Friday, 27 May 2011

Pizza Day!

Hi again. It's Day 5 of my posts for National Vegetarian Week, 2 more days and you won't hear a peep from me about cooking for ages I promise! I'm definitely feeling the strain and long to make a 'normal' meal like jacket potatoes and beans. But I challenged myself to try something new every day so continue I must. Today I have made pizza. I used to work in a pizza place when I was young, it was a horrible job! Goodness knows why I stuck at it for as long as I did. It was my task to prepare the toppings using only a domestic food processor which used to burn out and the handle was falling off. Sometimes when they were short staffed I was allowed to make pizza. I learned a few things like and how much topping to use but the bases were made during the day and I never saw how that was done.

I chose the base recipe from The Quince Tree as it was very easy to follow and the pictures are fab. Take a look at her blog while you are there, she makes some very lovely things. Nutella cupcakes today! I dusted off my Kitchen Aid to make the dough, it's shameful how little I use it but it's a lack of space problem again. The sauce was made using this recipe from What Megan's Making, it looked interesting as you don't need to cook it beforehand, just blend it up and go.

For the topping I used sweetcorn, red and green peppers and mushrooms. This wasn't the best angle to take the picture from as it has Mr J's share at the front which is a cheese-free wasteland. He doesn't eat cheese because he says it gives him migraines. I disagree but we have been having the same argument for 13 years now and if he wants to eat ugly pizza then he can. It's funny that his other 'migraine trigger' chocolate is ok to eat.

I used one of the pizza trays with the little holes in the bottom and had immense difficulty removing it once it had cooked. We had to poke at it a lot with spatulas and it survived almost in one piece. It wasn't bad for a first attempt anyway, I did find it much more filling than a shop bought pizza but it was massive and quite thick. We had it with onion rings and potato wedges as it is customary in our house to eat the less than healthy stuff on a Friday!

Thursday, 26 May 2011

National Vegetarian Week 2011 - Day 4

Wooo! Over halfway there now. Today the weather has been beyond horrible and of course today is the day that the little one decides to make a big hole in the raincover on his pushchair. It also was not the right type of day for the girl to wear a long princess dress to school either! I got soaking wet collecting them this afternoon and was looking forward to something substantial for dinner, so it's a good job I was going to be trying to make the Cranks Homity Pie. I have always been intrigued by this recipe, it's one of their most popular, but I was put off by the dreaded pastry! I am no good at pastry, at all. And why would today be any different? I decided after 0.3 seconds of putting my hands in the butter and flour that I would make it in the food processor. I don't mind pastry once it has combined but the initial mixing bit is so sticky and gets everywhere and I don't like having messy hands.

I put the pastry into the fridge to rest and got on with chopping the onions. And decided to do them in the processor too. The original recipe uses 1lb of onions. Have you seen how much that is? It's a lot! I ended up doing about half the amount and it was plenty. I couldn't find my swimming goggles (yes, I wear goggles to cut onions!) and ended up doing the onion dance where the eyewatering gets too much and you have to retreat to the other end of the kitchen till your vision comes back. Once the onions were cooking I set about putting the pastry in the tin and it just wouldn't roll out at all so I pushed it into the tin instead. I had used Trex vegetable fat which says as it has no water to add 20% less than the recipe states which I did but maybe that is what caused the problem? I had to add more water than 3tbsp. I also did half white flour and half wholemeal. I steamed the potatoes (I added a bit more than the recipe) and mixed it with the cheese, onions and garlic and topped with more cheese. Here it is ready for the oven.

And 25 minutes later. We had it with broccoli, peas and carrots as I think it had enough carbohydrates as it was.

If I make this again it will have less garlic (no vampires here tonight!) and I have no idea how anyone would fit twice the amount of onions into it. I used 4 and it filled my frying pan. I also forgot the butter and it wasn't missed. I also would make this in advance as it created a lot of washing up and used a lot of workspace and I was constantly having to move things around. My pastry skills still need work but it was definitely edible. One for the drawing board I think.

Earlier today, despite the wet weather, myself and the little one went to a Antique and Collectable Fair that is on locally every Thursday and thankfully under cover. I picked up this for 50p. It is fantastic! Amongst the obviously very dated stuff there are some very beautiful and wearable things.

