Sunday, 28 February 2010

Choc Choc Cherry

I have a terrible weakness for dark chocolate with cherries:


so when I was searching for pink yarn, I couldn't resist this:


This colourway is called choc choc cherry! The yarn is bamboo-merino mix sock yarn from Easyknits.

I'm now about to knit something tiny and pink for my new niece, and I may accompany it with a little chocolate eating! Being careful not to melt any on the lovely new yarn, of course.

Tuesday, 23 February 2010

Gabriel's sweater


I would have posted this sooner, only my first attempt at this Ziggy Zag sweater was too short in the body. Luckily it is knitted top-down, on circular needles, so it was a relatively easy fix: insert lifeline before start of ribbing using tapestry needle, rip back to lifeline, knit an extra inch in stocking-stitch, repeat the 3-st twisted rib for 2 ins, cast off.

The error could have arisen in my gauge (although I did swatch, and it was dead on). The schematic shows the yoke for this size at 4.5 ins, when I measured it on my completed, too-short version, the yoke was only 3.5 ins. So 7 ins of stocking stitch, rather than the stated 6 ins, was necessary to end up with a sweater of the correct length.

Notwithstanding the re-knitting, I love the little baby sweater, and hope Gabriel (and Gabriel's mum) do too.

The pattern is by Carol Feller at stolenstitches.com. The zig-zags that give the pattern its name are in the yoke, shown in more definition below:


The yarn is babylonglegs sock yarn in jewel. I bought both pattern and yarn in a kit off Folksy. I have another complete skein of the yarn, so if the next addition to my extended family turns out to be a boy, I'm all prepared.

Wednesday, 17 February 2010

Half Term Surprises

I've been dashing about in the past few days. As it's half-term week, I took ds North on a grandparents' visit, where we made a trip to the Castle Museum at York. Ds particularly appreciated the prison section - like most seven year old boys, he relishes the gruesome. We also enjoyed looking at the displays of antique and vintage toys. Some of them weren't that old, really, so I actually did remember them (Sindy dolls, anyone?). And ds was very interested to see a Nintendo Wii controller and DS console right at the end of a display of evolving electronic toys.

On the way back we took a detour to see my newborn niece, pictured below at one day old.



She came a few days earlier than anticipated. Her parents thought she would be a boy (not evidence-based, just a general feeling), so I was making a blue baby sweater; I'll have to get some pink yarn now :-)* She is very sweet, but I don't think I'd have the stamina for a tiny baby now - feeling my age slightly this week - I think my baby days are well and truly over!

Came home yesterday to discover dd had spent four hours on her mobile phone on Monday night, after using up all her inclusive minutes. So I have stashed her phone in my secret hidey-hole to prevent further bill increases. She is very annoyed, but not quite as annoyed as me.

*The blue sweater is about to be a gift to baby Gabriel, a friend's 3-month old, instead. Luckily I did not make the smallest size. Just got the second sleeve to finish, then I'll have another FO to show you here.

Wednesday, 10 February 2010

Rosy Beet Soup


After a surfeit of cakes in recent weeks, I decided to make soup last weekend. Actually, the main driver was having three beetroots still knocking around in my fridge after several weeks. A disadvantage of the organic box deliveries is that sometimes, you get veg that you just don't know what to do with.

This is my own recipe, which produces a lovely dark red, velvety-textured soup, that also freezes beautifully. I've been making it for years, whenever I've seen a very cheap bunch of beets. I've reproduced it below for anyone else with spare beetroots.

Ingredients

  • 1 lb beetroots - scrubbed well, but not peeled
  • 12 oz potatoes
  • 1 onion
  • 2 tbl olive oil
  • 2.25 pints vegetable stock
Method

  1. Put the beets in a large pan and add water to cover. Bring to the boil and simmer for around 40 minutes, or until a table knife goes in to the beets without much trouble.

  2. While the beets are cooking, peel and dice the potatoes, and chop the onion.

  3. Drain and rinse the cooked beets under cold water. Remove the skins - they should slip off easily - any stubborn bits can be removed with a potato peeler. Dice the cooked beets.

  4. Rinse out the pan and dry it. Put in 2 tbl olive oil and heat, then fry the onion for 2 minutes. Add the diced potatoes and beetroot and cook for about 5 minutes over a low heat.

  5. Pour in the stock. Bring to the boil and simmer for 30 minutes.

  6. Put the cooked soup in a blender and whizz until smooth. At this point, you can put some in plastic containers for freezing.

  7. Return to the pan and reheat the soup gently before serving. If you like, you can also swirl in a teaspoon of double cream in each individual bowl.

Saturday, 6 February 2010

Yarn Reward

Dh has an eye infection and had to spend an evening in the opthalmic casualty unit having it checked out, so I had an unexpected trip to ds's ju-jitsu class yesterday. I thought this would be a good place to knit, since I had to wait a whole hour. But I discovered it would be better to knit something where I don't have to count, as I later had to rip out and re-start the Ziggyzag jumper .

It's lucky I'm working with such beautiful yarn, so I don't mind knitting twice! I bought it from babylonglegs. This colourway is called Jewel:


It knits up like this:



(That's my second attempt at the neck there)

I have enough to make two little sweaters, as the stork is on its way bringing several babies to my extended family.

Monday, 1 February 2010

Early signs

I looked out of the window on Friday and spotted a tiny patch of snowdrops under the apple trees at the bottom of our garden. Oh joy! the first sign that winter is on the way out. And how glad I am to say goodbye to January, which must be the worst month of the entire year (notwithstanding my birthday).

On Saturday morning, there was sunshine, blue skies and birdsong. It was still very cold - minus 1 according to my thermometer - but I didn't find it at all difficult to get up and out of the house in time for a 9 am swimming lesson. Later, I took a quick walk round the garden and spotted tiny green tips poking up through the earth - some of the 50 spring bulbs I planted last autumn.

In honour of the very first signs of Spring, I made this lemon cake:



This is another Nigella recipe - damp lemon and almond cake from How to be a domestic goddess. Nigella says to pack the cooled, finished cake in foil and leave it a couple of days to "mature"; some hope in our house, because everyone likes lemon-flavoured cake, and no-one will wait five minutes.

I woke up today to a really thick frost, so perhaps I was a little hasty with the lemons. Still hopeful, though, and at least the daylight lasts a little longer in February.