Knitting

Ryðrauð

The next project in line that I haven’t shown you is the beautiful
Ryðrauð pattern by Steinunn Birna Gudjonsdottir. 

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I came across this pattern on Ravelry and thought the yoke was just gorgeous.

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The yarn is Knit Picks Wool of the Andies worsted weight which I purchased as a Christmas present to myself! You can buy Knit Picks yarns straight from their website, in sterling, and they ship it over to the UK at a very reasonable price. The last time I bought any yarn from the US was years ago, over ten years probably, when I wanted some Elann yarn for a specific project. I remember the shipping being expensive but I can’t remember what I made from it now. Of course you can buy most Elann yarns from Amazon UK now.

The Wool of the Andes yarn was lovely to work with and knits up with a very even stitch. As you can see, the colour work came out well and although the yarn is ‘sticky’ enough to do this with, it is actually very soft.

The cardigan was knitted in the round, with a steek, and then cut to make a cardigan. This really is the best way to knit anything like this, and although now, seamless knits are not my favourite project (more on that in a later post) I can’t imagine knitting a stranded project any other way.

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I secured the steek with a double row of machine stitches before cutting and once I had knitted on the front borders I hid the raw edges behind a lovely cotton tape I found at my local Dunelm Mill. I must confess that I have cheated a little in the top picture which shows the buttons as I have only placed them on the cardigan for show, I haven’t actually sewn them on yet! There was a delay in getting just the right button for this project, at a reasonable price anyway, and in the mean time I pressed the cardigan into service for the colder months at the beginning of the year. One day I will actually sew them on!

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The original pattern (which is free by the way) was written for a heavier yarn so I took just the chart and plugged it into my own pattern for this type of project. It is not as hard as you would think to do this once you have your tension swatch.

If you have never had a go at your own seamless garment and would like to be able to, I can’t recommend Elizabeth Zimmermann’s books enough.  Her percentage system for working out the stitch counts on seamless garments is invaluable and although I now adjust those figures to suit how I like my garments to be sized, her instructions not only give you a good grounding on how to work out your own patterns but her system for working out the decreases for yoke sweaters is simply genius. Even if you never want to design or knit seamless garments, her writing style is so very personal and almost meditative, her books make good read on their own merit, knitting apart. They take me back to another time whenever I read them.

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Knitting · Own designs · Yarn

A little catching up

Seems I have a little catching up to do around here, as usual.

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Spring has sprung and although we have had some gloriously warm weather, this morning dawned frosty and bright and minus 3 degrees C. A bit chilly then. Hard to believe that just last weekend we had a great day out at Wonderwool Wales and sat eating our lunch and sunbathing. We always enjoy Wonderwool, apart from the show which is, I think, getting bigger each year, there is the beautiful countryside to enjoy on the drive there and back.

Although there are so many companies with beautiful yarns that make you want to take out a mortgage and just get them all (or is that just me?), I went this year with the intention of buying some yarns that I don’t always come across.

 

The main picture on the left is of two skeins of Ullcentrum a Swedish wool being sold by Midwinter Yarns. The colours are Old Rose and Light Grey and these 100g skeins are 300m each. This yarn is soft, not merino soft, but proper sheepy soft. There will definitely be more of this in my future and as you can see, I have already caked it up ready to try it out.

The top right picture is some Tibetan Cloud Worsted 100% Yak that I picked up for an absolute steal. I’ve never worked with Yak before and will be interested to see how it knits and washes up.

The centre right cakes are an unspecified yarn from Namolio. The lovely lady there sold mainly linen yarn but these were in a basket with no label. I would say that they are very like Kauni yarn and again about 300m long judging by the type of yarn and weight.

At the bottom are two skeins of hand dyed sock yarn from Weavers Loft and a ball of Wensleydale. The weavers loft yarn is a 75/25 super wash wool, a standard 400m long and they with become a pair of socks each for DH and myself.

