Wednesday, 30 September 2015

September WIP

Almost ran out of time for this months WIP post. In fact I was even going to give it a miss because I wasn't sure I would have anything to show. You will notice that none of these projects featured in August's post. And one of these I realise I am over reaching with. That's not to say that I have finished ANY of lasts months WIP's. In fact I haven't touched them since. No real point in showing them again.

So first up we have a basic sock. You might recognise this as the sock yarn I brought back from York. I actually started knitting these up in order to help a friends mum. I sent her my sock knitting lesson and she was struggling with the heel. I figured the best way to show her how to do it was to photograph each step as I did it myself. Hopefully it will work. And I have a pair of socks started. I haven't decided who they are for yet.

From the same stash post I mentioned some tweed like yarn that I got from Lisa. I crocheted all three skins into solid granny squares. The plan was to make a lap blanket for my wee gran who hasn't been doing too well since my mum passed away. Sadly my wee gran passed away at the weekend. She was a talented lady who inspired both my mum and myself. I plan on doing a post dedicated to her later. These squares will still become a lap blanket but I will donate it to someone else who could use it. My gran was always donating blankets she had knitted and so I think she would like that.

Lastly, my good friend Helen gave me this fabric to play with. I have been talking for ages about wanting to do mug rugs or to try hexies. Obviously sick of hearing about me wanting to do it she has given me the fabric so that I could practise. These colours are actually perfect for my sisters living room. So I am going to try a hexie cushion for her. The fabric is all washed and ironed. Next week I plan to start cutting.

Sunday, 27 September 2015

GBBO - Week 8

I feel that extra slice should get a wee mention to start with. Only because this week it was hosted by Sarah Millican. I always find her very funny so I was excited that she was hosting. That and she is known for her love of cake so it seemed apt (I am with you there Sarah).

Back to Bake Off. It was my most favourite week. Patisserie Week. There is never anything on patisserie week that I don't like. Which is hard when you have just joined Slimming World. Ever feel the world hates you sometimes (I kid). First up was creamed horns. Very fiddly but the different flavours sounded amazing. I did feel sorry for Flora. The ideas she had made them sound amazing but sadly they just didn't quite work.

The Mokatines were this weeks technical challenge. Look how pretty they are? They sounded so yummy too. Normally I would think to avoid technical challenge. Label under 'too hard'. However, I think I would quite like to give this one a go. Mainly because I would happily eat it all. If you are taking part in the bake off challenge you can find the recipe here. Or better yet, just make it because you are like me and like cake.

The show stopper was a shuh tower. Got to love the shuh pastry. A little difficult to make pretty though so it was really all about stability and the flavours. Sadly Nadiya got the flavours wrong. Can't saw I would ever want any cake to be bubble gum flavour. Mary wasn't a fan either. Although it didn't stop her from being star baker.

This week we said goodbye to Paul the baker. A little too obsessed with banana which didn't quite turn out. I think it was a close call between him and Flora who also didn't have a very good week.

Just two weeks left folks. I still have no idea who will win. Any guesses.

As always I got these images from the BBC and they are not mine.

Wednesday, 23 September 2015

If You Go To Yarndale....

This weeks Wednesday extra has three purposes. That's right, three whole reasons for blogging. First of all to show off something I have actually finished. I believe that I had mentioned that I was working on a secret project on Augusts WIP post. The second is to remind people that anyone going to Yarndale that if you would like to write about your experiences (be it as a shopper or seller) then I would love to host you here. If you have your own blog or crafty business it can be an extra voice for you. Lastly but not least it is once again to remind you that my talented friend Lisa of For the Love of Yarn will also be there this weekend.

A while back Lisa was looking for knitters for certain projects to highlight her yarn at Yarndale. One of the knitters she was looking for was a sock knitter. To be honest, at the time, I was a little uncertain. I had to think about it as I wasn't sure I was in the right frame of mind. I'm glad I changed my mind as Lisa was more than happy to have me as a volunteer and even said that I could chose any sock pattern I wanted (no pressure). In my yarn club box she sent me an extra skein of yarn and this was what she wanted me to knit with. I fell in love with it straight away. Let's face it, I am always excited to knit with Lisa's yarns. Particularly socks as I love seeing the how the colourway evolves. There is nothing new there. It doesn't matter that I don't keep it in the end. The pleasure of knitting with it is enough. 

