Etsy items

Thursday, 8 December 2016

And this is why it doesn't do to get cocky...

So, I have various socks on the go, as always (I'm not going to to admit how many pairs!), and most of them I'm just knitting plain, as I do for most of my socks.  The more pairs I knit, the more I know about what I do and don't like.  I've learnt that I prefer flap-and-gusset heels to short-row style heels.  I know that although I like TAAT, I find it a bit slow and cumbersome.  I know that although I prefer toe-up if I really love the yarn and want to use all of it, by and large I knit cuff-down.  I've learnt that although I like magic loop as a method, I really like DPNs, because they're quick and easy and so much better for doing my preferred heel.  I never thought I'd be a DPN sock-knitter; I have no problem with them, but magic loop seemed tidy and simple and easier.  Now, I'm pretty much a total convert; I suspect most of my future socks will be done on them (although the sock circular has its merits, too).

So I'm slowly evolving my own perfect sock style.  Although I do like patterned socks, I generally knit plain ones; maybe because I favour wild colours, like my dad, and patterns often don't go well with crazy yarn!  I'm trying to become the sort of knitter who can just knock out a basic sock without even really thinking about it - not needing a pattern,  just doing it.  I'm getting there - I know my cuff will either be k1p1 twisted rib, or a folded picot, and my leg will be as long as I fancy.  My heel will probably be flap and gusset*,  and I'm slowly getting the method of that firmly stuck in my knitting memory.  I thought I'd got it this time, I really did - heelflap over half the stitches, same number of total rows as stitches (so 32 for me), pick up 16 stitches down each side, and start the decreasing.  Sorted!  I was so chuffed, and maybe a teensy bit smug, as it all went perfectly.  See?


Yeah.  Bit of a cock-up there.  I hear it helps if you actually, you know, turn the heel during the process...  Ripping out time for me!  (Again; I already redid the heel because I decided I really didn't like the short-row one I did first).

*Although I'm about to delve into the mysteries of the afterthought heel, so we'll see whether this remains the case!

Tuesday, 6 December 2016

What does it take?!

I've been on a bit of a drive recently to try and do more exercise and make healthier choices in general; some days are more successful than others, of course, but overall I'm pleased with my progress.  I'm mostly doing it in the hopes that it will help to combat my health issues - exercise and fresh air are meant to be very good for helping to manage anxiety and depression - and, of course, it won't do my waistline any harm!

I've bought a rowing machine - a bit of an extravagance, perhaps, but I was paid for a load of overtime, and then found this one fairly cheaply (and then it was even cheaper; I still haven't worked out how, but I'm not complaining!).  I love rowing machines, though; I find them very soothing in terms of the motion, and I actively enjoy using them, so I know it'll get good use.  Plus I believe it works most of the body, so that's a bonus!

The other thing I've really been trying to do, aside from eating more healthily, is trying to hit that magical 10,000 steps a day, as recommended by all and sundry.  I have a pedometer, I do a fair amount of walking anyway - how hard can it be, right?

Ugh.

Seriously.  I have yet to hit 10k since I started this.  And it's not like I'm being a massive couch potato all the time.  Take Sunday, for example; we went into London to meet up with some friends for our annual pre-Christmas get together and present exchange.  Normally we go to a museum, but this year we were wandering around a Christmas market at Southbank.  Lots of wandering around.  Result?  Just under 6500 steps.  How?!  And yesterday - I walked to work, I vacummed the office, I then went round and dusted the office, I nipped out to Waitrose and back, and later to the Post Office and back.  I wandered around town doing a few errands before then walking home and pottering around the house a bit.  Result?  8800 steps.  Seriously.  WTF?!  I have no idea how anyone manages to hit 10,000 steps a day.  All the advice tends to be stuff like park further away, or get off the bus a bit earlier, or take the stairs rather than the lift.... well, I walk to and from work, and there isn't a lift so I have to take the stairs!  And somehow it still doesn't get there.

Anyone have any tips on this?!

Saturday, 12 November 2016

Respecting others

The world feels like a very strange place at the moment.  It's been a rough year in many ways, personally for me, and politically for many people around the world.  Here, we had 'Brexit', which has shaken a lot of people up quite badly, and which has been immediately followed (and in some cases, preceded by) a lot of turmoil and upheaval and ill-feeling in our political parties.  Many, many things have been said, by a lot of people, and many of those things were said in anger, or were based in fear, and many of them were perhaps not as fair or as tolerant or understanding as they could have been, on all sides.

