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Wednesday, December 26, 2007

"Christmas pudding debacle leads to new dessert being created"

pudding 1

I hope a wonderful christmas day was had by all. We had a lovely time at home with family members dropping in throughout the day.

There had however been a temporary panic on my part when my required ingredients for my christmas day dessert, a passionfruit trifle from a Nigella Lawson recipe, were unavailable. The best laid plans of mice and men...

So, a bit of creative thought on christmas eve was required. In the kitchen was the remains of a pannatone going a bit stale, and in the drinks cabinet (sideboard!) was a bottle of apricot brandy that I have never known what to do with.

I sliced the pannatone into triangles and laid the pieces in a deep dish and poured about a quarter of the bottle of apricot brandy over, squashed it all down a bit with a spatula, covered in cling film and put it in the fridge over night.

On christmas morning I took the dish out of the fridge, took off the cling film and poured another quarter bottle of the brandy over. Returned it all to the fridge until about an hour before dinner was due to be ready.

I then made a basic custard (about a pint)- not to thick (as it thickens when cooked) - and poured this over the pannatone/brandy mixture. I then sprinkled dark muscavado sugar all over the top. The oven was already on at 200 degrees (not fan assisted) so I popped the dish in at this temperature and left it cooking for about an hour. When the main course was served I switched the oven off but left the dish in the oven with foil over the top to stop it drying out.


I then served it warm with very thick double cream. And it was wonderful. Not too heavy as pannatone is quite light and the apricot flavour works like a dream.


(The pannatone was actually from the beginning of the year and had been wrapped in greaseproof paper and was still relatively fresh, but it does need to be drying out to work properly, as it would go quite sloppy with very fresh pannatone. Stale bread with sultanas and candied peel added would also work well)

Hope you like it.

for now
Ruby xxx

Friday, December 21, 2007

Early christmas presents

The panic has passed for now. 95% of pressies bought, food shopping organised, menus planned, visits/visitors arranged. Just got wrapping, tidying, cooking, cleaning to do, last minute bits to buy, but its getting there.

I had what felt like an early christmas present yesterday, spending over 3 hours at the hairdressers (with the length and amount of my hair this is quite normal)during WORK time, feeling completely relaxed and getting the time whilst under driers to re-read one of my all time favourite books.

Chronicle of a Death Foretold by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

<chronicle of a death foretold

It is 122 pages of fabulousness, pulling you in from the first brilliant opening line:

"On the day they were going to kill him, Santiago Nasar got up at five-thirty...."

What could be better? It gets you by the throat, drags you in and doesn't let go until the end. What a way to spend a few hours on a gloomy winters afternoon with all the rush and fever of christmas going on round you but being so absorbed in this other world that you noticed none of it. (Deep satisfied sigh)

I also received in the post a little christmas pressie to myself:- the latest two issues of Rebecca magazines.

Rebecca 34

Number 34

Rebecca 35

and Number 35

There are some lovely designs in both magazines. I would say out of the two, No 35 is my favourite, with so many candidates for knitting I couldn't pick out one design alone.

Rebecca images

Rebecca images

These are just some of the great designs. Rebecca have all the images available to preview on their site, starting here

I really love the first two on the left on the top row and the grey dress and wrap on the second row.

I ordered the magazines from RKM wools in Shrewsbury. You have to ring as they're not available from their online shop, but I ordered Friday and received them Monday, which at this time of year is even more impressive.

I'm going to try and fit in a final blog before festivities start with my WIP/UFO list and photos but if not, or you don't return before, I hope everyone has a Happy Holiday

for now
Ruby xxx

Monday, December 17, 2007

I did a bad thing...

Did I make my list of WIPs and UFOs to work on before I started on anything else?
Like I promised? Did I?


Instead whilst christmas shopping on Saturday my LYS lured me in and then tempted me to buy this gorgeous shade of Freedom 100% wool from Twilleys

Twilleys Freedom yarn

It was reduced. It is pure wool and I have got a reason for buying it.

