Saturday, August 22, 2009

Holidays and knitting news

Blogger is playing stupid today and won't let me do anything. Bah humbug - and I had some knitting photos to show you as well.

Anyway, hopefully by the time I get back, it will have sorted itself out.

'Get Back?' you ask? Why yes, tomorrow at some ridiculous early hour of the morning, we are going to Portugal. So we'll see you in a little over a week. Take care all.


Ah well, what do you know - blogger has sorted itself out in a matter of a few hours! Good old blogger eh?
First photo is what I bought at the Colinette shop. I said that I'd never do it again, but I got dragged into the hypnotic effect that is The Colinette Yarn Shop. If you've ever been you'll know just what I mean. Large room filled with hand-knits, gorgeous colours, some very beautiful yarn (and some not so beautiful - why on earth are they still selling Firecracker?) and there's even a bargain section - which although very big never has quite the same pulling power for me!

I tried this jumper on in the shop and loved it so much that I bought the yarn - the one I tried was apparently a size 34! Get that - it fitted my rather ample 40" chest! They're not stupid there are they? Flattery gets you everywhere! This is going to be a nice easy peasy knit. I only hope it doesn't go the same way as all my other Colinette knits - none of which ever fitted properly and ended up in the bin or the charity shop. (Fortunately this is made in a cotton/viscose mix so will frog it rather than binning it.)

Next picture is a completed pair of socks. Yes ladies, I have done it. A whole pair of socks - Monkeys in Posh Emily. I know you don't really like them Mrs Trash, but honestly, try making a pair and I'm sure you'll be converted. They seem to be magic socks - knit up far quicker than any other sock I've ever made. I have loved these so much and know for sure that more will be on the needles one day.

And lastly, the Porphyria mits are completed too. These are going to be for my mother-in-law who suffers from arthritis badly in her hands and fingers and can't get ordinary gloves to fit. So I let her try one on and she really loved it - had trouble getting it back off her!

I used Posh Yarn Daisy for these - there is enough left to make 2 more pairs I think - an absolute bargain! Especially since mum said she wants a pair too and I could do with some as well.

I've bought a couple of very interesting knitting books lately - both of which are jam packed full of things I have to knit. Mad and crazy socks from Blue Moon and beautiful sweaters and cardigans from Veronik Avery.

There is just too much knitting to be done without the bother and interference of cooking, cleaning, refereeing children, going to work and sleeping. Anybody know a good way to avoid all of these things? I'm taking a second sock with me to Portugal too - Ensnared - not a very nice sock to knit, so I'm hoping that by taking just one thing, I won't get tempted to start something else. The bets are now on. Will I finish this sock by the time I get home?

Tell you what, let's have a little competition. How much of this sock will I get done? I am 5 rounds into it so far - it's all done in knitting in the back of the stitch ribbing and is a very slow knit. Nearest guess gets a pressie. Don't know what, but I'll find you something. (Please somebody be optimistic and say it will be done to the very end of the toes!)

See you in 8 days.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Abel and Cole

I was recently asked by the very nice people over at Abel and Cole if I would like to receive a copy of their cookbook. Now I have seen much of this book over the internet in the last few months so was thrilled to have my very own copy.

I must tell you here and now that despite having been a professional cook in my life before children, I'm not very good with cook books. I have great difficulty following a recipe - I always add other things or miss things out, never bother measuring accurately (except for cakes and other bakey things) and am in general a slop-jockey as Mr Stressy puts it.

So I was more than a little sceptical about adding another book to my shelves one that would remain closed until such time as it ended up heading to the charity shop.

But oh boy, oh boy was I excited when I opened this book. Apart from the wonderful photography, the recipes are just crying out to be made. And you know what? There's none of this poncy 'quarter of a teaspoon of this' or 'two tablespoons of that', no, we have proper measurements in this book - mugs, handfuls, glugs, splashes and dollops. Perfect measuring systems for all potential slop-jockeys! The writing is almost irreverent - it's fantastic, I laughed when I started reading it - at last a book written specially for me!