Fast forward a few months, and we hit the US presidential election; obviously their political system differs from ours considerably, and things like that are much more drawn out than our elections are, so there's been a lot of preamble and rhetoric.  But in the weeks and days immediately preceding the voting period, and the announcement of the new President-elect, we saw the same sort of thing as happened over here; a lot of anger, fear, dislike, and intolerance was being bandied around, from all sides. It all seemed very personal, which is deeply distressing, and once the result was announced, things went downhill rapidly.  Protests, apparent hate crimes, and a lot of fear and anger and turmoil.  I fear it's going to be a long time before either the UK or the US settles down fully, and a lot of harsh things are going to be said in that time, which would better remain unspoken.  People have voted; democracy has happened, whether we like the outcome or not (and I'm not going into my personal feelings on the subject here), and now everyone has to live with the outcomes.  Whether those will be what people expect is another matter altogether, of course.  But in the meantime, there are serious riptides of feeling on both side; mutual incomprehension as to how the other side could feel and vote as they did, and an apparent conviction that to think differently is to be both wrong, and somehow tainted with all the worst aspects of the disliked side... and if we're not careful, those riptides could drown us all.  At the moment it is hard to see how we can be expected to create a united kingdom, or a united states, with all the ill-feeling, name-calling and general loathing that is being thrown around.  And I'm not immune to it - I've had my moments (lots of them) of absolute wonder at what's happening, and incomprehension as to how anyone else could think differently.  And that's normal.  But I refuse (okay... I'm trying to refuse) to name-call over it; to hate anyone for thinking differently, or to think less of them for doing so.  It's bloody hard; I'm a very judgemental, very quick-tempered person, and that does not make for patient, serene understanding, I can tell you.  So I'll leave you with this, which comes from Quaker Advices and Queries (which in turn comes from Quaker Faith and Practice), and which is what I'm trying to cling to and live as best I can at the moment:

Do you respect that of God in everyone though it may be expressed in unfamiliar ways or be difficult to discern? Each of us has a particular experience of God and each must find the way to be true to it. When words are strange or disturbing to you, try to sense where they come from and what has nourished the lives of others. Listen patiently and seek the truth which other people’s opinions may contain for you. Avoid hurtful criticism and provocative language. Do not allow the strength of your convictions to betray you into making statements or allegations that are unfair or untrue. Think it possible that you may be mistaken.

I think that pretty much says it all.

Thursday, 3 November 2016

Frustrated

Okay, seriously - no more test knits*.  The never-ending 4-ply cardigan of doom is fine, and the end is in sight, and it's a lovely pattern which I will almost certainly knit again (although maybe not in 4-ply...).  My other one - my lovely, lucious cabled cuddle of a cardigan (as I thought it was going to be).. well.  First there was the problem with not having the charts, but that wasn't really anyone's fault, although it was frustrating that it took so long for it to become apparent that that was the problem (seriously; I actually mentioned in the test thread - more than once - about how it would be really useful if it was charted, and no one said anything).

But now it looks like the test may have died; I'm guessing the designer is dealing with real life stuff, so I don't want to be harsh on her, but the fact is that there's been no communication from her for about three weeks now - despite people asking questions, etc.  And the thing is that we're waiting for corrections/updates for the sleeves, so people can't continue until we hear something.  One person has already dropped out, and I've said I can't commit to any further deadline because I have too much stuff on now.  The deadline was supposed to be 31st October, which was fine, but now... well, who knows?  I've said I'm happy to continue testing the pattern once more information is received, but that I can't guarantee a completion date.  It's a shame, as I loved the design, and I was enjoying knitting it, and I really wanted it to be done in time for going up to my family for Christmas (both to show off, and to keep snug - Scotland is not the warmest place in December!).

So really I'm just a bit frustrated.  This year has not been good for test-knitting, between broken bones and everything else, and every time I've felt terrible that I've had to pull out of the test.  And now, when it actually looked like I might be able to finish this one as well, there are problems on the other side of the testing equation.  I hope the designer is okay, and I hope that she manages to get this gorgeous design out there into the public, because it really is lovely.  It's just such a shame that things aren't working out right now.

*That is, no more test knits this year...

Monday, 31 October 2016

Etsy discount!

In honour of all things Hallowe'en and all things NaNoWriMo, I'm offering a 25% discount on purchases in my Etsy shop between Hallowe'en and the end of NaNo (30th November, for the non-writing peeps out there!).  Just use the coupon code HALLOWEEN16 if anything there takes your fancy!


Cooking experiments

Mmm... one of the small but significant pleasures in my life is the smell of tasty food cooking - sometimes I think I enjoy that more than actually eating it, although I do like my food!  And it's one of the many reasons I love my slowcooker so much - I get to come home from work and have the house smelling of (hopefully) tasty food, without having to do anything further.  A small amount of time and effort in the morning, and dinner is ready that evening.  Amazing.  Given the varying demands on my time, it's pretty much a Godsend!

However... I'm also very like my mother, in that I like recipe books.  I have a great many recipe books. I enjoy leafing through them, reading them, deciding which ones I'd like to make.  And then, when I actually cook, seldom actually using a recipe at all.  I blame genetics.  It means that a lot of my cooking is a throw-it-in-and-see what happens (I got a really nice beef and tomato curry recently by doing that). 

Today, I have soup in my slowcooker - not for dinner tonight (and unfortunately not for lunch today, as it wasn't ready when I got in).  It's an attempt at tomato and lentil soup, which will be divvied up into me-size portions, and then frozen, so I can have soup for lunch as it gets colder.  It should be healthy and nutritious, it's definitely cheap (I have no standards when it comes to buying tins of chopped tomatoes; the really cheap ones are fine), and it is smelling really, really good!  Mine is literally 4 tins of el cheapo chopped tomatoes, "some" lentils (I just chucked them in until I thought it looked like enough), a veg stock pot, some water, salt, pepper, smoked paprika and garlic.  Stir, and leave on low for the day for a good-smelling house and hopefully some good-tasting soup!  (You could also add in a couple of teaspoons of Bovril (or supermarket equivalent) for extra flavour and nutrients, if wanted).  I'll whiz mine up with a whizzy stick (hand blender, for the more technical among you), as I prefer my soups smoother and thicker a lot of the time.

