This week..

Starting off this week with this picture of one of my favourite plants..

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This is a Wisteria that I planted some years ago.  It was just a stick 12″ (30cm) tall when I bought it.  OH and his friend sat in the garden and laughed when I told them that they typically grow as high as 65 ft (or 20 m) and can spread out as much as 32 ft (10 m).

‘What, from that – you’ve been conned’ they both said.  Well, they’re not laughing now.

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This picture shows it growing over an arch above my head – which isn’t difficult I admit as I am barely 5ft tall – but I assure you the arch is well above my head.  I am cheating a little as this picture is from a week or so back, the flowers have just about faded this week and the leaves are taking over.  It flowered for a good three weeks or so this year; it was beautiful and the scent just filled the garden.  Last year with all the rain and cold weather we had, a good deal of the buds just rotted and dropped off.  I thought it may happen again this year with it being so cold this spring but ‘the stick’ (as it has become known in our house even though it is much more than that now) made it through.

Wisteria can take many, many years to flower and I didn’t expect to see too much from this one for a few years but it showed a couple of flowers in just the second year. I now know that if the plant has been grafted it flowers much sooner that ones grown from seed, which I am glad about.  I also read that in some parts of the US it is considered invasive, I guess that the climate here stops them escaping into the wild and becoming a problem.

Also this week, finally I have some of these..

First lettuce of the year.

Very late for a first lettuce I know.  I was rather slow in getting these started this year, partly because the weather here was so damn cold – I just didn’t think they would grow before the slugs got to them – so I left it later than I have before.  They soon catch up though.  We should be eating these in a week or two’s time.

On the cooking front, I’ve been trying a new recipe for these..

Mmmm.. biscotti

These little gems are gluten free chocolate chip biscotti (without the chocolate chips!) from http://www.artofglutenfreebaking.com/. Jeanne’s recipes are truly wonderful. She is a genius as far as I am concerned.  I have her book and each time I try one of her recipes I am more in awe.  They work and are good to eat. So good to eat, even my youngest, who is always suspicious of anything in the kitchen nowadays (because things in my kitchen aren’t always what they seem) will eat them.  In fact, everyone in our house eats Jeanne’s recipes, allergies or not. So much so that they never hang around long and I quite often end up cooking more just so I can get a look in. The recipe for the biscotti along with a myriad of others all as equally delicious are on Jeanne’s site.

The only down side that I could say about Jeanne’s recipes is that a lot of them use eggs.  In my opinion, you do need eggs in a lot of things, especially gluten free, to make them work.  Eggs make baked goods bind as well as rise and do good things for the texture.   Now, this can be a bit of an issue for me. I can and do eat eggs.  I am not allergic to them, just mildly intolerant. I used to have more of a problem than I do, now, on the whole, eggs just make my eyes a bit puffy and baggy. I know, at my age how can I tell! Let’s just say they look worse than usual then shall we? And although I know a time will come when I’ll probably look like that all the time, I would like that time to be as far away as possible. There is another issue to be considered and that is one of irritation and inflammation.  For those of you who know anything about food intolerances caused by leaky gut (which is what I have developed) it is not good to cause your body any more problems than is necessary in an attempt to let it heal. So, although I do eat eggs occasionally, I try to limit them to main meals on the odd occasion when the meal just wouldn’t be the same without.

In that vein, I have tried Jeanne’s recipe without eggs.  I replaced the eggs with flax eggs.  Flax eggs are used in allergy and vegan recipes to replace eggs, mostly with great success. You simply mix one tablespoon of ground flax seed with three of water for each egg you wish to replace.  The picture below is the same recipe but with flax eggs and chopped walnuts.

Gluten Free, Egg Free Biscotti

The result… OK, but not nearly as good as the egg-ed version.  As you can see the biscotti are more dense than the ones with eggs.  They are also less crunchy than the original version and look slightly undercooked.  Also, somewhere along the line they have developed a slightly odd taste that is a little like artificial sweetener.  I can only assume this is from the flax, although I haven’t experienced it before.    They are edible though and won’t be wasted.  Next time I think I’ll try a powdered egg replacer and see how that turns out.  If not I’ll just make them with eggs as they are too good not to have in your biscuit tin!

Knitting then..

As I said last week, I have been working on a couple of new patterns.

This is my current design project and one that is giving me a few problems.  I am getting there though and hope that by the end of today to know whether the whole thing is going to work out.  That’s the problem when you have a vision in your head as to how you want something to look. You can sketch and swatch as much as you like but until it’s knitted up, you just can’t tell if it’s worked or not. Well, I can’t anyway. It takes time.  Sometimes when you embark on a new project and are only a little way in it all looks a bit unlikely, then further on it starts to come together and somehow transforms into something much better.  It is easy to give up too early on a knitting project thinking that you don’t really like it when actually, once the piece gets to a better size, it improves hugely.  This can happen the other way round though, where you can be in love with something right up until the end when somehow you suddenly can’t see what attracted you to it in the first place.  A bit like some people really!  I think this scenario happens with some patterns when the item is cleverly marketed on an attractive model in a beautiful setting. You fall in love with the feel of the garment rather than the garment itself.  Once knitted, it looses its’ appeal.

