Friday, December 24, 2010

Adventures

Just checking in quickly with a few photos. Thanks for all the lovely comments about my selbu modern. I have been wearing it a lot the last little while, while away having adventures. We headed south to train delays and more snow.

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Snow on palm trees in "sunny Exeter" make me giggle, although I shouldn't laugh since snow in these parts causes chaos.

Then on to London!

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This was the first time I'd seen a West End show, and it was very exciting. Les Mis is such an established production, but seeing it for the first time was pretty cool.

Back soon with more knitting! Happy holidays, everyone!

Friday, December 17, 2010

FO: Selbu Modern

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Pattern: Selbu Modern by Kate Gagnon Osbourne

Yarn:
The yarn I used was some old, discontinued fingering weight that claims to be Schaffhouser Wolle Mona - but yarn by that name in the ravelry database is clearly different yarn. I found it in Lewiscraft while they were going out of business, and excited about the cheapness bought skeins of light pink, magenta/fuschia, and green. I dyed some of the obnoxious magenta with Wiltons Royal Blue icing dye, and it turned a lovely Western purple.

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Notes:
I used 2.75 mm needles throughout, not bothering with smaller needles for the ribbing. This turned out bigger and slouchier than I thought it would; notes from many projects on ravelry suggested the hat usually runs small. However, I didn't swatch, so I only have myself to blame.

Knitting this took me ages. AGES. I started in September and only finished this week. There are many reasons for this, but the biggest is that I didn't work on it very often because I never printed out the pattern. Only working on the project while near the computer is, it turns out, a terrible idea for me because the internet is so distracting. Haha. Lesson learned. I'm also pretty slow at colourwork and it wears out my hands if I do too much at once. Case in point: when I got to the decreases and saw the end in sight, I worked furiously, and couldn't knit for days afterwards. Bad idea: will not push myself like this again.

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I like the result, but I have mixed feelings about wearing it. The pattern is so beautiful, and I've admired it for a long time, but when I put it on I immediately felt ridiculous. My desire to knit the pattern quashed any inkling I might have had that hats of this style don't really suit me. The crease from blocking it on a plate makes it stick out in a weird way on my head, and I felt like this hat could be high maintenance. If I have to stand in front of a mirror and mess with it before leaving the house, it might not be worth wearing.

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Then I got stubborn and decided to wear the hat anyway, even if I look stupid, and after wearing it for a few days I feel much better about it. Still, I might steer clear of slouchy hats for a while.

Check out more Friday FOs at Tami's Amis!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

so much butter

I have fond memories of baking an array of tasty treats with my mom in December, but mince pies weren't part of my holiday fare. Since meeting my dude, for whom mince pies are an integral part of Christmas, we've made pies together a few times, though we seem to use a different recipe each time. It's extra fun because this is one of the only things he gets excited about baking.

We made our mince pies using this recipe for pastry, and sort of this recipe for mincemeat, which we made a few weeks ago and kept in the fridge. (I say sort of because we used some different proportions of dried fruits, used butter instead of suet, and generally disregarded the recipe - as I generally do. But we were inspired by this recipe. It worked.)

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They are tasty, but this is easily the most butter I've ever used in one time. Ever. Holy crap. We had to interrupt our baking to pop to the grocery store to get more butter because we didn't have enough. I am unapologetic about substituting things for butter in most recipes, but for shortcrust pastry like this vegetable oil probably wouldn't fly.

We halved the mincemeat recipe, but still had enough for double the pastry recipe, and ended up with 24 pies.

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Mmmm pie.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

some sort of wagon

Pinterest, the website that lets one create virtual bulletin boards, has been sweeping the knitting/crafting/blogging/shopping/internet world lately. Guess what? I have pinboards, too. It's pretty fun, though it brings out my covetous side. Haha. If you like, you can check out my boards here.

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Monday, December 13, 2010

Wanted: a replacement cardigan

I looked in my sweater drawer and realized with shock that I no longer possess any pullovers. How strange. I left a few behind when I moved, and I haven't missed them until now. Maybe it isn't that strange; I am a big fan of cardigans, and I find them much more versatile than pullovers. (Though I still plan to make more pullovers in future!)