My cooking today does not stop there, though; in an effort to combat my autumn/winter sluggishness and inability to get going in good time in the mornings, I'm making myself some breakfast bars - essentially flapjacks with dried fruit, nuts and seeds, and rather less sugar than usual.  They're based heavily on the recipe from  Nadia Sawalha's Greedy Girl's Diet book (found in a charity shop quite some time ago!), but altered to use what I had and what I could find.... I do use recipes sometimes, you see, but they're often guidelines rather than rules!  They're also smelling tasty, and I'm hoping it'll make my mornings easier if I only have to grab one and take it to work with me to have with a mug of tea.

Sunday, 30 October 2016

It's that time of year again...

Ah, yes.  The nights (and mornings) are darker, it's colder, the handknits are being retrieved from storage, porridge is very definitely back on the menu, and my hot-water bottle is in regular use. 

All of which means... it's NaNo time again!  Yep, it's about to be (well... in a day and a bit) National Novel Writing Month.  For the whole of November, insane and desperate people writers across the world will be diving headfirst into their keyboards, notebooks and pen, and trying to create a novel (or 50,000 words of one) in just 30 days.  It's mad, it's bad, it's NaNoWriMo!

This year I'm branching out a bit.  I generally end up going for fantasy or "literary fiction" (whatever the hell that is), as those tend to be the strongest ideas I have.  But this year, it's all about the sci-fi, post-apocalyptic genre.  Oh, yes.  I've never tried it before (and after November 30th, I may never try it again), but the idea is there, and it will be written.  I'll be up until midnight tomorrow night (also Hallowe'en, which I love with all of my geeky gothy heart), just to write the first few words of the novel (I do this every year; it's a 'thing' now).  And then, every day for 30 days, I will delving hard in the word mines, trying to meet my daily quota lest some dire fate should befall me.

(Also, I'll be using the time to write more of my thesis; I find creative writing can often make academic writing a little easier, as I'm in the writing zone already, and the time pressure of NaNo may as well be put to good use elsewhere.)

So... wish me luck?

Thursday, 27 October 2016

Quick projects

I seem to have been working on a lot of things recently that are fairly slow and time-consuming.  That's fine, I'm not in any mad rush for any of them, but sometimes you just want something quick and easy, for a bit of instant (or near instant) gratification!  This was on my mind today as I left work... and then I saw that my local fabric shop had pieces of fleece fabric quite cheaply (£1.99 for the cut piece), and I remembered that Mr Geekygoth had expressed a desire for a cushion he could put behind his back when he's driving.  Upon further examination, it turned out that the fabric shop also sells cheap cushion pads  (£2.10 for  a 16"x16" cushion, and a bit firmer and less lumpy than if I stuff it myself), and it was clear what I was going to be doing this afternoon!

I hand sewed it; I know it would be faster using the sewing machine (and probably less, er, characterful), but my sewing machine isn't currently easily accessible, and there's always the hassle of clearing a space for it, so I couldn't be bothered.  It didn't take long, and now he should be able to drive in more  comfort.

Monday, 17 October 2016

That's next year sorted!

Oh. My. Goodness.

I just found THIS on Ravelry, and my heart went pitter-patter.  I squee'd a little.  There was girlish, geeky, gothy glee.

Now, I've always shied away from colourwork in my knitting.  Far too complicated for me; I'll never be able to do that, etc.

But I don't think I have ever seen a jumper I want more than this one. 

So next year... next year, my big knitting challenge to myself will be to knit this jumper. 

I can't wait!

Friday, 7 October 2016

Hats and drawers...

Currently sitting at home, watching stuff on Iplayer (I love the BBC!), and knitting a hat (it's a Christmas present, of course, and going very quickly; maybe everyone should get hats!). Of course, I don't want my yarn rolling all over the place (not least because, frankly, we're a bit overdue for some vacuuming...). Given where I'm sitting, there's the possibility of it going under the coffee table, or one of the two sofas. I really can't be bothered rummaging around after it. So... Behold my improvised "yarn bowl" - one of the drawers of the coffee table! It's sharing space with our PS2 games and a random remote (no idea what that belongs to, oops). It seems quite happy in there, and I'm happy because I haven't got to keep picking it up. Genius!

(For anyone who's interested... The hat is Jamie).

Sunday, 2 October 2016

*sniff*

I think Autumn (or Fall, as some nations have it - which I do actually like as a term, and which makes a lot of sense) has properly arrived now, rather than just hanging around the edges of things.  The evenings have drawn in considerably - it's just after 6:30 in the evening and I've closed the curtains for the night!  It's not dark yet, but it's gloomy enough to need the light on, and there clearly isn't going to be any last minute sunshine to brighten it up again.  Our living-room gets the sun first thing, which is pleasant over breakfast, but it does mean that our main room gets dark quite early and quickly, which is a little disheartening!

