Stash and Love and Things

Some new stash came! Excited to see what it grows up to be. The gradient wheels were so brilliant to find. Of all the animal-fibre yarns I missed, Noro Sock held a special place. I’m so looking forward to trying these in the same patterns where I would have used Noro Sock. Whoop! Related: is Scheepjes the new Drops? Excited to find out!

There are two BSJs in the photos, so that’s probably confusing. The grey one I finished ages ago, and posted it off to the brand new little boy born this week. I found the iron-on tags in my notions box, totally unopened, and stuck one on on a whim. Never hurts to remind them something is special! They should make iron-on tags that refer to ‘blood, sweat, and tears’; actually that’s probably something on Etsy already. (The grellow moose blanket is from the incredible Magic Forest Toys; check out their shop and buy it all because it’s all completely adorable!)

The second BSJ was a special knit too. My mum died a month after my youngest was born last year, after a long and hard illness. The cream-coloured yarn (Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Aran) was part of a small stash she left behind. I didn’t have enough to make the full cardigan from it, so I added on some random purple and green from my own bits and pieces. She would have loved to have made something for the baby, so I knit this imagining that this would be for him, from her, and that when he wore it, it would be a bit of her keeping him warm and watching over him. They only knew each other for a couple of weeks, but she fitted lots of cuddles into that time, which I know will stay with him. And even though it’s a BSJ, and I went into it not really knowing if it would fit him, it turned out to be a perfect fit, which is definitely a sign 🙂

September and Cold Brew












I can’t believe I’ve managed to keep the dill alive. This was completely accidental. I decided not to invest any time or energy into something I knew had failed me so many times before, and I evicted it from the kitchen windowsill, and put it out on the garden table instead. Who knew the dill would enjoy cold rain, sudden sun, and the lashing of a lakeside wind?! I sure didn’t.

It doesn’t look like summer has left us in the photos above, but I think it definitely has. I’ve started putting the heater on, and the kids have started wearing jumpers and bringing jackets everywhere. Contrary to all the evidence provided by the weather and the wardrobe changes though, I made cold brew* for the first time, inspired by Laura’s culinary bravery. It went so well! There is so much to be said for it! It’s crazy sustainable, since it doesn’t require heat or (surprisingly) a fridge. You stick the coffee and water together in a jar, and leave it. Then you strain it a lot. Then you can stick it in the fridge if you want it to last for a while (up to a month! – which is ages!). It really did taste much more delicate and coffeey than the regular heat-blasted cafetiĂ©re coffee that I make every day. BUT, I missed that hot sup. So I left it in the fridge after that first tremulous tasting, where it stayed until about a week later. Unloved, unappreciated, and pretty much forgotten. HOWEVER, in a dramatic twist of events, we actually ran out of coffee later that week. I woke up one morning, and no coffee. This is a real disaster in our house. Chaos ensued. Until! I remembered the cold brew! It had stood there in its mason jar, just waiting to come to our rescue. I’ll never not love it again.

*I followed this recipe on the Jamie Oliver site.

Alternatives

 

I was inspired by a recentish post on the Vegan Mammy blog to step up my game on the ethical homefront. Go and read her post first; it’s fab, and then she has a part 2 as well. So many easy steps we can take when we just think about it for five minutes. I’ve had to replace a few bits this week, so tried to choose some better options this time around.

I drink so much coffee (really trying to cut down though, but can’t seem to get lower than two to three mugs a day right now!) so picked up this Pukka bamboo travel cup from my local health food shop. It’s fantastic! I’ve used it instead of getting takeaway paper cups at cafĂ©s, and brought it on the train with me. Sometimes I have to travel a lot for work, and find it’s really light and easy to pop in my laptop bag when it’s empty. It’s not a thermal cup, mind, just a travel cup, so you have to drink the coffee as fast as you would if it was in a regular takeaway paper cup. Also, how cute are they?! You can see my pink choice in the picture above. And if someday it wears out or whatever, you can compost it! And it’s dishwasher-friendly! I have all the feels for this cup.

I’ve also switched my default search engine from Google to Ecosia (you can do this easily with an add-on in Chrome). Ecosia make money from advertisements, the profit from which they use to plant trees. The Wikipedia page on the company explains it best. I like how they are following through with specific projects. The odd time, I’ll have a super-specific search that I need to go back to Google for (I don’t think Ecosia’s algorithms are quite there yet, plus they’re based on Bing so…) but 90% of the time, they’re just grand, and it’s exciting to see your tree count creep up in the corner of your browser!