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The issue at hand today is my standard go-to cardigan, Basic Black by Glenna C.

I finished this in July 2009. It was my most standard, useful cardigan, and I've worn it a lot. Surprisingly, the yarn hasn't pilled at all. Alas, I have to relegate this cardigan to the bottom of the drawer. The neckline is sagging terribly and falls off my shoulders, and it's generally shapeless and unflattering. It is no longer suitable for wear outside the house. Too bad! To be honest, it never fit as well as it should have: the waist-shaping was a bit wonky, the seams were badly executed in spots, and the sleeves were an awkward length - too long to be 3/4 sleeves, but too short to be long sleeves. But it was super useful and warm and wonderful, so I want to replace it with something equally versatile and simple.

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Since I love cardigans, I have many in my queue already, but I have specific criteria for this cardigan.

1. Worsted or Aran weight yarn
2. Buttons all the way down, or modifiable to do so
3. Fitted, with waist shaping, or at least easy enough to add waist shaping
4. Simple, not too many cables or lace or whatever, but not TOO boring.
5. Full-length, not cropped
6. Readily available, i.e. online

Here's the shortlist:

1. Amelia by Laura Chau
2. Garter Yoke Cardigan by Melissa LaBarre
3. Monday Morning Cardigan by Laura Chau
4. Emerald Isle Cardigan by Melissa Wehrle

I'm leaning towards Amelia, because I love twisted stitches, and many people have modified it to button all the way down with great success.

What do you think? Any suggestions?

Friday, December 10, 2010

Sock Rank

I never thought I'd become a sock knitter, but here I am: proud owner of several pairs of handknit wool socks with many more queued up for eventual knitting. Although I come from a cold place where wool socks are useful, I've found that I'm wearing my wool socks more frequently since moving to Edinburgh. This is partly because I get to pay for my heating now and the flat, though modern, isn't very well-insulated; but probably more significantly, I have more handknit socks now than before, so of course I wear them more often. 2010 was the year of sock knitting for me - I knit 3 pairs for myself, bringing my handknit sock collection up to 4 pairs. That doesn't sound like much, but technically it's a 300% increase. (Is it? I'm math-dumb.)

Here is the round-up.

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(made with the BigHugeLabs mosaic maker)

Clockwise from top left: Delicious knee socks, Skew, Jaywalkers, and Sugar Maple

Skew are a bit too tight and the yarn is turning to fuzz and fading fast: I dyed some cheap-as-hell sock yarn with Easter Egg dyes, so I only have myself to blame.

The jaywalkers and the knee socks are both fine, and I like them, but as it turns out, the Sugar Maple socks are my favourites. From 2-at-a-time Socks by Melissa Morgan-Oakes, these are the most comfortable and I want to wear them all the time. I'm surprised that I like them so much, given that I didn't particularly like the yarn while knitting, and I'm not a fan of the dye-job. I said I wouldn't use this yarn again. But they are so soft, and yet they are holding up pretty well despite frequent washings/wearings. I like when knits defy my expectations.

Do you have favourite socks?

Saturday, December 04, 2010

blue paper packages tied up with ribbon

Look what came in the post today!

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And inside....

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I wanted to snag an Elijah kit from Ysolda's holiday store, but they were all gone by the time I got my credit card out, so I bought the project bag instead. Augh the cute. I'll make Elijah one day, but for now I'll have the bag to carry around with me. :)

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Made it!

It's the end of November, and I can stop pretending. Blogging every day was interesting, and I managed better than last year. Despite managing to post every day, I'm not convinced I pulled off QUALITY posting every day. There's just not that much to show for my life these days! I feel much better about blogging when I have something to say or show. Next year maybe I'll try to knit a sweater in the month of November instead.

Here. Have a badly lit picture of some delicious cookies.

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Mmmm. I might take a few days to recuperate and not think "what the heck can I blog about today?" constantly. Ahhh.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Snowed in? Not.