I have the same problem that I have every year at this time; I love autumn, it's one of my favourite seasons; I even love winter (although I prefer looking at it to being outside in it!).  I love the changing colours, the bleakness, the cooler temperatures, the excuse to dig out all my knitted things and cosy up.  I like the change to porridge for breakfast, and the need to drink much more tea to keep warm.  I like the blustery winds and the sudden rain showers, the moody skies and the crisp mornings with a hint of woodsmoke in the air.  Unfortunately, my ardent admiration for this time of year is not at all reciprocated.  The change to cooler, damper weather makes my arthritis play up, and the darker mornings and evenings cause me to struggle massively.  I've never been officially diagnosed with SAD, as I think it's just been lumped in with the normal depression, but it is definitely a problem.  I struggle to get up, struggle to motivate myself, and constantly want to just hide away and take naps.  In summer I wake early, and generally get up early, being reasonably alert and capable of doing things.  Once the mornings become darker, and I start needing the light on when I get up.... well.  Not so much.  I struggle to wake up at all, and it is a real and difficult fight to get myself out of bed in time to achieve anything other than dressing and leaving the house in time for work.  I can feel my mood becoming more withdrawn and darker, and it's hard to keep myself going during the day.  Why I get like this I don't know; every year I look forward to autumn arriving, and every year it kicks me in the teeth when it does!  (I also currently have the sniffles, which also tends to be a reaction to changing seasons.  Hmph.)

But the wet days and dark evenings are good excuses for snuggling up with my knitting, so all is not doom and gloom!  I finally managed to sort out the test knit; the pattern is absolutely fine, and I feel very ashamed of myself for being so impatient and stupid; it turned out that I simply hadn't received the charts that go with the pattern, which is why nothing was making sense to me!  I had some problems downloading the email the designer sent, and presumably something got cast adrift in the ether at some point in the process.  All sorted out now; I have the charts, and the cardigan is progressing nicely!  I'm going to love it when it's finished; it's a gorgeous green, and I love the cabling.






Other knitting has been taking place in the form of another pair of (plain, sober) socks for my father for Christmas.  His colourful ones are awaiting wrapping!  I'm using DPNs for these ones, as I wanted to see how I got on with them as opposed to my normal magic loop, or the mini circular I used for the colourful ones.  I definitely prefer DPNs to the mini circular; I think I'll get rid of that.  I like magic loop, but... well, I knit nearly an entire leg and the heel yesterday, without working at it especially consistently or hard, and I think that's faster than I could have done with magic loop.  I love the DPNs I'm using, and have just stuck the set (of standard sock-knitting sizes) on my wishlist for Christmas!  I certainly find them much, much easier for doing flap-and-gusset heels; I've always struggled with those on the magic loop, which is probably why I've been experimenting with short row heels recently.  But yesterday the heel whizzed by, and picking up the stitches for the gusset was a piece of cake*!  Obviously if I want two-at-a-time I'll stick to my magic looping, but otherwise I may be a convert to the joys of sock-knitting on DPNs.



I've also been reintroducing foods this week, as my low FODMAP time has finished.  So far wheat seems to be fine, so long as I don't overdo it, but I think dairy/lactose is a problem, so I'm going to cut down on that as much as possible.  I have no intention of giving it up completely - perish the thought! - but cutting down and not having it too often or to much at a time is probably wise.  Otherwise, so far so good!

*Speaking of which - the total raised for MacMillan by my coffee morning came to over £100.  I'm pretty pleased!

Sunday, 25 September 2016

Feeling bad about being honest

It's been a quiet day today, doing not very much!  I'm still rather shattered after yesterday,  so it's recovery time before work tomorrow.

Thinking I wanted something quiet and relaxing, but productive, to do, I decided to work on my other test knit; not the unending 4ply cardigan of doom, but the worsted cardigan that should be nice and quixk and easy (in comparison!).  I'm knitting it in lovely yarn, in a pretty shaade of green.  I'm excited about knitting it, because it's going to be snuggly and cosy and pretty; a neat trick, in my book!

Ugh.

I've tried, I really have.  But I cannot, cannot understand what the pattern is getting at.  I'm following it to the best of my ability and understanding,  as any knitter would do, but I can already see that it's not coming out as it should. Now, an experienced knitter (which I'm not, particularly) may well be able to read the pattern, understand exactly what it means and intends, and be absolutely fine.  And presumably,  judging by the other testers, this is indeed the case.  But - and maybe I'm wrong here, but I feel fairly strongly that I'm not - I don't feel they should have to.  In my opinion,  patterns should be presented in a way that is clearly laid out and easy to understand.  Any knitter (within reason; maybe not if they've literally just picked up a pair of needles and some yarn for the very first time) should be able to look at that pattern and understand what's needed.  Things should be explained fully and comprehensibly. 

Unfortunately, in this case, it just isn't.  And, as a test knitter for the pattern, I feel I've had to highlight this as a problem.  But I don't like doing it; I don't like essentially having to say to someone  "I'm sorry, but I feel your pattern needs completely rewriting."  I have done it, and I've phrased it as nicely as I can, but I still feel bad about it.  I think, though, that I'd feel  worse if I  didn't say anything, and the pattern was released while still being essentially unknittable (in my experience, and presumably I wouldn't be the only one).  I just hope the designer feels the same way...

Saturday, 24 September 2016

Coffee and tea and cake, oh my!