I then had to pick out a pattern. I wanted one that would highlight the yarn itself without the striping of the colours drowning out the pattern. I wanted a lace type pattern but one I hadn't done before. I immediately went to a book I love but rarely knit from, Sock Innovation by Cookie a. I love the patterns in there. The one I decided to use is called Vilai. I was lucky enough that a variegated yarn had been used in one of the images in the book. It was a darker and tighter striping than the raspberry ripple sent to me so I thought there was no way it would be drowned out.

Thankfully, I think I was right. It had a lovely cable effect up the front. I love a cable. I have said that again and again and you can see it clearly here even though it hasn't been blocked and it's just lying flat on the table.

The sides of the sock had this lace, diamond lattice going down them. This was actually why I picked the pattern. I loved this effect and I have plans to knit this one again. It's a challenging knit and not recommended for beginners. But, I think the same is true for most of the patterns in this book. Thankfully my friend loved it as much as I did. So if you want to see these socks in person head over to Lisa at Yarndale. It proves that a variegated yarn can enhance a patterned knit if you find the right pattern.

And, if you want to be a guest blogger please, please get in touch. You can do that here or on my facebook page. Remember I will be living my Yarndale experience through you. Help a yarnaholic out. 

Monday, 21 September 2015

Crafting Goodies

This week I thought I would show you some of the crafting goodies I have treated myself to over the last few months. These are all items which are both pretty and handy. First off, how cute are these pin cushions. I have pin cushions. Some of which were stitched for me by some good friends. I couldn't resist these when I saw them and it's from an etsy/folksy seller Stitch Galore. I liked them so much I bought one for my sister too who loved it. You can find Stitch Galore's shop here and you can find her blog here. You'll also find the links in my blog list and shopping list.

Around the same time I was on pinterest (nothing new there) and spotted these little darning needle holders from Knit Affair.  The have lots of colourful knitting needles and cute accessories. Christmas is not long away and if you have a knitter in the family then take a look. Or if you want to treat yourself (as I did) then take a look.

I of course couldn't have a page of crafting goodies without mentioning my good friend. A lot of these came with the Blanket Club. We always get some goodies each month but if you fancy them yourself then you can purchase them individually from Lisa from For the Love of Yarn.  I love these blocking pins and they have come in handy when making those squares for my blanket. They are also pretty. The little stitch marker is also made by Lisa. I have a few of them and they always come in handy. You can never have too many of them.

I have also collected a few hooks thanks to various yarn clubs organised by Lisa. These hooks are part of her glitterati range. I love working with her hooks. They are so comfortable to use. She also makes hooks to custom order with different designs. She can also custom make them to help those with arthritis who have trouble with their hands. She is busy with Yarndale just now and has made a fair few to take with her. So if you want to see just how good these are (and how scrummy her yarn is) and you are going to yarndale make sure you pop by and say hello.

These are more useful than pretty. I have been sock knitting for 7 years now and I have been meaning to buy blocking tools for them. I finally did that thanks to Doodlestop. What put me off was that you had to buy blocking tools for each sock size. When you have a family with tiny feet to middling feet that isn't financially possible. These though can be adapted to size. I haven't used them yet and they look a little large but looking forward to giving them a go.

While there I also spotted some blocking pins and stitch markers. I have plenty of both but when I saw the granny square design I couldn't resist them. I am a sucker for anything with a granny square.

Anyone have any crafting purchases they want to share? 

Saturday, 19 September 2015

GBBO - Week 7

Week 7 already and it was Victorian week. More importantly Paul Hollywood gave out a handshake. A rare sign of approval from our male judge.

First up in Victorian week was a game pie. It really wouldn't be Bake Off without pies. No soggy bottoms though this week although poor Flora struggled to get the filling cooked. I can't say I was excited by this bake. Making pies is too much like cooking and as we all know I find cooking extremely boring. If you are not like me though the Bake Off team have kindly published a recipe.

 For the technical we had a tennis cake. I had never heard of it before but it sounds a lot like Christmas cake but with different decorations. The difficulty for the bakers hear was the decoration. They had to make different types of icing and create a tennis net that would stand up. Oh, and the cake had to be cool enough to support it. I would have failed at this. I don't have the steadiest hand in the world at the best of times. No way would I have managed to sit the net up without destroying it. I wouldn't have baked it the icing though. If you fancy this or are taking part in the Bake Off challenge then you can find the recipe on the Bake Off webiste.

