Tuesday, 4 May 2010

Coffee time

I've long admired the many knitted cafetiere and mug cosies on the web, and thought about having a go at one. Inspiration struck the other day while I was sipping on my tepid coffee, and here's the result...

Mine is knit in Debbie Bliss Luxury Tweed Chunky (it's a sample skein that has been lurking about the shop calling to me for quite some time!), but it would also work in Donegal Tweed Chunky. I decided to use smaller needles than suggested on the ball band to give a stiffer texture and a nice dense fabric for keeping the heat in.

Chunky Cafetiere Cosy

1 hank Debbie Bliss Luxury Tweed Chunky or 1 hank Debbie Bliss Donegal Tweed Chunky
6mm needles, 3 large buttons

Fits a standard size cafetiere, finished measurements 14cm x 30cm plus loops. Cast on more stitches for extra width or knit rows to add length.

  • Cast on 20St and knit 6 rows garter st (knit every row).
  • Starting with a knit row, knit 6 rows stockinette st (knitting the first and last 3st on eery row), then knit 6 rows garter st.
  • Repeat the last 12 rows 4 more times.
  • Knit 2 more rows garter stitch then cast off.

  • For the button loops (make 3): cast on 16 st then cast them off again.
  • Hold the ends of the button loop together and sew to the cast off edge of the cosy, spacing them to avoid the handles of your cafetiere.
  • Sew the buttons in the corresponding places on the oppposite end of the cosy.
  • Sew in the ends and put the kettle on!

Sunday, 14 March 2010

Cinnamon rolls and birthday socks

It was knitting group at Twist this weekend so I decided to bake some cinnamon rolls. Not wanting to get up at crazy o'clock to start them, I made the dough the night before (using Richard Bertinet's sweet dough recipe). After an hour to rise I flattened the dough into a rectangle, sprinkled liberally with cinnamon and sugar and rolled it up into a log for slicing.
I left the cut slices proving in the fridge overnight, then all there was to do on Saturday morning was let them warm up for an hour then slap them straight into the oven. Very tasty...

I also had a very productive week to get these done in time for my mum's birthday on Friday:

Tuesday, 2 March 2010

Spring Chickens

I've been getting into needle felting recently - here are my spring chicks making themselves at home on the counter in the shop...

(yes blood was shed, but I still had fun making them!)

Tuesday, 23 February 2010

All things orange

I've been busy knitting Elan's Voyager Stole - I used the excuse that I needed it to go with my bridesmaid dress (in the tropical heat of Costa Rica, of course it was essential!), and I've been wearing it pretty much non stop ever since....

Knitted with 2.5 balls of kidsilk haze on 4.5mm needles. Lovely.

I've also been rather busy with the sewing machine this week, here are two of my three new aprons. I'm totally adicted to making aprons. Resisting the urge to go to ikea and buy up heaps of fabric.

And hurrah, it's rhubarb season again! I had my first bunch this week, roasted with a bit of ginger, orange zest and brown sugar, lovely on muesli. And the cake of the week is Nigel Slater's apple and marmalade cake - very good timing since I've just produced about 10 jars of marmalade from a frozen stash of seville oranges!

Monday, 11 January 2010

New Year Gloves

I knitted some gloves over the holidays, not before time! Here they are getting put to the test in snowy Newburgh last weekend...

Thanks to Laurence for the pictures, more of the amazing frozen Tay here and here.

Friday, 18 December 2009

Happy holidays

Have a sticky toffee Christmas and a caramel saucy New Year!

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

Getting festive

Here's a (slightly rubbish) picture of my christmas tree advent calendar, made from Laura's lovely hand dyed prefelt, and inspired by the trees she made for the Makers Market last month.
The tree itself has a wool prefelt backing with hand dyed leaves laid over the top, and I added a pocket in the form of a plant pot which can store all the baubles until the day for them to be hung. To save the tree looking a bit bare you could hang them the other way round and just turn them over to reveal the number as the days tick by. All that sewing, what was I thinking?
Happy 1st December!

If you're in London next weekend, pop along to the gloriously decadent Taste of Christmas for a whole heap of foody festive fun...

Thursday, 26 November 2009

Ninja mittens

I have always fancied a pair of ninja mittens, I don't know why, but there you go....

Knit on 5mm needles with the lovely Colinette Art (bamboo/wool), from Twist of course. Maybe they're more like gecko mittens than ninja mittens in that colour. Pattern to follow at some point soonish.

In other knitting news, here's a baby kimono (hmm, Japanese theme emerging here, but Swedish colours) that I made for Olga's baby, very neatly due on Christmas day - I wouldn't expect anything else from the queen of schedules and timetables, congratulations Olga and Bjarne!

Sunday, 15 November 2009

High fibre cupcakes

Remember these? Well there's been a few additions to the collection to fill my lovely new cupcake stand that I bought earlier in the week.

