Thursday 31 October 2013

Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween one and all! As you can see, my little monsters are enjoying themselves with Bob. Bob is our pumpkin. Well he's got to have a name!

We had tonnes of fun yesterday. we headed out, and the boy helped pick out Bob to come home with us. Bob was happy to be a blank canvas.

The boy watched and commented at every stage. He though that hollowing bob out was funny and made all sorts of comments about the innards. But after some hand aching work, he was ready.

Now I will state the obvious, the boy was an observer. There are sharp knives involved, so he just got to watch from a distance and comment. He can join in more when he is old enough. But slowly, along to commentary Bob started to transform.

Till he was ready!

The boy pronounced him 'very happy and a little bit spooky'. We then promptly put him in the window to greet daddy when he came home.

Have a wonderful and spooky Halloween everyone!

Till next time!

Monday 28 October 2013

You can knit armour?

Why yes you can!

Okay, first things first, in some ways, I am a bit of a geek. Yes, I said it. Therefore, so are some of my friends. This means that when I make things for them, I can go a little geeky when I do it and know they will be loved. So when I saw the scalemaile gauntlets pattern by craftymutt, I just knew I had to make them, and who for!

The pattern is super simple, but I didn't feel like swatching and working a lot out for myself out, and the pattern is so cheap and comes with handy charts for if you are planning to create a pattern within your scales its well worth the buy.

Now the scales, they are no easy to come by in the UK and not cheap. The annoying thing is that they are far more freely available in the US and cheaper there too, but with the various rates for buying in from outside the EU what with customs, RM charge etc, and of course the now high mailing rates from the US, I can't utilise those sites. I did find a seller on ebay doing them as cheap as I have seen them anywhere in the UK and it was still quite a bit. But these are my best friend's christmas present so she's totally worth it ;) But finding them in the UK is a pain, be warned. If you are in the US, is your friend!

Still, I ran the idea of these to her as her present, and after a resounding 'hell yeah!' I got her to choose her colour of scales and she chose this gold. I then typically went on to alter the pattern a touch. Knitted fabric can stretch, but I didn't want to make these with a tonne of negative ease and be too tight, but I know her hands are bigger than mine. So I cast on the medium size, and ribbed the palm rather than knitted in garter. The reason should be obvious in this picture


The ribbing makes for a nice, extra snug fit that adapts with the shape of the hands and wrists, meaning they never get too loose. Important as they have a bit of weight to them. They aren't heavy, but the scales do make the fabric behave differently. And to be honest, the palms are not where you are looking. Not when the backs look like this

Please excuse the stool in the background, I forgot to move it before taking pictures. Ho hum. In any case, these were a very fun project. They only took 36g of aran weight yarn I got from Violet Green and in my opinion look crazy cool! I hope she will enjoy them a lot!

Till next time!

Thursday 24 October 2013

Warding off the cold

So the autumn has arrived. And with it random cold days and the general temperature is slowly getting lower. Its a time of year where I really have to watch myself. I have mild Reynauld's Syndrome, a circulatory condition. During the warmer months I never have a problem, aside from the fact, as my husband will confirm, my feet are blocks of ice 365 days of the year. You know when I have a fever because my feet are actually warm to everyone else. Usually I don't feel the cold in my feet except late at night in winter before I go to bed and get them snug. My hands however, are a whole different kettle of fish.

Warmer months are not a problem, but regardless of the time of year, if my hands get cold enough, I have problems. Aside from going numb and struggling to work, the colder they get, the more likely I am to have a nasty flare. My hands will suddenly become hot, itchy, and swell rapidly, which in turns traps my rings on my fingers and makes things worse. So you can imagine that should a flare up happen, the first thing I do is yank my rings off and try and get my hands warm before it gets too bad. Though really I work at preventing flares. Which can happen indoors. In my house, even with the central heating set at a sensible 18 degrees Celcius. Yes, even in a reasonably warm house my hands can freeze, and typically one is colder than the other. So I need mitts for indoors. And to be able to do anything, they need to be fingerless.

So that was the impetus behind the project. I have been getting by on some plain stockinette ones which... fitted... ish. I made them up as I went, but I really needed an upgrade. The pattern is Fingerless Pomatomus Gloves. And they are based on the sock pattern of the same name by Cookie A. I actually have a pair of those socks. So I have been wanting to knit the mitts for some time.