Perhaps if I had a long commute or had to rely on a car I would have been snowed in today. (Or perhaps if I wasn't used to navigating snow and slush, things that are ubiquitous in Canadian winters). So, I trudged along getting things done today, despite the fact that most of the things I intended to do today had been cancelled because of the snow. I probaby wasn't the only one who perhaps naively thought that the snow would keep people away from the shops, though: John Lewis was as busy as ever.

This weather reminds me of London (Ontario) during the first semester of my MLIS. In London, the sidewalk plowing was woefully inadequate for the amount of snow that fell constantly, and because it wasn't too cold, it all turned to slush rather quickly. There's plenty of slush here now, and I saw a crew of four or five men in fluorescent yellow valiantly shoveling a path along the pavement by hand in an effort to keep up. No little sidewalk snowplows here, I imagine. Poor guys!

If I'd been snowed in, I would have done more knitting, of course. These are on my needles at the moment.

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Despite appearances, selbu modern has progressed since my previous WIP picture.

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Idlewood has noticeably more progress, although I still have 5" to go before I finish the cowl. It feels like I'm knitting a sweater body, since it's so massive! I'm really looking forward to finishing this. Eventually.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

living in a Victorian Christmas card?

As predicted, we got dumped on again last night, and the snow is approaching Canadian proportions. Ah, makes me nostalgic. Despite all the white, it wasn't too cold out. A jaunt up Calton Hill was in order, and snowballs were thrown.

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Arthur's Seat really looks like a proper mountain in this weather!

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These views make me feel like I'm in a Christmas card.
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I didn't build this guy, but it is by far the best snow person I've ever seen. An unfortunate waste of fruit and vegetables though.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

told you it snowed

The snow survived the night, and we're set to get more tonight. Even though I come from the land of ice and snow, I still find the first snowfall exciting. The presence of snow makes everything seem so much brighter, even when the sun sets before 4.

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A dusting on the giraffes

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A snow-capped mountain in the middle of Edinburgh

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Bring on winter!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Canadiana

It's snowing in Edinburgh right now, but I have something else reminding me of home as well. In the parcel I mentioned yesterday, there was also a bit of Canadiana in the form of fancy tea towels.

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Apologies for the horrible flash.

Now I can dry my hands on a bit of home / some moose and bears. And deck chairs. Alright! Haha. I wonder who got to pick the iconic images of Canada and decided that deck chairs were it.

Silly but lovely. The other tea towels my mom sent are beautiful Haida-inspired designs that are too pretty for hand wiping, so I'm not sure what I'll do with them.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Old friends

My parents sent me some stuff this week, and kindly included some of yarn I'd left behind in the package.

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Aaah getting reacquainted with my stash!

I have plans for the two skeins of Noro Kureyon - the first Noro I ever bought, but not the first I ever used, oddly enough. I bought the skein of turquoise Big Wool on sale on a whim back in London (ON) and I have no idea what to do with it. Maybe a cowl or a hat. What would you do with one skein of Rowan Big Wool?

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Much better

No chunky milk in the tea. Woo.

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An improved start to the day. Tea-drinking is a habit I've acquired since living here - it happened when I first lived in the UK a few years ago and then disappeared when I moved back to Canada, where I mostly only drank herbal teas when ill or cold. Funny that.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

winner!

I popped over to Cravings and saw that I'd won her giveaway. Faye was giving away some upcycled jewelry. Sweet! I've never won a blog giveaway before, and I'm super excited. I'll take pictures once it arrives. Thanks, Faye!

This has been a day of fail on some accounts for both me and my fiancé so it was awesome to have a bit of fun excitement.

Here's the fail:
-When I made my cup of tea this morning, the milk came out chunky. Bleh.
-I spent most of the day shopping for interview clothes and came up with nothing. Would it kill someone to carry simple unfashion-y blouses?
-fiancé got a flat tire on his bike and had to walk the bike home from work
-he got home two hours ago and has been trying to fix it ever since, but more things keep breaking.
-I think our bike pump is busted.

