Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Vegan Mofo Day 2: Chili and Sea Salt Crispbread

Okay so I'm slightly obsessed with making my own crackers.Mostly because I'm really obsessed with eating crackers. Someone with less linguistic restraint might call me crackers for crackers. Luckily I'd never say such a thing. This recipe is a variation on the cracker, cut into strips and liberally salted and chillied this is my Chili and Sea Salt Crispbread. Taylor made for dipping into hummus. You know, when you've bought a lackluster pot from Tesco and need a little zing.

Chili and Salt Crispbread
(makes about 16)

170g flour
60ml water
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon of salt
1/2 teaspoon of chilli

Preheat the oven to 200C and oil two trays

In a small bowl mix together the salt and chilli

Pour the olive oil into the flour and start mixing. As your little hands are mixing everything in slowly add the water until you're able to form a ball of dough.

Once you've got your dough ball all happy flour your surface and roll out the dough as thin as you can get it. go for about 3mm

When it's all rolled out sprinkle with the chilli salt mixture and run the rolling pin over one more time to make sure it all sticks.

Cut into rectangles and transfer to the baking tray. In ten minutes it will be cooked and starting to brown on the edges. take it out and in another ten minutes it should be cool enough to enjoy.

Monday, 1 September 2014

Vegan Mofo Day 1: Receiving And Giving

It's Vegan Mofo again and I'm starting with a lovely pie that I made at the end of last Mofo; the Pear Frangipane tart from Vegan Pies In The Sky.

Our friend with the pear tree came through again and offered us a bag of pears along with the heavy hint that she would love it if another one of those tarts turned up. So who was I to resist? I made some pastry, mixed up the frangipane, sliced up the pears and sent the tart back with Stephen. Like the first one it was very well received and I received some gracious thank you emails. Along with the leftover pears. Sometimes it's nice to be known as the crazy cook in your group.

I'd no idea what to do with the leftover pears. I'm not the biggest fan of eating them raw, though I don't mind cooking them. They were just taking up room in my fruit bowl until last night when I decided to embrace the insomnia and stay up knitting, bright and painfully perky, until 2am. I finished my socks watching Sweets Made Simple and as I arrived grumpily into the next morning I couldn't resist making up the Pear And Ginger Coins. 

And... well, can I just say woof? These things pack a seriously gingery punch with plenty of sweetness and a little tart zing coming out to play at the end. They would be wonderful to warm you up on an autumnal walk. On a muggy, overcast summer day here in the English Riviera they work just as well, bringing a massive smile to my face. One of ginger, pears and community.

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

The Sock Report

A little over a year ago I declared my intention to knit seven pairs of basic socks using the Houdini Sock construction. Why? Well I wanted enough awsome fitting hand knit to last a week (after which point I wash them, obviously) to keep my feet toasty warm in winter.

But ever since I knit that first pair I became a hand knit sock convert. I wear them all year round. I wear them camping to keep me cool by keeping the sweat off my feet, I wear them in winter to bundle up, I wear them when cleaning out the penguins to keep me warm even when the hose pipe inevitably drenches my feet. They keep me cool, they keep me hot and they keep me comfortable when wet. So my goal of seven pairs of socks became an urgent one.

So here they are, pair number seven in Bergère de France Goomy 50. I wasn't impressed with the yarn, my general rule in sock knitting is go German or go home and this didn't change my mind. Not enough twist,  too many broken ends. Still they keep me warm, or cool, or feeling dry. Whatever I need.

I'm not ending my sock adventure there though. Remember the mini skeins I bought at Fibre East? They look like this now:

I used the Sweet Tomato Heel for these and I totally consider The Knitting Goddess an exception to my German sock yarns only rule.

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Fiber East Stash Additions

The weekend before last I was volunteering and taking classes at Fibre East. Unfortunately I was too busy/didn't bring a camera and missed out on taking any pictures of the evert itself. Really though a picture wouldn't show the best bits anyway: friendly people, sunny skies, and amazing amount of knowledge going round. And while I didn't get pictures of the bunnies or the sheep to share with you I do have pictures of the new additions to my stash. with some ramblings about my plans for them.

