If, like me, you don’t have a lot of nail art tools (or confidence) then you can still have fun spooky nails for Halloween. These are mine, the only special equipment I used was a black striping brush, but any small paintbrush would work.
When I’ve had time in the evening recently, I’ve found myself drawn to knitting this project. Here’s what I hope the final garment will look like.
This cardigan has a really interesting construction. First you knit a central rectangle.
Each row of the circular section is joined to the central rectangle. I will knit all the way around until I get back to the row of red in the middle, which is my crocheted provisional cast-on. When I undo the red stitches, I will be able to seamlessly join the circle together.
Here’s my progress on the beautiful Waterlily top. I got held up with working on this for a few weeks, partly because I was a bit worried about attempting the Latvian braid, and partly because I was coming to the end of my first skein of Islington and I hate winding skeins into balls.
For anyone knitting with Islington, I would suggest not using centre-pull balls. The wool is so soft and slippery that the ball can’t really hold its shape as you work from the middle.
Anyway, I managed the Latvian braid and I’m now a few rows into the lace section.
The blue and purple strands are life-lines. My magical new interchangeable double-pointed needles are designed to allow you to add a lifeline with no additional effort, which I think is pretty amazing. But then, I am a massive geek. Lifelines are particularly useful when knitting lace. If you make a mistake in lace, undoing rows and picking up the stitches and yarnovers is a complete knit-mare. With a lifeline, you know that you can drop down to your scrap yarn and all your precious stitches are securely held. Here’s a later progress picture. I’ve finished a full repeat of the lace pattern, so you get a better idea of what the final design will look like.
I realised last week that in my occasional bread baking pursuits this year, I have neglected to make simple white bread. Being given some rather wonderful pear and speculoos jam by Anna provided the perfect impetus to give it a go. Humorous aside: autocorrect suggestion for speculoos is ‘speculums’, which I’m not sure is even the correct plural for speculum. And certainly not as nice in a jam. Turns out I don’t know the difference between a 1lb loaf tin and a 2lb loaf tin, hence the rather thin bread. What would Mary Berry say? Ingredients
- 500g strong white bread flour
- 10g (about two scant teaspoons) salt
- 1 15g sachet instant yeast
- 50g butter, soft
- 290ml water
Makes 1 2lb loaf, apparently. Makes one loaf that fits in a 21x11x6cm loaf tin. Or two very thin loaves.
Method Put the flour, yeast, salt and butter into a mixing bowl. Slowly add the water, mixing with your hands as you go, until all the flour is absorbed into the dough. Transfer to a floured work surface and knead for about 5 mins, until the dough is soft and pliable. Return the dough to the bowl, cover with cling film or a damp tea towel and leave to prove for an hour.
At this point I froze half of my dough, which I think is when my problems began. So don’t do that. Instead, oil your loaf tin, shape the dough so it fits the tin and leave to prove, covered, for a further hour.
Yes, I should have realised sooner that something odd was going on. Preheat oven to 225C. If desired, slash top of loaf and sprinkle with flour just before baking. I didn’t see the point of doing these things, so didn’t. Maybe with my next really small loaf. Anyway, bake loaf in preheated oven for 35-40mins (20 if it’s minuscule). I tap the bottom of the loaf and see if it sounds hollow to check it’s baked. Turn out to cool on a wire rack.
To distract myself from the misery of the last term of my course, I spent a fair bit of time buying yarn and researching knitting patterns. In a way, knowing I had the projects to come back to helped make the idea of coming back a bit easier. I think I’m overly attached to my knitting. Anyway, here’s a little overview of what I’ll be working on for the next few weeks.
The heading is a link to the pattern on Ravelry so you can see what the final garment should
look like. This is where I’m up to
This is a bottom-up pattern so what you can see is the bottom hem up to the waist, or about half of the stocking stitch section.
This pattern is so beautiful. I’ve always shied away from heavy jumpers in the past, but I had to make an exception for this baby. I’m still in the planning stage. These are the gauge swatches I’ve made to try and ensure I get a good fit on the finished garment.
Ribbed camera case
I feel that I need a pun for the name of this little case I’m designing! It was one of the projects I was working on while travelling. In fact, I cast on during an unexpected flight to Madrid. The body is nearly complete, I’m just planning how I want to knit the flap. I love these colours so much. The pink makes the camera on my phone go a bit mad.
I’ve been a bit cagey about my activities for the past few weeks as I’m a bit reluctant to announce when I’m going away. Well, I’m back now so I can say that I was travelling for five wonderful weeks in South and Central America. It was a blowout trip to celebrate finishing my doctorate, and included lots of flying (sorry, environment!). And, for me, flying means knitting while watching films. Except for the one flight (8 hours) where my TV and light were both broken and I sat plunged in darkness, naught but the farts of the other travellers to distract me from my thoughts. Thanks, United.
In one of my regular frenzies of chronological optimism, my backpack contained two and a half balls of yarn and three sock patterns. In total I clocked up 9 flights, about 42 hours, and I finished one pair of socks.
This pattern is called Mystik Spiral, which is apparently the name of a band in Daria. I wasn’t a cool enough teen to appreciate Daria. The diagonal stripes are created using short-row shaping so this was a really engaging knit, yet not requiring too much attention most of the time. Here I am modelling.
Damn right I roll up my jeans to show off my hand knitted socks.
I’ll see how these socks wear- I tend to avoid stocking stitch socks as they stretch out a lot, but I made an exception for these.
Okay, one more shot of my snazzy ankles.