The book is laid out in season order - they encourage you to not only buy organic, but to buy local produce wherever possible - none of this strawberries in winter business.

I couldn't wait to go shopping! The first thing I tried was 'Baba Ghanoush' - aka aubergine dip. So easy peasy and it looked so pretty, perfect for dipping in veggie sticks. I would miss out the raw garlic next time though - bit too aggressive for me!
That was our starter and for our main course I opted for Honey Glazed Salmon (p78) Two way Asian Watercress salad (p92) and Bombayed Jersey Royals (p44 - actually in the spring section, but I just used ordinary new potatoes.

Now I'm not entirely sure Mr Abel would approve of all these very strong flavours together, but I did and it was very, very delicious. Also incredibly simple to make and I will definitely, 100% be making this again. I'm not a big salmon eater, but done like this I think I could eat it every day for a week.

But why bother eating the same thing for a week when there are so many other scrummy things begging to be tasted? I am desperate to try the rhubarb bread and butter pudding also the baked strawberries with honey whipped cream and the sweetcorn and feta salad and the Calcutta lamb burgers might even see the children sampling the delights! There is honestly so much in this book I want to try. I know I've said it before, but this is now my best cook book. It does not sit on the shelf along with the other books, no, it's right at the side of my oven, calling me constantly. Expect to see many more things from the pages of this book on Stashbasket's blog in the coming months!

I really don't want you all to think that I'm just going on about how wonderful this book is because they gave it me for free. It really is great - and Kathryn, if you haven't got a copy yet, put it on the Amazon list straight away! (Or order it from here for free world wide delivery, and it's 50p cheaper too!)

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Wet Wales

Well I'm back - did you miss me? We had a very lovely time in Wales and true to expectations, it rained. But not all the time, and it really didn't bother us - we were prepared for it!

While Mr Stressy was doing some family business, I took the boys for a walk in the woods. Of course they found a stream which had to be paddled in - here you can see them emptying the water from the wellies. Only problem here was that as the water was tipped out of the footwear, it ran down the trousers towards the previously dry-ish nether regions. We squelched all the way home.

We went up into the mountains, you can't see these very well as the mist had come down so low (please note presence of winter coats!)

But just to let you know that it really didn't rain all the time, here we are out on another very pretty walk. Can't quite believe this picture, it's very rare for 3 reasons.
1. I'm not wearing anything hand-knitted
2. Both boys are smiling (BOTH I tell you! what an achievement!)
3. Mr Stressy took the photo - and he managed to get my head in it!

I managed quite a bit of knitting (more on that another day) a visit to Colinette (likewise) and a few long walks - if it wasn't for the fact that I ate fish and chips and loads of chocolate, I'd be quite looking forward to weigh day tomorrow. I haven't forgotten you know - don't forget to own up how kind (or not) the scales have been!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Further update on life

Once again I've been neglecting to tell you what's been happening over at the Stash Basket. Life has been getting in the way. Summer holidays are not all that they were cracked up to be when I was little. Being a parent changes the 6 weeks break dramatically. Gone are the lovely long days when all you had to do was get up, sew, knit, read, play and really do whatever you wanted to. No, parenthood has turned them into a daily battle acting as taxi, referee, peace-maker, peace-keeper, cook, entertainer and of course the bottomless-purse-owner!

Knitting has taken a back seat lately - not forgotten completely, but certainly in the back ground.

It occurred to me that I haven't shown you Soho for quite some time. So here she is - a whole lot bigger than when you last saw her. I have now finished the centre panel and have started the end panels. And you know what? I love this! it's going to be so warm and cosy - I'm not much of a triangular shawl person (they always seem to fall off my shoulders) but this is going to be one great big rectangle to wrap myself up in. Knitted in Posh Yarn (did you honestly think I'd use anything else?!) Martha. Love it, love it, love it.

