Archive | November, 2010

A Knitter’s Confession

18 Nov

I’ve been avoiding the blog lately, because I have a confession that makes me feel very guilty.  Remember my November Goal, “No more yarn!”?  Well, I have fallen off the wagon.  Not just fallen, but have taken the wagon down with me with the amount of yarn purchased this month.

I have such a weakness for yarn sales, and Fabric.com comes along and has a massive one that breaks my resolve in a flash.  Discontinued yarn?  I may never get my hands on this stuff again!

Felted Tweed in a deep pine green for a Manu.

Berrocco Vintage Chunky for a Meep Meep hoodie for Dougie.

Rowan Purelife Shetland Moorit for Aidez.

And Harrisville Highland in bluegrass for David’s long-time-coming Cobblestone.

Thus in a few quick clicks I have spent a couple of months yarn allowance.  The only way I manage to do this without serious retribution from my husband is the fact that I did get all of this on incredible sale and that they will (eventually) become something wearable.  When buying yarn for an entire sweater I try to pay only as much as I would be willing to pay for a high quality store-bought.  Any of these yarns at full price would have been out of my league.

I have now taken serious steps to curb my addiction.

  • Credit card numbers are no longer available freely.
  • I have left the yarn-enabling groups on Ravelry (sorry Yarn Sales members!)
  • I have joined stash busting groups
  • Knit constantly (because the Devil really does make work for idle hands)

On the positive side, with knitting always in my hands I spend less time online trawling for sales, and there’s also been a huge boost in my productivity.

And if a snowstorm comes in the next few weeks, I will have plenty to keep me warm and busy.

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A Taste of Home

15 Nov

Disclaimer: If you are vegetarian or into low fat you probably want to skip this post which is essentially an ode to pork fat.  I apologise in advance to anyone who is offended.  I offer you a carrot of peace.


Almost immediately after moving to the US we realised that our diet would not be the same as in England.  Sadly, we took for granted that we could buy free range eggs, meats, and raw milk and organic vegetables down the road.  British food involves a lot of stews, rich, stodgy desserts, and roast meats: autumn food at it’s best.  Whenever it gets cold my craving for animal fats increases and it’s something I’ve been missing in the world where every piece of meat (even organic/pastured) is trimmed of rind and fat.  So imagine my delight when my husband came home with this.

A tub full of high quality, pastured, porky lard.  Lard has such a bad name and I wish I could go on a crusade to bring it back in fashion.  Not only is it delicious (which it is) but it is the perfect frying medium and what people used before the world of trans-fat hydrogenated shortening.  If you subscribe to the “Nourishing Traditions” dietary advice, then good quality lard from free ranging pork is positively good for you.  Your granny would probably agree.

What does a person do with a load of lard?  Make lardy cake of course.

Lardy cake is one of those English delights that you can only find in obscure village bakeries, and is probably only bought by old boys who still say “by jove!”  It is a cross between a bread and a croissant, yeasted dough laminated with lard (no butter allowed), spices and currants.  After baking you turn the cake over so that none of the precious fat escapes.  The result is a crispy crust and flakey, moist insides, rich with sugar, spices and fruit.  It is remarkably similar to a cinnamon bun, but much more filling, with a slight savoury character.  Perfect for food for those long winter walks or a day out in the fields.

For me, this is the taste of the English countryside.  A combination of slightly sweet, fat enriched cake and a strong cup of tea.  The comforting taste of home.

Super Quick Mittens

12 Nov

Have a couple of hours of spare?  Some spare worsted weight yarn?  A pair of small hands that need warming?  Then you have to knit these.

While snow still seems a long way away (it’ll prove me wrong) the days are getting chilly enough to warrant gloves and mittens.  Desperate to use some of my Cascade 220 stash these extra-toasty mittens use yarn doubled, and are so quick that I finished them over the course of one movie.  Talk about instant gratification.

These are his first mittens and his first truly snowy winter.  He seems to approve of them too, proudly wearing them (and nothing else) and demanding a trip to the park.  They will be perfect for those sledding, snowballing, and hot chocolate days to come.  I enjoyed autumn immensely but am equally excited for winter to come this year.

(Um, take 2?)

A Loose Knitter Laments

11 Nov

I knit very loosely, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.  My hands stay very relaxed and I can knit for hours without any fatigue.  But getting gauge can be a terrible pain.

