What I need for Christmas

(yes it’s hotlinked, but damnit, I’m giving them free advertising)

Holly Golightly earplugs. They really could help counter the mean reds, I feel.

High Street Hat

High Street Hat 4

This hat was inspired by a hat that was commercially available in some high street shops here in the UK, hence the name. I decided that instead of paying £20 for a low-quality, acrylic hat, I could pay £10 for some nice wool and knit my own. The hat can be worn beret-style or back on the head, more like a snood. It’s up to you!

The pattern comes in three sizes, to fit head circumference Small (51 cm/20 inches), Medium (56 cm/22 inches), and Large (61cm/24 inches). The hat pictured is the Large size. You’ll need 100g (135 yards/123m) of bulky wool. The sample is knit in Manos del Uruguay but Rowan Cocoon also works well. In the Small and Medium sizes, there’s enough yarn in one skein of Manos that if you want to make it a bit slouchier, you can. You’ll also need 5.5mm (size 9) needles, stitch markers, and a darning needle.

I’ve decided to offer a new version of this pattern for sale.

I’ve taken the free pattern down as the pattern notes were really just that, notes. By buying the pattern you get full, detailed instructions on how to make the hat in all three sizes, and full email support from me.

You can purchase the pattern for £2.50 by clicking this link: buy now, or if you are on Ravelry, from the Ravelry Pattern Library.

By the way, instructions for the Italian Tubular Cast On are available here. I recommend you use some form of tubular cast on (the Italian Tubular just happens to be my favourite) as it looks neater and it’s much stretchier. If you can’t figure it out and want to do a long-tail cast on instead, make the Large size, as the band won’t stretch as much.

High Street Hat 3

Third time’s the charm

With thanks to Elizabeth, who (whether she knew it or not) encouraged me to pick up the Endpaper Mitts again.

This time I didn’t use the pink/purple and grey alpaca I had bought for the project, as the colours just didn’t seem to be working. I tried using the grey as the background colour and the main colour, and neither looked right. However, as I think I mentioned I did acquire some Wensleydale Longwool 4ply in the Debbie Stoller workshop on Saturday. The colours work! At least, I think so, and I defy anyone to contradict me. As you can see my tension’s not perfect but it’s getting better. It’s also potentially because I am using birch needles and (gasp!) I have to admit I’m not a birch fan. My arms are sore today from wrangling them and my fingers from holding the yarn. This is definitely not a relaxation project! I’m glad I didn’t start straight in on Autumn Rose though, I really want to do a good job on it.

Right-ho, must fly! Only a few days to go until I have to start working again… (oh, you wondered what the secret behind my recent knitting output was?)

ETA of course, right after I said bad things about birch needles, one of them snapped. I am SO good at that! So I went up to Loop and bought some bamboos for £5.80. Yeah I KNOW.

To catch a thief

See, all I’ve got to do is post with photos of actual knitting and the commenters come out of the woodwork. Hi! (Mum, ignore. Mum’s still a little weirded out that complete strangers read this)

Now, something else for you:

These are toasted pumpkin seeds. Oh boy are they good. Get yourself some pumpkin seeds (the organic ones are nice, they are different somehow), and put them in a non-stick frying pan or wok on a medium-high heat. Keep them moving; they will soon start to pop! When most of the seeds have popped and they have turned a bit brown, turn the heat off. Eat as is or while they are still hot add a few splashes of soy sauce, hot sauce, chili powder, paprika, cumin, salt, any combination you like (this is soy sauce, piri piri and sea salt – usually I wouldn’t add salt because soy sauce is salty enough, but my body seems to need more salt than most and I don’t add much to my regular cooking).

Eat handfuls while still warm and then try to save the rest to sprinkle on salads etc. Or put in a jar and take it to work for a healthy snack.

Knitting update

I think most of the people who read this blog are knitters, although I set up this new blog to stay in touch with family and friends I don’t think many of them actually read this! So, here is some long-overdue knitting content.

