Monday, January 30, 2012

One week

You know when you have a week where everything falls into place: you get more full nights' sleep than not; the laundry fates align so that every family member's clothes are both clean and dry when they need them; delicious suppers materialise out of things you'd bought from a list, with a meal plan; your hair falls naturally into the bouncy glossy style only normally produced by your stylist and an army of blow drying assistants; trains run on time; and at work, opposing counsel lie like scattered dominoes, felled by the devastating power of your carefully worded legal arguments.

And then there are the weeks that counterbalance.  The ones where a twitch of your skirt has got caught up in life's mangle, and there's nothing to do but ride out the storm and wait for it to spit you out sodden, snotty and slightly crushed on the other side.

Where have we been? let me give you a clue.  Poor darling Kit's cough of a week ago turned into a full blown chest infection, complete with steam-train breathing sound effects that landed us at the out of hours doctors at some tiny wee hour of a weekend morning to get mademoiselle started on antibiotics pronto.  And then just as she started to perk up, H and I, exhibiting rare synchronicity on the illness front, were taken out by the same lurgy within 24 hours of each other, just in time for H to take an exam through a cold fog momentarily held at bay by just about every over-the-counter pharmaceutical on the market. My pharmacopoeia being rather limited by the nursling, I've made up for it by a lot of groaning.

Last Tuesday I went down with a fever and the shivers and it wasn't until Sunday afternoon that I started to perk up, and only today that I've felt even vaguely human, and that's while speaking makes me cough, and I appear to have swallowed several golf balls.

On Saturday, having run out of, well just about everything, we ran a carefully planned mission to the butchers (for pie) and then both had to have a little lie down.  Seriously people, if you know me in real life and you haven't had this horrid cold that's doing the rounds - run and hide (and chain eat Vitamin C).

But life goes on, and we are on the mend, a little less:
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and a little more:
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The fairies came at the weekend and did the washing up and took us for a restorative roast lunch at the Durham Ox and you never know, if you're very lucky, there may even be some crafty making in the offing.  Come on this week, you really can't be worse than last week (and for the avoidance of doubt, that in no way shape or form resembled a challenge)!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Seasonally appropriate quilting

Thank you for your help and suggestions for fixing my chronic inability to count.  The popular vote was for option C - pick out the offending line and fudge it somehow and, by the power of evenweave, I think I've managed something that looks almost as if it was supposed to be like that.  But more on that another day when I've had time to finish it properly and find some sunshine for some pictures.

Today we went to town, ran errands, and came home again, and then had lunch, went to town and ran the errands we forgot to do this morning.  It's been a deja vu sort of a day, but that could just be the sleep deprivation talking. Kitty is currently combining the arrival of two new teeth (1 front, 1 molar) with a grotty cold, and to stave off the feelings of misery that clearly envelop her own bed, is showing a marked preference for sleeping on my head, preferably while simultaneously pulling my hair and kicking her father, and all three of us are wading through the sandman's cloying glue trying not to leave our boots behind.

I've only been embroidering while in full possession of my facilities to prevent any more counting incidents, so in the non-nursing gaps of the evenings I've turned back to my sewing machine for a little quilting.

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Well I'm not sure this even counts as proper quilting.  I've been adding the borders to my Christmas quilt, just long long seams to add a 2.5 inch white border that will eventually be finished off with a red binding.
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The quilt in question started life as a jelly roll, and then I needed another one to get enough white background prints to have the desired effect, and then a few charm squares for the same reason.  I ended up with a good pile of charm squares left over so I've used them to piece the back with some Kona solids for company.

One of today's final errands was to pop into Quilter's Den in Warwick for some cotton wadding and deep red quilting thread, and now that Kitty is asleep (for the moment) and H has popped out to compare parenting notes with a fellow NCT class Daddy in the pub, I'm going to push back the sofa, roll up the Aquadoodle, tuck small pieces of toddler-related plastic into all available nooks and crannies, and baste baste baste.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Oh Christmas tree

With one New Year's Resolution (Kitty's trousers) ticked off the list, I'm feeling very January-enthusiastic and I'm motoring along with another, this time from the Crafty Creating section.