The Wensleydale is from Wensleydale Longwool Sheep Shop. Well, I wish I’d bought more to be honest. I have spun some Wensleydale (when I used to do more spinning) and it is a great lustre fibre with a long staple length. I only bought one ball along with a couple of other goodies from their booth as I wanted to try it out first but as soon as I got it home I regretted not getting a whole load more at the time. This is another yarn that I will be adding to as I already have a great project in mind for this.

I know that as soon as the warmer weather comes people tend to move away from knitting and other crafts but all I seem to want to do in the spring is start loads of different projects. I have at least four recent projects to show but today I’ll start with a cowl I finished back at the beginning of the year.

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This started off as a scarf pattern that I wrote to use some Blacker Yarns Tamar Lustre blend that I had stashed away. It originally looked like this.

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The Blacker Yarns Tamar blend is a joy to work with, it knitted up beautifully,  the scarf has a good weight to it and the stitches have a crispness to them that makes everything stand out.

I enjoyed knitting it so much I wanted to do another but I didn’t want two exactly the same so for the second version I narrowed the pattern and seamed the two ends together to make a cowl.

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Again I used some yarn from stash, GGH Wollywasch in silver and metal. This yarn is very soft and blocks really well to give the cowl a good stitch definition and drape. Another yarn that I have come across recently that really surprised me.

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The final pattern I ended writing up is narrower as in the version above, not as wide as the original Blacker Yarns scarf. As usual, if you would like to make one, you can find the pattern on Love Knitting, Ravelry and Etsy.

Knitting · Own designs

Seamless Felted Mary Janes

I know that it’s been a while since I last popped by. I have been a little taken up with a design I’ve been working on that took far, far longer than I thought to get done. It is now in the pattern testing stage so I (almost) can breath a sigh of relief and return to normal, maybe.

The design follows on from my previous felted slipper patterns by the way that they are knitted seamlessly from the bottom up and are pretty quick to knit, but these are a little different.

Collective Shot

They are more form fitting than the others, being lower in the front and shaped for the back foot and heel. That said, they are still quick to knit – just a little more going on. I can make a pair in three hours, so not too bad.

Collective Side 2

Here I have put contrasting soles on them but they look just as cute in a single colour.

The pattern went through a few different versions before I got to this one which is why it took me so long to finally put a proper pattern together. I have the most enormous pile of ‘almost, try again’ slippers you have ever seen and have been mulling over what to do with them all. It occurred to me last night that I could cut all the soles off of them and perhaps sew them into some kind of colourful hearth rug! But then I would still be left with all the uppers!

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The pattern has now been released. Please go to the pattern page, (link at the top) for more information.

I can’t really say that I’ve been up to that much apart from these slippers the last month. I made a very successful fruit cake GF and DF, picture below, and have also been knitting on some other things when these slippers got too much.

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img_3043Plain vanilla socks. I think the yarn is Regia with Drops fable heels and toes. I really need some new socks as the ones I have are getting baggy. Hand knitted socks last a long time but as some of mine are perhaps six or seven years old now (at least!) I think it is a little unfair to expect them to last much longer. Although I do still have a pair that is over ten years old but that’s exceptional. A couple of other things this month have been..

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The fruit cake was delicious even as I’m not a great fan. I usually find them too sweet but this was just right and I think the addition of some cherry brand helped!

Hopefully I will be back soon. I have written a post with some felting advice but need to finish putting it all together.

Until then..

Knitting

Hap Cowl by Ella Gordon

Following the last post, I thought I’d better show a bit of knitting around here.

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This is the Hap Cowl by Ella Gordon.

I love the look of Hap shawls but have never made a full size one as I would just not wear one on a day to day basis so when I saw this pattern on Ella’s blog I just had to make one.

I knitted this one in some Cascade 220 fingering from stash, plus an extra purchased skein of blue. The colours are surprisingly like the first colour-way in the pattern.

