Wednesday, October 21, 2009

EXTERMINKNIT!!!

When I saw the pattern for a knitted Dalek on Ravelry, I knew the amazing Unkie D had to have one.

Its actually a really well-written pattern - obviously composed by someone who thought extensively about the structure of a dalek, and wrote a pattern for it knitted in one piece (apart from the "manipulator arm", "blast gun", and "eye stalk" - as they said in the pattern...whatever!) It is knit in the round with a provisional cast-on and grafted with kitchener stitch, thereby leaving no seams. Which, as a knitter, I'm impressed by. For those of you who have absolutely no interest in the geekery of knitting, it is both an art and a work of engineering you have yet to find joy in...

Pictured here with the EXFOLIATE washcloth...(also knit for a VIP)

...and extermiknitting...

...and taking over the world, starting with the passage tombs at Carrowkeel...

Friday, October 16, 2009

Giant Daisy Headband

The design for this came along due to sloppy knitting really – I decided not to bother working out the rate of increases and ended up with a long tail at the start. Instead of ripping back I decided this long tail would be knotted to form a “button”, and a “buttonhole” at the other end would complete the fastening. That way it is also adjustable, and when it stretches from being worn you can just tie a knot further up, or use a figure-of-eight knot. It is reversible too.

The headband is knitted lengthways, using increases to make it wider in the middle than the ends. It doesn’t really matter what the tension of the yarn you are using is – you could just start off with 4 stitches and increase until it’s the width you want, then decrease.

I used some lovely Italian yarn I was given called Arianna Grignasco, and knit it on smaller needles than recommended to get a nice rib. I used 4mm needles. (It recommended 6-7mm)


Gauge:

On 4mm needles, using k2, p4 rib;

16sts or 28 rows = 4”

CO – cast on

st/s stitch/es

k – knit

p - purl

m1 – make one

kfb – knit into front and back of next st


Pattern:

CO 4 sts

k all sts

p all sts

k2, m1, k2

(p2, k1, p2

k2, p1, k2) do these 2 rows 3 times

p2, kfb, p2

(k2, p2, k2

p2, k2, p2) three times

k2, p2, k2

p2, k1, m1, k1, p2

(k2, p3, k2

p2, k3, p2) twice

(k2, p1, k1, p1, k2

p2, k1, p1, k1, p2) twice

k2, p1, kfb, p1, k2

(p2, k1, p2, k1,p2

k2, p1, k2, p1, k2) twice

p2, kfb, p2, kfb, p2

(k2, p2, k2, p2, k2

p2, k2, p2, k2, p2) twice

k2, p2, k2, p2, k2,

p2, k1, kfb, p2, kfb, k1, p2

(k2, p3, k2, p3, k2

p2, k3, p2, k3, p2) twice

k2, p1, kfb, p1, k2, p1, kfb, p1, k2

(p2, k1, p2, k1, p2, k1, p2, k1, p2

k2, p1, k2, p1, k2, p1, k2, p1, k2) twice

p2, kfb, p2, k1, p2, k1, p2, kfb, p2

(k2, p2, k2, p1, k2, p1, k2, p2, k2

p2, k2, p2, k1, p2, k1, p2, k2, p2) twice

k2, p2, k2, p1, k2, p1, k2, p2, k2

p2, k2, p2, kfb, p2, kfb, p2, k2, p2

(k2, p2, k2, p2, k2, p2, k2, p2, k2

p2, k2, p2, k2, p2, k2, p2, k2, p2) twice

k2, p2, k2, p2, k2, p2, k2, p2, k2

p2, k2, p2, k1, kfb, p2, kfb, k1, p2, k2, p2

(k2, p2, k2, p3, k2, p3, k2, p2, k2

p2, k2, p2, k3, p2, k3, p2, k2, p2) twice

k2, p2, k2, p3, k2, p3, k2, p2, k2

p2, k1, kfb, p2, k3, p2, k3, p2, kfb, k1, p2

(k2, p3, k2, p3, k2, p3, k2, p3, k2

p2, k3, p2, k3, p2, k3, p2, k3, p2) twice

k2, p3, k2, p3, k2, p3, k2, p3, k2

p2, k3, p2, k2, kfb, p2, kfb, k2, p2, k3, p2

(k2, p3, k2, p4, k2, p4, k2, p3, k2

p2, k3, p2, k4, p2, k4, p2, k3, p2) twice

k2, p3, k2, p4, k2, p4, k2, p3, k2

p2, k2, kfb, p2, k4, p2, k4, p2, kfb, k2, p2

Hooray, finally finished the end of the increases. Mark the end of the increases with a safety pin. Tie a knot in the beginning of your knitting. Measure the distance around your head. Divide this number in two (I was making mine 22” long, so half that is 11”) Now measure the distance from the end of your knot (see picture) to the end of the increases. This is x. The distance from the end of the increases to the middle of the hat is y.

2x + 2y = Circumference

So, if the circumference of your head is 22, and x is 5” (as in my case), then 10 + 2y = 22, so 2y = 12. So now continue is pattern for 2y (12” in my case), then start reducing. I hope that makes sense!!!

