Thursday, 28 June 2012

Chocolate Chip Biscuits


This biscuit recipe has been really popular amongst my friends and family over the years. It reminds me of my uni days and a friend who used to help me eat them. Liam had a little friend from kinder over to play this afternoon, so Noah helped me cook these in readiness.

125g butter
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla essence
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 3/4 cup self-raising flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
125g (or so) chocolate chips

Cream together the butter, sugar, brown sugar and vanilla essence. Add the egg, and then the flour and the salt.

Add the chocolate chips, roll into small balls and flatten slightly. Even if it's only enough to stop them from rolling around on the tray. Place them on a tray lined with baking paper. Leave lots of space around them, they spread out a bit. I made 30 biscuits and spread them over two trays.


Bake in a moderate oven for about ten minutes or until golden.

If you've got one of those ovens that burns the bottom of everything, place an extra, empty biscuit tray on one of the lower shelves.


Monday, 25 June 2012

One Step at a Time


I finally finished my sock on Friday night. Yes, that's right, sock. Singular. I still have to knit the other one.

The pattern is available free from Ravelry. It's David's Toe-Up Sock Cookbook, and it's great because it allows you to make a sock according to your own measurements. You measure the length of your foot and around the widest part of your foot. You also do a tension swatch to see how many stitches per inch. From this you do a few calculations and fill in the blanks in the pattern. Hey presto, a pattern tailored for your foot.

I cast on following Judy's Magic Cast On as recommended in the instructions. It's a very clever and neat technique. The video demonstrates this technique with one set of circulars using the Magic Loop method, which suits me as that is the method I wanted to use. There is a tail, that needs to be woven in at the end, but I think when I do the other sock, I will knit it into the sock along with the working yarn. I must confess that I just remembered now that I haven't yet woven that end in. It's on the inside of the sock though, so no-one can see it. Oops!

For the increases, I just worked into the front and back of the stitches I was increasing on. There is another method suggested that is supposed to be neater, but with the busy yarn I was using, I felt there wasn't going to be much difference, and it looks fine. If I were to knit with a plainer yarn, I pobably would try the other method.

When I did the short rows for the heels, I could really see the difference in my tension between purl and knit. At the very beginning of constructing the sock, when David tells you to do the swatch, he says to knit it in the round, but doesn't actually say why. When you knit in the round, all your stitches are knit stitches. When you knit back and forth, to get stocking stitch, one row is plain, then the other purl. Since they are different stitches they have different tensions. I can really see the difference in the heel. My tension here is way tighter than the rest of the sock. I guess I am more relaxed knitting plain?


I made a bit of a boo-boo at the top of the heel flap. One side of the sock worked perfectly, the other not so much. Of course, I took the picture above with the bad side showing. You might notice the little hole? Right at the top of the yellow strip below the ankle? The other side is perfect :D Hopefully I will get both sides right when I knit the other sock.

To make my sock more exciting than just stocking stitch, I worked the top of the foot and the leg in a kind of rib. Three plain, one purl. I basically then kept going until I was half way through the yarn. I used my kitchen scales to check it the weight of the ball periodically, and then, when I was close I just unwound the amount I had left until I was half way. I will just knit the other sock to match. If you do it this way, it is a good idea to weigh the yarn before you start. My ball actually weighed 103g. I made sure that my leftover ball weighed 53g. I started the rib at the top of the sock when it weighed 57g. I should theoretically have about 3g left over when I am done. Better than running out and ending up with one sock shorter than the other!

For casting off, I used this method, sort of. I'm not sure if you are supposed to just do it in knit or purl, but I did it matching my knit, purl, knit, purl rib. I found the knit stitches a little tricky to be honest. David mentions a tubular cast off, I might try that on my next pair of socks. (Ummm... once I know what that is) The cast off I used is nice and stretchy, and looks fine though.

Overall, I am pretty happy with my sock. The only issue is that the sock has no shaping above the ankle. It is a little tight over my calves. It fits ok, but could be a little looser. I would recommend that if you intend to make a longer sock, unless you have nice, skinny legs,(lucky you), then you might want to do a bit of increasing part way up the leg. I wasn't really sure about how to do this without messing up my stitch pattern.

Sunday, 17 June 2012

Sashiko Satchel


I originally started this bag, back in April. Firstly, I did all the Sashiko Stitching after purchasing some variagated perle cotton at the AQC. I then had all the bits cut out ready for a Nicole Mallalieu workshop I attended with the ASG the following weekend.


Really, all I achieved at the workshop was getting the base done, and the purse feet on the bottom.


And then it sat there, doing nothing for weeks, whilst seeminly more important things were completed instead.


On Friday, I decided enough was enough, and I finally got this bag finished yesterday, just before dinner.


You can see above, that I over-came my issue with the zipper foot and the magnetic snap from yesterday. I ended up ditching the zipper foot altogether, used my regular foot and shifted my needle as far left as it would go. The regular foot offered more stability, and I really feel that the needle should be within coo-ee of a foot, otherwise what is the point of having a foot there at all? Janome really need to look at the design of their standard zipper foot a bit more closely. I struggle a bit with zips at times, because you need to raise the presser foot to full height to get the zipper head under the foot, and it won't stay at full height, it needs to be held there. This means you need one hand for the lever, one for moving the zipper head, and another for holding the fabric, so that you can pull that zipper head. That's one more hand than what I have! Ugh!