Well.... after all the baking and washing up and baking and washing up (etc etc etc) yesterday, I feel like it was all worth it after today!  The coffee morning went. I think, very well; I didn't get very many people in, but they were very generous, both in their donations and in their compliments about the cake.  I'm very pleased with how much I've raised so far, and there's plenty of cake to be taken to work on Monday in order to raise some more!  I may have baked too much... but it all seemed to be appreciated, and I have no concerns about it remaining uneaten and having to be thrown out.  I had a fundraising goal in my head (and only in my head!), and I'm delighted with the fact that it's been passed already; now I have a secondary goal, and would dearly love to reach that; fingers crossed!  I was also very pleased that one of the neighbours came; I invited all the immediate neighbours, but didn't really expect any of them to pop in, as it's a quiet street where people seem to keep themselves mostly to themselves.  But one did, so it was nice getting to know her a bit, and she seemed pleased that it was being held...  which set me thinking that it's such a simple thing to do, really - bake (or buy) some cakes, make some drinks, and raise some money; there really isn't anything to it, and I love the simplicity of that. 

I think MacMillan have been very clever in making it a big annual event; it's not complicated to join in, you don't have to pay to do it, there's no fundraising goal you're expected to meet, and it's a fun way to spend a morning - and you're raising money for a fantastic cause.  I may do it again next year, if my husband is willing to put up with it all again!  We're both rather shattered now; neither of us are the most outgoing and sociable of people, so it's rather exhausting for us to have so many people around for several hours, however much fun it is.  And there's the clear-up afterwards, of course!





Knitting continues on the eternal demon 4ply cardigan... no, that's not fair; it's going to be a lovely cardigan.  Eventually.  One day.  Maybe when I'm about 60.  (It's taking forever!).

Friday, 23 September 2016

Busy busy busy!

Gosh, I'm knackered!  It's been a very busy day, and I still have a lot to do - but for now I'm allowing myself a sit down and a much needed cuppa!

Tomorrow morning I'm holding a MacMillan Coffee Morning, as part of their annual Big Coffee Morning event (I'm a bit early with mine, but never mind!).  It raises money for an amazingly good cause, so being tired is well worth it.  I've been baking nearly all day (and washing up when I haven't been baking) - six  different types of cake, would you believe?!  Chocolate Fudge, Victoria, Carrot, Lemon Drizzle, Red Velvet, and Banana Yoghurt.  The baking's not perfect, and that was bothering me, but I'm trying to let go of that and concentrate on the fact they should taste good, and raise money, which is the important thing!

Of course, no knitting today, and as I still need to tidy and clean, it's not looking promising.  I have, as always, far too many projects on the go, so it feels like I don't make progress on any of them!  But I do... just slowly.

I did buy myself some sock yarn, though,  and that arrived today... I've found a couple of patterns I like that need striping yarn, and despite my vast sock yarn stash, none of it was properly stripy!  I found some Sirdar Heart & Sole on sale, so bought myself a few balls to play with.  Can't wait to get started... but I need to finish other things first!

Sunday, 18 September 2016

The end is in sight!

Well, tomorrow I start the final week of my low-FODMAP diet purgatory.  And thank f@#$ for that, say I!  It's not been huge amounts of fun, that's for sure.  Expensive, frustrating, downright annoying... but not fun.  It has helped; I'm a lot better than I was, which is great, but I also know that this is not sustainable for ever.  I'm hoping I can reintroduce most fruit and veg without issues, as I'm missing them very much.  Wheat and lactose... well, I'll have to see how it goes.  It might be that I simply cut down on them considerably (which isn't likely to do me any harm!), and hope that does the trick.  I'll be much happier going lactose free than wheat free, if I have to give one up!

Still, I made a lasagne last night - GF lasagne sheets  (from Marks and Spencer), and a wheat-and-dairy free cheese sauce (found in powder form in Morrisons; I make no apology for this) in place of the bechamel, and just a teeny sprinkling of cheddar on top (I'm allowed a very small amount of hard cheese).  And for pudding, there was the remains of my 'icecream'.  All suitable for me, and people seemed to enjoy it. 

Today I'm baking some flapjack type things for myself, which will become breakfast or snacks during the week.  I've made the recipe up completely, so goodness knows what they'll be like!  For anyone who might be interested, the "recipes" for the icecream and flapjacks are below.

Knitting continues, with test knits and Christmas presents progressing nicely!

Icecream
A tub of frozen mixed berries
2 bananas
A good squeeze of honey
A good couple of sloshes of almond milk (or preferred alternative)
1/2 - 1 tsp mixed spice

Whizz it all up together, and pour into a freezable container with a lid.  Freeze, stirring every hour or so, until it's completely frozen.  Enjoy!

(Ifound that this froze very solid indeed, and needed a good half hour to defrost before it could be served!)

'Flapjacks'
Three bananas
2 dessertspoons peanut butter (smooth or chunky, as you like)
A good squeeze of honey
c. 30-40g of ground almonds (optional)
2 eggs (beaten)
A couple of good sloshes of milk/milk alternative
c. 50-75g GF self-raising flour
Enough oats  (GF if needed) to turn the mixture to a thick-but-pourable consistency

Mash the bananas with the honey, peanut butter, ground almonds and honey.  Add the eggs and milk and beat together.  Stir in the flour, and then add the oats a bit at a time until the right consistency is reached.  Pour into a lined baking tin, and bake at 180°C until golden and cooken through (around 20-30 minutes).  Cut into squares while still hot, leave to cool in the tin for 5-10 minutes, then leave to cool on a baking rack.

