25 September 2008

Donation

Spurred on by a few other people, I am going to post about the brilliant world of medical donation. Nat over at the Yarn Yard made a point that to her, donation was just another part of her life's routine and that's how I feel. Or at least want to feel. I started donating blood just after my 17th birthday but have been very sporadic since then due to being at uni (I ended up on two donation databases as they weren't linked) and other various reasons but I plan on changing that. Ever since I can remember, my dad has been a blood donor. Then he became an apheresis donor and goes about once a month to donate platelets. He's got all the gifts for donating loads and all the staff at the donor centre know me by proxy. So last time he went, I donated blood and asked to be tested to see if I could become a platelets donor too. I've had the all clear (I have a very good platelet count) and I would have been there as soon as I could, if it hadn't been for my low iron levels! But next month, I will make an appointment and start going as often as possible, which is about every 2 weeks if you have a good count. It's super convenient for me as the donor suite is just down the road from where I will be working (don't get me started on why I'm not starting on Monday at the moment).

Not only am I a blood donor but I'm also on a bone marrow donor list and have signed up for organ donation. I just find it so important to do something good for other people when I can. My mum needed a blood transfusion when she was in hospital a few years ago and I know that I am forever grateful that there was enough blood for her.

So why am I posting this? To try and persuade even one person to give donation a go. Go to www.blood.co.uk and find your nearest session. Or sign up for organ donation. You can put it on your driver's liscene and even have it added to your Boots Advantage card! Or think about signing up to one of the bone marrow lists. I'm registered with the Anthony Nolan Trust but you can also sign up with the Blood Donor Service. These are all UK based organisations but there will be others across the world looking for your help. So do something special today; save a life.

19 September 2008

Death is Knocking on Someone's Door

Hat Attack II has started!

My hat is complete and winging it's way to someone in the USA. Hopefully I will not die so quickly this time either! Excuse the crappy photos but I finished this when I was out shopping!




It's unfortunately not made out of the suggested yarn but I think the colours have come out pretty well together and it seemed like a good snug, warm hat!

Now the waiting game to see if I get a hat soon!

Oh, and I've decided to frog my socks and make Monkey ones with them instead, if the yarn will cope!

SoSeSaSwa Questionnaire

Mainly for my swap partner, but other people might be interested!

1. What are your favourite colours and fibres?
Purple, teal, black, pink, red
Fibre-wise, I'll give anything a go but I don't really like mohair!

2. Anything that makes your toes curl? (Fibre, colour, other)
Apart from mohair, I don't really like orange, bright green or yellow

3. Would you describe yourself as a beginner, intermediate or advanced knitter?
Intermediate but I love a challenge!

4. Do you have an online wishlist? (Amazon or other)
I have a very organised collection of wishlists over at Amazon. This is my knitting one

5. Any new techniques you'd like to learn?
Nothing in particular but I think I should try more colourwork

6. What is your favourite:

Snack? - chocolate
Book? - ahh, tough one! Torn between anything by Sarah Waters, anything by Joanne Harris, the Harry Potter series and The Looking Glass Wars trilogy!
Movie? - Pirates of the Caribbean
Music? - I have an eclectic taste in music from cheesy pop to heavy metal! Currently, I love film and TV soundtracks though

7. What are your favourite items to knit?
Things that stretch my knitting skills and instant gratification stuff such as socks, wristwarmers etc.

8. Any patterns that are top of your queue?
My queue is pretty fluid and I knit what takes my fancy!

9. Do you have any other hobbies?
Singing, ten-pin bowling, reading, baking

10. Tell us about yourself. When did you first pick up your needles? Who/what encouraged you to start knitting? How would you describe your knitting style? Are you a process knitter or a product knitter, etc.
I first picked up some needles when I was a little kid, trying to be persuaded to knit by various relatives as my paternal grandmother and my mother both knit a lot and several other people could knit. I never really got that far though and tossed the needles into a box and proceeded to make French knitted chains and do tapestry instead for a long time. Not long before my 21st birthday, I decided to pick up the needles again and try and teach myself. I was inspired by seeing a pair of handknitted knee high socks on the cover of some book and thought that I'd love to make them (I still haven't!). Armed with those old children's needles, a Hobbycraft leaflet and leftover scraps of acrylic yarn, I knitted an iPod case. And I haven't looked back since! Ravelry has really helped keeping me going and I love learning new things and trying something different. I definitely think I'm a process knitter as I really care about the techniques I'm using and the construction. I'm desperate for a good book on sock techniques with different heels, toes, etc! I've just begun designing stuff myself, starting with some lace scarves that I hope to submit to some online magazines. My Grandma is bizarrely unimpressed with my knitting, mainly because I knit "weird". I knit continental style and was knitting toe up socks and see was very confused. Hopefully she'll like her Christmas present though!