You see for someone whose craft polygamy flits from knitting to quilting (and a little sewing) and back again, I buy a lot of cross stitch magazines.  And they (particularly Cross Stitcher) frequently have beautiful patterns, and I think to myself, "I must make that, it would look cute/match perfectly/be so much fun", and I put the magazine in a pile on my sewing room floor, and there it sits.

It isn't such a big jump to imagine me actually doing some embroidery, I started in cross stitch, taught by my mum to sew a little red poinsettia picture to fit a dark green card one Christmas holidays, and I believe that she still owns the set of tea-napkins painstakingly embroidered by me with blue lazy-daisy flowers with a good deal of coaxing and cajoling from my grandmother when my enthusiasm wained after the second of the six (I can't have been much more than six myself).  A folder full of DMC threads sits in a corner of my knitting box and a little bag of kits and spare fabric is tucked into a corner of my sewing room upstairs.

So in the spirit of Christmas-always, I picked up a pattern, found the fabric and one of the colours in my stash, acquired the other from Decorative Cloth, and set to.
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It is the Deck the Halls pattern from the Christmas 2011 issue, which I didn't buy in hard copy, but found as a back issue through the ITunes Newstand.  Incidentally, Future Publishing whose stable includes Cross Stitcher, Mollie Makes, The Knitter and Simply Knitting, have launched all of the above and many of their other magazines onto ITunes with an introductory free download issue.  I don't know how long that will last for but a free magazine is never a bad thing, particularly when it can't add to the clutter in your house.

But back to the stitching, it's red and white, it's simple to sew and pretty to look at, and I've been enjoying stitching away to some old favourite films - the sort that you don't actually need to look at!

But clearly, watching Persuasion (for the 100th and something time) was a bad idea.  Look carefully.  Somewhere around the time that Fredrick Wentworth realised that he did love Anne Elliott after all but was seemingly inextricably bound to Louisa Musgrove, I was counting down to position the house neatly under the snowflakes.
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It was only as I worked back up the tree, adding in the backstitch that I could see clearly that I've counted a row short.  There should be an extra line of canvas so that the zig zag line doesn't touch the snowflakes, but I've mushed it together a bit.

Now snipping out everything underneath the zig zag line is more time consuming than it's worth so my options are: (a) leave it, it looks fine, it's only obvious if I point it out (b) start all over again on a fresh piece of fabric (and possibly finish this one and give it away to someone who won't notice, or (c) snip out the zig zag line and fudge something along the lines of a shallower zig zag so that it doesn't actually touch the snowflakes, just come close.  What would you do?

Monday, January 16, 2012

The Scoot or Cycle trousers

I am in awe of Anna Maria Horner.  Actually I'm in awe of anyone who can sit there and just visualise a sewing pattern and draft it out (although I'm pretty sure there might be a bit more work to it, and possibly a few technical courses thrown in the mix too).  Where do the ideas come from the in recesses of someone's brain to have the back leg a little wider than the front leg to perfectly accommodate a little nappy-clad bottom, or to have a two part back yoke to give a bit more dimension where it's most needed, and a dip at the front to take away excess poofiness?

As I said. Awe.

I've made the Quick Change Trousers twice now, and I can only see a growth spurt that puts Kitty way way beyond the pattern sizes and my rough and ready sizing up, putting an end to wanting to make more.  The aforementioned little touches of genius make me love them as a Mama trying to persuade a wriggly girl that clothes really are the way to go, and the pattern is written in a nice simple straightforward way, to help me (an advanced beginner on a good day) make trousers that I'm proud to send out into public.
It was -6 this morning so our photo shoot was short and sweet, and involved a lots of layers everywhere for both of us.  Kitty stepped outside in both hat and mittens but abandoned them in the herb garden before she'd taken even a few paces so we snapped, hoped for the best, and scuttled back inside.  But here they are, the Scoot or Cycle quick change trousers:


I'm torn whether I like these or the pirates best, but on a day like today, flannel lining wins the day.