Begin reducing.

P2, k1, k2tog, k1, p2, k4, p2, k4, p2, k1, k2tog, k1, p2

Continue in pattern for next 5 rows

P2, k3, p2, k1, k2tog, k1, p2, k1, k2tog, k1, p2, k3, p2

Continue in pattern for next 5 rows

P2, k1, k2tog, p2, k3, p2, k3, p2, k2tog, k1, p2

Continue in pattern for next 5 rows

P2, k2, p2, k1, k2tog, p2, k2tog, k1, p2, k2, p2

Continue in pattern for next 5 rows

P2, k2tog, p2, k2, p2, k2, p2, k2tog, p2

Continue in pattern for next 5 rows (k2, p1, k2….)

P2, k1, p2, k2tog, p2, k2tog, p2, k1, p2

Continue in pattern for next 5 rows

P2, k1, k2tog, k1, p2, k1, k2tog, k1, p2

(K2, p3, k2, p3, k2

P2, k3, p2, k3, p2) twice

K2, p3, k2, p3, k2

P2, k2tog, k1, p2, k1, k2tog, p2

(K2, p2, k2, p2, k2

P2, k2, p2, k2, p2) twice

K2, p2, k2, p2, k2

P2, k2tog, p2, k2tog, p2

(K2, p1, k2, p1, k2

P2, k1, p2, k1, p2) twice

K2, p1, k2, p1, k2

Now do the knot-hole (buttonhole)

1st side:

P1, p2tog, p1 then turn the needle to knit back and forth on these 4 sts only.

(K4

P4) three times

Leave the sts on the needle and break off a yard of yarn.

Rejoin the ball of yarn onto the 2nd side and;

P2tog, p2

(K4

P4) twice

K4

Then using the yarn from the first side, p across the sts on the second side to join all sts.

Next row:

Ssk, k2, k2tog

P all

Ssk, k2tog

P2

K2tog and bind off remaining st.

Sew in all loose ends, et voila!


The reverse side...

The colours of the yarn bring to mind some lovely giant daisies that are brightening up the garden at the moment, so I thought I'd stick them in too!



Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Jam and Brack

One of the best things I learned during my time at the organic centre was how to make this sugar-free (or low-sugar) jam. Its really less a sticky-gooey jam than a fruity puree, closer to fresh fruit than boiled-for-hours-really-sweet jam. After learning this method, there is no returning to traditional jam making - the results are so much nicer!

The Fabulous K and I made some blackberry jam today, but the recipe is the same for any type of fruit, experimenting with the agar-agar to get the set you want. Just multiply the amounts up for each kilo of fruit.

Sugar-free Jam
1kg fruit
300g honey/maple syrup/sugar
3tsp agar-agar
juice of one lemon - mix these last two together in a cup

Put your fruit in the pot and use a stick blender to whizz it up to the consistency you want it. Bring to the boil, then add the lemon juice/agar-agar mix. Immediately pour into clean sterilised jars. (I wash them well, then swish them around for a few seconds in a sink of boiling water and drain.) This jam only works for screw-top lids. Put the lids on and turn the jars upside down for a few minutes to sterilise the top, then turn them back up to cool.

You can also do this to make passata with tomatoes - blend them with the blender, bring to the boil and then jar them. Nothing else needed.

Its supposed to be kept at under 5 degrees, but in practice I just keep them in a cool dark place, checking every now and then to make sure they are okay. Once opened, put in the fridge and use within a couple of weeks. It usually doesn't last that long though!

I have really enjoyed walking through the lanes this autumn, and haven't seen such a great blackberry harvest since about 6 years back. The blackberries lie like little black diamonds in the hedges, in contrast to the red of the haws and the rosehips. The fabulous K managed to collect a kilo of rosehips. (To me an impressive amount, considering how spiky they are, and how you can't munch on them along the way like blackberries)

We made some beautifully orange, glowing rosehip syrup. Its absolutely gorgeous. I could just drink it from the bottle. (Alright then, so I have been...)
The recipe is here and the video is here.
Also full of vitamin C, in a form that apparently survives heating. (Something I'd like to know more about, that.)

In other cooking news, I wanted to share this recipe from my lovely aunt for a nice moist Tea Brack.

Aunty M's Tea Brack
1/2 pt warm tea
200g each raisins, sultanas and currants (although I used apricots, raisins and dates)
20g dark brown sugar
3 tablespoons whiskey, rum or brandy
300g self raising flour
1 large egg
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp mixed spice

Mix the tea, fruit, sugar and alcohol and leave overnight.
Line a 2lb loaf tin with greaseproof and turn the oven on to 160 C or Gas 3.
Sieve flour and spices over the fruit and add the beaten egg. Mix it up and transfer into the tin. Place a piece of greaseproof over the top when baking to stop it burning. Bake for about 1 hour 20 mins, or until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean.

Particularly delicious slathered in butter and jam!