I also bought for £2 a Greist buttonhole attachment that I'm still looking into but judging by some blog and forum posts out there it is compatible with modern sewing machines. I just need time to have a play with it now. The children have now finished school for the next 10 days so I need to find some things to do with them that don't cost lots of money. I just hope it won't rain the whole week!

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

National Vegetarian Week 2011 - Day 3

Hello again! Myself and the little one have had a floppity day today. I'm not sure what was up with him but all he wanted to do was either cuddle or sleep and my motivation levels weren't up to much either. It really feels like a Thursday. I managed to half-heartedly do enough to keep the place ticking over, as long as everyone has clean socks and pants we're ok, right?

In case anyone has missed it, I am blogging my week of cooking for National Vegetarian Week as a challenge to myself to make better use of the ingredients we buy and to try new things that usually scare me. Like pastry. I think that is coming tomorrow!

Ok so yesterday Mr J went bargain crazy at Waitrose leaving me with a lot of tomatoes to use up. I still have more that I will cook and freeze into pasta sauce, though I have yet to find a recipe. I chose this Delia recipe for Roasted and Sun-dried Tomato Risotto as a starting point. I have made the recipe before as it is written but for today it wouldn't cut it as it is only meant to serve two people and I need something that has at least 4 good servings to it. My eldest son eats the same as an adult and the two smaller kids have about half a portion each. If I were to scale up the recipe it would cost an absolute fortune and if it weren't for the discounted tomatoes (29p a pack reduced from £1.71) I doubt I would be making it at all. I didn't use sun-dried tomatoes as I'm not too keen on the texture of them.

I roasted the two packs of tomatoes (700g) halved with some garlic and basil and olive oil for around 40 minutes. I didn't skin them first because it would take forever and the skins stay whole and I could just remove them in one piece once the tomatoes were cooked. In a pan I added a chopped onion to some butter, once that was soft I added 350g of risotto rice and a chopped courgette and stirred it for 2-3 minutes before adding the tomatoes. I really should have processed them first but I thought I could just squidge them with a spoon and I couldn't! I made the risotto on the hob instead of in the oven like the recipe says as I wasn't sure of the amount of liquid to use with the extra rice. I used 300ml of white wine but it was a bit too overpowering and I think about 150ml would have been better, and I could have drank the rest! I had to buy the wine especially as I am the only drinker in the house and a bottle is too much for just me. I also ended up adding about 300ml of vegetable stock. I put in about half a teaspoon of sugar as the tomatoes were a bit on the sharp side. Towards the end I added in the leftover spinach from yesterday and some vegetarian parmesan-style cheese. I can never use up this stuff fast enough so have taken to finely grating the whole block on the day I buy it and using it straight from the freezer. I forget which brand it is but I know I got it from Sainsbury's.

So all in all not a bad meal. I don't think I would go out of my way to make it again but it was good way to use up the tomatoes. The family liked it and I think they are enjoying the things I have made so far and we aren't throwing much away at all.

The cake tin was empty again but first I needed some more eggs. Since the nice weather last month it has coaxed my neighbours out of their houses and into their gardens to chat and I discovered one of the houses has some chickens. I immediately struck up a deal with them to buy some eggs as it is something that has always bothered me since reading reports last year that some supermarkets were selling eggs branded free range that actually were not. The cheapest I can buy free range eggs locally is 89p for 6 and I pay £1 for 6 to my neighbour that he puts back in the pot for paying for the chicken's food. He has 4 and they produce an egg a day each. I think it's so cool you can tell which one is responsible for each egg. The small brown ones are around the size of a 'medium' egg but look at the whopping ones on the end! The box wouldn't even close properly they are that big.

It's good that I can buy something that has so little food miles and even my egg box gets used over and over, so great recycling too. It also gives the kids a little task to do taking the money and the box to get a refill. And the best thing of all is to know they have come from chickens that I know for sure get to spend their days happily strutting around a garden. Ok so the eggs have a little bit of poo on them but I can't have everything my own way!

