A panoply of (sometimes) lovingly handmade crud.

Tag Archives: London

Last week I got my second OddBox delivery.

You may notice that there is a kohlrabi hiding within the more ordinary British produce. I had never eaten it before but used the stir-fry recipe included with my box as a jumping-off point. I had vegetable stir-fry for breakfast four times and thoroughly enjoyed it.

I added protein most days because I am strength training

I always think of myself as hating vegetables. I never liked them as a child, partly, I believe, because they were typically served with most of the goodness boiled out. I must admit to being a convert since I was happily chomping down five different types of root and leaf in a single meal. Due to my narrative about not liking vegetables, I tend not to buy them unless I have a recipe in mind. As I had hoped, a great bonus of the OddBox is encouraging me to go beyond my food comfort zone.

img_7786

I had in mind that this pie (separate post here) would mostly come from the box, but in the end only the courgette and pak choi did. I’ll write a separate post about the aesthetically pleasing rainbow quiche.

img_7784

Advertisements

My adventures in experimenting with reducing the amount I waste continue. Not least of which is coming up with a name for this new feature of my blog. Since I’m planning to write on this topic weekly or, I was considering Trash Tuesday. Waste Wednesday was also an option but I already have an intermittent alliterative Wednesday feature. It’s also a worrying imperative, though I suppose trash Tuesday is too. Ideas on a postcard (or in the comments).

I did get a little sucked into the hipster lifestyle/aesthetic on my second visit to the Source, due in large part to the biggest enabler in the world aka my flat mate.

I had managed to resist this beautiful vacuum container on my first visit, but it made its way home with me on my second. Look how cute it looks though. I love this thing.

We got completely hooked by the beautiful little recipe booklets they keep by the till. I experimented with making the most hipster meal ever.

However, it turns out that I am not a huge fan of random vegan powders. This contains lucuma and mesquite (which I understand is another name for maca), neither of which I will be troubling myself with again. However, I might conduct some experiments to see if I can develop a chai-spice chia breakfast pudding. That could be delicious.

Coincidentally, I am working on cutting out tea bags. I seldom have tea since I’m more of a coffee person and I have an easy system for low-waste coffee. But I do like the occasional cup of green tea. I’m trying out a few different teas from the Source. I was so pleased that I managed to find this novelty tea infuser I bought a few years ago.

I also made a big pot of dal makhani this week. I’ve been meaning to try this recipe since returning from India in January, but I really struggled to find black lentils (urud dal). I finally managed to pick some up in a random store in Finsbury Park, in plastic of course. Source sells beluga lentils but I’m not sure if these are the same thing.

I used this recipe doubled and followed fairly closely. The dal was tasty and I would make it again.

Weekly tilt

A disadvantage of trying to reduce waste is becoming hyper-aware of how wasteful society is. Here I share things that have bothered or worried me.

  • My local council does not offer a food waste recycling scheme. Hammersmith and Fulham boasts about its low council tax rates but I feel the level of public service on offer as a result is significantly worse than in other boroughs. I would rather pay more and get more.

After my last post about exploring the zero waste lifestyle, I followed up on some of my pledges. I ordered my first OddBox.

I decided to try out the recommended recipe for the sorrel. I must say that next time I have to taste unfamiliar ingredients before cooking with them! I had no idea how lemony sorrel was, so regretted my decision to substitute the recommended lemon sole for a fillet steak.

I also made cauliflower puree for the first time.

I used up some of the tomatoes and courgettes making this healthy egg recipe I discovered when I was gardening last year.

I also went for my first zero waste shop at the Source Bulk Foods in Turnham Green. I’ve got to say I got unreasonably excited when I was shopping at the Source. It just felt like the way I want to shop. I wonder if the novelty will wear off when I’m lugging jars around west London, but for now I’m loving it.

One slight concern is the cost of all the delightful organic produce. Even though I make a comfortable living in my day job, I was raised in a proud tradition of miserdom.

I decided to do a little price comparison with supermarkets on items I am likely to purchase.

With three jars and an Illy coffee can clanking around in my tote, I finally understood why people use cloth produce bags. One of my plans for the summer is to make some using some of my fabric scraps.

It hasn’t been completely smooth sailing. One of our bottles of milk got broken in the street. I have a phobia of bad milk, so this was a challenge for me.

It’s only been a week so I am remaining cautious, but so far I am really enjoying the lifestyle changes I am making to reduce my reliance on single-use plastics.


After a very challenging summer term, which included changing jobs (which has gone horribly) and moving house (which has gone well) I decided to treat myself. I’ve had my eye on a Tatty Devine rainbow necklace for an age. I’ve always loved rainbows and I feel that this necklace really captures how beautiful and fun they are. I tried the sample on at my last workshop  and knew the necklace had to be mine.

And now she is!

I really enjoyed this workshop. Since I’ve done so many, I whizzed through the construction.

I was a little more apprehensive about adding the crystals- this element is what makes the workshop necklace unique and I can never resist a bit of sparkle. Putting them on took some serious glue.

I kept my crystal placement quite close to the sample and I’m happy with that decision.

And here is the finished item

We had a bit of a debate at the workshop about whether these necklaces are really ‘handmade’ or simply assembled (my view).

The fact that the workshop took place on pride weekend got me thinking. First, I thought that I am a sucker because I bought both rainbow doughnuts and a rainbow bagel as I walked down Brick Lane.

Secondly I started thinking about taking pride in a range of identities. As a mixed race woman, it has taken me many years to take pride in both sides of my heritage, especially spending my time predominantly in the company of white people. People tend to be black-or-white thinkers, struggling to hold on to complexity when the pull of easy stereotypes can be so irresistible. It felt pertinent to see this quotation from Harriet Tubman for the first time.


