Sunday 30 August 2020

Weekend WIP


I picked up this yarn at the Flock gathering back in November. It's Mr B's Hiddlestone 4-ply, a merino nylon blend. I haven't really gone for flecky yarn before but this had an irresistible combination - grey yarn, purple and peppermint green flecks - and I had recently queued a pattern that had been knitted with a flecky yarn, so it came home with me. 

The pattern is Candy Shop (Rav link) and it's a v-neck. 'Oh, you're knitting another grey v-neck?' I hear you cry. Yes. I have a type. This is my type. We all thought it was blue, or watermelon-themed things, but it turns out that this is my most commonly knitted garment. 

This is an interesting v-neck because the whole thing is knitted in the round from the very beginning, with the front dipped lower first through short rows (so far, so ordinary) and then through cleverly placed raglan increases. The need for double stitch markers has driven me a little bit bonkers and I quite often forgot to slip the stitch in between the markers every other round, but luckily this is easily rectified. I finally divided the sleeves today so I am looking forward to it maybe going a bit quicker now. 

At some point, the disparity in the length at the front/back is evened out with short rows, which should provide some interesting knitting. Four-ply jumpers are time consuming, but I have to admit that they are the ones that get the most wear in my wardrobe. 

Sunday 23 August 2020

Weekend FO

I finished this on the first weekend in August, just in time to take on holiday to the Lake District. I was convinced the weather would be dire and I would definitely need a cosy, woollen bralette to warm me up after a day of tramping around in the drizzle; I packed 4 jumpers and 2 long sleeved tops. Naturally the weather was, therefore, glorious and I didn't have the opportunity to wear any of my woollens, but, on balance, I think I'd rather have had it and not needed it than had bad weather. 

Just the one picture because Mr Z was in some weird mood and didn't bother to focus on any of the back shots, so they're all blurry - the line is the same at the back, with slightly lower strap points. 

Pattern: The Everyday Bralette by Tiara Duncan (Rav link so don't click if you have a problem with their new interface)
Yarn: Lorna's Laces Honor in Royal Wedding, about a skein
Needle: 2.75mm
Mods: I knitted the straps as a 5st icord, to make them a bit more robust. I used Jeny's stretchy cast on. 

This yarn was leftover from 2011 when I knitted a shrug with 2 skeins of it, that doesn't really fit. A shame, or I could have had some kind of weird twinset, a la Katie Holmes. It's a lovely soft silk alpaca blend that feels really lovely against the skin.

I wondered for a while about putting up a picture of me in this with my midriff showing, wondering if it was wise, given my job. In the end I decided that it didn't matter. It's just a bit of skin, even if it is really pale and flabby. 

These trousers are Alexas from Lucy and Yak, by the way, and I can heartily recommend them - unbelievably comfy for lounging and I bet they will be great for wearing on long journeys, too. 

Weekend Cooking

 I haven't done masses of baking in lockdown. I did a bit to begin with, until I realised I was the only one going to be eating it and that this would just require a lot of exercise and dieting at the end of lockdown.

However, I have tried to do a bit more cooking, now and again. Early on in lockdown, I discovered IoW Tomatoes, who will ship boxes of delicious tomatoes (and assorted other vegetables, including asparagus when it was in season) direct to your door. We have had many boxes of tomatoes pass through the front door since. I forced myself to lay off it for a while but, when I went back this week, I found that there were many different varieties available, presumably having recently come into season, and I ended up placing my biggest order yet. 

In order to sneak these in past Mr Z, I earmarked this 3kg box to making marinara sauce.

Look how shiny! I hadn't made a marinara sauce before and most of those available are for tinned tomatoes, so I made a bit of an experiment and it turned out great. 

3kg tomatoes
3 tbsp olive oil
2 small red onions (or one large, I guess - I only had small), chopped
5 cloves garlic, crushed and chopped
1 tbsp salt
1.5 tbsp brown sugar
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
Half tsp crushed fennel seeds
2 bay leaves
2 sprigs each of fresh rosemary, sage and thyme
A good scrunch of black pepper

If I'd had basil and oregano I would have added these too, but I didn't. 

Skin the tomatoes and deseed. The way I do this is with a big pot of hot water on the stove and a big bowl of cold water: immerse the tomatoes in the boiling water for 1-2 minutes, in batches, then plunge into the cold water - slip off the skins and give them a really good squeeze under the water to get all the seeds out. I was taught this method on an Italian cooking course run by a nonna in southern Italy and I can highly recommend.

Put the tomatoes in a pot with all the other ingredients - I tied the fresh herbs and bay leaves together into a bundle and put them in whole. Put over the heat and simmer gently for 2 hours or so. You'll probably have an idea about the desired thickness; I went until there was no liquid fill of a spoon draw, after stirring - if you make chutney you will hopefully know what that means. Take it off the heat, remove the herb bundle and blend with a stick blender until it's your desired thickness. This made about 5 and a half cups of sauce and I've frozen it in one-cup bags. 

It is really, really tasty. Dealing with the tomatoes was definitely the most time-consuming bit but I think there is a huge pay-off for using fresh over tinned.

I'm constantly trying to get better at using TikTok (I don't know why, don't ask me) so I filmed myself making this sauce, for practice. I am not very good at pausing before talking so I get cut off a bit at the start. I also don't know how to film more than a minute's worth of clips and then chop it down. But it is always fun to give it a go.