Thursday, 31 December 2009
Wednesday, 30 December 2009
My first attempt at mitred squares. These will possibly be coasters or I might join them up into.. something.
Mitred squares appeal to me in the same way that the log-cabin knitting did - clever but easy! Actually it's more than that, they're just very satisfying somehow. They feel more like my natural medium than, say, lace. Lace is untidy to me in so many ways - not just how it looks until it's blocked (and sometimes even afterwards) but in its creation. All those rows with different numbers of stitches, the distortion inherent in the process. Granted there's distortion in mitred squares, but ahhh, there's symmetry too! Mitred squares are like simultaneous equations (which were my favourite thing in maths), they prove themselves and have balance.
All hail the mitred square!
Tuesday, 29 December 2009
Chicken soup is supposedly the Jewish penicillin - tattie soup is the Shetland equivalent. Traditionally tattie soup is made using reestit mutton, but as a student I had no access to such a delicacy* so started substituting with chicken, mixing the best of both worlds. Far from traditional it may be, but in my opinion it works very well. Generally speaking I hate soup. But I love proper tattie soup, and now I love my own chicken tattie soup.
1. Chop up an onion and gently soften in oil over a low heat. Meanwhile cut two or three largeish potatoes into cubes, and chop a carrot and maybe some neep (Swede) if you have any. You could add more of the other veg if you prefer, it's personal taste - I tend to limit the carrot as it can make the soup very sweet. Which some people love.
2. When the onion is soft add stock (I use chicken stock made from stock powder because it's easy) and bring to a boil. Then add the tatties, carrot and neep if using.
3. Chuck in some chicken. I either use leftovers from a roast chicken or if I've not done a roast recently I boil a chicken portion (leg, wing, whatever) in. If it's on the bone obviously you'll have to fish it out once it's cooked to remove the meat from the bone. But that's kinda fun.
4. Add half a teaspoon (or more) of mild curry powder. This just gives it a bit of oomph.
5. Simmer for ages. Then simmer some more. I like it to reduce down a bit so it's almost verging on being a stew.
6. Serve, preferably with crusty bread and a squeeze of lemon juice or lime juice. The idea of adding citrus juice (the multicultural bit) came from a Bulgarian friend of my parents who served lemon juice with fish soup. I've no idea if Bulgarians do this with any soups other than fish, but it goes really well with chicken tattie soup as it cuts through the comforting richness of the soup and gives it a bit of zing.
It need hardly be said that it tastes even better reheated the next day, as today's lunch was.
* Halls of residence would probably frown on heavily salted lumps of mutton hanging around the place.
Friday, 25 December 2009
Thursday, 24 December 2009
Wednesday, 23 December 2009
I was slightly organised today and hung various scarves up in the porch to keep them from falling off hooks onto the soggy doormat. I had a moment of knitty joy admiring my work (excluding the gorgeous red pashmina - my brother brought that back from India). I love scarves!
Further to my last post on this blog all those months ago, I've been watching Kirstie's Homemade Christmas - aah, comfort telly! Inspired by that I'm having a go at a wreath tomorrow. Should be interesting. That's after icing the cake - I love doing that! I can't wait to see how it's turned out this year. It's based on a Sue Lawrence Christmas cake recipe but with a few tweaks - the omission of cinnamon, cloves and mixed peel because I loathe them (I replace the spices with extra ginger and the mixed peel with extra dried fruit), and swapping the brandy for whisky. I marzipanned it last night and the whisky fumes were delicious. *drool*
And later the boy and I will be baking 'cookies' of some description - the usual recipe we use is really more like a shortbread recipe rather than a chewy, gooey cookie but the book calls it a cookie so a cookie it is to him.
And, and, and... No, in fact most stuff that needs to be wrapped has been, the food shopping is done (we're low-key with the Christmas food) and all the cards that can be delivered have been delivered. Could it be that we're done? The frenzy is over?
