Thursday, June 29, 2006

I love cables

I finished this little baby gift last night, well actually I haven't sewed the buttons on yet but my button sewing technique, in all situations, is to wait until the very last possible moment and then create panic looking for buttons, needle, thread and sew them on speedily while cursing and stabbing my fingers with the needle due to my haste. I have the same approach to repairing the hems on school trousers, I never do it the night before but wait until the car engine is running and clock is ticking while causing chaos at the breakfast table. I like the idea of sitting in the evenings with my mending basket and feeling smug but in reality I always have something I would rather do instead and I do feel that last minute panic method does help me burn a few extra calories so I am sticking with it for now.

The pattern is a Debbie Bliss one but I left out the Argyle pattern. It was very quick to knit and reminded me that cables are nothing to be afraid of, there will certainly be more cables in my future and indeed more of these tops. This was my first time using Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino and it is a lovely yarn to work with, I do hope it wears well.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

A Noisy Skirt

Amazingly I finished the skirt and I am reasonably happy with the result. The fit is pretty good but I rather wish it was lined. I have noticed that not many of the patterns I like the look of (i.e. the easy ones) have lining, perhaps this is something I need to master, I will have to do some googling on the subject. Anyway, I am getting so in touch with my machine that I have been discovering a whole new area of blogs which led me to this. This is a lovely blog and seeing that skirt I immediately hotfooted it off to Miss Twiss for my very own pattern, can't wait to get my hands on it.

I am still knitting and have a finished Arabella which is just patiently awaiting a tie cord. I cast on this baby tank top from a few days ago, using the Debbie Bliss baby cashmerino. It is a quick knit and I like the yarn, the cables have been quite sucessful which is surprising since the last time I cabled was when I was a student with a penchant for knitting ill-fitting sweaters well out of my skill zone with a carefree attitude towards gauge and pattern directions. This is turning out so cute that I plan another one right away and it may well become my standard boy baby gift, it will make a change from the little sweaters I normally make.

Look, cables!

The weather seems to have settled into gloomy drizzle, hence the lousy photographs, and it really feels quite cold in the house which of course means we need chocolate, a batch of chocolate chip cookies was quickly conjured. These are flatter than normal, perhaps something to do with the level of 3ry old intervention? Still, I tested a couple and I'm pleased to say the flatness does not appear to affect taste at all. Perhaps I should test another now, just to be sure there is no delayed reaction......

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Food and sewing

Most Fridays I bake and yesterday was no exception. This was the first time out for this recipe, a lemon cake, but very different to our usual lemon drizzle. A crisp pasty base and a sort of lemon meringue like topping. Not bad at all, as you can see the cook rather spoiled the look of the thing by test tasting before it cooled, thus causing the lemony topping to ooze out, it didn't cause these household consummers any problems though and was polished off rather quickly.

I have been getting closer to my sewing machine again and completed this little dress for Tilly. This was such an easy pattern apart from the bias binding which I expect is one of those things you just have to keep practising. I am really pleased with how it turned out. No fabric details I'm afraid, it is more of my remnant shop treasure, I have enough left to perhaps make a skirt for me which would be fine I guess as long as we didn't wear them together.

We had another edible treat on Friday, our very own home grown potatoes. Gosh they were good. I made them into a warm salad with green beans (warm salads are very "now" you know, or so the Sunday Times told me last week). They were scrumptious but sneaked a few test potatoes for myself and just drowned them in a little butter, oooohhh, they were better than Jersey Royals, honnestly. I have strong feelings about potatoes and probably spend more time than I should thinking about them, I think it is because I'm Irish, it's quite true that we do like our potatoes.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

My Sewing Machine and I

Aaaahh, the children are off school and playgroup with bad coughs. They are not ill enough to be immobilized in bed and frankly I was all for sending them today (they were off yesterday too) but my kinder hearted husband thought I should keep them off another day, he seemed concerned about them spreading germs. Well really, where does he think they got their coughs in the first place? What's more, I thought we were supposed to encourage sharing. So, here I am stuck in with children who are already a little stir crazy following days of wind and rain, fingers crossed they are fit to return tomorrow as Friday is a teacher training day.

I have been planning on making friends with my sewing machine for some time. I have always had a machine and would hate to be without it but it really only gets used for curtains, blinds and cushions. I have been lusting after the Japanese Craft books I see popping up on blogs and having sold some bits on ebay thought I would treat myself. This arrived a couple of weeks ago.

