Wednesday, 12 January 2011

Time on my hands...

Well, I've some time on my hands at the moment but not a lot of energy as I wait for baby to arrive, so I need small, quick projects to keep me going.

Christmas-y left overs
We have rather a lot of mincemeat left over from Christmas and today I tried a new recipe for a mincemeat and marzipan tea bread. Very easy to make and uses up those pesky 'Christmas' ingredients that would otherwise hang around in the cupboard. Apparently. I don't think the tea bread will be hanging around that long...

Mincemeat and marzipan tea bread
(from GoodFood magazine's 101 Cakes and Bakes)

200g self-raising flour
300g mincemeat
85g light muscovado sugar
85g marzipan, cut into small cubes
100g cold butter, cut into small pieces
2 eggs
flaked almonds

1. Preheat the oven to 180/Gas 4/fan 160. Butter a 1kg/2lb loaf tin or equivalent. Tip the flour into a bowl.
2. Add the cold butter to the flour and rub into fine crumbs. Stir in the sugar and the marzipan cubes.
3. In another bowl, lightly beat the eggs and stir in the mincemeat.
4. Stir the mincemeat and egg mixture into the dry ingredients.
5. Spoon into your prepared loaf tin or tins. Scatter flaked almonds on top. Bake for 1 hour.
6. Allow to cool in the tin for 10 minutes and then tip onto a wire rack. Cut into slices and serve spread with butter.

Move over Project: Baby blanket
Project: Baby cardigan has arrived! I had four balls of my Debbie Bliss Eco Aran wool left-over from the papoose and thought I might try my hand at knocking up another baby-related knitting project. It seems to be really difficult to find plain, woolen cardigans for babies in the shops, so I found this pattern on Ravelry and gave it a go! It only took me two days from start to finish and is far-and-away the most complicated knitting project I've ever managed to complete, including learning how to use circular needles and pick up stitches to create the right-angled ribbed collar. It's amazing what you can do when you don't have to go to work...

Saturday, 8 January 2011

Project: Baby blanket

I don't include many craft posts, not least because I have so many ideas for different projects but so few of them seem to get started, let alone finished, that I'm always a bit reticent about admitting to them!

One of my problems tends to be over-reaching myself in terms of what I think I can achieve in a set time. When friends of ours announced they were expecting a baby earlier this year I thought, 'Excellent, I'll knit something'. I didn't want to do clothing, as it lasts for such a short time, and I didn't want to do a straight-forward blanket as I'd only just finished (sort of - about 99% complete with just the sewing onto a piece of backing fabric left to finish - see what I mean?!) a large patchwork blanket, so I found a pattern for a baby papoose. This is basically a large diamond shape to which you attach two pockets, one small traingle for a hood and a larger traingle for the body and feet, to then wrap your baby up in.

'Plenty of time to get that done', I thought to myself. Needless to say it was finally finished about 1 month after their daughter was born, but at least she was a summer baby and so wouldn't have had a lot of use out of a snuggly blanket straight away!

Size: 100cm top to bottom and 65cm wide

When we discovered we were expecting our own bundle of joy, I decided I'd make the same item again, as I was now pretty familiar with the pattern. Our due date is this coming Monday (eek!) and I've literally just finished the papoose this morning. Still - the point is that it is finished! Ta da!

The pattern is from 'The Art of Knitting' and I used Debbie Bliss Eco Aran both times as I wanted to use a fair trade, organic wool (the first time I used 610 Mauve for the main blanket and 609 Purple for the edging; our blanket is in 622 Teal). The only change I made to the second papoose was to use fabric for the edging, rather than following the pattern to create a knitted border in a contrasting colour. This is partly because I was a bridesmaid in the summer and I really wanted to re-purpose the fabric from my dress into a number of 'everyday' items that I would look at frequently and remember my friend and her wedding on a regular basis - rather than just hanging the dress up in the wardrobe and thinking 'Well, I might wear that again one day'.This is it's first outing and I think it looks pretty good! Obviously I have plans for using the rest of the fabric, but I'll just keep them under wraps for now...!