Knit Nat

I’ve always found bread challenging. Cakes, cookies and desserts have never been a problem. But bread never seems to work out for me. So, inspired by Elisa Blaha’s challenges that she sets herself, I though I would undertake a baking challenge this year – try and bake 30 different breads (be it loaves, rolls or perhaps something different like croissants – not exactly bread, but you have to knead it etc.). I’m hoping that this will help my technique and give me better results 🙂

So, to start off the year, I made Beer Bread.

Beer BreadI stumbled across the recipe from a knitting blog, but the recipe is from Dine & Dish, a new to me blog. The recipe couldn’t be simpler. Literally chuck it all in the bowl, mix, pour into a greased bread pan and cover with melted butter. Put it in the oven, and an hour later you have delicious beer bread 🙂 No need for kneading, yeast or fancy techniques. A nice and easy recipe to start of the year!

I’m not a fan of beer, but I do like beer in things, like beer batter etc. I found this bread very tasty and moreish and will definitely be making it again!

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So I mentioned in my last post that I would do something like 100 goals in a year, something similar to 101 goals in 1001 days. I’ve come up with the list below so far – some fairly similar goals here and there, but I’m sure I’ll add more as I think of them (although I doubt I’ll think of 100!).

Health and Wellbeing

  • Do some sort of exercise at least 3 times a week (yoga, walking, pilates, exercise vids etc.)
  • Work on my flexibility
  • Take my make up off every night (so bad at this)
  • Moisturise, moisturise, moisturise!

Cooking & Eating

  • Try to think in terms of regret when making choices e.g. Am I really going to regret saying no to this dessert 5 years from now?
  • Cook more from scratch and cleanly
  • Try more recipes and cook from my cookbooks more
  • Less take aways
  • Bake bread more often (30 breads)

Beer Bread

Crafts

  • Finish at least 2 pairs of socks
  • Finish the Starfish cardigan
  • Do more colourwork
  • Knit a few times a week
  • Dye my own yarn
  • Join a new knitting group
  • Start a quilt
  • Sew a dress
  • Don’t stop knitting in Spring/Summer!
  • Start Christmas handmade gifts early
  • Start Project Life!
  • Print out Instagram’s as magnets etc.

Social

  • Plan 2 date nights a month
  • Call my grandma once every two weeks
  • Go out more with friends

Sylvester

Finances

  • Try and save 10% – 15% of my salary every month
  • Minimise craft buying

Travel/Going Out

  • Take more pictures (Instagram & with my digital camera)
  • Go on at least 2 or 3 holidays/trips abroad
  • Explore London more often and take weekend trips around the country
  • When it’s nice outside, go on more picnics, walks etc.

Misc

  • Blog at least once a week
  • Get creative with posts like photo an hour posts, colour posts etc.
  • Read 10 books
  • De-clutter the apartment

I was looking through the goals I set last year, and I was pleased to see that as far as knitting went, I accomplished some things I didn’t think I would. I started meeting up with a knitting group regularly (which I’ve since stopped). I thought I would never work up the courage to do so. I also tried colourwork for the first time at Christmas. They are Game of Thrones Direwolf mittens (LINK) and I have to say, once you bite the bullet and just go for it, it’s not as daunting as you think. And the mittens are turning out really nice 🙂

So, those are my goals for the year. I’ll do a post now and then to check up on how I’m doing.

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So, it’s been a while.

I could go into the usual foray of reasons for neglecting the blog, but I’d rather focus on just starting (again) on here and documenting my knitting adventures. 2013 wasn’t the greatest of years of my life. Too many negative things happened. But there are some nice things that have happened along the way, adopting a cat we have named ‘Sylvester’, and being more creative than I’ve been in years.

So, I’m not going to put pressure on myself with this blog. I will write when I write. But I think I’m going to take a new stance of how I look at the blog. It’s a place for me to write down memories and keep a log of my crafty projects. Not be too pedantic about what types of posts I should be doing or trying to follow a schedule.

