Saturday, 17 January 2015

The Final 2014 Post.

Ahhhhh. All the reviews have got to come to an end. It's finally time to admit that it's 2015. No getting away from it. In some ways I've loved 2014 and in some ways I've hated it. Lots of personal good bits, lots of personal shit bits but all in all for the shop it's been pretty damn good. I've not done a personal update-y one for ages (apart from explaining the bad bits that happened at the end of last year and that doesn't count does it?) and I think it's about time. So, I was going to leave these up to the computer to order but I'm cheating because it made no sense, so I'm grouping photos together but the themes are computer ordered. I like the surprise element...

Ooof. This is quite a picture to start with. It requires some explaining. This is my favourite part of a new shawl. I bought the yarn for this project back in May when I went to Weston-Super-Mare and visited Bath. It took a long time to choose these colours but this was important. It was to replace my very first Pi shawl that my mum accidentally felted not that long ago. I couldn't find the exact same colours - one of the yarns, was spun and dyed for me and one of them was discontinued back when I first started knitting. If I couldn't exactly copy it then I needed to choose yarn that made my heart sing in the same way. There were a few options but I settled on this and I can't remember exactly what it is and I am happy. Not overjoyed, I must admit, in the same way as I was with the first one but I've worn it lots - it's warm, comfy and much bigger than the last one. Somehow this little triangle at the top is so neat and tidy and full of hope. It's my favourite part.

Can you see how it's just as extended version of the Sailing Pi shawl? I do wish I'd have made the purple stripes smaller towards the end but I forgot and bugger it. The edging's different to the pattern too, more like the original, I must admit I prefer this one but it just didn't work in the Bamboo no matter how hard I tried - too slippery. I'm literally wearing it as we speak and I just love how versatile a size it is. I've worn it variously as a scarf, shawlette, shawl and blanket throughout the week so I can see it's going to be a big favourite over the years. Just got to keep my mum away from it... 

EEEEEE! NOW THIS IS A GOOD PHOTO! (Computer, are you listening - start with the obvious photos first...). This, THIS, is a cake and a half. You can tell that by the decoration (bear in mind that this was well after Christmas, those little dec's are cheeeeeeap) but more important than that is the inside of it. I'll show you later. 

Hehe. I'm dead good at cakes me. Can you tell? The next photo shows exactly why but the cake ended up slightly under and over baked in different areas and fell apart a bit and had a hole in the top. Haha. I'd vaguely seen, somewhere perhaps on GBBO, about heating up jam and making the surface smoother for icing - I also used it to fill up the holes to be frank. AND THIS IS WHY!

Can you see what it is?!??! It's a bloody heart!!!! The other end of the cake showed the heart much better but this was well enjoyed by the time I'd remembered to take a photo for you. What I did was make a basic pink sponge; wide and flat. Once it had cooled I used my heart cookie cutters to make lots of hearts. I made a basic batter, put a thin layer in the base of a loaf tin and placed the sponge hearts carefully but firmly along the length, like little soldiers. Then I filled up the spaces with the rest of the batter and shoved it in the over. Unbeknownst to us at the time, Chris's oven was on the brink of collapse, so I don't know whether that had an effect but I couldn't get the heat right - too hot or too cold and I had to do a lot of messing about which isn't good for a cake is it? I like to shove it in and leave it until it's done but I couldn't do that with this. Oh well. It also shows the icing which was just bloody divine! I used the juice of a lemon and made icing, then I added more water and more icing sugar until I had enough. Then I spread it carefully. The jam underneath wasn't quite set so it went into the icing so I had to try and hide it by doing some marbling with pink icing. Didn't work that well but was hidden by the Christmas and Halloween sprinkles. GOOD JOB ME!

Me. Drunk. Christmas Eve. The boys sat behind us apparently kept tutting at how loud we were and eventually left. Snort. Good jumper. 

CHRIS DID WELL THIS YEAR! He bought me Hama beads! Apparently, months ago, after reading about it on Attic24 I guess I'd mentioned that I'd like to do some and he went right ahead and bought the buggers! Ha! I really enjoyed doing them but I wanted to do them snuggled up in bed or under a blanket on the sofa and it doesn't really work like that... Only one major spillage though. Seriously though, I am a genius! You get little peg boards to put the beads on, then you iron over them and the beads melt together and once they're cool you can take them off the peg board. So, Chris got me a pack of peg boards with a dragon, a toad and a star. Dragon and toad I ain't interested in. Star I am! So I made one star - the 'C' and then it struck me that I could make more than one, leave the very edge beads off, put the very edge beads from the original star on those spaces and iron over to make, what I'm sure you'll agree, is a stunning piece of visual art. I haven't done any more than this. I feel I really outdid myself here and perhaps used a little too much creativity. I think I've worked out a way to use the toad though so gimme time.

One thing I enjoyed about this holiday was all the stuff we got did between us. Here he is hanging my art work. What a man. 

Biscuits. I don't make biscuits, I make cakes, but a couple of days after doing my ear I had a hankering for easy baking that we could get done quick and really enjoy. I settled on these simple biscuits - a Good Food recipe - bought all the ingredients that we need and some glace cherries. I did forget the vanilla essence though, mostly because I never put it in cakes but they always tell me to put it in, but that seems to be what actually binds it together? I ended up using milk and they were delicious thank you very much.


Here's the proof that I don't bake biscuits. Apparently, biscuits get soggy when you bake them on a wire rack. Chris's house is not set up for baking so we ran out of baking trays pretty early on. I genuinely though that it wouldn't make a difference - it did. Still tasted good though.

