Sunday, 28 August 2011

Free food

Today when I woke up early it was sunny and fresh outside so I pulled on some clothes over my pajamas and headed for the garden. I'm visiting my dad and he has a large, over grown garden with an apple tree and masses of brambles.
 After half an hour of picking I was covered in blackberry juice and scratches and I had enough apples and blackberries to make a crumble. And I'd eaten plenty of them too, to keep my energy up for the picking.

Yay for free food.

My dad's having a clear out and furnished me with this nifty biscuit barrel from the 1970's - it's hideous but somehow great, and a worthy home for my biscuits. 

Time for a batch of giant cookies, they're the perfect size for it. Or maybe something a little more 'retro'.

Sunday, 21 August 2011

Tea (cosy) and Crumpets


Yesterday I made a fine big batch of crumpets and finished a fine big tea cosy. The tea cosy is from this pattern and took me longer to make than I expected. It's garter stitch, which made me think it would knit up fast, but the stranding on every row slowed me down. I sped up once I got into the rhythm of it though and I love the finished cosy. I made it using leftover stash yarn so it feel like I made it for free. It didn't look right until I added the pom pom; sometimes you just need a pom pom in your life.

The crumpets are from this recipe from The Hairy Bikers. They were light and tasted good but when I next make them I'll add a little more salt and definitely more bicarb of soda. I want to get them bubbly on top so they absorb butter better, the function of a good crumpet. I love that you can make crumpets at home; there are lots of things that I've got so used to buying that making them myself for the first time is a revelation. And there's so little to crumpets; I made 12 for the price of a cheap, bog standard, pack of 6 supermarket crumpets with very little fuss or effort. Go thrift!

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Lovely Lemons

This weeks batch of baking is Lemonylicious cupcakes from 'Cupcake Magic' by Kate Shirazi. Wow, they were so simple to make (in the 'low faff' section of the book) but taste light, fresh and sunny. They have lemon juice and zest in the sponge, lemon curd in the centre and a big dollop of creme fraiche on top. The lemon curd and creme fraiche go together well and give a Summary flavour. Here they are nestled up to the book from whence they came.
The book's packed with recipes and is straightforward to read, but also written with a good sense of humour. I especially enjoyed the little section on Kates ex-battery chickens - not what you'd expect from a cupcake book but a nice edition.

I've been trying to soak up every last bit of Summer these past few days (well, on Sunday when it was actually sunny). It's peaceful sitting on the step in the sun, knitting and enjoying the flowers and plants.
Bright stripes, sunshine and flowers in full bloom made me particularly happy.
I love my small garden; it's not much, just a concrete yard, but it's packed with pots of flowers, herbs and veg and is in a fairly quiet corner. I'd love a garden with enough space to grow things in the ground, or an allotment but they're so popular that getting one is a case of dead mans wellies. But at least I have my yard and it's as low maintenance as it could possibly be - hardly any weeding, no digging and no grass to bother mowing! It's quite enjoyable day dreaming about what I'll plant when I have a garden; all the fun of planning without any hard work. And sometimes a mighty beast such as this one comes along to mull things over with me.

Sunday, 14 August 2011

Innocent Cupcake


A mini-hat designed for Innocent Smoothies’ Age UK fundraising. Every winter they appeal to knitters to knit little hats for their smoothies. For every smoothie that’s sold wearing a hat they donate 25p to Age UK. This wee cupcake of a hat is very fast and easy to knit and uses only small scraps of double knitting yarn.


4mm needles

10g each of lilac, cream and red double knitting yarn.


Gauge isn’t too important as it stretches alot, but I was knitting at 20 sts to 4 inches.



PATTERN

Cake


Cast on 28 sts in lilac.


Knit in 1 x 1 rib for 8 rows.


Change to cream and work 6 rows of stocking stitch.


1st decrease row: K2tg across row


2nd decrease row: P2tog across row


Cut yarn, leaving an 8 inch tail, thread through live stitchess and use to sew up the side seam.




Cherry


Using red yarn make a single slip loop on one needle.


(k1,p1)twice then k1 into the loop (5 sts).

Next row: Increase into every stitch to the end of the row (10 sts).

Purl one row.

Next row: (k2tog) five times then pass the 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th stitch over the 1st one and off the needle.

Cut yarn, pull through the remaining loop and fasten off.

Attach cherry to the top of cake.



