A panoply of (sometimes) lovingly handmade crud.

Tag Archives: Christmas

My travel knitting this year has been dedicated to Innocent hats. This isn’t entirely selfless as I’m trying to write a pattern for a baby hat, and I’m testing out different ways of doing the decreases. 


You will need

3.25mm circular needles/DPNs (or similar size)

A small amount of DK weight yarn. I used Baby Cashmerino for the brown and 

  1. CO 32 sts
  2. Work 5 rounds in K1P1 rib
  3. Garter stitch for 7 rounds, ending with a knit round
  4. K6 k2tog* *repeat to end of round 
  5. Garter stitch for 6 rounds, ending with a knit round
  6. K5 k2tog* *rep to end of round
  7. Garter stitch for 5 rounds
  8. Ssk k2 k2tog* *rep to end of round 
  9. K1 round 
  10. Garter stitch 3 rounds
  11. K1 k2tog* *rep to end of round (11sts rem)
  12. K1 round 
  13. Change colours and kfb in every stitch 
  14. K 12 rnds. 


Encourage the top to curl whichever way you prefer. I’m going to work on the top part as I think it could look better, but this is just the first iteration of the pattern.

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My Xmas-loving aunt requested another pair of socks for my uncle this year. I have a feeling she asked me last year as well, but I never got around to making them. My uncle is a slightly grumpy Scottish guy (note: I like grumpy people, I think they’re funny) but I think he quite likes having really bright socks hidden beneath his dull work uniform. I’m sure there’s a metaphor in there somewhere. For this year’s ocular assault, I decided to dive into my stash rather than buying a new ball of sock yarn. I’m using leftovers from my various skeins of Stray Cat Sock yarn.

I’ve just been going with my gut with the colour progression. I’m not sure this was the best idea as I feel my colour selections have been a bit off all year. I hadn’t realised that the tone or warmth of the four balls of yarn is quite different. I’m still going to keep going as I don’t think this will bother my uncle.


Making a sock seems so quick after months of working on fingering weight jumpers. I’m really enjoying this project at the moment.

Pattern: Vanilla Latte Socks (FREE on Ravelry)

Yarn: Stray Cat Sock yarn, various colourways

Needles: 2.75mm

Ravelry project page


I don’t often make gingerbread. I tend to be more likely to succumb to a rich chocolate or salted caramel kind of recipe, rather than sticking to the classics. I can’t remember what prompted me to give it a go, probably a quantum of Christmas spirit penetrating my Grinchiness.

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I used an American recipe but I weighed the ingredients so people without cup measures can try them more easily. I substituted black treacle for the molasses stated. To my taste, the treacle flavour is a bit strong so I recommend half golden syrup and half treacle. I will test these out on the people at work and see if they agree. Update: the test was inconclusive as they were all rated by parties unknown.

Ingredients

Note: This makes a LOT of cookies. Like, at least 60. Or enough for a gingerbread house.

Second note: Add whatever spices you like. Leave out the zest if you want. Don’t go out and buy any spices especially for this recipe.

  • 5 cups (725g) plain flour
  • 2tsp ground ginger
  • 1tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2tsp ground cloves
  • 1/4tsp ground allspice
  • 1/4tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/2tsp bicarbonate of soda (leave this out if you’re building anything with the gingerbread)
  • 1/4tsp salt (add 1/2 tsp if you use unsalted butter)
  • Zest of one orange
  • 1 cup (250g) butter
  • 1 cup (250g) sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup (125ml) black treacle
  • 1/2 cup (125ml) golden syrup

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Method

1. Sift together the dry ingredients and spices. Add the orange zest.

2. In a separate bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the egg, golden syrup and treacle and stir until completely blended.

3. Gradually add the flour mixture until it is all combined.

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4. Divide dough into three portions. If you want to freeze some, do so at this stage, wrapping in a double layer of cling film, or a single layer of wrapping inside a freezer safe container.

5. Roll out one portion of dough between two layers of baking parchment until 1/4in (5mm) thick, using cookie slats if you have them. Leave to chill in the fridge.