 The show stopper is one of the more boring of this season. It involved lady fingers and jelly. The good part was that they had to make it all themselves and they had to pick out the flavours. Anyone else ever heard of a Good Charlotte? Having said that some of them looked impressive. Including Tamal's which was topped with macarons. As a result Tamal was our winner. He got a Paul Hollywood handshake and produced the bets show stopper. It was kind of inevitable. I quite like Tamal though. He's not afraid to make fun of himself and I did think he deserved star baker this week.

It did mean we said goodbye to last weeks star baker, Mat. As I said last week I always felt like Mat struggled a little. Somehow he always managed to pull through. He was also the creator of one of my favourite bakes, the biscuit fire engine. This week though nothing seemed to go right for him at all. Including baking his icing much to the surprise of Nadiya. Mat will be missed as he is the only one who doesn't seem to get too stressed about the bakes.

I thought I would highlight one of my favourite bakers from last year. Chetna. Now, she wasn't the winner but she was one of the most adventurous when it came to flavours. She was also one of the nicest and part of a group that helped each other all the time. You can follow her on twitter and she has her own blog where she often posts yummy recipes.

Wednesday, 16 September 2015

Yarndale Reuqest

Anyone going to Yarndale? Although it works out that I actually have that weekend off I've left it a little too last minute to go. I am hoping to go next year but in the meantime I plan to live vicariously through you all. Here is my request. Of any of you who read this and are going do any of you fancy doing a guest blog post on your experience? You can be a seller, a first time visitor or a regular. It can be from any viewpoint. I would just love to here all about it with lots of photo's. Reply in the comments if you are interested. Or you can send me a PM on my facebook page.

Monday, 14 September 2015

Blanket Club Month 8

August's blanket club box arrived while I was in York so I had to wait a whole week before I got to see what colour we got. Of course it meant I had something to look forward to after a week of fun. I wasn't at all disappointed with the colour. In fact this was what I was hoping for. I was wondering if a yellow would be coming up and here it is. It's gorgeous and by looking at it I can pretend we had a summer. A laser cut felt coaster also came with it. It's almost too pretty to use. I don't want to risk damaging it. Lisa's little label did say that you could attach it to a project of some kind. Would be interesting to see what people do with it.

As for the square pattern itself, it's a type I have never done before. It's called a mighty solid. you start at one corner and work your way out. I've seen it done with the traditional granny square and it makes for a lovely blanket. I've been enjoying working on them. I always like to give something new a go. They do need pinned though. And I hate pinning but I get to use the lovely pins that came with another of the yarn blanket boxes.

I am almost half way through what would have been my mum's yarn. I'm not sure that I will get mine finished too before the next box arrives but you never know. To be honest I just want to enjoy the lovely bright colour. I'm not sure that I will get all 26 squares out of the yarn as it does take quite a lot but as I am waiting until I have all 12 months before I decide on the order it doesn't really matter.

If you are liking the idea of a blanket club Lisa is planning another one soon. You can follow her on her facebook page, For The Love of Yarn, where I am sure she will be posting details when she starts the next one.

I am posting this a day early as I am planning a mini extra post for Wednesday.

Thursday, 10 September 2015

GBBO - Week 6

It was pastry week and there were definitely innuendos aplenty. One of which, I think, went right over poor Alvin's head. Something about plums. Let's just leave it at that.

I like pastry week. Okay, I like most weeks. But pastry week is usually fancy. I also like the laminating of pastry. Mainly because until Bake Off I thought laminating was something I used to have to do in my old job to make posters.

I digress, it was pastry week. First on the cards was a frangipane tart. A tart made with an almond type paste. Not the image above. Those are custard tarts but look like mini versions of what some of the bakers (Flora) came up with. Plus you can find the recipe here.  As for the frangipane tart I doubt I will ever be trying one of those. Sounds far too much like marzipan for my liking and with an almond paste you can be sure it probably tastes like marzipan no matter how much fruit you put on it. I did feel a little sorry for Flora, hers looked like one of the pretties but sadly was a little overbaked.

