A panoply of (sometimes) lovingly handmade crud.

WiPs Wednesday

I realised that I haven’t posted a satisfactory knitting update in some time, so here is my attempt to redress the balance. My knitting libido (knitbido?) is still quite low this year. I wonder if that’s due in part to taking a sabbatical from the HPKCHC. I’m still working on most of the projects I mentioned in my will-it-ever-end Wednesday post.

League

I’m still making slow but steady progress on my League sweater. I have finished the back, and I just did the second set of decreases on the front, which means I’m over halfway towards starting the armhole shaping, which is a little more interesting.


I’ve still got both sleeves to do next, so this jumper isn’t going to be finished any time soon. That’s okay, because it’s not woolly jumper weather right now, but if I continue at this pace, maybe I can have it finished for the autumn.

Featherweight

I’ve also made a small amount of progress on this cardigan. I’ve finished the waist increases. I’m going to add some shaping at the back hem for interest.

Apologies for blurry pic. 

Humboldt?

The most exciting knitting on my needles is the swatch I’m making for a possible Humboldt sweater. This pattern, in particular the use of marl, has really grown on me as the designer occasionally posts about in on Instagram. I’m thinking this would be a lovely cropped jumper to wear over dresses- less boring and warmer than a cardigan. I would probably knit this in Lemonade Shop speckled yarns, like the purple used in the swatch, so this sweater would be a pretty big financial investment. However, I also think that a sweater like this in worsted weight yarn would spark my interest more than the two small gauge projects I’ve got on the go at the moment. Plus, it would plug a gap in my wardrobe.


I made a second swatch using DK rather than worsted weight Lemonade Shop yarn and that gets me closer to the stated gauge. Although the yarn will cost SO MUCH.


I probably need to start work on some kind of fun accessory to give myself some more interesting knitting. I’m just low on inspiration. If anyone has any ideas, I would be very open to them!

Mend it May Monday: Lengthening sleeves 


My Orza jumper is one of the hand knits of which I am most proud. However, I had significant length issues with it throughout. Although I tried it on as I went, the body simply came out far too short. I think the fabric is quite stretchy, giving the illusion that it’s longer than it is, especially with the weight of the needles pulling down on it.

Anyway, as well as the body being too short, the sleeves had the same problem. I thought I could live with it at first, but they were just an awkward length in between 3/4 and full length, and it made my experience of wearing this lovely sweater less pleasurable.

So my second Mend It May project was to lengthen the sleeves. I cut off the bind off, unravelled the ribbing, and picked up the live stitches. I then knit about 2-3 inches more in pattern.

I tried on a few times to try and ensure the length is right this time. The sleeves almost seemed too long, which I hope means they will be the correct length.

Mend Monday: Making belt loops from ribbon (tutorial)

I’ve been meaning to add belt loops to my Sew Over It Cigarette Pants since the first time I made them. Even though they fit pretty well, the way my body is just means that they don’t stay up properly without a belt. One of the blogs I follow mentioned Mend It May, and that idea has actually worked to inspire me to get some work done on my mending pile. That, and it’s the kind of weather at the moment where these trousers will be useful workwear.


If you have a pesky pair of trousers that slip down, it’s actually very easy to add belt loops without a sewing machine. You will need less than a metre of ribbon and it only takes about an hour.

Materials

  • 1/2metre ribbon
  • Lighter or matches to seal the ribbon (optional)
  • Needle and thread

Step 1: Cut your ribbon to length

I made my belt loops the width of my waistband. If you prefer wide or skinny belts, bear this in mind when deciding how long to make your loops. Most pairs of trousers have five loops, two at the front, one at the centre back, and two more at the sideseams, towards the back.

Each loop should be desired length + 2cm

Step 2: Stitch down the bottom half of the loop

Fold over 1cm at the top and bottom of each belt loop. This is what will anchor the loop to the trousers.

Position the first belt loop. You will stich in the fold line of the 1cm allowance you have. I stitched into the line between the waistband and the trousers, for neatness.

If hand-stitching, try to make your stitches small and keep them in a straight line. Use a double thread and do as many stitches as you can for strength. Use a couple of stitches to tack down the extra allowance, as pictured.

Step 3: Stitch down the top of the loop

Repeat step two at the top of the loop. I positioned my extra allowance on the main trouser material, rather than inside on the facing (I did this because that’s how it was done on the jeans I was looking at). Stitch under the loop so that none of the stitching is visible. It’s a little fiddly, but looks pretty good.

Here are the finished trousers, indicating where I placed my loops.

Root vegetable rainbow salad

Sun’s out, buns out… of my lunch box, that is. The magnificent weather had reinvigorated my quest against lunch ennui, resulting in this tasty salad.

I found the recipe that inspired me, via Pinterest, here. Feel free to substitute any of the vegetables for other root vegetables you like. I also chucked a couple of shallots in the roasting tin as I had them on hand.

