Saturday, April 29, 2006

Guilt free cake

At the start of the week my eagerly awaited copy of One Skein arrived. The approaching birthday of a friend was the only excuse I needed to immediately rummage through my stash and cast on for a knitted cupcake. I used some cream handknit cotton for the base and for the top a combination of 2 shades of Kidsilk Haze and a strand of 4ply soft. I cannot even begin to tell you how ridiculously pleased with myself I am. I love this knitting recipe, I fear this may be the first of many knitted cakes for me, I may even purchase some novelty yarn for the first time in my life. In the same way that I often have the urge to add shockingly lurid food colourings to my otherwise organic, E number free baking I now feel the need to make lurid, shocking and artificial yarn tops. My "embellishments" box is looking a little empty, I need to shop for beads and things to decorate my knitted cakes. I almost cut up one of Tilly's plastic necklaces for this one, luckily the voice of reason stepped in just in time. Of course, providing I don't purchase too many icing yarns, this project is a great stash reducer too.

I even made a little card to go with the cake, I'm rather pleased with this too and I used up some of that quilting fabric that I've been stashing over the years which makes me feel a little less guilty about the fact that I've never actually begun to quilt with any of it. OK, I realise it is only a very small amount I have used, but hey, it's a start.

I don't seem to have had much opportunity to blog this week. Dylan returned to school on Tuesday and Tilly was back at playgroup on Wednesday so mostly I've been catching up in the house and garden. We moved into this house in October so we really haven't seen much of the garden yet, it is lovely waiting to see what emerges and suddenly this week I noticed these blooms errupting from a rather dark corner. Late for Camelias, everyone elses seem to have been out for a few weeks now but these bushes are tucked down the side of the cottage on a North facing wall. I am delighted with them, my previous gardens have been missing camelias and rhodedendrons inspite of the fact that I love them dearly. I like the dark glossy leaves and the big, glad, glorious blooms. They remind me of Ireland too, so many places we visited as children had huge towering avenues of rhodedendrons where we would have wonderful adventures. Our little woodland area is bursting with life too, the daffodils are fading but bluebells are casting that gorgeous blue haze everywhere the oaks are beginning to unfurl their leaves. Another month of course and that whole are will be knee high in nettles and bramble but at the moment it is a lovely place to sit down for five minutes. On the downside it turns out much of the emerging green leaves in the garden flower beds are in fact ground elder. The first house we bought together had a garden full of ground elder too, I don't use weedkillers so I will just have to keep digging and mulching I suppose.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

More about the neighbours

I've been chatting to my neighbours (the human ones this time) and they have been filling me in on all the gossip about Mr and Mrs Peacock. Mr Peacock was originally abandoned. Someone simply flung him over the wall of our other neighbours at the big house , makes you think doesn't it? What sort of person abandons a peacock? Anyway, after a year or so M'lady of Manor felt it was time to play matchmaker and Mrs Peacock was duely purchased. The couple have been inseparable every since, although I must say I do think Mrs Peacock is a saint to put up with his posturing and shrieking, but still no little peacocks. Now that the gardens are coming into bloom they are pretty busy with visitors so the Peacocks come up to our part of the world for a little peace and quiet. They like to gaggle with the geese, philosophise with the ponies and harass the dogs. Mr Peacock has been seriously strutting his fabulous stuff lately so maybe, just maybe there will be some babies, unless of course he is just all about the tail....

This week I did manage to finish this little rabbit. It is a Debbie Bliss pattern. Poor thing has been languishing, headless, in my basket for almost a year. She is now complete and I did intend her as a gift to someone who is about to become a big sister, unfortunately Tilly is delighted with Miss Holly (her idea) so I may have to knit another, we'll see.

Tomorrow is one of those school inset days and then things return to normal and my house should get the good clean it is in desperate need of since the Easter holidays began. I'm not especially fussy but even the dogs are beginning to look rather disgusted with the state of the place. We have had fun these holidays though and some splendid weather this last week has made for great adventures outside. In fact the children have been outside so much I'm not quite sure how they have managed to make so much mess inside, I guess they are very quick about it as they are passing through. Oh, by the way, who thought a sledge could only be useful in snow? Tilly demonstrates the only way for a girl and her buggy to travel.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

The importance of flapjacks

Flapjacks are held in high regard in this house and it would be very unusual for me not to have the necessary ingredients to hand at all times. We like a plain, traditional flapjack and although we sometimes discuss the possibility of adding other ingredients we rarely try them for the fear of disappointment is just too great. Husband and son are inflexible in their opinion of what makes a good flapjack, Dylan voices it as "chewy and crunchy". Tilly and I are less not quite so fussy, although we do like a certain amount of chewiness and of course none of us can resist the illicit joy of eating a warm flapjack, not yet cooled or even cut. There was a recent occasion when I arrived home to find a newly baked and cooling batch of flapjacks almost gone with a guilty looking husband and son trying to persuade me that I had foolishly left the flapjacks within reach of the dogs, as if!

