Monday, December 21, 2009


Oh dear....I didn't realise it was so long since my last post! Anyway, time for some celebrations!

1. I got my registration to practice in the UK! After all these years.....

2. Thanks to this, I was offered (& have accepted) a promotion

3. I have only 2 more days at work until a whole week off with friends & family & food. And knitting.

4. Rage Against the Machine made it to the UK Christmas Number 1!!! I now have a few copies of Killing in the Name of, but really, can you ever have too many? Anyway, yay for rebellion.

5. I have the cutest baby ever. No, really, just look at that bum :)
There has been lots of knitting, sewing, baking, etc. Just not lots of time. Hopefully I'll do some catch-up blogging soon.

Friday, November 06, 2009

Evenley Wood Garden

Last weekend we visited Evenley Wood Garden for their Autumn Colour open days. True to their word, there was spectacular and sometimes surprising autumn colour:
And of course, plenty of leaves for little hands to play with.
I can't wait to see it in spring!

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

New Hat

Another lovely Drops pattern with yet another fantastic name - b16-13 Hat in 2 threads.
This is the second of these I have knit in the same yarn (leftovers from the cardigan I knit Mr B just before he was born in Drops Alpaca). The first was a present for the lovely, new Arlo - I hope it is keeping him cosy!
It is a lovely pattern, so quick to knit in the 2 strands, and it has earflaps with lovely cords on the bottom that tie it securely to his head so that it stays on for up to a minute at a time. He seriously hates having his hat on - unless you are out and there are better things to think about.
I still think this is seriously cute. There may even be more of these in my future.

Monday, November 02, 2009

A few weekends ago I went with my friend Caroline to Origin, the London Craft Fair, at Somerset House. Caroline had extolled the glory of Origin to me for a long time, and I was happy to find that she was right -it is a wonderful, interesting, inspiring and potentially expensive day out. I bought very little but came away with lots of ideas and thoughts.
My favourites:
Smith and Coates had some gorgeous baby and children's clothes from recycled jumpers, with sweet additions of handknit and crochet pockets and ornaments.
Jane Withers had a beautiful selection of hand and machine knit wares, with particularly gorgeous scarves. Yum.
Thornback and Peel had lovely handprinted fabrics - I bought some handprinted handkerchieves.

But I think the best bit was the people watching - the clothes! The hats! The shoes! To be in the company of so many stylish people....
Can't wait for next year!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Winter Woolies

Ok, Autumn woolies. But it is getting colder and baby needs a new jumper:
This is Five Fruits (ravelry link) by the lovely Oxford-based Amanda. Its a great pattern, although I didn't manage the 'five fruits' style stripes. Instead, I diligently used up my left-over Debbie Bliss Cashmerino scraps, and some Sublime Angora Merino. It was lovely upon finishing, if a bit fluffy. Now its a big fluff distribution mechanism. It looks a bit pill-y and worn after only one wash, which is disappointing. In hindsight, the Sublime yarn should have been knit at a tighter gauge. However, it does look super-cute, will fit for a few months at least, and I learned a few new things (like the hem). And, my baby is now toasty warm on those chilly autumn mornings on the bus!

Monday, October 05, 2009

Autumn Harvest

The allotment was pretty neglected this year, but we did manage a good harvest of borlotti beans. This is what has ripened and dried so far, and there looks like there will be more to come - good times!
To compensate for a pretty dismal effort in formal gardening, I've focused on hedgerow harvesting this year. Yesterday, we went out and found a bumper crop of haws, a last few blackberries and elderberries, horse chestnuts (only good to look at, but so pretty!), and sloes.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Yet another jaunt away, this time to France - Brittany, Normandy and the Loire.
Mont St Michel, in the lovely misty sunshine. This place was a revelation, just spectacular.
The Loire chateaus were pretty impressive. This is Chenonceau, built over the Loire itself. There were beautiful floor tiles throughout Chenonceau, but I particularly liked these; they were very worn in the centre of the room, which I think really added to their charm. The Chenonceau kitchen, as it was in WWII, when used as a field hospital. The coal range was amazing, but difficult to photograph. The copperware just lit up the room - the room was full! Chambord - incredible architecture, including a central double spiral staircase. We spent the last night in Ver sur Mer, in Le Mas Normand, a gorgeous B& B. We had a little farm outbuilding, decorated so beautifully. The colours and fabrics were gorgeous - this is just a taste of the quilts on our bed.
After all that, we came home and had a party to celebrate the end of the harvest season with our friends in the late autumn sunshine. Everyone bought home grown or home made goodies, and we supplied home brewed refreshments - what more could you want! I certainly can't think of much :)