By next time I hope have a picture of the completed item – unless I fall out of love of course!

How time flies

when you’re having fun…. or whatever is happening really..

I can’t believe that it has been over eighteen months since I shut down my blog and left just the pattern pages standing.

A great deal has happened since then.  I’ve been else where, being someone else and doing other things. Not exactly in a spy/clandestine way you understand, just not being quite myself or doing my usual things; it sure felt as if I was someone else for a while.

Unfortunately, I’ve also been unwell for the last year. More about that later, but suffice to say that my cooking has taken another turn. I used to post gluten and dairy free recipes here. Now I cook without even more; corn, soya, yeast, oats and sometimes eggs and fruit to name a few. It gets interesting and I am having fun (if you can call it that) exploring the vast array of new blogs and books out there dedicated to the subject.

But, I have never stopped knitting, (gasp in horror at the thought)  I’ve been designing too, so I’ve kept my hand in.

Hopefully now though I am able to come back and bore you all with my activities. I don’t expect that I will re-instate the original pages that I removed, a new start with a fresh look is called for I think, but for those of you that remember what the original blog consisted of I expect this will look similar. For those who don’t (and why would you in all honesty) I drivel on about knitting and other crafts such as spinning with a generous sprinkling of gardening and cooking thrown in for good measure.  With a fair wind behind me I also hope to be posting some reviews on various knitting and cookery books and reviewing allergy friendly and not so friendly recipes. I shall also be putting some new patterns up and discussing design ideas for others too.

So, an exciting time ahead. Hope you will enjoy it as much as I will…it’s nice to be back!

Happy Days

DUFFERS revisited

Duffers – revisited   The new version of the felted slipper pattern is now done and up.


From its small beginnings, just three sizes over two pages, the pattern has now grown into an absolute monster running to 16 pages.  Don’t worry though, you should never have to print them all out, not unless you want to.

The pattern now covers sizes

UK: 2, 3, 5, 6-7, 8, 10 ½

US: 3, 5½, 7½, 9½, 10½, 13

EUR: 33, 35.5, 38, 39-40, 43, 45

I give these sizes as a guide only.  As I said in my last post re. the Little Duffers, finding exact shoe sizes and foot lengths on the net was difficult.  It is better for a more accurate size guide to go by the finished foot lengths.  These are:

INCHES: 8½, 9, 9½, 10, 10½ & 11

CM: 23, 23.5, 24, 25.5, 26.5 & 28

Each of these sizes can be knitted in Standard, Wide and Extra Wide width fittings.

Each width fitting adds approx. 1″ to the circumference of the slipper.  The smallest three sizes start at a foot circumference of about 8-8 1/2″ so the wide version comes in at 9-9 1/2″ and the extra wide at 10-10 1/2.  Similarly the largest three sizes have foot circumferences which start at about 9 1/2-10″ so the wide is 10 1/2-11″ and the extra wide 11 1/2 – 12″.  These sizes do of course depend on how hard you felt the slippers and your yarn, but with the slippers felted to the correct length these are about the sizes you should expect to be getting.

Just to add to the mix, on top of all those sizes, the pattern now covers knitting the slippers flat and then seaming or knitting them seamlessly.  The seamless version uses Judy Becker’s magic cast on which means you don’t even have to seam the bottom when you are finished.  You can Judy’s article covering her fantastic method on Knitty here.  I don’t cover it in the pattern, there just isn’t room to put anything more in, but if you don’t want to use this method, you can still knit the slippers in the round. Just cast on with a long tail cast on and join for knitting in the round as you would with, say, a top down sock and sew up the bottom seam when you’ve finished knitting.

The pattern consists of written patterns covering different sets of sizes ( there are two sets, the smallest three and the largest three sizes),  different widths and methods of knitting.  Each of these patterns has a page of its own with blank spaces where the number of stitches etc. should be.  All figures for the different patterns are in chart form and there are two charts.  The pattern page for your chosen size, width and method will tell you which chart you need the figures from.

To make up your pattern all you need to do is print the one pattern page that shows your size, width and method of knitting.  Then take the numbers from the appropriate chart and fill in the blank spaces you are then ready to start knitting.

The pattern is so huge and along with the  Little Duffers covers every size you should need from 4″ to 11″ in half inch increments.

It is now available from Ravelry for £ 3.75

I hope you like them!

Little DUFFERS

It feels like an age since I came by here to put together a proper post.  Life has taken me through more twists and turns, ups and downs this year than I would have ever thought could be packed into such a short space of time, which is why I haven’t been around much.  But all that aside, finally, I’ve finished working on the children’s sizes of the Duffer pattern.

Little Duffers

Sizing the Duffers down to children’s sizes ended up being more involved than just a quick change of yarn or stitch count.  There was a scale issue that I hadn’t considered when I first started, mainly due to my wish to have seven sizes.  The baby sizes were one thing but once I started to add length I found that I also needed to add width.  Simple? Not so on a three-dimensional item.  The way that the Duffers are engineered means that adding stitches on the bottom adds length and width issues you may not want in other areas and vise-versa.