Kitty certainly had no complaints which is the best you can ask for in a little girl whose vocabulary of actual words stretches little beyond Mama, Dadaaa, Yea, No, Dap (meaning "bring me! bring me that now"), Pow!, Row-row (as in Row, row, row your boat), Hiya (and variations thereon) and a whole hoard of wonderful babbling.  (When she was having her bath this evening I asked her what she wanted to be when she grew up, answer: "Bebe!")

They've still got massive turn ups so I'm glad she's happy wearing them because with a bit of luck they'll last all this winter and be around for next.


The sizing up over the bottom worked really well; these have exactly the right amount of ease for her to play comfortably, with no problems getting them off and on over big nappies, and the slightly wider legs don't cause any problems.  The next pair will definitely have the same waist and hip increases, but I might try to shape in towards the ankle back to the original pattern width to see if it makes much difference, or whether she ends up looking like she's sporting 1920's style jodhpurs.  I'm also seriously contemplating reversible shorts for the summer, using different fabric for each side and different again for the back yoke. It's true, the possibilities are endless.


What you can't see under all the layers is that the best match I have for a top half is a cream long sleeve t-shirt.  Perfectly acceptable but not very exciting, and after the last aqua marl t-shirt in the right size sold out of the Mini-Boden sale before I could get to the computer yesterday, and my favourite Molo basics don't seem to do a turquoise, I'm a little out of ideas.  Does anyone have any suggestions for a long sleeved shirt that might match? In the meantime I'm cutting a swatch of the fabrics to carry around in my workbag and planning an onslaught on the baby shops of Birmingham during this week's lunch hours.

The Bare Necessities

Pattern: Quick Change Trousers from Handmade Beginnings
Size: 18-24 months (the largest size) with 0.5 inch added to the outside of each pattern piece.
Fabric: Sherbet Pips Pink Skaters (cotton) and Michael Miller Bicycles (cotton flannel) both from Fabricworm in their Thanksgiving sale - I can't see either on their site at the time of writing.
Time to make: an evening for the cutting out, two naps and another evening to finish - about 6 hours start to finish.
Would I make it again: Yes. Definitely. Watch this space.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Winter, as in igloos and eskimos and penguins and ICE!

It turns out that I may have been a tad over-optimistic in putting the laundry out yesterday!

From one of the mildest winters in my memory we've jumped down the thermometer 10 degrees or so, although it's not a patch on last year, when a brisk minus two was the daily high. Even so, the world outside today is covered with a brittle of ice, like a white cold creme brulee. 

Jan011 Jan013
The fuchsias that had decided that it was spring have been scorched by the ice and defrosted into a pulpy mush, but these delicate pink berries seem to be holding up.  I don't actually know what they are; they grow over the fence each year to greet the new year, and I think they're beautiful.  Answers on a postcard/in the comments if you've any ideas.
The barbeque, sat outside patiently waiting all through the summer for the promised warm weather, could do double duty as a freezer, and it is to my great regret that Kitty's trousers

say "Ahoy there matey", and not the more appropriate "Shiver me Timbers".

We had Kitty's slide out in the lounge today so a lot of the day has been spent first lifting her up to the top, and then stretching out a watchful hand or two just in case when she figured out how to climb the steps.  I did manage a little sewing last night and this afternoon while Mademoiselle la princess took a petite nap.

Her newest trousers are finished, I just need some daylight and a cheerful girl to take some pictures, but there've been distractions today, aside from the slide, the first instalment of Kitty's Christmas present to me arrived yesterday, and it's an addictive read:

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Sizing up

It seems that winter is finally putting in an appearance around these parts.  I have laundry on the line more in the hope of it smelling nice after a blast in the sunshine than actually drying, and when we headed out to the supermarket at 10 this morning I still had to spend a good few minutes scraping ice from the windows and mirrors with the aid of a bottle of warm water.

