Archive for May, 2007

Saffron buns

Posted on Tuesday, 29th May, 2007. Filed under: Uncategorized |

 Very rich, somewhere between a cake and a bread.

Saffron bun I’ve had them come out much more yellow than that before, though I thought I used about the same amount of saffron, hmm. Look at those darker bits where the strands are, though! And when I was at the stage where I’d mixed together egg, butter and saffron the colour was just glorious.

Steep a large pinch of saffron in a little boiling water for at least twenty minutes – I usually try to leave it about an hour.

100g/4oz strong plain flour
150ml milk, slightly warmed
50ml sherry or brandy
7g dried yeast

Whisk together with a fork in a large bowl and leave to get frothy.

225g/8oz strong plain flour
½ tspn salt
50g/2oz caster sugar
75g/3oz currants
75g/3oz butter
1 egg
Egg and milk to glaze

Melt the butter, cool a little, and beat it together with the egg and saffron/water, then into the sponge mixture.

Stir in the rest of the ingredients to form a very soft dough. Turn onto a heavily floured surface and knead until smooth and springy. Oil the top, put it back in the bowl, cover with clingfilm and leave until doubled in size.

Knock back the dough and give it a bit of a knead, just a few turns. Divide into twelve, form into rolls, and place on a baking sheet. Leave to rise in a warm place for about 20 minutes. Brush with beaten egg and milk and bake at 230C/Gas Mark 8 for 10 minutes or so, they should be well risen and browned and sound hollow when tapped on the bottom. Be gentle with them, with this rich dough they’re still very soft when they come out of the oven and you don’t want them squished out of shape. Cool on a wire rack, if you can resist that long.

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Waste Not Want Not

Posted on Saturday, 26th May, 2007. Filed under: Uncategorized |

I have two sets of five 8-inch 2.5mm bamboo double-pointed needles that I’m not using at all at the moment. One of them I, erm, bought accidently in Germany as I didn’t understand what the guy in the shop was saying. Anyway, I’d already stopped using them when I got a set of 6-inch (well, 16cm) ones, and now I’m tending to use needles smaller than 2.5, too. But now two of the needles are back in use! With some Fimo, glue and varnish, I have a diddy pair of straight needles:Customised knitting needles

All very straightforward, but I’m still rather proud of them. That’s a rather small version of Branching Out in progress on them, in a too-cheap-not-to-buy crochet cotton from Lidl, it seems as good quality as the branded stuff, pity this kind of thing is always a one-off in there. But it should keep me going a while, the pack of eight balls cost me as much as I usually pay for one! Anyway, the knitting… I’m not quite sure what the point of it is, I just felt like knitting something really lacy, I’d have gone onto finer thread and smaller needles if I could. I wanted to knit a doily, but after a few attempts at starting one and ending up with a tangle of needles and thread that I couldn’t make head nor tail of, I gave up. But that is what knitting on double-points in general looked like in my first attempts, so maybe one day… There seems to be a lot of starting needles with yarn overs as well, though, and I still haven’t got the hang of that.

I know I’m rambling a bit, it’s one of those days when I’ve had to resort to the painkillers, eek.

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Chocolate Crunchies

Posted on Friday, 18th May, 2007. Filed under: Uncategorized |

Or, the store cupboard chocolate fix. These are none of your school fete stuff of cheap milk chocolate, but satisfyingly dark and fudgy.

2oz/50g butter
2tbsp golden syrup
2oz/50g icing sugar
3tbsp cocoa (I like heaped tablespoons for a bitter edge)
3oz/75g cornflakes

Melt the butter, syrup, icing sugar and cocoa together over a low heat. Remove from the heat and stir in the cornflakes – it will take a while to get them thoroughly and evenly coated, just keep scraping the bottom of the pan and turning it over to the top as if you were folding in flour. Spoon into paper cake cases and leave to set. Yeah right. I’m usually eating them when they’re still hot enough for scooping up gooey pinches to be rather uncomfortable on my fingers.

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Sizing of Tiny Tulips

Posted on Wednesday, 16th May, 2007. Filed under: knitting, patterns |

I did mean to include this information in the first place, but in my eagerness to get the pattern up I forgot, sorry!