Ingredients (serves four)

  • 800g (about two medium) sweet potatoes
  • 400g (one root) celeriac
  • 300g (two medium) parsnips
  • 2tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1tsp fennel seeds
  • 200g washed baby spinach
  • 160g washed other leaves (I used sprouted peas)
  • 200g pomegranate seeds, or one pomegranate if you’re not lazy
  • 200g feta, cubed
  • 2 avocados
  • 50g pumpkin seeds

For the dressing

  • 1tbsp French mustard 
  • 1tbsp honey
  • 2tbsp cider vinegar 
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled and crushed or finely chopped
  • 1tsp balsamic vinegar 
  • 6tbsp flavourless oil
  1. Preheat oven to 200C (400F)
  2. Chop all of the root vegetables into bite-sized dice. Peel if desired. I peeled the celeriac but not the sweet potato and parsnips. Place into a baking tray.
  3. Coat evenly with the olive oil and sprinkle over the fennel seeds. Place in the garlic cloves (no need to peel or chop)
  4. Bake for 20-25mins, until golden brown and tender.
  5. Combine the dressing ingredients, aside from the oil, in a food processor or hand blender and blitz until smooth. Add the oil slowly, through a funnel if you have one. 
  6. Cut open avocado, remove store, scoop out the meat and cut into smaller cubes. Add the avocado to the salad leaves along with crumbled feta and pomegranate seeds
  7. Heat a small saucepan, add the pumpkin seeds and a little sprinkle of salt and toast until golden.
  8. Mix the roasted roots with the salad and top the salad with toasted pumpkin seeds. Add dressing to taste.

I make this salad ahead of time for work. I put my roasted roots in a large airtight container in the fridge, with the feta, pomegranate and toasted pumpkin seeds in separate containers.

Each morning, I put the leaves in my lunchbox, topped with the roots and other ingredients. I take my dressing in a separate container and dress the salad just before eating. It’s a little more effort doing it this way, but gives a really enjoyable result.

The salad is also very nice undressed. You could add a tablespoon of honey to the vegetables before you roast them for extra flavour. 

How to: Banana ice’cream’

While looking up uses for frozen bananas, I came across the idea of using them to make a fake ice cream.

It’s super easy. You simply blitz them up in a food processor or hand blender, after leaving them to thaw for a couple of minutes.


First they just get broken up.


Then they develop a creamy texture as you whip air into them.

Then there are tasty add-ins. I like a tablespoon of peanut butter per banana.


A couple of teaspoons of cocoa powder is also good.

This is as close as I got to a styled pic.

I think the ice’cream’ you get is pretty good. The texture is nice and smooth, quite creamy, and it’s sweet. However, I have a highly suspicious palate. It knows when I’m trying to trick it. So I do think you can tell the difference between this and real, delicious creamery ice cream.

I was crazy for this idea when I first discovered it, thinking that it would revolutionise my snacking life. Never again would I find myself jonesing for chocolate when there was banana ice cream in the freezer at home. With time, my ardour has mellowed. Just because you can do something, doesn’t mean that you should. I like this idea for when I need to eat some fruit, but I’m too lazy to go to the supermarket. I’m not sure it’s the substitute for unhealthy snacks that I had hoped.

WiP Wednesday: Ombré silk cami

Part of my bank holiday weekend was spent at Sew Over It Clapham at their silk camisole sewing class. I chose to make mine from some lovely blue ombré silk I bought on the Goldhawk Road. I wanted to learn how to work with silk, which has always seemed a daunting prospect.

I was between sizes so I decided to go a size down. My Betty dress, another SOI pattern, came out large all over, so I hoped I’d be safe. I was also very tight on fabric because using an ombré limited where I could cut out my pattern pieces. This is something I need to remember if working with an ombré fabric again.


This pattern introduced me to French seams, which were actually easier than I thought. I got super focused while sewing, as usual, so I only managed a picture of the one on my facing. Also it’s a dodgy iPhone pic even though I took my camera along especially.


Due to the ombré problem, you can see that my facings and main fabric ended up totally different colours. Here they are showcased again in this understitching pic.


It all seemed to be going so smoothly. I should have heard the alarm bells ringing.


Cliffhanger.

Will our intrepid hero end up with a wearable top?

Will her nemesis, Professor Perfectionism, turn up to rain on her parade?

Will she poke herself with that unpicker?

Find out next time in the continuing adventures of the Crafty Crusader!

Falafel Scotch Eggs

I had a little cooking time last week, so I decided to try a recipe from the healthylicious food blog. At the moment I’m trying to watch what I eat for health and vanity reasons. According to the food tracking app I use, I don’t eat enough protein so I’ve also been trying to up my protein intake. I am a meat eater, but I seldom cook meat because it’s too much hassle. Although this is a vegetarian recipe (if you don’t wrap the eggs in prosciutto like I did), it’s pretty high in protein because of the eggs and chickpeas.

The recipe is available in full here. I didn’t make any changes apart from increasing it by 50% and swapping out some of the spices and herbs for what I had at home. I used mint instead of parsley, and paprika instead of cayenne pepper. I also used dried chickpeas rather than tinned. Oh, and I wrapped the eggs in slice of prosciutto before adding the falafel mixture. And added some sesame seeds to the breadcrumb coating. Hm, guess I made more changes than I thought!

While I did like this recipe, I would probably only make it again for a picnic or something. I need a more basic summer lunch recipe that’s closer to 30mins prep than a couple of hours. I think these would be nice with quails’ eggs too.


I would say these eggs are equally nice hot or cold. If I made them again, I would try reducing the boiling time of the eggs even more (I put the eggs into cold water, brought to the boil, turned off the heat and left in a covered pan for five minutes) to try and get a softer egg yolk. However, this would be even more of a terrifying roulette where you could end up with albumen all over your countertops. Cooking really is a pursuit only for the most extreme adrenaline junkie.

I served my eggs with a spinach, rocket, tomato and avocado salad. I also had a few tablespoons of my apple chutney to make it less dry. It would also be nice with some flavoured hummus, or beetroot dip to avoid chickpea overload.


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