16 September 2008

Muffiney Goodness

I think I have finally found a muffin recipe I am actually happy with! After years of looking for one that didn't just taste like mini cake, I seem to have got a good one which adapts well to different ingredients.

Muffin Recipe
Ingredients:
  • 100g margarine
  • 225g sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 150ml creme fraiche
  • 5 tbsp milk
  • 275g plain flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 4-6oz chocolate chips/dried fruit/frozen blueberries/etc
  1. Preheat oven at gas mark 5 (190 degrees C/375 degrees F)
  2. Line a 12 cup muffin tin with paper cases
  3. Cream margarine and sugar
  4. Beat in eggs, creme fraiche and milk
  5. Add flour and baking soda and mix until blended
  6. Stir in additional ingredients
  7. Half to three quarter fill the muffin cases
  8. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until a needle comes out clean.
You can also substitute 75g of the flour for cocoa powder for chocolate muffins or add some orange juice in place of the milk for orange muffins or do nearly anything to these as it's such a basic, easy recipe.

AWOL

I shall be out of reach for the next day or two as the Hat Attack pattern is released later and I shall be out helping my parents' at a seminar they organise. I shall be spending much of the day sat in the corner knitting like mad to kill my target. Unfortunately, they are in America so I shall have to get cracking and get it in the post on Thursday hopefully. I have no idea who is killing me though. Or will be trying to, anyway! I really hope I can stay in this longer than last time but I doubt it will happen.

Currently, I am knitting designing a scarf for my Grandma and will be working on another one for my Aunt too. They're going to be in very nice 4ply alpaca. Hopefully my new Harmony guides will come in handy. There's a lot of stitches I want to try out! I'm thinking of submitting to some online magazines but I'm now torn between which ones to try. I would try The Inside Loop but their next issue is a children's one. I'm thinking of trying Knitty, Knotions or Knit on the Net but I can't make my mind up. I will be looking for a photographer if I choose to submit to either of the 1st two though! Anyone got any advice?

My other task, mainly for today (as I've left it until last minute) is to practice for my choir audition. Yes, I've decided I should start singing again as it's been a long time since I did choir stuff, apart from the little bit with Dulwich College, and I miss it. So I found myself a choir (in which two of my former maths teachers also sing) and I have an audition tonight. It wouldn't bother me so much if I didn't have to sight sing too! And I'm pretty ropey and basically had 3 songs to choose from. I've decided to sing Red, Red, Rose which is a setting of a Robert Burns poem. I've had the music for AGES but never put it to any use so I thought I should give it a go. If I don't get in, I should hopefully go on the reserve list and at least get to sing at Christmas as they do concerts that they need more singers for.

I'm basically starting to fill up my time for when I've started work. I've not decided on a knitting group, although there is one that meets on the way home one night. The choir is very convenient for me and I'm also becoming a platelet donor instead of a standard blood one and that centre for that is right near work too. The only problem is that I won't be able to knit whilst donating! But it'll give me a good time to read or learn my choir music! On the job front, I am now just waiting for Occ health to give me the all clear and then I will get a start date!

Anyway...off I go, stalking my target, waiting to find out who my assassin is!

11 September 2008

Fudge Cake

I've been baking again! This time, it was for my dad's birthday. I thought I'd share the recipe, now that I know that it's a good one! Excuse the appalling photo but it tastes much better than this makes it look!



Fudge Cake

Ingredients:
  • 300g white sugar
  • 1tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 240ml milk
  • 1tbsp lemon juice
  • 40g cocoa powder
  • 120ml hot water
  • 310g plain flour
  • 1tsp baking soda
  • 1tsp baking powder
  • 1tsp salt
  • 110g margarine
  1. Preheat oven to Gas mark 4 (175 degrees C or 350 degrees F)
  2. Grease a 9" round cake tin
  3. Cream margarine and sugar together
  4. Add vanilla and eggs and beat together
  5. Mix the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt together in another bowl.
  6. Add the lemon juice to the milk.
  7. Add flour mixture and milk alternately to the creamed mixture and beat well.
  8. Mix the cocoa powder with the hot water and beat into the batter.
  9. Pour into the prepared tin and bake for 30-35 minutes or until a needle comes out of the cake clean.
I sandwiched this with vanilla buttercream and iced the top and sides with a fudge topping.