I love this book, I love it so much I have now ordered a couple more. I don't read Japanese which is a bit of a problem but I get the gist of it I think and I knocked this little bag up just to help me get my head around the whole thing. The outer fabric is Laura Ashley, remnants from a friend, excellent remnants actually as I have so far used them to make a blind for Tilly's room, matching cushion and now this. I lined it with some Amy Butler fabric which I snatched up on my last visit to the local bargain fabric mill. I am pretty pleased with how it came out and the next one will be something for me. Hopefully I will get to grips with interfacing for the next one.

Something that particularly caught my eye in the book was this lovely use of embroidery. It reminded me that for ages I have liked the idea of using one of the children's' pictures in this way and yesterday I actually started to play around with my machine a bit and might try something soon.

I love this bag too and have some gorgeous linen stashed which might be just thing, it would look lovely with the linen trousers which I began making two years ago and still haven't finished.

One problem I always have with sewing projects is committing to cutting the fabric. I have decent little stash of fabrics but find it hard to actually decide to use them, I'm always worried that I'll regret it because the next week the perfect opportunity for that fabric will present itself. I am determined to stop being so precious and just start going for it. I cut some of this up to make a very easy skirt pattern, yes OK, a very loud skirt but I think it will be fine with a plain tee?? It just needs a zip now, (yes I know, like the poor old trousers) but hopefully mentioning them here will shame me into pushing on with finishing these things.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Visiting friends

I've been baking again, sustenance for a very dear friend who came to visit from faraway. I tried out a new recipe for Oat and Raisin biscuits, taken from Linda Collister's "cookies, biscuits and biscotti". I had to make a few changes, I was running low on a few ingredients (probably because of all the baking I've been doing lately). The result is excellent, more of a cookie than a biscuit and of course obviously the oats with all their super food properties cancel out thesugar and butter. Don't they? Oh and lets not forget the raisins, that's one of our five a day. My goodness, these cookies are practically a super food themselves, I'm going to have another one right now.

My husband hasn't been been around to sample this batch of baking because he set off for Le Mans on Tuesday morning. I have been taking advantage of his absence by slobbing around, letting the children run wild, eating lots of fish (his greatest failing is a dislike of fish) and knitting in bed while catching up on the Archers. Ahhh, life's little pleasures.

My dear friend Kate arrived on Wednesday with her lively 2 year old and scumptious new baby, they have been excellent company and we found time between watching children and chatting to visit my neighbour's garden.

Not bad eh? We spotted our friend George on the lawn bathing in tourist admiration.

Sadly the neighbours did not invite us in for tea. Perhaps they didn't have a chance to clean up and were embarassed.

The Gardens are breathtaking and inspiring and my head is bursting with more ideas and plant desires than I could ever squash into my very much smaller plot. The views down the valley and across to the mountains are incredible although I was tickled when my friend said she thought perhaps I had better views from my little cottage. Irritatingly I did not take a notebook and of course now I am struggling to recall the names of some of the things I would like to locate for my garden, of course this would not of bothered my grandmother who always took a large handbag on garden visits and inspite of being a law abiding citizen in every other way, thought nothing of slipping out her scissors to take a cutting of anything that caught her eye.

Monday, June 12, 2006

The kindness of knitters

I know I have said this before but I am frequently overwhelmed by the kindness of knitters. There is my lovely LYS owner who always likes to chat and remembers and enquires after my current project. Then there are the online yarn supppliers whom I have never met and yet still provide a fantastic and personal service. Kerrie at Hipknits went to the trouble of contacting another customer when I contacted her after running short of yarn on a project. That customer then had the kindness to send me her leftovers along with a lovely card. That sort of thing just doesn't happen in the likes of Homebase or Boots.

Today I received in the post the lovely packet pictured above, this lovely gift came from Vicki. I previously admired the bathmit on her blog and she sent me this ball of yarn which includes the pattern on the ballband. Amazingly the colour matches my bathroom tiles beautifully.

Dylan has a friend coming for tea today and in anticipation of his ferocious appetite (last time he consummed 5 Petit Filous), Tilly and I made a batch of Jane's Oaty Vanilla Biscuits. Jane's recipes are fast becoming as well thumbed as Delia in my house. These biscuits are brilliant, the waft of vanilla as I was photographing proved too much for me and there are now two less biscuits for our hungry visitor.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

A cake for summer

Sundays are my favourite day of the week, winter and summer. We rarely leave the house apart from a walk in the surrounding countryside and it is good to have a day when nothing needs to be done, sometimes we invite friends for dinner and that is good too. On Sundays we normally do our best to eat as much food as possible believing (rather optomistically) that the long family walk we usually take will somehow work off these extra calories. We begin with our full English (or in our case it's more Irish/Welsh breakfast), later than normal and do usually skip lunch but make up for that by indulging in early afternoon tea and cake and then a fully roast dinner with a good old fashioned pudding a little later. Today the cake was vanilla with strawberry icing, the strawberries came from our very own garden and were delicious. The recipe came from Good Food Recipe and is rather splendid, to irresistable for Tilly whose fingermarks can be seen in the icing.