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This is such a great design, simple but very effective. I’ve received several compliments on it recently from non-knitters asking where they could buy one. The cowl is knitted flat from top to bottom (not lengthwise) and then seamed, which is easy and virtually invisible in garter stitch.

I have to say that the Cascade yarn is lovely. It softened up so much in the wash and blocked well while still retaining a good amount of bounce. I was surprised, as in the skein I was a little disappointed which is why it was marinating in the stash and not knitted up. I will definitely be using it again.

I loved both of the colour options that Ella listed in the pattern and was so pleased with the first one that I purchased more yarn from the Jamieson & Smith website in the exact colours for the second option.

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I am quite far through this one, virtually the home straight, but the project has been put on hold while I work on a couple of other things for gifts and something else which I will show you soon hopefully.

Pattern: Hap Cowl by Ella Gordon (Ravelry Link)
Yarn: Cascade 220 Fingering
In colours: 8400 Charcoal, 9332 Sapphire; 9566 Olive Oil; 8012 Doeskin Heather, 8010 Natural.

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After so much rain the other week that all the roads around here were flooded, we are now pretty cold with freezing fog and frost not lifting at all during the day.

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Where ever you are and whatever the weather, I hope you have a good weekend!

Knitting · Patterns

Memories from the past

I think most people by now have read Kate Davies’ post ‘Have you knit this pattern?‘ If you haven’t, you should, it is well worth a read, as all Kate’s posts are.

Although I haven’t knitted that particular pattern, I did inherit some interesting ones from my Mother and had a little look to see if the pattern in question was among them. It wasn’t and to be honest, like myself, my Mother was more of a sweater knitter so most of the old patterns I have are for garments. It was interesting to read through the comments that Kate received though, and what was clear from reading them was the strength of memories that knitting stirs up in people. These knitted shawls were special in peoples’ hearts, very special. They represent a touchable piece of the past, something like a mix between a treasured photograph and a special keepsake but, because they were made by someone with love, they also represent that love.

We, as knitters, can often recall exactly when we knitted an item. The item itself brings back a memory of a time and place, perhaps a particular emotion. I have the first pair of socks I ever knitted and I remember that time and what was happening in my life whenever I see them. I also have the cardigan I was knitting when my Mother passed away. It was to be for her birthday that year and after she died I finished knitting it anyway. I think she would have like that.

I also have a pattern that holds, in a strange way, not my memories but my Mothers’. She often remembered a twin set that she knitted for my Grandmother whilst carrying my eldest brother, her first child.  She had already knitted all sorts of baby items and not knowing the sex of the baby, was waiting to ‘see’ before knitting any more. Having seen a pretty pattern in a magazine, she decided to knit it for her Mother. Knitted in three ply wool at a gauge of 7 sts to the inch, it must have taken her a while.  It was special to her and she still remembered it over 50 years later. She also kept the pattern even though she never knitted it again.

 

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As you can see, the cost to knit was 25s 6d.  From a quick search around I think that this equates to about £30 today.

You can even see where she has circled parts of the pattern.

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A practice she continued until she discovered post it notes many years later.

I found some other interesting old patterns whilst going through her collection.

This yoke sweater pattern is an example of how seamless yoke patterns where changed for a market where flat, seamed knitting was predominant.

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The construction is interesting. The pieces for the back, front and sleeves are knitted flat, then seamed and the sleeves set in. Only after it is all constructed is the yoke knitted by picking up stitches from centre back, around the front and back to the centre back. The stitches are then knitted back and forth on straight needles. This is achieved by using two pairs of straight needles and leaving an opening at the centre back which is later edged with crochet and buttons added for a closure.

Seems an awful lot of work to me for something that could be easily and better knitted in the round. And was in fact meant to be knitted in the round.

 

I had to show you this pattern from, I presume, the 1960’s.

