying a good old crafty gossip about yarns, patterns, projects - queues, wip's ufo's -yarns and needles to be tried, trends to follow, books to read and how to pack it ALL in and within budget too! 
From when I was very little my LateMother oft said that the one thing  I kept on asking for was for a "sister" and she frequently apologised for presenting me with two BROTHERS instead!  of course it wouldn't be that I wouldn't want my brothers - now I've got them! but that rather I would have wished I could have had a sister!
Of course there's no saying that even had I had a sister that she would have been similarly crafty-minded? but there are some things and some interests that really are only OF interest to other women? My family are in the main at least used to be "trapped" into knitty-conversations and have developed strategies for effecting mild "interest" but without falling into the trap of feigning an enthusiasm they later regret.  generally they feel this regret after 3-4mins .. IF I'm lucky sensible, I manage to stick to short bursts of excited enthusiasm over a pattern or yarn and then shut up. .. sigh .. difficult though when you get these feelings bubbling up and its why I enjoy my cyber-friendships so much! I can log on and squeak about several different areas of excitedness over yarnie things knowing that SOMEONE at least will be online to squeak back and share the hysteria that comes about from finding THE perfect pattern! THE yumminess yarn ever! or in working out HOW to do the trickiest ever technique!

BUT its nice to connect with a real "live" pal and do it "live" for REAL and in the absence of having a sister, the next best thing is to have a best-knitty-PAL!  Having a slightly obsessive and compulsive enthusiasm for knitting means its got to be a certain type of pal that can put up with me,  can enjoy my company without getting to the end and thinking : well thank goodness she's GONE! and having already had an email this am from my pal, I can safely say that she probably feels the same way too!

What you get from spending the day with someone you know well and who shares in your interests and enthusiasms is more than just a dollop of inspiration to continue such enthusiasms, it sets you up nicely with a feeling of inner-wellness - do you know what I mean?  Since becoming unwell and losing some of my independance following redundancy and with changes going on in the family the one constant that has been there for me has been my knitting but the connecting with friends and sharing the enthusiasm for the knitting is what helps make it a positive experience beyond "just the knitty stuff" and its a bit like the giggly nights in with a bottle of wine and girly gossip only with good mug of tea and tons of yarn! and stacks of TEDDIES!

I have a vey good cyber-pal who will just love these pics I took of the simply gorgeous teddies and toys hand-made by Sally and the way they just sit so comfortably and naturally within her/their home; the skill is not just in the making but of the placing and homing of the things one makes and my pal has this just perfect!

Sally's handmade bears on the stairs
I want to run away with this pair atop the stairs!
Sally's handknit jumper perfect on teddy

collection of Sally's handmade teddies
but I'd have to take these too?  I actually have hazy recollections of LateMum stopping up way into the night stuffing and sewing up teddies and other toys - rag dolls - made to order to eke out a living after her first divorce and I wish now that I still had some of these that came my way as a child (usually the rejects!) so I know a little of the time and skill devoted into making these.

Sally's handknit bunny

Sally's needlepoint cushion in progress
it was great to see all the other stuff that Sally has either collected/made over the years including all kinds of embroideries which I wish I'd taken photo's of - x-stitch and tapestries - quilty fabric stuff its not just about the knitting and as a former passionate sewist its good to talk about all the other interests too and share in the yumminess of fat quarters and lengths of co-ordinating quilt cottons!  We've talked about having a quilt/sewing session one day and if we could both manage to contain our enthusisams and actually DO something productive I bet we'd both enjoy it!!

Sally's yarn for jumper

Sally's shawl stash

Sally's sparkle shawl purchase
I am a mere beginner in the yarnie stash stakes! my pal has the equivalent of a yarn shop! and when I ran out of some of the smoke kid classic for my jumper and the shop only had one remaining ball, Sally was confident she had a leftover ball in this exact shade at home - and she did! it might well help me out to have this to hand and she kindly offered it to me just in case I ran out again!

The thing is, even when you have a stash to end all stashes, when it comes down to it you never seem to have quite the RIGHT yarn for the project - no matter how much you have, you still need to buy more?  well we both bought some of this - for different projects (I'll blog mine later with pics of the yarn and link to the free pattern when I CO like as not today/tomorrowish).

I'm going to knit scarves and pair of gloves with mine - and Sally is going to do something rather wizz and designerish with hers!   Here are some photo's of Sally wearing her latest handknits:

Sally in her hoodie knit in Lima

Sally wearing comfy jumper
I wish I'd taken a pic of the gorgeous KSH stripe scarf knit using the pattern on the ballband - Sally came up with loads of ideas for introducing KSH as an additional yarn and/or as stripe to break up areas - an afternoon with Sally is like an intensive course in design, knitting technique and project planning normally done over a year crammed into 4hrs!  too much to fully take in in one go, it did enthuse me to FINISH my jumper and baby cardi and get my needles ready!!
We're both hooked on shawls at the moment and while I've been veering away from self striping and patterning sock yarns and vowing to avoid such yarns, I'm now starting to rethink this!

one of the many shawls Sally has knit

planning the next shawl
All of a sudden I wants a stripey shawl! bah!! and she's right too! the garter stitch shawls are lovely! I wants wants wants!!

Well I came home and finished the little cardi which is now just waiting while I finish off the rest of the goodies to make up the gift - I CO and started knitting another of the "mini teddies" which will sit in the pocket of the lovely bag I shall make which comes from another of my enthusiastic mad-sew-pals - Jan! who has a lovely blog shared with a craft pal of hers.
Watched the first of the two X-factor programmes this weekend and will catch up with Doctor Who this afternoon after dh returns from work, next week sees the final double-episode of The Killing which no.1.son and I are enjoying at the moment - HE for the plot and ME for the knitty-sweaters the lead detective is wearing!!