On the plus side, I made (hopefully delicious) chili and I'm going to go eat it now. Excusing the moaning - I hope everyone else had a fun day :)

Monday, November 22, 2010

Fun stuff

Some things I'm excited about right now, in no particular order.

1. Shetland Trader Book 1
I've put it on my Christmas list, insofar as I have one, but I'll definitely buy it myself otherwise.

2. Loads of blog give-aways

3. This colourwork chart tutorial by Marnie McLean

4. Arctida's etsy shop

5. Nicholas and Felice's etsy shop.

Generally a very materialistic list of inspirations this time. Hm.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Getting personal; or, i can haz sparkles

Sometimes I'm not sure what I should or shouldn't be posting up here. Ostensibly, this is a knitting/crafting blog, but since I have infrequent FOs, I turn to other things. Right now things are happening in my life, and I've decided to talk about them. Warning: no crafty goodness ahead, only personal life stuff.

Here it goes.

I finally have a job interview after months of applications. Yes! I'll try not to mess up.

Also, Prince William stole my thunder. Which is fine, you know, since I never wanted thunder in the first place.

On bonfire night (November 5th), our 4th anniversary, the boyfriend and I got engaged. I'm slowly getting used to referring to him as my fiancé, instead of boyfriend, but I still slip up. I didn't expect to get engaged this year, nor did I expect to wear an engagement ring, since I've never been a ring-wearer. It was important to my fiancé that I get an engagement ring, and he really wanted to buy one for me, so I agreed; I asked, but he didn't want one for himself.

Shopping for an engagement ring was possibly the most awkward shopping experience of my life. That's saying something, since I am not a very good shopper at the best of times. So much shiny/sparkly/expensive madness. For someone who says "ooooh shiny" relatively frequently, I'm not actually that attracted to the bling, so I spent quite a while trying to get my head around what I was seeing and why it depressed me when I should have been excited.

It took me a while to be able to express it, but nothing I saw at first was at all "me." I've always felt diamonds are a bit overrated. No offence to those that love them, but they aren't my style at all. Diamonds are such a big part of the wedding industry culture, and that's unfortunate. I tried on solitaire after solitaire at the urging of salespeople and my fiancé, who I think was a little dismayed at my attitude at first. I just couldn't see myself wearing them. He was getting stressed out that the process was taking a long time - he thought it would be a matter of in and out super quickly. I was getting stressed that my style isn't represented in the typical jewelry store offerings.

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I like colour. I thought my ideal ring, if I had one at all, would have a coloured stone and no diamonds. Such things don't exist at High Street shops, so we compromised. I know there are many independent jewelry designers who produce non-traditional engagement rings, and after our first day of looking I sought some out, but in then end it was easier, more affordable, less stressful, and more satisfying to both of us to go with a compromise. Since I wasn't even sure about having an engagement ring to begin with, it didn't make sense to me to break the bank for one, and go through a long, drawn-out, stressful process to get it.

So, my ring has a coloured stone: tanzanite, a lovely periwinkle blue/purple oval that sparkles but is small and subtle. It also has two teeny diamonds that I think are unnecessary, but I don't mind them so much. I think it's pretty. I'm happy and excited about it. I've only had it a few days, and I like it even more the more I wear it. Still, part of me wishes that the industry I unwittingly encountered would recognize that rings can still be special even if they don't have diamonds.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

I forgot about these

Back in August/September when I was participating in the Blog Hub swap, I made some stitch markers for my swap partner. I liked the beads a lot, so I bought two extra and made earrings for me.

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It amused me to make one have a smiley moon and the other a frowny moon. I want to go bead shopping again soon... Beads are like buttons that way. A good rummage is good fun.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Mundane misses

I'm finding that other than friends and family, the things I miss about Canada are kind of dumb, really. For example, lately I miss Cheerios.

Cheerios? Really? Yes. Breakfast is serious business.

Cheerios are widely available in the UK, but the cereal is quite different from Cheerios in North America. For one thing, while in Canada the default Cheerios are made with oats, here the default Cheerios are multigrain, with each O made of a different grain. Multigrain Cheerios are also available in North America, but I've never seen oaty Cheerios here. That isn't a problem in itself; my main issue is that they are so much sweeter here. Almost sugar-glazed. I know, American Cheerios contain sugar, but they aren't a sweet cereal in their default form, which I love since I'm not a fan of sweet stuff in the morning.