Today's cake recipe comes from Tickety-boo who offered to send me her Lemon Poppyseed Loaf cake recipe in the comments section yesterday. I have her kind permission to post it here. I'm sure many of you read her blog already but if you don't she is well worth a visit. She does fabulous crochet and makes pretty complicated sounding glass things and knits fabulous socks. You will find her blog here.

Lemon Poppyseed Loaf Cake

240g butter or spread suitable for baking
200g caster sugar
Grated zest and the juice of 1 lemon
3 large eggs
210g self raising flour
90g plain flour
2tbsp poppy seeds

Preheat oven to 170c/Gas 3 and grease and line a 23 x 13 x 7cm (2lb) loaf tin.

Cream together butter and sugar then add lemon zest. Add the eggs one at a time with a tablespoon of flour for each to stop the mixture curdling. Mix in the rest of the flour and, finally, the lemon juice then poppy seeds.
Just before you pop it in the oven sprinkle a little caster sugar over the top (and a little bit of poppy seeds)
Bake for 1 hour until a skewer comes out clean. Let it cool before turning out.

I have bought some paper loaf tin liners and they are fantastic. I don't know where all the baking paper is hiding, I usually buy it from Lidl but they haven't had any in for months. I did ask but I don't think the lad on the checkout knew what I was on about. I've tried about 8 other different shops and none there either, it's very odd.

Tomorrow is the school dressing up day. In between all the cooking I had to also make a crown to go with the pea, well, two crowns as the little one wanted to be a 'boy princess'.

WIP Wednesday

I'll stop blathering on about food for a minute for my WIP Wednesday post. I have only worked on the Little Coffee Bean this week and not much of that as I ended up falling asleep while putting the youngest to bed. He likes company till he has gone to sleep but I end up getting drowsy too! I have added a few stitches under the arms for the body as it looked a bit too narrow. The body is done and I used a sewn cast off for the bottom. I love it! It's so sproingy and looks neat. Is it weird that I want to use provisional cast on for everything just so I can cast it off again with sewn cast off?

The buttons arrived and they are fab and I can't wait to put them on, but first I need to finish the sleeves. I'm doing travelling jogless stripes.

Head over here for more WIP Wednesday posts.

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

National Vegetarian Week 2011 - Day 2

Hello! Thank you so much to everyone new who has come to read and to my new followers too. Please do say hello if you have a blog so I can come by and visit.

Ok, what have I been up to today? Well apart from making a pea out of an old Christmas bauble and some papier mache! It's dressing up day at school for my daughter later in the week and she is going to be the princess from Princess and the Pea and the only thing keeping her from just being a bog-standard princess is the lack of her own pea so I made her one. Sort of fits my vegetable theme for the week too, always a bonus. I said that the princess comes across as a picky little madam, after sharing my bed with a gargantuan toddler I'm fairly sure I could cope with a pea. Or even a Brussel sprout.

First things first I decided to try freezing some cookie dough. I often see recipes where things can be frozen part way through but have never done it before. I don't like our freezer very much, the drawers stick and the space in our kitchen means we can't open the freezer door properly and the time you have to spend fiddling about with it gives it time to leave a small puddle on the floor which I always manage to tread in after (aka 'freezer wee'). I do a lot of baking, mainly to give the kids something to have in their lunchbox at school but sometimes don't have the time so I thought if this works out then I have something to fall back on. I will blog the recipe when I get around to baking them, in case it's not good! However I did try this one earlier in the week and they are fabulous. If you need a picture to tempt you there is one on this lovely blog here. Mine came out much darker though, not sure why!

Now I would like to send chocolate cookies in their lunch every day but I think that would be frowned upon so I made Oatmeal Raisin Muffins based on this recipe here which are a little bit healthier. I also added some chopped apple using the remains of one my son had bitten into once and then abandoned (why do they do that?!) Obviously chopping out the bitemark first. I had some dried pineapple and thought it might go well in place of the raisins but I found the texture went a bit strange in the oven and won't be doing that next time! The crumble topping did taste a bit oily at first, we ate some of the muffins warm but once they are cold the oily taste had disappeared. I used sunflower oil instead of the olive. I think next time I will just sprinkle the sugar and cinnamon, the oil doesn't really add anything.