Thursday, 13 August 2009
Learning New Things
Preconceptions and Learning
Liking to learn new things
The Mystifying Knitting
So what shall I learn next?
Friday, 31 July 2009
I'm really quite taken with the section showing the colours used at the end of the Sasha Kagan book - it's attractive in itself, but also interesting to see the unexpected colours chosen.
They even have the odd article on fashion which read oddly in a modern way - 'The Importance of Accessories' could almost have appeared in Red, until it states that 'a woman never looks well-dressed without gloves'! My mum, who remembers the '50s, flicked through the magazines and had a chuckle at that.
Monday, 27 July 2009
Saturday, 18 July 2009
Meanwhile I've done some colouring - an attempt to get my log-cabin panels to not have overlapping colours. I've done the four panels now and need to block them to the same size before sewing them together and then adding some strips at each end.
Monday, 6 July 2009
In fact I was buying using vouchers so I was also throughly self-indulgent in also buying a ball of Baby Alpaca, which is just so soft and squidgy. Really, shopping for yarn is such a multi-sensory pleasure :-).
Wednesday, 1 July 2009
I've been dipping in and out of Mason-Dixon Knitting, my favourite comfort-reading at the moment, and decided to have a go at log-cabin knitting. I like it a lot - it's simple and soothing but satisfyingly something-or-other (square probably). The yarn is some Sirdar Highlander Lopi, a long discontinued yarn I suspect. I've had it lying around for, um, years - I made some naalbinding socks using it (roughly copying the Coppergate sock) sometime last century in our more active re-enactment days.
Notice my mistake (the dotted line) on the first square - I couldn't remember the 'proper' way to pick up stitches so I did it my own way, resulting in it being back to front. Oh well :-).
Friday, 19 June 2009
Alexander's Underpants Alien
Requires: cheapy garish acrylic dk yarn, the brighter the better! And 3.75 mm needles. I used two dpns 'cos they were more transportable being shorter but I did have to remember not to let the stitches slide off the other end.
Cast on 30 stitches and knit 4 rows in stocking-stitch.
Next row: k1, kfb*, k 'til 2 st remaining, kfb, k1.
Next row: purl
Repeat last two rows once.
Continue in st.st for 12 rows.
Next row: k1, k2tog, k 'til 3 st remaining, k2tog, k1.
Repeat last two rows until 26 st remaining on needle.
Next: k1, k2tog, k2tog, k 'til 5 st remaining, k2tog, k2tog, k1.
Repeat last two rows once - should now be 18 st on needle.
St-st 10 rows.
Next row: k1, k2tog, knit 'til 3 st remaining, k2tog, k1.
Repeat last 2 rows once.
Now 14 stitches remaining on the needles.
Next row: cast off 2, knit to end.
Next: cast off 2, purl to end.
Next: knit first 3 stitches onto a stitch holder, then cast off until 3 stitches remaining - knit these onto another stitch holder.
* increase by knitting into front and back of stitch.
Front: as for back.
With right sides facing out, sew up one side of alien to the stitch holders - these will be the antennae/head-tentacles. Using 3 dpns (1 for each set of 3 stitches, and one spare) knit a tube up as far as looks suitably alien. This can be fiddly. Repeat for the other side, then sew up the top of the head (between the antennae). Stuffing the antennae can be tricky - in the end I put a bit of pipecleaner in the antennae. Stuff the rest of the body until comically plump, and sew shut.
Lower tentacles/arms (x2):
Cast on 12 stitches and stocking-stitch for approx. 34 rows or as long as you want really. Cut the yarn leaving a long end, thread this through the stitches from the other end pull tight. Then sew the side shut, stuff and sew end up. Repeat for other lower arm/tentacle.
Upper tentacles/arms (x2):
Cast on 12 stitches and stocking stitch for approx. 22 rows (or as long as you want as long as it's more than about 10 rows shorter than the lower ones). In the next knit row increase into every stitch (by knitting into front and back of each stitch), hence doubling the number of stitches. Stocking-stitch the next three rows, then cast off. Sew up and stuff.
