Saturday, January 31, 2009

Merry Good Luck Job Socks

Anyone else find the wool socks on sheepskin rug styling ironic? No? Just me? Ok..

At last! Here it is, the long awaited 'Where is all this knitting she talks about anyway?' post!  Yes, I think I've mentioned that since around the end of November I've been teaching myself to knit. This started as a cheap way to give Christmas gifts as I was unemployed, but I quickly learnt that I really, really enjoyed it. And that it's not actually that cheap, so it's actually a bloody good thing that I did enjoy it!

I found that the best tip I can give anyone that is looking to start to learn how to knit but is perhaps a bit intimidated is, get a damn good book that explains everything in language that you understand, with beginners projects that are inspiring and progressively more challenging so as to keep you interested.  The book I found that really worked for me was Debbie Stoller's Stitch 'N Bitch: The Knitter's Handbook. I'd heard of the Stitch 'N Bitch movement from when I had spent time in New York, which was what appealed to me initially, but the book is actually really well written (and most importantly written for my age group so you don't feel like you're getting old before your time!) and has everything you could possibly want to know about knitting! It has step by step diagrams and instructions for all stitches you would ever need to learn, as well as projects to try out.

From using that book as a foundation, I quickly got the knitting bug for more challenges, and found The Purl Bee and Ravelry.  These are two great knitting sites (Ravelry being more of a community: think MySpace for knitters) that have inspired me and taught me lots about knitting!  There are also a lot of great knitting bloggers out there who stitch up some gorgeous work that get my fingers itching too!

But all you really need is that great foundation and the knitting world is literally your oyster..

These are the socks chillin...

So anyway, back to my finished knit! I found these socks on The Purl Bee, and thought they would be the perfect gift for my dad, not only for being my amazing father but also for being my most regular blog reader!

He, like me, has been suffering with unemployment-itis recently (damn credit crunch *shakes fist*), so I thought they would be a great gift to cheer him up. Especially since I now have managed to find a job and am no longer to be his day-time companion. I thought they could be his Good Luck Job Socks. Kind of like the job interview version of pulling pants. No? Another thing that's just me? Ok...

I found the pattern to be the perfect pattern for me to follow for my first socks, as The Purl Bee doesn't use any confusing abbreviations (at least not without explaining them first!) and includes plenty of pictures so you can check your progress.

And these are the socks having a rest...

So for all those who are looking to give it a go, here are the vital stats for you:

Knitty Gritty:
Pattern - The Purl Bee's Socks for Giving
Yarn - I used Jaeger Matchmaker Merino 4 Ply which I've found to be a lovely yarn for socks
Needles - Four 3.75mm double pointed needles

But what the socks love doing the best is to be worn!

And of course, one of the best things about knitting is seeing the finished knit be worn by the recipient. I have my fingers crossed that they do what they were knit for... Good Luck Job Socks!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

It Ain't Too Much for Me to Jam

Tea with jam, jam and bread.. or cake, whatever...

I've been really wanting to make a jam-based culinary treat for a couple of weeks now. I don't know, there's something so warming and wholesome and perfect for winter about a warm, jammy cake. And after the sparkle of Christmas is but a distant memory, and yet it's still bone-chillingly cold outside and the warmth of the sun on your skin seems such a long way away, a few baked treats are just what you want to cheer the winter melancholy. Plus, you know, we've got pantloads of Grandad's jam to use up before it goes bad...

But after Roly-Poly-Gate when everything went terribly wrong, I had to regroup and find a recipe for something less complicated.  You know, a recipe that doesn't demand that I know the difference between length-ways and width-ways and other "rocket science" details such as that.

To inspire me and get my confidence back that I could actually produce something with jam in it that would look and taste like it's supposed to, I dug out my copy of Michael Jackson's Dangerous album, and spent a good hour or so dancing along to (I'm sure you know where this is going) track numero uno on repeat... Jam:

Remember when Michael Jackson was the coolest thing on the planet? Ahh, good times..

On the fifth repeat, it was then that I realised: you know what? It bloody ain't too much for me to jam, Michael, you're so right! Man, that guy is wise, have you ever listened to his lyrics? It's good stuff guys. Except for Blood on the Dancefloor. What the hell that's about is anyone's guess...

And so I took another look in Cherry Cake and Ginger Beer, and decided upon Mary Poppins' "Strike-Me-Pink!" Raspberry Jam Cakes.

...And this was just my portion. Oh, you think I'm kidding..

Despite my apprehensions in my baking ability, I managed to carry out the very easy instructions, and they turned out exactly as Jane described in the book: light enough so that you can eat large quantities as Mary Poppins has a large appetite (yeah, I tested that out); small enough so that they can be eaten in two or three dainty bites as Mary Poppins is, well, dainty; 

There's nothing that isn't improved with jam in the middle: TRUST

And, all the jam is contained in the middle, so you don't get your fingers sticky. Mary Poppins never got sticky fingers. That would never do.

I don't mind so much about that though. All I care about is that it ain't too much for me to jam... uh-huh shamawn.. hee-hoooo

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Postal Pick-Me-Up

Sparkly Goodness

I've been feeling foolish today. It really only boils down to one reason. Essentially, I attempted to make a jam roly-poly (adapted from Jane's Mrs Beaver's Marmalade Roly-Poly in her super fantastic book) and I went and bloody rolled it up the wrong way. I did it longways instead of widthways. And it didn't really make that much difference to the taste, but the look of it was not as good as it should have been. And I was so looking forward to blogging about it.

