Friday, 25 December 2009

Ding Dong Merrily on High

When I finally finished work for Christmas yesterday I went straight home and made Florentines to take to my In-Laws today. I'm glad to say they went down very well, but you should see the state of our kitchen! Toffee, sixty Florentines, milk chocolate, dark chocolate and lovely hubby making red cabbage to take to his parents in the same room just don't mix; nuts and candied peel are all over the floor!
Last night, Christmas Eve, we went to our friends Adam and Sara for dinner with Jurassic. I made dessert, a puff pastry apple and mincemeat concoction, a bit like a strudel.
Note my holly and berry motifs!

We're just back from a lovely Christmas meal with DH's family, and tomorrow we fly up north for Christmas in the snow with my family. Can't wait. Keep your fingers crossed for us that the flight isn't delayed by snow!

Happy Holidays x

Saturday, 19 December 2009

Aeoilan Shawl

With the sun shining this morning I took the opportunity to get outside and photograph the shawl.
It took a little while to find a good backdrop, until I found this wall. Wrapping it round a tree this time just wasn't cutting it.

I love the shadow of the branches against the shawl.

Half-way through, I realised the shawl was creating a delicate shadow onto the wall behind.

Here are some indoor shots, which show the true colour of the yarn.

It snowed here this week! Just in time for Christmas. I know this will look pretty pathetic for those of you who have proper snow, but it really is unusual to see snow in London.

As we walked home late on Thursday night, the snow was falling in large flakes and we expected to wake up to a winter wonderland, but there was only ice, so I don't have any good photos of our brief flurry.

Sunday, 13 December 2009

Aeolian is Blocking

It's finished, and I'm happy with it:
When it's dry I'll take some better photo's. If I hadn't had some other projects to finish (which I can't show you yet), it would have been finished weeks ago, but here it is now.
It was difficult to block. The points of the "flowers"at the edge are not as pointy as they would have been had I used lace-weight yarn. I had decided to use DK for warmth and weight and knew the finished result would not look the same. I made the smallest version so it's more wearable and found Adriana's blocking photo's very helpful, though my points are nowhere near as good as hers. Don't look too closely at the blocking as it's not perfect!
And yes, it's blocking on the faithful Barbie blocking towel: don't ask why I own a towel like that; it has something to do with DH's Stag do (Bachelor party).

Take a look at the beauitiful cardigan, below. It's Gentle Rose from last month's Simply Knitting. I already have the yarn for it (Patons Pompero in Ruby 32) and will be starting it over Christmas when I have lots of free time when we go to my parents in Scotland for 10 days). I like the puffed sleeves and colour, and love an open cardigan.
We're also going to get some skiing in as there's enough snow and the slopes are open at Cairngorm.
I also quite like Ginger, below, but it's quite impractical. The jury's out on this one.

Meanwhile, having been scared by some threads on Ravelry about moths desecrating entire stashes, I have invested in some vacuum bags to prevent that problem. You can see yarn, FO's and toys sucked up in this one:

Christmas is in the air, and I'm loving it.

Sunday, 6 December 2009

Ding Dong Merrily On High

Christmas is coming, I can feel it!

Ever since the first Christmas Coca Cola advert came on TV a couple of weeks ago, I knew it was on its way (this is the benchmark I use each year). Yesterday we decorated the tree:

Though it has fallen over three times since then! This year we've topped it with a ribbon instead of the silver snowflake that we always use. I quite like it; what do you think? If I was at my parents' house, there wouldn't be any question: it's always the white dove with the little blue sequined eye.

You would be forgiven for thinking we had three children from this photo. In fact, we have none, and are just big kids ourselves. DH has two advent calendars this year; one from me, and one from my Mum. I have one from my Mum too! Yes, at the age of 29-rapidly-approaching-30, I still get an advent calendar and a stocking, and I'm very proud of it!

We also have an advent candle, a tradition my siblings and I always had as children, though this is an unusual one:

Do you find yourself reverting to your childhood self at this time of year? I certainly do. Many of our decorations are from my first ever little tree, one which I, like my siblings, had in my own room each year.

The sari girl was a new addition two years ago.

This is probably my favourite one, and comes from a tiny little village in the north of Scotland. My Mum had a tradition of letting us build up a collection from wherever we visited, so there are some from all over the world. Originally I had an angel-only tree, though this has now changed.

Peg-doll Liberty angel.

There are Russian Dolls,
finds from Istanbul this summer (note the all-seeing third eye motif),

and a fun camel,

always apples and ribbons,

home made stockings from a few years ago (I've done 6 in total),

hand-made christmas trees (also from a couple of years ago),

and all sorts of other goodies.

This year I haven't made a single knitted present (I may have gone overboard last year). It's been such a relief not having a deadline to work to, though there are two (commissioned)requests that I have yet to deliver. I like to have the tree up on 1st December but this year that was knit-night, so it had to wait til Saturday (the 5th, not too bad). I also have to have all presents bought before 1st December each year. Check.

By the way, someone on Ravelry has made a scarf from one of my patterns! I can't tell you how impressed and amazed I am!!! It looks really good, too.

Have you got your tree yet?

An early Happy Christmas to you all.

