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FO: Making Waves Cardigan

Some months ago I finished this cardigan – in the height of summer. Now that the weather is cooler, it’s time to start wearing it. And therefore, I really should blog it…

So, without (any) further ado, may I introduce to you my Making Waves cardigan. This is a great transitional cardigan – knit in 4 ply it would be ideal for spring and autumn, and hopefully winter too in my new classroom which has a heater that is far more effective than my former classroom’s one!   I used gorgeous Madelinetosh yarn – this is the Tosh Merino Light, in the stunning Amber Trinket colourway.  I have had my eye on this colour since the lovely Lina at Photo.Knit.Dog knit a cardigan in it way back in Feb 2011. I was lucky enough to score three skeins on special mid-way through last year at Hidden Purls, waiting for me to decide on what to knit.  Late last year they had another sale and I had to stop myself buying more yarn when I hadn’t knit what I had already bought. It was just the push I needed to choose a pattern and cast on.

I chose the Making Waves Cardigan as it had caught my eye on several occasions. I like the simplicity of this top-down seamless raglan. the fit across the back and shoulders is just the lovely fitting silhouette that suits the 4 ply cardigan, and the understated ruffles suited the tones of the yarn which is neither a true semi-solid nor variegated, but a complex mixture of amber tones.

As with all the MadTosh yarn I’ve used so far, there were definite differences in the skeins. I alternated though the second and third skeins which seemed to contain a mixture of the tones from the first skein.

The knitting could not have been simpler. I had not a single issue with the pattern and knit it completely as written. What a pleasure to find such an accessible, well written pattern from an independent designer.  Of course, that does make me want to try another of her patterns. I’ve got my eye on the Elphaba Pullover, another gorgeous 4 ply knit. 4 ply is ideal for the mild winters we have in the North West, so I just cannot stop myself from looking at (and buying, and making) knits/yarn in this weight.

 This is just as lovely to wear as you would imagine. The yarn is a single ply yarn, so very very soft. I had worn it a number of times before the photos were taken,  and as you can see it is still in very good condition. There is a small amount of pilling, not anywhere as much as you might expect. Instead it is just delicious cosy.

I am so pleased with this, I’m sure that it will get lots of use in the coming months, and hopefully the coming years.

Anzac Day Activities

Anzac Day is more than just a day off work. It is a day to step back and remember the sacrifices made by the troops of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps in the First World War, and beyond.  Yesterday there was a very moving assembly at school led by the Head Girl and Deputy Head Girls, who, along with a teacher singing The Band Played Waltzing Matlida and a moving rendition of The Last Post, recalled the events of April 25th, 1915 at Gallipoli. The poem In Flanders Field by Candian poet Lt. Col. John McCrae was read:
In Flanders fields the poppies blow

Between the crosses, row on row,

That mark our place; and in the sky

The larks, still bravely singing, fly

Scarce heard amid the guns below.

 

We are the Dead. Short days ago

We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,

Loved and were loved, and now we lie,

In Flanders fields.

 

Take up our quarrel with the foe:

To you from failing hands we throw

The torch; be yours to hold it high.

If ye break faith with us who die

We shall not sleep, though poppies grow

In Flanders fields.

Tomorrow Miss 5’s class are going to visit the Cenotaph which will be a first for her.

And today at home we baked a big batch of Anzac Biscuits.  They are a popular biscuit here in New Zealand still. And especially with my husband. He’d love it if I made them year round. Rather than using the traditional recipe, I read some online and then amalgamated them, attempting to make a delicious but still healthier version of the biscuits.

Here’s what I used:

1C Rolled Oats

1/2 C white flour

1/2 C wholemeal flour

3/4 C Caster Sugar

3/4 C Descicated Coconut

1/4 C LSA

175g Butter

2 T Golden Syrup

1t baking powder, dissolved in 2T boiling water

2 t vanilla essence

Method:

Mix all dry ingredients in a bowl. Make a well in the centre.

Melt together butter and golden syrup, and add to dry ingredients along with baking soda mixture and vanilla. Stir until combined.

Place teaspoon sized amounts of the mixture on a greased tray, bake until crisp in a 190 C oven, about 12 minutes.

Leave on the tray to crisp up for several minutes after you remove them from the oven.

They seem really good- you barely notice the reduced sugar content, they are still very tasty and by still using butter they are still crispy.

I have also managed to get into the sewing room for the first time in forever. My oven gloves were in a desperately sad state, and I was delighted that I was able to make up a couple of replacement pairs from stash items.

The top one is from some fabric scraps, I’ve no idea the designer. The bottom one is some delicious Michael Miller fabric I’ve had for a while waiting for a project.  The binding is home made binding I had made years ago, and I have two layers of woollen blanket inside, taken from a cot blanket I picked up from the hospice shop for a few dollars.

