Too many cables to handle? :: Knitting ::

Friday, 24 April 2015

There are designers out there who think of patterns involving cables on BOTH sides of mittens, unbelievable (and more importantly when is this ever a good idea). And then there are knitters out there that think it is a good idea to knit those patterns (and I ask myself, why oh why)!

I am a sucker for lovely pictures of mittens, and it is only after the cuff ribbing (and turning the page of the pattern) that I realised what I let myself into. 

You know when the instructions say that you should read everything before you start - well I am the type of person who will never follow that particular instruction. And you end up with a knitting headache, and just one mitten. 

Those pictures are all from the one mitten. It could easily be too separate ones, but no, I followed the pattern to the letter and made the two sides. Although it is beautiful - really it is the most beautiful mitten I have ever knitted - I am not sure mittens need intricate cable work on both sides. 

Pattern: Palomino Mittens by Elli Stubenrauch (published in November Knits)
Yarn: Possum fur yarn (a present) in grey and a blue laceweight yarn (from my stash)
Needles: 4.0 mm
Modifications: None, except there is a major errata in the written pattern for the thumb - check Ravelry there is a really good review of what to do. 

Will I ever knit the second mitten? You bet I will - I am halfway to own the most beautiful mittens ever - but just not right now. I need cold, wet weather, a whiff of Autumn/Winter in the air to give me the necessary energy to start again. Spring/Summer does not cut it - at all. 

So hopefully I will not lose my lonely mitten - because that would really suck, right. And there will be a post later on in the year featuring both mittens featuring me wearing them! 

For anyone who needs/wants a knitting challenge, look no further, you have it with this pattern!

Almond and Chocolate Madeleines :: Baking ::

Friday, 17 April 2015

Baby MiH received a lot of chocolates for Easter - from grand-parents, nursery... He does like chocolate, but there is so much one little boy can (should?) actually eat. So instead of buying some chocolate chips for a recipe, I decided to 'make' some out of the chocolate bunnies and add them to a recipe. 

As I used his chocolates, I thought I really ought to make treats that he would enjoy too - so gone was the quinoa flour (too much of a taste for him) and bring on the sweetness with almond flour. Also I did not want to make big cakes, as he finds it hard to finish them - madeleines are the perfect size for him. He loves them, Mr MiH loves them, and I ate four of them as soon as they were out of the oven - so we can safely say that I love them too (maybe a bit too much). 

The recipe has been adapted from this one - it is now gluten free and using one of my favourite baking ingredient, coconut oil. 

So what will you need (for 24 madeleines, 4 points on WW)
  • Nonstick cooking spray
  • 2 large eggs
  • 170 g milk chocolate
  • 80 g coconut palm sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 75g rice flour
  • 75g almond flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 110g coconut oil

How to make them?

I have two 8-mould madeleine pans (thanks Mum) but you could use mini- or regular-muffin pans

Preheat the oven to 180 C. Spray the madeleine pans with nonstick cooking spray and set aside.

In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the whisk attachment,cream together the eggs and coconut palm sugar on high speed until the mixture thickens and develops a light pale colour, 3 to 4 minutes.

Beat in the vanilla extract, rice and almond flours, salt and baking powder. Turn your mixer down to low speed and slowly pour in the melted coconut oil. Mix until everything is incorporated, but don't over mix. Add the chocolate chips.

Divide the batter evenly between the moulds in the prepared pans (not too much in each mould). Bake until lightly golden around the edges, about 8 minutes.

Let the madeleines cool for about 2 minutes in the pan, and then invert them onto a cooling rack to cool completely. 

You have to forget what madeleines taste like - these are quite different and have a really strong almond taste. They are not dry at all.  

About being gluten free (these contain chocolates - so they are probably not gluten-free), I have not gone totally gluten free, I have tried to swap half of my gluten intake - so pasta and bread are definitely on the menu!

New Felt Ipad Cover :: Embroidery ::

Tuesday, 14 April 2015

For a previous le challenge I made an Ipad cover that I really liked using hama beads. Baby MiH really enjoyed the hama beads - and decided that it was much better off my Ipad cover, and in his toy box. This Ipad cover is no more... But I will not be defeated by a 2-year old, and finally made a new cover - stronger from my first cover experience. 