I went with an adjustable strap, so that it can be worn across the body or neatly tucked up under the arm.


I really like the simple style of this bag. The pattern is Nicole Mallalieu's Large Tote & Satchel. I just used some of the dark denim from my stash, the same denim I used for my skirt, Liam's jeans and my Wren City Bag. The flap is the perfect canvas for any art-work you want, to make your bag stand out from the crowd.

*This Sashiko Satchel is available for sale in my shop.

Check out some more Creative People, over here!

Saturday, 16 June 2012

Issue with Janome Zipper Foot


Does anyone else have this problem? The zipper foot gets me past the magnetic catch just fine, but the part where it snaps onto the machine gets in my way!

Apart from sewing further away from the magnetic catch, which is the obvious solution, does anyone have any ideas to get around this problem? Is there an alternate Janome foot that is not a "snap-on" that I can use? I can't think of any examples at the moment, but this is not the first time I have had this issue with the Janome zipper foot.


By the way, if I were to sew further away, I may as well use a standard foot. If you can see, on the other side of the magnetic catch, I have a bulky seam to sew along too, so that doesn't help either. So frustrating!

Update: You can see my solution here: Sashiko Satchel

Thursday, 14 June 2012

Putting my best foot forward


I have passed the heal on my first sock. (More details here) My plan is to knit them as far as 50g of yarn will get me, so I have enough for a second sock of the same size. The yarn is beautiful, it is certainly a contrast to the grey wintery skies outside today. It is my most colourful knitting project to date, and maybe the brightest socks I will have owned since I was seven? I mostly stick with black and navy, so this is pretty out-there for me. Fun to knit, though.

What's happening in your Creative Space this week? Are you knitting? Sewing? Something else? Would you wear hand-knitted or brightly coloured (or both) socks? See what everyone else is doing, over here.

Monday, 11 June 2012

Yoplait Picnic

Product Talk By Nuffang

Today we were blessed with a public holiday co-inciding with a lovely, sunny day. Perfect for a picnic at one of our favourite playgrounds. This picnic is sponsored by Nuffnang and Yoplait.

When we arrived at the picnic, the kids were given some 175g tubs of strawberry yogurt. These tubs are a great size for snacks for little kids. I think they would also be good for morning playlunch at school or kinder. Yoplait is full of calcium, so it's great for growing strong bones, and it doesn't contain any artificial flavours or colours which is a real plus in my book.


The kids were enjoying them so much, they even licked the lids clean. You could say they were lid-lickingly good. Just for fun, Yoplait have printed some great little facts under the lids, like this one:


Happy people live nine years longer. Good thing my kids are happy people, then. I want them to live forever.



For a special treat, I made some Berry Yogurt Slice. The recipe calls for three cups of low fat vanilla yogurt. The 1kg tub of Yoplait Vanilla was perfect. There was even some left over for later. The vanilla flavour is really good, it even contains real vanilla pod.


I had a few problems with this recipe, when I poured the jelly on top, it stirred up the yogurt a bit, so there was yogurt in my jelly and the whole thing was a bit more wobbly and errr.... mooshy than my usual jelly slice, too. We had to use plates and spoons to eat it. I did leave the yogurt part to set overnight, so it wasn't that. I'm thinking next time I might use a little more gelatine? The flavour was really good though, better than the condensed milk version I am used to. One tip though - when pouring the jelly, pour slowly!


I also made some Honeyed Strawberry Dip, this time I used the Yoplait Vanilla from a 1kg tub. The recipe suggests reduced fat "natural" yogurt, but I wasn't able to find any. It was very sweet though, so the honey in my opinion wasn't really necessary. I gave the kids some bananas and strawberries to dip in it, and it was a winner. Not too sweet for them. I'm thinking you could save yourself a heap of trouble though, and just use some of the fruit flavoured yogurt without adding anything to it. It contains real fruit, so it would be just as good.


After our little picnic, Maxx and the kids went off to play in the playground. Amélie has just mastered going up and down slides by herself, so she was really keen to try out the slides at the park. She started out with some of the smaller slides, but was keen to go on the bigger ones.



After a few goes with me, she did it by herself!


Thursday, 7 June 2012

Sock it to me


You might remember a few weeks ago, I won a voucher from Yarn, Glorious Yarn. I was a bit over-whelmed by all the pretty yarn, but eventually, I decided what to get - four balls of Schoppelwolle Zauberball. I was really tempted by some Tilli Tomas Disco Lights, but I really can't see myself wearing sequins anytime soon, so I gave it a miss. My plans are to knit a pair of socks, and a wrap, and then decide what to do with the rest of the yarn after that.

Zauberball - Flair

Zauberball - Stone-washed

Crazy Zauberball - Tropical Fish

Crazy Zauberball - der Lenz

I have started knitting a test swatch, using some tropical fish, so that I can get started on "David's Toe-Up Sock Cookbook", available as a free download on Ravelry. This pattern is a "recipe" for toe-up socks with any yarn, to fit any foot. I need to work out my gauge before I get started.


Having never knitted socks before, this is all new to me. Did you know that you can knit two socks at once using two sets of circular needles? It is said to combat "Second-sock-syndrome". Have you knitted socks before? Do you have any advice for me? Do you prefer to knit toe-up, or top down? One at a time or two at once? Do you have a favourite sock pattern? Do you knit them for yourself, or for other people?

Check out what everyone else is doing in their Creative Spaces this week.

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