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Friday, July 29, 2011

Greetings from New York

Times Square

Times Square (woot!)

Central Park and skyscrapers

Central Park with skyscrapers in the background.

US Debt Clock

How much money the US owed at 17:25 yesterday!*

It's just a flying visit at the moment - we arrived yesterday afternoon and this morning we're catching a train up to Norwalk for my sister-in-law's wedding - but we'll be back on Sunday for a few more days. I'm really looking forward to checking out the New York yarn shops! I should have enough knitting to keep me going in the meantime. I'm currently knitting Melissa LaBarre's Garter Yoke Cardi (originally published in an issue of Knit1 but now available as a download from the Vogue Knitting Store) and I've nearly reached the point where I need to divide for the body. I'm knitting it in the Blacker Yarns Shetland DK which I bought at Knit Nation with the intention of knitting a Deco only to find I had insurmountable issues with gauge**. Entirely my own fault for not double checking the needle size used in the pattern before buying the yarn, if I had then I would have known it was far too heavy - despite having the same weight and yardage as the Corriedale which Kate uses. Anyway I trawled through Ravelry until I found another cardigan which I could knit with around 950 yards of DK yarn and came up with the Garter Yoke Cardi. It seemed vaguely familiar and when I looked at the projects tab I realised why - Megan had knit one back in 2009 and I remembered it looking really great. So far it's going really well and I've already had one compliment on the colour (natural light grey Shetland) from the one of the flight attendants on the plane. Yes, I knit on the plane! Knitting needles weren't mentioned in the list of prohibited items at the check in desk so I unscrewed the points on my interchangeables, put the end caps on the cable (just in case there was a problem I didn't want to be doing all that in the baggage screening line) and put the points in my handbag. In the event there were no problems whatsoever and I got a good six hours of garter stitch and stockinette in whilst watching the Twilight saga back-to-back (United does not have a good selection of recent movies compared to those on Singapore Airlines). My only slight worry is whether I'll have enough yarn. I should be OK, the pattern gives 918 yards for the size I'm knitting and I have 952 but I seem to be going through the balls awfully quickly!

I'll post a picture of progress so far once I've divided for the body, at the moment it's so bunched up on the cable that you can't really tell what's going on.

* This might just be me but I would find this incredibly dispiriting if we had a similar "clock" up in London. It's not really the way to make people feel good about the state of the economy.

** I actually got stitch gauge with the recommended needle size but the density of the fabric was such that it would have been a kevlar cardigan.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Sunday crumble

Sunday is a good day for country walks, following the cricket, and proper puddings.

Cherry plum crumble

Crumble is definitely a proper Sunday pudding especially when served with a dollop of cold cream and it's so easy to make. Just fill an oven proof bowl with enough fruit to fully cover the bottom, sprinkle with sugar, spoon over enough crumble mix to hide the fruit, sprinkle some more brown sugar on top and then bake at around 200 C for 25 minutes or until it looks done.

Crumble mix recipe (makes enough for 2 people)
4 oz plain flour
1.5 oz butter
2.5 oz demerara sugar

Rub the flour and butter together (similar to making pastry) then mix in the sugar.

This crumble is made with yet more cherry plums but later in the year it will be apple and blackberry.

Whilst watching the cricket I spent most of the day on a secret sewing project - I'll have pictures to show you in a couple of weeks once the recipient has received it.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

New tricks

I just got back from a very long day at Knit Nation in London with a bag full of yarn and a new skill. I took the very cool Lene Alve's class, Mittens of Rovaniemi, a class that I'd wanted to take ever since I read the Yarn Harlot's post (linked to at "of").

We started off by knitting a wristlet in four colours, one main colour, and three contrast colours.

From the front it looks like regular stranded knitting (although no sane knitter would attempt to carry four colours in one round).

Rovaniemi wristlet

Turn it inside out however and where are the strands?

Rovaniemi wristlet

The answer is there aren't any, the yarn is carried up the work, rather than around - it's pure genius. For each area of contrast colour you have a separate mini-skein of yarn which are skewered on a straight knitting needle in order to keep them in order. This may seem like overkill when dealing with just five mini skeins but it's just enough kill (as Spike once said) when you have eleven mini-skeins as we did when we switched to knitting proper mittens after lunch.

Knit Nation 2011

It's a yarn kebab.

Knit Nation 2011

It may look like chaos but it's controlled chaos. I didn't get a great way into my mittens - knitting with 2mm needles at tight gauge is a very slow business when you're not used to it - but I got far enough to know that I will be doing more of this (possibly at a slightly looser gauge until my fingers toughen up).

Lene kept circling the class to give us pointers and amaze us with a bevy of samples of astonishing Finnish knitting and crochet techniques. Did you know that you could do colourwork in crochet? And that you can do it without leaving any floats or ends showing (apparently they are hidden away inside the stitches).

Knit Nation 2011

Now that's another class I can't wait to take.

Meanwhile during lunch I ran into a few friends.

Jenny, Amy, and Ruth were there to take Franklin Habit's class on lace edgings.

Knit Nation 2011

Knit Nation 2011

Judith and Jaq were both on duty as part of the Socktopus team and as soon as I walked into the Knit Tea Salon I saw Mel (or rather she saw me). It was lovely to sit an have a chat with Mel over lunch before hitting the marketplace.

I was also very happy to see the lovely folks from Blacker Yarns as I had a voucher from last summer to spend with them. After a bit of dithering I picked eight balls of light grey Shetland DK to knit a Deco and then after another circuit of the marketplace came back to get four balls of Shetland, Corriedale, and Hebridean in different colours for my Rovaniemi mittens.

Knit Nation 2011

Knit Nation 2011

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Jam tomorrow

Or rather jam today since I made the jam late last night out of one pound of cherry plums picked near the Water Eaton park and Ride on Monday (always good when you can incorporate a bit of fruit picking into the commute).

Cherry plum jam


Wash and stone the cherry plums. I have to tell you that this is tricky as cherry plums are as small as cherries but their stones are as fiddly to extract as those of plums. It's the best of both worlds!
Weigh the stoned fruit, place in a saucepan with the juice of 1 lemon per pound of fruit (i.e. 1 pound of fruit = 1 lemon, 2 pounds = 2 lemons, etc.), and simmer until the juices start to run.
Add just over 1/2 the weight of the fruit in sugar and bring to the boil.
Continue to boil (stirring all the time to prevent burning) until the mixture goes thick and jammy*.
Pour into sterilized jars (I just put mine in a pan of boiling water and get them out using tongs and a tea towel) and leave to cool and set.


Cherry plum jam

* it might be that we need a better thermometer (rather than the one we use for milk frothing) but I've never had any luck with either trying to get jam to the setting point of 104 C or doing put-it-on-a-cold-saucer-and-see-if-it-wrinkles thing.