Perhaps my next project is then rather serendipitously timed.  I've been planning on making Kitty another pair of the Quick Change trousers from Anna Maria Horner's Handmade Beginnings book for a little while.  Jo over at A Life in Lists, mentioned the idea of using flannel for the linings in a post on her plans for her boys' winter wardrobe, and it seemed like such a great idea for snuggly winter trews that I'm shamelessly copying it.

January 175
A Black Friday sale at Fabricworm brought me a little parcel of pretty fabric just before Christmas (Sherbet Pips pink skaters and Michael Miller bicycles blue cotton flannel), and I've been sat looking at it as I knit, and thinking about how best to size these new trousers.

The pair I made for Kitty's birthday in the size 18-24 months (the largest pattern size) are a great length on my little 15 month old, but she still has that babyish chubbiness (particularly when you factor a cushy washable nappy into the mix) that makes them not tight exactly, but with a little less ease than I think would make for a perfect fit.

Her two pairs of dungarees are a great fit, with lots of room for an active little girl to romp around in, and you can see from the comparison that they are both a little bit wider across the derriere.
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You can also see that her pirate trousers need another wash but we'll gloss over that. 

I've decided to try to add an inch to the circumference to match them to the pink flowery dungarees, which should also allow for any extra space taken up by the flannel which is a shade thicker than the quilting cotton that I used for the first version.

I copied out the pattern onto baking parchment and then used my long skinny quilting ruler to follow the line for the outside edge of the pattern piece at the half inch mark, turning it gently as the curve moved away from the straight line.  The front and the back leg were easy enough, I can only hope that I've got the extra space on the right side of the back yoke, but for that only time will tell.

I know it means that I'll have more space at the ankle than I had previously, and there are no real needs to increase there, but it seemed more sensible to cut for the extra space and then try them on Kitty.  If I need to bring it back to the original lines that will be easy enough to do, and I can mark the point at which I start to want the extra width on my real life model, without having to guestimate while she sleeps.

January 176
I did the cutting out earlier this week and it's all been sat in a little pile of fabric temptation on my newly tidied desk as I slogged away to finish a work project in almost every evening this week.  But now the project is done (until Tuesday anyway) and there's time for a little sewing of the non-Christmas, non-deadline variety.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

On the fourteenth day of Christmas ...

our lovely friends came to play.

By virtue of some alphabetical wiztrickery, H and A were lab partners at university, realised they'd spotted each other before at church, and we've all been the best of friends ever since.  We count A as family, particularly now that he is Kitty's godfather, which mostly means that I don't sweat the tidying up if he's coming over. 

His better half, L, has an appreciation for the merits of Persephone books, salted caramel almonds from Hotel Chocolat and all things handmade, so we were always going to hit it off.

They came to spend a quiet cosy Sunday with us; a big roast gammon and sticky toffee pudding lunch, followed by Christmas presents, and an afternoon tucked up in my quilt collections, playing Sonic, eating sweeties, reading, knitting and playing shop with Kitty.  It was restful, fun and quintessentially English; if only we had a roaring fire and it had been snowing outside we would have been quite the picture postcard (well minus the computer games perhaps).

But you didn't really want to know about all that (and apologies to anyone whose New Year's virtuosity is wavering because I mentioned sticky toffee pudding (with ice-cream)).  Sunday was the unveiling of the final handmade Christmas presents for 2011.

First, there was a large, flat, square, squishy parcel for A, which Kitty assiduously helped him to unwrap.
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A 'very useful quilt for snuggling under on cold winter's days when part of your house has a stone floor'

The pattern is Pandora's Box from the Jelly Roll Quilts book by Pam and Nicky Lintott, and the fabric is a Moda jelly roll that I bought from my very first Festival of Quilts.  It perfectly fulfils the criteria of 'colours that I have seen A wear' and in fact he turned up in a jumper that perfectly matched the orange border.

