Working backwards

Since I can’t tell you what I’m knitting right now (Christmas present – yes, I know in the previous post I said I’m going to focus on making food gifts this year, but some knitted presents have wormed their way onto the needles), I’ll talk about what I will be knitting for me soon-ish.

A few weeks ago, O & I went up to Sheffield for a long weekend to visit his parents. On Friday, I managed to find a few hours to just sit in a park in between meeting and catching up with friends. It really struck me how much space there was. And how quiet it was. I know it was in the middle of a work day so of course it’d be quieter then, but it still really stood out. It was actually a bit unsettling not seeing many people around. I guess I’ve really become accustomed to London and the masses of people here in the six months that we’ve been here now.

Then on Saturday, we (O&I and his parents) all went up to York for a day trip. I happened to find these buttons in a market stall. They’re half penny coins shaped to curve up a bit at the edges. I like supporting indies, so I bought them. Didn’t have any idea what I’d use them on, but I liked them and knew I’d use them eventually.

Turns out, that eventually has happened sooner than I thought. I’ve been itching to cast on another sweater or cardigan, so I’ve been looking at my queue. I finally decided on a pattern last night (Myrtle by Snowden Becker) and today I bought the yarn for it. My cardi’ll be a dark wine-red. So hopefully I’ll have it by Wednesday next week and can cast on!

The reason why I say that I’m working backwards is that I usually pick the yarn first. And then the pattern. Occasionally the pattern first, then the yarn. And buttons almost always come last. Not this time though. I’m going out of my comfort zone and making the project work around the buttons. I like living on the wild side…

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Prepping for Christmas

Yes, I’ve said it. I’m already prepping for Christmas.
I’ve decided that this year, instead of knitting gifts, I’ll be giving the majority of recipients edibles. It’s nice to change things up a bit.
And since a lot of my plans involve making things I’ve never made before, I need to start testing recipes! Today is orangettes from The Skinny French Kitchen by Harry Eastwood. (I love this cookbook so much.)
So, what you see above, is the orange peel getting a nice syrup bath. The recipe says not to let the mixture burn, so I kind of obsessively hovered over it. And in the process gave myself an orange-scented steam facial.
The peel bits are now drying out before I dip them in sugar. If they taste as nice as they smell, they’ll definitely be a gift option.

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Searching for the perfect tart

So, Krisi and I have decided that now that we both live in London, we should try to meet up more often than once every 2-3 months. Which is still more than what it used to be (once every six years or so!). With that in mind, she is also on a mission to find the best raspberry tart. We’ve agreed to meet up once a month to try new patisseries. It’s a win-win; I get to see one of my longest known friends and I get to eat cake. We also think that eating cake more than once month, while tasty, won’t be thanked by our waistlines and we seem to have fairly busy social calendars (how did that happen?! I’m a homebody, I’m used to staying in all the time…), so once a month is perfect.

The above raspberry tart and cheesecake were consumed at Le Pain Quotidien in Covent Garden. That latte? Massive. It kept me up really late, so it’s a good thing it happened to be on a Friday night. The same night we went to see Top Hat actually. As the waiter brought it over, he said: “And here is your soup…” XD
The baked cheesecake was nice. Nothing special, but nice. Not heavy, had a hint of citrus in it.
The tart, according to Krisi, was decent. She liked having fresh raspberries on top, but the crust was a bit dry and hard. She was also sensible and got a small mochaccino. No sleeping issues for her!

And these two tarts were from the Patisserie Valerie on Old Compton St. Really big, so you felt like you were getting your money’s worth. And this time I made sure to have a decaf latte since I had to be up early the next morning!
I liked the strawberry tart I had, but it got to be really sweet fairly quickly. I think it probably would’ve been better without the glaze on top. Krisi felt the same about her raspberry tart. Crust was decent, filling was okay. A mix of the two tarts so far would be ideal.

So we’re still on the lookout for the perfect raspberry tart…

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Let's face the music…

And dance! Which I did on my walk home on Friday night.

I love going to the theatre. And now that I live in London? I actually get to go!

My friend Krisi and I went to see Top Hat to celebrate her birthday. She’d found a deal through (I think that’s what she said) where we could get a 2 course meal and a ticket to Top Hat for just £24.

Sure, our seats were up in the nosebleed section because come on, at that price, we weren’t going to get great seats. But that didn’t stop us from thoroughly enjoying the show. The dancing, the songs, the actual story… all of it was fabulous.

I highly recommend seeing it if you ever get the chance. The show is leaving London to go on tour in 2014-2015, so you’ve got until this Saturday to go see it if you want to see at Aldwych Theatre.

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Can you tell I like horror?

I went to the library today. I specifically went to get Let The Right One In since it’s the book club pick for November, but when I saw The Woman in Black, I grabbed that too. I’ve seen the play, but haven’t read it. Nor seen the movie. The play was fabulous, so I’m really hoping that the book’s good too.

The only thing that’s dampening my enjoyment of it so far (yes, I already started it, couldn’t help myself!) is that a previous patron has obviously used it in an assignment of sorts. There are tons of bits underlined in pencil (at least it’s not in pen?) and little notes in the margins. I’m trying not to be distracted by them all, but it’s not easy. I’m nosy and want to see what this person has to say about the story. But I want to read the story without outside influences first. And they’ve folded down the corners of the pages too! Someone clearly doesn’t respect library books.