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This I am sure, if my Mother ever knitted it, would have been for her sister, although I could be wrong.

It is knitted in half linen stitch, probably to give it body and stability but the construction here is again very interesting. The front of the dress is knitted as one up to the point where the vertical stripe begins and then the stitches are split and each colour section is knitted separately and then the strips are seamed together. The yoke and sleeves are knitted as one piece for each of the front and back and seamed to the body pieces and then the whole lot is seamed up the sides and across the shoulders.

This old Weldons pattern for a cardigan is knitted all in one piece including the sleeves, from the back ribbing, up and over the shoulders and down each front. The ribbing at the cuff is added by picking up stitches at the bottom of the sleeve and knitting down. It is then seamed up the sides and under the arms. The front bands, which the pattern calls strapping, is added afterwards. Another interesting thing is that although the pattern is written for three sizes, each size is written as a separate pattern, not as we would do now with the different numbers and stitch counts for each size in parenthasese. The pattern is well worn with a couple of rips in the back page and what looks like a tea stain on the inside.  It seems it was a favourite.

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Lastly, I just had to put in this pattern.

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I remember knitting this one myself. It was before I left home which is how it was among the collection. Again, the sweater front, back and sleeves are knitted and seamed, then the yoke is picked up on two pairs of needles and knitted back and forth with an opening at the centre back which is later finished with crochet and a couple of buttons. It is probably how I knitted it back then but I don’t remember using two sets of needles. We had some needles that were a cross between a circular and a straight. Imagine a circular needle cut half way along the cable and then an end glued onto the cable. Sort of a flexible single point needle. I will see if I have one still and show you next time.

Well, that was a walk down memory lane! Thank you Kate!

What patterns do you have that bring back special memories?

Have a good weekend.

 

 

Knitting · Own designs

Dairy and Egg free wine

I became a little distracted over the holiday season. It turned out a lot busier that I thought it was going to be and the blog sort of got away from me.

For the first week or so we had visitors, or went visiting, every day. Then my OH had a couple of meetings due early in the new year and thought it would be good to take some time to give the office a bit of a tidy, which turned into a full scale re-decorating and re-organising job. It did need it though; one of us is very untidy…

Finally with everything decorated and sorted, I was looking forward to that new year feeling of ‘a whole new year ahead, I have a blank canvas to work with’ and starting a few new projects, when I inadvertently drank some wine which had been fined with milk proteins and became quite ill, from one glass!

For the lay-people among us, this is a process which clears the wine of suspended solids and also reduces any bitterness and odours from it. Producers can use, amongst other things, milk proteins and egg whites. Generally not a problem for most people unless you are sensitive to these proteins. I did not buy this wine, it was a gift, so did not think about checking the label.  I have got out of the habit of checking wine labels as I know which ones I can and cannot drink and which ones I can tolerate even though they do carry an allergy advice warning (I like playing with fire!). It used to be the belief that so little of the proteins were left after filtering that the effect on people with sensitivities or allergies was negligible. This later changed and the wine producers were required to state on their label any such allergens.  I’m not sure if this is the case in all countries, but it is here.

As a very quick and dirty list,

if you have any problems with milk or egg proteins you should stay clear of:

Hardys – all their wines contain these two proteins as far as I can tell
Reynella Homestead Cabernet Shiraz
McGuigan,  Reserve Cabernet – and probably others
Banrock Station – These wines do contain the proteins but I must say that I have drank them without too much of a problem.

Egg and Milk protein free:

Yellow tail Shiraz
Lindens Bin 50 Shiraz
Baxland Estate
Jacobs Creek
Penfolds Koonunga Hill Shiraz Cabernet

and finally, just as an aside, Sainsbury’s do an egg and milk free but also a low sulphite wine in their SO Organic range that I understand is very good.

This is not by any means a comprehensive list and as they say, ingredients and manufacturing processes are all subject to change.  Please do not take my word that these wines will be okay for you and always check labels before buying or drinking any of these wines.