Oat and Apple Muffins
based on recipe from The Kitchn

130g plain flour
1tbsp baking powder
50g light brown soft sugar
½tsp cinnamon
100g porridge oats
50g raisins/dried pineapple
1 unpeeled apple, diced small
1 egg
250ml milk
75ml sunflower oil

2tbsp demerara sugar
1tsp cinnamon
1-2tsp oil

In a large bowl place the flour, baking powder, sugar, cinnamon, and oats and stir to combine. In a jug mix the milk, egg and oil together and pour into the dry ingredients, stirring till just mixed. The mix will be very liquid but after a short while the excess will be soaked up by the oats and it will be much easier to get into the cases. Spoon into muffin cases (mine made 10) Mix the ingredients for the topping together and sprinkle over the top of the muffins. Bake at 200c/Gas 6 for 18-25 minutes. Remove and leave to cool.

For tonight's dinner I chose the challenge of Sweet and Sour stir-fry. I know right? Supposedly one of the easiest things in the world! I seem to get the timings wrong or the size to cut the vegetables wrong and end up with some raw and others mushy. It's maddening! I tried about a year ago to make my own sweet and sour sauce as I don't tend to like the pre-made ones and I have no idea what is in the ones from the take away, they are so bright! I don't know if they have changed but they used to be full of MSG which repeats on me something terrible.The recipe I chose back then was ok but a little bland so today I added a few extra things to try and flavour it up a bit. Mr J was given the task of picking up a few extra bits of veg on his way home and it seemed it was markdown time at Waitrose and he has bought enough veg to last me a good few days, I now have enough tomatoes to choke a donkey! Everything was either 39p, 29p or 10p. Bargain!

I made the stir fry with Quorn pieces, broccoli, mushrooms, carrots, red peppers, pineapple, spring onions and spinach. You will never, ever see a water chestnut in my meals, words cannot express how much I can't stand them. The texture, it's just so........horrible! I served it with wholemeal noodles. It wasn't a complete success, my broccoli didn't cook through properly and I was at risk of ruining it so we had it very crunchy! I got a bit flustered towards the end, our hob is tiny and battling with my giant wok and large pan of noodles was really tricky and I had to call for backup!

Sweet and Sour Stir-fry Sauce

3tbsp tomato ketchup
2tbsp rice vinegar
1" piece fresh ginger, peeled and grated
2 cloves garlic, grated
1½tbsp light brown sugar
½tsp mustard powder
2tbsp soy sauce
1½tbsp cornflour
1tsp vegetarian Worcester sauce
Juice from can of pineapple pieces.

Mix all ingredients together and pour over veg while stir-frying and cook until thickened. Around 3-5 minutes.

I think tomorrow I had better do something with all those tomatoes! Thanks for reading.

Monday, 23 May 2011

National Vegetarian Week 2011

Hello everyone! Well as you may or may not know, today is the first day of National Vegetarian Week here in the UK. I have been a vegetarian for (eek!) 20 years now and of course have my own vegetarian family that I am mainly in charge of cooking for. Sometimes Mr J has a turn but it always involves chips or potatoes and very little actual veg! I'm not here to preach or convert anyone, though the 13 year old vegetarian me would have had other ideas because the 13 year old me was a bit of a pain in the bum. I even live next door to a slaughterhouse manager and we get along just fine. As long as there is food available for me when I want to eat outside the home then it's all cool with me. Just don't get me started on people who think fish is vegetarian!

I'd like to use this week to expand my cooking skills and try some new things and hopefully blog about how I got on. I'll have to see if I last the week, I usually run out of inspiration around Thursday and end up getting a pizza. I do fall into the habit of using the same recipes over and over so I definitely think some new ones are in order. When I was a fledgeling veggie my parents said I had to cook for myself, which was probably to make being veggie less appealing to me. It didn't work, but I was a terrible cook and junk food eater for a long while and only really started to learn properly once I was a mother. Myself and Mr J decided to bring up our firstborn as a veggie and Mr J turned veggie too when our little one was 14 months old, mainly for financial reasons. Two more children later and we are a veggie family of 5. Of course once the children are older they will want to make up their own minds which is perfectly ok with me.