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Since my current projects (socks and a blanket) aren’t inspiring me too much, I decided to cast on another cowl. It’s the stranded version of one of my designs (a double-knit cowl) that hasn’t been released yet. I really should get to work on writing up the pattern and getting it tested, huh? I procrastinate way too much.
Anyway, when I picked out the colours for this, I had the recipient in mind. She looks fabulous in orange. But it wasn’t until I actually cast on and started knitting that it occurred to me: the dark grey and orange? Totally Halloween-ish. At least it’s not black! And they do look really nice together, so hopefully she won’t mind.

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Breakfast in Brussels

In an attempt to blog more often, I’m trying a different approach. I’m going to think of my posts as mini-postcards of my life.

So! I went to Belgium last weekend to visit my sister. She took me to the market on Sunday morning where we had breakfast before doing her weekly grocery shop. The mint tea was deliciously sweet; the galettes had smooth goat’s cheese and honey inside. Since they were spread onto the freshly cooked dough, the melted goodness dribbled down our hands as we finished them off. Definitely worth a visit. So jealous she gets to do it every week!

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Good mail day!

I have the best friends. Look at what was waiting for me in the mail box!

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I can see in the sun now!

New sunglasses!

I wandered over to Covent Garden today. I wanted to buy these sunglasses since I don’t have any sunglasses right now and I know Oliver has bought me a 50s style dress as a birthday present. But alas, they didn’t have any in stock in the store. They did suggest buying them online, but shipping is like £5.50. Over half the price of the item. Not worth it. The shop girl was really nice though. She’d bought some for herself online and let me try them on. They were cute. I might get them one day if I ever order something else from them at the same time.
So I wandered around some more, found another retro shop and voila, now I have sunglasses. For only £10 too! 😀
Whatcha think?

During my wanderings, I also came across a massive queue to get into Five Guys, a blue chicken, a cute cottage and kayakers in the Thames. 😀

I can’t remember where I read it, but someone suggested that instead of having ice cream, try a frozen banana instead. So today I was like, cool, I’ve got bananas, I’ll try it. So I put one in the freezer. A few hours later, when it was frozen solid, I took it out and realized I’d forgotten one crucial step: peel the darn banana first! I tried defrosting it but the whole thing just turned to mush. Gave up on that one. Attempt #2 is currently in the freezer (and yes, I did remember to peel this one)… To be continued!
Maybe. If I remember to update. So probably not.

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Woolfest wrap up

130701 - woolfest haul

I went to Woolfest last weekend with three of my friends from Sheffield. I went up to Sheffield by coach on Friday. If you follow me on Twitter, then you already know that the air conditioning wasn’t working and it was just awful where I was sitting. But there was a plug socket and free WiFi so it wasn’t too bad.
I spent Friday night at Lucy’s and we went out to eat with Sarah and Janice for my second ever curry. I’ve decided that I like Indian food, as long as it’s very mild on the spice. If I remember correctly, I had a lamb paneer? Whatever it was, I liked it. The portion was huuuuuge, so next time I’d be better off just getting a side portion instead of a main, but that’s an issue I have with a lot of places.

Saturday was Woolfest day! The drive there and back was fine. I really miss driving, even with the morons who hog the middle lane on the M1. Seriously, if you’re not passing other cars, just shift over to the left.
I managed to be a bit more restrained in my spending this year, but I still feel like I came back with some really great stuff. I got 100g of fibre from Woolyknits, a skein of Sparkleduck Spirit, two skeins of Eden Cottage Yarns Bowland DK, a skein of EasyKnits Cherish (I think), buttons from three different places and butterfly hair accessories.
I also got a lot of photos of sheep and alpacas and goats while there, but I haven’t uploaded those from my camera yet.

Came back from Sheffield by coach on Sunday. This time the air conditioning was working, but there were no power sockets and no Wifi. Fun times.
And it looks like I missed the great weather down south while at Woolfest! It was only +15C and slightly rainy on Saturday up in Cumbria. Sunday it got to +27C and was super sunny down in London. Today? Partly cloudy and only about +20C. How do I always seem to miss the nice weather?

We decided to go out to eat yesterday and settled on Byron Hamburgers at Westfield. I was really pleasantly surprised at how great the service was. All of the staff were super friendly and our waiter in particular was awesome. He took the time to chat with us and made me feel like he actually wanted to know what we had to say (unlike some places that just pretend to like chit-chat). I also noticed how attentive and fun he was with the kids sitting in the booth next to ours. So I’ve now e-mailed the company and let them know. I know how rare it is to hear good things, so I make a point of letting the manager, etc know if I’ve had great service at a restaurant or shop.
Plus the food was great so I’m definitely going back there again at some point.

Knitting-wise (since this is supposed to be a mainly knitting blog), I’ve now finished all of the WIPs I’ve had on the needles since forever. My Joanie sweater still needs buttons (I bought some from Iceland but I can’t find them!), the Ethereal shawl is done as are the Glass Slipper socks.
So today I’ve cast on TPHPE by Heather Zoppetti. I’ve got an urge to learn double knitting after I saw someone do it at the knit group at the Loop two weeks ago. So I figure this’ll be a good starter project.

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