Before you go thinking I'm a total cereal snob, know that in Canada I ate mostly store-brand knock-off cheerios quite happily, but they were all generally similar and not too sweet.

Anyway. Here ends an investigation into my bizarre breakfast requirements! Maybe I'll have some real content tomorrow.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Button button (button)

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Last night there was a yarn/crafty materials swap at the knitting group. I had forgotten about it, so shamefully brought nothing to add and I feel guilty about that. I'll be sure to make up for it next time, though. Over the course of the evening, I acquired buttons. Oh, the universal love of rummaging in a box / bag full of buttons.

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I tried to stick to buttons in quantities that might be useful, and I picked up these light green ones thinking of a cardigan. Maybe a gray one.

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These would look good with gray as well. Hrm. The beginning of a gray obsession?

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Just enough cute little red ones to add as details on something. Mittens?

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

WIP: Idlewood

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Two swatches. TWO

I have a WIP on Wednesday again, and it's safe to say that at this moment my knitting is definitely not monogamous. Where did I go wrong, etc etc?

Idlewood caused some uncharacteristic behaviour in me. When I saw it, I thought, "I NEED TO KNIT THIS RIGHT NOW." A week later, the yarn arrived on my doorstep, and I eagerly dived in.

Another uncharacteristic move connected with this project: I swatched twice. You heard. Because the Troon Tweed is oiled, I thought it would change a lot with blocking, so I was extra careful. As many have done before, I made a pocket as my swatch. And then another.

For those of you considering Idlewood, note that the gauge supplied, 15 sts / 4 in, is more typical for a bulky yarn, although the yarn used is worsted weight. I hadn't noticed this until I'd bought the yarn, and it turned out not to be one of those that looks awesome at a loose gauge.

My original gauge was tighter than the pattern calls for, but still way looser than I'm comfortable with, so I went down a needle size and resigned myself to sizing mods. It's still loose, but it looks a lot better on 5.5 mm needles, I think.

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A heart. Aw.

This is what I've done so far. Not much, but I like it.

See more WIP Wednesday posts on Tami's Amis

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

queue monster

What? Winter Twist Collective is out? I missed the memo, but as soon as I figured out where all those shiny new things on my ravelry friend-feed were coming from, I went to take a look. I always whip through Twist looking at the patterns first, and then gradually over the next few days/weeks read the articles.

Here are my favourites.

Things I love and might even make one day
Parcel: It's cute, and I haven't made a pullover since my first sweater. I should do it.
Leaving: I think this is very wearable, not to mention gorgeous and classy.
Roheline: This jumps out because of the yarn colour, but I could imagine making it in something more subdued as well.
Trefoil: I especially like the hat.

Things I love, but probably won't make
Leif and Astrid: Auugggh the cute.
Freija: This is dramatic and cables are awesome, but I don't think I could pull it off.
Sin Miedo: Let's be honest - I probably can't be bothered to make such beautiful things to hide in my shoes. But so beautiful, nonetheless.

Monday, November 15, 2010

secret FO

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Here are some ambiguous macro shots of a recent FO. I want to show you, but that will have to wait until December.

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The bit I'm most excited about is the yarn, which was gray, then light blue-green-gray, then dark, deep, purplish gray. The magic of overdyeing! I like how it knit up; it's still subtle, but deeper, and in some lights it looks almost iridescent. Just imagine, okay? Stay tuned for the full reveal...

Sunday, November 14, 2010

resorting to a meme

Things are slow today. Hopefully I'll have something more colourful / crafty / delicious / photorific tomorrow, but today I'm doing the Word Beads meme. The challenge is to take the five words given and string them together in a sentence, paragraph, story, or something. Here I go. It might be cheating to conjugate the verbs, but whatever.

Champagne
Glimpse
Retried
Nibble
Abash


After glimpsing a glass of champagne left on the table and a lone hors d'oeuvre on a plate, he took a gulp and a nibble, unabashed, and retried the door, but it was still locked.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Word.. Saturday?

