Saturday, August 30, 2008

Pudding, Cake, Surprise, Cake, Pudding.

It's going to be a busy day for photos today.

First up, pudding. What to make when you have loads of plums in the garden and a scrap of puff pastry left in the fridge? My version of Tarte Tatin. OK, so it's not made with apples and the purists will be aghast, but it tasted pretty damn fine to me!

Next, cake. What to make when you still have loads of plums? Nigel Slater's (if you don't own a copy of this book, I suggest you get one now!) Really Moist Fresh Plum Cake. This is a doddle to make and was delicious - the photo just does not do it justice. More please!

Ah, now onto the Surprise. This is exciting, really exciting. David (aka Mr Stressy) entered a competition with New Zealand Wines before we went on holiday. On our return, he had a letter saying Congratulations, you've won! We ignored it, passing it off as one of those Reader's Digest type circulars (which is what it looked like). But we checked it out, and indeed it was genuine!

The prize? Sadly not a return flight for 2 to New Zealand (or better still a single flight for 1 Mr Stressy!) But 36 bottles of wine!!!! And not just that, a fridge freezer to put them all in too (priced at £937!!). The wine has arrived, no fridge yet, but never mind, Mr Stressy has turned into Mr Sozzled-and-doesn't-give-a-hoot. It's hard work but we're trying to get through this lot... party round here anyone!

More cake now. Golden Wedding cake.

And last but by no means least, Saturday Pudding. Nigel Slater's trifle - made with blackcurrants, mascarpone, cream, cake and all things delicious. I can hardly wait to get my teeth into this one! (We're off to mum and dad's tomorrow so it's actually going there - Sunday pudding instead.)

Back to blanket news tomorrow - it's not too late to join in the fun!

Friday, August 29, 2008

Holiday Knitting

I said I'd let you see the knitting I did on holiday, so here it is. The theme this year was socks!

This pair were started ages ago - Lise from Montreal sent the yarn as a present. It's Handmaiden (I think) Somoko and is wonderful yarn to knit with. It seems really strong so should be hard wearing for socks - very thick too, so these will be my football pair, anticipating the many hours spent at the sides of football pitches in the cold! I'll have enough yarn left over to make a rib at the top, stop them rolling down and making them a bit longer too!

Here's the first Diamond Patch Sock. And I LOVE IT!!!!! When I get round to making the other one, they are going to be mum's Christmas present. It will be a wrench giving them away I can tell you. Posh Yarn Sophia is so beautiful - this yarn was left over from Tipsy. How can you have so much 'left over' Sophia? I must have been very greedy!

And that marks the end of my holiday knitting (apart from the blanket). Didn't get as much done as I'd hoped - why do my family always need feeding? - but at least there was some progress.

As to the blanket (details here and here), it has started on its country-wide visit. Do you want to know when it's coming to you or just leave it as a surprise? I have 7 people on my list and could do with a few more - anyone else willing to join in?

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Knitting For St Dunstan's

And we've started!

Many thanks to everyone who has volunteered to knit a bit of the blanket or knit me a square or 2. I have great hopes for these blankets - hoping in particular that there will be 2 of them! I have started on the stripey blanket and this will now be winging its way to the first person on the list.

There are just a few points to note:-

  1. Please use double knitting weight and machine washable yarn (I used one 50g ball superwash merino)
  2. I've got 180 stitches on and am using 3.75mm needles (these will stay with the knitting)
  3. Once the blanket has arrived at your house, please try and send it to the next person within 2 weeks
  4. Use any stitch or style of knitting - garter stitch to fair isle and anything inbetween
  5. If knitting squares, use sock weight or double knitting, make them 4" square and e-mail me for my address so you know where to send them.
  6. Anyone knitting for this will get a ticket for a raffle prize - unknown at present. Maybe something from The stashbasket or the kitchen or Ally Pally
If you have volunteered for the stripey blanket, please let me have your address so I know where to send it to -Marie-France and Sue - where are you?!

Once it is a reasonable knee-blanket size, I will put an edging on it. Good luck and get the needles clicking!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008


Just before we went away, this incredible picture arrived for me. The truly splendiferous WMK sent it for me (she's nice like that!). You can't see the detail so well on the photo, nor the subtlety of the colours, but just believe me, it's quite beautiful. She had it painted for me and has included lots of little things to do with me (spot the chocolate cake, yarn, chef's hat and knitting needles to name a few). There are words on there that WMK associates with me - but I'm far too modest to tell you those! It is quite the most lovely thing ever and I just adore it.