Now I'm going to tell you something silly about me. As you can imagine with such a taste for flapjacks, Golden Syrup features frequently on my shopping list but for some reason I cannot bring myself to buy it in the modern, more convenient indeed, plastic pour bottle. I will only buy the tin and if it is unavailable I will try somewhere else. Foolish I know and I will be absolutely mortified if they decide to discontinue the old style tin altogether, no doubt one day I will just have to give in but for now it is the tin I love and I will not be swayed elsewhere. Oh, just one more thing, as a child in the 1970's a favourite treat was Golden Syrup dribbled on white bread, disgusting I know, mmmmm.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Visitors today

Our neighbours, Mr and Mrs Peacock, came by today. I caught them at the stables just passing the time of day with our other neighbours, Smokey Joe and Turbo, which I must say is a very pleasant thing to do. Smokey and Turbo are excellent listeners and ask for no more in return than maybe the odd scratch behind the ear. Not much time for knitting these last few days but instead I give you the childrens offering of a fairy garden.Now I'm going to sit back of the sofa with knitting, wine and I Capture the Castle.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Think calming thoughts

The holidays continue..... Today we were forced (mainly by the advancing possibility of starvation) to go shopping. Farmers market first of all for some lovely beef for Sunday, the children were so complimentary to my butcher about his sausages and bacon that he gave them a free burger each! I'm somewhat outraged given that I go every week and he never gives me any freebies.

So far so good. We then went in search of some new books and I was delighted to find copies of A Passage to India and The Heart of the Matter in the charity shop. A happy bunny, I then took the children to Ottakers where we picked up the third title in The Lion, Witch and the Wardrobe series, which Dylan and I have been working our way through together; and then arguments proceeded as I had said they could both choose a book each. They immediately went for overpriced sticker books based on recent movies. I couldn't bring myself to part with the money for things that I saw as such a load of rubbish but I had said they could choose for themselves (more fool me). Luckily Dylan was easily persuaded towards something that felt better value for money but things got a little strained with Tilly, eventually we compromised. I also picked up The Mysterious Affair at Styles and I'm really looking forward to starting this tonight, I don't think I've read an Agatha Christie since I was about 14 and used to sneak a look at the ending because I just couldn't bear the supense.

I do seem to be having a love affair with the 20s and 30s at the moment. I am enamoured with Charleston and Regency in the latest Rowan and in the post this morning I received the latest Gudrun Sjoden catalogue, I have been fantasizing about the 1920s fashion story within, sadly I will probably not purchase any of them because they don't go so well with the reality of my lifestyle but I like to daydream about standing on that platform awaiting my train to exotic destinations nonetheless.

It was pleasant morning up until we went to Asda. I will say only that the checkout lady told me it was the busiest day of the year and leave the rest to your imagination. I am trying to forget the experience as quickly as I can.

So, now to knitting. My luscious silk is a pleasure to work with but I wish I had not fallen quite so in love with the pattern before telling myself sternly that it is a 2 x 1 rib and may drive me to pull out my own fingernails. Just as well it is a fairly small knit otherwise I might very well lose patience. I only started this project to give me a break from acres of tedious stocking stitch in my Denim project. I'll show that another day, it is burried at the moment, out of sight, out of mind and all that.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Shhhh, don't let the children hear....


It is only day 2 of the Easter holidays but already I am hiding from the children, actually technically not only am I hiding but I may in fact be physically glued to the floor, that's what happens when you let small children make flapjacks.

Day 1 went well, the sun was shining and anyone would have thought Spring had arrived in North Wales but the weather caught itself on last night and remembered that hoardes of caravans would be descending on this part of the country in the next couple of weeks so the winds began to blow and the rain came down and down and down. No doubt washing away most of those seeds we spent yesterday optomistically sowing.