It's been months since I posted a new word. Not sure what killed my Word Thursday thing, but I forgot about it entirely.

Cacoethes

an uncontrollable urge or desire, esp for something harmful; mania

~Free Online Dictionary

Friday, November 12, 2010

impressions

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I've probably said this before, but the light in this city is astounding. I don't know if it's the time of year, the latitude, the atmospheric conditions, the profusion of limestone buildings, or a combination of all these things, but the light does things here that I've never seen anywhere else. Except possibly in Impressionist paintings.

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holy lens flare, batman

Sometimes the days are so gray and rainy and awful; when the sky is clear and the sun is shining, I can't stop myself from going out to wander around in it. One good thing about being unemployed is the freedom to do that, I guess. These photos are from a few days ago, but they don't quite capture the whole gloriousness of the day.

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Me and my shadow

Still, they come close enough for my memory to fill in the rest.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Giraffes

Not much to say today, but these guys make me smile.

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Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Wool on Wednesday

I got an exciting package in the post today.

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Six balls of Troon Tweed, by Texere Yarns.

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I plan to make Idlewood, by Cecily Glowik MacDonald. This is reckless queue rearranging on my part. As soon as I saw it, I knew I had to make it right away, and that tweed was imperative. I'm not even sure if this kind of tunic suits me, but I love it as is, and don't even have plans to make longer sleeves. We'll see how it turns out; hopefully no heartbreak in this corner!

The yarn is pretty in a neutral brown-gray sort of way. I don't have anything this colour yet, and I'm trying to branch out. It's slightly rough on the ball, but hopefully not too scratchy. Can't wait to swatch... Anyone else out there tried Troon Tweed and have any input?

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

FO repurposed

A few years ago, I knit monster slippers for my boyfriend and gave them to him for Christmas.

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Long story short, they did't felt down enough, were too big, and he never wore them. In fact, he got a well-fitting pair of slippers from someone else the same year, so his slipper needs were met. After some initial disappointment, we both forgot about them.

Fast forward to this August - when packing up his room to move to Edinburgh, I found them under his bed, and reclaimed them as my own. A little chopping, measuring, and sewing... and they now keep my feet warm. One great thing about felted wool is that it doesn't come unraveled when you hack at it. I like happy endings.

Have you salvaged a failed knit?

Monday, November 08, 2010

Tasty things

I suffer from a common blog ailment that causes me not to take pictures of things at suitable times when there is enough light. This happens especially frequently with food, which is why I don't blog about food much. To begin with, I tend to cook and bake when it's already dark, and this time of year at 55°57'N doesn't yield a whole lot of daylight. I blog, but I'm not committed to changing my lifestyle in order to have better photos for the blog, so it's probably going to stay that way. Another reason is that I make mostly unphotogenic food at the best of times. Mmmm one-pot-meals.

On that note, here are some unphotogenic cheesy bisuits I made the other day. (Biscuits in the American sense, in this case).

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I think they look like cheesy beasts of doom.

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Raaaarrrr.

Cheese-beast Biscuits aka Baking Powder Biscuits

1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup white flour
2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt (optional)
1/3 cup olive oil
3/4 cup milk
Extra mature cheddar

Stir together dry ingredients. Add oil and milk, and stir quickly. Add grated cheese: I didn't measure how much I used, stupidly, but it depends on how cheesy you want the biscuits to be. Experiment. Knead the cheese in gently 10-12 strokes on a floured surface. Divide into 12 parts, roll into balls, and pat down to 1 inch thick on an ungreased baking sheet. Sprinkle extra grated cheese on top, if so desired.

Bake at 350 F / 180 C for 15 minutes, or until golden.

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Mysterious spiky tree

I like plants and trees, but I'm not the best at identifying them. Perhaps someone out there can help me figure this one out.

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From afar, I thought it was some sort of conifer with needles, but up close I realized the needles were actually large, stiff, bromiliad-type leaves, like pineapple tops.

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Any ideas?