Friday, 30 November 2012

WIP Friday: Emily's Blanket

Do you remember the crochet blanket I was making for Emily's eventual bed? I'm afraid to say it still looks pretty much the same as it did back when I first talked about it.

I love the squares I've done so far and I think it looks brilliant but I got onto other things and this got put to one side.

I don't like having projects hanging about. UFOs stress me out. This blanket was in its bag, then I put the yarn away upstairs and the blanket-part was lying on the back of the sofa, where it does look lovely, but every time I saw it I'd think about how much work there was left to do on it. So I'm weighing up my options on what to do with it.

Option 1: Finish it. The problem is I don't know if this will ever happen. More likely it will hang around for years, making me feel guilty and stressed because it's another thing I need to do.

Option 2: Square it off (or oblong it off) with a few more smaller squares and use it as a decorative piece for the sofa. Pretty but I'd like it to be functional.

Option 3: Make it a bit wider - another big-square wider or so - and it can be a bed runner. Again, would look nice but not very useful and would get thrown on the floor a lot I think.

Option 4: Square/oblong it off, then make it a bit larger with a wide border or two, and it can be a sofa blanket. I have a crochet sofa blanket, but it keeps disappearing.

Writing it all out like that has helped me see what I want to do. Option 4 it is. Time to think about borders.

Monday, 26 November 2012

Why I don't knit Christmas presents

There's an advert on UK TV at the moment for I think Phones4U (or someone similar - anyway it's working on the principle that what everyone wants for Christmas is a shiny new mobile). In one scene, a granny is shown knitting in front of the fire and she says 'I knit all my Christmas presents.' The voiceover replies 'Well, you shouldn't,' and my husband laughs.

I don't knit Christmas presents. I have knitted a few birthday presents in the past - a couple of pairs of socks for friends and a scarf for my mother-in-law - all specifically requested by the recipient. And I knit for new babies. But it seems from Ravelry and the blogs I read that every other knitter is knitting away furiously on an unending pile of scarfs and socks and thingymabobs to give to their entire extended family. I don't do that.

The main reason is just that me being a knitter does not necessarily mean that the people around me want to receive knitted things. Not that I'm surrounded by ungrateful louts, but if I knit a lovely pair of socks for everyone I know that most wouldn't be appreciated. The only people who know how much work goes into knitting pair of socks are quite capable of knitting their own. I love, truly love, to give and receive handmade gifts, but I know that not many people feel the same way. A gift should be what the recipient wants to receive, not what the giver wants to give.

The other main issue is time. Sample knitting and the things I want to make for myself and the girls (who really do appreciate it, and love the things I make them just because I made them) take up all my spare time. Knitting Christmas presents would cause me a huge amount of stress and turn my leisure time into another 'to do', with a deadline. A deadline that is already stressful enough (there will be seventeen people in my house on Christmas day! Fourteen of them adults. Fortunately I'm not doing the cooking).

And the final point is that it doesn't even save any money, really. I don't have a huge stash I can draw from so I'd have to buy the materials specially. So I might as well just buy a present and wrap it up. Something they'll like, or at least if they don't, I won't feel personally rejected!

Do you knit (or crochet, or sew, or otherwise) Christmas presents? For everybody or a few special people? Am I just lazy?

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Recipe: Pizza

Not a lot to blog about this week! I'm afraid I've become one of those terribly annoying bloggers with Secret Knitting. Also we all have terrible colds and just want to lie about like sausages. I need to stand up in a bit though and make some pizza dough. So for want of something to blog about, here's how I make pizzas.

For the dough

This needs to be made at least 2-3 hours before you want to eat. In the morning or early afternoon is fine, and it also freezes really well. This recipe makes enough for about 4 large pizzas so I usually freeze half of it then I don't have to make it next time.

3.5 cups of flour
2 packets dry active yeast
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp sugar
1 cup lukewarm water
1 tsp oil

Put flour, yeast, sugar and salt in a stand mixer bowl fitted with a dough hook. Turn on and add water gradually while the mixer is running. Once it's made a nice dough, leave to mix for another 5-10 minutes, then turn off. Remove hook. Make dough into a ball and roll in the oil. Cover bowl with cling film and put it somewhere warm (like the airing cupboard) to rise.

For the tomato sauce

About half an hour before you want to eat, empty a can of chopped tomatoes into the blender and blend until smooth. Tip into a saucepan and warm over a medium heat, along with a generous shake of dried Italian herbs and a squirt of tomato puree.

To make up

Preheat the oven to 180C. Flour the working surface and grease your baking trays. Roll out about a quarter of the dough into a pizza shape and put on the tray. Add sauce, cheese (I usually use grated mozarella from a bag) and whatever toppings you like (we like pepperoni). Bake in the oven for 10-12 minutes.

Pizza! Yum. I'd better get on and make that dough instead of just talking about it.

Friday, 16 November 2012

Salt Dough Christmas Decorations

Laura was at home yesterday as her school was a polling station and I was surprised to find that having both girls here meant less intervention from me, not more - they played together so nicely! And for so long! I got lots of work done.

I did have one activity planned though. In the morning I made up some salt dough (half a cup of salt, half a cup of water, a cup of flour) and the girls rolled it out and cut out shapes. Over lunchtime I dried them out in the oven, then the girls painted them. An hour or two later and it was time for glitter glue and sequins. Now I just need to put some yarn loops on them and they are ready for the Christmas tree!

Monday, 12 November 2012

Baking time

A little bit ago my sister Jen posted this cookie recipe on her blog. I had most of the ingredients so I bought some Smarties and gave it a go.

Yum yum!

This recipe makes delicious cookies, lovely and chewy in the middle. I've tried a few more variations since then. I replaced a bit of the flour with cocoa and added some peppermint essence and dark chocolate - that was OK, but using mint-flavoured chocolate would have been easier and more effective. I put some bits of bonfire toffee in with the plain mixture and the toffee melted and make the whole cookie chewy and toffee-flavoured, will definitely do that one again! And peanut M&Ms are a good addition although they were a bit big and chunky for the cookies, I might bash them up a bit next time.

Linking up with Handmade Monday again, lots of lovely blogs there as always!

Friday, 9 November 2012

In progress

My linen stitch scarf is continuing nicely:

And my spindle is filling up:

It's not that easy to see but I think it's much more consistent in width than the previous yarn.

Oh, and there's this. Always this.

Monday, 5 November 2012

Tiny winter cardigans

I had a message from someone who wanted two Lati Yellow winter cardigans, but not in the usual red and white. Instead she wanted cream and pink

And grey and lilac

Taking pictures in autumn it was hard to get the colours to show up - there is pink in the top one, honestly! But these two little cardigans are now ready to go, I hope she likes them!

Joining up with Handmade Monday again, go and take a look at all the lovely blogs!