It's a really great pattern for jelly rolls and just generally; it's nice and simple to show of the fabric to its best advantage and as it's all mixed up together, the quilt doesn't suffer for the quilter not being able to separate the jelly roll neatly into light and dark.

It also lent itself to a piecemeal construction.  On one evening I took the jelly roll apart and did the first stage of cutting, another night I matched the strips into pairs for the centre sections, sewed them together during one nap time, and cut the second stage during another.  At the end of each stage, all the pieces could be tucked away from tiny fingers in a bag without loosing my place, or upsetting a precisely piled stack of cut pieces.
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Once I'd sewn up the main quilt top I stood back and marvelled at the centre points of the blocks; my quilting has improved so gradually through little bits of practice here and there I forget that I can be pretty accurate now if I take my time to do it properly.

The border is a flaming orange and gold weave; it doesn't feel like a printed quilting cotton but is much softer with more drape.  There was just enough on the bolt at Quilter's Den for the borders or I would have been tempted to have a little bit more for a skirt in one of my favourite colours. 

I had enough white on lime green polka dots left over from my sampler quilt for the binding, so all that was left was to choose the backing, and what a backing:

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Enough sunshine to chase away any rainy day gloom (also from Quilter's Den).  I really ought to pay more attention to the names of the fabric I'm buying I know.

I used a pure cotton wadding and quilted it all over with lime green thread in a square stipple.

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I can't imagine life without my quilts, they have so many uses from extra blankets on cold nights to tents in the lounge and space to lie out in the garden in the heat of summer so I'm glad A and L like their very own.

And just in case he doesn't share -
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L has a pair of handknit socks.  It's Regia (definitely Regia this time - I found the ball band) Circus Colour in Akrobatik, bought on my last trip to Liberty's.  L once borrowed a pair of my shoes on an impromptu muddy walk so I knit to fit me, using a 64st cast on and a slip stitch heel and I think they should keep her feet nice and warm walking around the stone floor of their kitchen on chilly mornings.

So there we have it; four pairs of socks, two quilts, a hat, a scarf and a jumper.  Not a bad turn out considering that I didn't start until mid-October.  Maybe this will be the year that I start a bit earlier (yes yes, I can hear your hollow laughter from here!). But first I have two new balls of Rowan Big Wool in a delicious deep pomegranate to go and squoosh.

Saturday, January 07, 2012


The twelve days of Christmas may have ended, and the trees, lights, baubles and tinsel have been taken down and packed away and I can now confirm (with pictures) that I did finish the Christmas knitting before the end of Christmas.
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The one lone little piece of knitted present that still trailed yarn and needles was a jumper for Kitty, the Immie tee by Quince & Co, knit from Sparkleduck Galaxy in a deep midnight blue with silver sparkles.  I'd just about finished the body and started a sleeve when I gave it up in favour of a relaxed Christmas Eve with my family, and sure enough it was there waiting for me to do a few little rounds on Christmas afternoon as we curled up by our tree to watch the last of the daylight dance with shadows across the room.

I packed it to take north after the end of the profiterole marathon, and knit as we trundled painstakingly up the motorway one day, and across on another motorway the next to stay with H's parents for a couple of nights.

I finished it one afternoon, sat in the family room as my parents-in-law enjoyed having all of their chicks and a couple of cuckoos around them, and owing to an incident involving lasagne for supper, cheese, grated cheese and a little more cheese, it was pressed into service straight away to visit Great-Gran to take tea.
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Taking tea with Gran is somewhat of a ritual.  Regardless of the time of day, or the proximity of any of the major meals you have to sit down at the kitchen table and have a cup of tea and a slice of cake.
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For almost 13 years, H has drunk my cup of tea, and I have eaten his Ferraro Roche.  That is the way that it is at Gran's.  It's even more special now that Kitty's grown enough to have a big girl chair and a little Madeira cake, just as H did many many years ago.
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It also helps that Gran's poodle Sasha doesn't mind helping to clear up after little girls!
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Kitty played with her auntie
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and had cuddles from a great-auntie who popped by
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and it wasn't until we'd come back down home that I had the time or the resources to properly wash and block her latest knit.