Monday, September 14, 2009

Put on your New Socks

My internal musical soundtrack is becoming dominated by baby songs. Nonetheless, these socks are worth singing about. They took 18 months to finish, and I knitted three whole socks in the end (number two got unravelled to make number three after I knitted on the wrong size needles - pooh!). I love them - and I never thought that I would love coloured lacey socks! Yay for Hedera, yay for Natural Dye Studio yarn :)

And with the left-over yarn, cute little baby socks (although not for my baby, for a much smaller one!) - garter stripe socks.

Thursday, September 10, 2009


A few weeks ago, we went for a short jaunt to Prague. It was a bit spur of the moment, so I hadn't really thought about it much, but it really took me by surprise. Prague was so beautiful, and I really could have spent longer there.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

kitchen productiveness

This is the jam I have made in the past week:
There is blackberry (from hedgerows) & apple (from our tree) jelly, rhubarb (from our allotment) jam, crabapple jelly (some hedgerow, some from the pick-your-own farm shop) and damson jam (farm shop). Both jelly's needed a second boil to get them to set, but they are both delicious! I made rhubarb jam last year but didn't like it - too sweet. This year, I used less sugar but used the jam making sugar with pectin and it is beautifully tart. And the damson is a bit experimental - I haven't made it before, but it tastes lovely and rich. A nice addition to my jam cupboard :)

Baby B has begun to be fussy with his food. Not the tastes - he'll eat almost anything tastewise - but textures. And also spoons. Apparently, all he wants to eat are bread-like foods that he can eat with his fingers. And yoghurt (from a spoon). So I have been testing my creative skills on a range of finger-foods that are capable of holding healthy, nutritious ingredients. So far, success with omelettes and now muffins. Maybe frittata? Tortilla? Anyway, I better think quick - these muffins were a bit too successful - baby ate 2 for dinner and the adults of the house seem to have enjoyed them as well :) They have corn, peas, courgette & tomatoes in a pretty standard muffin base (with lots of eggs & dairy in it) - yummo!

Monday, September 07, 2009

My baby is sooooo sophisticated

I think I probably say this every time I knit a baby garment.....but I love this pattern! It is so very cute, and knits up in no time, thanks to aran yarn, 5mm needles and seamless construction. It is Baby Sophisticate in New Lanark Aran (I think it is the Donegal Silk Tweed in Cobalt - the lovely Esmerelda gifted this to me when she left these shores for sunnier climes). Its almost too small for him (doh!) but it fits for the moment, and its so quick and easy I'm tempted to get straight in there and make another!

I did EZ-style increases (back loop method) for the raglan increases (as advised by the pattern), and they look very nice. The hedgehog buttons (in case you can't identify them - it was hard to get B to sit still at this point!) are too cute! I have to admit - they aren't really sophisticated buttons but then, I don't really think that Mr B looks all that sophisticated in this. It might be the tweed...he looks like he should be sitting in a chesterfield by the fire with a snifter of his favourite tipple. But eminantly cute, nonetheless.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Baltic beauties: The sequel

Ok, don't forget Tallinn! Man, this is the place for history. Our first lunch was in a medieval merchants house with the whole medival thing going - earthenware crockery, ye olde language, staff in costume. The old town was amazingly well preserved, but the new town was very generic. Anyway, the old town is a bit maze-like, and there were some lovely little shops hidden away. There were a number of shops/stalls advertising knits or handknits, but while they might have been traditional in their colourwork, they were clearly machine knits. Some were very nice (S bought some lovely flip-top mittens with a flip-top thumb as well), but they weren't what I was after. Then I saw a shop that looked more promising, and there were these gorgeous things:

The top pair are knit flat and seamed (you can see the seam in the top one), which I think means that the colourwork was knit flat, then seamed, then a heel and toe added on. Maybe? Anyway, they are lovely! Just a bit too big, but I had to have them (they were the only pair).

The second pair I didn't do a good job of photographing - the lacework is lovely, and more prominent. But I love the little cuffs! They had these in this yarn, and in a similar yarn with dog hair knitted into it! I think it was knitted in rather than spun in, from what I could see.

