Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Celebratory crafting and cooking

We had some friends visiting at the weekend, and so it was a good excuse for a great deal of baking!

I also did a bit of crafting, but not knitting, this time I was freezer paper stencilling, having been taught by Ellen when we were stencilling baby clothes. I was making a t-shirt for Chris for him to wear while playing with his 'tiny people' as I refer to them, to the wider world they're referred to as Skorne - one of the armies in Hordes, a tabletop wargame.

Here's a picture of the original from which I was working (Beautifully painted by Chris):-

Here is a picture of my stencil ironed onto the t-shirt and painted:-

And here is a picture of the finished object (after peeling the freezer paper off and giving it an iron to fix the paints):-

I use the SetaColour fabric paints, which give nice coverage. I have been told that a sponge is best before, but personally have found a flat nylon paintbrush to be more effective, and then you're less likely to go over the lines if you have a multi-colour intricate design. Chris was very very happy with his new t-shirt, it can now be worn when he is playing with Skorne, and his Crusader t-shirt that he got for Christmas, he can wear when he plays with Protectorate (another Faction). So he's a happy bunny, which makes me a happy bunny, as my crafting was appreciated.

So on the cooking front I made the following over the weekend:-

"Fake and kidding pudding" (a vegetarian version of steak and kidney pudding - my recipe to follow)

This went down very well, and seemed to be thoroughly enjoyed.

Lemon sponge (Victoria sponge with lemon essence instead of vanilla, filled with St. Clements curd and lemon whipped cream)

One layer of the sponge:-

Sponge with St. Clements (Orange and Lemon) Curd, and Lemon whipped cream:-

The St. Clements curd is an adaptation of the Lime Curd recipe from Nigella's 'How to be a domestic goddess', using 1 orange (zest and juice), 1 lemon (zest and juice) and sugar to taste (less than needed for the lime curd).

The lemon whipped cream is the juice of one lemon with ~200 ml of whipping cream and 1 tablespoon of sugar whipped until thick.

The assembled cake (with and without icing sugar decoration):-

Again, this proved extremely popular! The sponge was nice and light and everything was lovely and citrussy.

Scones (recipe is for Lily's scones from Nigella's 'How to be a domestic goddess')

Eaten with clotted cream, raspberry jam, and leftover St. Clements curd. Yum Yum.

All in all a very successful weekend!

Monday, 21 February 2011

February sock club - Mark II

So after the fail that was Stalagmite, I set myself a much simpler challenge for the rest of February's sock club - to knit my first pair of toe-up socks.

I was given some lovely Opal Sport for Christmas and decided that some self-striping yarn such as this would be perfect to use for emergency birthday socks for Chris! I could just knit in simple stocking stitch and thus speed through. In the last week I have completed the first sock, but found the heel a bit slow as i'm so used to going the other way..

I followed the instructions here, with the numbers of stitches in the chart here, having cast on and increased to 72 stitches. I started with 8 stitches at the toe, but accidentally made the socks too long for Chris, so picked some of the toe out to compensate, then kitchener stitched it up again.

The one problem i've found so far with knitting toe-up is that when it comes to the point where you join the heel flap to the main body of the foot by slipping stitches from each section and then knitting them together, the join is quite loose, and not so neat as picking up stitches in the top-down version. I'll take some pictures to demonstrate once both socks are complete. I'll see if tightening my stitches up in that area of the sock makes a difference.. The problem is not major though, and I'm on target to have both socks done by the end of the month, so sock club was rescued!

Sunday, 20 February 2011

February failure

February's socks were chosen by my other half, to be birthday socks. He liked the stalagmite pattern in Knit. Sock. Love. and so I set out to make them for him. I had to use the pattern for the larger size, but still thought I might have enough yarn. I didn't.

I got about 80% of the way through the first sock, which took from the 1st of Feb to the 13th, when I decided I really ought to check I had enough yarn for the second sock. I was already well over half way through :(

Unable to buy more of the same yarn I'm going to have to rip these back. I might make the same socks but in a small for me.. even with all the cables there'll still be yarn left over.

The cables in these socks are beautifully intricate, and did require some concentration. I'm really not looking forward to ripping out all my hard work, but it was enjoyable to knit, so I'm sure I'll enjoy knitting it again!

Of course the sock failure, ravelled here, meant I was down a birthday present for Chris, so I promptly started some new February socks, to be posted soon.

Friday, 18 February 2011

January sock-club

So for January's sock club I chose a pattern from the lovely book Knit.Sock.Love. by Cookie A that my brother got me for Christmas. I chose Pointelle as my first project, after much thought over a drink at knit-night. The socks are ravelled here. I followed the pattern as written, even down to needle size. Luckily so far all of CookieA's socks i've been able to just pick up the needles she suggests and get knitting.

The socks are mirrored so the pattern twirls its way up each leg in the opposite direction. The beautiful lace in the pattern is somewhat lost in my yarn choice. I had this Araucania Ranco in my stash and had been waiting to use it for something. I enjoyed playing with my shiny new ball winder that i'd got for Christmas to turn it into a nice cake of yarn.

I enjoyed this pattern so much that I will probably knit it again but in a solid primary colour where all the pattern of the sock will show up much more clearly. See here for how much clearer the pattern is when a solid colour is used.

CookieA's socks are always so well thought out, and I love the way that the ribbing for the cuff flows seamlessly into the main pattern of the sock (not shown well in my photos). The diagonal line pattern even continues onto the heel flap, blending this seamlessly in with the leg of the sock. Expect to see a lot of Cookie's patterns in future months!

I hope to become more adept at sock photography (and knitting photography in general), in fact i'll need to if i'm going to post about all of the socks in my self-imposed sock-club.. I wonder whether my SADlight would be good for removing the need for flash photos?

I'll post about February's sock exploits very soon, and all the other crafty things that have been going on.

Thursday, 17 February 2011

Inaugural post!

Spurred on by the blogs of friends and how this allows me to keep track of their crafty pursuits, I thought it was about time I jumped on the bandwagon. I plan to use the blog to keep track of my knitting, crocheting, sewing, baking and other crafty pursuits. Hopefully friends around the world will enjoy keeping an eye on what i'm up to.

This year is promising to be a busy year for crafting, so seemed an ideal time to start. So far this year I have:-

Made a lovely pair of slippers for my friend Laura (pictures to follow)

Learnt how to handpaint yarn to beautiful effect at the fyberspates studio in Wantage at the lovely Liz's Hen Do.

Made a dress to wear to a wedding.

Started my own self-imposed sock club, inspired by Yarn Harlot's sock club of the same name. Where she picks out all of the patterns and yarns at the start of the year, pairs them up and then chooses one at random at the start of the month, I don't have enough of a sock yarn stash!! I'm choosing as I go along, but do have plans for March and April already. January was a success (post to follow), and February has been a bit of a fail so far, due to realising I wouldn't have enough yarn for the giant man socks.. I'm most of the way through an emergency alternative sock though, and have tried toe-up for the first time.