This one is using embroidery - nothing that can be removed too easily (hopefully). The pattern is from my favourite craft book (it is the only book I want to make all the patterns from!). I have already talked about it here. The embroidery resembles a bit Christian traditional symbolism - oh, hold on, 'tradition' is the theme for le challenge - did you think I forgot about the .. interesting.. theme we chose? 

I tried to take a close up picture to show the actual stitching. This is not your regular cross-stitching, it looks a bit braided. It took me a while to get my head round it (because you have to follow the direction the pattern sets as well). But it definitely adds another dimension to the stitching, and also pops up a bit (not sure I needed this considering the colour scheme I chose). The stitch is called Tvistsom - you can read more about it here. It is a traditional Scandinavian stitch - and in traditional there is ... 'tradition', I am SO into this theme! 

It makes a nice change to cross-stitching, I think the overall effect is softer (a mix of the easiness of cross-stitching and the softer effect of embroidery) - but you really have to look up close to understand what stitching is used.  

The felt I used this time is much stronger than the previous one (probably double the thickness). I bought it for a Christmas project that was never to be. I love working with felt - because there is no seam to worry about. It is brilliant. It looks like I quilted the border a bit - it was all planned, and not at all because I had left too much seam allowance... You can find similar felt here. The yarn I used is the same as for the Settler shawl.  

Because of the thickness of the felt I had to use a pointy needle rather than an embroidery one. And my fingers are still remembering it. I am just warning you - embroidery is a dangerous business. And of course I am not that good at making perfect stitches, so I used waste canvas to add the pattern. I love waste canvas... 

I am always late for my le challenge project - but somehow always manage to make something I really wanted/needed to make for some time. It is a great way to get things moving for me. If you would like to join us for this le challenge or future le challenge - all entries and themes are here

Tips for stashing less

Sunday, 12 April 2015

Stashing less, stashing better - all of these things are important to me and I thought it was time for me to share a bit my experience so far. I have definitely de-stashed, through selling and some serious review of my stash - and giving away quite a chunk of it. Whether I can stash less though, the jury is still out there but I have tried to put things in place to stash less. 

1. I have no choice - I have a minimum space for my stash.

We have a small house, or cozy for the 4 of us (and that's without the boys having too many things). Mr MiH, bless him, built me a shed/hobby room (yes the whole shed, I know), it is not big but it is my place and I love it. He built shelves, 4 of them - 4 boxes can fit on them - that's your lot. This is where all my yarn and fabric stash will live. At the moment, it is basically one in, one out when it comes to yarn, I have a bit of room for fabric but not much. 

My first tip is not letting the stash take over your rooms, keep it in one place and stick to that limited space for your stash. 

2. Look deep into your stash and don't be lazy

For me the project usually comes first, and then the choice of yarn/fabric. And here lies a massive problem, I already have something in mind, and I find it hard to adapt that vision to my stash. And I buy more fabric/yarn for the project. I am able to say no to Baby MiH when he wants a new toy, but not to me when I want new fabric/yarn for a new project. 

For knitting, I will be making more adaptations to projects to use the yarn I already have. It seems obvious, but it is not to me. I usually try to match the type of yarn to the project yarn. You get obviously the best result like that, but at the same time you look at your stash and find a yarn that you like, make a gauge and work your maths. 

For fabric, you could dye your fabric to suit your dressmaking needs. For quilting projects, I may be using more techniques like small scraps to get the 'general' colour scheme I want. 

My second tip is that you may already have what you need in your stash but not in the form you want it to be, think creatively about using your existing stash - the answer for your next project is probably there. 

3. Don't be tempted

I have deleted all emails offering sales. And it is SO hard, but I cannot be tempted until I have space. It is too easy to be tempted and get fabric/yarn you don't have a project for. 

So my third tip is to stay away from temptation. 

4. Annoying stash - the small batches

My stash is made up of a lot of one skeins. I have just realised that this is really not that great. I am going to knit more socks to use them. They are all pretty skeins so there is no way they are leaving my sight, but I need to make space, so socks we will have. Having kids help of course, so more things for them to come! 