After a couple of silly late nights to finish my items for yesterday's makers market at Twist Fibre Craft Studio, I'm very happy to report that my cupcake pincushions sold out! I was starting to feel quite negative about them at 2am the night before when I was struggling to sew on the 'cherries' but they have redeemed themselves now.

Big thanks to Laura and Peter for organising the event and bringing together some lovely exhibitors, and big thanks to Diane and Andrea for doing such a fantastic sales job behind the counter on the day. Well done ladies. They both made some very beautiful christmas decorations and gifts - I couldn't resist boosting their earnings by spending some of mine.
I think Andrea's sheep enjoyed the biscotti tasters...

And now it's back down to the 'real work' - Taste of Christmas is just around the corner!

Thursday, 24 September 2009

Italian Eating

Well it's been a busy couple of weeks with work - gadding around with the Hairy Bikers, and then cooking up some disgusting mystery delights for the Big Food Fight which is currently showing on Channel 4. I've got into the rather pleasing habit of treating myself to a new bit of kit to celebrate each job, and this time I went for a pair of serious looking tool boxes to keep everything safe whilst on the road. I love them!

On my way back home I had time to raid my mum's garden for a bag full of fresh veg. She even let me swipe one of these babies...

I stuffed it with soft goats cheese and herbs then deep fried in tempura batter, mmmmm...
Very simple, but very tasty. It was the perfect dish to get me in the mood for a lovely trip to Milan for Fabrizio and Silvia's wedding. A big ex-Dundee crowd descended on Milan from all corners of the globe, and we did our best to consume everything that was on offer.

I had pizza 3 times in as many days (including a slice for breakfast!), and filled my bag with a nice selection of Italian cheeses to take home. It goes without saying that the bride and groom both looked stunning, and it was an honour to celebrate their marriage with them. Grazie Fabri e Silvia for such a lovely time, and for all your wonderful hospitality.

We tucked into beautiful antipasti in the garden of the villa after the wedding ceremony - the deep fried caperberries were great, and look at that parmesan! (can you spot the zucchini flowers too?) The hollowed out parmesan was later to become a cheesy bowl from which the radicchio risotto was served. Genius.

I seriously overdid it on the nibbles though, not realising that we were only at the tip of a formidable gastronomic iceberg:

Yes, that's a two-page meal folks. A feast indeed. I could barely breathe by the time we were done!

The next day we went for a stroll and stumbled upon a French-themed donkey racing festival with ju-jitsui demos on the side (even the Italians in our group seemed somewhat bemused!), and concurrent fungi festival. I particularly liked the posters warning us about what the more toxic species are capable of.

And no matter how much food has gone before, when it Italy there's always room for gelati at every possible opportunity.

Saturday, 29 August 2009

Stripes still on the menu

I have to confess that I've got way too many projects on the go at the moment, nothing is really getting finished. Time to concentrate on a bit of WIP-busting I think.
In that spirit, I cracked on with a simple scarf project that has been on the needles for month. It's a 1x1 rib using two colourways of Noro Silk Garden a la Brooklyn Tweed. I've been creeping along with a few rows each week at knitting group, but picked up the pace when I got past the half way point and the end seemed in sight. Just in time for the rubbish cold weather we've been having recently. Bring it on, I'm ready!

Totally unrelatedly, here's a pic of the crochet scarlet macaw hand puppet that I made for William's second birthday last month. Pattern from Inner Child Crochet. My animals never turn out as cute as the ones in the pictures but hopefully he'll be fun to play with. I like the nice long tail feathers that swoosh around as he flies.

Again totally unrelatedly, I spent an entire weekend grappling with my ancient sewing machine recently. After spending a day cutting gorgeous fat quarters ready for a patchwork class at Twist Fibre Craft Studio, I couldn't resist taking a selection of them home and having a go myself. I'm not a good sewer (can't even cut fabric in a straight line, let alone sew it!) but I was surprised how easy it was, even for a novice like me. Three days of faffing later, and I've got 6 lovely new cushions to brighten up my sofas. Very pleased :)

Tuesday, 21 July 2009

Zigzag City

I've recently finished two patterns using the same combination of increases and decreases to create zigzags in the knitting. First, the previously alluded to jaywalkers (pattern by Grumperina), in a greeny bluey shade of Trekking XXL. I like how the colour changes show off the zigzags, and I am especially pleased that the patterning on each sock is pretty darn close to an exact match even though I wasn't trying - honest! I'd have no problem with completely different stripes on one compared to the other, but I don't think I could ignore it if they were a centimeter or two out from each other so I'm really glad this one turned out so well.

Second zigzag project is the chaton minet felted basket pattern from sock pixie. I used three colours of lopi roving from Twist Fibre Craft Studio, and added a few pattern repeats to make the basket bigger. Dilly seemed to go for it even before it was dry, so I'm counting it as a success for now. It remains to be seen how long before she returns to her penchant for piles of clean washing instead...