Anyway, I'm looking forward to a cosy winter wearing some of my favourite souvenirs!

Monday, August 31, 2009

Baltic beauties

So, a post or so ago I mentioned that we'd been away. Most excellently for us, two of the major conferences in my field were in Helsinki and Tallinn this year and even more excellently, I had some research accepted for presentation and absolutely excellently, the company agreed to fund my trip. Which meant a nice long visit to two places that we hadn't been but were most definately on my list, at a pretty reasonable price. While much of my break was taken up with work-related business, they were both excellent conferences and I was intellectually refreshed and professionally inspired, which is really what these things are all about in my opinion. And networking, which I did pretty well (for me).
So anyway, Helsinki:
Gorgeous; clean; design and function; craft and creativity; the cleanest port I have ever seen; salmon. I managed to find a great yarn store called Oy Menita Ab (I think!), on Korkeavuorenkatu 20, in the city. They didn't speak much English, but who cares- they had lovely yarn displayed in such a beautiful way. There must have been every colourway of the Drops Alpaca and some other Drops yarns, Rowan yarns and some beautiful Finnish yarns. I bought two balls of Pirkanmaan yarn in beautiful blues. At the time, I had baby in mind, but now its home I think it might have to be some colourwork for me - maybe Selbu Modern?
Down at the waterfront there was a daily market with good food (mostly), and crafts (some junk, but mostly good stuff) - woodwork, leatherwork (mostly reindeer) and knitting. Tables covered in bright, handknit socks (for about 12 euros a pair). Lots of people knitting (even if they were selling other things). A lady with gorgeous handwoven things (out of my budget but so beautiful). The stalls changed each day - just after I ran over to the yarn shop in my lunch break, I saw a stall with spectacular hand-dyed yarn in it. Unfortunately, I decided I had used up my yarn allowance, but took a card. The lovely stall holder told me that his wife dyed the yarn with natural dyes, and she had an online shop and would ship to the UK. Her website is, and it really is worth checking out. She has the most gorgeous mitten kits - if I was a mitten wearer (or knew one!) I would have bought one there and then!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Baby yo-yo

Before we went away, I made Baby B a Froeball, designed by the lovely Katie. It was quick and easy to make (although I didn't stuff mine hard enough), and I have to say it is the best travelling toy! Great for a teething boy, lots of lovely scratchy wool to chew on. You can tie it onto your pusher/highchair/airplane seat. You can wave it around and throw it across a hotel room with minimal damage. It has a long tail perfect for practicing fine motor control. I highly recommend, and I have premonitions of many more of these coming off my needles.

Thursday, August 13, 2009


We've been away.

It was excellent. It was sunny. It was a combination of work and play, but still fun. There was yarn and knitting (not by me). I'll tell you more when life calms down a bit.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Let me eat cake

I love cake. I make a lot of cakes, and I have to own up to eating my share of them. I prefer homemade cake to bought cake, which makes it easier to keep tabs on my cake habit. While I was on maternity leave, my sweet tooth increased, and the caking making grew to match. I found a couple of good new recipes that fitted my requirements for a general, everyday cake: not too expensive, not too much butter or eggs, preferably some fruit & quick to make. This one is the king of cheap, easy cakes. You can whip it up when someone drops around for a cup of tea (seriously, if you pretend you are a slow tea maker then you really can get it in the oven while they think you are making a pot), and have fresh cake in half an hour. Impressive. Its definately an eat on the day cake, although it makes a good pudding too, heated up with a little icecream. I always intend to make a caramelly sauce for it, but I never do and it doesn't seem to matter! I have no idea where the recipe came from, but here it is:
put 150g of chopped dates & 25g butter in a large bowl (to be super quick, buy the prechopped dates). Pour over 1c of boiling water, & wait until the butter has melted. Mix in 2 tbspn golden syrup, 1/2 cup brown sugar, 1 tsp bicarb soda, 1 tsp vanilla essence & 2 cup SR flour. Stir until combined. Pour into a prepared tin & bake 30 - 35 min.
Thats it.
My suggestion is get your tin ready & oven hot first as the bicarb reacts quickly and starts making lots of lovely air bubbles, so you don't want to be mucking around at the end. Mmmmm.
I think I need to go make some cake.....

Wednesday, July 22, 2009


Birch, Yew, Pachypodium. All spotted at Oxford Botanical Gardens.