Monday, 15 December 2008

Show and Tell

This weekend I finally got my husband to take some pictures of my new cardi in a room with actual light in it and everything. I thought taking photos was going to get easier as the leaves fell off the trees and the light could actually make its way into our house. Unfortunately there's not a lot of sunshine these days.
But, to the finished objects with buttons sewn on and worn by real people!

First here's my daughter in her cardigan which I actually finished knitting many moons ago (umm, May apparently from the photographic evidence). Now it's properly finished with some buttons since the cold weather is here and it really doesn't stay on well without buttons done up.

Pattern: February Baby Sweater by Elizabeth Zimmerman (in the Knitter's Almanac, at ravelry)
Yarn: some I bought in England years and years ago...
Ravelry project page here (not that there's anything new to read there

I like this pattern and will have another go. The fit on this incarnation is kind of weird as you can probably seen in the photo here where my daughter has her arm stretched out. I forget exactly what I did to change the pattern to make it bigger but obviously I didn't do it quite right. So I think next time I'll make a baby one with the pattern as writ and see how that goes before fiddling with things again. Conveniently I have a friend who's due to birth a little girl any day now who (although really she's probably drowning in hand knits already since she and her husband run a knitting website).

Now onto the really exciting part, well for me anyway. It's been quite some time since I made myself anything this big and I've been craving new cardigans since my daughter was born since breastfeeding while wearing a sweater is (I find) a huge pain in the neck and makes discretion challenging. Of course I'm wearing sweaters more again now that my daughter is older and doesn't nurse as much, but I still love cardigans and you know it doesn't hurt to be prepared for the next baby (not that I'm pregnant you understand but we do want to have another baby in the not too distant future if we can).

Pattern: Gathered Cardi from Knit.1 Spring/Summer 2008 (at ravelry)
Yarn: Araucania Nature Wool Solids in Eggplant
Modifications: lengthened a little before gathers; increased just two out of every three stitches at the gathers; sleeves are a little longer here (and also worn unfolded in these pics); oh and 2 buttons rather than one (and I seem to have managed to put the button holes on the wrong side, oh well)
Ravelry project page

I've been wearing this a lot. I like it. I'm glad I didn't increase at the gathers quite as much as the pattern called for as what I did gives quite enough bulk. The problem with this sweater is that I need to remember to remove it when cooking because it is at just the "right" length to drag on the burners of the stove when I reach over then to work the controls... I have managed to avoid singeing or setting it on fire so far. Perhaps this is just a reminder to me that I should put an apron on when I cook anyway.

This was a good knit for me because it's fairly quick and simple (I could knit in front of the tv, or around my daughter, or in the car without worrying about interruptions at critical points). I like the feel of this yarn. It does seem to have started to pill a little already and while I have been wearing it a lot that's only over the course of a week.

Thursday, 11 December 2008

banana cake

My husband got me a standmixer for Christmas - it arrived really quickly and we opened it since this means I can use it to make stuff for Christmas more easily! My husband gave me a rundown of the features (he's compulsive about reading manuals) and my daughter must have been paying attention because the next day she gave me another whole spiel about it and demonstrated the mechanism for moving the bowl up and down. Then she wanted to use it and since we had some over ripe bananas lying around the kitchen we improvised a banana cake. The basis for this cake lies in three banana bread recipes that I like - one from bakingbites, one from orangette and one by Delia Smith (from a recipe book my mum owns, oh but wait it's on her website - I usually omit the walnuts and add chocolate chips and chopped dates).

Banana Cake

5oz butter
1 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup molasses
4 Tbspns walnut oil
4 bananas
1 egg (I wasn't originally intending to use the egg but my daughter fetched one from the fridge and insisted)
1 1/2 Tbspn rum (optional)
1 cup AP flour
2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
allspice, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger (to taste)
3/4 cup coconut
1 cup chocolate chips

  • cream butter and sugar
  • add remaining wet ingredients and mix thoroughly
  • mix dry ingredients in separate bowl
  • add dry ingredients to wet and mix until combined
  • pour batter into 9x9 cake pan
  • sprinkle with demerara/turbinado sugar (or the coarsest grained kind you have)
  • bake in a 350 degree oven for approximately 40 minutes
This is a moist, slightly crumbly cake. We brought half of it to share at breaktime during the evening singing (along with another oaty thing I threw together) and we didn't bring any leftovers home so I'll take that as a positive review.

Unfortunately with the miserable weather we're having at the moment getting a good photo is more difficult than usual. Maybe the sun will come out again before it's all eaten...