So my fourth tip is to try and stay away from the annoying stash

5. Social media and stash management

I have sold yarn on my blog, I have seen it sold on IG, there are groups on facebook to swap your stash. Make the most of it, you may not need it, but someone else may do.

My fifth tip is to use social media to its full extent - not just for projects but also selling your stash. 

6. One project - one purchase

When my stash will be finally under control (oh the day!) I will (try to) buy materials once I have made an inspiration board, found the pattern and be ready to cut/knit and get on with it. It will come in to be made into something. Cannot wait for this to happen. 

My final tip is to buy only what you need. 

Here are my tips, what are yours? Share them in the comment box, it will help me (and maybe others) a lot. 

MiH x Coco and Vera :: Sewing ::

Friday, 10 April 2015

People, I made that skirt.. I know I can hardly believe it myself - I made that skirt, I made that skirt, I made that skirt... And Cee is totally rocking it - because there is no way in a million years I would look that good in it. And she styled in Paris - in Paris, man, can you believe it - and for a proper photoshoot, as if it was for a magazine. Thank you I heart Paris to let me share the pics! 

And the result is quite stunning. I cannot believe it - I think Mr MiH may be sick of me swooning over my own handy work. To be fair I never thought it would look this good! 

You will remember the first Tibi skirt I made for Cee. This one is really similar - same pattern, same fabric (from the same shop but in a different colour of course), same modifications (ie lengthening it). 

I only changed the pleats to make them more like a real Tibi skirt and also added a wider horsehair braid (found here) at the bottom for more effect. Also you will note that it was in the end totally worth matching the fabric to the braid - thankfully I did, phew!

The pictures make me as happy as I first had a glimpse at them on instagram. I may leave you, and have my happy dance in the living room! 

Bilingual :: Family ::

Monday, 6 April 2015

Raising bilingual kids is quite an important part of our life - and yet I hardly talk about it here. I am not sure it is the place for it, but I thought I would share some pictures of our Easter Sunday and raising bilingual kids is the reason why we ended up at Hatfield House. I found that there was a French market - a French market for Baby MiH is an opportunity to speak... French. 

And he did. He bought cheese, bread and saucisson (don't judge the French-ness of our shopping) and paid for it as well. It was exciting for him to practice with new people, and some of the market stall holders totally played the game. 

Just to clarify we speak only speak French to him (we had French TV installed as well), and with his grand-parents. He speaks English at nursery and with his friends. I know some of you are also raising bilingual children, how have you decided to do it?

Of course, you will have seen that Baby MiH has acquired Bough. He probably wears it better than I do - although it is weird to think that a 2 year old can wear beanie hats knitted for me. At least my hand knitted beanies get worn more? 

I hope you had a great Easter weekend!

Worth trying again :: Knitting ::

Saturday, 4 April 2015

Believe it people - these are socks, hand-knitted socks, my hand-knitted socks, in fact my first pair of hand-knitted socks. It was one of my knitting goals for 2015 - to knit hand-knitted socks. And here we are, beginning of April 2015, and we are discussing my first pair of hand-knitted socks. This is not bad going. 

To be fair, I put ALL the odds in my favour

     1. I chose a simple and clear pattern that plays on its colour scheme and not on a fancy design (ie stockinette); 
     2. I chose the same yarn as indicated on the pattern - in fact I only switch the colour scheme - crazy move, I know; 
     3. and I made one MAJOR modification - by adding a 1 inch to the leg section, whoohoo, crazy mods right there!

Pattern: Camping by Cabinfour
Yarn: De Rerum Natura Ulysse in sel and poivre (you can read my review of the yarn here)
Needles: 3.25 mm
Modifications: Minimal. I used Jeny's stretchy cast on and added that inch to the leg section

I am writing this post whist wearing my socks. They are so comfortable. These are not your regular socks - they fit perfectly, they are warm, cozy - everything that I believe hand-knitting should be about. OK, maybe I am seeing more in the work I put into it than I should - it is late and I am a bit tired too. 

I am planning to knit more socks, there is no stopping me now - I can do it (well that's if they are knitted top down, and I may be that  crazy and that I will give the toe up method a go!)

And it is one 2015 aim ticked, and onto the next... Fair isle anyone?