And yes, I do see the irony in the above statement!

It took a full 36 hours for the full nasty gastric effects of this glass of wine to wear off and another 12 hours or so to feel almost back to normal as far as energy levels and general feeling of wellbeing was concerned. It will probably take another day or two for everything as a whole to be back on an even keel. So, if you are feeling particularly unwell after a night out, it may be more than just the alcohol that did it!

Hopefully, with all that behind me, I can at last start to fill in some of the gaps in my blank canvas of a new year (after filing the tax returns!).

I have been knitting, as usual, and have this to show you.

 

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My latest design project which I finished a few days ago.  I will have some more details along with some better pictures when it stops raining and I have more light to take them in.  I am working on writing up the pattern but it is a few weeks away yet as I have some tax to attend to …

a belated – Happy New Year!

Book reviews · FO's · Knitting

Earlier in the year…

….I knitted Bella by  Lene Holme Samsøe, from her book Essentially Feminine Knits -25 Must have Chic Designs.

Bella

The original pattern calls for Hjertegarn Alpaca Silk but I made a substitution for something I had in my stash.

The yarn I used, is Shilasdair Luxury 4ply Highland Inspirations. A cashmere, baby camel, angora and merino blend. Lovely to work with and when you wash and block it the characteristics of the fibre blend comes out and the fabric blooms gently.

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At first I wasn’t sure about the reverse stocking stitch of the body (reverse stocking stitch not being one of my favourites) but I really didn’t want to loose that effect of the lines coming down from the yoke and continuing into the body. The yoke pattern would have been disjointed from the body which ever way I thought of working it.

Once knitted however, I am pleased that I just trusted the pattern and knitted it as written. Lene’s designs are well thought out and the flow between the yoke and body work perfectly.

I find Lene’s patterns engaging and enjoyable to knit.  The designs in this book are all pretty timeless. Let’s face it after putting a great deal of effort into knitting something, it’s a little disappointing for it to loose its appeal and look dated.

Bella Yoke

The book contains a good mix of warmer weather knitting such as this design and heavier weight cable and garter stitch garments for colder weather along with a few accessories.

Given the time, I would love to knit almost all the designs from Lene’s book, something that you can’t always say about knitting books.  I find it unusual to want to knit more than a few patterns from most books, some less – but perhaps I’m picky.

The designs use yarns from companies such as the Hjertegarn, Sandnes Garn, BC Garn, Rowan and Marianne Isager. If you cannot get hold of these where you are, the weight and yardage information is at the back of the book so you can substitute if you want to.

Some of these yarns are easily available in the U.K, Isager yarn is available from Loops knitting shop, SKD yarn stock Sandnes Garn and you will find BC Garn at Love Knitting.com. The only yarn I could not track down in this country was the Hjertegarn.

I recently had a bit of a sort out of my knitting books and sold off some that I have never used or couldn’t see myself knitting anything else from.  Essentially Feminine Knits is one book that I will be using again.

This short-sleeve vest will be winging its way to someone soon.

Happy Knitting.

 

 

FO's · General ramblings · Knitting · Own designs · Patterns

Legato

Smooth and connected without breaks in the tones.

 

We all need something to whip up quickly when we need a gift for someone (especially this time of year), but as a hand knitter I always hesitate when considering my knitting for a gift if I don’t really know how it will be received. It isn’t just whether the item will be liked, I find most people like knitted items, but how it will be looked after.  Mention hand-wash to most people and it is enough to make them turn to stone. Mention throwing a beloved hand knitted item into the washing machine to a hand knitter and they will do the same! If knitting for children I usually make an exception and knit with something fairly bomb proof, although to be honest, it’s never completely enjoyable as it could be. I just don’t bond with the yarn in the same way and there’s no getting away from the fact that something knitted in natural fibres just looks and wears so much better.

