Saturday, 25 October 2008

Look what I won!

Hey guess what? I won this...

...for this (see previous post also)....

Hurrah! Big thanks to Laura and Peter at Twist Fibre Craft Studio for a fun day and a great exhibition, and congratulations also to Andrea and Diane who cleaned up the top prizes with their fantastic creations. Well done all round!

Sunday, 19 October 2008

Silly season for knitters

Today I went with Diane and Andrea to Newburgh where Twist Fibre Craft Studio were hosting a very spectacular Rowan exhibition to celebrate the 30th birthday of the company, and national knitting week. Pretty impressive stuff, very inspirational... I was 'inspired' to add to my stash by buying some felted tweed, some alpaca and some kimono angora (the last two were in the sale box, hurrah), and also the Rowan 41 book which had quite a few nice things from the exhibition in it.

We spent most of the day there, and got stuck in to make a some hats for the Innocent Smoothie big knit 2008. Every year they hold a campaign to sell smoothies with hats, thereby raising money towards providing hot meals, blankets and advice to older people on how to keep their houses warm in winter.

I kicked off by making a snowboarding smoothie hats with jester horns and earflaps, and then went on to make a pineapple. Andrea brought along a fabulous creation named 'brain explosion' and also knitted a cactus in a pot, whilst Diane did a cheeky chicken with brilliant dangly legs. Apologies for the rubbish pics, Diane will defo have much better ones so check that out, but here they are...

And while we are on the subject of silly knitting, what do you reckon to my hideously bright legs-are-on-fire legwarmers?? I took these along to work on when we had a knitting group excursion to Di Gilpin in St Andrews, and I think my fellow knitters thought I'd lost the plot. They were very polite about my shocking acrylic creation, but eyebrows were raised! I don't have the full details yet so will save the story for another time, but it looks like they did their job and got me through selection for a very fun trip that will be coming up in November. Watch this space :)

Thursday, 16 October 2008

Malt loaf?

I had a big sort-out of my kitchen cupboards at the weekend, and was rather shocked at the mountain of dry food I have managed to stock pile. I've made a new resolution to use up store cupboard items rather keep buying stuff and putting it away never to be seen again.

A happy side effect of all this sensible behaviour is that I've been baking quite a lot. I used up my coconut in some coconut and lime muffins the other day, and then I was able to transform some rather soft branflakes into malt loaf. It's a recipe that my mum used to make a lot, and we always called it malt loaf. I have since decided that it doesn't actually contain any malt, although it does have that characteristic chewy texture and I bet the addition of a bit of malt extract would work well.

It's a great recipe for store cupboard stash busting, and takes about 5 minutes to put together. It's dairy free (unless you use milky tea) and fat free, so apart from the sugar it's almost healthy!I used a 500ml yoghurt pot as my measure, and had enough for 2 loaves.

Mrs C's 'Malt Loaf'

1 cup bran flakes

1 cup dried fruit/nuts

1 cup tea

1/2 to 2/3 cup sugar (cut down from 1 cup in the original)

1 cup self raising flour

Mix everything together except the flour and leave to soak for a few hours or overnight. Stir in the flour, turn into a greased and lined loaf tin then bake at 190oC for 1h or slightly longer, until a skewer comes out clean.

That's essentially it, but here are a few extra thoughts...

It would work with other bran-based cereals such as all bran, or a mixture of whatever you've got in the cupboard. I think my mum has even used cornflakes too. The finished loaf varies quite a lot by adding different fruit and nut mixtures, and I would suggest altering the sugar content accordingly - a fruity loaf won't need as much sugar as one with more nuts. Normal tea (with anything from 0 to 50% milk) adds a nice flavour, but using fruit tea instead is a nice way to complement the dried fruit you have chosen to add to the mix. You can also vary the flour - white or wholemeal would both work, or a mixture of the two. I was able to finish up a packet of white then top it up with wholemeal for the loaf in the pic.

So I'll put the kettle on shall I?

Tuesday, 14 October 2008

Slouchy beret

I used to not like this time of year at all - things dying off everywhere, worsening weather, darkness drawing in etc etc - but now I am quite the opposite. I'm loving all the autumnal produce (have been eating squash more or less non stop recently), and I have a sense of excitement and anticipation at the arrival of true knitting weather.

Out come the hand knits: shawls, jumpers, hats and scarfs abound. Hurrah! And of course there's all the Christmas knitting to get started on. I had a minor diversion over the last couple of days though, and decided to do a quick hat. I have only ever made beanie style hats before but have often admired berets and slouchy hats on ravelry. Jared at Brooklyn Tweed recently published his take on the style (ravelers go here), and I was inspiret to give it a try.

I used some yarn that I got in a stash from the charity shop, it's acrylic but super soft and a bit fuzzy, I really like it. No pattern mods required, I followed it to the letter. Not difficult but not boring, and finished in 2 sittings. I'm happy with the end result and will be knitting more slouchy hats soon!
Pattern: Porom, by Jared Flood
Yarn: Patons Chantal (discontinued) used less than 1.5 balls

Sunday, 12 October 2008

Space invaders and reindeer

A few months back, I decided to have a go at two-colour knitting after watching some tutorials on the web. It's a bit tricky to get the tension right when one colour is carried behind the work, because the carried colour tends to pull too tightly on the knitted stitches. Anyway, I took the chart for the fabulous space invaders socks on knitty called bmp, and turned it into a tank top for William.

A lot of sewing of ends later, the final result was ok for a first attempt, but I think I'm going to partly blame the cheap acrylic yarn for some of the uneven tension.

The Christmas knitting frenzy has begun over the last week, and although I'm going to wait for the full reveal, here's a peak at my most recent two-colour project which is looking much neater...

Thursday, 9 October 2008

Borough Market

After a very interesting and fun week of work experience at Notting Grill last month, I decided to set my alarm early on Saturday morning and head down to Borough Market for some shopping and breakfast.

I had a very lovely morning wandering around smelling and tasting as much stuff as possible, and struggled to carry home all the stuff that I bought. The range of fruit and veg on display was stunning, and there were plenty of not so healthy things to enjoy too...

As the crowds started to arrive I fulfilled another food ambition and went upstairs to Roast... for my third breakfast of the day! I munched through tomatoes on toast and a big pot of tea whilst looking down on the shoppers in the market, and would certainly go back there again for a full meal.