I also had some make-up and toiletry gaps to fill in our shopping list, so went to Lush instead of Lidl this time. Lush shampoo bars are the greatest thing in the world. No packaging, no plastic bottles, no space taken up in the recycling bin etc. Can you say anything bad about Lush, with the standards they set for organic, vegan, fair trade ingredients?! Probably the only negatives are the terrifically annoying staff in the shops, and the fact that I literally cannot figure out how to order from Lush online. So I have to wait til I’m near a shop, and encounter the Staff. Anyway, I also picked up mascara, face powder, and a brilliant glittery rocket-shaped bath bomb for the boys.

Forgot to mention that the amazing project bag and stitch-markers in my photos above were from Sweensie Crafts and the Constant Knitter respectively. #buylocaltoo

Hey Pesto!




 

Let me tell you about how much I love homemade pesto. I use a rough recipe that you can put basically anything into, and it is delicious on pasta, or as a dip, or spread on toast. I love pesto on top of mashed potatoes! Pesto pesto. I was drawn into this pesto world by Isa Chandra’s recipe ‘Bestest Pesto‘. So here’s what I do – I just use a quarter-cup measurerer. Then into a jug I dump two quarter-cups (that’s half a cup, you’re right! but why would you dirty two measuring cups?) of any nuts or seeds that are in the cupboard. Then a quarter-cup of water, and a quarter-cup of olive oil (or veg oil if there is none!). Then a squeeze of lemon juice (from a plastic bottle if that’s what’s there), half a clove of garlic, and about two handfuls of leaves. Basil is the most pesto-y, or a mix of basil and parsley, but I throw in what is there. Kale! Spinach! Even lettuce! And blitz with a stick blender. Hey presto pesto!

Today we had pumpkin seed and parsley pesto on pasta. Last week we had cashew nut and butterhead lettuce pesto with roast potatoes. Tomorrow, who knows!

In other news, I had to search for and find some hiking boots for my four-year-old this week. It’s not easy finding vegetarian ones. So if you are in the same situation – this is the pair I bought – although this brand came highly recommended too. No suede in sight! \0/

Coffee & TV








I hope you have that song by Blur in your head now after reading the title of this post. Ho ho! Better/ worse than Live and Let Die? I have it (the Blur song) playing now while I write this. It doesn’t feel so long since that was released but apparently it’s nearly a decade?!

Coffee and TV are what have been sustaining me lately. I was giving Luther a go in the evenings. I’ve abandoned it now. Idris Elba is great, but I cannot stomach the relentless march of dead, horrifically-tortured women. There are only four women in this show – his ineffective boss (thank goodness the department has him, eh!), his ineffective wife (apparently a powerful lawyer, but spends most of her screen time getting him or her boyfriend to answer the front door), his psychotic frenemy (who’s mostly portrayed as inhuman because of her incapability for empathy with other humans), and lastly the Victim (every episode has a different dead woman, but they all die to show how clever Luther is, so). Wow, apparently this programme really annoyed me! I think it was because I expected more of the BBC tbh, although I’m not sure why.

Maybe I’d better keep the giving-out section of this blogpost up top, and mention the S-Town podcast here too. I’m almost at the end of episode 2, and haven’t given up on it yet, but golly it’s no Serial so far. (If you haven’t listened to Serial Season 1, drop everything and download it now, OMG).

On a lighter, brighter, happier note, thanks to Jenny of Crafty Tails, I discovered Jane the Virgin! What an incredible show! Diverse, interesting, self aware, referential, dramatic, hilarious -> all the things! I’m into season two now and my love for this programme is keeping pace. I haven’t felt like this about a show since Gilmore Girls! Or Damages! Or Fargo! Just amazing. I’ve been staying up way too late because I can’t turn it off at night. I guess there is an upside though, as I finished those socks, got another slice done in the Captiva, and started a Catboy (PJ Masks – don’t worry if you haven’t heard of this, that just means you don’t have a four-year-old child) hat.

Speaking of kids’ tv, it’s so hard to find something that you can enjoy as an adult too. My eyes roll back in my head with boredom when Blaze or Paw Patrol come on. But we have discovered Beat Bugs on Netflix recently and I love it! Each episode is based around a Beatles song. This has led to us singing Beatles songs in the car! And the playground! They are so singable though, aren’t they? Here – put Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds in your head instead of Blur. You’re welcome!

Tuesday

What’s going on with you? I could do with some news. It’s the kind of week that a new blog post only pops up on my Bloglovin feed every second day, and then reluctantly. It’s been so grey, so wet, humid, and heavy. Everything seems like it’s waiting for September to begin.

I’m finally done with the cardigan with all the ends in the world, and it’s ready to be dispatched to its new tiny owner. She hasn’t been born yet, so I’ll hold off until then! It’s joined the pile anyway. The Thuja socks are absolutely flying it. I discovered that I really love this yarn. I mean, we’ll see how it wears, but working with it (with nice warm Clover wooden DPNs) has been lovely. Squashy and textured. I bought two balls of it, and I want to dive into the next project with it straight away. I was thinking I might have enough for a baby vest, or a pair of mittens, or something. Although I also have a mad yearning (but no appropriate stash) to make a big grey blanket. And none of these whims have any relation to my Ravelry queue. I guess we’ll see what happens!