This is the first cookery book I owned, the Cranks Recipe Book from 1985. I have two copies now as the pages all fell out of my first one and have been shoved back in a random order which makes life difficult sometimes! I haven't actually made that much from it as some of the recipes do sound a little strange it has to be said and the names of the recipes are a bit on the unappetising side. Brandied prune mousse, anyone?

The format of the book is also weird as there is recipes for different base sauces or pastries and then on another page is the recipe to turn them into a meal so you end up flicking back and forth a lot. Having said that there are a few gems in there. It's also the home of the original 'Homity Pie' recipe which has always intrigued me, I may have to make one now I have a proper pie tin.

I chose 'macaroni in a tomato sauce' for tonight's dinner in the interest of challenging myself as we always have macaroni with cheese sauce, it's pretty much the law. Also the sauce is made with fresh tomatoes and I always use tinned as I hate de-skinning tomatoes even though the effort is worth it for the taste. Vine tomatoes were on offer in Lidl so I grabbed a big bag full. The original in the book adds the macaroni to the sauce but I preferred to make it as a bake as there is cheese involved! It was a winner all round and the kids even ate the courgettes which makes a change! I've been asked to make it again soon.

Macaroni Vegetable Bake
based on Cranks Recipe | Serves 4-5

1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
350g/12oz tomatoes, skinned (score the skin and place in boiling water for 1minute) and chopped roughly
½ pint/280ml vegetable stock or water
2tbsp tomato puree
1tsp vegetarian Worcester sauce
Fresh Basil
280g/10oz macaroni
1 pepper, de-seeded chopped
1-2 courgettes, chopped
Olive oil and/or butter
100g/4oz cheddar cheese

First heat some oil in a small saucepan and fry the onion and garlic until soft. Add the chopped tomatoes, puree, veggie worcester sauce, stock and season to taste. Bring to the boil and simmer uncovered for about 20 minutes. In the meantime prepare the macaroni, cooking it in plenty of boiling water until not quite soft. The pack instructions on the one I use (always Sainsbury's!) says 14 minutes and I cook it for 12 minutes. Drain the macaroni and leave in the colander to one side. In the same pan heat a small amount of butter or olive oil and fry the courgettes and peppers till softened. Add the macaroni and stir to coat it then place it in a baking dish and cover with the tomato sauce. Add the leaves of basil and cover with the cheese and bake at 180c/Gas 4/350f for around 20 minutes till the cheese is bubbling.

I won't win any awards for food photography but I will spare you pictures of my kitchen, I think it was installed back when the Cranks book was written!

If you would like any more information on National Vegetarian Week then pop over to the site here. Now what can I make for tomorrow?

Sunday, 22 May 2011


Weather was blowy today wasn't it? We only spent a short time out, mainly because it was threatening rain and I also didn't feel up to doing much. I had some treatment on my hosti-popple visit and I'm feeling a bit sorry for myself! I got the tray as I have found the smaller one from a couple of weeks ago so useful for dragging drinks and snacks into my lair (the front living room!) It was 50p and the lovely pair of jugs (sorry, couldn't resist!) were 20p each. On the way home we passed a charity shop which unusually for a Sunday was open and I got the striped frilly pillowcases and the turquoise pot. They don't do packaging like that anymore do they? Everything should come with free ribbon!

If thrifting is your thing then head over to Her Library Adventures to see what everyone else has found.

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

WIP Wednesday

Hello! Is it really Wednesday all over again? As always, if knitting and noseying at peoples projects is your thing then head over to Tami's blog here, or click the button in my sidebar. I do like WIP Wednesday! Tami has also just opened her yarn dyeing business so there is plenty of lovely things to look at.