The yarn is Wollmeise, yet again. I do use it a fair bit when I can afford it. The colourway I had to get. Because it shares a name with my husband. And the sap I am likes the idea of my husband keeping my hands warm. Just like he lets me warm my feet on him ;)

Its called Paul, and the mitts took just 49g of a 150g skein. Leaving me with plenty to attempt to do a matching beanie hat! Wish me luck!

So that's the story behind this project, and I shall leave you with a couple of pictures of me wearing them. Which you better like, because you have no idea how hard it is to take pictures of you own hands by yourself! Only joking, but yes, takes some work!

 Till next time!

Friday 18 October 2013

Some bright, textured yarn

I have to admit, spinning has taken a back seat lately, usually because of deadline knitting, but I seem to be reasonably ahead of myself at the moment, so have taken to spinning when I have a quiet evening... which is maybe a couple of times a week.

I have been wanting to do something different, so when I saw these batts:

I fell in love. I have a love for black, and neon brights are so in fashion at the moment. But more interesting is what the batts are made of. Firstly let me point out where these batts came from. They were made by the lovely Patricia of Yummy Yarns UK, found both on Etsy and tentatively on Folksy. She may migrate more to Folksy over time as Etsy has gone through some fundamental changes which now favour massed produced products rather than artisan hand made items, which is what Etsy was founded for, not to be a second Ebay. But I digress.

The photo does not do these batts justice. There is black wool, trilobal nylon for sparkle, thicker sparkly threads, and of course that pink! The pink is carded cotton. Cotton on its own is not something I have attempted to spin. I cannot get my head round the preparation needed to get thus incredibly short stapled fibre to spin. But blended like this? Hell yeah I was game to try it. As it happens the cotton is like a sheet sandwiched between the other fibres, and very much has a mind of its own as I expected. It was always going to be a textured yarn.

So I spun the singles as the fibre to seem to have a mind to, and was really very pleased with it.

Then I whipped it into a two ply and out of 150g of fibre, I came out with 300m of 2 ply yarn in stunning colour, DK weight. Now to must what to make with it!

So that's what I have been up to, what are you all making/doing at the moment?

Till next time!

P.S. Currently loving this yarn from Patricia's shop so much I just had to shout about it!

Monday 14 October 2013

Gluten Free Red Velvet Cupcakes!

First of all I want to take a moment to say hi and thank you to my new followers! I seem to have gained a few peeps. Welcome to my blog and I hope you enjoy my content!

Now to the point. I have mentioned this recipe in progress for a little while. I had been testing and tweaking in preparation for my daughter's first birthday that has just passed. Hopefully things here will calm down a bit now that the event is over, but with the dreaded Christmas on the horizon... maybe not! In any case, I have just one of these scrummy delights left after the rest have all been munched. So, the recipe!

For 12 fairy cakes or 6 cupcakes you will need:

Cases to suit the size of cakes you are making.
120g gluten free self raising flour  - I used Dove Farms White self raising blend
a heaped 1/4 teaspoon of GF baking powder
30g cocoa
115g caster sugar
45g butter
1 medium egg (room temperature)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon cider vinegar
1/2 cup milk
Red, bake stable food colouring of your choice.

The first thing to say is that if you don't want to colour these cakes, they maker perfectly scrummy chocolate fairy cakes or muffins, the colour is far from essential.

First, weigh into a bowl the flour, baking powder, cocoa and sugar. Stir till evenly mixed. It will help later.

Add your butter, egg, vanilla, and cider vinegar. Mix together. This will all come together in a paste, it takes some time and effort, but it will come together, trust me! Keep mixing till it looks like this:

See, a sort of lumpy paste.

Note: You are about to add your milk. At this point take into consideration your food colouring. The food colouring I was using was a gel, Dr Oetker's red gel colouring, and that adds fluid to the mix. And you need a LOT of colouring. If you are adding a good amount of liquid colouring, then take a tablespoon of milk away from the half cup you measured earlier.

Add your milk and beat till smooth:

Its like magic, you have cake batter at last. 

