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Friday, March 25, 2011

Friday cupcakes

I was very excited today when I came home to a mystery parcel on my doorstep.


I was even more excited when I saw it was a mystery parcel from Felix who is pretty much queen of amazing presents.

I opened it to find a quantity of packing.


I took some time to enjoy the sonic properties of the giant bubblewrap (I felt sure Felix would approve).


Then peeled back the tissue paper to reveal ...


... plates with holes in?


Ah, now it makes sense!

Of course my first act, even before ringing Felix to say thank you, was to get out one of my trusty cupcake cookbooks and work out what I could bake with the ingredients at hand.


After a little thought I came up with chocolate cupcakes with chocolate fudge topping. Very yummy.

Happy Friday to you all. I wish you flowers and cupcakes and beer and whatever makes the weekend joyous for you.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Yarn swappery

Check out my pretty yarn swap table.


We had a lovely time at the yarn swap, knitting was done, babies were played with, cake was eaten, and indeed, yarn was swapped.

I put in my 5 balls of Blacker Designs Cotswold Yarn and got out ...

Glisten swap yarn

Three balls of Louisa Harding Glisten which Jenny thought I could turn into something sparkly for Laurie.

And ...

Wensleydale swap yarn

Remember this? It's some Wensleydale Longwool which I bought back in 2007 and put into the swap last year. It was picked up by Ellen who knit a Selbu modern from the blue and white and brought the rest back this year. I think I might knit a little Sheep Yoke cardigan for Kate.

Talking of cardigans for Kate ...

Sweater with set in sleeves

Pattern: Sweater with set in sleeves from Baby Knits for Beginners by Debbie Bliss
Yarn: Rowan Wool Cotton (2 balls)
Needles: 3.25mm and 3.00mm
Modifications: As you might have noticed I turned it into a cardigan! And I knit the sleeves top-down.

At the swap I looked at what I'd knit so far and realised it would be much nicer as a cardigan than a sweater. Sadly by then I'd already sewn the shoulder seams and attached the arms. Luckily I have the skillz to deal with that. Ideally I should have done this at the swap with everyone chanting "steek! steek! steek!", instead I waited until everyone had left, put in four lines of reinforcing stitches using my sewing machine and then cut the steek.

DSCF9935 steek

[position of stitches marked by green and purple lines]

I cut the steek between the purple lines and then picked up stitches to knit the button bands to the left and right of the green lines.

Once I'd knit the button bands the stitches either side of the cut were looking a bit raggedy so I folded the edge of the steek under itself and stitched it down neatly.

Sweater with set in sleeves

The buttons (which are a great match) are from a little selection of grey and black buttons that I bought at the knitting and stitching show at Ally Pally back in 2005! Just goes to show that you can find a use for anything if you hang onto it for long enough.

Sweater with set in sleeves

Whilst getting yarn out of my swap for the stash I came across this.


It's a very nearly finished Trellis cardigan which I started in September 2007 and just never got around to finish seaming it and adding the collar. I think I was just put off by how lumpy the seams how curly the edges were looking (this was before I discovered the joys of steam and blocking) and gave up on it. Sadly it's a bit on the small side for Laurie now and far too big for Kate but I think I know a baby for whom it will be just right.

Elevated fairy cakes

So when I signed off last night I was just about to make some cup, sorry, fairy cakes for the yarn swap which took place today.

Do you want to see how they turned out?


I love the cupcake stand (borrowed from Jenny). I may have to get one of my own. Nothing like a good cake stand to elevate your afternoon cuppa into an event.


I love the little orange and lemon slices which I found in the Co-op and I'm pleased with my buttercream piping which, after a bad start with the wrong piping nozzle*, was pretty consistent. It's good to get the practice in as I've just signed up to a company-wide baking contest at work and I know (from sampling the output at various recent cake sales) that the competition will be stiff.

More on the yarn swap and the knitting that I got done tomorrow (or rather later today as it's now past midnight). Time now for a bit of Patrick O'Brian and then sleep.

* too narrow a star which meant that buttercream started to ooze from the spaces between the stitches in the seam of my piping bag rather than coming out of the nozzle as intended.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Friday flowers

I've got some of the other Bluestockings coming over tomorrow for the annual yarn swap and wind-off so I had the perfect excuse to visit my favourite flower shop (this is where I got my wedding bouquet) for some delicious spring-time tulips.

Friday flowers

These are adorable - can you see the pink stems at the top?

Friday flowers

I love the Friday feeling you get from buying flowers at the weekend. I was very happy walking from the flower shop to the bus stop in the sunshine through one of the prettiest streets in Oxford. I wish I'd had my camera on my so I could show you a picture of all the differently painted houses with the sunlight and shadows on them.

Now I'm off to make lemon fairy cakes* and continue tidying for tomorrow.

Have a lovely weekend all of you!

* all my (four) cupcake recipe books refer to them as cupcakes but fairy cake is a much prettier term!

btw I've got one eye on MasterChef (still catching up from whilst I was away) and I'm going to have to rewind to check exactly which top London restaurant it is that's serving squirrel liver quenelles. I suppose it's one way to cut down on the greys in London's parks.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Sweater for a February baby

Not the February baby sweater (though I will of course now be knitting that pronto) but a sweater for my new niece Kate who was born on 8th February (and so shares my and my twin brother's birthday).

Sweater for a February baby

Pattern: Jacket with moss stitch bands from Baby Knits for Beginners by Debbie Bliss
Needles: 3.25mm circs
Yarn: Jo Sharp Silk Georgette (2 balls) in ... you know, I can't quite remember what the colourway was but it was something suggesting a light, springy green.
Modifications: Knit 5 sts of moss stitch for the button bands instead of 6 (to make them the same width as the top and bottom border of the jacket). Picked up stitches along the armhole for the sleeves and knit them top down (rather than knitting them separately and sewing a seam at the armhole).

Since I knit this from yarn I bought in Australia at a very nice yarn/quilting shop called (I think) Pins and Needles it's technically a holiday souvenir as well as a new baby gift. Anyway, I hope Kate likes it as much as her big sister likes her pressies from Australia.

laurie in t shirt

*I like my new koala t-shirt so much I just can't stand still!*

Friday, March 11, 2011

For everything else

Entrance to Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary AU$30.

Price of photograph AU$16.

Getting to cuddle a koala...

Me and Buckley the koala


More from our Australian trip soon. It's good to be back.