Still, after what has turned out to be in excess of 100 hours work and more single miniature slippers than I can shake a stick at, (I still have no idea what I’m going to do with them all!) I think I’ve finally got to a point where I am happy to call it a pattern.

The Little Duffers pattern consists of seven pages.  Four of them contain written patterns, one a chart and the other two have general information.  As someone who uses a lot of ink and paper, I’m aware that this is quite a lot to print out so I have put each part of the pattern onto a page of its’ own.  This way you should only have to print out those parts of the pattern that you need at any one time.

As I said, there are seven sizes of Little Duffers.  Starting at a finished foot length of just 4″ (10 cm) they go up in 1/2″ ( approx. 1 cm) increments to 7 1/2″ (19 cm). As a guide this covers shoe sizes UK 0 to 10 1/2,  US 1/2 to 11 and EUR 15 to 28 1/2.

It was very difficult to get exact conversions between shoe sizes and foot length. The information on the net, wonderful as it is, was conflicting to say the least.  I settled on an average in the end but please use the shoe sizes given as a guide only referring, if you can, to the finished foot length to determine the size you need to make.

The pattern calls for a worsted weight or heavy DK weight yarn, 100m to 50g.  This time I chose to knit my samples using Cascade 220 yarn.  Mainly because it is easily available, felts well and comes in a myriad of colours.  You can use anything that pleases you, as long as it felts and gives you a gauge of 4 sts per inch pre felting. You will only need small amounts for these children’s slippers.  The smallest sizes require only 20g – 40g of yarn per pair and the largest only 50g – 60g per pair.  Remember, all yarns are different and felt at different rates so proceed with caution if using a yarn you have not felted with before and are unsure as to how it will felt. Once I actually managed to get what should have been an 11 inch slipper to felt to just 8 inches, in one wash.

I almost have the adult version written up too.  It will be a few more days or so yet, but I am at last happy with the larger wider sizes that I’ve been working on. They will be 1″ wider than the standard fit, making them suitable for men, and ladies who like a little more room in their slipper. Just for fun, here’s a photo of the smallest Little Duffer and the largest Duffer to give you an idea of the size range we are now looking at.

Joking aside, there are a couple of notes regarding sizing that I’d just like to outline here.  The opening on the Little Duffers varies by only a few stitches each time the size goes up, but, it does make quite a difference to the opening.  The smallest pair has quite a small opening deliberately to keep them on little feet. Cast these off loosely.  Similarly, with the largest children’s size the opening is as I originally intended them to be, a sort of ballet shoe design.  This may not suit everyone so, if it doesn’t suit you, feel free to add an extra row to bring the opening closer.

Finally, a big thank you to MidlandSpinner on Ravelry who gave her unquestioning support and technical help just when I needed it.  Thank you.

I hope you like the Little Duffers.

OLD DUFFERS BACK AGAIN

I’ve had a lot of emails regarding pulling the pattern and, I’m afraid a great deal of confusion after pulling the pattern on Ravelry.  Because of this, I’ve put the original pattern into my Ravelry store earlier that expected.  It’s now available to download for £1.

A link direct to the pattern download is in the sidebar to the right above the scarf pattern. As I just mentioned the scarf pattern, I would just like to thank all the people who have purchased it.

 

I’m still hard at work writing up the new patterns and will post a note here as soon as they are up.

 

‘Duffers’ – A Quick and Easy 19 row Felted Slipper pattern


DUFFERS – FELTED SLIPPER PATTERN

This is the basic pattern with three basic sizes. For the larger, expanded pattern with many more sizes and wider width fittings, see the Duffers – revisited pattern (link on the side bar).

This pattern is now available for download at a cost of £ 1.00 through Ravelry. There is a direct link from my pattern page (the link to which is above the header) or from the bar on the left.  The children’s version is now available for £ 3.50, also from Ravelry or my pattern page.

Gratefull thanks to Sarah for the name suggestion, without which I would still be calling them ‘no name felted slippers’ or some such thing.

As I said, I have knitted about six of these as the patten now stands.  Part of me would not be happy until I had knitted about ten pairs at least.  If you do knit a pair and notice any errors please let me know.

DUFFERS

You will need:

Yarn: Lana Grossa Feltro  50m/50g OR:  Any pure untreated wool that will felt. If you want to use a DK weight yarn (100m / 50 g) hold the yarn double throughout.

You will need about 150m (300m DK) for the single colour slippers and 100m each colour (200m each DK) for the two colour ones.

Needles: Size 8mm (or size to get you to the correct tension) straight or circular needles, the slippers are worked flat and then sewn.

Tension: In stocking stitch your knitting should measure 3 sts / 1” and 4 rows / 1”.  Use the size of needle which gets you closest to this measurement.

To fit sizes: Approx. UK3, UK 5, UK 7  (US4 ½, US6 1/2, US8 ½)  For the smallest size read the figures as given, the larger sizes are in parentheses.  If only one figure is given this refers to all sizes.  (If you need  size larger please see below in the comments for instructions)

Size before felting: Length Approx. 27cm (29 cm, 31 cm)  Height Approx: 13cm at front & 11.5 cm at back.