There was loads more knitting!! This is a pair of socks that I've since finished and worn and enjoyed. I started it the day after my op and finished it last Sunday I think. For some reason I decided to do a short row heel - lots of drugs and a glass or two of fizzy booze definitely helped with that. I took this photo because I hated the way it looked, like an add-on or a growth but since then, when I tried them on, I LOVE IT! So much, in fact, that I've done one on my next pair of socks and I hope I love it just as much. If not, I'll just revert back to a heel flap and turn. Or maybe a fish lips and kiss or a sweet tomato or or.... choices! I do want to try a different kind of short row though - perhaps German or Japanese. Maybe next pair. I'm desperate this year to chuck out all of my old shop bought socks. I'll get there.

We enjoyed the cat. She was so happy to be home. She's back to being haughty and trying to escape now but for a few short weeks she was the sweetest, neediest cat that you've ever met. Here she is enjoying Opium and Frozen. Good cat. 

Ahhh. We took the nephew sledging the day before my op. He loved it! This is Rushcliffe Country Park and as we approached the carpark I was a bit worried that there'd be nowhere for him to go and we'd be stuck dragging him all day. Happily though there's a lovely little hill just next to the playpark which was big enough to be fun and small enough to not give me a heart attack and it was near the railway line and that's where an old fashioned steam train was making it's way back and forth most of the day. Slight meltdown on the way home when he had to get out of the sledge to walk across the carpark but a snooze in the back seat on the way home sorted that out. 

I MADE A JUMPER! And modelled it yesterday beautifully - one day I'll be able to take a good photo. Here's a bigger one for you: 

 Ever since Dawn finished her Copper Suprise - Behind My Back I've been obsessed with having a cheeky different coloured back panel. You can probably tell that if you've been into the shop to buy yarn for a jumper because I'll have been all like 'oh, have you thought about doing this....'. I thought I might be able to live vicariously but it appears not, I had to knit one for myself. It's knitted in the ABSOLUTELY AMAZING (AND EVEN MORE SO NOW I'VE KNITTED AND WORN IT MYSELF) King Cole Chunky Tweed roughly to pattern 4037 but I made it a little shorter (should have perhaps stuck with the pattern), didn't do the neck as high and instead of casting it off and leaving it to fold at the end I folded it over and picked up stitches at the base of the neck to cast off with leaving me with a permanent rolled over edge - I made the neck shorter too because I don't like things all up in my face and I know lots of you feel the same. It's a lovely simple little pattern, I just liked the pockets to be honest but the sleeves are a gorgeous fit especially around the armholes. The pockets drive you a bit mad to be honest because they're knitted in so for how however many rows you have like a million stitches but once they're cast off it's plain sailing. Good pattern. I knitted it whilst waiting for my surgery, I also took this photo:

BEAUTS! My support stockings - wish I'd kept at least the slipper socks. Moving swiftly on: 

Apparently I don't have many hats. I know I have them somewhere but I couldn't find them when I most needed them. Since the surgery I've had packing in my left ear and not only does it look grotty but I'm trying to protect it a little from getting bits in or whatever. So I decided on the way down to the parents in law that I needed one. Happily, the lovely Sue had spun and dyed the most amazing yarn for me for Christmas. I slipped it in my bag for the journey and forgot about it until we were nearly there when I took it out tried and failed to ball it up and decided to free-skein. That is where you work straight from the skein instead of making it into a ball first. I don't recommend it for finer yarn or for bigger projects or for when you've got to pick up and put down your work but this sort of thing, where you're in a car and likely to finish within a couple of hours - boom. 

This is the finished thing. I started at the top, with trebles, made a circle as big as I thought and then started doing ch3, sl-st into the 3rd st all around, into those petally bits I worked 3tr on the next row and then did the ch3 sl-st in between the 3tr all around and so on. Bit of dc when I got towards the end. Bish, bash, bosh. I didn't plan it but it was the  perfect amount of yarn for a hat. I love it when it works out like that, don't you?

And here's me modelling it, mere days after my op, looking bloody great! I've been wearing it ever since though so I'm sure you'll see it on me in the shop although on Monday I'm having my packing out! I can't wait! I am going to wash my hair like you would not believe - Chris won't see me for days - I'll stop stinking. Ahhhhh. I can't wait! 

I haven't got a photo for this but I can't not mention it - I've taken up yoga! With my hair being unwashed I was starting to feel a bit 'blurgh' last week so I tried to do some yoga from my memory. Couldn't remember it so I looked up beginners yoga on t'internet and found the lovely Adriene:

I didn't actually do this one - I did a 40 minute sequence for two days running and then her 30 Days of Yoga series caught my eye so I've started doing that. I was late to the party but I've done two sessions a day a couple of times so I'm only a little behind. I have really enjoyed it. Sometimes I've ached for days afterwards and sometimes I've not felt it at all. Sometimes I'm sweating and out of breath and sometimes I'm all floaty and dreamy afterwards. She allows you to go at your level and explains everything really well, she makes you smile (literally, tells you to smile) and she's dead funny. I recommend it absolutely but it might help if you've done some before. She also does yoga for headaches, depression, backache, winter blues, relaxation - all sorts. She's bloody great!

And that's that. That was my Christmas, New Year and sick week. Dead good time. Dead pleased to be back and you'll be pleased I'm back next week when I introduce you to the brand new lines we're having in...

Love Eleanor. xxx

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