I have a few things to tell you about this week, please excuse the pics as it's dreary here today. I am still yet undecided on a blanket pattern but I haven't exactly been looking very hard this week. I have tracked down a couple of extra colours, I think they are discontinued so I bought two! The orange (2nd row, 1st on left) and the pale green (3rd row, 2nd on left) are the same yarn as the rest of it, Jarol Heritage DK. The pale pink at the top is Patons Diploma Gold DK. Diploma Gold is more expensive than the Jarol and only comes in 50g balls but I got this on Ebay so it wasn't too much more. I also ordered another colour in the Jarol but it is such an eyebleeding pink that it doesn't really fit in, so it has been banished from the basket of loveliness. That's the peril of online ordering! I have a couple more colours of the DG that I want to add, I'm in no hurry at the moment. I've waited so long to do a blanket I want it to be just right. Picky picky picky, that's me.

I have a baby gift I want to make for someone. I was hanging on to find out whether it is a boy or girl as I don't really do pastels or white, and it's a little boy due in September time. I haven't really got many boy colours in my stash, I have a lot of pink and purple and not a lot else. I had a look around online and decided on some Sirdar Crofter DK in Moorland and duly headed to the shops to get some.

Only there wasn't any. Foiled! They had most other colours but not this one. With petrol prices being as super-scary as they are at the moment I try and make every journey as worthwhile as I can by doing errands all at once. Usually it is cheaper paying the postage for yarn online than it is to drive and get it myself but I was impatient. So I decided to grab something else and went for some Wendy Merino Bliss in Apple and Pacific. I wasn't sure about them but then my little one got himself into a bit of a fix. When he is tired he winds his hair around his finger but he overdid it and managed to get his finger firmly stuck next to his scalp, also cutting off the circulation in his finger. I really thought I was going to have to cut him free! There were tears and screaming and a little bit of blonde fluffy hair-loss so I quickly bought the yarn and left.

I have cast on a Little Coffee Bean Cardigan (Rav Link) (Blog link) which is a free pattern by Elizabeth Smith. It is written for worsted weight so hopefully I can make it work with DK. I have taken a leap of faith and ordered some buttons for it too, hopefully they will look like the picture.

Here is the progress on my garter stitch baby cardigan. I had problems with the orange yarn. When I added it in the first time the yarn snapped. As it was close to where I had added it I just ripped back a row and rejoined, only for it to snap again a few rows later. I looked at the ball and it had lots of weak points and the ball ended up in 5 bits. I really don't know if something had maybe been munching on it? All my other yarn is fine including the stuff it was stored with and the other balls in the same lot. Weird! Anyhow I had to rip back and add in a different ball and now I'm good to go. Because of the last minute colour change the buttons I bought for this no longer match so I'm on the search for alternatives. One question, all the wooden buttons I have seen say to remove them before washing but surely people don't do this? It would be such a pain! Have you used wooden buttons and machine washed them ok? Let me know.

It's knit night tonight and not sure which project I will take. I'm glad though as it will take my mind off my hospital appointment tomorrow. Or 'hosti-popple' as little Mr calls it. Nothing major just a check up after my op. But still - Do Not Like!

Sunday, 15 May 2011

When thrifting dreams come true!

Hello all! It seems I weathered the Blogger problems ok but my Google Reader has been a bit of a shambles with other people's posts disappearing and reappearing like no-body's business! Hopefully it's all settled now and we can get on with things. Firstly thank you so much for the encouraging comments on my photo tutorial. I won't lie, it took me ages to get the pictures in the correct order and if it helps just one person it will have been worth it. I find as a constantly learning knitter it isn't always easy to find the answers you are after.

So this weekend wasn't exactly looking great weather-wise. I didn't get up till gone 8am because of the Eurovision Song Contest (well done Jedward!) and the amount I drank while watching it. Normal people would see that as early on a Sunday but in car booting terms, it's late! We were minus two of the children though as they were out on a sleepover so getting ready was much faster than usual.

Sleepover food

We went along to our usual Car Boot #1 which was very quiet and fruitless so we went on to Car Boot #2 and it was spotting with rain all the way so we weren't expecting it to be any good at all but carried on as we needed to go to the shops after anyway. People have a tendency to pack up and run away at the first sign of rain! On the way we always talk about our wishlist and finding things we have always wanted for mere pennies. And it can happen sometimes!

