A very lovely friend and fellow knitter gave me this card.
And it’s a very good question. There does seem to be a link between knitting and thinking. When you’re deep in thought, you may find that your brows are knitted together. At the interview for my applied psychology course, I was asked about my support networks and techniques for managing stress and I mentioned knitting. I do find knitting to be a very calming activity. Once you get the hang of it, it’s smoothly repetitive, stitch after stitch gliding off needles, building on previous rows, growing. Turning the chaos of yards of string into the beautiful order of a hat, jumper, or anything else you have the patience and creativity to make.
For me, the calming power of knitting is that it stops me from thinking in a certain way. It’s hard to have disturbing thoughts running around your mind when you’re counting stitches or trying to remember how to do a M1-p. I think it helps with gaining perspective and distance from problems. Creating order and structure in the yarn helps to foster those things in the mind. Thinking means making links between ideas. When you knit, you are literally making hundreds and thousands of links.
Yay, my first FO of the Christmas knitting season is this pair of gloves I made for my auntie. Though she requested loud, it wasn’t until I finished the first glove that I realised how restrained my yarn colour palette is. So they came out classier than intended.
I then bought some stunning (and outrageously expensive) alpaca for my mum’s present. Mum’s favourite colour is and has always been red, so there was no other colour option. But this meant I could have some fun duplicate stitching the gloves to kick them up (class them down?) a notch.
Check out this little video of the process. It probably took me an hour to decorate each glove.
I’m really pleased with them and hope my aunt will like them. The only thing I wish is that I had some scrap white sock yarn to add a highlight to the heart, a cheeky nod to the famous 8-bit Zelda heart. But who on earth would hand knit white socks, right?
Just to clarify, this is the name of the pattern rather than the recipient. Although I was reading something about considering the meaning behind the patterns we crafters choose and it’s interesting that for many years I probably did consider my mother my nemesis. Anyway, this is a beautiful pattern that does require more concentration than your standard sock but I think it’s worth it.
I’ve done a little messing with the pattern. I really like satin stitch for my heels because it seems much more durable so I did sl1p1 on the WS of the heel flap rather than P. It did alter the texture of the pattern a bit but I don’t think a non-knitter would notice.
I promised to bake for an event and had some old bananas lying around, which encouraged me to try out banana and chocolate cupcakes. I actually froze the mashed banana, which I don’t think altered the cake or frosting so I think I’ll do this in future for banana bread. Little thrifty tip! I based my recipe on these but found that the cake wasn’t very chocolatey compared to my usual chocolate cupcakes so I’ve made some changes to the recipe I’ve posted. Check out how I made these liners here.
This recipe will make 24 mini cupcakes or 12 normal sized ones
- 60g chocolate
- 2 small, very ripe bananas
- 1/2 cup milk, at room temperature
- 1/3 cup butter, at room temperature
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 large egg
- 1 egg yolk
- 1/2 cup cocoa powder
- 3/4 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 cup baking powder
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2-1 cup chocolate chips (optional)
- 1/2 cup chopped hazelnuts (optional)
-For the chocolate-banana buttercream
- 1/2 cup butter, at room temperature
- 1/4 cup mashed banana (about half a banana I guess?)
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 2-3 tbsp cocoa powder
- 3 cups icing sugar
- Line your muffin tin with liners and preheat the oven to 160C (180 fan)
- Mash your banana. If using frozen mashed banana, make sure it’s defrosted.
- Whisk in the milk, butter, vanilla, egg and egg yolk
In a separate bowl, mix the dry ingredients. Make a well in the centre and all the wet ingredients. Mix until no lumps remain.
Fill each mini liner with 2tsps mix. For a normal cupcake, fill about 2/3 full.
Bake for 15-20 minutes, until the cake passes the toothpick test.
Leave to cool for a couple of minutes in the tin, then remove to a wire rack.
For the buttercream
- Cream the butter until smooth, then add the mashed banana and vanilla and mix thoroughly.
- Add the cocoa and then the icing, about a cup at a time, until it reaches piping texture.
Pipe onto your cupcakes. I had to be quite sparing to ensure I had enough buttercream for all my cupcakes.
If you’re feeling fancy, garnish with some dried banana chips and chocolate chips. I crushed some of the banana chips, which I think gives better texture but doesn’t look as good. Note: Garnish just before serving, otherwise the butter soaks into the banana chips and makes them less crunchy.
If you’re feeling gourmet, try garnishing with salty banana chips*.
*Disclaimer: I have not tasted this and accept no responsibility if it tastes terrible.
The horror of the festive season is upon us and with it comes sock-yarn aplenty for all the family requests for socks and gloves. Small items are perfect to knit on the go so I don’t mind too much, and they seem so quick after my Blue Ivy cardigan, which took about two months.
I hope these stripy creations will fulfil my auntie’s design brief of ‘as lairy as possible’. I also got to use up the lovely blue and green yarn I’ve had in my stash for months.
These are Broad Street mittens minus the mitten shell. I made a few changes to the pattern, knitting on 3.25mm needles rather than 2.75mm to makes them go slightly quicker. I cast on 4 fewer stitches to balance this change.
I decided not to enclose the thumb as my aunt wants to use these for driving. However, I found the thumb way too baggy so I increased 1 fewer stitch in the thumb gusset and also cast on 1 fewer.
Here’s a close up of the fingers.
I haven’t really knit stripes in the round before but it was pretty easy. This page has some very useful tips to help avoid jogs in your stripes, which I really don’t like. You can see here that my stripes came out pretty evenly.
I was let down by my cupcake case supplier this week so decided to make my own using grease proof paper. It’s actually pretty easy and you’re left with cases that look rustic and homemade if you’re into that kind of thing. I’m not, but I got over it. Here they are complete with cake.
You will need
Grease proof paper/baking parchment. 2m/yards should be plenty.
Muffin tin. I used a mini one cos I have a crapton of normal cupcake cases.
A round object, preferably with a flat bottom, that fits neatly into the muffin hole. I used a film canister because I still live in the 90s.
Cut out squares of parchment. For a mini case (diameter of bottom, 3cm) a 10cm square is about right.