Now have a lovely cup of tea and a fairy cake.



Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Not just gloom


Riots in the cities,a Summer turned to chilly gloom and my job in jeopardy; not a happy day. But here are some positive things making me feel better:

1) People getting stuck in to help clean up their local areas after the looters. It's heart warming to see such care and help come out of such a bad situation.

2) Getting a lift home when I thought I was going have to walk back from work in the rain.

3) Digging out a batch of home made beef casserole from the freezer to have a tasty dinner with no effort at all.

4)Innocent Smoothies launching their Big Knit 2011. I'm working on a pile of cupcake hats at the moment and I'll be adding the pattern soon. They're fast to make and I'm pleased with how they've turned out.



Monday, 8 August 2011

Second Attempt

Here's my second attempt at icing cupcakes. The cake is chocolate mint iced with mint buttercream and chocolate buttons. The cake mix smelled very enticing, let me tell you. I've done a better job on these with the icing than on my first attempt but there's still a lot left to be desired. I'm going to get a piping bag with a different nozzle and have another go, and I'm hoping that a steady hand comes with practice. I'm pleased with the consistency of the icing though, and I'm lucky enough to have plenty of volunteers to kindly eat each experiment, so progress and treats have both been made.

I've just found this icing tutorial and it was very helpful, it's given me a clearer idea of what to do next time. Hopefully I'll have got it right before me and everyone I know has become too large to fit through the front door...

Friday, 5 August 2011

Little Leo

Today started looking up when I stepped outside this morning and saw sunshine growing in a pot by the front door:
Also, a tiny, perfect red rose that was a tightly closed bud yesterday:
I'm really taken by the sunflowers, they're called 'Little Leo' and they're a dwarf variety. What I didn't expect is that the flowers aren't much smaller than the ones on giant ones and each stalk has three or four flowers growing on it. The miniature rose plant was just a pound from Ikea in February - a worthy investment!




Wednesday, 3 August 2011

Crafty York


I went on a grand tour of the craft places of York at the weekend and found some proper treasure troves for the maker of stuff. Firstly I went to The Viking Loom on High Petergate near to York Minster. It has a large selection of jewellery making supplies, materials for needlepoint, tapestry and cross stitch and has a back room packed full of colourful quilting fabrics, arranged by colour which appealed to my inner 6 year old who used to arrange all her crayons into an obessively perfect spectrum.
This got me itching to learn to quilt, but that was nothing compared to the effect of the next place I visited. The York Quilt Museum took that itch and turned it into an irresistible urge. They have different exhibitions throughout the year in one gallery and in the main gallery and in the other one they rotate the quilts they have in storage every three months. In the main gallery at the moment they have old celebration quilts - ones that were made for births, royal celebrations, beddings - including two quilted wedding dresses which are stunningly intricate (and hot looking - I really hope they were for winter weddings). In the other gallery they have a display of contemporary quilting, and the variety of techniques used there is immense - layering, felting, painting, applique and much more; far beyond your average quilt. Rock and Roll.


Next I went to Poppys yarn shop, which is has a good selection of premium yarns, plenty of sock yarn and a welcoming atmosphere.
After that I paid a visit to Duttons for Buttons - guess what they sell? The bottom floor is packed with buttons, ribbons and thread, the next floor up has needlework supplies and the top floor - 'The Medieval Room' - has recently been opened and sells a small selection of knitting yarn.

On to Ramshambles, a small, packed yarn shop in The Shambles with a range of yarn from budget to premium. Very welcoming and woolly with plenty of full sized knitted sample garments.

Lastly I went to The Gift Gallery, back in The Shambles,  where I wanted to buy around 95% of the contents. They sell handmade jewellery, cards, accessories, home accessories and all manner of unusual and unique things.
Oh, and I also visited Craft Basics in Gillygate but couldn't get a picture as it's on a busy main road and pesky lorries and buses kept getting in the way. I really liked this one, it was packed with a bit of everything in all the nooks and crannies  - I think I even spotted what looked like supplies for basket weaving. 

I came away wanting to try lots of crafts I've never tried before but somehow managed to buy nothing. I was concerned that  if I did I'd buy at random with no particular project in mind, get it all home, realise I didn't know what to do with it all and it would swell my stash dangerously. But I did take away plenty of ideas and, especially from the Quilt Museum, inspiration and enthusiasm.