Thank-you so much WMK. You made me smile for a very long time!


Upstairs along what we loosely call a 'landing' (actually long corridor!) I have a Rogue's Gallery. This is made up of lots of group pictures - David's Squadron from Army Days, my junior school class, my grandparent's wedding, the boy's class photos etc etc. Anyway, mum found this photo and thought it should be in our gallery - my Dad's in there (tall one, smiling, back row) during his National Service days. It's not a big photo, less than 6" x 11", so I took it into the framer's today to get a quote.

I nearly collapsed on the spot. £58.75!!!!!!! I asked how the man could justify that expense - his hourly rate must be about £50. He explained there was a lot of work involved (really? doing what?)

Very politely I told him to get stuffed, phoned up another framer, had a quote for £17 and have sent it away.

So the one from WMK will be following soon when I can bear to drag myself away from the glorious colours.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Holidays and Precipitation

The first few days of our holiday were spent in North Wales. It rained a bit, but then it always does, so we had gone prepared to enjoy a chilly day out on Barmouth Beach. It wasn't that bad though really, my mother-in-law being brave enough to go barefoot!

It had rained a lot before we went though, which gave the advantage of all the streams and rivers being very full. I have never seen this particular stream so full at this time of year. I sat in the sunshine and did a spot of knitting here. Perfect, just perfect (the children had gone fishing with David, so it was very peaceful and tranquil).

After a few days in Wales, we moved to North Yorkshire. This is another place renowned for its damp weather conditions. We did not, however, realise just how damp!

Day 1 was raining so we went to the Sealife Centre at Scarborough. Paid £3 for the pay-and-display car park then later got stung with a parking ticket for not having displayed it correctly! Drove wrong way down a one way street too, so currently awaiting another traffic violation ticket in the post. The sun made a brief appearance. This memorable photo shows a shadow. Not seen again all holiday.

Day 2 was raining so we went to York. Great place. Great shops (yes Warren, I went to Sheepish but didn't buy any yarn!!!!) What lovely people run that shop. I want to work there.

Day 3 was raining so we went for a drive to see the countryside. Do not be fooled by the fluffy white clouds on the right, the ones on the left were very dark and gloomy and soon deposited their contents on us.

Day 4 was raining so we went into the nearest town, found a toy shop, bought Monopoly and a pack of cards. Played Monopoly and cards all day.

Day 5 was cloudy but not raining, so we headed off to the beach (this is Whitby) (I think, forgive me, my brain has turned to mush). Managed half an hour on the beach before a truly wonderful thunderstorm arrived. Might as well have just gone swimming in all my clothes.

Day 6 was supposed to be reasonable weather all day, so we set off for a nice bracing walk round The Hole of Horcum. We guessed it was about a 6 -7 mile round trip, heading deep into this valley, along the bottom and up the sides to stroll along the moors amongst the heather. We had been informed it would take about 3 hours and was beautiful. So off we set. Youngest son slipped in the mud and fell over half way round. Very muddy. Husband swore and cursed. I laughed. Then I fell over and laughed even louder. More mud on arse than I thought humanly possible! (Soaked through trousers and pants!)

Beautiful scenery. Whilst admiring scenery, happened to look at sky. Bugger. Black. It rained like it had not rained all week. Torrential. Hail stones. Thunder, luckily no lightning (no trees to attract stray bolts of lightning, just 4 idiots walking on the moors). Returned to the car after 4 hours - obviously slow walkers - very wet and cold.

Day 7 was our day to leave. The sun was shining. It was warm. The few clouds in the sky were pretty and white and fluffy. Bloody typical.

Knitting and blanket news tomorrow, when my temper has improved and my clothes have dried out! (Oh, and am I the only one obsessed by this song? Bonkers, and I love it!)

Monday, August 11, 2008

Holidays and an idea...

Tomorrow we're going off on our holidays - yippee!!! Yesterday we went to London - another yippee! I love London! Took the boys to HMS Belfast - which if you've never been is the most fantastic place to take difficult-to-please children. 9 decks to explore of this wonderful battleship. Not everyone's cup of tea I realise, but perfect for 8 and 13 year old boys. This is just a brief paragraph because I need to get onto my idea.

Remember ages ago I suggested the Rugz 4 Kidz project that I'd read about? A blanket is knitted by loads of people using one ball of yarn each, the blanket is then given to needy children. Well I liked the idea of giving it to an older person who feels the winter cold so much more than our wee tiddlies. I have e-mailed so many places and have heard nothing from most people, several 'thanks but no thanks' and only one 'ooh yes please'. I was getting a little despondent but when I heard the yes, I was very excited, as it came from one of my favourite charities - one which is not very well known.

