Thursday, December 23, 2010

Enjoying the season

Recently, I've been enjoying walks in the snow:

Baking Christmassy treats:

[Chocolate bark is such a fab idea - simple and effective. I was lucky enough last year to receive a rather large bag of the stuff from my good friend Amy, so I have really just nabbed her idea. My versions are white chocolate bark topped with cranberry and pecan and dark chocolate with sour cherry and toasted almonds. Tasty tasty, if I do say so myself! ]

and doing the odd bit of secret gift knitting and sewing:

Hope you're keeping warm and enjoying the holidays!

Sunday, December 19, 2010


I started to feel a little Christmassy the other day. I popped out to the supermarket to buy some milk and I was greeted by the sound of the Salvation Army band playing carols. It made me feel all warm inside, which was lovely as my hands felt like they were about to drop off after being subjected to the icy weather outside. For some reason I seem to think that driving places negates the need for a coat and many handknit items. How wrong this is! 

When I was driving home I started thinking about all the wonderful handknit items I was given as a child. My Grandma Sunshine was a fantastic knitter. At Christmas her 5 great-grandchildren would receive a beautifully handknit jumper. My particular favourite was Mrs. Rabbit depicted in intarsia, complete with a fluffy pompom tail on the back.

One item of Sunshine's knitting that remains in my possession is my baby blanket:

It has definitely been well loved over the years, patching up the holes and returning it to it's former glory is on my to do list.  It's pretty easy to see my younger-self's naff attempt at fixing it. Rather than attempting to replicate the beautiful lacey seams I used a mixture of cotton sewing machine thread (!) and yellow-y cream wool to crudely stitch the squares together. It's probably going to take some time to do it properly.

Until recently I hadn't been aware of any other serious knitters within the family, but a couple of weeks ago I was helping my Grandma sort through her things in her loft. We came across this:


This was knit by my maternal great Grandmother for my Mum when she was a baby. This same blanket hung on my cot and my sister's. My Grandma was going to throw away this beautiful piece of knitting! I couldn't believe it, so a rescued it. When I took the above picture the blanket appeared to be quite rigid and stiff, it was almost squeaky to touch. This led me to think the it was made out of an acrylic based yarn.  However I washed the blanket yesterday and it's turned into a fluid piece of fabric, which is very soft and fluffy, so now I'm not so sure. I feel very lucky to now be the new owner of lovely blanket. 

I'm feeling inspired to create my own blanket, if only I knew of some prospective parents who needed such an item!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Another homemade hat

This was my travel knitting for a recent trip to Manchester:

I've made many Gretels before, but all have been gifted away.  In the past I’ve always made the middle size, but for some reason this time I decided to knit the smallest size. This turned out  to be quite small. It took some fierce blocking to get it to the size I wanted! It just about covers my ears.

I used Fyberspates Scrumptious Aran. I love the colour but it's not a soft as I thought it would be. It's still lovely though.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Silver Lining

Over the past few months I've been telling myself everything happens for a reason. I've been trying to look for the positive elements in everything that happens.

The decision to move back in with my parents was good,as my parents own a microwave. Thus, it is possible to have an endless supply of lovely hot chocolate within 2 minutes, rather than faffing around with pans on the hob. (Although, I do have to admit it's slightly less satisfying!)

Earlier this week a job interview was postponed until next week because of the weather. This is actually really good as I have an extra week to prepare!

This morning I discovered my application to volunteer at Our Chalet next summer has only just been signed and posted off to Switzerland from GGUK headquarters in London. Despite the fact I posted it off two weeks ago, via next day delivery, and informed the individual I sent it to by email it was on it's way. My application then sat for 11 days in GGUK reception! The deadline for applications to reach Switzerland was yesterday. My dream of spending next summer hiking and enjoying the beautiful Swiss Alps has seemingly been shattered. I can only hope the manager of Our Chalet takes pity on my pleading email asking if they can still accept my signed application when it arrives! 

I failed to see anything positive in this whole mess, so I treated myself to some Baby Alpaca and a skein of beautiful hand dyed merino yarn from Ring-a-Rosie.

It's the silver lining to my disappointing day!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Homemade Gift Giving

Unfortunately there is only three weekends left until Christmas! This came as a little shock to me yesterday. I knew it was coming, but the past few weeks seem to have flown past me.