I started off buying a chamber pot for £1. I have a green one in the same shape that belonged to my gran. I don't know what it is I like about them. Maybe that they look like giant teacups? But when you consider their intended purpose that seems a bit weird. I think their working life is over, though you never know. Sometimes living with 4 other people and only one bathroom is a tricky! I didn't get chance to look at much after that as my youngest one decided he wanted to walk by himself, which is 2 year old speak for running away and staying mere centimetres from your grasp. It's a finely tuned skill for sure. I spotted a long metal box with 'Knitting Machine' written on a post-it but by the time I could get to look at it another woman was already in the negotiating stage so I walked away without even seeing it. When I met up with Mr J at the car he told me he had something for me in the car and it was the knitting machine! Apparently the woman had refused to pay more than £1 for it so he had swooped in and bought it for £2.50. Even better, the bag that came with it contained what I have wanted for ages - a ball winder!!!! I wasn't sure about the knitting machine but the price was worth it for the winder alone. The machine looks to be in fabulous condition and it's a Brother so I presume it is good quality. I will look into how it all works soon but it weighs a ton so I didn't get a picture before it was put away. I have already been winding up some yarn and fond the chamber pot makes an awesome yarn bowl. I don't have a swift but have improvised using a piece of wood with a dowel at each end. When it's placed on the floor the yarn comes straight off it without catching when you wind it.

Mr J had also bought me a workbench for 50p which will save my back when I'm sanding furniture. On the way back to the car I also bought this little 1950's bedside table for £2. It's very cute. I also bought a standard lamp for £1, just seen in the picture. I've already got one that needs rewiring but this one is good to go. I also grabbed about 6 really decent picture frames that had been left behind by a seller to be disposed of. They are the same as the ones I bought a couple of weeks ago. Mr J also found a computery part he had been looking for as well, all for free!

And this isn't from yesterday, I bought this in the week from my local charity warehouse. It was £10 but I liked it so much, plus it's for charity, that I didn't mind. It's a bad picture. The top is a gorgeous floral vinyl fabric and it is a lovely shade of yellow. Now the problem is I now have four bedside tables and only space for two. I may have to rotate them.

I'm so happy with my buys, though that's probably my luck over for a while. Here are more people thrifting this week, why not have a look? I'm off to wind some yarn. See you soon.

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Garter Stitch Intarsia - WIP Wednesday

Hello! Thanks for the yarn love on my last post. I've got it all sitting in a basket so I can look at it as I pass by. I have decided that I need just a few more colours, no hurry as I haven't quite decided on a pattern. My favourites on Ravelry and my Pinterest page are filling up with pictures of crochet blankets! It's going to be quite a long term project as I have other things I'd like to do as well. Which brings me onto this weeks WIP Wednesday. I am making a garter stitch toddler cardigan that I'm basing on a picture I saw on a children's clothing website. I bought the colours for it ages ago and then as usual had a change of plan when I was finally able to find the right sort of apple-y green that I originally wanted so it was back to plan A! DK weight merino will never go to waste around here so I'm not too worried about the fate of the stuff I already bought.

The cardigan pattern I'm loosely following is knit bottom up in pieces and I wanted to knit in one piece to armholes so the design wasn't interrupted by a side seam. Though I have lacked the foresight about what to do about where to divide for the fronts and back as there is no armhole shaping, it's a fairly loose fitting rectangular drop shoulder cardigan. So far the plan is to make the sleeve first and measure to see where I need to divide for front and back and try not to leave too much to sew up under the arm. I can't do the sleeves in the round as they are intarsia too. I also don't know where to place the buttonholes!

I have cast on this project no less than 6 times, when I actually got it going I then realised that I had no clue about how to do intarsia in garter stitch and what I had guessed at looked like all kinds of poop. I promptly got myself onto my friend Google and was able to find only one photo tutorial which was a little light on information about dealing with the wrong side (meaning I did it wrongly- again!) so I have decided to do one myself in case anyone else is in a similar quandry. Please excuse pic quality, I have tried my best with my ailing camera. The yarn in the pic is actually brown and not the purple it appears. Pics can be biggified for a better look but please excuse any bits of cat fur that might be visible up close. That stuff gets everywhere! Oh and the cast on is provisional. Do you find some people look at provisional cast ons in a funny way as they look a little messy? I bet they are thinking 'Wow, you're not very good at knitting are you? That looks a mess!'

