Frost

Winter has come at last, if only for a day or two until the rain returns.

It was pretty frozen this morning.frozen stones

This was taken at about lunch time and as you can just about see, my bird bath is still completely frozen, in fact everything that the sun hasn’t touched is still well and truly frozen. At least with a cold clear morning we have sun.  Something we see little of when we have days of heavy cloud and rain.

I have finally managed to take some near decent photos of the new sweater.  I’m glad, as I didn’t want to wear it until I had and was itching to give it a test drive.

P1010469_Fotor_Fotor

It is a bottom up seamless yoke sweater with a slightly scooped neck made with short rows.  I’m not so keen on too high a neck line that you can often get with yoke sweaters worked entirely in the round from the bottom up. This yoke has two sets of short rows which brings the front down enough not to do that.

I found that with the light, airy yarn, I needed to use Japanese short rows to hide them. Ordinary wrap and turn short rows left a visible strand of yarn at the back which is usually hidden by heavier yarns.  They give a great finish and are very easy to do, no wrapping but you do need a few coil-less safety pins or removable markers. If you have never worked this type of short row before you can find information on Japanese short rows on the Craftsy blog here. There is also a very good class available on the platform which shows several different types of short rows.

P1010472_Fotor

The yarn is actually two held together, a light 4 ply or fingering weight pure wool and a lace weight silk and mohair, both from Elann. They go together well and I had no trouble knitting with both together as the mohair holds onto the fingering weight yarn as if they were one.  Together, thanks to the halo of the mohair, they make up a yarn which knits beautifully to a DK gauge, 22 sts by 32 rows per 4 inches or in other words 5.5 x 8 sts to one inch.

The advantage of working with two fine yarns together like this is that they make the sweater very light but the mohair adds warmth as if it were a much heavier gauge.

Shoulder Frost

 

It also had a beautiful halo.  The Elann mohair is extremely soft, not itchy or prickly at all. And I can say that it stood up to some pretty rough ripping out and re-knitting a few times. The last time I worked with a mohair yarn it was murder to rip back as it tends to cling and knot itself together but this was very well behaved. Something to do with the two yarns together perhaps.

P1010487_Fotor

You can see how the light comes through the fabric. Whilst knitting this I really wasn’t sure how warm it would be but now I have been able to give it a test run, it really is quite surprisingly so, I’ve had to take it off a couple of times in the evening as I’ve been too warm.

Frost 1

I am tempted to knit it again in an ordinary DK weight yarn, something with a bit of texture perhaps.  I think that you could get a completely different feel from this depending on what it was knitted in.  Here it looks very feminine but perhaps in a darker shade of something tweedy or hand-dyed it could look maybe smarter and less ‘pretty’.  This is my favourite sweater to date, there is something about yoke sweaters that make them so wearable and I can see myself living in it while the weather is still so cold.

Believe it or not, I didn’t have anything else on the needles to knit on after I finished this (well nothing I wanted to get back to anyway !) so until I get grabbed by another idea I have been knitting a EZ saddle shoulder aran sweater.  I’ve knitted one of her seamless saddle shoulder sweaters before and they are such fun to do, but never an aran one.  I tell you though, it’s not going smoothly.  I just can’t get happy with the design choices I’ve made so I will be ripping and re-starting that tonight, well, if I can finally decide on how I want it to look!

I am working on writing up the pattern for the yoke sweater but it won’t be ready for a short while.  I will then be looking for some test knitters, so if the idea grabs you, please drop me a line and I will get back to you as soon as I have everything ready.

 

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.

 

IMG_0144

 

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!

Slow Cooker Steak and Mushroom Pie – Gluten and Dairy Free

I love my slow cookers.  I have two, as I find it handy to have the choice between small and a large depending on what I am making.  I realise this is pure indulgence and only worth the investment if you use them a great deal, as I do. I end up using them twice a week or more in the colder months.

I can only eat unprocessed food so I cook everything from scratch and find my slow cookers invaluable. With only about 15 minutes of preparation I can end up with any number of different dishes; a stew, casserole, soup or stock, slow roasted joint or even a rice pudding. Ok, so there is a lot of time in between, but you can’t really count that as no intervention on my part is required. I can even go out for the day and leave everything to cook. Sometimes I come home to the most wonderful smells and it takes me a few seconds to remember what it is, as I forget all about it once I go out the door.

I often use mine for pie fillings.  Made the day before and put into the fridge overnight, all I have to do the next day is whip up some pastry and assemble.  If I make enough, I will have it as a casserole on the first day and then make it into pies the next and either freeze or eat them depending.

So, here is my recipe for a really good steak and mushroom pie filling – allergy friendly of course.