So, I'm a fool, a goddamned fool I tell you!! 

Luckily, I got something in the post today (again!) that cheered me up.  A while ago, I won a competition that the lovely Frassy held! And today my prize arrived!


The main part of the prize was a CD of Frassy tunes. I'm excited to listen to this. Candy for the ears I'm sure!

And then there was...

Hello Kitty fun

Sartorial delights

... lots of sequins, pinking sheared fabric squares and cutout's of hearts and gorgeous model images... all because:

..So there!

Right! Frassy loves scrapbooks. Unfortunately, I do not scrapbook.... but I do have a soft spot for organized chaos and inspiration, in the form of noticeboards.  It's such a snapshot of people's personality and I love the fact that it can be constantly updated and changed without too much fuss..

My favourite part of my room

I love my noticeboard. And obviously, what I keep on there changes as my likes and inspirations and tastes change. A few things that are on there at the moment are photos of friends, bows I've collected, some kind of penguin reference (standard), a porcelain dramatic mask from my gran and postcards from things that remind me of New York. 

But there is space for some of Frassy's lovely giftage to intermingle with all this lovelyness! Yay!

But I am most excited about this that I discovered in amongst the sparkle:


More?!!?!? Awesome! I look forward to it... Thank you Frassy!!

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Who Here Likes Post? Yeah, Me Too...

This is me perusing...

I've been doing a lot of the above in the past couple of days. And by 'a lot of the above' I don't mean sitting on my ass. I mean reading! 

Reading, because with my Christmas money from kindly relatives I did a little bit of interwebs shopping last weekend, and in the last few days, BEHOLD what has arrived in the post for little old me:

My new cook book (Note in the background my current knitting project. Oh, and my beloved penguin)

This is item number one, Cherry Cake and Ginger Beer, a delightful gorgeous cookery book written by Jane Brocket, she of yarnstorm fame.  I've been reading Jane's blog for just over a year now, and so remember when she first mentioned the concept of this book, and have wanted to get it ever since it was published at the end of last year.  It's such a cute idea for a book, especially for those who read lots of the classic children's books in their youth, as I did.

You know the stuff, Enid Blyton, Noel Streatfield that kind of deal. I don't know about anyone else, but The Famous Five were like crack to my small childlike brain.. I literally couldn't get enough of it, and remember staying awake way longer than I was supposed to reading by the light of the hallway lamp under my bedroom door, just so that I could find out who the "bad-guy" was. Ha, it still makes me feel kind of criminal even admitting it now, as my parents do read this!

Anyway, back to Jane's book. Basically in all the old children's books there were always amazing descriptions of food that they ate to sustain their adventures, and Jane has basically come up with recipe's based on lots of fondly-remembered food scenes in classic children's books.  

I really recommend this book for anyone who liked reading as a child, and fondly remembers salivating as they read about delicious foods such as hot buttered crumpets, creamy porridge, sardines, hot cocoa, tongue sandwiches, ginger buns, cherry cake and, indeed, ginger beer that seemed ever present in these fabulous stories but were distinctly lacking in real life.  Just reading it as a book in its own right was a lot of fun, and brought back memories I didn't realise I still had.  But I cannot wait to try out some of the recipes!!  


The second package of exciting fun that I got in the post contained these beauties:

Knitting magazines. No, I'm not 65. Knitting is actually cool. And/or hip.

Two of the current Rowan knitting magazines available.  I have been leafing through this all day, and already my current knitting project seems far too boring, and to be taking twice as long to finish now!!

I really like a lot of the designs in the Studio magazine, as that magazine is a lot more trend-led rather than focussing on classic knits, although some in the regular Rowan magazine are beautiful as well. Again, I am chomping at the bit to get some of these on my needles!!

I aim to do a proper knitting post giving a lot of links that I have found really useful in the last two months as I've learnt to knit from scratch.  This will likely come once I've finished something that I can actually show you (i.e. not a secret Christmas gift) and I hope that will be soon!

Until then, I'm going to continue to watch the post. You never know what else might come through the door!

Monday, January 05, 2009

Oh, Nine? ...Back to Work Thank Yous!


So, I took a brief hiatus over the festive period. I mean, I think I deserved it, what with all the baking and the job-searching and the interviewing. And the eventual rewards that were reaped (a job, people... I got a job, in case you forgot!). So I had a lovely Christmas and an awesome New Year just chillaxing, maxing, relaxing all cool with friends and family.

And now it's back to work. It's a new dawn, it's a new day, it's a new mother-humping year... and it's January. And January... means one thing: Thank you cards!!

The aggressively named 'make!' by Cath Kidston

My lovely friend Holly had helpfully gifted me the new Cath Kidston craft book Make! for Christmas. As she knew that I was all about the crafting, having recently got into knitting (now that Christmas is over, and all my secret Christmas knitting projects are complete, I am now able to blog about my new favourite thing to do! Expect a post all about it very soon!).

It was all I needed for inspiration for actually MAKING my OWN Thank You cards this year.

I gathered up a bunch of old Christmas and birthday cards, and used the patterns given in the book to trace and transfer to make my own cards.

It was really easy and fun to do and I did four cards in one afternoon. Luckily, four is all I needed!

I need a manicure...

All that's left for me to do now is to write them, address them and send them off!