Add the food colouring till you are happy. I used 4 10ml tubes of the colouring mentioned above to get this colour:

Spoon into cake cases. Now you will need a steady hand. The mixture will have large air bubbles in it, which will create cavities and hollows in your cakes, because believe me, these will rise.

First gently shake your tray of cases side to side to level the mixture off a little. Now you need to whack the tray against a hard surface. straight up and down to force the bubbles to the surface. Do it a few times, walk away, do something for 30 seconds, and come back and do it again. I can't guarantee this will remove all of them, but it will make your cakes better than if you didn't whack the tray.

Bake at 160 degrees in a fan oven, 180 degrees in a conventional, for 20-25 minutes. Even with the large cakes my oven only takes 20 minutes to bake.

Leave to cool fully before decorating:

Now decorating. Red Velvet cake is typically iced with a cream cheese frosting. So here is what I used for mine:

130g cream cheese
40g butter
90g icing sugar
1/2 Teaspoon vanilla extract

Beat together till smooth and frost onto fully cooled cake.

That made enough to pipe onto the six cupcakes there and should do 12 fairy cakes as well. But you may need to make more or less depending on how thick you want your icing. You can make it ahead, but do store it in the fridge. The cream cheese doesn't like being in a cupboard so do plan on keeping your cakes in the fridge till they are gone. Not that I imagine they will be hanging round for long. My children have been doing a good job of demolishing them.

For an extra touch I found some wafer daisies in Tesco and decorated my cakes with them to celebrate my daughter's first birthday as you can see from the picture at the very beginning of this post. She was very pleased with them and the daisies were the first thing to be munched!

 So there we are, finally the finished recipe. Go forth and enjoy, with no gluten in sight!

Till next time!

Monday 7 October 2013

Twinkle Twinkle Cardigan

I am unfortunately  having to post in haste, much as I do not like to. But I do not have much other option when I have a first birthday to organise and get ready. That's right, my little Lulu will be one this Friday! Goodness knows where the last year has gone!

So as its now October, I am in the midst of warm weather/christmas knitting. As such, Lulu needs new cardigans. I always despair in finding ones I like in the shops, at a price I am happy to pay. So I raided my stash and hunted down patterns, and eventually settled on the Twinkle Twinkle pattern. I cast on with some Wollmeise Pure in Golden Pear which hadn't gotten used in another project so was lying around with no purpose, so I gave it one.

I have to admit, me and this pattern did not get on. My row gauge was so off for the pattern that I had to make adjustments coming out of my ears. And as written, I could not make the stitch counts work once you got to separating at the underarms. More adjustments. That said the result is beautiful, and I like it very much. And I discovered my seaming really isn't half bad! Considering I hate seaming that was a very pleasant surprise. So here is my finished cardigan,

and a quick shot being modelled, but a perplexed Lulu who is staring at next door's cat, but wouldn't sit still for another picture!

Till next time


Tuesday 1 October 2013

Leibster Award

Well this is something a little bit different. As you can see I have been given a Leibster award by the lovely Bethany from Love Peace and Makeup, thank you so much hon, its really sweet of you! Its all about finding new blogs and finding out about the bloggers behind them. In the spirit of the thing, here's me:

Mum of two, stay at home mum and all that brings with it, and crafter. So on to the questions she set me?

How long have you been blogging?

I started blogging in January 2012, not long before I would discover I was pregnant for the second time. By May, the pregnancy took over everything and I just stopped for a while. I couldn't concentrate on it. I picked it back up in July and am loving it. 

Who is your inspiration?

My mother. I have always said if I could be half as good a mother as she was and is to me and my brothers, then I will be proud and will know I have done a good job. I have never met anyone who has put more into fighting for the things her children needs, who truly put them first above her own needs and wants, who put blood, sweat and tears into making sure we could all have the best lives possible than her. I will never ever forget or stop being grateful for all she has done for use, and continues doing, after all that life has thrown at her.

She married a man with Aspergers syndrome, and will have been for 40 years next year. She has raised one child with epilepsy, another two with both epilepsy and profound autism. She has been in a car accident that nearly claimed her life and has left her legs all but useless. Despite being in a wheelchair, profoundly disabled, and needing yearly surgery for the bone infections in one leg she works! As a benefits advisor. She is truly an oustanding woman I am very proud to have as my mother

What is your favourite quote? 