So on with the tutorial. I hope it is clear and useful!

Intarsia in Garter Stitch

Right Side (RS)

Here is the work with the right side (RS) facing. Knit along to where you wish to change colours

As with stockinette intarsia, both yarns will be at the back of the work. Before continuing you will need to anchor them together or you will end up with two pieces of work independent of each other, which isn't really what we're after!

Here is what's happening on the WS (wrong side) Cross the 'old' yarn (brown) over the top of the 'new' yarn (green) and hold them in that position while you make the next stitch in the new yarn. Don't worry if it's a little loose, you can adjust the tension once the stitch is made. Carry on knitting to the end of the row and turn, then knit the next row back to the place where the colours join.

Wrong Side (WS)

One stitch to go

When you get back to the brown yarn, it will be hanging in the front of the work and anchored by a green stitch.

First bring your green yarn to the front

Then bring the brown yarn under the green and through the needles to the back ready to use for your next stitch

The green is left at the front. Don't be tempted to overtighten the changeover stitches, on the working row they do look a little loose but they will snug up together just fine.

Like this!

In short
  • All twisting of yarn happens on the same side (WS)
  • The 'old' yarn always crosses over the 'new' yarn
Why don't you head over to Tami's blog to see other WIP Wednesdays!

Saturday, 7 May 2011


I am very excited! Look what I got.....

1500g of yarny goodness! Yep, I be makin' me a blanket. Though which blanket has yet to be decided.

This week I have also made these Lemon Poppyseed Muffins. They were magnificent!

Sunday, 1 May 2011

Car Boot Finds

Hello all! I trust you are having a good holiday weekend? One thing I like about holiday weekends is the extra day of opportunity to acquire junk at the car boot sales. We're planning on heading out to another tomorrow but I got a fair amount today and I also wanted to join in with Flea Market Finds over on the Her Library Adventures blog. A few people I read take part in this and I fancied a go as well. If thrifting is your thing then you may want to pop over to the blog to see what everyone else has foraged this week.

We went to two car boots today, though the items have got mixed up into the same pics. The wind is howling out there and coupled with bright sunshine it made picture taking a little tricky, hence the heavy shadows. Every time I moved my arms the wind was trying to flash my underwear to the neighbours and I had to spare them that sight and get the pics done quickly!

First of all I bought this Joules garden tool wrap thingy for 50p. I thought I could make it work to house knitting needles if I added some rows of stitching but on closer inspection the binding is sewn really tightly around the edges and it doesn't lay flat so I will unpick it to make something else. The mug is an Emma Bridgewater and I practically skipped away when the stall-holder said it was 50p also. The writing on the inside says 'Common Tern', not suggesting I am common as it appears on the photo!

There were literally boxes of these vintage biscuit tins and I was hard pressed not to come away with the lot! Instead I chose my favourites. 4 for £2. I'm really in love with these.

This pine towel rail/clothes rail was £1. I have seen people display patchwork quilts on them so I bought it to put my imaginary patchwork quilt on. I'll make one at some point. It will probably take me that long to strip the sticky brown finish off it!

The second car boot we went to was absolutely rammed and it took almost half an hour to get in and find a parking space. That was fun. Not. By the time we did it was almost packing away time and this (sewing box? Art table?) I had idly looked at was practically forced into my hands as I was told 'It's 50p, take it!' by the seller.

It looks like this inside. Interestingly even though it is dark wood and battered I haven't the urge to paint it, I like it as it is. Minus the dust of course! Car boot #2 is a total dustfest.

The tapestry picture was free as I pulled it out of a bin. It's true, I have zero shame when it comes to thrifting! The dust was also free. The pine frames are for painting and were 50p each. All in all a successful day! I haven't quite been feeling OK these past few weeks and have had some serious doubts about Who I Am but the fact I have really enjoyed myself today has gone some way to making me feel a bit better. Please excuse my garden, a green and pleasant land it is not.

Thank you for the comments on my WIP Wednesday post. The lace cardigan is officially off the needles as one of my 3mm Knitpro tips met a tragic end by being sat on and I need to buy another set before I can start again.
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