The technical challenge involved Flaounas. I had never heard of them and neither had the bakers or even Mary Berry for that matter. Bit cruel I thought. To go from pitta bread to that was a little evil on Paul Hollywoods part. In my own selfish way though I am glad that they were a challenge. They look so yummy and they have a cheese filling. You can find the recipe of the Bake Off website for those of you taking part in the Bake Off challenge.

The show stopper was a bit of a 70's throwback. They contestants had to make volauvonts. And they had to make two very different fillings. My firm favourite was Flora's. It was chocolate. Chocolate is always going to trump octopus ink (sorry Ian).

The winner though was Mat. He has lagged behind everyone else and I did think that this would have been as far as he went. But no, he turned it around and did very well this week. I thought that was quite nice.

Instead we said goodbye to the nurse baker, Alvin. Poor Alvin always seemed to be very hard on himself. I think he put himself under a lot of pressure and it finally caved in on him. He was one of the quieter ones who was always so apologetic when he did something that Paul and Mary didn't like.

Now, while I have been talking about Bake Off I think it is only fair to finally mention Extra Slice with Jo Brand. If you haven't seen it you should. It highlights some of the funnier moments in that weeks episodes with a panel of three celebrities. The celebrities include a comedian, a chef and then a random celebrity (it was Andy Murrays mum last week). The comedians often come back for other episodes and some of the chefs do too. The audience gets to show off their own bakes and then the panel gets to taste them. Last weeks with the freeform bakes didn't go down well. The last baker who left the show then comes in for an interview. Sounds all a bit samey and it is but it's entertaining.

Next week is Victorian week which should prove interesting. In the meantime please not that all of these images are not mine and in fact belong to the Bake Off website.

Tuesday, 8 September 2015

September Stash

I promised a stash update and here it is. 75% of this stash is sock yarn related. Sorry. Well, I'm not really sorry because I love it. Also most of this stash was purchased in August but as this is September it feels a little odd to have a different month in the title.

Anyhoo, I also promised to show you what I bought in York. These were the two balls of sock yarn I picked up from Ramshambles. I liked the teal in the first one. I am sure I have used something similar in the past but the striping will be different. I have a feeling that this will knit up with some fair isle aspects to it. I plan to use a basic sock pattern for it just to see. The reds and pinks I also liked and so I ended up walking out the shop with two.  The yarn is by Mondial which I have never heard of before. Looking forward to trying it.

This scrummy yarn is from an Indie dyer called Eaden Yarns.  I spotted Eaden yarns on instagram when the founder was advertising their yarn club. The yarn looked so pretty that I went straight to the website to have a look. I then signed up for the August speckled yarn club. Like with my good friend you don't actually know what you are going to get until it arrives. That's part of the fun of the yarn club. I am not disappointed. It even came with tea which is fitting for that colourway (in my humble opinion). I think a delicate lace pattern is in order. I will definitely be ordering from Eaden yarns again.

Lets face it. I am never going to have a stash post without some from the good friend I mentioned earlier. I signed up for last months yarn club which involved a lovely tweed base. I also opted in for a semi solid to go with it. I have to say that these are not normally my colours. However, we have had such a horrible summer (with today being an exception) that these colours warm you up. I plan on an autumn project for this (aptly). It even came with some extra goodies but I think I will leave that for another post. Oh, and have I mentioned that my good friend is the lovely Lisa of For The Love Of Yarn?

Before that I also signed up for the sock gradient yarn club. I knew what I was going to do with this before I even received it and so requested two semi solid skeins to go with it. Look at that lush purple. I may be stash happy just now (making up for years as a poor student) but I justify it to myself by having a plan for it before ordering. That's my story and I am sticking to it.

One last thing before I go. If you are going to Yarndale at the end of the month, the lovely Lisa will also be there with her littlest helper. Say hello!

P.S The websites for everything I have mentioned is on my craft shopping page.

Friday, 4 September 2015

GBBO - Week 5

So this week was all about the other contestant trying to push Ian off his three week stint as star baker. I kid, it was mainly about free form. Now when I heard free form I assumed that it involved baking cakes free form. As in without tins. I assumed wrong. It meant substituting key ingredients for alternatives.