Freddie Mercury at the recording of 'The Show Must Go On'. Freddie was so ill with AIDS that band mate Brian May was concerned he wouldn't be able to manage the challenging vocal. He slammed some vodka and told May: "I'll fucking do it, darling!" And proceeded to do it in one take with no problems.

His illness was tragic, but his strength, his will and his determination and the way he put his all into what he did despite it all was outstanding. He was recording and working long after he stopped doing concerts and public appearances. He has to be admired

What is your best feature?

My eyes. Certainly in my opinion anyway.

Tell me something new you’ve discovered recently, beauty or otherwise?

Spending time on me every single day! That may sound absolutely crazy, but I don't think I have ever done that, especially in a beauty sense. And when I became a mother I went from wearing makeup at least once a week, to maybe once or twice a year. I always said I didn't want to be the woman who cannot leave the house without her make up on, and even though I am making changes, that won't. I do not feel less feminine or less of a woman etc without some make up on. But after four and a half years, I want to stop being just mummy, and get back to the woman my husband fell in love with and married.

What it means in reality is spending 10-20 minutes on a morning putting on some tinted moisturiser, a little eye make up, a spritz of my somewhat alarming collection of perfume (I need to use it not hoarde it!) and do my hair. Spend some evening time once the children are in bed, two to three times a week to wash and straighten my hair. To look after me. To get back some sense of identity other than the mum who threw some clothes on her back and didn't care what they were because I looked like a bag of nails anyway with scraped back messy hair and the clothes weren't going to hide it. So, just a teeny little bit of time for myself when I get up really isn't too much to ask. I have to admit, its making me feel great, so that has to be worth it. The confidence can be seen far more obviously than the makeup!

Favourite accessory?

Not really an accessory gal, but I do have my necklace that I am almost never without, a keepsake of when my children were very small, kept close to my heart.

Lips: Gloss, Stick, Stain, Balm or Leave Them Be?

Unless its stain or tint and I don't have to top it up every time I eat, drink, cough, sneeze etc, then leave them be. I just do not have time to be doing that and it irritates me unfortunately. I will make the effort if I am going out, but the rest of the time... nope.

Beauty product you just can’t live without?

My razor. Frank confession, I am one of those women who has facial hair. Wonderful quirk of nature. If I get nothing else done, I will take a minute to run the razor over my face so I don't look like the bearded lady.  

What did you want to be when you grew up?

Fighter pilot. True fact. But I was too short and I had a medical history that excluded me. Not that I knew that at nine nor did it stop me dreaming.

What’s your guilty pleasure?

Um... chocolate... its the only one I feel guilty about anyway! 

11 random facts about yourself.
  1. I am partially ambidextrous. There are some things I do just as well with either hand, and some I do better with my weaker hand.
  2. I played competitive team badminton at university. My team were third in the league
  3. I can play three instruments. Flute, guitar, and piano in order of decreasing proficiency.
  4. I really want to try a Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster. Just once!
  5. I used to be a biker, with the full leathers and a purple and chrome bike. I was the coolest 18 year old in school when I rocked up on that.
  6. I have attended surgical procedures in an operating theatre in my student days.
  7. I met the Iron Lady, Baroness Thatcher when I was a child. She was really very nice to me.
  8. I once marched through London dressed as a fairy complete with corset and giant pink wings. It was fun but boy did I have blisters.
  9. When I was little I was terrified of turning into my mother when I grew up. As I've grown up, I've come to realise that it could actually be a really good thing and that I don't mind how much like her I am at all.
  10. I like horror movies, a lot!
  11. I like musicals just as much. I was in four at school!
So who am I going to pass this award on to....

Sarah, of Sarah and the Moon, a weaver, and boy do I wish I could bang out finished projects as fast as she does!
Nicky of Teacups and Yarn who is launching her new business selling handcrafts. Some lovely items! Go and look and say hi!
Knitiot of A Knitiot Abroad, new to the blogging community, so go say hi and make her feel welcome!

Questions for you lovely people to answer:

  • How long have you been blogging?
  • What made you decide to join the blogging community? 
  • Who is your inspiration?
  • What craft tool could you never live without?
  • What's the next skill you want to learn?
  • What's your favourite item you have made to date?