Over the Easter holidays, I took some time to finally unravel one of the first sweaters I ever knit. I’ve vacillated about whether to frog it for a long time. Even though I’m sure I’ve worn this sweater less than ten times, it can be hard to accept that something you spent such a long time making simply did not turn out the way that you had hoped.

Unravelling was a lot more enjoyable than I expected. There is a significant problem-solving aspect to it. You have to remember the order in which you knit the pieces, locate the ends you painstakingly wove in, and sometimes take a leap by yanking away on a piece of yarn that could potentially make your job a lot harder. The sweater had a few areas of moth damage, which is why there are so many little balls of yarn. Wherever there was even one broken ply, I split the yarn.

Since I made this sweater before I started blogging or using Ravelry consistently, I thought I would write a bit of a memorial piece.

I can’t remember how I came to own the book Custom Knits, but this pattern stood out for me straight away.

I remember buying the yarn from Knit With Attitude, back when I lived above a dry cleaner’s in Stoke Newington. Though I had very little disposable income (I was working in a school as a support assistant), I believed even then that it was worth investing in raw materials to match the investment of time in making garments. At that time, KWA was located in a teeny tiny unit on a back street next to the amazingly named Sell-Fridges (a discount refrigerator outlet).

The proprietor was really lovely and suggested this gorgeous alpaca yarn. I have moved house about four or five times since my Stoke Newington High Street days so I’ve long since lost the ball bands, though I’m sure I managed to keep hold of them for quite a few years. I remember even popping back into the shop for advice a couple of times.

I made this jumper when I was in a phase of adding bust darts to my knits. Since I also added waist shaping, it ended up being too tight. I also managed to make it too short. So much for being guaranteed a good fit with top-down knits!

I ended up with 16 variously sized balls of yarn, which weighed 260g. I threw away lengths shorter than a metre or so because life is too short. I froze the yarn due to the moth damage, and I will wind and soak before reusing it.

I think I’m going to use the reclaimed yarn as the main colour in the Humboldt sweater I’ve been planning for what feels like aeons. I think I will have some leftover sugar baby alpaca from my She Loves Wool sweater if there isn’t quite enough.

The experience of unravelling has got me thinking about some of the other unloved knits I have taking up space in my life. I’m hoping that reclaiming and reusing can be more of a part of my journey to be a less wasteful maker.

Pattern: Backward cabled pullover

Ravelry project page


Someone kindly offered me a free ticket to the spring Knitting and Stitching Show. I’m not that crazy about shows like this as a rule. They’re such busy environments and I don’t need an excuse to spend more money on craft stuff. But since Olympia is just around the corner from where I work, I decided to go along. In the end I wished I had had a bit more time to explore, since there were a lot of exciting things happening.

Since I hadn’t paid for the ticket, I decided I would do a workshop. I ended up writing a separate post about the little bag I made.

I popped by the Tilly and the Buttons stand. I was very tempted by the Mila Dungarees pattern and wanted to take a look at a sample. I wasn’t (and I still am not) sure if the style would suit me. I decided to go along to the Guthrie and Ghani stall for some fabric inspiration. I’ve been aware of G&G online for a while, but never bought anything. Fortunately their bricks-and-mortar is in Birmingham or I would have no money (but a fabulous handmade wardrobe). The first thing I spotted was Atelier Brunette sweatshirting. I’ve been lusting after some of this for a while so snapped it up straight away, along with the Linden sweatshirt pattern.

It was when I was browsing the sample clothes that I truly came unstuck. There was the jacket of my dreams. Lauren’s version of the Kelly was everything I’ve been looking for in an item of outerwear. The only way I can describe it is heart eyes emoji.

I currently wear a Superdry raincoat as my lighter spring/autumn jacket. Although I like it fine, it’s a bit casual and doesn’t fit especially well with a lot of items in my wardrobe. I’ve had my eye out for a replacement for several years now, but just haven’t spotted anything perfect. Until now.

Even though I swore never to make another coat after the last time, I just could not resist. Lauren was also lovely and gave me loads of helpful advice. I’m hoping that I will be able to take this jacket at a slower pace and explore whether I can enjoy the process of making it. I think I’ve got to a place in my knitting where I am able to slow down a bit more, so perhaps I can do the same at my machine.

I remembered later in the day that it was attending the K&SS at Alexandra Palace a couple of years ago (just checked and it was over three years ago!) that started me down the road to dressmaking in a serious way. I fell in love with some octopus fabric on the Sew Over It stand and ended up using it to make a Betty dress.

It felt pleasantly circular to be back at a show and fall in love with a project. I’ve come a long way since that first K&SS and I’m hoping to end up with a couple of wardrobe staples.


Just as I was nearing the finish line and working on the final, extremely long, rows at the top of the shawl, I had to take an extended hiatus in order to squeeze in an urgent secret project. Knitting an entire fingering weight jumper in under three weeks killed my desire to pick up the needles for a while. Just as I started work on the wrap again, I hurt my thumb.

However, fortunately it didn’t take too long for me to be able to knit again. Before long, I’d finished the project. I decided to try out a new method of casting off, which apparently looks better on garter stitch. I used this tutorial for the Icelandic cast off.

Not the best way to discover there’s a hole in the back of your tights

My shawl came out pretty close to the measurements on the schematic. I blocked mainly to flatten it, and to improve the ‘W’ shapes. Looking at the pics made me realise that some of the lines are far from parallel, but I don’t think that’s noticeable when I’m wearing it.

Pattern: Wonder Woman Wrap (FREE on Ravelry)

Yarn: 1 skein each Ella Rae Lace Merino (Pineapple Soda) and Fyberspates Scrumptious 4-ply (Kiss)

Ravelry project page