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Sunday, September 25, 2011

Afternoon tea at Hughenden Manor

Hughenden Manor

On Saturday we visited Hughenden Manor in Buckinghamshire, former home of Benjamin Disraili and now a National Trust property. We'd been to John Lewis to drop off our carpet offcuts for whipping (we're nearly at the end of that particular saga I hope) and decided to make an afternoon of it in High Wycombe.

Afternoon tea at Hughenden Manor

This was the dining room set out for afternoon tea. Our own tea, taken in the stable block, was slightly more modest but the cakes lived up to the National Trust's reputation.

Tea and cake

Today I made my own afternoon tea - Nigella Lawson's Banana Bread - this is an absolute classic from Domestic Goddess but the recipe's also online at This is what you want to bake if you have someone coming to view your house. Sadly the husband is not at all keen on banana bread, but at least that means all the more for me.

Banana bread

Friday, September 23, 2011

Leaping on the bandwagon

After reading Lynne's post last week I was suddenly inspired to get a move on and join in with the Innocent Big Knit 2011. After spending the last couple of months working solidly on Deco and the Garter Yoke Cardi it's really nice to be churning out these tiny little finished objects and (which is the main point) I've worked through 150 g of odds and ends in my stash.
No surprises that my favourite so far is this guy:
Sheep hat
I'm very pleased that Mikal badgered persuaded me into knitting him. I also knitted a Lynne-inspired Kermit hat.
Kermit hat
Here's the full roll-call so far. I plan to keep knitting until a) I reach 100* or b) I run out of time before the deadline or c) I get bored - whichever happens first.
Innocent hats
One of the things I really like about this is it's like a yarn-y trip down memory lane. For instance the second hat from the left in the bottom row above is knit from the end of a skein of Socks That Rock in Moonstone which I used to knit a pair of lace socks for Felix; the very bottom right hat is knit in Artisan Threads yarn bought at Woolfest 2009 in the company of Kate, Lara, and Felix. That was such a fabulous trip and it's lovely to have a fibrous reminder of it. The wee sheepy above is (appropriately enough) knit from Rowan Purelife British Sheep Breeds yarn (cream) and some brown that I used for my eldest niece's Baby Sheep Yoke cardigan. Kermit (also below) is knit from Jo Sharp yarn that I bought in Australia on my honeymoon and which I used to knit a Debbie Bliss cardigan for my baby niece Kate. I could go on for ages here but I'll just do one more - the third hat from the left in the top row below is knit from the hand dyed (by me) yarn which I used to knit the Bonfire night mitts that got devoured by moths (not the same as these hand dyed mitts that got devoured by moths - it's obviously a recurring theme round here).
Innocent hats
* I have a strong competitive instinct and six years worth of leftovers to work through.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Due to popular demand*

Sheep hat

I am knitting the sheep hat (last week's pattern of the week) for Innocent's Big Knit. More wee hats later today folks.

* that means you Mikal

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Done Deco

Meet my new favourite item of clothing:


I really need a photoshoot director to give me notes on posture

Pattern: Deco by the immensely talented Kate Davies
Yarn: Cascade 220 Heathers in #9322 Silver Spruce (4.75 100g skeins)
Needles: 3mm circulars
Modifications: I started the neck shaping at the same time as the armhole shaping for extra "scoopiness" and knit all parts of the cardigan with a 3mm needle (as I didn't think that I could use a smaller size needle without breaking it).
Ravelled: here


so that's what my hair looks like from the back


if you look carefully you can see the photographer

As those who know me will testify, this has been a bit of a slog. Nothing to do with the pattern which is completely joyous to knit and contains some of my very favourite techniques. Nothing to do with the yarn either. This was my first time knitting with Cascade 220 and I love it - it's soft, sturdy, felts beautifully (very important for spit splicing) and comes in a cracking range of colours. The issue really was with trying to knit a yarn with a recommended gauge of 18-20 stitches per inch on 4.5-5mm needles at a gauge of 26 stitches per inch on 3mm needles. It's lucky that KnitPros are so sturdy. If you do try this at home I warn you in advance that it will be tricky and there will be a lot of soul searching about drape and whether, when finished, your cardigan will be able to stand up on its own. However, if you stick with it the reward is a wonderfully soft, structured cardigan that keeps you toasty even on a nippy September morning when you're wondering whether footless tights (as opposed to ones with feet) are such a bright idea.

Now for the details:


The buttons (which complement the design of the cardigan splendidly) are from Darn it and Stitch as is the ribbon (of which I hope Kate approves). I probably could have done a more invisible job with the blind stitching but when you're using vintage Sylko threads it seems a shame not to see them.


Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Local yarn for local people

Wolvercote yarn

When I popped into Darn It and Stitch yesterday after work I was thrilled to see that Jo is now stocking the beautiful pure Ryeland yarn from Blacker Yarns. I have knit with this stuff before and it is lovely. However, I was even more excited when she told me why she was stocking that particular line - it is from local sheep! Sheep, in fact, that I have seen in Wolvercote whilst out running. I was so excited that I nearly gave up my plans for a laceweight lace cardigan (a la this one from Cath Kidston) and bought DK yarn instead.

Wolvercote yarn

Wolvercote yarn

Jo also has new yarn in from Oxford Kitchen Yarns (another local supplier). Sadly there wasn't quite enough of the sock in Sunflower which would have been the perfect shade to mimic the yellow cashmere used in the CK cardigan.

There's not quite enough time** to show you what I actually purchased but it did come one of Jo's lovely new paper bags.

New bags

* apologies for the quality of the photos - I was rushing to catch a bus! ** rushing for another bus

Friday, September 09, 2011

As I type

Deco blocking

My Deco cardigan is blocking on my living room floor. I really hope it will be dry by tomorrow morning as I'd like to take it up to Bolton with me to work on the finishing (buttons, snaps, and button band facing to sew on, ends to weave in). Yep, I'm finally ready to commit to weaving in some ends after trying it on earlier this afternoon (albeit in a somewhat damp state) and deciding that it does fit as well as I'd like it too. Ideally I want it finished for Monday so I can wear it with my favourite summer dress before the good weather goes away entirely. Then I'll just have to settle for wearing it with my favourite autumn dress (really also a summer dress but can be worn with thick tights).

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Teatime at the museum

Inspired by my gallery outing with Lara last weekend, this Sunday I headed into town for a spot of 19th century art and tea and cake at the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford. Once I'd made my way around the Pisarros on the third floor mezzanine I headed down to to the basement to investigate the cafe which, despite its subterranean location, is bright and airy and a lovely place to relax after wandering round the galleries (or indeed the gift shop).

Ashmolean cafe

Although it was lunchtime and although the soup did look really nice I'd gone in there with the idea of having tea and cake and I stuck to my guns.

Tea and cake at the Ashmolean

I had a really lovely pot or Earl Grey tea and a magnificent slice of chocolate fudge cake whilst I put in some more work on my Deco cardigan - I'm very happy that I've found another lovely place to drink tea and knit.