I bought this Madelinetosh Worsted (which is really a much lighter DK weight) from a fellow blogger and Raveler to make Ringwood gloves for my mother.  The colourway, “Kale”, is a beautiful blend of purple-grey tones dyed in a salt and pepper effect.  It is great to knit with, but I am having no end of problems with my gauge.

The pattern suggests 24 st/4 inches in the ringwood pattern and the designer used 4mm needles.  I am reliably loose so I always go down one needle size.  I started off with 3.75mm, then 3mm, and am now down to a 2.75mm which makes the name “Madelinetosh worsted” sound like a cruel joke.  Luckily my mother’s hands are larger than mine (which are like a small child’s) so I’m hoping I will have success this time around.

If I was a tight knitter I’d have more options, you can always size up more easily than size down, in my opinion.  Which is why sock knitting is more a chore than it really should be.  When I go down to size 00 or smaller my hands give up.

Which is why I will make sure the next project I knit will be made on reasonable sized needles.

Simple Pleasures

9 Nov

The first week of November has been a rocky one for all of us.  Despite the nearly T-shirt weather and clear skies there has been a dark cloud of stress plaguing the family.  Perhaps hardest hit has been our sensitive little boy who has some very stubborn teeth.  I am trying my hardest to get us all to breath and enjoy the simplest pleasures.

Breakfast with egg and soldiers (buttered toast fingers)

Early sunsets in the warm autumn evenings

New favourite stories from the library (Berenstain Bears Classics)

And an early birthday present from Mama and Daddy: Charlie

Charlie is a fairtrade Camden doll made by a hearing-impaired womens cooperative in Peru.  He is a little smaller than a traditional Waldorf doll, but well made and sure to be well loved.  They already share naptimes, cuddles, Mama milk, and a love of nudity.  I can’t wait to see what mischief they get up to.

And can’t wait for the day all those teeth come in.

 

Little Red Idlewood

6 Nov

Thank you so much for the get well wishes, after a bit of rest I feel back to my normal self and projects have been flying off the needles.

With barely a yard to spare I managed to finish Idlewood with only 760 yards of Rowan Cashsoft Aran.  Thank goodness for blocking because it was very nearly a crop top.  It’s still a little on the short side and I am sad that it doesn’t have the pocket, but all the more reason to knit another one.

It was such a surprisingly quick knit, about a week from start to finish.  The Cashsoft yarn is warm and soft as a kitten,  I’ve even survived our first freezing wintery days wearing it with my autumn jacket.  While knitting I found it funny that the cowl is almost bigger than the rest of the garment, but I love snuggling up under it.  Plus, it looks cool.

I declare it the ultimate autumn layering garment, and will still be wearing it long after the snow falls.

Sick Leave

4 Nov

It’s just been one of those weeks full of stress punctuated by painful migraines.  It makes me sad to put down the needles and camera, but there comes a time when we all need a little R&R.  Hopefully I’ll be back to normal by the weekend for a wooly update.

New November

1 Nov

It’s always refreshing starting a new month, and already it is a far cry from the lingering summer warmth we had in October.  Most of the leaves are gone and it is decidedly chilly but no less beautiful.

These early evenings give us a chance as a family to take walks as the light fades.  So perfect for taking atmospheric photos.

It’s also perfect for knitting cozy giant-cowl pullovers.

Idlewood is one of the patterns I fell in love with the moment I laid eyes on it, and managed to buy yarn for it during the crazy cheap Fabric.com sale.  Unfortunately I miscalculated yardage.  Instead of 850 yards, I bought only 760 yards.  I could do without this sort of anxiety while knitting something I so desperately want to wear.

I also have a few goals in mind for the new month.

  • Ringwood Gloves for my own mother in gorgeous Madelinetosh DK
  • Hat and mittens for Dougie
  • Ripley for me in Quince and Co Osprey
  • Fingerless mitts for David
  • Spend more time knitting than Ravelry
  • No more yarn! (for November)

Back in the days before Ravelry things were so much simpler.  You had to buy a pattern book or magazine and wait for the next issue.  The downside to the instant gratification and endless supply of patterns online is that I am constantly in search of the my next project and the queue starts to heave and stash accumulates.  Eventually things get so old I don’t even want to knit them anymore.  By keeping myself knitting and not surfing I’m hoping to get more done, buy less yarn, and simply enjoy making things.  We shall see.