Anyway, I was thinking of partaking in the 101 goals in 1001 or whatever it’s called, but instead of a having the goals in 1001 days, I might just do 100 goals for the year. I like fresh starts at the beginning of a year, and 100 goals is more than enough 🙂

Happy New Year!

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Butterfly

Having not been here for most of this year to review the goals I set out back in January, I thought I’d do a quick recap, see what I had written and if I have been working on any. Although the fact that I can’t remember what I wrote does kind of give you an idea that I haven’t really thought about them…

Back to knitting the sock again, after a long hiatus!

It’s still 2012 though, and being the the type of person that believes they can accomplish things in short spaces of time, I’m sure I can complete a handful of these!

Knitting

  1. Have a go at Intarsia and/or Fair Isle. I did mention that it didn’t matter if this turned out to be just a practice swatch. It would still be trying Intarsia/Fair Isle for the firs time! There are a few patterns in my queue for knitted baubles and cushion covers which I’m sure I want to do leading up to Christmas
  2. Make at least 6 pairs of socks. Ahem. Well… I still haven’t finished that sock I was documenting on here! I certainly won’t be knitting 6 pairs, I’m not that optimistic about this goal! I’m sure I can finish the one pair at least though.
  3. Knit a jumper/cardigan. This could possibly be achieved. I really want to knit myself a cardigan or sweater, as I’m too picky with the shop ones. It would be great to accomplish this when the weather gets really cold.
  4. Learn some other knitting techniques. Aha! Now this one I can cross off!!! In creating the pair of socks, I have learnt how to do a short row toe and heel! I really enjoyed this new technique and once I got the hand of it, it got easier. I’m sure I will learn more new things, but I can at least I can say I’ve learnt one new thing 🙂
  5. Go to a Stitch London meeting. This goal I could have achieved whilst living with my parents, but trying to arrange going home every week and getting someone to pick me up after the meet ups would have been annoying. But now I’m living in London again, I don’t really have an excuse. I’m going to try and go to a meet up this year. At least one!
  6. And finally, knit more for myself. Well, as there’s not been much knitting, there obviously hasn’t been much knitting for myself. But hopefully I can rectify that with something for the winter months coming up. Maybe a pair of socks or cardigan with intarsia, and then I’ve knocked a couple of goals on the head at the same time 😉

Alvin's Birthday Cake - Butterscotch Layer Cake

Non-Knitting

  1. Keep on baking. I’ve baked a fair few things this year, which I’m pleased about. It’s been mostly for celebrations like Birthdays, so I’m at least continuing. I want to bake more often though. I’m crossing it off, even though it’s not the end of the year yet, as I’m being consistent – I made a Victoria sponge last Sunday 🙂
  2. Try out different recipes. Now we’ve got our own place, I am starting to try new recipes, but there’s still so many to try and so many cookbooks I own but have hardly tried.
  3. And then there are the usual goals – I’m exercising in the morning before work at the moment, since I can leave the flat later than when I was with my parents. Hopefully I can continue exercising in the morning as it’s really the only time I get to do it! As for other goals, I still procrastinate, but try not to, trying to eat healthier now we cook our own food. It’s a continuous goal!

All in all, it’s quite surprising to see that there are a couple of things I’ve kind of done! But I’m not surprised to see a lot not done, especially the knitting goals. But there’s still a few more months of 2012 left to accomplish some more!

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In the garden...

It feels like years since I updated this blog – way back in February. My last post showed snow! I’m afraid I have what is the usual set of excuses. Back when I did my last post, I think I was just getting into a huge project at work. We overhauled the company’s website design and back end system, and being the senior web designer, I was in charge of the branding, design and testing when it was launched. Since the site launched, things have settled down on the work front, so I’m not getting back home exhausted and not wanting to do anything.

