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Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Raindrops on roses

I felt a wee bit cheated when the Bank Holiday dawned cold and drizzly (especially since today was so lovely by comparison) but I made the most of it. After some traditional Bank Holiday viewing I headed up to Blenheim Palace to investigate whether the rose garden was in bloom yet.

The plus side of the rainy weather was that the gardens were lovely and quiet.


The flip side of course was that the tea rooms were heaving when I went in there later for a quick scone.

So, were the roses out?

Yes, they were. It's extremely bad form to pick flowers in other people's gardens so I picked them with my camera instead.

Rose mosaic

The raindrops are all very picturesque but I still can't wait to get back there when the sun's out.

Rose mosaic

Saturday, May 21, 2011

FO - Hurricane hat

From this:

Honeymoon handspun yarn

To this:

Hurricane hat

And I only have two metres of yarn left over so that counts as a win on my mission to use up yarn.

Pattern: Hurricane by Andrea Goutier
Yarn: My handspun from fibre bought on my honeymoon (yay!)
Needles: 4.5mm
Mods: I only knit straight for 4.5" (rather than 5") - good thing too given that I only had 2m yarn left at the end.

This is a very cushy, cosy hat and I look forward to wearing it in the autumn - but more than that it's a lovely souvenir of our wonderful time in Australia.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Very big house in the country

We had a lovely visit to Tatton Park in Cheshire last weekend for Jenny's wedding. I don't want to pre-empt any post that Jenny might write about her big day - suffice it to say that bride and groom both looked lovely.

Jenny and Chris

Check out the amazing shawl.


The weather wasn't fantastic but it cleared up enough for Jenny and Chris to have some photos outside and for Richard and I to take a good look round the gardens after dinner.

One of my favourite blogs is do you mind if I knit? I always enjoy the photos from Vanessa and Hugo's wanderings around various open gardens so I thought I'd emulate her and show a few views from Tatton.

Tatton Park

View from the balcony.

Tatton Park

Facade of the mansion.

Tatton Park

Ornamental chives!

Tatton Park


Tatton Park

Fancy topiary.

Tatton Park

Deer park.

Tatton Park

Very ornate gate.

Tatton Park

Duck topiary.

Lizzy and Richard

All dressed up.

One of the highlights (apart from the wedding) was the chance to see some of the rare breed sheep which roam around Tatton Park.

Hebridean sheep

Hebridean sheep.

Hebridean lambs

Hebridean lambs.

Soay sheep

Soay sheep.

It was really great to see the next generation of these very rare sheep.

All the H's

Introducing my Honeymoon Hurricane Handspun Hat*:

Handspun hat

I finally managed to break the cycle and cast on for something which is not a Spring Garden Tee (3 and counting). I wound this skein of yarn (spun from fibre bought on my honeymoon in New South Wales) into a cake on Monday and have been trying to find a good one skein pattern since. I originally cast on for a cowl but then I spotted the Hurricane hat pattern on Ravelry. The spiral pattern is formed by a very simple but very neat bit of maths which continues all through the decreases into a very cunning swirl at the top. I just hope I have enough yarn.

* btw I am personally taking credit for the gorgeous weather today having cast on for a woolly hat last night.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Cooking doesn't get tougher than this

A couple of firsts:

I am entering a baking competition.*
I have just made Italian meringue.

Italian meringue (for those of you who haven't watched every episode of MasterChef (all formats) for the past couple of years is the foamy soft type of meringue which you get on top of lemon meringue pie (rather than the hard type of meringue that you use to make pavlova). You make it by whisking your egg whites until they form stiff peaks and then continuing to whisk them as you pour a thin stream of boiling sugar syrup into the mixture and the meringue turns stiff and glossy. You can then pipe it onto your cake or pie and finish it with a blowtorch until it turns a lovely golden brown.

That's the plan at any rate. In my case it all went swimmingly - cake came together, meringue whisked up, meringue actually sticking to the sides of the cake (I wasn't at all sure that it would) - until it came to the blowtorching. I bought a new blowtorch specially for the job but when it was time to fire it up it just wouldn't produce any flame. I suspect that I may have misunderstood the packaging and that I needed to buy the gas separately (although I have to say that that's not implied by the words 60-70 hours burning time) but however it happened I was left with a cake covered in Italian meringue that needed to be browned at 11 oclock at night with the cake competition the next day.

My lovely husband was very supportive in helping me investigate various solutions (luckily we had a great deal of meringue left over to experiment with). Holding a lighted match near the meringue did brown it but also left a sooty residue and the attempt at flambeeing just resulted in a wet, sticky, mess. Eventually we just stuck it under the grill, closed the door, and monitored its progress with a torch, and .... hurrah!


It's a little anaemic on the sides but this is only an aesthetic issue as pouring the boiling syrup into the meringue actually cookes the egg whites.

Fingers crossed my colleagues like this (it's an inter-office baking competition) - I really want to get through to the next round.

* actually this isn't really a first I guess as I vaguely remember entering a couple of cake decorating competitions at Bank Top church when was a wee nipper, but still

Saturday, May 07, 2011

Yet another Spring Garden Tee

Turns out this is the perfect pattern for using up all those balls and half balls of yarn which currently make up the bulk of my stash. It's also great in that it's a good mix of "interesting" knitting (neck shaping and lace sleeves) and straightforward round and round knitting (which means it knits up quick).

Spring Garden Tee

This one is knit in a ball and a half of Rowan Cashsoft DK that I had left over after another baby project from a couple of years ago I think. So happy to be finally using this up at last.

I knit most of this on the train up to Bolton last night whilst watching season 3 of Merlin on my laptop (I heart my laptop) and eating M&S chocolate biccies - it was all very pleasant.

Monday, May 02, 2011

More cute baby stuff

Itty Bitty baby dress

Pattern: Itty Bitty baby dress from Made by Rae
Size: 1-3 months
Fabric: Thrifted from an old Red Herring dress.

I took fabric from a dress which was a bit on the small side for me (the sign was when one of the straps broke) and turned it into an even smaller dress for my wee niece Kate. Hope she (or rather her mummy) likes it!

The only modification I made was to exchange the ties which fasten the straps for press-studs (a bit easier to fasten on a wriggly baby).