Search This Blog

Friday, August 27, 2010

I'm Giving Away a Skein of Sock Yarn ....

I thought this would be a great time to have a sock yarn  giveaway because I'm right in the middle of a Colour Swap on Ravelry at the moment. This is a swap I have taken part in for a long time and it's my most favorite of all swaps. For those of you who don't know the rules - you are assigned a secret spoilee who nominates a colour in their sign up questionnaire, then you have to put together a package of items including at least one handmade gift in their chosen colour.

Right, what you need to do to have a chance at winning the yarn is to guess the real colour of the socks in the photograph by leaving your answer in the comments section below. I won't be able to name the winner for a couple of weeks (until my swap recipient has received their package from me - it's a surprise swap). The prize is a skein of my hand dyed sock yarn in the same colour as the socks below (and it's a very nice colour). I will post a colour picture of these socks here on the day that I name the winner.

In the case of more than one person guessing the right colour of the socks it will be names in a hat time which is the fairest way I can think of, and if no one guesses it right then all names will go in the hat  :-)

I baked Carrot Cupcakes today but I'm not sure what I think of them:

This is a Nigella recipe but I don't think I'm all that struck on these, it's the first time I have used this particular recipe. They are cakey yet have a strange kind of texture and they didn't rise very evenly, they looked more like a muffin when they came out of the oven, uneven and cracked on the top. I dislike the cream cheese frosting given in this recipe because it's just way too sweet for my liking and makes enough to frost double this amount of cupcakes, again, I've never made this particular frosting recipe and I'm now wishing I had stuck to my old faithful recipes for both.

Updates in my Etsy shop:


Wednesday, August 18, 2010


I have always loved colour and think I have a good eye for it. I can go out and randomly buy things for a specific colour scheme without taking along swatches, paint chips or pictures and from memory I know if it's right or not. 100% of the time I'm spot on.

Onto colour and yarn..... The main reason I started dyeing my own yarns was largely due to the lack of choice/availability here in New Zealand. It's hard enough finding a nice yarn base then when you do find one it doesn't come in the colour you are wanting or you cannot get the yarn weight you are after etc etc, which really surprised me because before we emigrated here I had visions of the country being a wool lovers/knitters paradise. I thought I would be in yarn paradise.
So on the internet you go to order something from overseas and most of the time I have been totally happy with my yarn purchases, but there has been the odd occasion when the colour I received only slightly resembles the colour that was seen on my monitor.

It's my birthday tomorrow and I received a gift from my dear friend Nichole in Nova Scotia. Now just look at the colours on this yarn she sent me, I am in love. I've had it by my side every day and keep giving it a pat and a squeeze:

I love these bold peacock blues and purples, it's the way they really stand out over the deeper earthy tones that appeals to me. The yarn is Trail Sock by Fleece Artist and I cannot wait to start knitting it up, however, I have to decide what I am going to use it for. As much as I want to make socks I don't want it to be hidden away in my shoes so it may become a shawlette of some kind. Hugs to you Nichole if you're reading this, it's beautiful and you could not have chosen better for me :-)

Another favorite yarn I've been dyeing is Precious Metal. I'm loving using the natural colour palette at the moment, maybe that's a seasonal thing? Every time I put a skein of this in the shop it runs right out the door, not that I'm complaining.

I dyed this same colourway onto a bamboo base yesterday, I will post a pic when it's dry to show how the colours differ due to the base yarn differences.

Another few busy days here, I've been dyeing new yarns for the book launch on Saturday at the Dux De Lux 12.30 - 2.30-ish.

Recent updates in my Etsy store:

Thursday, August 12, 2010

A baking day....

I made bread today, real homemade stuff -  the kind with a crisp light crust and a soft inside. This is my fail safe loaf when making it by hand rather than in the machine, sometimes I want to mix and knead myself and remind myself how therapeutic bread making can be. I vary the shape nearly every time, today I fancied a plait/braid and wanted sesame seeds on top, I love their nutty taste and smell when they are toasted. This recipe only requires one rising, no proving at all so it's a quick bread to make but you must use fast acting (instant) dried yeast, the dried regular bakers yeast and fresh yeast just won't work here.

Basic White Bread

500g strong white bread flour
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1 x 7g sachet of fast acting (instant) dried yeast
15g soft butter
300 ml warm water (100ml boiling and 200 ml cold)

Because it's cold here at the moment I warm the bowl first. I put the flour, salt and sugar in a bowl and mix then pop it in the oven set on the lowest setting for about 5 mins. If it's warm weather I skip this process.

So, mix your flour, salt and sugar together, then stir in the yeast. Cut the butter into tiny pieces and rub it into the flour until it disappears. Then add the warm water all at once, mix it into the flour mixture, clawing at it with your fingers until its pretty evenly mixed. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for at least 10 minutes. It seems never ending but you must make sure you knead for at least this time if you want your bread to have a lovely fine texture. Cover with a damp tea towel and let it rest for 10 minutes.

While it's resting I prepare my tray/tin. If I'm baking on a tray I use silicon paper to line it, if I'm making it in a loaf tin then I grease the tin thoroughly with a light coating of butter or oil.

Shape the dough into whatever shape you desire, I braided mine but I often just make it into a cob loaf by making an elongated oval and slashing it 3 times diagonally across the top. Then cover with either oiled cling film or a damp, warm tea towel and put it in a warm place to rise for about 45 minutes until it's doubled in size.
Remember to preheat your oven, I do this about 30 minutes into the rising time. You need it to be at 230 deg c.

If you want a crispy crust then dissolve 1 teaspoon salt in 4 tablespoons warm water and brush over the top, or dust with flour for a soft floured cottage stye bread, melted butter brushed over gives a nice deep golden crust with a superb taste. Scatter with poppy/sesame/sunflower seeds or whatever you fancy.

Put the bread in the hottest part of the oven and bake for 15 minutes, then reduce the temperature to 200 deg c and bake for a further 10 - 15 minutes as all ovens vary. The bread will be golden brown and should sound hollow when you tap it underneath. Allow to cool on a rack if you can wait that long!

Here's the same bread recipe but made into something different.  Make the same dough, roll it out thinly then spread it with a little melted butter (about 2 tablespoons), scatter over some strong cheddar, a couple of tablespoons of freshly grated parmesan, some snipped chives and a few slivers of roasted cloves of garlic. Roll it up into a swiss roll type shape, bend it around into a ring and tuck one end inside the other. Make deep slashes all the way around the edge with a very sharp knife, cover as before and rise for 45 mins to 1 hour in a warm place. When it's doubled in size brush the top with a little melted butter and sprinkle over some more grated cheddar and parmesan. Bake exactly as for the bread above. This is lovely served with homemade vegetable soups.

I also made the Everyday Chocolate Cake from Smittenkitchen for the second time this week. I highly recommend this recipe! The first time I was really pleased with it but felt it needed something to top it off so this time I added a chocolate fudge icing:

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

And New Yarn....

There's new yarn in my shop today, the colour is Bobby Dazzler. I also added some new project bags yesterday and have more of these to list over the next few days. I'm going to be concentrating on dyeing yarns for the Christchurch book launch now so I won't be dyeing much for my Etsy shop for a while.

Monday, August 9, 2010

New Socks

I haven't posted here for a while, I've been very busy working full time hours at my day job, however I did find the time to dye this yarn and knit up these socks this week:

These are Sunday Swing Socks and the yarn is my own hand dyed in the She Sells Sea Sells colourway.

The sock blockers were made by my husband, he made 8 of these as a surprise for me yesterday. I have been going on about them for ever, ones for sale here are few and far between yet when I do see any they are generally very expensive.