At the same time as being busy at work, it’s also been busy personally. Alvin and me bought a flat in August! We knew it was the place for us when we set foot inside for the first time. It’s in North London (we were previously living with my parents outside of London), which means getting to work by walking and taking the Tube, no more having to leave places early to make the long trek back home, being able to meet up with people and stay out spontaneously… It’s all great!

At the Woseley having afternoon tea!

We have a spare bedroom, which will be great for people staying round, a nice big living room with a dining area to entertain and a little patio where I intend to start a mini veg and herb garden! I’m hoping that moving into our own place will help get me back into my favourite hobbies, like baking without worrying about messing up my mum’s kitchen etc.

I did manage to knit the baby booties I mentioned a while back for Alvin’s cousin’s wife. I made the booties using the KnitPicks Summer Vacation yarn I bought as the baby’s sex was going to be a surprise. I finished them in time for the baby shower and she loved them, I was so happy! She had a little girl in the end, so I can see myself planning more baby girl stuff to knit!

Baby Booties finished!

I also started on a red Beret from Stitch ‘n’ Bitch Superstar Knitting. I’m not sure whether I like it enough to wear myself or if I’ll give it away, but it’s a really fun knit. I love knitting cables! I  joined the Yarn to Knit yarn club for 3 months and received some gorgeous soft and squishy yarn. I’ll be making lots of socks with them!

Received 1st Yarn to Knit Sock Club - gorgeous and soft!
And that’s it for Yarn related things!

Big events happened this year as well. We went to the Olympics! Alvin managed to get tickets for the Women’s Hockey. It was an amazing day out, didn’t rain the whole day and was so pleased to have been at a once in a life time event. Everyone there was in a great mood, the sport was so fun to watch and I would go again if I got the chance!

Match 2 - NZL vs RSA

A sad event happened this year. Our dog Rupert had to be put down. He was old and not too well, although perfectly happy and not in pain until that point. His liver and kidneys failed and so we knew the time had come. He was the most amazing dog. I’m glad he’s not in any discomfort now and resting in peace in his favourite woods.

Rupert relaxing

It is now my favourite time of year: Autumn, and with Autumn comes the need to wear things a little warmer. I’m hoping to make a big dent in my stash this year and churn out projects for the colder months. Maybe not go quite so crazy with the knitted Christmas gift ideas like last year! But I definitely want to make a few things for family and friends. We’ll see 🙂

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Quick sock update: I envy those who seem to be able to churn out socks like there’s no tomorrow. I am still knitting away at the basic sock and I’m only halfway through, about to do the heel. I know that it’s my first proper sock, it’s man-sized (so fairly big) and knit using tiny yarn and tiny needles, but it would just be nice not to spend 2 months per sock, which seems to be the time it’s taking so far. And I think I’m spending an OK amount of time on them amongst the busyness that is life – I get a few evenings a week, and any time during the weekend knitting it. Maybe I need to ramp it up a bit more. I don’t know! But I am enjoying it none the less, even if it is taking a while…

It snowed!

It snowed over the weekend!

Onto the acquisitions. I purchased some yarn from Knit Picks with these baby booties in mind. Again, I seem to be going back to knitting things for other people (the sock earlier isn’t for me, which you probably got from the fact that the socks are ‘man-sized’) and when I found out that one of Alvin’s cousins is pregnant, I just have to cast on a pair of the cute little booties! There are so many colour combinations from different people’s versions, so I had to follow suit and get some variegated yarn to make them. I don’t know if she wants to know the sex of the baby or if it’ll be a surprise, so I covered all bases (of course I did, it meant I could buy more gorgeous yarn!):

Knit Picks Imagination in 'Damsel'

Knit Picks Imagination in 'Damsel'

If it’s a girl, I’ll use Knit Picks hand painted Imagination yarn in ‘Damsel’.

Knit Picks Stroll Hand Painted in 'Lullaby'

Knit Picks Stroll Hand Painted in 'Lullaby'

If it’s a boy, Knit Picks Hand Painted Stroll yarn in ‘Lullaby’.