I managed to get a fair bit of it done yesterday - eldest son was asked to play his first cricket match for the village senior team. I was very nervous about this - my little boy up against grown ups throwing a hard, wood and leather ball at him. I had visions of heading off to the nearest Casualty department!

But I need not have worried. His batting left much to be unconcerned about as far as an anxious mother was thinking (he was out second ball, having been stumped when he left the crease). But his fielding was fantastic - caught 2 men out and did some super bowling. I was very proud of my little man. How can this delightful young man be so charming one day and so obnoxious the next?!

I have had several very late nights recently making a real head ache of a cake. Another tanker, but much more complicated this time. The very humid weather has made this a real problem - the icing just absorbs moisture and becomes very difficult to work with - hence the wonky back!

I used to work for this man and very decent he was too. I liked him (but then I liked most of the people in the ship-broking firm I worked at) so I was just sitting here, wondering what he was like now. So I googled him and oh boy do I now wish I'd charged a bit more for this cake! He really hasn't changed at all in the 15 years since I left - I wonder if my salary would have gone up by £50,000 a year had I stayed on! Or even by that much in 15 years would have been good!

See, that's something else I can blame my children for!!!!!

I went to visit mum and dad one day last week. I love visiting them - just look what was awaiting our arrival with a cup of tea. Yummmy!

Well tomorrow we are all heading off to Welsh Wales for a few days. The car is almost packed, the suitcases are bulging and as ever the wellies, umbrellas and rain coats are in the car and will be used on a daily basis. Expect rain. We always do and we are rarely disappointed! (Once we even had snow during our August break there!)

Nos da.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Casting on again!

Well it's been ages hasn't it since I cast anything on. I wanted to try the way of knitting 2 socks together at the same time on 2 circular needles. I really felt this would stop the problem of making the second sock. Only instead of socks, I wanted to make some fingerless mittens. I followed the instructions on some knitting help web page but failed miserably. So I gave up making 2 and just opted for the one. Hopefully I'll manage to do the second one at some stage!

The pattern is based on Porphyria, and I'm using Posh Yarn Daisy - this is a new yarn to me (80% merino and 20% bamboo). It's a lovely yarn to knit with, will definitely be using this one again.

Here's another cake that was collected yesterday. I was just told 'the theme is punting' - so here's my take on that. I enjoyed doing this one. Much more in my line than the mask one from the other day. The birthday girl has gone punting in Cambridge today, fingers crossed that the weather holds out for them. It's not looking good though...

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Oops, sorry!

I know it's been ages, too long in fact since I last wrote. Life has been busy. (But isn't it always?)

Here is the first of 3 cakes which have been ordered for the next week. I cannot begin to tell you how frustrating this one has been. We had been invited to a masquerade party (yes, we all had to wear a mask) and I'd been asked to reproduce the mask shown on the invitation. Like an absolute fool, I decided to make it 3-d. Why, oh why didn't I do it iced flat on the cake? The feathers kept on breaking (why oh why didn't I use real feathers?). Assembling it was a general night mare, it was so fragile. The photo doesn't show it, but the whole cake was covered in edible glitter so it sparkled and shone.

How are the diets going then? Mine has completely gone to pot and I really must sort myself out very soon before I explode. I mean to say, more lovely diet raffle prizes have been falling through my letter box, so how much more incentive can a girl be offered?

Here we have some very lovely yarn from Kathryn. The plain one is so soft and silky, I want it and the other one - Rowan Colourscape - is such gorgeous rich colours, I want that one too! Wonder if it knits up in stripes - anyone know?

Some beads have arrived from Dotty Cookie - such pretty beads all in their own little neat boxes, complete with some threading stuff (sorry technical term unknown!) and some crimping beads, so you can make yourself some bracelets or necklaces. Oh and guess what. I want that prize too!

Really must get arse into gear over diet (hmm, have said that before somewhere!)

The thing is, when I make things like this for Saturday Pudding, there really is no wonder why I'm struggling is there?

Back to the fruit next week I think. (Remind me I said that will you?)