Tuesday, 9 December 2008

cooking and crafting

After a period where I was feeling undercreative (I don't think that's really a word is it, but you now what I mean right?) things seem to be picking up (as evidenced by actual blogging, new sweaters and so on). This makes me happy and hopeful that I can gain and maintain momentum.
But to get to the point... I made soup. I usually make this quite often around this time of year. It's my Orange Soup (no actual oranges involved, just the colour). I cut a butternut squash in half, scoop out seeds (roast separately for snacking) and roast in the oven until cooked. I like to halve an onion to put in the cavities of the squash, some garlic cloves too, and rub with a bit of olive oil. Meanwhile also cook some red lentils in water or broth. That's basically all the ingredients, sometimes I put in some carrots too. I put the ingredients in the blender with extra broth (this time I had some made from the Thanksgiving turkey which my SIL would otherwise throw out). Heat, add seasonings (I sometimes add cider, this time I tried a glug of cider vinegar) and that's basically it. My husband is not a big fan of squash soup but he'll sometimes eat this -- the lentils make a big difference for him.

I like to eat this soup with a spoonful of salsa stirred in, and maybe a bit of grated cheese (or cheese on toast). Today I added some frozen corn kernals (I like some texture in my soup). It's also lovely with some fried up slab bacon cut into small chunks!

My favourite thing I made yesterday though is this little book for my daughter.
Now I'm not claiming it's well made, but it's made which is the important thing. If I have a notebook anywhere in sight my daughter wants to draw/"write" in it immediately so I thought it might help keep what's in my notebooks legible if I gave her her very own notebook to draw in. She liked this idea and helped with some of the snipping of threads for sewing the pages together, and also with the gluing. I used some sheets of drawing paper for the pages and card and paper from the recycling to make the cover. I'm going to consult with the book's owner about how to decorate later!

Saturday, 6 December 2008

craftiness in the blood

My daughter has been very interested in my sewing, knitting and crochet for a long time. Now of course she wants to help me constantly. Partly inspired by Soulemama* and partly by memories of my own sewing projects my mum set up for me as a child, I helped my daughter do her first sewing project. I found some cross-stitch fabric (which has holes she can poke the needle through built in) which I put into an embroidery hoop. She chose some embroidery floss (blue first as it seems to be her favourite at the moment) and threaded up a cross-stitch (blunt tipped) needle for her.
She's only two and it was her first try so I mostly held the hoop for her and reminded her which side to work from with each stitch, but she retained creative control so far as where the needle and thread went. It may not actually be complete yet because she wanted to add some pink and more blue. I think she did a pretty good job with her "crochet" as she keeps insisting on identifying it! (I scanned this as an experiment hence the blotchy bits where the canvas isn't quite flat.)

* I'm adding this to the Creative Family Pool at Flickr where you can find lots of photos posted by people inspired by soulemama's book The Creative Family. (I went to one of the book events when the book came out in the spring time. I find Amanda's book and blog constantly inspirational.)

Friday, 5 December 2008

Eat cake

Yesterday my husband and I had rehearsal with our church choir in the evening. Before singing there was a choir meal. The main course was taken care of but I knew my daughter would enjoy making something so we made Mincemeat Quickbread using the last of the mincemeat I made a few years back (one of the other choir members is also originally from England so I thought he'd appreciate it at least). So now a new batch of mincemeat goes on the to-do list.
This is a super quick and easy recipe to throw together since there's so much in the mincemeat before you start (it does take an hour to bake though). The mixture always seems a bit dry to me when I mix it up (this time I was more anxious about that since there was slightly less mincemeat than the recipe called for so I added a bit of apple butter) but it moistens while in the oven. I timed the baking so that the cake was still warm when we got to church. When I make my way through leftovers (which won't take long this time) I like to put it under the broiler to toast lightly and then spread with some butter.

Thursday, 4 December 2008

thrifting thursday plus buttons

First, look look the knitting is all done on my gathered cardi! A few ends to sew in, some blocking and buttons to be sewn on and then a FO photo op.
Yesterday alongside our excursion to the library my daughter and I stopped and got some buttons. Some for my cardi and some for her february baby sweater that's been sitting around waiting for way too long. Daughter wanted to touch everything in the store but was mostly pretty restrained (thank goodness, this is a fancy fabric store that I don't usually dare to enter). The lady there gave my daughter her own bonus button in an envelope too so now I need to find a cute cardigan pattern requiring just one button to feature it.

On the way home from the library we had a quick thrifting stop. I haven't done much thrifting lately, at least that's the way it feels! My favourite find though was this:
I'm very excited, it was only $3.25 (and from the price sticker I think it had actually sat around for a month waiting for me). I go to lots of potlucks and didn't have anything good for carrying cakes and all I've really seen out there has been plastic. This has a handle and two little catches to keep lid and plate together. So now I can start thinking about all the cakes I've contemplated...

I was also really excited to see a big plastic container of sewing patterns for 50c each and picked up a few of those (baby/small child clothes, aprons etc), also some crochet yarn to try making ornaments (when I find my tiny size crochet hooks) and some tins (for gift giving). Very satisfying.