A good yarn makes your knitting look better.  In my experience the majority of natural fibres are very forgiving of slight changes in tension between your knit rows and purl rows and other odd idiosyncrasies of pattern. Once blocked, they even out and bloom.  Often something lovely turns into something beautiful in the wash. You can’t say that about any pure acrylic yarn (in my opinion). The only exception to this is very fine Merino yarn, but perhaps that’s a discussion for another day. And yes, I know that there is a misconception that all wool yarns are scratchy and difficult to look after, especially here in the U.K for some reason, but that’s just a lack of experience I think. An unwillingness to try anything that isn’t cloud soft. Sometimes you need something with a bit of grip to it to get the best from your knitting. Try knitting fairisle with something silky and you will see what I mean.

So, when I was recently introduced to Elann’s  Pippilongcolors yarn, I was delighted to find that not only is it super wash treated wool but soft – very soft in fact.

The ball band states it is a mix of 24 and 26 micron wool.  This information means far more to you if you are a hand spinner, but I love the fact that they put this information on the ball band along with the nm 1.8 (the size, aran weight) and the fact that it is z-spun (the direction of twist).  Finally a yarn company that actually gives you some real information about the yarn you are knitting with and not just assumes that you couldn’t possibly be interested.

Just to bore you with the finer detail if you don’t handspin. A micron is one millionth of a meter. In this case 24 microns represents a wool fibre of the type from Merino or a very fine Corridale or Shetland sheep. A good Bluefaced Leicester sheep will have a fleece of around the 26 micron count. All these are classed as next to the skin soft. Just as an interesting piece of information, anything below 3 or 4 microns and you couldn’t see it as our eyesight just is not that good.  Emperors new clothes springs to mind!

Anyway, where was I? Yes. Gift knitting. So, over the last week I’ve managed to knit up a couple of quick gifts for some girlfriends of mine. None of them are knitters and really can’t understand at all my love of wool, so this yarn is perfect for us all.

Legato Pair 1

Leg warmers / boot toppers and a matching pair of fingerless mittens. They knit up pretty quickly and the rib pattern is interesting enough to stop me from getting bored but makes pretty good T.V. knitting too.

Legato Mittens 1

Taking really good photos is difficult with our gloomy weather at the moment.

I love this colour-way.  It is called ‘pleased as punch’ but there are several equally lovely colours in the range all with interesting names such as ‘Blaze a trail’ and ‘chasing rainbows’.  I have bought some more in a lovely colour-way called ‘Storm in a tea cup’ for my more reserved friends!

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This pair of leg-warmers is for my friend who wears leggings and skinny jeans a lot. I have actually colour matched them by reeling off some yarn from the ball until I got to the same place in the sequence that I started with for the first one – but stupidly here one is upside down – if you see what I mean! Of course you don’t need to colour match them at all because they look good anyway.

You can get a pair of leg-warmers and a pair of small or medium fingerless mittens from just two balls of the yarn. The larger mittens paired with the shorter boot toppers also take the same amount.

I tried out the pattern as boot toppers in a plain yarn while waiting for some more to arrive.

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These are only 15 cm or 6″ long and will be great for stopping a draught down my boots but I admit that I prefer the Elann yarn.

I have written up the pattern and more information about yarn, yardage etc. is on the pattern page. It is now available to buy from here or through Ravelry and Etsy if you would like to have a go.

If you are in the U.K. the good new is that Elann now sell through Amazon so you can get the yarn (along with their other yarns)  here.

The weather here is about to turn much colder so perhaps a little brighter too? Good knitting weather whatever it will be.

Cooking · FO's · Knitting · Patterns

Autumn – Delicious Autumn

My very soul is wedded to it and if I were a bird I would fly around the earth seeking successive autumns.

George Elliot.

Autumn Blueberry

Is autumn not a beautiful season?  My favourite time of the year – until spring!