In the first the bakers had to bake a cake without using sugar. Many of them used alternatives such as syrup and honey. Most also added fruits to heighten the sweet taste (not pear or apples as they lack in flavour - so says Paul). That was the only stipulation. A few came up with extravagant creations. Such as Ugne which sadly didn't work out for her as her cake looked much like Dorret's gateaux from the first episode. Alvin chose a pineapple upside down cake (a favourite of mine). He was finished far ahead of everyone else. The others were still slaving away and making sure they got their decorating spot on. Now normally this would be a huge warning. And indeed Alvin felt rather anxious over that fact. For once though this played to the strength of the challenge as both Paul and Mary loved it. I however, was amused at Mel eating what she thought was edible flowers. Lesson learned.

Next up was the technical challenge. They had to make 12 pitta breads. I am almost positive this has been done before. The difference this time is that it had to be gluten free. Which made for one very wet dough. Many of the contestants struggled with this one. One who normally comes last didn't and Nadia finally came first in a technical challenge. As with all the other technical challenges, this one is part of the Bake Off along and you can find the recipe here.

My favourite this week was the Arctic Roll. It brings back fond childhood memories. Every now and then my sister and I will treat ourselves to some (we know how to go all out). The difference in these ones is that the ice cream could not be made with dairy. A fair few went with the tropical theme. Including Paul here. He should have one for the most amusing. Lots of innuendo's from Mel and Sue as he created the fondant sunbather.

This weeks winner though was Nadiya. Ian was finally knocked off from the top. And in fact he may have been in trouble until his showstopper saved him.  I think Nadiya finally deserved to get some recognition as I think she is one of the most creative of the contestants.

Sadly it meant we said goodbye to Ugne. She didn't do well this week at all and although she was proven right about her choices in flavours, the execution let her down. I have to be honest, I expected Ugne to be one of the most creative of the group. Instead she has been sitting at the lower end of the group since week one. Not for lack of trying on her part though.

As usual, all my images are courtesy of the BBC. Next week is pastries. One I always look forward to. Soggy bottoms all round.

Tuesday, 1 September 2015

Crafting to York

 Can you guess where I was? Of course it helps that I may have mentioned it. Oh, and it's there in the title. Yes, I was in York last week. My dad kindly took me and my cousin away for a few days for my birthday. My first holiday since before I started my training. So excited about it. We planned to visit lots of quirky pubs (which we did, hic) and to tour some of the historical aspects of the city. I've been to York before and it is beautiful. I don't think I would ever get tired of it. My cousin and I were trying to hatch a plan to stay. It didn't work.

As well as the walking and the tasting of beverages I was looking forward to sampling some of the craft shops. My lovely cousin patiently came round these shops with me. Probably the most famous is the Ramshambles. A lovely little yarn shop which had a fantastic selection of sock yarn (of course I loved it). I could have spent all day in there. I also loved the fact that the lady who was behind the counter was knitting socks. They even had some lovely knitted socks on display. I spotted a flyer for Yarndale and of course I had to mention a certain lovely indie yarn dyer who is going to be there (yes you Lisa aka For the Love of Yarn). I did buy some yarn but you'll have to wait for my stash post.

The Viking Loom is another store I was looking forward to going into. Another lovely shop. Perfect for cross stitchers and quilters both. Don't be  deceived by the front of the store. Like the TARDIS it's bigger on the inside. When you get into the store front there are some lovely examples of local work and competitions. You go through a doorway and you end up in a room filled with cross stitch kits. My cousin even bought one of the kits as a gift for her mum. Then there is yet another doorway and this room is filled with fabric with stairs leading up to yet more fabric. A little treasure trove of a store. And yes I did buy something from there too.

There was a quilting museum but I could only subject my poor cousin to so much (although I am sure she would have good naturedly went along with me). Maybe next time.

There was a visit to York Museum which seemed never ending. Unlike the Jorvik Centre you are certainly getting your money out of your admission fee. Lots to see and it was quite interactive. If you are into museums and you go to York make it a place on your list to go. It had lots of example of embroidery in 18 and 1900's. I always like seeing these. I've seen examples of this type of embroidery in a few museums and I always try to take photo's of them.

These embroideries were done by middle class girls and ladies as a way of practising stitches. Nowadays we do these samplers for their decorative value rather than for the educational. I've done a couple myself, I think. I know I have a few Christmas samplers that I fancy doing.

Anyway, it was a great few days away and I even go some knitting done on the train. But shhhh, that's top secret too.