Thursday, 1 September 2016

What's that saying about good intentions, again?!

You know, I seem to remember having made some sort of declaration about test knitting.  I believe it may have been something along the lines of not doing any more after I finish the current one.

Oops.

I honestly meant it.  Really, I did.  I'm aware that I put a lot of pressure on myself about them, and I don't need that right now; there are far too many other things that I'm putting pressure on myself about!  So i was going to finish my current test knit - a nice little cardigan, simple but pleasing; you can see my progess below - and then have a break, at the very least.  And then... then I saw another test knit open.  And I fell completely in love with the design, and yes, I'm test knitting it.  It's a gorgeous snuggly hooded cardigan, with big relaxed cables on the back and sleeves.  I'm doing it in the yarn below - Rowan Pure Wool Worsted, in shade 126 (Forest).  I seem to be having a bit of a green phase at the moment!  It'll knit up faster than the 4ply, at least?

Wednesday, 31 August 2016

Branching out

So... I've started up an Etsy store.  I'm not exactly expecting to make lots of money (I'm not sure I'm expecting to make any!), but I'm hoping some bits will sell.  Eventually it will contains lots of different things - earrings, stitch markers, writing sets, brooches,  etc.  At the moment the 'shelves' are fairly bare, though,  as I'm dipping a toe in to see what happens!  I did have a Folksy store previously, but had little luck with it; I'm aware that Etsy has much more exposure, so we'll see how it goes.  In the meantime, if anyone fancies taking a look, you can find my new emporium here!

Sunday, 21 August 2016

Test knitting

So, the Ravellenics are over... I only got those two projects done, but it's better than nothing!  I don't care about the 'medals', I'm just pleased to have two presents out of the way.
Right now I'm mainly focussing on a cardigan I'm knitting.  It's a test knit, which means the pattern hasn't been released yet, and I'm one of the people testing it to make sure it's all right and works properly before it is released.  I quite enjoy doing test knits - they can be fun, and it's a nice  way to get a pattern that you like; testers generally get the final pattern for free. 
I say I enjoy doing them, and it's true, but I also find that I sometimes put myself under a lot of stress with them.  They have deadlines, and I can get very anxious if time is running out (or if I feel like it is).  Once this cardigan is done, I won't do any more test knits this year; I have too much else going on.  But this promises to be a lovely little cardigan - simple but pretty.  It's knit in 4-ply, which is thinner than anything I've ever used for a proper garment before.  I'm using a Marriner 4 Ply Cone in bottle green (not black!), and I'm hoping it'll be a nice addition to my cooler weather wardrobe.  I might do another one in cotton for the summer,  if I'm pleased with it.
I have to say, I'm pretty pleased with the yarn; I don't think anyone could really say that knitting is generally a cheap or economic hobby these days, but this cone of yarn is 500g - and okay, yes, it's pure acrylic, which may put some people off, but it feels nice enough, and I can get an entire cardigan out of it. And I'm not small, so that's pretty good! And it's £6.50. Even with postage it was less than £10. To me, that's a bargain; a cardigan I'll like, in a colour I like, that will fit me as I like? For under £10? Win, however you look at it.

Tuesday, 16 August 2016

Adjusting to new things

I'm on the second day on my low-FODMAP diet.  It kind of feels like longer!   Still, some interesting things have arisen already...

It turns out I actively prefer almond milk to normal milk on my cereal.  Not  so much in my tea, but it's drinkable.

I made gluten free bread.  The first loaf, done in the bread machine, was a disaster.  No rise, and so heavy that if I'd dropped it on my foot I would probably have broken some bones!  It went in the bin, oddly enough.  I tried again with a different recipe, made by hand, and although the loaves were still very small,  they were baked properly and the texture is much better.   So I've had chicken sandwiches for the last couple of days, and they've been.... okay.  Edible.  I miss being able to have a yoghurt,  though!

I'm trying to make myself a  sort of ice cream at the moment... all things I can have, so Ican have a bit of a treat when I want one.  As far as I can tell, it's low-FODMAP, gluten free and vegan!

Frozen Banana Delight

1 very ripe banana
A large teaspoon of peanut butter
A small amount of syrup or sugar, if wanted
A good splosh of almond milk.

Mash it all up together, and put in the freezer.  Take it out every so often, stir it, and put it back in, until it's completely frozen.  Consume!

(I think most of this is customisable... I might try almond butter next time, for example,  and you could use whichever non-dairy milk you prefer).

Sunday, 14 August 2016

Dietary changes


We've just come back from a couple of days away visiting my in-laws, which is always lovely.  Even nicer this time, as we went to the Shrewsbury Flower Show with them, and I had a glorious time!  I also finished a hat while I was there; another Ravellenics item completed, and another Christmas present ticked off - BOOM!  (I might be a teensy bit smug about this; I'm basically multi-tasking while doing one thing!).  The yarn and pattern are as mentioned in the previous post... and I'm very happy that I have enough yarn left to make myself some fingerless gloves, or something.  The yarn is so utterly lovely that I might have cried a bit if it had all been needed for the hat which is destined for someone else.  (Also, no idea why the formatting is screwy in this post...)

