Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Get your Toast on

I am entirely won over by Autumn's charms now, happy to let summer fade away. The first evening fires of the season and a basket brimming with yarn make my heart beat with contentment.

There truly is no better time to be a knitter than Autumn, it is so gratifying to pull out the woollen scarves and cast on for a new sweater. On Friday a nip in the morning air and a browse through the latest Toast catalogue filled me with an immediate need to cast on for something new.

A pair of Toast of course, as created by the very lovely Leslie at A Friend to Knit With.

Cast on for the first one on Friday evening and cast off the second on Sunday, wore on Monday. So very gratifying.

This time I used a yarn new to me, Sirdar Balmoral , a really rather nice and very reasonably priced combination of wool, alpaca and silk. I may even knit up a sweater in this, I just wish they would broaden the colour range.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Little things

Some weekends are big, full of friends and laughter, food and wine, outings and plans. Other weekends are very much smaller, but still so very good in their own way.

This weekend was a small one. The children are exhausted with their back to school routine, already there is the feeling that half-term cannot come quick enough for this household but we had a quiet, re-charging sort of weekend.

Lazy weekend breakfasts finish up with coffee and the weekend papers.

Card games played and new tricks learned.

Autumn puddings baked and eaten. A fire lit and enjoyed whilst watching the rather wonderful Downton Abbey and dreaming of weekends gone by.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Light as a feather

The knit that almost did not make it. You may remember that I cast on for a Featherweight Cardigan way back in July . There was a rather terrible dog related incident but repairs were painstakingly made and the knit continued with no real problems.

Indeed the pattern was a joy to knit, Hannah Fettig's patterns are well written and simple to follow, they make working with lace-weight yarn a pleasure, the knitting grows quicker than one might think and the simplicity of the design really shows off the beauty of the yarn.

I used Malabrigo Lace which was adorable to work with and apparently makes itself quite adorable to young male ruffians of the canine kind.

For once the knit was completed and lovingly blocked I set it carefully on top of the ironing pile ready to wear the next day.

It could not be worn the next day, for it was discovered in the hooligan's bed, sporting a very large hole underarm.

I felt rather despondent about the whole thing and just put it aside for weeks and weeks. Then one September evening I pulled it out again and set to work. Somehow I patched the offending area and somehow it really isn't so very bad.

So you see, Featherweight Cardigan, the knit that almost never was.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

The place to be

I can feel it on the wind, I can inhale its scent underfoot. Autumn is in full swing and at last I am ready to embrace the new season, the one I privately think of as The Knitter's Season. The sun sinks lower in the sky almost daily and tinges the changing colours of the landscape with every shade of warm gold to russet.

My daily dog walks are such a joy at this time of year, the ground soft and mossy beneath our feet, the slight crispness in the air, the thought of warm coffee on arriving back home and the welcoming smell of a stew in the oven.

I browse Ravelry in the evenings, my appetite for knitting re-invigorated, my head full of sweaters, my hands busy.

And my kitchen. Oh how I love my kitchen in Autumn, surely the place to be. I have been baking and baking, perhaps a little inspired by the strangely compulsive viewing of The Great British Bake Off. Victoria Sponge, Lemon Drizzle, Chocolate Chip Cookies and a rather fancy sort of Raspberry Cake. I have loved every moment, the smell of a cake rising in the oven, mmmm.

And of course it is preserving season. I love to jam and pickle, seeing the filled jars line the pantry gives one such a very wonderful feeling of smug domesticity. This week Damsons are the order of each day, the tree has outshone itself once more and I cannot bear to waste the crop, I have been picking great bowlfuls and after admiring their deeply coloured beauty I stand stirring and simmering, skimming the stones, my frozen saucer to the side; anxiously waiting for the exact moment of the "set".

Thank you Autumn, I resisted your charms as long as I could but I am all ready for you now, bring it on.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010


Now I realise that reaching 40 is something of a milestone but as I mentioned before, I really don't feel so very old and therefore I was little surprised by my recent absent minded behaviour.

