Friday, 28 September 2007

The definition of irony finally getting your invite to Ravelry exactly 1 hour before you have to load the car and then drive 5 hours to spend the long weekend with your parents......

But YAY, I'm in!

On the upside, I have do babysitters on tap for the next 3 days....And my parents do have broadband.....

Tuesday, 25 September 2007

Southern Summer of Socks - Personal Challange

I think a list of personal challenges for the Southern Summer of Socks is a great idea - I'm the sort of person who responds well to milestone setting, especially when I take a public oath and know (well, at least think) that everyone will be laughing at me if I don't make a worthwhile attempt.

So here's my list of Personal Challenges:

1. Finish a pair (matching) of socks. Seemingly insignificant, but since Ive never knit even one, this tops the list. The other challenges will also have more context if you keep this in mind.

2. Knit a pair of socks with with cables.

3. Knit a pair of socks with lace.

4. Knit a pair of socks from the toe up.

5. Dye my own sock yarn and produce a pair of socks from it.

6. Learn to knit using the magic loop technique. I'm not going as far as Bells did, and knit two socks at once using it, but I will at least give the technique a go.

My reward: I will buy a fabulous skein of yarn for socks for me (maybe from wollmeise, maybe from somewhere else) and a book of sock patterns.

So there you go - bring on the socky summer fun!

Friday, 21 September 2007

Knitty Picky Socky Stuff

I love getting mail. Especially when it contains these little lovelies from Donyale:

If you think you'd like some of your own (or rather, more of you own, because I think I am once again the last person on the planet to get some), head over to Donyale's Knitpicks shop. There's a groovy little button over on my sidebar that will get you there too*. (This is me shamlessly entering as much of the competition as possible!).

She has a fabulous competition running this month that you can enter when you buy something from her, so check it out.

It's very timely, because the other day I cast on this:

Yes, folks, I can hear the chattering of Beelzebub's teeth - hell has indeed frozen over. I have cast on a sock. I am ashamed to say my motives were not entirely pure, but nonetheless, it is a sock. Ive done about 10 rows and haven't cocked it up yet.

I don't think the Clappy is jealous of the sock though - she's too busy flirting with almost anyone who's dropped past in the last few days!

*edited to add: Look, Ive been working on this button caper since lunchtime (its 830pm). Ive had two other blogger mates try and explain it to me. I'll fix it when I get a clue - in the meantime, there's a sort-of button there that shows the way to Donnyale's shop. If you've ever seen one of my mud-maps, you'd know that this is quite a step up in terms of directions to anyplace other than here.

Monday, 17 September 2007

They call it Clappy love

I never considered myself a flibbertigibbet. While I have never claimed to be a one-WIP girl, I do pride myself on being loyal, in a mildy polygamous way, to my current projects, which I keep to those I can count off on one hand. What's more, I am stubborn to a fault, and never, ever give up on even the most wayward ones. They are all my loved ones.

But then along came Clapotis. It was certainly never lust at first sight - I shunned the Clapotis early on as much too common. She was seen all over town, on all sorts of needles, in just about any yarn that cared to cast a sideways glance in her direction. And she's no spring chicken - 2004 for heaven's sake! This is one pattern that's been around the block a few times - in fact I'd bet there a few of you out there who's mothers have done Clapotis.

But then I caught a glimpse of RoseRed's and Shazmina's Clapotis. I started to get a stirring in my nether regions (my fingers!). And, despite not one, but two, deadline projects on my needles right now, I have finally succumbed to the siren song of the Clapotis.

Never let it be said I'm easy - I needed to find the perfect colourway. Nothing so common as off the shelf yarn, thankyou: I asked the Happy Spider to dye me some. Be still my beating heart:

Clapotis has got the right stuff, let me tell you - I was hooked after the first few rows. Drawn right into her web. So seductive, watching the little triangle pour out from my needles. She whispers all the right things in my ear: you're so good, no one knits me like you do, look at the way I respond to your touch.....I would have thrown my morals out the window ages ago if someone had told me how much fun she is to knit!

And I'm not even feeling guilty about the other WIPs in my basket, even the deadline ones. Such is the power of the Clapotis.

But, as those of you with children would know, the little darlings are always popping up just a exactly the wrong moment, just when you're getting intimate.

Sweet, isn't he? Want him?

I am so enamoured of her, that I'm not at all perturbed by the knowledge that Clapotis is spreading the love around. Its even better knowing that I'm sharing her with someone dear to me - Tinkingbell and I are having a little Clapotis Love-In.

Tuesday, 11 September 2007

It's a long way to the shop if you want a sausage roll

So why not make your own? They're dead easy, and they make all your friends very happy when you serve them, fresh from the oven, at afternoon tea.

I don't know what Bob Carr was on about*, I love a good sausage roll. So here's my recipe, adapted from the one given to me by G & R.

4 x sheets puff pastry - halved
1 kg sausage mince
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 carrot very finely grated
1 Tbs parsley, finely chopped
1 tspn fresh thyme, finely chopped
1 clove of garlic, finely minced
juice of ½ a lemon

Preheat oven to 220ÂșC. Combine everything in a large bowl and mix well (I use my hands to mush it all together). Slice pastry down the middle and coat edges with egg/milk. Place an eighth of filling down one long side of each sheet, making sure you go right to the ends.