Anyway... the day we went to Shrewsbury, I had a doctor's appointment (finally), and as a result I have to have a battery of blood tests  (deep joy) to rule out (hopefully!) a variety of things.  However, the doctor also recommended that I try the low FODMAP diet (try looking at www.lowfodmap.com if you're curious) to see if it eases my symptoms. So I'll be trying that for 6-8 weeks, cutting out a lot of things, and then slowly reintroducing stuff to see what causes problems (if anything).  So I'm about to embark on a no lactose, no wheat, etc diet.  Woohoo.  I'm currently making a loaf of gluten free bread for myself, and have just cooked up a huge batch of sauce I can have with potato or rice (no pasta!).  There may be a certain amount of whinging in the next few weeks!  The sauce is Quorn mince, peppers, courgettes, chopped tomatoes and lots of herbs and seasoning... it smells good, at least!




Thursday, 11 August 2016

Ravellenics and Christmas

This has not been the relaxing, productive week off that I had hoped for.  We've had a lot of problems with our gas meter (it's a pay-as-you-go), which dragged on for a few days,  causing lots of phonecalls and hassle and annoyance.  It is, in theory, sorted out now, so that's something.

I have, at least, managed to get some knitting done.  I've already completed one of my Ravellenic entries - a nifty little cowl that looks like an artfully draped shawl from the front.  And I've started another one, a nice slouchy hat in the loveliest, softest yarn ever!  And the best bit is that they're both Christmas presents for friends, so I'm doing well on that front... and I think it's going to work well to combine Ravellenics with present-making in the future, too. I get the fun of "competing" (which is a thing that only interests me if I am essentially competing against myself rather than other people, for some reason), and the pleasure of knowing I'm making progress on things that need doing, rather than panicking later in the year!

The cowl is Zuzu's Petals, knit in Sparkleduck's Genie, in the colourway Quietly.  This is lovely, lovely yarn and I would happily have several more skeins of it!

The hat is a Wurm (I clearly like this pattern, as this is the third or fourth time I've knit it!).  The yummy, scrummy, silky soft yarn is Debbie Bliss Andes, in the purple colour.  Discontinued,  alas; why do the gorgeous yarns always get discontinued?!

Monday, 8 August 2016

A week off

I'm at the beginning of a week off work, and it feels pretty blissful!  Don't get me wrong - I really like my job, the people I work with and the company I work for.  But sometimes it's nice to have a break!

I have few fixed plans for the week.  At the tail end of it, we're going to the Shrewsbury flower show, courtesy of my lovely in-laws; I'm looking forward to it, but I need to remember to pack a good supply of pollen pills... (Or antihistamines, as I gather most people call them).  I'll work on the PhD stuff, of course... I'd like to get some letters written, as I'm horribly behind on my correspondence  (I always feel so pretentious saying that, but it's true!).  I'll be knitting, of course.  Otherwise,  no real plans.

I do like writing letters (and getting them, naturally), and I do have a weakness for pretty stationery (ugh, my brain's gone blank and I can't remember if that's  the correct spelling!).  I got these in The Works (it often has pretty writing sets, if you're interested), and was carefully setting up all my letters yesterday, when I saw it - 10 envelopes (yep, that's normal), and 10 sheets of paper!  What?!  That's not right!  Writing sets (in my reasonably extensive experience) generally have 10 envelopes and 20 sheets of paper, which makes much more sense.  Who only uses one sheet to write a letter?!  And yes, I know I can always supplement the pretty with some normal plain paper (as I frequently do, as my handwriting isn't especially tiny and I often need more than two sheets of paper).  But still, I expected two pretties per letter!  I realise I'm far too indignant about this, and really for the price I paid I shouldn't complain.... but I am, if only on here.

Sunday, 7 August 2016

Knitting for medals

Right now, the Olympics are happening.  Now, I can't honestly say that I care very much about that - I'm not very sporty, on the whole, and I just don't find them terribly interesting.  (I should note that the same does not apply to the Winter Olympics, which I do like and watch bits of).  However - each Olympics year, Ravelry (possibly my spiritual home) runs the Ravellenics (which used to be called the Ravelympics, until legal stuff intervened).  Basically, you challenge yourself to knit (or crochet, or spin) things during the time between the opening and closing ceremonies of the Olympic Games.  'Medals' are awarded in various categories, etc.  It's all just a lot of fun and a way of challenging yourself.

I've never taken part before, but this year I thought.. why not?  I'll be knitting anyway, so I may as well!  So I've entered the sock category, shawl category and the WIP category.  Given that some people knit entire jumpers in the time period, I think my aims are pretty modest!

I've started the socks already (and the WIP, of course!).  I found a lot of sock yarn on sale a while ago... and while I'm fairly helpless in the face of sock yarn generally,  I'm almost totally helpless in the face of sock yarn on sale.  So I bought some... but unfortunately two of the colours I liked only had one ball each.  So - ankle socks.  I'm trying the picot edge for the first time (time consuming, a bit fiddly, but so very pretty!!), and doing shortrow heels. I'm still experimenting with heel types; I like the ease of knitting the shortrow heels, but I'm not sure how well they'll wear.

The yarn is Regia - the pinky-purple is Regia Design Line, in Plum Pudding (03872), and the tiger stripe is Regia 4-fadig Color, in 05865.  The Design Line seems a little thicker and cushier, which I like very much,  but I know I'm going to love my tiger feet, too!