I have been promising my ever patient other half that I would knit him the Patchwork sweater from knitonthenet

patchwork sweater

So I have cast on yet another project.

patchwork cast on

patchwork close up 1

patchwork close up 2

But isn't it lovely?
Watching it change constantly is fascinating, and the yarn is beautifully soft and pliable. Now all I need to do is finish it in time for christmas!

so, for now

Ruby xx

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Sloppy Joe FO

Finally here are some photos of Sloppy Joe from Rowan Studio 6 pattern book, made in Rowan Cocoon

sloppy joe

I haven't had a chance to have any taken with me wearing sloppy joe yet, but it is actually quite a flattering sweater. You definately have to wear something underneath it as the neckline is VERY low and possibly a bit too wide, but I do really like it, its soft and cuddly and wonderfully sloppy. I noticed on the photo the centre slip stitch looks a bit crooked. It isn't in reality, but I mustn't have had the garment quite straight. But I've got a cold and I'm very tired and will take more photos when feeling a bit brighter!

This is a close up of the picked up V neck

sloppy joe v neck

I divided the neck slope with pins and had to work approx 2 or 3 stitches into each dropped loop in the pattern, I did this by making a cast on stitch by hand and 'wrapping' it round the needle.

I used a 5mm crochet hook to attach the sleeve to the body on the inside of the garment using double crochet (UK) single crochet (US). I did a similar thing on the body and sleeve seams but only on the garter stitch sections. As I reached a dropped loop section I pulled a longer loop with the crochet hook to the same length as the dropped loop and then with a long strand worked a slip stitch then continued with the double (single) crochet to the next dropped loop.

This is what it looks like from the inside of the garment

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and what it looks like from the right side

fside seam right side

And finally, I managed one nice slightly arty shot

sloppy joe side

I am really looking forward to wearing this sweater. The Rowan Cocoon was a pleasure to work with and is very soft and warm and I would definately use it again. It is quite expensive per ball but when you think it only took 6 balls to make this (very big and long) sweater in a large it is actually very economical.

Will be starting on my WIP list tomorrow.

for now
Ruby xx

Sunday, December 09, 2007

New patterns, my lovely SP11 and finally, Sloppy Joe

Issue 4 of knitonthenet went live a couple of days ago and in my usual disorganised way I'm only just managing to blog about my new patterns. I love this issue. I am planning to make Limulidae cowl and hat by Neal Swain Its a beautiful design and would be so useful.

The first of my designs is my first foray into sock pattern writing.

Love Heart socks

These are Love Heart socks named after my favourite sweeties of the same name. I used Natural Dye Studio's gorgeous Alpaca and Silk 4ply yarn. It is beautiful.

I normally make socks up as I go along so it was a good discipline to write a properly structured pattern this time.

I'm really pleased with the gusset on these socks. Come out so nice.

Love Heart socks gusset

I've talked alot about Giles Deacon this season and my Giles bag is my homage to his oversized cables.

Giles bag

I so enjoyed making this bag and particular loved making the handle out of a giant sized cable.

Giles handle

There's so much more I want to explore using cables like this.

And finally my lovely Blanche

Blanche Sweater

This is going to be one of those patterns that I'm going to knit again and again, sometimes with some changes, sometimes exactly as is. It is just a perfect sweater for every occasion and so flattering. I love her.

Blanche Sweater Back

I struggled naming her though. In my head the whole time I was designing her was Elizabeth Taylor in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof but in it she's called Maggie (the cat) but the name just didn't fit. So I ended up having a Tennessee Williams moment and thinking about Streetcar named Desire thought about Blanche Dubois and the name seemed just right. I'm going to make a green Blanche over christmas. I would also like to make an evening version using something like Tilli Thomas Exotica for the neckline.

I went and picked up a BIG package yesterday from our sorting office from my lovely secret pal Eeva also known as Rieppa, who has spoiled me so completely its as if christmas came early.