6. Preheat oven to 180C (350F)

7. Cut shapes out of chilled dough. Leave about 1cm between each cookie to account for any rising in the oven. Top tip: a gingerbread man upside-down makes an acceptable substitute for a bunny rabbit

8. Bake for 12-16 minutes, until firm and just beginning to darken at the edges. Keep a close eye after 12 minutes as these cookies can burn very quickly.

9. Remove from oven and leave to cool on a wire rack.

10. If desired, decorate your cookies. As you can see in the pics, I used a wide variety of sprinkles and writing icing as I was too lazy to make royal icing.


This weekend I finished knitting my Totoros!

IMG_3920-0

Very happy with the fit.

About eight rows in, I frogged back because I received an Instagram message from Kate Davies herself (!!) and I decided to leave my floats super long.

I included one pic from when I was carrying the floats and one where I wasn’t, and I think the latter looks much better. The fabric is a little uneven but I’m hoping it’ll block out.

Here’s the chart I made, adapted from KonaSF on Ravelry. I kept the stitch counts from size 8 in the pattern so I had 15 24-stitch repeats.

Now I just need to do the peeries above the Totoros, work the neckline and then do the finishing. I’m so excited about wearing this!

Previous posts here and here.


I’ve had the yarn for this sweater in my stash for over a year, and I’ve had the pattern saved on Ravelry for about five. So I’m pleased to have finally cast on. This is how I’m hoping the jumper will look when it’s finished.

Credit to Emmygram on Ravelry.

I plan for this to be my version of a novelty Xmas jumper. It will combine many things I love- Studio Ghibli, knitting and kitsch.

I had initially planned to use K2P2 corrugated rib on the hem, sleeves and neckline because it look so cute on my Peerie Flooers hat. However, after consulting Ravelry I was worried it might look messy so stuck with K1P1 as per the pattern and sample pic above. I think I made the right choice.

The red is my provisional cast on. This will be removed at the end and finished with an I-cord bind off either in the dark green or perhaps dark blue. I’ve got a bit of a rainbow motif going on and I loves me some rainbow.

I used the crochet method suggested by Kate Davies in the pattern and it worked really well. However, I was terrified that I might have accidentally twisted it!

I’m really proud of myself because I’ve been knitting  the colourwork two-handed! I remember reading about ‘two-fisted fair isle’ in Stitch and Bitch when I first started knitting and thinking I would never be able to do that.

Look mum, two hands!

I’m on to the endless and dull stocking section now.

Check out my floats! There are a few little mistakes I can’t quite figure out, but overall I think the wrong side is looking good.

Pattern: Paper Dolls by Kate Davies

Yarn: Titus by Baa Ram Ewe.

The green, yellow, blue and purple are Jamieson & Smith 2-ply jumper weight.

Ravelry project page


The beginning of 2015 seemed to herald the best fortune I have had in some time. I had a modicum of my life back after losing my mid twenties to my doctorate, things were starting to look up after a tricky start at work and I was winning things. One of those things was a competition my workplace held to find the worst Christmas present anyone had received. On a whim, I dashed off an email describing the One Direction pencil case my dad gave me. I decided to omit that it was a gag gift concealing the Tatty Devine watermelon necklace that I’d been coveting. I think the clincher was actually my email signature at the bottom, which states not only my professional title, but also my rather overblown job title. I think what they put in the newsletter in the end was “Dr Monique Davis, Metropolitan Area* Educational Psychologist, was given a One Direction pencil case complete with stationery set. She adds that she is twenty-eight years old.” My prize was a £20 John Lewis voucher, which I intended to spend on some very luxurious wool. But on perusing the selection in the habadashery section, nothing set my crafty soul on fire. I was with a friend who was looking for a sewing pattern, and as I wandered around the fabrics, I spotted some rather lovely polkadot denim chambray. I am absolutely obsessed with denim at the moment, so it felt like fate. I bought a metre and had exactly enough left over for some eye-searing neon rainbow bias binding that was calling out to me. had in mind a little skirt or blouse, but when I showed mum the fabric it spoke to her differently. It said “shirt dress”. Planning The pieces for this dress, for which we are improvising the pattern, are two fronts, a back, sleeves, pockets and collar. It will be pretty tight to get all of these pieces, but mum seems to be optimistic. The first step was to fold the fabric with the selvedges together and check the length. Any additional length could be cut off the bottom for the sleeves. We took my bust measurement and divided by four (adding a generous seam allowance) to get the width for the fronts. I cut the fabric thus. I was also able to cut an extra section of fabric from the back piece, which was wider than I needed. Shaping the fronts I think they call this draping on the Great British Sewing Bee. Before starting, I processed the edges that will form the button bands of the shirt (button bands is a knitting term, I don’t know if the sewing term is different). First, I ironed on some interfacing to strengthen the fabric along the selvedges.    I then folded the fabric over around 1.5cm and ironed flat. Cute selvedges, right? Draping We held one of the fronts up to my body and used tailor’s chalk to mark out where to cut for the neck edge, shoulder and armpit. The most important thing to do is check that the fabric is hanging correctly when you start. At this stage, we also pinned where the bust dart would go, and pinned out some additional darts at the front so that the dress should fit pretty tightly. Once the neck, armhole and shoulder are cut and checked for fit, you can put the two fronts right sides together and cut the other side as well. Apologies for the blurry pic. We basted the three pieces together to check the fit.  The final thing I have done is transfer the darts to the other side of the dress. I marked them using hand-sewn tacks. I have also marked where I want my in-seam pockets to lie. Pockets! There’s still a lot of work to do next time. We have to finish the shaping on the dress with back darts, then cut out and sew the sleeves, collar and patch pocket(s). I did a little sketch to help me think about where I want to add the pops of colour with the bias binding. At the moment, I’m thinking the top of the patch pocket at maybe at the sleeve edges.

