Friday, February 24, 2012

Plants just want to grow

This is what I've always found so encouraging about gardening - you plant some seeds and they try their best, despite all your lack of attention - they want to grow.

Sadly the abuse of these seeds was too much! We collected a pile of acorns to plant a year or two back and promptly forgot about them.

When last spring came they all sprouted and reached down to find a bit of moisture, failing to find any in a pretty sturdy ceramic cup. The roots curled round and round, making this woven base that holds them all together in an acorn sculpture.
Of course, they all dried out after dying of thirst...but the results are quite lovely.

Good sculptor. Bad gardener.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Ball and Chain Flail

Hooray for more knitted weapons!

My new knitting pattern is out, and yes, it is a medieval flail, ball and chain version, commonly mistakenly called a morning star or mace (both of which you can make with the pattern if you like too!)

The design originally came from an agricultural tool and the flail was used for bashing people hiding behind their shields.

It is knit in the round, using worsted/aran weight yarn. The handle, ball and spikes are all knit in the round and sewn together, and the chain links are knit using i-cord (instructions given on how to knit i-cord.)

It is written as an abbreviated pattern with all abbreviations included.
Techniques used:
knitting and purling in the round, kfb increases, k2tog decreases, i-cord.

Materials used:
180m/196yds Worsted/Aran weight yarn in brown, grey and black (60m/65yds of each), 4 double pointed needles size 7/4.5mm or suitable size to achieve gauge, yarn needle, stitch marker, stuffing, pins and optional: chopstick and wool blanket/wadding/waste fabric for stuffing.

18 sts or 28 rows per 4"/10cm in stocking stitch

Finished size:
c. 22"/56cm long

Suitable for intermediate knitters.

You can buy it here for the princely sum of 3 euro and 25 cent - this link will take you to Paypal to pay safely and then Ravelry will send you on the pattern by emailed PDF:

Or you can go directly to the Ravelry pattern page here to have a look (or buy it directly there.)

You can also buy it from my Etsy shop here.

Then you can beat people up in a particularly gentle, friendly and ridiculous way.

More weapons patterns to be found here: Bomb, Dynamite and Molotov Cocktail.

Many thanks to the dedicated and wonderful work of volunteer pattern testers on Ravelry, who were checking out my pattern for me over the last week.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

The joys of being self-employed

The joy this week was under-pricing. Never good, but I guess you have to do it to learn from your mistakes. I always forget just how long it takes to knit things. HOURS!!! Maybe I am an especially slow knitter or maybe I am just good at underestimating the time it takes to get things done.

I had an order in from Etsy to make this Security Camera - I normally only sell the patterns, so when someone asked could I do it I thought - ah, that'll take four hours, easy, and made up a listing with the price reflecting when it got to six hours working on it and I wasn't quite finished I thought oh well...another one to chalk up.

I don't know how people make money knitting. (Unless I am just really slow!) It is so rare to find someone willing to pay a price that reflects an hourly wage for what is actually skilled work. I actually read something about pricing once that said you should add up the costs and wages (time) it takes to make something, multiply this by two to get your wholesale price, and multiply by two again to get your sale price.

If I was to take the six and a half hours it took me to make the camera and work that out at a reasonable rate - say 15 euro an hour, and follow that recommendation, that would add up to a sale price of 400 euro. Ha! That's so ridiculous it's hilarious. This is why I don't knit as my business.

In happier news I have sent a new knitting pattern off to some lovely testers for checking and then will be able to release it very soon. I'm excited about this one. Its been sitting around since before christmas in a pile of random scraps of paper with scribbled hieroglyphics all over them which I managed to decipher in the last few days and construct a coherent pattern from. A glimpse is below!

Friday, February 3, 2012

Cold days and warm soup

I can't get enough of this soup at the moment with its warmy orangey goodness. It's not particularly seasonal but it's certainly delicious.

It's been snowing here today, little white flakes fluttering down to settle into an icy crust for the night - minus four degrees last night. I do love a good frost and how beautiful it makes the world. Living in a frost pocket we are always amazed to see how different the weather is when we leave the house - what was an ice-edged winter scene becomes milder just half a mile down the road.
Anyway, I thought I'd share this recipe which is keeping a little warm sunshiney glow in me through the cold days.

Butternut Squash, Red Pepper and Coconut Soup

1 onion diced
2 sticks celery diced
2 bay leaves
1 butternut squash diced
1 red pepper diced
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1 tin coconut milk
some vegetable stock
A squeeze of lime

Sweat the onion, celery and bay leaves on a low heat with a little salt for 10 minutes or so.

Note: I find the smaller you chop everything and the longer you sweat it for, the sweeter the flavour. I also find I am quite a lazy person who just chops things into quite big pieces and fecks it all in the pan, sweating it for just a couple of minutes when I can't be arsed standing over the cooker for so long. So do as you wish!

Then add the squash, pepper, herbs and spices and sweat for a wee while again (5-10 minutes depending on your levels of patience. See note above.)

Add the coconut milk and your favourite vegetable stock - adding not quite enough stock to cover the veg (you can always add more later if it's too thick so err on the side of less liquid rather than more.) Add salt if needed - this depends on your stock - mine is quite salty.

Simmer then for 10-15 minutes, until everything is soft. Take out your bay leaves. (Something I forgot to do the other day and ended up fishing little pieces of bay leaf out of my gob all the way through lunch - not pleasant...) Then blend it up to your desired consistency, adding more liquid if it's too thick. Check your seasoning and serve with a squeeze of lime.

Rejoice at the warmness in your stomach and go off to enjoy the lovely winter scenes outside!