Here is my package

secret pal

There is a gorgeous tin box featuring the Moomins (which my daughter loves, but isn't getting!) beautiful beads, these wonderful surface protectors

surface protectors

aren't they just fantastic.

Now for the yarn

secret pal yarns

from the left is Novita Florica 100% wool. I have a couple of Novita pattern books and love their yarns. Next is Merino Oro from Ornaghi filati of Italy, pure wool. I dont know this make but the yarn is beautiful and would make a lovely shawl.
Next is an Estonian yarn Evilla with fabulous sea kelp shades of green and advise from Rieppa about a pattern for it.

And if all thats not enough, this gorgeous hand dyed wool/alpaca blend from Juuli

hand spun

I'm speechless Eeva, what can I say? Thank you so much.

And now, drum roll, long overdue, the first part of finishing off Sloppy Joe from Rowan Studio 6.

My first step was to do Short row shaping and three needle bind off on the shoulders so there is no internal bulky seam on the shoulders. This is how it looks from the right side

three needle bind off

with just a nice line of chains sitting on the shoulder. The stitches highlighted on this photo make it a bit clearer which are the bound off stitches.

bound off chain

So, to work this method you have to work differently to specified in the pattern from just before 'shape shoulders and back neck'. Instead of finishing with a RS row facing, stop with a WS row facing and then knit the row, stopping at the point where your cast off stitches would be on the next row. I'm knitting the large, so in my case I would knit up to the last 11 sts on the left needle, wrap the next st by slipping the st and taking the yarn round it, turn the work, and work back for 14 sts (for the large), turn, leaving rem sts on holder.

Cast off 3sts for centre back neck, knit across rem sts, knitting wrapped st in with wrap. Leave these sts on a holder.

Cast off centre sts as directed in pattern then work other side to match reversing shapings.

The front shoulders are worked in the same way. To be sure you have each shoulder right remember that shoulder shaping slopes down from centre back. Place shoulders of front and back together with WS facing inwards, the slopes should match. Put stitches back onto a needle each, then with a third needle knit 1 stitch from 1st needle together with 1 stitch from 2nd needle, repeat, then cast off 1 st on 3rd needle off over 2nd st on 3rd needle. Continue until all stitches are cast off. Repeat on other shoulder. If you turn the sweater inside out there is no seam at all.


for now, (I'm going to lie down in a dark room)
Ruby xx

Monday, December 03, 2007

Not quite but nearly

This last week has been so, so crazy busy that I really can't believe its Monday again already. I have new patterns that I am itching to reveal that are in the latest issue of knitonthenet, but it isn't quite ready yet. It will be out in just a couple of days and then I can show them. But then once they are 'out there' I am going to spend a few weeks getting organised. I am going to do a list of WIPs, prioritise them, and get them done. I normally go away for a little while over christmas but I need to be careful this year as I have my house extension to furnish, decorate, floor, heat, light etc etc.

So anyway, during my two weeks off I am going to knit and sew, and sew and knit all the time. Even on christmas day I shall knit. I plan to have designs ready for submissions, for some commissions I'm working on, some exclusive patterns for the forthcoming justcallmeruby website and a number of other things that I can't talk about right now!

The first thing I am going to do is finish off Sloppy Joe's photos and post the finishing techniques I used on the blog. I PROMISE.

I also need to do some remedial work to my lovely extension. My lovely wooden doors and windows that I designed have been fitted and my builder kindly offered to undercoat them as he owed me a favour or two as he's taken so long doing this job. Anyway, I offered to mask the glass and my stylish art deco handles but he said it was fine, they would do it. I finally got a good look at the finished job at the weekend, and there was undercoat all round the glass and all over the handles. They hadn't masked or cleaned up after themselves at all. They had also closed the french doors while the paint was still wet and the doors where stuck together. We had to climb through the living room window into the extension to force the doors open!

Can anyone recommend an efficient but relatively speedy way of removing the undercoat from the windows? I could scrape them all but each door alone has 21 panes of glass!

Maybe this is how I'll actually be spending christmas.

for now

Ruby xx