I don’t think the last time I made an oven glove I used the overlocker, but it was super simple to pin all the layers together and then overlock around. All the remained was to put on the binding and sew it on. A great use of a spare hour, and things from stash.

I’m not sure what rest of the day holds – I still have my machines out, the garden is calling my name too, and the children are about to claim the computer.  I hope that you have a great Anzac Day, and that you take some time out to remember those who sacrificed so much for the freedom we all enjoy every day.

New Patterns, and a discount

Over the past few months, I’ve been working on a number of patterns. Tonight I have released two of them for sale, and they are cousins of the popular pattern, Benji.

First up is the Benji Beret. I was approached by a knitter who had made a number of Benji beanies for a newborn babies at her local hospital. She enjoyed knitting the Benji pattern but felt it would not suit her – could I tell her how to make it into something loser and more flattering? I worked up the Benji Slouch hat, but she decided a beret style would suit her better. So thus a whole set of Benji hats started to emerge…

 I made both samples from a yarn that was new to me – the lovely Rare Essentials yarn. An 80% Alpaca, 20% merino yarn in DK weight, I used around 60g for each hat, and used various contrasts: the darker hat uses a white Patons DK Merino, and the light blue hat uses Madelinetosh Tosh DK in Silver Fox.  You can use either DK or worsted weight yarn for the beret. The DK drapes beautifully, and I think this will be a very enjoyable hat to wear in the late autumn when the chill starts to set in.

The Benji Slouch Hat is the other pattern released tonight. This is a fun design that incorporates pleats that give the hat its slouchy structure. This adds a little more challenge to the pattern, but it is very achieveable all the same.

This sample is knit up in 100Purewool 3 ply worsted, undyed, with some lovely Ladybug Loops yarn variegated yarn as the contrast yarn. This was a cute, fun contrast and is bright and cheerful.

Each of these pattern are available on Ravelry, and if you would like, you are also able to purchase them together with the Benji beanie pattern as an ebook.

AND if you already own the Benji pattern, when you purchase either of these patterns you will automatically receive a 50% discount at the checkout.

 

Yarny Magic

I had the most delicious yarn delivery earlier this week. I had signed up for a Magic Yarn Ball swap, faithfully sent mine away (just a day or two late) and sat back to await my own one. I wasn’t disappointed either – Miss 3 and I opened my parcel to reveal…

A beautifully wrapped parcel. Oh, the excitement! (Oh the embarrassment, I didn’t wrap mine in anything but bubble wrap!)

And inside…

 Gorgeous 10ply hand-dyed yarn, in the most delicious shades of red. I love me a good semi-solid, and I’m such a sucker for red.

Now, the general idea with a magic yarn ball is that wrapped inside are treasures, and that you knit out each one. So, I had to cast on! I chose to cast on a hat pattern I had admired but not had a chance to knit. It is the lovely Brambles beret, a free pattern from Knitty.com. I have used some modifications that I spied in other FOs on Ravelry, so you’ll have to watch this space for the finished hat when it’s done. I’ve got a bit of other knitting on at the moment, so I’m making sure I do some on this every evening – to try to get the parcels out from inside of course!

The yarn was sent to me by the lovely Emma, from the brand new yarn dyers Olive and Emma. Emma has just opened up shop, although she has been dyeing yarn for several years for herself, swaps and the odd custom job. I’ve always admired her work, so I’m delighted to have the chance to try is out for myself.  It is super pretty so far!  You should check out her shop stocking – Wednesdays at 8pm NZ time – so, she’ll be loading stock up this evening.  She’s posted some gorgeous pictures of her work there, along with links of some knit up – I’m sure you’ll love her yarn too if you get your hands on some.

Sweet Chilli Sauce

When we moved into our new house in October, the vegetable garden had only a few occupants – a handful of cabbages (which grew enormous and I had to force them on visitors before they left. We’re not huge cabbage eaters), some broccoli, which was also prolific, we have a freezer full of free-flow frozen broccoli now :), leeks which went to seed, and chillies. The chilli plants are enormous, and have enjoyed a very prolific summer. I’m having flashbacks to my treatment of the cabbages and visitors.  You see, these chillies aren’t ordinary chillies, they are hot. Quite hot for a mild-curry eater like me.  So, in my desire to do something with them (and my reluctance to pull out something productive from the garden), I decided to experiment with some sweet chilli sauce.