The cookies were rosemary and chocolate chip from Isa Does It. I don’t know. Nigella tried the sweet rosemary thing before; I tried it with her. Here we are again but with the addition of chocolate chips. I don’t know if I can get behind it. If I had to come down definitively on one side of the fence, I’m going to say – no, I rather my chocolate chip cookies be rosemaryfree. This did not affect how fast they were eaten in the household.

Thursday

Our doorbell is broken. It was broken by the postman when he came to deliver the sock yarn in the first photo above. Apparently Love Knitting put some kind of ‘this is knitting!’ sticker on their packages because, after I came to the door to see why the hell the ring had been buzzing non-stop for the last five or six minutes, he pushed the package at me with a ‘Enjoy your knitting now!’. I had a neighbour disconnect the doorbell wires, and we made it through the day after that.

The Berocco Comfort Sock is waiting for me in the ‘in progress’ basket while I (ironically? IDK) knit socks with the DK Stylecraft Tweedy that came last week instead. Love this yarn so far! Getting loads of mileage out of the two balls I bought, and thinking I will make little DK-weight socks for the boys too? Matchy-matchy with their dad! Too kitschy? I really miss that blog btw! So glad I have the book on my shelves for when I need a hit.

Holy moly but Sweet Bunting has a lot of ends to weave in. Glad the baby it is being made for is not due for a month, because I think I’ll still be clutching a darning needle, my hair turned wispy and grey, maybe making hissing noises in a cave somewhere, way past that time. I think it’s probably not that many ends – it’s just that I knit it straight after the BSJ, which is a wonder of hardly any ends to weave in. I miss the BSJ. Must identify what yarn to make one from next. Has anyone made one in aran? Does it turn into a boxy nightmare, or will it fit a child (any child, I have a variety of sizes under my roof now)?

Knitterview

I was going to make pasta for dinner last night (this one) and promised the boys as much. Then I realised I hadn’t put the sunflower seeds to soak. So I informed them we’d be having noodles instead. ‘NOT NOODLES! NOOOOOO’ was what I got in return, from a prone position on the sitting room floor. To be fair to him, he was tired, it had been a long day, and I was still talking about dinner instead of us actually eating it. BUT! After a truckload of persuasion and hugs and eating a noodle like those dogs did in the Aristocrats movie, he ended up finishing the plate! Apparently noodles are in now, specifically Yakisoba. It was a super recipe. Not sure my photo looks like much, but they were licky, sticky, saucy, big, fat, noodly goodness.

I am done with Sweet Bunting! And have new yarn! I saw this new Stylecraft Tweedy on the Cherry Heart video podcast (is that not a vlog then?). I’m always on the lookout for any new yarns from non-animal fibres to try. I’m not a fan of acrylic, but the 26% cotton (that’s over a quarter, don’t you know!) pushed me over the edge. I ordered two balls to experiment with, and they arrived in the usual great little bags that Stylecraft send their stuff out in. They are perfect project bags for the exact amount of yarn you buy! I’m thinking thick welly socks for these? What do you think? Any better suggestions? I am all ears. Mad to cast on.

Onto the Knitterview! These are a bunch of questions that the Irish Knitter bloggers dreamt up, and we’re doing it old skool, chain style. Nadia at Cottage Notebook went first. I’m second, and I’m passing the lot onto Jenny then. Follow the trail, readers! Discover new craft blogs and get to know the ones you already follow a bit better!

Tagged by: Cottage Notebook

I’m tagging: Crafty Tails

What was the first thing you remember knitting?

I used to knit for my Barbie dolls, and my mother bought me a patterns pamphlet by Patons in Roches Stores so their garments would have a bit more structure. I was delighted! I knit my Barbie a “lightweight” t-shirt to wear at the beach (it was thick as an Aran jumper).

What’s your favourite fibre?

Give me a few years of experimenting some more before I figure out what replaces wool and alpaca for me. Right now bamboo for drapey things, and cotton-acrylic mixes for springy things. But this is a cautious answer.

Knitting achievements unlocked?

Figuring out the BSJ’s ‘mark the stitch’ meaning last month.

What makes you buy yarn?

Recommendations from blogs or forums on Ravelry. That’s why Berocco Comfort Sock arrived in my post box an hour ago! :O

How do you count your stitches?

2×2. I do not understand this 5 stitch thing that other people are describing.

What colour is your stash?

Green. It should be grey. I’m working on it.

What yarny blogs do you follow?

Big list of them over there on my sidebar —->>>>

What’s your favourite knitting book?