Ingredients:

For the Pie Filling:

600g Diced Beef
2 Brown Onions, sliced thickly
2-3 Cloves Garlic, crushed
250g Chestnut mushrooms, cut into chunks
500ml Beef Stock. Fresh or cube.
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce. Gluten free in the UK but check.
1 Bayleaf
50g Rice Flour
Glass of red wine (optional)

For the pastry:

270g Doves Farm White Bread Flour (a mix of rice, potato starch, tapioca starch and xanthan gum)
30g Sweet White Sourghum Flour
75g Hard Margarine
75g Lard
1 large Egg or 2 Small ones
Few Tbsp water

 

Method:

I like to fry my onions first as I find it makes them softer and sweeter but you really don’t have to.  If you have the time, you can brown the meat first as well, but this is supposed to be a quick any easy recipe and usually I just throw it in.

So, onions and beef, fried or not..

Into the slow cooker, put the onions, beef and garlic.  Sprinkle on the rice flour and give it all a good stir. Add the stock, wine (if using) and Worcestershire sauce and give it all another good stir before popping the bayleaf on top and put the lid on. Turn on the slow cooker and cook for about 4 hours on high or about 8 hours on low.

About half way through add the mushrooms, give it another stir and leave it alone. I add the mushrooms later because I do like mine to have some bite left in them but if you are going to be out or want them really cooked down, put them in at the beginning with all the other ingredients.

You can now go out, sit and knit or drink the rest of the wine!

When the time is up the meat should be very tender and everything should be thick and bubbling away nicely.  Have a little taste and add some salt and pepper if you think it needs it.  Turn the slow cooker off and lift out the crock pot. I like to do this as it helps to cool everything down faster. When cool, either empty the contents into a container or bowl and put into the fridge until the next day or make into pies straight away.

Easy.

For the pastry, I like to use the mix above. The quantity given is enough for a large deep filled pie or four individual pies. I find that it rolls without breaking so is easy to handle but is crumbly when cooked – not hard as so many gluten-free ones are. It also holds together when you dish out the pies, either individual or slices. I do sometimes use my flaky pastry recipe but this is one that I developed because it is quick to make if I am in a hurry.  I dish this pastry up to all, allergy or not and so far I haven’t had any complaints.  I find adding the sorghum flour stops the pastry becoming hard and also gives it a better flavour.

Make the pastry in the usual way by either rubbing the fat into the flour or pop into a mixer or processor until the mix resembles large crumbs (or small peas!). Add the egg and stir or mix until it all starts to come together, you may need to add some water to achieve this.  You are looking for a well held together pastry, not too dry.

Roll out using some rice or other flour to stop it sticking to the work surface.  If the mixture breaks when you try to roll it out, give it a bit of an knead to help it together and roll it out again. Use the pastry to line the pie dish(es) and fill with the cold filling. Put a lid on top and glaze with some beaten egg.

Bake your pie or pies at 180 deg C for about 40 minutes or until piping hot and golden brown.

Steak Pie single cooked

You can freeze these, either as just the filling or made up pies.  Defrost before use. If re-heating pies put them into an oven at 180 deg C until piping hot.

 

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.

Bella 3

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.

 

 

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!

Legato Leggins 1

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.

legato cream 1.12

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.

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!

A diversion from the norm

and as a wise man once said “Nothing is worth holding on to”

Recently I’ve been having a huge clear-out, sorting through all my ‘things’ and making trips to the charity shop and the local re-cycling centre. I’ve been clearing out just about anything and everything that is either not essential or desperately precious. It’s funny how things come about. A small trigger which has consequences that you just didn’t see coming.

It all started with a recent brush with (those of you with a delicate nature look away now) – moths. The scourge of knitters everywhere. The pesky little critters had got into several large baskets of yarn and spinning fibre in my wool room and the results were, well, not for the faint hearted to say the least. Now, some of my stash was in plastic bags, some in boxes and some I’m ashamed to say, just left laying about. When I found the tell-tale signs of moths on the yarn that was, lets say, naked – I kicked myself for not taking greater care, but was a little philosophical about it. But, when I found out that they had made their way, into other more carefully stored yarn, well, I was heartbroken.

Be warned, check all bags for small holes and boxes to make sure lids are on securely. Be vigilant.

A few days later, when I had calmed down and got used to the idea of loosing a large part of my stash, I began to sort through things slowly. I looked for signs of moth larvae activity. Some damage was obvious and that yarn/fibre went straight into the bin, some yarn was clearly stored well and free of the little b******* and was put to one side and some, well, if I was in any doubt the yarn went into the bin anyway, just to be on the safe side. I even found a pair of cashmere fingerless mittens eaten through with holes the size of 10p pieces – heartbreaking.

As I worked my way through everything, slowly my perspective began to change. What was I stashing all this for anyway? Why hadn’t I used it? If I loved it all so much, why wasn’t it already made into something? What was the original intention been when I bought it? Slowly, I started to look at the yarn with new eyes and started to apply a new set of rules for keeping it. If it was undamaged, I looked at it carefully. Did I really like it? Did I like the yarn but perhaps not the colour any more? and the final cutting question – Was I ever going to use it, really, honestly?