I trawled the ‘net for recipes, as my recipe books drew a blank. I decided on the most simple of the recipes I found, for the one reason that I didn’t know if they sauce would be edible when done, since the chillies were so hot! (Also, I had the ingredients on hand)

The chillies in my garden seem to be Rocoto chillies – I have some red, and some orange/yellow. They have black seeds and the plants have a cute purple flower. I should be worried as they are smothered in purple flowers. And purple flowers lead to heavy crops of chillies! Apparently these chilli plants require a long frost-free growing season (we have very few frosts here), and apparently plants can live for 10 plus years, although I think that the previous owner re-sowed his every year from what he told me.  So, I can  many years of home-made sweet chilli sauce in my future if things carry on like this.

I used this recipe:

Ingredients

500g chillies, halved, seeds out, roughly chopped.

3 garlic cloves, peeled

750ml (3 cups) white vinegar

645g (3 cups) caster sugar

I took out all of the seeds in order to make the sauce milder – the original source had 100g used whole, and the rest de-seeded.

Method:

Coarsely chop chillies and place in the food processor. Add garlic and 250ml white vinegar. Process until finely chopped.

Place the chilli mixture, remaining vinegar and caster sugar in a large saucepan over a low heat. Cook, stirring, for 5 minutes or until the sugar dissolves.

Increase heat to high and bring to the boil. Reduce heat to medium and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 35-40 minutes or until the sauce thickens. Pour into sterilised airtight bottles and seal.

 

Various other recipes had you use a little soy sauce, fish sauce, or ginger, all of which would be lovely additions to the sauce and change the flavour slightly. I didn’t think DH (a vegetarian) would appreciate the fish sauce so I left that out, but I think I added a few tablespoons of soy sauce.  If I make another batch (and I need to, as the plants are laden again), I will add ginger next time. Another suggestion was that you could use equal quantities of red capsicums and chillies to make a milder sauce. Again, not a bad plan if you want to make an edible sauce from very hot chillies! I just wanted to get rid of some of my chillies though, so have left this to try another time.

Another tip – wear gloves when cutting the chillies. I didn’t and lived to regret it. Twelve hours later my fingers were still burning.  Made knitting rather hard!

My sister and family came to stay over Easter, and I sent her home with a big bag of chillies to make sauce with – here’s hoping she enjoys it. I also had a visit from the previous owner of our house, and sent him home with enough for two batches of sauce as well.  If only life weren’t so busy I could almost start a cottage industry…

 

Lavender Beret

Freshly released today, I had the pleasure of testing the lovely Tikki’s latest pattern earlier this month.  Lavender was a pattern that originated from her desire to make the perfect chemo cap for a family member. Therefore it fits, in her words “all the requirements of a sensitive scalp; the softest organic yarn possible, a gentle rolled edge on the band, slouchiness to minimise contact but yet provide warmth, and in reverse stocking stitch, so the softest side of knit fabric is on the inner.”

Here’s my version, knit in the lovely Rare Yarns Rare Essentials DK weight yarn.

It was my first time knitting with this yarn, which is a lovely blend of merino and alpaca. I used 88g, so not quite two balls of yarn. I scored mine half price too, so it was only $5 a ball – bargain!Image

I love the detailing on this pattern. Just as Tikki planned, it has a soft, super stretchy cast on, and from there it is actually worked inside out, so that you don’t have to purl the whole thing… instead you simply work stocking stitch in the round and turn it inside out when you’re done. And the detailing – the hat is called ‘lavender’ after the shape of the flowers that are created by the neat wee no-needle cables that link onto twisted rib stems. Simple and easily achieved, but very effective.

And, did I mention that this pattern is available free? You can simply follow the Ravelry link at the top of the post and download your own copy of the pattern.

After a couple of months of larger projects, it’s be super fun to get back into test knitting again. This isn’t the only test I’ve been working on  – so watch this space for more goodies – and yes, I *may* have used purple yarn for them too…Image

Happy Valentines Day

We don’t celebrate Valentines Day in any commercial sense, however my small girls do so love the concept of the day as a day to celebrate special friendships.  After school today a card was made and delivered to the three girls next door, whom my girls absolutely adore.  And in lunchboxes today, there was a special treat – a piece of this cake…

Super easy way to transform an everyday cake (well, with my crew around eating everything in sight I try to keep the baking tins full-ish!) into something a bit special 🙂

And speaking of something a little bit special, I am super excited with a test knit I’ve got lined up… I finally got to wind the last of my Madelinetosh DK Wood Violet yarn, and it’s going to be allll for meeeeeee! Beautiful! I hope to cast it on tomorrow too.

I even had some expert help in winding it. Or rather, some help that was rather more enthusiastic than experienced. But I’m working on her!
Just as well I wasn’t winding green yarn and intending it for me – she adores green, and would not want to share!   (oh, and see that parcel behind her – all full of new yarn. Yum!)


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