Sunday, January 30, 2011

Lace Repeat Roulette

My Aunt is a very good knitter but, apart from a foray into the books of Kaffe Fassett in the 80s which introduced her to the wonders of colourwork, never really ventured outside of her knitting comfort zone. At New Year, I mentioned the world of online yarn shops, patterns and communities, and the look of horror on her face at the thought of using a computer actually surprised me. We were talking about knitting and making lace, as my Step-Mum makes lovely, very complicated looking stuff with bobbins that is very impressive and my knitted lace shawls were much admired - I had my fiery shawl with me and Diane had brought with her the Forest Canopy I'd made for her. Having had my work so admired, I thought I would make my Aunt a shawl as a birthday present - her birthday is at the end of March so there would be plenty of time for even a slow-coach like myself to get it done in time. Using the Manos Lace bought just a few weeks back, I cast on for a Lily of the Valley scarf from Knitted Lace of Estonia by Nancy Bush. I love the delicate pattern and the fineness of the yarn, so pretty in pale grey.

The pattern said 9 repeats of the lily and small flower centre chart, but the scarf still seemed quite short at that point, so I thought I would push my luck and see if I could get another repeat out of the skein of Manos Lace. My luck was in. Hurrah!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Hearty Tomato and Chickpea Soup

It is raining, grey and depressing outside. Inside there is warmth, knitting of lace (more on this later) , coffee and chocolate orange, and making of soup. I made this for lunch today and while we were eating it decided that it was good enough to write the recipe down so I could make it again some time. Sadly, by the time I decided it was nice enough to go on the blog there wasn't enough of it left to take a decent photo of, so I've just written it down and you'll have to trust me.

1 tablespoon butter or buttery marg type stuff
1 tablepoon olive oil
1 small onion
1 clove garlic
2 sticks celery
4 radishes
1 small tin chickpeas
1/2 hot red chilli
some tomato puree (about 2" from a tube)
400g can of rich chopped tomatoes
about 1/2 can of water
1 teaspoon reduced salt bouillion powder
some dried basil
small cup of milk with a pinch of baking soda mixed in
few grinds of black pepper

Heat butter and oil together and add roughly chopped onion and garlic, chopped celery and radishes. Chuck in drained and rinsed chickpeas. Chop chilli into very small pieces, add them in. When the onion is softened, stir in the tomato puree and let it cook for 5 minutes. Then add in the tin of tomatoes and water used to rinse out the can. Add in milk and powder, herbs and pepper. Cover, bring to boil and let it simmer for a while, about 10 minutes. Ladle out a bowl full of the chunky soup and whizz up the rest with a hand blender. Return the chunks and reheat if necessary. Serve with crusty bread and a swirl of creme fraiche if you are posh or with some granary sliced if you are me.

Sunday, January 09, 2011

Midwinter Blues

There is a definite blueish tinge to this post.

I love the idea of winter. I love the thought of it being cold and snowy outside, and me sitting inside with a hot cup of tea, wearing woollens and slippers, cosy with my knitting in front of the fire. The reality is often more prosaic, especially when you have to go to work, shopping, travel but things could be much worse, the snow looks lovely and there is plenty of beauty around. And occasionally some if it can be tempted into the back garden, where I can take photos of it without needing to go out in the cold.

Early morning visitor

A regular visitor

A slighty more uncommon (round here anyway) bullfinch

After the stresses of the lace cardigan, I decided that I wanted to knit something that was simple and straightforward, using thick aran yarn on biggish needles. So, I picked this entrelac based snake scarf by Kim Salazar. The pattern is based on a self striping yarn like Noro Kureyon, but I love the structured look of the ribbed triangles and wanted a plainer yarn to show this off. In the stash I had some basic Wendy wool mix in navy, picked up at one of of the swaps at my knitting group, which does very well.

Monday, January 03, 2011


This year's New Year's Resolutions (in no particular order of sense or importance):

1. Slightly knitting related - be more careful about measurements rather than blithely carrying on thinking everything is going to be fine. It isn't, and it's much easier to fix when you first spot a mistake than after you've cast off, sewn up and woven in the ends. Yes, cardigan, I'm talking about you.
2. Wear lipstick more often.
3. Read more literature. I have often posted a reading list at this time of year, but this year I won't be as the list could be pretty much summed up as vampires (some sparkly, most not), spaceships and Anna Karenina. So I have taken the Top 100 Book list from a couple of years back, removed the ones I've already read and sorted them by number of pages and the cost to download for my Kindle. This afternoon was spent very pleasantly reading A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, which is a. very short b. very good and c. free. Next up is Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad.

Saturday, January 01, 2011

New Year, New Yarn

Santa (otherwise known as my friend Kirsty) sent yarn for Christmas, in a gorgeous teal colour that is going to make some lovely gloves (or mittens - yet to be decided.)

Manos Classica Wool

Between Christmas and the New Year we spent a couple of days in Manchester and I took the opportunity to visit Purl City Yarns for the first time, and there was a sale on so it would have been doubly rude not to buy some of the lovely yarn.

Manos Laceweight: Baby alpaca, silk and cashmere

Fyberspates Scrumptious: Merino and silk