My first purchase was an ashford Flick Carder. It's part of some grand plan I have to spin and knit a hat for Stephen this winter. Hopefully one that he will wear

Then I spent the bulk of my money on this. This is Big Boy from Easyknits.co.uk because I wanted to do a birght, bold version of the Stoxa tank from this summer's Knitscene. The yarn is delicious, the colours are fabulous and I'm always happy with everything I buy from Easyknits. I can't wait to cast on.

And on the subject of bright colours I picked up these beautiful little mini skiens in seven colour rainbow from The Knitting Goddess. I made two equally sized magic balls, one running purple to red and the other running red to purple. I'm making socks and I'm already over the second heel. I've been tweeting about their progress but if you missed the pictures they are on my project page.

On the more naturally coloured side of things I bought some angora. I could not resist buying angora. I adore angora but I don't like to buy it commercially and if I'm not certain it comes from an ethical supplier. Buying freezer bags full of fluff from the National angora Club seemed like a good way to get some fibre from a good source.

I bought two natural shades. The grey, confusingly referred to as chinchilla, and the golden white, helpfully referred to as golden. It's so, so, so soft. I'm spinning the chinchilla to get a feel for how it handles and I'm going to blend the white with some BFL I have lying about to see if I can't get the yardage for a hat and mitt set.

I couldn't resist buying something from The Farm Animal Sanctuary but as I was slowly running out of funds I made do with just this small sample of Wensleydale. No plans as of yet.

My last purchase of the day came from Sara's Texture Crafts. It was red and irresistible and I'm spinning it up on my bottom whorl spindle from Abby's class. It's ravelry project page is here.

That was it until sunday when I set off fully intending to buy a tub of samples from Low Land Legacy. Each sample is 20g and I want to spin each up to practise with the breed and then make it into a somewhat random lap blanket with other breed samples I've accumulated.

That was my good intention. Just to buy that tub. And I did buy it. You can hardly fault me that it came with a pack of free buttons.

Or that I found a bit more money when I was packing up. I'd forgotten all about putting my chage into that pocket. I was determined to spend all of it so I bought some more John Arbon fibre to add to my collection. Some broken merino tops.

Then because they are so cute I spent my last few pennies in some of Jack Laverick's cool ceramic buttons. And I felt very, very poor indeed. But with some cool new craft supplies, and isn't that what counts in life?

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Tour de Fleece Wrap Up

 A month ago I posted that I was going to sign up for the Tour de Fleece but as the rest of my month looked somewhat crazy all I was going to set as a target was spin everyday. My month was somewhat crazy but I did manage to spin every day of the tour.

As it was the end of term my Guides took up a couple of my weekends. I spun, for the first day of the tour, on my spindle at Zooom. Zooom was a South West Region event for the Brownie's 100th Birthday and fittingly some of my Brownies helped with my spinning.

I took the same spindle, and the same fibre on holiday with my Guides. The fibre was the North Ronaldsay I bought from John Arbon Spring Clean and admittedly that is a small cop but I did spin everyday.

When I was at home I got to work on The Spin Along Knit Along. I've got 612g of my 1k spun into singles. Pretty decent.

And then my tour ended at Fibre East I spent four days there. Most of the time I was playing on my in hand spindle from Portugal but I also got to play of a great wheel and take Abby Franquemont's All Spindles All Day class. I honestly can't say anything more about that class then you should take it if you ever get the chance. It was fun and I learned so much it was unbelievable. It was the best end of the tour I could hope for.

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Tutorial: How I Got This Hole Were My Heart Used To Be

So I got the idea for this tutorial at Guide camp when one of my Guides, given a bunch of fabric paints and a t-shirt did this exact thing. It looked so great I had to copy. Forgive me. It's just that they are better at this creativity thing than me.

Skill Level: Splattering paint, using an iron
Time Taken: Fifteen minutes, plus drying time

  • A t-shirt that fits
  • coordinating fabric paint ( I use the dylon stuff) 
  • an old but still flexible brush
  • Freezer paper and an iron. Or if you can't get the magic American freezer paper that irons on look for something that lies flush with the fabric, weight it down and be careful. We used craft foam on camp.
  • Newspaper, to prevent mess

Let's Do This Thing!

First draw and cut out your shape. It's going to be a negative image so something simple and bold works best. 

Iron on your negative, lay the t-shirt on newspaper with a couple of sheets of paper separating front and back. This will (hopefully) stop paint from getting where you don't want it. 

Begin splashing colour over your negative.

Layer on all your colours, splattering them all down. More is more here. More spats create a better image. Let the paint dry. It may take longer than normal because of the size of the splashes. When it's dry remove your shape and set the paint, if you need to, by following the manufacturers instructions. 


Monday, 7 July 2014

Adventures In Gift Knitting

A friend of ours in joining the merchant Navy and I knew I had to send him off with a knit. He was sceptical though. Right until he tried on the mitts - the Men's Hand/Wrist-warmers from Last Minute Knitted Gifts - felt how warm they are and got really excited.

There is nothing better than a good pair of wrist warmers to keep you warm and I hope these keep him safe too as he goes off adventuring.

Thursday, 3 July 2014

Commitment Issues

As I've barely had time to blog the last couple of weeks it may come as a surprise to you that I've got myself signed up for a few things. It may not. You know me.

 My first sign up came as a surprise to me. I had my shetland fleece on the bobbin and my Zwartbles, Exmoor Blueface and North Ronaldsay ready to go. I had absolutely no time or fibre to take part in the Knitmore Girl's Spin Along Knit Along right? No time to spin and knit an entire jumper.

Well actually after the Shetland was off the bobbin everything turned out to be much faster to spin. Not entirely a surprise as I'd spun the shetland straight from the lock and in it's closed up state it was much harder to get through then well behaved rolags. So, okay I have space on the wheel but the fibre? Well we may have ordered a kilo of Exmoor Blueface roving.

That's a kilo alright

Spin along, knit along here I come. I really didn't think I'd be able to use it as a Tour De Fleece goal though. The first day of the tour is a large scale Guiding event which I won't be able to take my wheel too. The last days of the tour I'll be at fibre east. But I have a spindle for a reason so I'm officially signing up to spin every day. A more manageable goal given my commitments.

My Exmoor Blueface spun from the scoured fleece 

And with that first lot of Exmoor Blueface off the bobbin I have to do something with it... as it averages at a light fingering/lace weight why not dye it green, buy some black beads and a specific kind of dental floss and knit the Heart To Heart Beaded Scarf for the Knitmore Girls's Summer Of Lace and Beads. A knit along for knitting beaded lace, why not?

I think I have some kind of commitment issues.

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Strawberry Harvest

With the mud still on 
This year our allotment has really kicked into gear. I'm not sure why to be honest. it's as weedy as ever and I've been slacking on my propagating.Allotment/Clare relations have actually been pretty bad in general. I feel like I don't do enough on it. I feel like it needs too much doing on it. I feel like I'm just not a good gardener. Of course this means I'm less enthusiastic, feel like I have to be dragged there, don't do as much as I should and the cycle continues.

In a jar 

So I feel like these strawberries appeared despite my effort rather than because of my effort. Our first bowl, pictured in post allotment bliss, weighed 1kg and since then we've got another similar amount. The first lot I made into a lower sugar, barely set strawberry jam ready to fuel cakes and biscuits.

In the freezer

Our second harvest I froze up for pies and smoothies. It's probably not going to last me all year but it will do for a start. There is something satisfying about stocking my cupboards and freezer with home grown goodies but don't worry, it didn't stop me from sampling some on the way to the chopping board.

Monday, 23 June 2014

Baby Hats and Knitting Practice

I'm taking the Craftsy class Improve Your Knitting. It's pretty cool, you learn to knit in all sorts of different styles. I've been practising ways to get my English style faster and more efficient and now I'm trying to learn continental style. It's frustrating, trying to get my hands working in a whole new different way. To practice I made a little baby hat using the Umbilical Cord Hat pattern. I'm not in love with my technique but I do love this pattern.