Saint Dunstan's is a charity which helps blind ex-service men and women. A very good friend and former work-colleague of ours has been helped so much by them. Can you imagine life without sight? It is a prospect which would fill me with horror.

It would be great to do some sort of fund-raising for them, but for now I'm quite happy to initiate this blanket. So how about it? Would you like to join in? I will start knitting, post it off to someone else who will knit a bit more, they then post it on to the next person and so on. I will just keep this to the UK due to postage and customs (they wouldn't be too happy at knitting needles sent in the post perhaps?). However, if you are abroad and wish to join in, how about knitting me some 4" squares like we did last last year for Oliver? More patchwork blankets?

Anyway, if you would like to join in with either project, please leave your details in the comment section. I will be away from the computer for 2 weeks now and it would be great to come home and find lots of people willing to help out. I will post more details on my return, but if you could possibly coerce someone else to join in then please send links out to the blogging universe.

Anyone willing to knit a couple of inches will be put into a raffle of some sort, likewise any knitted squares....

Please, please, please?

Added later - if you wanted to start making some 4" squares anyone, please do - use either sock weight or double knitting. I shall start the blanket while I'm away (it will be double knitting). I'm off to pack now - see you when I get back!

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Saturday Pudding - and a cake

I was given a napkin and an invitation and asked if I could incorporate the pictures onto the cake. So this is what I came up with. Ruby's mum was very pleased and has said that she didn't want to cut it! Praise in deed.

Incidentally, 2 of my customers have refused to cut their cakes. The first was a huge homage to David Essex which was sent to a local care home for the elderly. The second was a racing car that was left and left and left. It collapsed after 18months and had to be thrown away!

I sometimes wonder if the people at either of these parties felt a little miffed that they didn't get any cake...

And Saturday pudding reflects the weather. Winter has come unusually early (isn't it freezing and wet and miserable?) so I give you my all time favourite winter pudding. Treacle pud and custard. Made this in the microwave as I'd only left myself 5 mins to make pudding - that's why there's no drippy syrup, but it tasted pretty good anyway.

Friday, August 8, 2008

The Number Sixteen.

Sixteen years is a very long time in the life of a mayfly.
Sixteen years is a very short time in the life of a baobab tree.
Sixteen years is 3 years more than my eldest son has been alive.
Sixteen years is double how old my youngest son is.
Sixteen years ago I was thin.
Sixteen years ago David did not have white hair.
Sixteen years is how long I've been married.
Sixteen years is how long this man has had to put up with me.
Sixteen years is how long I've had to put with this man.

Sixteen eh?
Champagne is chilling.
Chocolate gooey pudding is made.
Delia's pork stroganoff is waiting to hit the pan.
Romance is in the air.

And if you believe that, sixteen is the number of times you need to
poke the bubble with a knitting needle! It will burst you know!

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Tidying up and casting on

There wasn't room for Vera in the Stash basket anymore. Things had reached pretty drastic proportions, she was not happy at being usurped by a Rabbit and was demanding action.

So I took my life in my hands and emptied the entire contents on the floor determined to tidy up. It got sorted, re-arranged, tidied and put back. Well, some of it did, 2 whole carrier bags just couldn't fit in the basket (so they have now been relocated to the airing cupboard!)

It doesn't really look a whole lot different, except from the very happy Monkee sitting on top! Welcome home Vera!

And yes, I've cast on something else again. I mean, who on earth could resist these socks? Not me for one, so I ordered the pattern and cast on the very day it arrived. This is a wonderful pattern, most of it being knit on normal straight needles, dpn's only coming in for the heel, toe and ribbing. I love this pattern. Really and truly love it. And it grows quite quickly too - I only started this last Saturday. Posh Yarn Sophia . Is there a more perfect sock yarn? It's made me think of all sorts of other possibilities too (Harlequin socks in lots of different colours? Boy Racer socks in black and white squares?)

If you haven't made a pair of these socks, I urge you to give them a go. Is there a knit along for these? Anyone want to start one if not? I am very enthusiastic about these, can you tell? It is now at the very top of my favourite sock pattern list.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Bobbin Lace

A long time ago (ooh, about 20 years) I went to evening classes to learn how to do this beautiful craft. I was hooked, well and truly. Never one for doing things in half measures, within a year I wanted to expand my field and start on a meaty project. A complicated one that I could really get my teeth into.