Saturday, 6 August 2016

Beginning again...

Hello!  Or possibly, hello again - this being my second attempt at a blog of this nature.  I gave up on the first one because I felt I had nothing new or interesting to say... whether that's changed I don't know, but I can't keep bombarding my Facebook friends with my crafting updates, so I'll stick them all on here!  So, by way of introduction, here are 50 things about me...

1) I'm 34, female and married.  No children, yet.

2) I love fibre crafts - I knit, crochet (not as well as I knit, as I'm very much a beginner), and am learning to spin.

3) I also enjoy embroidery, and making clothes  (again, I'm still learning).

4) I'd really like to try weaving.

5) I work (part-time) and study  (also part-time, at least in theory).

6) I'm in the (hopefully!) last stages of my PhD in archaeology.

7) I love creative writing, and have at least 3 finished or mostly finished novels hanging around.

8) I do NaNoWriMo most years.

9) I would absolutely love to be published, but I'm scared to try as I don't think my writing is good enough.

10) My husband has had a book published; I'm simultaneously massively proud of him, and slightly down-hearted because I can't see it ever happening for me.

11) I really enjoy knitting socks.

12) I may have a slight sock yarn problem. In the same way that Hemingway might have had a bit of a drinking problem.

13) I mostly wear black, because I like it, although I occasionally branch out into purples and reds.

14) Despite 13, I really like wearing bright, colourful socks.

15) I think it might be hereditary; my father also loves bright socks.

16) I also have a deep love of sparkly sock yarns.  They make me happy.

17) I am vaguely trying to introduce a bit more colour into my wardrobe by having accessories in colour (shawls, hats, socks, etc).

18) I enjoy knitting shawls, but I'm not totally convinced that I'm the shawl-wearing type (at least, not the full on shawls).

19) I'm not very tall, and definitely not slender, both of which I think helps immensely with shawl-wearing (for most people; I have seen exceptions to this, of course).

20) I like cooking and baking, and people tell me that I am good at these things; I'm not much on presentation,  though!

21) I suffer from depression and anxiety; it makes things really hard sometimes, but I try to just get on with it most of the time.

22) I find that crafting helps a lot with 21, and I will always make at least a bit of time for it.

23) I love the fact that my mother also knits, sews, etc, and that we can sit and knit together; it means a lot to me to have that connection.

24) I even don't mind that she's much, much better at knitting than I am ever likely to be.

25) I enjoy gardening, although I'm not terribly good at it.

26) I desperately want a cat (or two), but we're still renting so it's not going to happen yet.

27) Despite being (I suspect) inherently lazy, I love spending time outdoors - especially in woods or by water.

28) However,  I also love spending a day curled up with plenty of tea (and cake, for preference), and a pile of books to read.

29) Books.  Books, books, books, books, books.  I love reading.  Love it.  I also read quite quickly.  I'm like a .303 bookworm.

30) I enjoy yoga, but I'm not very good at it (yet).  Also, I really feel that mirrors shouldn't exist in yoga studios.  Who the hell wants to see the contrast between cool, flexible, slender teacher, and their red-faced, sweating, lumpy selves?  Or maybe that's just me...

31) I'm a massive fan of David Attenborough.  The man is verging on God-like, in my opinion.

32) Did I mention that I love reading?  No, really - I love it enough for it to easily be worth two slots on this.  Doing my research is probably my favourite part of the PhD.

33) I've started going to Quaker meetings.  I can see it continuing, and possibly even me becoming a full member one day.

34) I like tattoos and piercings.

35) I'm yearning for a pair of the new willow pattern Doc Martens.

36) I can't swim properly, but wish very much that I could.

37) I'm not a 'girly girl', but I do love having pretty nails, and have a decent collection of nail polishes.  There are quite a few variations of black, purple and red in there.

38) I really like vintage styles, especially the 1940s and 1950s.  I particularly like goth versions of these styles!  However, I lack the confidence to wear them.

39) I really don't like the heat.  Even though cold and damp set my arthritis off, I'd rather that than be too warm.

40) Spring and Autumn are my favourite seasons.  I seem to like the changing times.

41) I'm terrible for having loads of craft projects on the go at the same time, and rarely finishing things (except socks).

42) I have a weakness for vintage style brooches, and regret that I didn't keep any of my Gran's - unfortunately I didn't appreciate them then!

43) I'm terrified of speaking in public - any sort of presentation or conference paper gives me panic attacks.

44) I enjoy role-playing (tabletop rather than LARP, although I have done that in the past), and board games.

45) A perfect evening with my husband is a nice dinner, followed by listening to Classic FM while we play something like backgammon and discuss things like history or theology.  Yes, we are secretly about 60.

46) I'd really like to try falconry.

47) I don't like alcohol much, but if I do drink, I favour mead, cider, or rose wine.  Or blackberry and elderflower Pimms!

48) I cherish the fact that I can have intense discussions with my husband and friends about things that we don't necessarily agree on, and that's fine, and we haven't fallen out by the end of it. That's how ideas and people grow.


49) I really enjoy watching period dramas and murder mysteries, as well as all sorts of documentaries.


50) One day I will finish reading "Paradise Lost". Honest.