Cast on 14 st and stocking stitch 39-ish rows. On the next knit row, increase into every stitch by knitting through the front and back of each stitch (as with the upper tentacles). Stocking-stitch the next three rows, then cast off. Fold in half and sew up, the foot and side. Stuff from the top and sew up. Attach each leg a few stitches in from the edge of the body.
Making up - attached the lower (longer) tentacles, and then the upper ones. Cut out an oval of white felt and a smaller oval of black felt. With black thread sew the black oval onto the white one. Then with white thread sew the eye onto the head. With contrasting yarn embroider a mouth. If it's wonky it adds to the charm, or so I tell myself.
Pants - I can't find my notes for this so it's incomplete and possibly bewildering.
Cast on 32 stitches.
2x2 rib for 4 rows.
St.st. for 6 rows.
Next two rows - cast off 3 stitches at start of each row.
Then, um, decrease at beginning of next few rows until it looks if there's enough space for the legs. St.st. for at least 6 rows - the length of gusset depends on how well stuffed his bum is - you want his pants to be reasonably roomy. An alien with Builder's Bum doesn't bear thinking about...
Then complete the pants so they're symmetrical - i.e. increase to match shape, then cast on 3 stitches at beginnings of two rows, then st.st. 6 rows and 2x2 rib for 4 rows, and cast off. I will write this up properly when I find my notes!
Sew sides of pants up and dress alien :-D. I'd originally planned to embroider them so they'd look like Y-fronts but ran out of time, so that's an option too.
Tuesday, 26 May 2009
Anyway, it was the Boy's birthday yesterday. I'd made up a 'story sack' for him as a present, rather like the ones they had at school - one fact book, one story-book, and a couple of toys/puzzles, all on a related theme. I chose 'space', got him a Dorling Kindersley kids' book on space, Aliens Love Underpants for the story-book, monster snap and a space jigsaw. Then I thought it'd be fun to make him a knitted alien along with pants to go with it, as he's quite appreciative of my attempts at knitting. So I picked a couple of suitable-looking aliens from Aliens Love Underpants and amalgamated them to make this endearing chap.
I made it up as I went along but noted down as I went so the pattern will be added here when I've deciphered my notes. It's by no means perfect, but I'm quite pleased with it.
Thursday, 2 April 2009
Saturday, 28 March 2009
Thursday, 19 March 2009
As I half suspected the Summer Tweed didn't work out very well with the Swiss Cheese scarf - there's just not enough give in it for the cast-ons after the holes and it's prone to snapping under too much tension. Besides my cast-ons are horribly untidy. So I frogged it and decided to play around with the yarn and see if inspiration struck. I cast on 'some' (didn't count), stocking-stitched a few rows then tried the 'yarn round needle every stitch, drop off the excess non-stitches on the next row' approach. But the yarn isn't 'tidy' enough for that effect to work very well so I was secretly relieved when my two-year-old grabbed the needles and frogged it for me. If she hadn't I'd have felt obliged to stick with it for a few more rows to see if it grew on me!
So attempt three. I had a quick look through Rav to see what other people were making with this yarn and came across a project using Beth Collins' wiggly-waggly Rainy Day Scarf, so I thought I'd give it a try. This is going much better, I'm glad to say. It's the kind of simple but interesting, arithmetically satisfying pattern that suits me. As long as I don't knit when I'm sleepy and miscount the ribbing! On that note therefore, good night..
Wednesday, 18 March 2009
My yarn (Rowan Summer Tweed) arrived today for the groovy little scarf I'm going to make for the Boy's teacher who is leaving at Easter. It's going to be some form of Winnie Shih's Swiss Cheese Scarf, if I can ever get the yarn untangled. It's a metaphor for my life really - starting out with good intentions, quickly descending into chaos, but ultimately, miraculously, resolving itself into something not entirely crap. *rolls eyes*