But at last, a proper unveiling:
Jumper: Immie tee with long sleeves
Trousers: pink and purple stripes from the JoJo Maman Bebe sale
Accessories: Room on the Broom - model's own, Gruffalo socks from Little Sunflowers

It grew a little with blocking but with incredible growing not-so-tiny wee girls that's not necessarily a bad thing and I'm happy that if it's a bit big now, it will be a perfect fit before too long.
Clearly I've made one very obvious change to the pattern, I accidentally used a 3.5mm needle rather than a 3.25 and it grew sleeves! Well, ok, I did use slightly larger needles and didn't notice until I double checked them in preparation for the sleeves but I like the drape of the resultant fabric and I wasn't going to re-knit the whole body.  She's wearing it here as a t-shirt layer over a long sleeved vest which works well, although it also works well as a more traditional jumper; in the pictures at Great-Gran's she's got a thick penguin t-shirt and a vest underneath.
The original pattern has cute little cap sleeves but full length sleeves are a rather necessary ingredient for a Christmas jumper in England, even in this unseasonably mild winter, and I had plenty of yarn so I invented them.
January 107
This is the largest size, and the pattern would have you cast on 57 stitches and work a few rows of garter before joining it to the body.  I cast on two-third of the stitches (38), joined them in the round and worked in garter stitch for the suggested rounds, then increased up to 57 sts in the next row and worked straight until they seemed about long enough (70 rounds). 
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Whether they realised it or not, I know for a fact that the key influence on H's brother and his wife's decision to move back down north from Scotland to Yorkshire last year was the proximity of their oh so cute nieces aged nearly two and one and a quarter.  Kitty (and H and I) are now a couple of hours away and K (and C's sister and brother-in-law are even closer).  The better jobs, bigger house and the rest of the family had nothing to do with it - oh no.

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(Kitty in her party frock)
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(and K in hers - it had snowmen on the bottom just out of shot)

They were working for their first Christmas back home (the perils of being doctors) so a couple of days later they hosted a party for fourteen, and both sides of their family got together for Christmas Take 2.

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(Kitty explores her new Martian Mansion)
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(with help from K - who clearly doesn't wiggle as much as Kitty - and Auntie A wearing the bows from everyone's presents)

H and I volunteered to bring pudding and the two Cs pushed the boat out for the starter and main course; bacon and scrambled eggs Benedict on little toasties to start, followed by a gargantuan buffet that took up most of the kitchen.  We had a rib of beef that had been cooking (a la Heston) for 18+ hours at a really low heat to leave it melt in the mouth tender, and a pork belly that was brined and slow roasted for nearly the same amount of time, all polished off with roast potatoes, parsnip puree, sauteed Brussels sprouts and red onions and a selection of gravies.

Now a supper that I haven't had to cook and won't have to wash up (all hail their dishwasher) is always going to get brownie points but this was right up there in the gold star category.  It was delicious and amazing and I loved it.

I also may have eaten it all before I even thought of taking any pictures.

For pudding, I spent a good part of Boxing Day making 78 profiteroles (using the Hairy Bikers' recipe), and the creme patisserie from Nigella's Feast. The next morning I used up four of my twelve spare egg whites to make the Fig, Ginger and Almond meringue from Annie Bell's Gorgeous Cakes and then we packed the whole lot up (plus a raspberry jelly as a special request from H) and drove it gingerly up a heavily laden M1.