Knit Picks Stroll Hand Painted in 'Summer Vacation'

Knit Picks Stroll Hand Painted in 'Summer Vacation'

And for either, Knit Picks Hand Painted Stroll yarn in ‘Summer Vacation’.

They are such lovely, squishy, soft, colourful yarns, I can’t wait to knit with them! I’m thinking of starting the multi-coloured ‘either girl or boy’ booties first, so that whatever happens, there are some finished booties waiting. And then I’ll get on with the blue and pink ones. There are quite a few cousins who are settling down, so I can see myself knitting a whole line of multi-coloured booties 🙂

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Apart from the Toddler Mittens that I managed to finish in time for my Niece’s Birthday, the only knitted gift I managed to finish was my Mum’s scarf (it was finished Christmas Eve!). I started my Grandma’s scarf at some point though, but changed the pattern from a mistake rib to something else, but can’t remember what it’s called… Anyway, that’s still a work in progress.

My Mum's Scarf

My Mum's Scarf

Following on from my resolutions in my last post, I’ve started a basic sock as my first ‘12 Socks in 2012‘ project. For Christmas, I got ‘Socks from the Toe Up’ as I wanted a good book to tell me exactly what to do and where when knitting socks (as well as a book full of patterns that I want to knit, not just half of them). And I have to say, even as a beginner knitter, the book is clear and easy to follow. Of course, there were things that I needed to clarify by watching YouTube videos and looked up a few things, but I’m really please with how my sock is going!

Socks from the Toe Up

Socks from the Toe Up

It’s quite slow going with the sock. I’ve never knit with anything thinner than DK weight yarn and nothing smaller than size 4mm needles, and it’s also my first ever sock, so it’s to be expected that it’ll take a while to finish. Just a couple more inches and then I knit my first heel ever. I’m definitely going to cast on the second sock straight away to avoid second sock syndrome!

The sock is coming along nicely

The sock is coming along nicely

I know that one of my resolutions was to knit more for me. Well… these socks are for my boyfriend, Alvin… But I will definitely be knitting some socks for myself soon I think, carrying on the 12 socks in 2012 🙂

In other knitterly news, I purchased my first sock club subscription from Yarn to Knit. I don’t have the budget to spend £200 on a yearly knitting club, but this one seemed perfect. It’s 3 months at a time, £35 including p&p (so £35 for 3 months) and it’s lovely hand dyed wool. I love surprises, especially of the sock yarn kind 😉

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Happy New Year!

As this is my first New Year where I am knitting, I thought I’d write down some knitting goals to achieve this year. I call them goals, because I’ve never believed in ‘New Years Resolutions’ – I think this name gives people pressure to change whatever it is they are trying to change and eventually give them up. Obviously this is not always the case. Plenty of people keep their resolutions, but I am not usually one of them! So I am going to list ‘knitting goals’ for myself to achieve throughout the year (and maybe some non-knitting related goals to shake it up a bit). So, here goes:

Knitting

  1. Have a go at Intarsia and/or Fair Isle. I have never done this before and to me this will be one of my biggest knitting challenges. I’m not putting the pressure on to knit a particular item using colour work, just to at least try, even if it turns out to just be a practice swatch.
  2. Make at least 6 pairs of socks. I’m putting a number on this one, as socks are very portable, quick to knit and as gifts, I think one of the most acceptable. I’ve joined the 12 Socks in 2012 group on Ravelry to help with this. I always admire hand knitted socks, so it’s time to just start knitting!
  3. Knit a jumper/cardigan (or sweater for those form the US). Another big knitting challenge. I want to at least try knitting a cardigan or jumper. Either for myself or a baby sized for my niece (which would be much easier!). Never knit one before, so why not!
  4. Learn some other knitting techniques. Apart from the colour work goal, I’d like to learn some different cast ons, maybe the magic loop method and possibly try lace as well.
  5. Go to a Stitch London meeting. I’ve always wanted to go to a knitting meet up with fellow knitters, but have never had the guts to just do it. It may sound silly, but to anyone else who’s is also a little on the shy side, you’ll understand! So this year, I need to bite the bullet and just go to one. They meet in venues around London, from 6pm (which is perfect seeing as I work in London) and I know I’d enjoy myself immensely once I’m there.
  6. And finally, knit more for myself. I have a bad habit upon learning anyone’s birthday or an event or holiday coming up – I get a sudden burst of inspiration to knit gifts for people. I love knitting things for people, but I need to be a little more selfish and make some items for myself. It also gets rid of the pressure of getting things done by certain dates!