The heat of the afternoon meant we delayed our cake eating and instead served it with strawberries and cream after dinner, it was rather good.

Today our walk was a little more energetic than usual as we took a water pistol each, I guess the extra energy expended in running around with a water pistol means I can have my tea and cake this evening.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Casting on again

I have finally made a start on my Rowan Exchange project although I'm having doubts already. I hate it when I have these indecisive periods. Sometimes I am absolutely certain about something and at other times I am plagued by indecisiveness.

Now what do you think of this? First we had this and like this it stayed for a good few weeks, then this weekend ithere was a burst of activity from the husband and it became this.

It's seems to be growing a little bigger than I expected, more tree towers than treehouse but the children are so excited and I guess it keeps my husband and his two mini slave/fetch and carriers occupied and out of my hair. This is the first time he has ever attempted anything like this and I think he is doing OK really, it has certainly been a steep learning curve. My job is to provide cushions and a flag for the finished dwelling, I think I can manage that but I may have to make a buying trip, most of my stash fabrics are a little too floral, I think some sort of ticking or deckchair type stripes would be perfect.

After all that work at the weekend I indulged my husband with some of this.

Mmmm Eton Mess, of a sort, scrumptious.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Happiness in the post

My Gladioli are still blooming beautifully and making me feel glad but on Saturday morning the postman brought me something to put an even bigger smile on my face, my One Skein secret pal package arrived and I couldn't be more delighted. This is the first time I have participated in anything like this and I just wish I'd tried it sooner. How fantastic to get a suprise package in the post, it was so much fun to carefully undo the lovely wrapping paper and inside was the most deliciously squishy ball of Bamboo yarn. I think my secret pal must have a sixth sense because I have been longing to try some of this yarn for some time and the colour is such a gorgeous vibrant shade of purple. There was a beautiful card too and then another long thin package, hmmm what could this be? Wow, a most unusual pair of knitting needles, beautifully smooth and light and a gorgeous ivory colour. I have been furiously knitting all weekend so I can finish something off and then cast on anew on these lovely needles, I think tonight may be the night. This knitting exchange thing is so much fun, it is so lovely to get a gift which has been so well thought about, I hope that this will be the first of many exchanges for me. I plan to send my first One Skein package off this week and can't wait to get a reaction, I do hope she is as happy with her gift as I am with mine.

I have also finally decided what to make for my Rowanette Exchange, I have been very indecisive about this but I am almost 99% sure of what to make now and plan a trip to my local "supplier" tomorrow, I just hope she has the colours I want or I may have to rethink, again.

Now, I'm going to leave you with something special, control yourselves ladies, it isn't even spun yet....My neigbours have been sheep shearing, I tell you, it was all I could do to control myself, wool, glorious wool.

Thursday, June 01, 2006


Good Gracious, I don't know where the week is going. One family of four, one long weekend away equals seemingly endless piles of washing and anyone would think the house had a wild party while we were away, surely I didn't leave it in such a mess? The good news is the sun is shining which seems to elevate the mood of the entire household, I am feeling glad again. I picked up some gladioli with my shopping this week, I know they aren't very fashionable but I rather like their gangly arrogance, I gathered the last of the lilac from the garden to partner them and some lovely shiny ivy (although as I scrabbled about for the right bits to cut I couldn't help thinking of Carol's comments about the rats in her part of the world and their fondness for hiding in ivy, since reading that I always cut ivy with a dog at hand, I'm hoping they would soon alert me to the presence of any visitors lurking).

I was thrilled by all the lovely comments about Birch. My friend was delighted with her shawl and I'm so pleased I made it for her. She certainly deserves some spoiling at the moment with a two year old, 4 week old baby and enormous building works going on, not to mention a husband who works from home and we all know that has its good points and its very bad points. The baby is scrumptious and I had lots of cuddles, I'm planning more baby knits already.

I have another little finished object to share, a lacy scarf from the Debbie Bliss Silk book, knitted in Debbie Bliss. I love the colour and this yarn really gleams.