Once we'd unpacked we found the largest remaining serving plate and started piping custard and stacking my croquembouche. I thought that making spun sugar in someone else's kitchen was a step too far, and I'm also not very good at it, so I stuck to the caramel sauce in Nigella with some ingredients purloined from our hosts and it turned out really well. 

In fact the only hitch in the whole operation was that the serving plate wasn't very big.  I stacked and glued the best I could and then called for an engineering consult from H (MEng) and C's Dad (model railway builder).  Their professional opinion was that I'd reached my limit, so we had a big croquembouche and a little mini one on the other side of the table like sugary cairns marking the location of a feast.

So here they are:
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Two croquembouche, covered with caramel sauce and dusted with snowflake sprinkles, two trees and Father Christmas,
December 716
and a spicy and light meringue that impressively survived the journey from Warwickshire with only minimal damage.
H's Mum and sister had also been busy and arrived with trays of colourful cakes - just in case anyone had any teeny tiny space left over.
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We made some pretty good inroads into the table groaning with food but there was still plenty to send home with all the branches of the family, and still be left with more for late night fridge raids, and I may or may not have eaten a couple of profiteroles with my breakfast the next morning!

I don't think I was hungry again for the rest of the week. Now that's the sign of a good party - and a New Year diet.

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

A Handmade Christmas Part 3: for the Mummies

December 015
Every now and then I come across a really beautiful knitting pattern, crafted from what can only be Rumplestiltskin's gold, or something else luscious looking but equally unavailable, and I sigh, and cruise the internets and Ravelry to work out a substitution, or how to not eat for a month to afford the shipping.

So when it turns out that the yarn in question is in fact a nice little Rowan, available from all number of places including a shop five hundred yards from my office; well, it seems only right and proper to knit it up right away to encourage the knitting muses to foster more such synchronicity.
December 004
I saw the Drifted Pearls scarf on Pinterest in a gentle grey, and when I saw it called for Rowan Lima, I knew I had Mum's Christmas present-to-be.  It's knit as a traditional scarf with a loopy bobbly edging until you get a little over half the length you might want in an ordinary scarf, then the fabric is pleated, and the pleats securely knit into a loop.  Tuck the end through the loop and you have a gorgeous warm wide scarf, perfect for Mum who tends to wear her ordinary scarves this way.
(Photo shamelessly stolen from Mum)

The Amazon blue matches the hat that I made for her last Christmas, and I hope they are both keeping her warm in the wild winds that are currently howling at our windows as they whip around the house.

Further north, lots further north, is another cozy Mum.  We have a simple formula for H's Mum's Christmas gifts: fruit jellies (the good ones made with actual fruit juice) + handknit socks = happiness.

And when you know the recipient likes your knitting so much she wears holes in the heels on a regular basis, you can't but pick up the needles:
November 387
Edwardian Boating socks, knit from an Opal blank that I hand-dyed with Kool-Aid.  With a linen stitch heel and a sock yarn with a 25% nylon content I'm hoping not to see these in the mending pile for many years to come, and to be honest they may fall into the 'oh darn' over the bin pile as I'm not sure I could work out how to reknit linen stitch without dropping almost all of the stitches.

It's an addictive pattern though; I'd always want to knit to the next waterboatman, and the next and the next, until I had two socks sat in front of me.  I'm glad I didn't knit them for me though as the linen stitch is not very stretchy and I would never have got them over my ankles.  I know if I really wanted them for me I could change the heel flap to a simple rib, but it was nice to knit them as they were designed.

That's almost all of the Christmas craftiness out in the open; the last little bit is still wrapped up under our tree, but before I'm truly caught up I've still got to tell you about the Christmas Croquembouche and my brother-in-law's amazing ultra-slow roasted beef.  That'll have to wait for another day though as it's late, and after an evening spent chasing electricity with a hairdryer when we got home from work to discover that none of the plugs were working, I'm off to make a nest in which to hide from the storm with a couple of quilts, a knitted blanket and as much of the duvet as I can persuade H to part with.