Recently though we have slipped from the bright, crisp, colourful days of autumn where the light has such a beautiful hue, to those dark, damp, dreary days that are so common on this island.

It has been so dreary here the last few days that it is near impossible to take a decent photo.  Our cottage can be quite dark at this time of year when the light outside is so bad, much too dark for decent photographs anyway and outside it is raining so even with the best intentions it’s just not going well.

Time then for warm soups, and knitting!


sweet potato soup

Sweet Potato and Coconut Soup

Serves 4 – 6

Gluten and Dairy Free

1 Brown Onion – diced
2 Sweet Potatoes approx. 400g – diced
1 Large White Potato – diced
1 Litre Vegetable Stock, your favourite, I use Kallo.
1  400 ml Tinned Coconut Milk –  not carton. Keep back a few tablespoons for garnish.
Salt and Pepper
Coconut oil for frying

Melt a walnut sized piece of coconut oil in a heavy based saucepan and add the onion. Fry gently until soft but not coloured then add the sweet and white potatoes and leave to sweat for a couple of minutes.
Add the stock and tinned coconut milk and bring slowly to a simmer. Continue to simmer for about 30 minutes until the potatoes are soft then take off the heat and allow to cool down before pureeing with a stick blender or blender.
Return to the heat and season, adding salt and pepper to taste.
When serving, swirl a little of the coconut milk on top.


 

On the knitting front, I have just finished Portage by Melissa Schaschwary.

Portage 2A little different from my usual knitting so far as the yarn is concerned.  On a recent holiday in Wales I somehow came across the Colinette factory, funny that!

Portage 3

The yarn knitted up beautifully and has a good hand, not too soft but not at all itchy either.

Portage

As I said, I am afraid that it’s near impossible to get a decent shot at the moment and these photos don’t do the cardigan justice at all.

The pattern is a top down seamless knit, raglan style.  The shawl type collar is added afterward by picking up stitches around the front and working back and forth in garter stitch. The pockets are integral to the collar and are sewn back to the sides at the end. You can’t see it here as my pictures are so bad but my pockets hang down quite a bit at the front of the garment.  Not a pattern error, I just think that I should have picked up less stitches around the fronts as my yarn has given a little with the weight. I may put it right if it annoys me that much but at the moment nobody seems to notice except me.

I do have another F.O. but that really needs some decent photography before showing you and being sent off to the recipient. No sign of doing that over the next couple of days though.

May your days be colourful and bright!

Cooking · Gardening · Own designs · Spinning

You can cut all the flowers but you cannot keep spring from coming.

Pablo Neruda

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Miniature Daffodil

It’s been too long.  I’ve been trying to get a post together for weeks but I just haven’t got here until now.  I started the month off sort of unwell – again.  I have a very tiny lump on my temple, had it for ages, and it was so small that the only time I knew it was there was if I ran a finger across my temple and I could just feel it under the skin. Some time last month it decided to flare up, as apparently they do, and it became very large and angry. To cut a long and rather gruesome story short, after a few weeks of trying to deal with it myself (don’t say anything!) I woke up one Sunday morning to find the whole of one side of my face rather larger than the other. It’s quite interesting being able to see two different people in the mirror at the same time; but perhaps not quite as much fun as you would think! It was another 24 hours before I could see a doctor, (our local drop in centre is to be avoided unless you are in immediate danger of death as far as I’m concerned) who put me straight onto a heavy course of penicillin/antibiotics.  We discussed what it may do to my weak digestive system, but in all honesty I had no other choice but to take the course. As my Dr. kindly pointed out, it was either that or be admitted to hospital where they would do the same anyway. I still may have to have the lump removed but at the moment it is all healing nicely and apart from a small mark, has all but disappeared once again. The drugs did make me very ill, as we knew they would, and have upset my system to such an extent that I am now back to where I was six months or more ago as regards to digestive health. I know from tests that I have already lost two types of beneficial bacteria that I should have in my system, ones that aren’t so easy to replace, now I don’t know if I’ve lost any more following this course of treatment. The good thing is that I’m starting from a much stronger point. I heal much better than I did, and at least now I know what I need to do to give everything the best chance of recovery. I’m hoping that, as with a lot of things, experience will make things much easier second time round. It’s frustrating, but it is what it is.