Non-Knitting

  1. Keep on baking. Sounds a bit weird to say keep on baking rather than bake more or whatever, but in recent months I have been making the effort to bake things for birthdays and family gatherings, and I feel good putting in the effort and sharing the sweetness 🙂
  2. Try out different recipes. An extension of the above goal. I have my tried and tested favourites, it’s time I branched out and tried some different recipes. Not just baking, but savoury dishes as well. I have so many lovely cookbooks, I should try and step out of my comfort zone!
  3. And then there are the usual goals – eat healthier, start exercising again, procrastinate less…

..And I think I’ll leave it there before I list so many knitting goals, I won’t be able to even look at the list! Good luck to anyone else setting goals for the year ahead and hope you’ve had a great start so far!

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I have a finished object!!! I finished the Toddler Mittens a week before my niece’s Birthday, which I was really pleased about.

Toddler Mittens

Toddler Mittens

Took 3 attempts to get them right; with the first one I managed to completely miss out alternating plain knit rows when I was increasing the body of the mitten! The next two were better as I got used to the pattern.

Toddler Mittens

Toddler Mittens

They came out a little bigger than toddler size, but that’s most likely due to me forgetting to knit a gauge swatch, as usual…

Speaking of knitted gifts, an update (more for me) on my knitted gifts list:

  1. Wash Cloths: friend (surprise gift) –  DONE!
  2. Toddler Mittens: my Niece – DONE! Didn’t do a scarf in the end
  3. Beer Gloves: Alvin [ASAP]
  4. Mistake Rib Scarf: my Mum [Christmas present] – WIP
  5. Mistake Rib Scarf: my Grandma [Christmas present]

Gifts that are being postponed for after Christmas (no surprises for most of them!):

  1. Mistake Rib Scarf: my Sister [Christmas present] I’m doing socks instead now!
  2. Palm Readers: Me! [Whenever I have time]
  3. Star Crossed Slouchy Beret (using the same yarn to go with the Palm Readers): Me [Whenever I have time]
  4. Gretel hat: Me [Whenever I have time]
  5. Mr. Pitt’s Socks: my Dad [Christmas or Birthday present – 6th February]
  6. Tea Time Blanket: my Niece [Biggest project and of course I was convinced it’d be done by Christmas! I think it’ll post Christmas now]

So, it’s slow progress. I’m really hoping I’ll get the two scarves done in time for Christmas. Fingers crossed!

 

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Just before we went to Paris, I took advantage of the free delivery on Great British Yarns (one of the newsletter subscriber offers) and bought some Knit Picks yarn. I’d heard a fair amount about Knit Picks yarn (mostly from Kristen’s Yarngasm podcast!) and was so happy to find out that Great British Yarns sell Knit Picks to the UK. They have so many colours and I was particularly happy that they had the hand painted imagination yarn.

Knit Picks Yarn

Knit Picks Yarn

From left to right: Knit Picks Stroll in Aurora Heather (they are like fir tree green, you can’t really tell by the picture – 3 skeins ordered), Knit Picks Imagination in Unicorn (2 skeins ordered) and Knit picks Palette in Orange (3 skeins ordered). Two of the colours were on my Knitlist for October, so it’s nice to have a few items I wanted! They are all going to be knitted to make socks for other people. I daren’t talk any more about it in case those people read this and spoil the surprise! But just to say, these will be post Christmas gifts – I’ve got Christmas gifts still to finish!

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