Cut each roll into six, and brush with a little extra beaten egg or some milk. Place, fold down, on a lightly greased or non-stick oven tray. Cook 15 minutes or until lightly browned.

Serve with tomato sauce, of course. Resistance is futile.

G x

*apologies for the NSW-centric reference. Bob Carr is a former Premier of NSW, who claimed he hated sausage rolls, they were "fat wrapped in more fat". And the problem is....?

Thursday, 6 September 2007

Nothing like a rolling stone

...because, as you know, that gathers no moss.

I, on the other hand have been gathering moss (stich) like crazy.

Thats the back, and half of one sleeve, of Little Miss M's birthday jacket done. That's taken me 2 week so far, without really pushing it; about an average of an hour's knitting per night.

Maybe in the next day or two, with the back and sleeve done, I can justify to myself casting on a sock.

Tuesday, 4 September 2007

Waffling on....

Due to popular demand, here is my mother-in-law's recipe for waffeln (pronounced "vofflen" in German).

Waffeln are served at kaffe und kuchen (coffee and cake), the equivalent of afternoon tea in a country where they have no concept of black tea, and will offer herbal tea if you want an alternative to the strong bitter filter coffee they drink.

I celebrated my birthday this year in Germany, and was the guest of honour at kaffe und kuchen with the family. The photos are from then.


250g margarine or softened butter
150g sugar
6 eggs
1 tspn vanilla essence
pinch of salt
500g plain flour
1/2 tspn baking powder
250 ml milk
250 ml soda or plain mineral water

Cream butter or margarine and sugar until pale; add vanilla, salt and eggs and mix well. Sift the flour with the baking powder. Gradually add the flour, alternating with the liquid ingredients, until the batter is smooth and completely mixed (but avoid over-beating).

Cook in waffle iron according to manufacturer's directions, and serve with warm cherry sauce and whipped cream.

This recipe makes a whopping great pile of waffles:

Warm Cherry Sauce

440g tin of cherries in syrup
1/2 tspn vanilla essence
1 Tbspn cornflour

Place the cherries, including syrup, and vanilla in a small saucepan. Bring to the boil over a medium heat before reducing heat to a simmer. Mix cornflour to a thin paste with water; add to simmering cherries and simmer until sauce thickens. (You may wish to add more cornflour for a thicker sauce) .

Waffeln can be packaged up and frozen; defrosted and gentley warmed they are just as good as when freshly cooked.

Now, I know lots of you have had waffles in one form or another before - what's your favourite topping? Or addition to the batter?

Sunday, 2 September 2007

Sock it to me

Until yesterday, I was a sock avoider, surrounded by knitterly friends whose needles just seem to drip gorgeous socks. But I had a self-confessed phobia - I'm not sure if it was the skinny little needles, the 4-ply yarn, all those stitches or the thought of making my knitting go around a corner that really kept me off the socks. I don't like to think that I scare easily - so it was probably a combination of all those things.

That's not to say I hadn't tried in the past - despite my misgivings, I will always give something new a go - but stitches slithering off needles, joining the round only to find 6 rows later I've twisted it, knitting for hours and seeming to get early efforts always ended in despondent frogging.

I've been working myself up to this for a while now. I attended Ms Spider's sock workshop as part of the Knit1Blog1 exhibition, I mass-purchased sock yarn in that mecca of sock yarn, Germany, and I've been hanging out with sock-knitters, asking questions and soaking up some of the sock vibes.

So, yesterday, I took the plunge.

I'm a bit of a needy sort of gal, so knowing I'd never do it on my own, I invited some of my lovely, supportive enabling knitter-friends over, bribed them with food and the chance to meet Pirate Jim, and sat down to knit me a sock.

We had waffles, traditional German afternoon tea fare when served with warm cherry-sauce and whipped cream (huge thanks to Bells, who saved my skin by slaving over the waffle iron):

Disclosure: this is a stunt-waffle, taken in Germany. My pics from yesterday turned out rubbish.

After much discussion (and waffles, and blue cheese pastries and sausage rolls and bubbly), the consensus was that, given my fears, I would start with the mini-sock pattern from the Socks 101 tutorial form Knitty.

With 8ply (Cleckheaton Country) and 4.5mm dpns, I cast on, and managed to not twist it.

With my cheer-squad egging me on, I made it to the heel without incident. And with some expert hand-holding (metaphorically speaking), turned that corner.

I worked on - luckily we had plenty of sustenance, and my Beloved to refill the teapot when the going got rough. Thirsty work, this sock knitting.

Finally....a sock! Granted, a teddy-sized sock, but a sock, in form and function, nonetheless.

Take that, sock phobia! Begone, Sock Monkey on my back! I plan to finish the back of Little Miss M's red jacket tonight, and then I will let myself cast on an actual, real, adult sized sock.

My warmest, heart-feltest thanks to my gorgeous enabling friends, who helped me through and brought lovely things to share yesterday afternoon: Bells, Jejune, Othlon (and her lovely boy, who put up with a group of sugared-up knitters hollering and whooping over socks, of all things), Mick, Taph, Happy Spider and Olivia.

I'd better get cracking on that red jacket, there's socks to be knit! Bring. It. On!