A panoply of (sometimes) lovingly handmade crud.

WiP Wednesday: Opposite Pole

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.

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The fronts and collar are made by knitting a massive circle around the central rectangle. The circle is made up of repeated rectangular sections…

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…alternated with triangular wedges.

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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.

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The light blue ovals indicate the sides where I will not join the circle to the central square, leaving space to join the sleeves.
I’m really excited to see how this cardigan turns out.

How to: Simple white loaf

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? IMG_1442.JPG   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.

IMG_1434.JPG 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.

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IMG_1437.JPG 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.

WiP Wednesday: Picking up and preparation

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.
Waterlily
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

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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.
Opposite Pole
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.

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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.

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Secret project
I am also in the planning stages of a very exciting secret project and I can’t wait to share little hints about it in the coming weeks.

FO Friday: Mystik Spiral Socks

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.

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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.

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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.

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How to: Add a pocket to the side seam of a skirt

Overall I was really pleased with the skirt my mum and I made a couple of months ago. However, every time I wore it, I remembered why I almost never buy garments that don’t have pockets in them. Women’s clothing is such a pain for this! I tire very quickly of having to store my phone in my bra. So I decided that emergency pocket surgery was the only option.
This is what it came out like. The hint of white is the pocket lining. The pocket does change the line of the skirt, but for me it’s worth it.

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Here’s how I did it. The seam of the skirt originally looked like this. Unpick the waistband over the seam.

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This is a basic pocket shape. Cut it to your chosen dimensions with right sides facing. Your hand will go in the long, non-shaped side so fold the fabric on the opposite side.

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I started by sewing the right side of the pocket you can see above to the right side of the seam, with right sides facing. Don’t unpick the seam first as it provides stability and will help the pocket to hang straight. Sew the pocket high enough that you can catch the top when you re-stitch the waistband.
Next, sew the other side of the pocket to the left side of the seam, again with right sides facing.

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Next, stitch around the pocket.

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Ensure there are no gaps between the stitching on the side seams and around the pocket, or you’ll have big old holes in ya pocket. If you have an overlocker, overlock the edge of the pocket for added strength. You could also add a second line of stitching if your mum doesn’t have an overlocker.

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Now it’s time to re-stitch the waistband. I have my pocket facing left because my right hand will be going into the pocket this way. Top-stitch carefully, you’re going through a lot of layers of fabric.

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Stick a fork in your pocket, it’s done! I was hoping the pocket would be hidden underneath one of my box pleats for added security, but it wasn’t possible to do it this way. So instead, I hand sewed a hook and eye over the pocket to close the pleat and hide the pocket. Here I am modelling.

WiP Wednesday: Mystik Spiral socks

I’m spending a lot of time on the road at the moment, which means one thing- sock knitting. I spent an inordinate time on Ravelry last week looking up patterns. One of my thesis breaks involved buying loads of gorgeous self-striping yarn so I needed a pattern to show it off. I usually incorporate some ribbing as plain socks often get baggy around the ankles, but I loved this pattern so much that I decided to risk it for a biscuit. This is also my first toe-up sock so learning a few new techniques including Judy’s Magic Cast On. Here’s what the toe looks like.

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I started this post over a week ago and had a couple of short-haul flights in the interim, so here’s the first sock completed.

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And the progress I made on the left sock yesterday. It’s not the clearest picture but I wanted to give a little sense of my present surroundings. These will be finished soon, and I have a couple more sock yarn projects in the pipelines.

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How to: Healthy banana and coconut bread

I know I posted a banana bread recipe a few months ago, but I couldn’t resist trying a new recipe when I had more browning nanas in the freezer. I took inspiration from here. This recipe is lower in fat but still moist and flavourful. It also freezes well and a slice makes a great breakfast or filling mid-afternoon snack.

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Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 4 egg whites (you can substitute 2 whole eggs if preferred)
  • 4-5 bananas, mashed
  • 1/3 cup sour cream or plain yoghurt (use low-fat if you want)
  • 1tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 cups plain flour
  • 3/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup desiccated coconut
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

Makes 1 25cm (10in) loaf

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 180C (160 fan). Prepare a 25cm loaf tin or cupcake case
  2. Cream together butter and sugar
  3. Add egg whites and mix thoroughly, until frothy
  4. Add mashed banana and sour cream
  5. Fold in flour, bicarb and salt
  6. Stir through coconut and nuts. The batter will be quite thick but add a tablespoon or two of milk or juice if it seems too thick.
  7. Transfer the batter to your prepared tin and bake for 1 hour – 75 minutes, until a knife inserted into the cake comes out clean. If your cake is looking too brown after 45 mins, cover lightly with foil.

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