Friday, 27 February 2009

Extreme Sugar High

It's cold, it's dark, it's windy and wet. Time for some comfort baking! Here's my super-calorific sticky toffee pudding recipe for you, mmm....

Sticky Toffee Pudding (serves 9-12, small portions are sufficient!)

225g chopped dates

300ml hot black tea

110g butter

170g caster sugar

3 eggs

225g self raising flour

1tsp bicarbonate of soda

1 tsp coffee granules

Preheat the oven to 180oC, grease and base line a 20cm square cake tin.

Soak the dates in the tea for 15 minutes or so. Meanwhile cream the butter and sugar together until fluffy then gradually beat in the eggs. Fold in the flour and then all the other ingredients. Turn into the tin and bake for 1h15 or so (until a skewer comes out clean).

Toffee Sauce

110g butter

175g dark brown soft sugar

110g granulated sugar

275g golden syrup

225ml double cream

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Melt together the butter and sugars with the golden syrup, bring slowly to the boil then simmer for about 5 minutes to fully dissolve the sugar. Remove from the heat, carefully add the cream and vanilla, then return to the heat for a couple more minutes.

Serve sponge and sauce together warm, with a good dollop of cream or ice cream if it's not quite unhealthy enough for you!

Wednesday, 25 February 2009


As promised, here's the pattern for my daffodils. I'm going to give a bunch to my Mum for Mothers' Day. It's not the most elegantly written pattern but hopefully it makes sense. I'd be really interested to hear of any additions or modifications that could improve it if anyone feels like trying to knit them!

For the darker flowers I did the petals using two strands of yellow, and the trumpet with one yellow and one red strand. The lighter ones have one strand of yellow and one of white on the petals, and two strands of yellow for the trumpet.

The amount of felting required will depend on the yarn used and the type of washing machine, but my flowers went through two 40 degree cycles.

Lopi roving - yellow (plus bits of red and white if you wish) for the petals, green for the stems. 100g yellow should be plenty to knit a whole bunch of flowers, maybe 8 or 9. Knit with two strand held together for the petals, trumpet and stem.
2-3mm diameter modelling wire to thread through the flower stems once felted.
8mm double pointed needles, and 8mm crochet hook.

CO 12 st, leaving enough of a tail to thread through the stitches later.
row 1: Knit.
row 2: K1, M1, K1. TURN WORK.
row 3: K1, M1, K1, M1, K1. TURN WORK
row 4: K1, M1, K3, M1, K1 (7st). TURN WORK

Work backwards and forwards on these seven stitches to complete the first petal:
rows 5-10: Knit.
row 11: K2tog tbl, K3, K2tog
row 12: K
row 13: K2togtbl, K1, K2tog
row 14: K
row 15: sl1, K2tog, PSSO.

Break yarn and thread tail through remaining stitch. Rejoin yarn to next live stitch and repeat rows 2-15 for the remaining 5 petals. Join the first petal to the last to form a ring, then use the loose ends to sew a few stitches between adjacent petals at their bases (so that they will be less separate around the centre of the flower once felted). Thread the cast on tail through all stitches at the cast on edge and pull tight until the opening is 0.5-1cm in diameter.

Pick up 12st around the centre of the ring of petals, and spread them between 3 double pointed needles. Join to knit in the round and knit 7 rounds garter stitch (knit one round, purl one round etc).

Next row: Knit into the front and back of each stitch - 24st. Bind off all stitches.
With a single strand of lopi, crochet a chain of 3 st, break yarn and thread through the final stitch to bind off. Repeat twice more. Tie the three short crochet chains together.

With the green yarn, cast on 5st and knit an i-cord approx 40cm in length. Bind off stitches. Attach stamens to the top of the stem, and poke them through the back of the flower head through the gap in the centre so that they are inside the trumpet. Sew the stem to the back of the flower.

Thread a length of non-feltable string through the centre of the stem, leaving a few inches hanging out at each end (this helps to leave an opening through the centre of the stem that the wire can be threaded through). Place the flowers in the washing machine together with an old pair of jeans and felt. Pull the petals and trumpets into shape whilst still damp. Once the flowers are dry, remove the string from inside the stem and push a length of wire through in its place. Bend the sharp edges of the wire in, and sew closed at both ends of the stem to prevent it from slipping out.
The real daffs on Magdalen Green have only just started to poke up through the ground but if a few weeks there will be a scene like this to enjoy...

Saturday, 21 February 2009

Spain, Shawls and Spring

Right, it's catch up time. The blog has been suffering a little not because of the lack of subject matter but quite the opposite. So much knitting that there's not much time left for recording it! Anyway, here goes...

I recently took a trip to Spain with my Dad to visit my Grandad who lives in the countryside more or less half way between Alicante and Valencia. We had a very nice week relaxing in the sunshine and enjoying heaps of fresh fruit and veg from the area, particularly the oranges which were literally falling off the trees onto the floor in abundance. Here you can see me enjoying the view on top of the cathedral bell tower in Valencia (the enormous 11 ton bell struck midday while we were up there!). We also explored the little village of Guadalest perched on top of a rocky peak, and climed to the top of the Penon de Ifach - a steep rocky lump sticking out into the sea in Calpe.

All the almond trees around Jalon are in blossom at this time of year, which makes the hillside look very pretty. The trees reached up to the balcony so we spent a few sunny mornings sitting out and watching honey bees moving around from branch to branch. Satch the cat enjoys climbing up to hunt for birds!

I have been trying to concentrate on finishing off some WIPs, so half my suitcase was filled with knitting for the holiday. I finished off a couple of things, including my lovely purple shawl. Here it is before and after blocking - what a transformation! The pattern is a free one called 'Gail' and I used Artesano 4 ply alpaca to knit it. I did a couple of extra pattern repeats and used abut 3.5 balls. Very pleased with it, and definitely inspired to knit more lace.

At the moment I'm working on coming up with a pattern for felted daffodils. I'd like to make a bunch in time for mothers day. Pattern to follow at some point. I had a hunt through my stash cupboard and discovered quite a good amount of lopi. No lopi crisis here! I'm pleased to say that the lopi supply chain is now flowing freely again and it's back in stock at Twist Fibre Craft Studio. Hurrah!