I must show you my new greenhouse potting table, recycled from our old bed. I'm very impressed with my husband's handywork, he isn't a keen diyer but he knocked this up on Sunday. Yesterday Dylan helped me weed the greenhouse borders and generally tidy up, he proved surprisingly useful although is keeness to garden in the greenhouse does suggest he is something of a fairweather gardener. I do love greenhouses, this is only a small and rather dilapidated one, we moved here in October and I have only just got round to doing something with it now, there is a large grapevine inside although I am somewhat anxiously waiting for this to spring into life following my pruning attempts, I do hope I haven't killed it. I find it very satisfying to be pottering in a greenhouse when the weather is less than pleasant outside and it always reminds me of my late grandmother, known to all as Nana Huston, she had a lean-to greenhouse attached to her kitchen and it was the greatest thrill to be allowed to potter in there making shell dollies and flowerpot sculptures.

Friday, April 07, 2006

On holiday again!

Unbelievably the children are on holiday again, how can this have happened, I feel like I've only just tidied up the house after half term finished. Fridays are normally a good day with me, I usually have the house fairly clean and ready for the weekend (although I really do wonder why I bother as it is normally demolished by 10am on Saturday), do some Yoga, bake something wicked, (lately Jane's scrumptious Rockbun recipe, here has been a firm fixture) and maybe even sit down and drink Green tea, test the something wicked (because obviously 1 hour of Yoga once a week will completely cancel out all the calories consumed in the next 48 hours) and knit a little before collecting the children. It is a great start to the weekend. But, today was not to be like that. After a week dogged by car troubles I am behind on all my errands, the car is finally back normal, fingers crossed, but today I had to catch up on all of that and spend the morning in the hairdressers, hopefully having my hair returned to the colour it was a few visits ago. Thankfully I'm happy with my hair now (well ish, obviously I still don't seem to look like that photo of Meg Ryan that I keep showing them, which is strange, it surely can't be my face that's wrong, can it??). Anyway, that all took far too long but did give me the opportunity to gorge myself on trashy magazines and then I rushed into town to catch up on all my errands with not enough time meaning I will have to finish off next week with children in tow, grrr.
This week I did manage to complete one knit, another of these little Erika Knight sweaters, this one is destined for a little boy, due in about 3 weeks. I still need to sew on some ribon for the closure but I'm still feeling smug about finishing it in such good time.

Tonight I'm going to be working on turning the gorgeous silk pictured above into one of these cardigans from this book in this beautiful yarn. Of course I don't have to start something new, I could get on with poor husband's neglected cardigan, but somehow.....I just haven't got the willpower to resist the desire to cast on something new.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Wool Glorious Wool

We are lucky enough to have these ladies and their babes residing in the field behind our house and it is surprising just how much time we all spend gazing out the window watching the antics of the lambs. My husband recently commented on this and wondered why such playful, mischievous and lovable creatures grow up to be so, well, boring! As adults their minds lose all thoughts of play and become singlemindedly obsessed with grass, grass and more grass. When my husband looks out the window at our these ladies somewhere in the back of his mind are thoughts of roast potatoes and mint sauce. When the children look out they think, ahhhh, so cute. But, when I look out I think "wool, glorious wool". Their coats look so soft and fluffy, it sets my mind to dreaming.
And to accompany my woolly daydreams? Lemon drizzle cake, with extra lemon drizzle and a cup of Earl Grey enjoyed in what definately feels like Spring sunshine, finally. Perfectly lovely.

Maybe this sunshine will mean that I can begin to do something with all these seedlings which are rapidly taking over every window ledge in the house.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Clapotis Clopotis

I am an idiot, I can't believe how grossly I miscalculated my yarn requirements. I worked out quite early on that there probably wouldn't be enough but in that optomistic daze that seems to come over knitters from time to time I just kept going as though the yarn might magically multiply in my basket while I wasn't looking. As I approach the end of the last ball I must finally face up to facts, there just won't be enough and it is now to late into the pattern to make any drastic changes, I am an idiot.

So what to do? The yarn is an Aran weight silk from Hipknits and as you can see it really is gorgeous and making for a beautiful Clapotis. I checked the Hipknits site but of course there was no more of this colourway so I emailed in hope and get this.....the lovely Kerry at Hipknits replied that sadly she has no more lurking but if I send her some of the yarn she will do her best to match! Isn't that the most fantastic service? It got me to thinking, it seems to me that members of the knitting and crafting world are wonderfully generous, sharing, thoughtful human beings, wouldn't it be nice if certain high street establishments (I'm thinking in particular of a Restaurant chain in which we had the recent misfortune to dine, the experience dogged by appalling service brought to us by miserable staff) perhaps made a point of employing staff with an interest in knitting or crafting?

Now I must go and make the most of Tilly's nap time and do some of the things that are not so easy to do when assisted by a three year old. I can hardly believe it is almost school holiday time again when chaos in the form of "imaginative play" (to put it nicely) will once again rein in this house.