And I came across a pattern by The Springetts. I can't remember what it was called, just that it was gorgeous and I was going to make it. And so ended my love affair with bobbin lace!

Here it is in all its half finished glory. I remember spending hours pricking out this pattern and winding up all the bobbins. A whole evenings work could hardly be noticed - this is fine cotton on what seemed like a million bobbins.

Yesterday whilst tidying out the airing cupboard (yes, that's another thing to tick off the list) I re-discovered it all. Sadly no longer in the same pristine condition as it was 20 years ago. The cotton has yellowed horribly and I have lost all enthusiasm for it. Infact I don't even remember how to do the stitches.

Just look at it will you. I made this. Sometimes I amaze myself! How on earth could I have done this?

I have some very lovely bobbins. Hand-painted ones, bone ones (don't look vegetarians) incredible wooden ones and my absolute favourite - the glass one. It has been filled with confetti from my brother's wedding - the man who made this was so pleased with it that he started offering them in his catalogue. This was a long time before web sites!

I've got lots of antique ones too - here are just 4 of them. I love the green one - the colour has faded and the pattern worn showing that it has been well used (not by me obviously!)

Now then, if someone could just tell me which one I need to start with next, I might have a go at getting a bit more done...

(Of course I am only joking. No way will I ever do another stitch of this. As my mum said rather sadly yesterday, this is a part of my life that has moved on. E-bay anyone?)

Monday, August 4, 2008

A new arrival and new socks

For some time now, Bartholomew Archibald Bunny and his mum and dad (Blossom and Alfie) have been expecting a new arrival. Uncle Randall wrote to them and asked if he could come and stay. Bartholomew was very excited - he had heard such tales of Uncle Randall and is often told stories of his escapades. Uncle Randall, you understand, was a pirate. All very thrilling for a little bunny to hear about.

Batholomew read books and even learnt how to make a ship just in case he ever got the chance to go to sea.

And then just the other day, Postie knocked at the door with a parcel for me which was hastily pinched by a family of very excited little rabbits.

And here he is. Uncle Randall has never stopped talking once - here he is relating just how big the fish was that got away ('really? As big as this?'). He has fitted in perfectly to the Stash Basket (apparently much like the Crow's Nest on top of the ship) and is settling in very well to life on dry land.

The workmanship that goes into the making of these wonderful Little Cotton Rabbits is quite stunning. Julie is a very talented person indeed. And now that I have 4 of them, I will stop there and let someone else have a turn to try and win one.

On totally unrelated news, looky here - another finished object! A pair of socks! And going on the rules which you so foolishly set yourself Warren, that's actually 2 finished items! Hope you're saving hard!!!!!

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Two Puddings

Forgot to do this earlier on, so you get 2 puddings for the price of one today. Chocolate mousse with strawberries was the Saturday pudding.

And because I had loads of egg whites in the fridge, some strawberries and peaches that needed using and half a pot of cream, today's pudding is strawberry and peach meringue roulade.

Oh, and if like me you missed the bin collection due to the strike a couple of weeks ago, may I present you with the best way to deal with grumpy husbands. Make him think that you need the contents of the recycle bin squashing. Get him to stand in there, bop him on the head and close the lid. A perfect end to a stressful Sunday afternoon.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Happy Yorkshire Day

Well I've just heard that today is Yorkshire Day. I was born in Yorkshire so I would like to wish all fellow Yorkshire Roses a very happy day. Wonder what we should all be doing. Any ideas?

I've had a busy couple of days at mum and dad's. Shopping, knitting and eating. Perfect! I have at long last finished Trudie - what do you think? It is so comfy (oh how I love that Hipknits silk) and swishy. I changed the top band slightly to an i-cord bind off and used buttons instead of long wavy ties (too reminiscent of the 80's for my liking).

I also finished the scarf from the yarn mum bought me from Norway. It's silk and alpaca and is gorgeously soft and luxurious. Pattern based on the scarf from the Interweave book, but shorter and heart-shaped buttons added, which clink along when you walk. I also added a little slit so you can push one end of the scarf through so as not to end up with a big knot. (Someone remind me to get my hair cut please!)

I've also been having a go at knitting some food from this book.

Poached egg on toast anyone?

Or maybe you'd rather have a cheese, lettuce and tomato sandwich?

And for pudding, how about a Bakewell tart, lemon curd tart or slice of Swiss roll?