First up, some photos of the back of my head:

Le Slouch, now known as the Rome Metro hat, reborn! I didn’t have quite enough yarn, but a while back I knitted some wrist warmers out of the same yarn and one came out slightly longer than the other. So, in fixing that problem, I solved another, and had just enough yarn for both! (seriously, once I wove in the end – none left over). It’s absolutely identical to the first hat, except I did an Italian tubular cast on, which I am doing with absolutely everything right now. I think other tubular cast ons produce a smoother edge, but this one is definitely the most fun.

Slouchiest hat in the world, ever. I bought this yarn in Italy, it’s Laines du Nord merino with some nylon binder thread. Two 50 gram balls yielded this enormous hat, knit to my own design (I don’t think there’s a pattern for anything this big out there! I didn’t intend it to be this big and if I knit it again I would probably do paired decreases, however I do like the way it turned out). It’s for my cousin Jess’s 21st later this month (I’m pretty sure she doesn’t read this), hopefully she will like it but who knows, she is also very good at losing hats so I don’t anticipate it lasting long anyway. That is the beauty of instant gratification projects though. I adore knitting hats.

Ysolda’s Gretel. Love this hat. Great pattern with very clever decreases.

I’ve also finished my second pair of socks:

(imagine these with a toe, x2, I’m sure you can. I am NEVER knitting a pair of stocking stitch socks again unless the yarn is at least a little interesting)

I think I only posted this to Ravelry and not the blog, so anyway, this is one of the aforementioned wrist warmers. Pattern from Last Minute Knitted Gifts.

After all of this I tried to get started on the Endpaper Mitts again. I decided I wanted to swap the main colour and contrasting colour so I ripped out and started again. Got to about the same point and decided I liked that even less, and it also looked as though I’d made some mistakes. So I frogged.  I don’t think that yarn is going to become Endpaper Mitts now. I did get some Wensleydale wool at the Stitch and Bitch show on Saturday though. It was practice yarn for the Debbie Stoller workshop, which was on double knitting using the argyle scarf pattern from Son of SnB. I think that could be destined to become some mitts.

Meanwhile, I’ve been knitting a bit on Thermal, which I started before I left NZ and put down in NY when it was too hot to knit.

And I think I’ve picked up the nerve to start Autumn Rose even though I haven’t mastered the Endpaper Mitts yet. Should I? Shouldn’t I?

Dinners so far

I am so proud of myself! Dinner number 1 consisted of the tofu cutlets (yum), two Jerusalem artichokes and some cavolo nero. The artichokes were boiled (the water, left on the stove, turned a rather frightening shade of green!) and then the artichokes and cavolo nero were sauteed in olive oil with some ginger and garlic. Then I squeezed lemon juice over the lot and added a handful of toasted pine nuts. On the side of the plate you see my appetiser, celery spread with some organic peanut butter. I’m not a huge fan of celery but the combination is definitely a winner.

The artichokes are packed with iron, potassium and vitamin C (perfect really – no need to add extra vit C to the meal to aid digestion of the iron, although it’s there in the lemon juice too), the cavolo nero has lots of vitamins, iron and calcium. The tofu is also a good source of iron and calcium. The pine nuts and peanut butter – also very nutritious! How healthy do I feel? And how about the taste? I loved the Jerusalem artichokes – they really do taste like artichokes. The cavolo nero was a revelation. With the lemon juice it was amazing.

Dinner number 2:

Filo pie and more cavolo nero! A pie like this is really easy to make. I cooked up some onion, garlic, leek, mushrooms and spinach, added a little stock, creme fraiche, a good handful of walnut halves and some flour to thicken, spread the whole lot in a casserole dish and topped with layers of slightly scrunchy filo, dotted between each sheet and on top with some olive oil. Then it just needs to go in the oven until the top is brown and crispy. I have so much of this pie left I am seriously considering having it for breakfast.