Monday, 13 July 2009

Chocolate and Cheese

This weekend marked the end of the Taste Festival season, with a trip to Birmingham's Cannon Hill Park. True to form for Taste of Birmingham the wellies were put to good use, but thankfully we didn't see a repeat of the previous two year's Glasto-Taste mudbath!
...umm, there might be a spot of rain on the way.....

Still, a good time was had by all despite the weather, and it was even fun to have my mum on board as the unofficial kitchen porter for the chef's theatre - she definitely earned her share of the demo dishes!

After the madness of Taste of London, it was luxuriously laid back in Birmingham. So much so that I had time to nip around the producers market and pick up a few bits. Few producers inspired me to part with my cash, but I did very much like the hand made chocolates from Gorvett & Stone.

Absolutely beautiful to look at (not too perfect... in a good way), and delicious. They had a lovely range of flavours - different enough to be interesting but not odd for the sake of it - and spot on with the texture. The milk chocolate truffles with sea salt were mouthwatering yet creamy, and the dark chocolate with chilli was perfectly balanced to give rich fruity cocoa followed by an addictive chilli tingle. My favourite was the strawberry with black pepper: a good hit of dark chocolate and strong strawberry with just enough pepper to make the strawberry sing. Yum. I'm still struggling slightly with the white chocolate with green tea however. I love both of those things, but remain to be convinced that they can be successfully combined in truffle form.

Gorvett & Stone's flavour name of strawberry with black pepper was correct in that it was strong on strawberry with the pepper playing a supporting role. On the other hand Berry Scrumptious, who were at Taste of Edinburgh, need to swap around their name to black pepper with strawberry!

Bitter dark chocolate, very hot full on black pepper at the back of the throat, and tiny flecks of freeze dried strawberry. I'm not at all questioning the classsic combination of strawberry and pepper, but when you've got that much of a cocoa and black pepper slap in the face, the strawberry gets a bit lost. This one would be just as delicious, and slightly less confused, if the strawberries didn't make it into the chocolate at all. I love the hot spicy kick of the pepper in their dark chocolate, good on them for not being afraid to use a decent amount of it. It reminds me of an unexpectedly fantastic meal I had in Sicily a few years ago with some very good friends.

On the long drive home from Birmingham, I made my usual pit stop at Tebay services on the M6 in Cumbria to visit Westmoorland farm shop. Tebay is the only small locally owned motorway service station in the country and it is a crime that there are not more like it. No KFC, no Costa Coffee, no minging burgers and soggy sarnies. They serve honest home-cooked food using local produce including beef and lamb from their adjoining farm (they do a mean curry by the way), and always have an irresistable selection of cakes. The farm-shop is also excellent although increasingly they seem to be stocking gourmet products from all over Europe, which is no bad thing, but somewhat detracts from the local angle that they are keen to push.

The things that keep me going on the long journey to Tebay are this...

1) A first-rate cheese counter in the farm shop. I always get a good hunk of Swaledale, and whatever else looks nice. I could easily spend 20 quid on cheese!

2) The cakes. Home made, interesting selection, huge portions, reasonable prices. What's not to like?? The coffee cake is exceptional, and pretty much a meal in its own right. Today I tried their baked cheesecake and found it rather good - high praise indeed from someone who is usually very disappointed by commercial cheesecake encounters.

3) The coffee. I don't know what beans they use but they make a mean macchiato. Just the job to keep me going for the final three and a half hours of the drive.

4) The views. And the ducks!

And so another foody trip comes to an end. I'm not sure what's next on the horizon, but in the mean time I've got no small amount of leftovers to eat! And my Westmoorland cheese, yum...

Sunday, 5 July 2009

Summer Skirt

Here's the latest creation to come off the needles... or should I say the hook, for it is indeed a crochet project this time. I have made the 'walking after midnight' skirt from Doris Chan's Amazing Crochet Lace. Ravelry users check it out here.

I used the lovely Hempathy by Elsbeth Lavold, with 34% hemp and 41% cotton it's great for the hot weather, and has a nice soft but weighty feel which is ideal for this kind of project. Unfortunately it's not that readily available here in the UK, so it was made in Italy, shipped to a yarn shop in the states, then shipped back across the ocean to me. Let's not think about the air miles on that one.

I started this project way back in November when I went on a trip to Argentina to take part in Total Wipeout, thinking that it would be a good one for a long plane journey. I then let it sit for ages until I went on a trip to Spain in February. Another long hibernation period followed, before the final push which saw me finish just in time to wear it to Woolfest (thanks to Laurence for taking some pics!). Here I am just getting started in the dust and heat of Buenos Aires:

For most of the time I was working on it I had a feeling that it would be slightly disappointing when finished, hence the lack of pace. But as soon as I'd woven in the ends and given it a good steaming I was very happy. The underskirt is not attached by the way, and I quite like that, because it means that I can change it for a brightly coloured one to match whatever pair of silly high heels I feel like wearing...