Knitters’ Almanac by EZ. Look, you can read bits of it for free! It reads like a Laura Ingalls novel, with bits of knitting patterns thrown in here and there. Plus I love the idea of one project each month of the year. I’d love to do a year-long KAL from it. Tell me if you want to do that too!

Who is your favourite designer?

I like looking at 100% Rain and Tin Can Knits, but haven’t knit much from them yet.

Knit in the round or knit flat? Favourite needles?

In the round. Symfonie.

Favourite finished object?

I’m working on making new favourites. Two years ago, when I decided to stop using animal fibres, I decluttered my wardrobe of those knits. Before then, I would have said my Stripe Study in Hedgehog Fibres, or Paper Dolls in Brown Sheep Fingering. I gave both of those to ladies very dear to me, who still wear them, so that’s good.

Most embarrassing FO?

I made OH a jumper about ten years ago, but got bored of the yoke, so it had a scoop neck and made him look like a drag queen. I acknowledge this now, but at the time I told him he was ‘being fussy’.

Why do you knit/ what does knitting mean to you?

I’m preparing myself for the power and social status it will bring post-apocalypse, when people will be wrapping themselves in god-knows-what to keep warm, but I’ll be sporting a handspun, seamless top-down that uses EZ’s percentage system.

Now head off to Jenny for the next in the Knitterview chain! —->>>>

Coincidences

Two coincidences came my way over the past few days. The first was while reading reviews online of Mister Pip, I discovered a movie had been made of the book. And who should play the protagonist only Hugh Laurie! Just perfect – the Etonian who plays the blues for the role of the white man who saves the black Papua New Guineans with Dickens! The second was when Nadia asked if I wanted people to have ‘Live and Let Die’ play in their heads endlessly after visiting my blog. I was so pleased to think of a pun that implied ethics and food, that when I thought of the title, I wasn’t even sure who wrote the song. The first search result was Guns and Roses, but I didn’t realise it’s not their song! It’s from the 1970s Bond movie, and was co-written by … wait for it .. Paul and Linda McCartney! Imagine! As OH said – ‘she of the sausages?’. Yes, she of the sausages.

I’ve been trying to comment on other people’s blogs this week. I’m not sure why we don’t comment on blogs anymore. Even those with thousands of hits, and a million followers on Bloglovin or elsewhere, just don’t get blog comments. Is it too much hassle? Have we come to think that social media is the only place we can actually talk to each other? In the spirit of my tagline (‘blogging like it’s 2009’) anyhow, I’ve been making an effort. If I care enough to subscribe on Bloglovin, and read through a post, I’ve been leaving a line or two behind. It feels like a good move!

Made the Banana-Berry Scones from Isa Does It today. They were insanely delicious. Coconut oil is used for the hard fat, and a large part of their bulk is mashed banana. I used blueberries instead of raspberries. OMG, they didn’t even need butter, but I schlepped some on anyway. I discovered that Lidl are doing a dairy-free spread now, so there was some in the house. Goiiigeous.

Dilly

 

Today it rained and rained. The baby slept for an unusually long nap, so we did puzzles, drank coffee (this one was just me), and made a shopping list so we could eat from Isa Chandra’s Isa Does It (pronounced ‘eesa’) all week. if you haven’t heard of Isa Chandra Moscowitz, she is basically the Jamie Oliver of the vegan world. She is incredible. I have all of her books. I’d recommend any one of them in a heartbeat. She’s a hero!

List in hand, we trucked off to Lidl where everyone was excited to ride the trolley. Lidl is so good these days! Organic this and organic that for only a couple of quid. They didn’t quite have everything (tofu, sesame oil, and coriander seeds to be exact) but the Dunnes nearby filled the gaps. Except that nobody had curly kale at all – is it out of season? We just planted rape in the community garden, which the packet claimed to be ‘like kale’, and it’s a winter crop so maybe that’s it. Anyhow, spinach stood in for the kale.

Tonight I made the Dilly Stew. I’d made it before, when she blogged it in the run-up to the book’s release (here), so I knew it would be sha-mazing. Of course it was – hello, DUMPLINGS?! Dumplings are just the best thing ever. I think it’s a play on some kind of chicken stew, which I’ve never had, but I can’t imagine it tasting better than this. I’ve only ever really seen dill in Ikea food before, and I always seem to kill it in a pot if I have it for any length of time, so it was very exciting to use it here. The Lidl staff kindly kept it alive for me until I gave it the chop.

I finished Mister Pip. It did not get better, actually it totally jumped the shark for the second half of the book. I definitely wouldn’t recommend it now, cultural appropriation issues aside, since the story just dips and gets wacky. I have The Miniaturist out from the library too, but can’t decide whether to start it or not. Am I in the mood for seventeenth-century Amsterdam? Have you read it and do you recommend it? Our next book club book is Small Island, but my interlibrary loan request has not arrived yet so I have some space for something new.