First off, I knitted them on 2.5mm needles (16cm Clover bamboo, I luuurve them) at 8 stitches to the inch. The “tiny” is particularly appropriate as my feet are only a UK 3.5, Euro 36. So if you’re always having to adapt patterns to reduce them in size, you’re in luck this time 😉 That said, I’m taking into account the comparative lack of stretch of the Regia cotton. In that, 56 stitches is absolutely spot-on for me, but in a 70%+ wool yarn, I find 56 results in socks that are a bit too baggy. On the other hand, I’m finding I like those woollier yarns at tighter tensions, so I will end up needing more stitches. One day I intend to work on that version, which essentially will result in a pattern for a bigger sock. If I do that I’ll put it online, but I wouldn’t hold your breath, I’m quite the procrastinator. Of course it’s easy enough to add in another 8-stitch pattern repeat, but I’m not sure how that will affect the change into the ribbing on the foot, I can’t picture these things until I try them.

Hope that all makes sense, I’m probably rambling! I’m up way too late because of… yeah, knitting. I decided to try making wristwarmers, and after getting one done (time to knit one wristwarmer, making it up as you go = length of Vera Drake including adverts on Film4, very convenient) I loved it so much I couldn’t resist casting on for the second even though I was already sleepy, and now I’m done. I really have to find some self-control. But they’re great, I can’t believe what an amazing difference in warmth two little tubes of 8g of yarn each can make! My hands often get cold if I’m knitting in the evenings; I’ve tried wearing my Fetching gloves (which got me instantly hooked on knitting on double-pointed needles and so soon onto socks) but they get in the way that bit too much, so these should be perfect! My mum’s already put in an order for a pair for herself, so I know what I’ll be doing tomorrow evening, too. (No photos as my camera doesn’t like artificial light and it is, as I said, the middle of the night.)

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Tiny Tulips sock pattern

Posted on Tuesday, 15th May, 2007. Filed under: knitting, patterns |

I know it’s a horrendously cutesy name, but then they’re horrendously cutesy socks. I hope the pattern all makes sense as it’s my first attempt at writing one, but I think it should do. These are by far my best-fitting and most comfortable pair of socks yet, I love them! They’re in Regia cotton, which I also love, it’s very soft and snuggly.

Tiny Tulips socks Click for the big version.

Cast on 56 stitches, using this picot cast-on: using cable cast-on, cast on 4 stitches, cast off two, slide the stitch remaining on the right needle back to the left, repeat until required number of stitches is reached. Distribute stitches across three needles, arranged 16/24/16, and join.

Knit one row, pulling the stitches firmly to close the gaps from the cast-on.

Round 1: k1tbl, p2, k3, p2, repeat to end.
Round 2: s1 (knitwise), p2, k3, p2, repeat to end.
Round 3: As round 1
Round 4: As round 2
Round 5: As round 1
Round 6: s1, p2, yo, sl1, k2tog, psso, yo, p2, repeat to end.

Work for approximately 3 and a half inches; ending with round 5, work to last stitch of round, slide this stitch from needle 3 to needle 1.

To divide stitches for heel, work next 28 stitches (including the one you just transferred) onto one needle thus: k1, work in pattern for 25 stitches, k2.
Knit next 28 stitches onto another needle. Working on these 28 stitches,
Row 1 (WS): s1, p1, repeat to end.
Row 2: s1, knit to end.
In this pattern, work 35 rows.

Turn heel:
s1, k15, ssk, k1, turn
s1, p5, p2tog, p1, turn
s1, k6, ssk, k1, turn
s1, p7, p2tog, p1, turn
s1, k8, ssk, k1, turn
s1, p9, p2tog, p1, turn
s1, k10, ssk, k1, turn
s1, p11, p2tog, p1, turn
s1, k12, ssk, k1, turn
s1, p13, p2tog, p1, turn
s1, k14, ssk, turn
s1, p14, p2tog, turn

Knit across heel stitches.
With a new needle, pick up 20 stitches along edge of heel flap (needle 1)
With a new needle, k1,* k1tbl, p2, k3, p2, repeat from * to last 3 stitches of needle, k1tbl, k2 (needle 2)
With a new needle, pick up 20 stitches along edge of heel flap, and knit next 8 stitches (needle 3). Slide the remaining 8 stitches onto needle 1.

Next round
Needle 1: Knit even, knitting picked-up stitches through back loops
Needle 2: k1, *s1, p2, k3, p2, repeat from * to last 3 stitches, s1, k2. Note this and previous row form fancy rib pattern that will be continued on this needle to the toe.
Needle 3: As needle 1.