Who would have thought that all of this would have come from a 1D pencil case? #missyouZayn

The winning One Direction pencil case


For those of you who don’t obsessively look at pictures of cake on Pinterest, Funfetti is the name Americans give to cake or biscuits with hundreds and thousands (sprinkles) baked into them. I’ve been looking for an excuse to make a Funfetti cake for a while and since one didn’t materialise, I decided to compromise with these Funfetti cookies. Now that I’ve typed Funfetti a few times, I have noticed what a ludicrous word it is. I am going to think up my own, better, name. Anyway, these are delicious, very sweet soft sugar cookies with a buttery vanilla flavour and a very pleasing crunch from the sprinkles. /home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/169/47065545/files/2015/01/img_0653.jpg Ingredients

  • 115g (1/2 cup) butter, at room temperature
  • 150g (3/4 cup) sugar
  • 1 egg, at room temperature
  • 1tsp vanilla
  • 190g (1 1/2 cups) plain flour
  • 1/4tsp salt (just use a pinch if you use salted butter)
  • 1tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1tsp cream of tartar (do not omit)
  • 80g (1/2 cup) sprinkles

Makes approximately 12 good sized cookies. When I make these again, I will double the recipe and freeze half of the cookies at Step 7 (see below) for later frenzied consumption. Method 1. Grease or line a baking sheet. 2. In a medium bowl with a wooden spoon, cream butter until smooth, then add the sugar and continue to mix until lighter in colour and fluffy. 3. Add egg and vanilla and mix until well combined 4. Sift in the dry ingredients and mix until you have an even, thick cookie dough. 5. Add in your sprinkles and mix gently until they are distributed evenly through the dough. /home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/169/47065545/files/2015/01/img_0603.jpg 6. Divide your dough and roll into balls, about 2tbsp dough each. Place on prepared baking sheet and press a few more sprinkles into the top of each ball. Three is nowhere near enough, incidentally. /home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/169/47065545/files/2015/01/img_0606.jpg 7. Either refrigerate your cookie dough for about two hours (up to 48 hours) or pop into the freezer for a blast chill for about half an hour. This helps to prevent the very soft dough from spreading too much. I think it would be a great idea to double the recipe and pop all of the dough balls into the freezer until solid. I would then bake half and put the other half in a freezer bag, ready to be baked straight from frozen at a moment’s notice. 8. Preheat oven to 180C (350F). 9. Bake chilled cookies for no more than 8 minutes. They may look under-done and soft, but that’s nothing to worry about. My furnace-like oven baked mine a bit more than recommended but it didn’t affect the final taste or texture.
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8. Leave to cool on the baking sheet for 3 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack. If your cookies have baked together separate them with a knife or spatula whilst still warm.
Delicious Christmas Funfetti cookie with sprinkles