Friday, 4 December 2009

New Bunny

Our friends Alex and Harry had a little boy a few weeks ago and this is what I gave little Benjamin:

Ben's a bit too small to appreciate him right now, but hopefully he'll grow to love him, like I do.

I made him up as I went along, using a variety of techniques, and am pleased with the final result.

You may recognise the yarn. It's Koigu KPPPM and a lot nicer in real life than photos can show (much lighter, with that magical watercolour effect I find with Koigu, plus a great sheen). It has speckles of light burgundy, dark blue, yellow and pale pink on a creamy background, though it's hard to pick them up in photos unless you're looking really closely.

Originally I made a hat for Ben to match, but wasn't happy with the way it turned out, so I made Buzbee, one of Woolly Wormhead's Creations from Wee Woolly Toppers, a copy of which I have. It's a great book, with extremely-easy-to-follow patterns and some really innovative creations. Unfortunately I completely forgot to take photos before I gave the hat away with matching booties, but the booties are exactly the same as those I made for Joshua (my own pattern), if that rings a bell (again made with Malabrigo Worsted in Stone Blue). Like with Joshua, for some reason I was certain Ben was going to be a boy, so I didn't even make anything that a girl could wear as a back-up. Lucky for me my sixth sense was correct as I can envision me having had to burn the midnight oil otherwise!

In the meantime you'll have to content yourself with more images of Bunny until I have a photo of Ben in his hat (I made the 3-6 months size so he'd have something to grow into, so photos won't be coming for a while!):

It started with an arm...

Actually that's not true. It started with a leg on a provisional cast on. There also isn't a single seam! Everything is worked in the round and stitches are picked up, so there are no awkward joins either. That's why I made this one up, so I could tailor it to my wishes. While I am more confident in mattress stitch now, having mastered it with the cardigan, I still prefer knitting everything in the round where possible.

I've been very good this week, and when not staying late at work in the evenings, have concentrated solely on the cardigan, and have not even looked at the shawl, though it's been hard; I'm really looking forward to getting back to the Aeolian. So far the back and both fronts of the cardigan are finished, and I'm giving myself tomorrow to finish the tops of the arms, so I can seam on Sunday. Then I'll move on to the pockets.

We had a great knit night at Hammersmith SNB this Tuesday. All the regulars were there. I love hanging out knitting and chatting with them all.

Sunday, 29 November 2009

Spanish Omlette

Now this is nothing fancy, and I make it all the time, but I thought it looked good on the plate.
In case you're interested, here's how to make it:
Spanish Omlette (some say Frittata)
Serves 4-8 depending on how large a slice you serve!)
Approx. 200g baby new potatoes, cut into half-inch pieces
6 slices honey roast ham, cut into half-inch pieces
Half a red onion, chopped
150g cheddar cheese, grated
6 eggs (you can make this with 4 eggs, but I stretched it out)
Olive oil.
Preheat the grill to Medium. Parboil the baby new potatoes. Fry the onion in a very small amount of olive oil. Set aside.
Whisk the eggs in a bowl. Add the cheese, ham, par-boiled potatoes, onion and salt and pepper. Tip this mixture into the same frying pan and cook on a medium flame for about 5 minutes until the edges come away from the side of the pan (this means the bottom will also be cooked).
Transfer the frying pan to the grill and leave for about 10 minutes, or until the top is golden and the egg has set.
Take out from under the grill; it will keep on cooking.
Serve at room temperature with salad.
I almost always make this with chorizo for that Spanish feel, but fancied a change this time. I may make it with peas and ham next time, omitting the cheese. You can make whatever variation you like.
My little Brother came to stay at the beginning of the week and we ate it. It's a simple mid-week meal that I make very often.

I had a great time with DB, who was in London for an interview. Here's hoping he gets the job so I can see him more often!
My eyes are now swimming in a sea of camel stockinette, so I must get back to the cardigan. Having frogged it down to the arm-holes due to the fit (I want to get it right), I have now finished the back, and almost one front. Just one more front and the tops of the sleeves to go.
I'm also about 80% of the way through the Aeolian Shawl.

Sunday, 15 November 2009

Give-away Winner

I gave Rebecca an extra two weeks, but I'm afraid I haven't heard anything, so I've drawn another winner: it's Adriana! I've PM'd her on Ravelry and when she's given me her address I'll post the yarn off to her straight away.
In an effort to put off a project that I have to finish, in true knitter style I have started a new WIP: an Aeolian shawl, below:
I've well and truly caught the shawl bug, though it's the actual knitting process and finished project rather than the usability of them that I enjoy.
I've known about the Aeolian for a while but wan't sure I wanted to make one so intricate, but having looked for another shawl pattern and not found anything nearly as stunning, I cast on last night. It has the advantage of being by the same designer as the Swallowtail (Elizabeth Freeman), which I really enjoyed, and doesn't involve increases on the purl side, a major factor.

I'm not loving the colour yet, but it was in the stash and I thought I'd use it up. It's Allison Avery Merino DK in Crimson, and it's very soft. I think it works better in fingering weight and darker colours. Navy blue could be nice...

Toad also recently lent me her EZ book, Knitter's Almanac, which has proved for some interesting reading.

DH has declined to have a pair of these made for him!: