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Saturday, February 17, 2007

An orange teabreak

the tea: redbush tea
the book: the Kraken Wakes by John Wyndham
the cake: butternut squash cake
the knitting: very plain sock in Lana Grossa self-striping sock yarn

I wanted to bake something for the ball winding party at Katie's this afternoon and thought I'd try a butternut squash cake after trying a piece of one in the canteen at work (I know, I'm very lucky to work in a place with such an exciting range in cakes). I had a quick look on the web and although most of the recipes were American (and so measured in cups and sticks) I could see that you needed an equal quantity of flour and squash and some sort of vegetable oil rather than butter. Anyway, I used the quantities given in the recipe for Flora's Famous Courgette Cake in Nigella Lawson's Domestic Goddess as a guide.

butternut squash cake recipe

preheat the oven to 180 deg. C (adjust for fan) and line a decent sized tin with baking parchment (mine was 10 x 10 inches square).

250g butternut squash (uncooked weight) diced into 2cm cubes
150g caster sugar
2 large eggs
125ml sunflower (or other vegetable) oil
225g self-raising flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
60 chopped walnuts

steam or boil the squash until tender then mash until smooth, leave to cool.
mix together the sugar, eggs and oil, then mix in the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and spices.
mix in the squash puree and the chopped walnuts and spoon the mixture into the prepared tin.
bake for 30 mins until golden and a sharp knife or skewer put into the middle of the cake comes out clean.

I actually forgot to put in the spices (due to trying to make a beef casserole at the same time - it could have been worse) and it was perfectly nice. Next time I'll add them in for a little extra bite.

After all that, I'm sitting down for 5 mins before heading out to Katie's with my yarn to wind and swap, patterns to share and knitting to knit. I'm taking Rowan 40, a ball of navy Kid Classic and my new 3.5mm Brittanys so that I can cast on the Anya jumper in a supportive environment. I'm also taking the very plain sock in case I need to hold up my end in a conversation.

Finished object - Falling in Love socks (mini)

Finished at the weekend, just in time for Valentine's day. You can't see the pattern in the photo (partly due to the fuzzy alpaca). I might try to scope out some inexpensive plain sock yarn on the way to Katie's this afternoon in order to knit a full length pair in a yarn which shows off the hearts a bit better.

Monday, February 12, 2007

White birthday

Beats a white Christmas any day of the week. My birthday celebrations on Thursday kicked off with a cheeky OJ and fizz and a walk through the snow to work.
We don't get snow here too often, but when we do it's totally worth the wait.There's something fantastical about this picture of the New College mound (sorry that's its name). It looks like a set from LOTR or Narnia. Apparently the giant snowball to the left of the picture was about nine feet high by the end of the day. Who says students spend too little time working?

I took advantage of the snow to take some shots of a couple of finished objects, another hat for Dulaan and a bear in Rowan Cashsoft.See, it's not just bloggers in Canada and the Arctic that get to have "arty" pics of their FOs lightly dusted with snowflakes.

Later, much later, after enduring a somewhat epic railway journey (the stressfulness of which was due entirely to my own stupidness), I arrived up north for part 2 of my birthday (I love having two birthdays in two locations). There were lots of lovely pressies including earrings to match the necklace I got at Christmas, the DVD of Pride & Prejudice (Matthew McFayden in a frilly shirt), lovely handmade chocs from these people and, best of all, this:From left to right: 3.5mm Brittany birch straight needles (35cm length), Schaefer Anne sock yarn in the Milly colourway, Helen's Lace in Mixed Berries and 3.75mm Lantern Moon Destiny circular needles in Rosewood (80cm length). I am so looking forward to Saturday when I can wind this lot into balls using Katie's ballwinder and Swift.

Monday, February 05, 2007

All the extremities covered

I'm not usually much of a Magknits girl but I am really liking the February issue. There are three (count 'em) patterns that I want to knit, which out of eight patterns in total is a pretty good hit to miss ratio. I've already started the Falling in Love socks. They are so pretty, the little hearts in the lace are pure genius and look so perfect and they're knit from my favourite yarn, Jaeger's Matchmaker Merino 4 ply. I'm knitting this pair, however, in Jaeger Matchmaker Alpaca. I have just over 50 grams left from the four balls I bought in the John Lewis sale over 2 years ago (I really should have bought more I know) and I think it will just stretch to two trainer socks worth.

The lace pattern doesn't show up in the photo but it's looking great. I'm just about ready to cast off the first sock and I should have enough yarn (about 35 grams) to comfortably make the second one.

Next up after that (on the quickie projects list anyway) is the
Santa Cruz hat. Now that my hair is no longer short and spiky I think I can risk a lace hat. There's also these Peekaboo mittens for those mornings when it's a bit too cold for the Fetchings.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Good weekend, sad day

Good weekend...

The Kiri shawl is done and done. On Sunday morning I soaked, squoze and blocked it whilst listening to the Federer-Gonzalez final of the Australian Open. Normally I wouldn't dare to leave a cream angora shawl pinned out on the bed all day (things just get flung there from the doorway too much) but the boyfriend was away for the weekend and I wasn't going to be around either so it could dry in peace. Once the shawl was all stretched out and pinned into place I checked that my ticket was in my bag (about ten times) and headed off to...Islington, home of Loop and Arsenal football club. I made my way there via Oxford Circus (for a quick stop-off in Liberty) and the Victoria line to Highbury and Islington, which it turns out is much more convenient for Cross Street than Angel. Plus you get to walk down Upper Street and drool at the meringues in Ottolenghi: no time for those today but maybe next time. I bought some gorgous Blue Sky Alpaca in an oatmeal colour sportsweight (although I have no idea what sport you might do in this stuff, other than sweating for England!) for a pair of cable socks. I can't wait to knit with this stuff it's soo soft.

Finally, on to the main event of the day. Arsenal vs. Bolton Wanderers in the 4th round of the FA cup. The Emirates Stadium is just magnificent, I do not have enough nice things to say about it. They have this...

...just outside the ground and all the seats (even in the away section which is not behind the goals as in most grounds) are padded. The bloke in front of me said he felt like he was at the cinema. Sadly I didn't get to enjoy my padded seat for most of the second half, at least not after this happened...

...after that we were on our feet for the rest of the match, even when Arsenal equalised.

It was a great day out and I look forward to our next fixture there.

..sad day

After 2 years our knitting group may have to leave the lovely café where we have met up to knit and chat every Wednesday evening. We had just grown too numerous for the space and it seems like it's time to move on.We'll miss the excellent date and ginger flapjacks and the friendly staff. I'm sure we'll find another place to meet soon but in the meantime it all feels a bit uncertain.