Decrease round
Needle 1: Knit to last 3 stitches, k2tog, k1
Needle 2: Work even
Needle 3: k1, ssk, knit to end.

Alternate even and decrease rounds until 14 stitches remain on each of needle 1 and 3. Continue without further shaping to 2 inches short of foot length required.

Work a decrease round:
Needle 1: knit to last 3 stitches, k2tog, k1
Needle 2: k1, ssk, knit to last 3 stitches, k2tog, k1
Needle 3: k1, ssk, knit to end.

Knit two rounds even.
Work a decrease round followed by two even rounds, three times more.
Work a decrease round followed by one even round, twice.
Work four decrease rounds. 16 stitches remain. Knit next four stitches, graft remaining stitches together.

Weave in ends.

I added rambling about the sizing of these socks here, and I now also know that my shoe size is a US 6.

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Ask and ye shall receive

Posted on Monday, 7th May, 2007. Filed under: yarn |

From the clearing out of my grandparents’ house since my grandad died, one yarn swift: (Apologies for the quality of these photos, they were taken at my mum’s – so no choice in the backgrounds – and in very artificial light, which my camera really doesn’t like.)

Yarn Swift

Yarn Swift

At least we assume that’s what it is, anyway, it certainly does the job. I don’t think it’s actually any quicker than winding it off my knees, but it’s a whole lot more comfortable! And the thing folds up to such a dinky size:Yarn Swift folded

I’m so pleased with it!!

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Seed cake recipe and sock yarn stash

Posted on Wednesday, 2nd May, 2007. Filed under: baking, recipes, yarn |

I always wanted to try seed cake as it was mentioned in so many old novels I read, but I didn’t even really have any clue what it was until last year sometime. After finally trying it, I wasn’t quite sure what to make of it, both the flavour (liquorice-y) and the texture of the caraway seeds are very strange to find in a cake when you’re not used to it. However, a slice or two further in and I was definitely a fan. Unusual but delicious, and knowing it’s so old-fashioned just makes it more fun!

As usual, I’ve ended up coming up with my own recipe adapted from a combination of others in my collection of books and my own favourite ways of doing things.

100g butter
100g + 2tspn caster sugar
150g self-raising flour
2 eggs
3tspn brandy
2 1/2 tspn caraway seeds

Cream the butter and sugar (apart from the extra two teaspoons) until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time, adding a spoonful of flour with each. Add the brandy, and fold in the rest of the flour and two teaspoons of caraway seeds. Put into a 1lb loaf tin, smooth the top, and sprinkle with the remaining sugar and half teaspoon of seeds. Bake at 160C/Gas Mark 3 for 50 minutes – 1 hour, until firm and springy and a skewer comes out clean.

Seed cake

And now on to the knitting. I finally got my yarn I’ve been waiting for! The first parcel ended up officially lost, I hate stupid Royal Mail!! And by the time this had been established, they (Violet Green) had run out of the yarn that made me order in the first place, as it reminded me of parrots. 😦 They were very nice and helpful, though, and I chose some reasonably similar replacements.


It’s such gorgeous stuff! I actually squealed and said “oh wow!” when I put my hand in the bag because it felt so soft and lovely. The ones on the left and in the middle (OK, I only bought an undyed skein because it was cheap) are merino, the one on the right is pure silk, so I’m still trying to decide how best to proceed with it for use in socks without falling down round my ankles. Although the fact that I like them not much above my ankles to start with will no doubt help. This is the first time I’ve bought yarn in skeins, and after winding that silk into a ball, I’ve decided I need a yarn swift. It took me over an hour! And my shoulder was so achey by the end. I actually enjoy winding balls of yarn and often rewind ones I’m using anyway, but it’s all the reaching to uncoil it from around my knees/feet (I haven’t decided which works best) that did me in.

I’ve knitted the first of a pair of Hedera in white On-Line (or whatever it’s called) yarn, also because it’s cheap. I don’t know when the other one’s going to get done though, as right now I’m starting on a pair in Regia cotton that I hope will be my first attempt at writing out a pattern properly! *I* know what I’m doing when I start experimenting, but getting it into a format that makes sense to other people is another matter. I’m very pleased with how they’re looking so far, hope I don’t mess anything up as they progress.

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