Vanilla Buttercream

Ingredients:
  • 75g margarine
  • 150g icing sugar
  • 1/2tsp vanilla extract
  1. Cream fat
  2. Gradually add icing sugar and cream together
  3. Add vanilla and mix in well
  4. Cut the cake into two and spread out cream to sandwich
Fudge Icing

Ingredients:
  • 50g margarine
  • 1tbsp milk
  • 100g icing sugar
  • 2tbsp cocoa powder
  1. Melt fat and milk together
  2. Mix in sugar and cocoa powder and blend well
  3. Pour icing on cake and spread neatly over top and sides of cake
And there you have it; one celebration fudge cake!

August Lady Sweater

And so my mum's February Lady Sweater is finished. It only took me two months but I managed to finish it for a birthday. Unfortunately, not mum's but dad's instead! But mum seems happy enough with it at least and I'm proud of myself for actually finishing something bigger than socks and more complicated than a stocking stitch jumper. Not that it was difficult. Knitting is was a lot of fun, and came along pretty quickly, considering how much time I actually spent on it. I love the lace pattern and the yarn was really comfy to knit with and the ply stands out really well, making the garter stitch sections more interesting and the lace really works with the yarn. I have some left over so I'm going to knit myself a hat, I think. I made the sleeves full length as mum prefers long sleeves. It's not been blocked yet but when it gets washed, I will pull out a little extra length on the body.


February Lady Sweater by Pamela Wynne
  • 10 balls + 9g of Debbie Bliss Pure Cotton in colourway 10 (lilac) from John Lewis Summer sale (mainly)
  • 5mm Knit Picks Options needles
  • 6mm Knit  Picks Options needles
  • 3 buttons from John Lewis Cheadle (possibly coconut shell)
Started: 17 July 2008
Completed: 10 September 2008
Size made: small

I followed the instructions pretty much to the letter and my only problem was making sure the sleeve stitches met at the underarm.  I think I did ok.  The sleeves seem a little baggy and maybe a little long but hopefully they will be fine.  I possibly could have used a different cast off as, even using the larger needles, it seems a little tight, especially along the body.  For more photos, see my project entry.  I am in love with the buttons, as they were cheap and I think they look perfect.  Just the kind of thing I was looking for.  And in my search for buttons, I have been informed of lots of other good places to look!

08 September 2008

Up a Waterfall and Over the Moors

So, I've been away for the weekend. It was Andy's birthday and he decided he wanted to go walking (keeping me away from the yarn hordes at iKnit day). So we went to Edale. We planned a couple of walks for Saturday and Sunday and Andy's dad offered us the use of his caravan overnight. We set off on the train, along the very nice Hope Valley line. I knitted, of course. My socks are coming on ok (although the heel was frogged twice and still isn't really right). I think they may end up belonging to someone else as the fit seems odd on my feet. My own fault for trying to do something different with the short rows.

Anyway...we arrived in Edale and popped along to the information centre. I'm bloody glad we did as they have a very impressive water feature roof:



After that, we got started and plodded along to Grindsbrook, walking amongst the heathers and admiring the view:





And then we ended up climbing up the waterfall. It seems that it's been pretty wet recently and there was more water around than usual. It was fun, in a slightly unnerving way but we got to the top, eventually:



Once up there, we got to walk along the moor and get muddy. There were a few sheep and lots of rocks. And we got a little off the track but we eventually found our way and then ended up on the dullest part of the walk, the Pennine Way. I'm sure plenty of people like this footpath and there must be some interesting parts of it but we got rather bored. It didn't take it too long to finish off the walk though along here:




We got back about 6.45 and proceeded to go for the pub for a decent drink as we hadn't really taken enough water with us. And then back to the caravan to attempt to cook a nice meal for Andy. It took a while but I managed. And then sleep. Lots of it. We were far too tired to manage another walk on the Sunday so we cooked breakfast, had a little wander around, cleared up and then got the train home. We were back by lunch. It was a little disappointing but we definitely stretched ourselves and will be doing it again sometime.

And so it's the start of another week of waiting until I start work. I have my medical tomorrow and hopefully it'll not be long until I hear officially about the job. I'm actually a little bored now. Andy started his new job today. 12-8 in Trafford Park for 3 months isn't the greatest thing but it could be worse.

05 September 2008

Silver Lining

Well, I'm not going to iKnit Day tomorrow so I thought I could treat myself to a sock club. 6 silver packages with all the bells and whistles.

Normal service will resume when I return from Edale and have spent a week in the bath.