I had grand plans of having a handmade gift giving fest this year. But due the weeks slipping past me my plans have been scaled back a little, in an attempt to lessen the load.
Today I finished my first present:

I felt my sister needed a little cushion to brighten up her room  at University. I bought the lovely Amy Butler fabric under her watchful eye at Baa Ram Ewe in Headingley last time I visited Leeds. (I love that shop!) This cushion is a compact 30x30cm, so it'll fit nicely into her suitcase when she returns after the holidays!

I decided to make up a few little labels for my homemade gifts this year, to make them extra special:

So, that's one gift down and far too many to go. Luckily I have two half finished projects on the knitting needles which should be finished by the end of the week. Hopefully!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Baby, it's cold outside

I found my first handknit scarf hiding under my bed yesterday. It's as good as new. Hope you're keeping warm.

Monday, November 22, 2010


On Sunday I made myself a headband to wear under my cycling helmet with  some of the left over yarn from my Selbu Modern.

Today I went cycling and got extremely muddy. I can confirm it keeps my ears nice and toasty!

I am yet to master the art of taking photos of my own head.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Selbu Modern

I love this hat! It’s been keeping my head warm since coming off the blocking plate! 

The pattern is lovely, Kate is such a talented designer.  The instructions very clear and easy to follow. Another fantastic thing is there isn’t many long floats - great for fair isle first timers. This was my first attempt at knitting with two colours, and if I do say so myself it’s worked out pretty well. I don’t know if my technique is quite right. I just did what felt right for me.

The baby alpaca yarn is just unbelievably AMAZING. I cannot get enough of this stuff. It’s like knitting with butter, it’s so soft! The ball band described the yarn as DK, but I thought it was a little thinner. It worked out perfectly for this pattern (which is lucky as I didn’t swatch…) I used a little over 1 skein of the main colour and about 0.8skein of the contrasting charcoal colour.

This is potentially my most successful knitted item to date!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Pillow Week

My room is due to have a bit of a makeover and I decided my new bed (when it arrives!) is going to need some coordinating cushions.

Inspired by Erin's postings about pillow week I decided to spend yesterday evening drinking hot chocolate and making some lovely cushions.

The cushion on the left was made a little earlier this year and had a little makeover. I added an extra felt flower and restitched the others more securely. The cushion on the right has been upcycled from a shopping bag I made myself last year. I bought the linen from Moth, my favourite interior shop in West Didsbury. It's beautifully soft and a lovely shade of pigeon grey.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Christmas crafting has begun!

Last week I made the most of living in a house with a gas hob and made some Red Onion and Balsamic Chutney! Today I spent some time labeling up the jars and adding some pretty ribbon to make my small gifts a little more special.

This chutney is super tasty, especially in a toasted cheese sandwich!

I adapted the recipe below from The SuperJam Cookbook by Fraser Doherty.

Red Onion and Balsamic Chutney:

Makes about 4-5 jars.

8 red onions
2 deseeded red chillies
2 bay leaves
30ml olive oil
6oz/170gram brown sugar
150ml balsamic vinegar
150ml red wine vinegar

Chop up the onions and chillies and pop them in to a pan with the oil and bay leaves.

Cook on a low heat until soft, translucent and sticky, about 15-20 minutes.

Add the sugar, mix until even and then add the vinegars.

Simmer for 30-40 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Ladle the thickened chutney into hot, sterile jars and allow to cool. Leave the chutney to mature for a month or so for maximum enjoyment!

Sunday, November 7, 2010


A few months ago the boy I loved more than anything in the world broke my heart.

It happened at a time when things seemed to keep going wrong. I didn't know what to do, so, when I didn't want to be alone with my thoughts, I knitted.

I knitted when I couldn't sleep, when I didn't want to talk, when I didn't want to eat, on the way to work when I was too sleep deprived to cycle, when I should have been filling in job applications and in the evening when I returned to our shared home.

When I started I didn't really know what I would end up with. I wanted a cardigan that would hug me, keep away the chills of winter and provide comfort during the lonely evenings.  I knitted  from the top down, with some raglan shaping for the sleeves. This turned out to be a pretty easy method, which didn't require much forethought or note scribbling.

I used one of my favourite yarns, New Lanark DK pure new wool in Pebble, from the natural blends collection. It produces a lovely substantial fabric, which is very cosy and feels like it will last a lifetime. I do love this cardigan, even though it's full of mistakes.