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Monday, January 23, 2012

Greetings from Prague

U Karlùv most, Praha

[photo credit: Hélio]

Having a lovely time with Jenny and Nadine in Prague - home tonight. Liz x

Thursday, January 19, 2012

o w l s sweater

I finally finished my first* o w l s sweater the week before last and I love it. It's like a great big cuddle from the wool fairy (to paraphrase Greg Wallace) and I've worn it several times already. Before I finished it I was worried that it might be too warm, thus limiting opportunities for wear, but it's perfect - just the right amount of cosiness for the office and it will definitely keep me warm during my Prague trip** this weekend. I've left the owls eyeless as I tried about half a dozen different buttons in John Lewis and none looked better than without buttons.

o w l s sweater

The sweater is knit from almost 600 grams of Rowan Purelife British Sheep Breeds chunky weight yarn in grey Suffolk. I really like this yarn, it's soft enough to be wearable next to the skin but is sturdy enough to be characterful and it has excellent stitch definition - very important for making those owls pop out. It's the same yarn which Kate Davies used to make her original owls sweater and in fact the yarn was a gift from Kate when she was destashing before Christmas. It seemed like there was only one sweater which I ought to knit with it!

o w l s sweater

Pattern: o w l s by Kate Davies
Yarn: Rowan Purelife British Sheep Breeds chunky in Grey Suffolk (600g)
Needles: 6mm and 6.5mm circs
Size: Medium to Small (i.e. started off knitting the medium but realised at the yoke that the number of stitches I had was nearer to the small - not really quite sure how).
Modifications: missed out short rows below the yoke
Location: Somerville SCR - I must do more photoshoots here, I love the decor
Ravelled: here

* note there is another one on the way.
** of course if Jenny is also planning to take her sweater too we may end up looking worryingly matchy matchy.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Wee cardigans

I got a commission over Christmas to knit two more of these wee short sleeved cardigans for my little niece Kate. Apparently she's nearly grown out of the last two that I knit due to (i) her growing and (ii) my sister achieving what I thought was the near impossible feat of felting Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino.

Drops baby cardigan

The pattern is (once again) the snappily titled 0-684 Baby Cardigan with Short/Long Raglan Sleeves. The first one is knit in Artesano Merino dk (I only just found out they do wool as well as alpaca) and the second is in Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino in a rather fabulous red.

Drops baby cardigan

The buttons are from John Lewis and are clear plastic with a tiny flower design which makes them very easy to match to any yarn.

Drops baby cardigan

I'll try to get pictures of Kate wearing these once they're delivered. In the meantime here's a shot of her with some of her bunny friends.

Kate and bunny

Favourite things

I seem to remember that Maria von Trapp sang about warm apple strudel under this category but that's probably because she never tried rhubarb sharlotka.

Rhubarb sharlotka

Earlier in the week I made apple sharlotka following the recipe on Smitten Kitchen. Given that I was down to my last slice of that and that my husband had brought home rhubarb from the supermarket there was really only one course of action.

Rhubarb sharlotka

I loved the apple sharlotka but I think this might be even better. The tart rhubarb contrasts wonderfully with the sweet meringuey sponge and visually the pink rhubarb is fantastic. I served this wolfed this down with a dollop of half fat creme fraiche (because there is absolutely nothing that doesn't taste better with a dollop of creme fraiche on the side).

Somehow three sticks of rhubarb don't seem to bulk up quite the same as 6 Granny Smith apples so rather than making a single 9" cake I made two cakes using 5" ramekins and two thirds of the mixture. Obviously if you have more rhubarb then feel free to make the full size cake following Deb's directions over at SK.

3 sticks rhubarb
2 eggs
2/3 cup/133g sugar
2/3 cup/83g plain flour
1 tsp vanilla extract
ground cinnamon and ground sugar for powdering
butter to grease ramekins

Line two 5" ramekins with buttered greaseproof paper and pre-heat oven to 180 degrees C.
Chop rhubarb into half inch slices and divide between ramekins.
Beat eggs and sugar together until thick and moussey then beat in vanilla extract.
Stir in flour until just combined then pour batter over the rhubarb.
Stir rhubarb and batter mixture around a bit so that some bits of rhubarb poke out of the top.
Put ramekins in the oven and bake for 30 minutes or until top of cake is golden brown and a skewer comes out clean.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012


It still counts if it's in cake form, right?

apple sharlotka

As soon as I read this recipe on Smitten Kitchen (my absolute favourite cookery blog) I knew I wanted to make it. Actually I have that response to most of the recipes on Smitten Kitchen but this has so few ingredients and looked so straightforward that I picked up some apples on my way home from work and a couple of hours later had my very own apple sharlotka. It's delicious with a dollop of creme fraiche.

Sunday, January 01, 2012

Christmas knitting

Hi everyone. Hope you all had a lovely Christmas and Happy New Year! I had a lovely time over Christmas - presents were given and received, we had a lovely Christmas dinner, and my nieces were little bundles of Christmas joy (well most of the time anyway). More of my most exciting new toys (including a new pasta maker and ravioli tray and some gorgeous fibre) in the next post. In the meantime here are some of the things that I made as Christmas gifts.

Christmas baking

Christmas tree biscuits - made from a recipe in Nigella's Domestic Goddess with added Christmas spices. It's funny I only added a few gratings of nutmeg but it's the most dominant flavour in them. Obviously 'tis the season to make Christmas cookies as I handed a bag of these over to Ellen in exchange for a bag of yummy homemade gingerbread and chocolate covered marzipan.

Next up a Damson shawl knit from less than one skein of Malabrigo laceweight in Snowbird. No modifications other than going down a needle size as I was using a finer weight yarn than specified.

Damson shawl

Damson shawl

Mum was very pleased with this. It even came as a surprise despite the fact that she picked out the yarn for it in Manchester a couple of months ago.

And finally two pairs of Ritzy mittens for my cousins. I came across this pattern when Liz G. brought a pair that she was knitting to Bluestockings a few weeks ago and we all raved about them. I then forgot about them again until Liz brought another pair to our last meeting before Christmas and this time I remembered for long enough to make a note of the pattern name.

Ritzy mittens

Ritzy mittens

Cousins also very pleased with mittens which makes it almost a clean sweep. The only bit of Christmas knitting that I've had to make adjustments to are my niece's cosy bedsocks. She was happy enough with them but they kept slipping off so I had to retrieve them to add an extra half inch of length in the foot to each one. Although I measured her feet myself I still didn't really believe they were 6.25" long!

More knitting to come. I've just sewn in the ends on my o w l s sweater. It's fantastic and I love it but it's also grey so I need to wait for a less grey day to photograph it. It also needs blocking and eyes. Luckily I'm off to London on Saturday so I can visit Button Queen in search of some lovely buttons.