So, that is why I haven’t been around for a bit. Enough of the doom and gloom, since I have recovered some of my energy back I haven’t been sitting around.

Spring has started to, well, spring around here.  The blueberry is starting to make moves toward flowering.  Last year was a poor year, as far as this plant was concerned, so I fed it well all through the summer and am hoping that it shows its’ appreciation this year by giving us a bumper crop, weather permitting.

Blueberry 1
Blueberry buds

I’ve been spinning a little too.

Norwegian Tops
Norwegian Tops

A few years ago now I purchased two of these beautiful Norwegian tops from Wonderwool Wales. A natural humbug mixture. I’ve started with the white and plan to keep the colours separate, hoping to use them in something together, perhaps a pair of socks with different coloured heels, leg and toes.

Norwegian Tops
Norwegian Tops

I love handspun socks and have recently worn out a pair I made about 5 years ago, they lasted well so maybe it’s an ideal time to get back into a bit of spinning and replace them at the same time.

While I was taking the drugs it was all I could do to make it to work and although I wanted to knit, I just couldn’t settle to anything. I started things, ripped and started something else, then ripped again, but over the last week I’ve got back into a couple of projects that I had already on the go but suddenly had no enthusiasm for.

One is a cardigan for myself, started when the weather was very miserable and I felt in need of something big and warm to wrap up in.

Textured cardigan
Textured cardigan

Back a month or two ago I started a top down raglan, adding a simple textured pattern to the sleeves.  Basically making it up as I went along, I’ve ended up really pleased with how it is turning out.  I wanted it oversize so I could put it on over a couple of layers and snuggle up into it.  I’ve also knitted it much longer than I normally like my cardigans and have a plan to add big patch pockets to it when I’m done. I wanted to knit it in blue but just couldn’t find a colour that I really liked so I dug out this natural grey from the stash and decided to try it out in this. If I like it enough to knit two, I’ll look for something else next time.

Texturedsleeve2
Front and sleeve view

It only has the one, almost finished, sleeve so far. It’s been sitting like this for weeks so I’m hoping if I tell you about it, it will give me the needed push to get it done.  While I finish the second sleeve I’ll try to decide whether to put a collar or a simple ribbing around the neck. I think a collar would look best at balancing the chunkiness of it all but, well, I’m not always keen on them as they do add to the bulk around the top. Time to decide yet anyway.

Weather permitting, I’ve been planting seeds. I’ve got some tomato and pepper seeds in and have sewed the first of the carrot seeds up at the allotment along with the onion sets. These little seedlings I’m especially proud of though.

marigold seedlings
marigold seedlings

They may not look much but I collected these seeds from plants I grew myself………………  wait for it……….. Five years ago!  I picked off the seed heads and put them into an envelope at the end of the season, threw them into an old shoe box in the cupboard where I keep my seed packets and just really never got around to sewing them.  This year I went through to box turfing out all the old out of date seed packets to see what I needed to buy this year and came across the collection of envelopes with seeds I have collected myself. On a whim I decided I had nothing to lose and, well here they are. Who says seeds don’t keep well for more that a year or two. I don’t know what the final germination rate of these will be of course, they’ve only just started to pop up, but if I get half I’ll be more than happy.

I have also spent some time cooking, as usual, and have a great recipe that I adapted for a gluten and dairy free Manchester Tart. A Manchester tart is a pastry case spread with jam and covered with a custard filling topped with toasted coconut.

Manchester Tart
Manchester Tart

This one also has a little something extra inside!

Recipe to come.

Mindie