You see, there have been several times lately when I have been to the shops and bought butter. At least, I certainly meant to buy butter, it was on my list and I was almost quite certain that I bought it but whilst putting away the shopping it became apparent that there was no butter.

It happened again.

On the third occasion, I knew I had bought butter, I thought consciously about the act as I placed it in my trolley, I knew there could be no mistake. I arrived home and began to carry the bags indoors, of course the phone rang and distracted me briefly, I finished the call and returned outside for the final bag.

The evidence would seem to suggest that I may not have forgotten the butter previously. The thief is quite ashamed. He retreated beneath the table to show his regret. Whilst licking his lips.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Lemon aids

Throughout the summer I generally bake a little less and the baking I do is often of a different nature to my cold weather fare. Summer baking features light sponges and plenty of raspberries, this year there was fresh cherry cake, raspberry and almond cake, Victoria Sponges filled with strawberries and frequent helpings of meringue. And there were plenty of lemons. My kitchen is never without lemons, they seem to provide the perfect answer all year around.

In summer they are sharp and refreshing and in winter their oily zest is the perfect tonic.

On a grey day they cannot be matched, grey and yellow, a perfect combination.

A sweet crisp pastry with a lemon drenched eggy topping. Lemon aids mood improvement.

Lemon Bar recipe from Cookies, Biscuits and Biscotti (The baking series)

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Getting technical

Somehow or another I found myself turning 40 a few weeks ago. How this came to be still seems something of a puzzle to me, it really does seem only yesterday that I was 30 but a decade has rushed by trailing me in its wake. I do not feel 40 and I am not sure that I have gained the sort of wisdom and gravitas that a lady of 40 should have.

I am very much still the sort of person who might leave the house with her skirt tucked into her knickers and I am not sure that should still be happening at 40.

Now I think I am a pretty easy person to buy for, any trinket, junk, antique, fabric, accessory, gallery type shop is sure to yield at least half a dozen things which I would certainly be over the moon with and The Technical Advisor knows me well. One of the first things he ever bought me was a coffee machine but he learned his lesson well and I cannot think of a disappointment since, he particularly shines in the jewellery department.

This year he went technical. A definite risk, yes. I am not a ga
dget girl. I have owned a mobile phone for about ten years now, it has most certainly never been the latest model, it has often been The Techical Advisor's cast off, I have never known the number and rarely kept it charged. I could not have easily told you the make of any of the phones I owned and you could certainly count upon fingers and toes the quantity of text messages I have ever sent.

So you might think he was taking a chance by giving me an iPhone for my birthday!

But The Technical Advisor judged me well. I do so love this phone. I think Apple designed this phone just for people like me - a whole previously untapped market, the non-technical housewife type. I can text now, because Apple make it easy to add correct punctuation. I can listen to music. I have the Waitrose app and I recently completed Angry Birds. The BBC iPlayer app means I can catch up on The Archers whenever I need to and my Met office app means my need to continually check the weather forecast is easily met. I even kind of like that The Technical Advisor gave me a spirit level app.

And of course, I love, love that my new toy really rather lends itself to being sewn for.

Friday, September 03, 2010

Another year

I know that I am not the only one to still mark the passing of the years according to the school calendar.

September bustles in with new shoes, freshly sharpened pencils and eager resolutions. It is of course infectious. Today I began to dust and tidy, folding away the summer, preparing for a new season. My head full of plans and thoughts.

I cannot help but feel that August raced by all too quickly but as with the arrival of every new season I have that feeling of anticipation, looking forward to all the good things each new season brings. Autumn is certainly a rich season, blackberries and shiny conkers, cool evenings and the first smells of wood smoke drifting through the village, golden sunshine overhead and damp moss underfoot.

As always I saw the children back to school with an ache in my heart, all too aware of their growing independence, soon I will adjust once more to the quiet of my days and I will rejoice in my peace and solitude but it takes a little while to appreciate the stillness of the house once more. The house and I need to adjust again, at first we miss the noise and chaos of the summer days.