Now, we all have reasons for keeping a stash. Admittedly, some stashes are larger than others and mine may have been a little big. But, I enjoyed being able to dip in and out of it when the fancy took me and I liked just being able to start something without having to plan and buy new yarn, mostly. But when I really thought about it, really thought, how often did I go into the stash and then, not being able to find exactly what I wanted, go out and buy something new anyway.  Wasn’t half the enjoyment of starting a project choosing and buying the yarn?

I went through all the yarn I had saved, and, with new eyes I realised that a good deal of it I was keeping because – just because. It went into a bag and was given away to a local lady who will use it for her charity knitting .

I still have a fair amount of yarn left.  I can’t go completely cold turkey.  But I tell you this – its days are numbered! Seriously. I’ve discovered that by clearing things, my thoughts have opened up and the possibilities are stretching out before me.  I like my new, almost yarn free life.  I have chosen my last couple of projects more carefully because I have had to (mostly, see below) buy the yarn for it, not just choose some yarn and cast on, only to find that, you know actually, I’m not sure that project is for me. My room is certainly tidier and strangely so is my mind.

Which led to clearing out everything.

Slowly, little by little, I have been applying the lessons learnt in my wool room to the rest of my life. Each day I remove something from my life that is not either essential or loved, really loved. Some days I remove two!  Slowly and surprisingly I’m finding that I now view everything in terms of its real value. Things are no longer just things.  They have to have meaning or real use.  And I don’t buy anything new. How can I when I’m spending most of my time throwing things away.

All this leads into my latest project.

IMG_0114

Please forgive the bad quality of the photo. A diversion from my normal knitting I know. This cushion cover was made with little bits of acrylic yarn left over from some baby knitting and some Menet cardigans made as samples. There wasn’t enough to give away and as the moths obviously had no interest in it, the little balls just needed a home. So, rather than just throw them away, I turned them into something useful.

The squares are the Sunburst Granny square, found on Ravelry here, and I used a great tutorial for joining them on Attic24 here. For the cushion cover I made two 4 x 4 pieces of squares, then I edged each larger square with two rows of double crochet (one cream, one coloured) and a final row of half trebles. I then joined three sides of the cushion using half trebles and inserted a zip into the opening.

I’m now back to knitting. (I think)

EU Vat Law on digital downloads

Yes I’m still here! Just been a little busy but do hope to get back soon.

Meanwhile….

I don’t think that there are many people who buy digital downloads, (for our hobbies, interests or otherwise) who have not heard of or been impacted by the recent EU Vat law which came into force on the 1st January. If you have missed all the fun, Google it, there are many good articles out there.

Firstly I would just like to say that my personal opinion on the vast majority of this new law, the whole zero threshold bit, is that it is beyond stupid it is ill conceived and will impact on many people who, while they may not be a major contributor to their countries’ economy, nevertheless count. Count in more ways, more important ways, than many large companies. Don’t get me wrong, but …. ah perhaps another time, I could go on but I have a soft heart and an aversion to hate mail (there will be some).

All that said, and even though I try to be non-conformist some things you just can’t beat and although I have been slow in implementing things I have now had to configure my sales to accommodate this farce legislation. So, if you are outside of the UK but within the EU, I apologise for the fact that you will now have to pay tax at your countries’ rate on my patterns. Please read below on the purchase options for you. If you are in the UK or outside of the EU, this does not apply to you.

If you purchase any of my patterns and are liable for tax you will be taken to my Etsy shop where you will see the price of my patterns including the applicable tax for your country and have an opportunity to purchase. Buying through Etsy will give you an automatic download but will not place a copy of the pattern in your Ravelry library. If you wish this I am more than happy to place a copy there for you if you contact me with your purchase details.  Alternatively, if you would rather pay the normal ex-vat price for my patterns you can do this by contacting me using the email address you use for Paypal and stating the pattern you wish to purchase.  I will then send you a Paypal invoice for the amount.  When this invoice is paid, I will attach a pdf file of the pattern to an email and send it to that address.  This is not an instant download and as such does not incur Vat.  However, please be aware that this is a slow process and I am not always at my computer so it could take up to 24 hours for you to receive your pattern.

I think that just about covers it. Any queries or problems with the new system please let me know and I will sort things out for you.

Hope to be back soon…

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

Pablo Neruda

1-P1000973
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

Gracie Baby Blanket

First of all, thank you all so much to everyone who contacted me regarding the baby blanket.  Your support was overwhelming, I was so taken aback that I had to have a little re-think on this pattern.

I have made a few changes that make me feel better and have re-listed it as you all requested.

Daisy 1

As you can see from the title of this post, the blanket also has a new name, the Gracie Baby Blanket.  The lovely lady who I first designed the blanket for has now had a beautiful baby girl whom they have named Gracie. As I was making other changes, I thought it would also be nice to call the blanket after the little one who inspired the making of it.

New baby blanket.
New baby blanket.

So, once again it is available.

And, in honour of the new baby Gracie, the pattern will be available for free until the end of February, just put in the promo code gracie at the checkout.

blanket8Once again, thank you all so much for your kind comments and support over this, you are wonderful!

Mindie