Here are my socks…

Here are my socks.   The pattern I used is roughly from the Big Book of Socks, with some alterations.  I increased the number of stitches to cast on from 60 to 64, since I was using smaller needles.  I also quit using the pattern once I got down to decreasing for the toes, because it didn’t make sense to me (see my socks’ soles for why).

Here are my socks, touched by a rainbow as they are drying themselves by the fire.  They are 64 stitches around, and they fit me perfectly once they had been washed, blocked and dried.

Here are my socks’ stripes.  They are knitted in a 2 ply yarn that I bought aaaages ago on sale from Spotlight.  I’ll check the brand next time I am there, but I have lost the label, unfortunately.  My socks are pretty in pink and purple.

Here are my socks’ heels.  They are knitted in the Flap and Gusset style, and are reinforced by doing S1, K1 across the flap.

Here are my socks’ soles.  They are enjoying the sunset.  The pattern said to knit for 5 inches before starting to decrease for the heel, but my feet are 10 inches long, and that would have made some mighty tight socks.  So I knitted until the sole of the socks reached just beyond my little toe.  See below for why I shouldn’t have knitted quite so far.

 

Here are my socks’ toes.  They are knitted in the Star Toe style, which looks a little funny on my foot, but I don’t mind.  I wanted to do a Star Toe, because the name reminded me of a Star Nosed Mole.   I also did a Kitchener Stitch on the toe (yay!) thanks to help from this video, which Alice recommended in her post.   Star Toes don’t usually have a Kitchener Stitch, they just gather up the last eight stitches, but I realised that if I knitted down to eight stitches, my socks would be too long for my feet.

Here are my socks.

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Socks Set Up

I’m neeeeeearly there!  Every night this week, and most of Saturday I have been working on my very first pair of socks, and I’m nearly there!  I shall have some photos of the finished product for you soon, doing their job keeping my toes nice and warm (and just in time too, it’s getting chilly here!).  But for now, here is a work in progress photo:

As you can see, I have my set up set up…  2 socks on the go, my pattern at the ready, notebook and pen for recording details, crochet hook for catching dropped stitches, laptop with a tutorial of how to pick up the slipped stitches along the gusset (you can find it here, I recommend it!), my iPod with a nifty little row counting application, and of course, a cup of tea…

Hopefully I’ll find some time for knitting tonight, and have a picture of the finished objects soon!  I can’t wait to have them on my feet!

Three hats walked into a pub…

I thought I’d share this photo (please excuse the quality – I took it with my iPod).  It’s from last night when my mum, me, and my dad went to the pub for dinner and to listen to some music.  The weather must be getting colder here, because we all had out our Sophia-knitted hats!

Left to right:  Mum’s Hat (February Beret, from this gorgeous pattern), My Hat (Rotorua Intermediate hat), Dad’s Hat (knitted flat, before I knew how to knit in the round, and when I was getting all excited about just being able to knit stripes!).

Brain Squeezing Cabled Hat

I really need to learn to be more patient, and do a swatch of knitting before I launch into a project…  This is my latest hat, and my very first attempt at cables!  I didn’t use any particular pattern, just cast on (too few) stitches, did a bit of 2×2 ribbing, then used a 6 stitch cable pattern from my 400 Knitting Stitches book…

My friend always told me they were so easy (and I in turn told her that knitting lace is so easy!), and it turns out we are both right!  Cables are so deceptively simple!  Although, for a first attempt, I would not recommend knitting with 14 ply wool on size 4.5 needles…  I bought this thick red wool ages ago from the Salvation Army, and after initially starting a scarf with it, I realised that I would not have anywhere near enough!!  So a brain squeezingly tight hat it turned out to be, as you can see from this photo…

The one good thing about making the hat so brain squeezingly small, is the that I did have enough wool left over to make a giant pom pom, which just gives it that extra something, don’t you think?

So, lesson learned.  One hat too small, and one hat too big – do more swatching!!

Apricot and Date Bars

My boyfriend loves storebought museli bars for a snack – you know the ones that are all nicely wrapped up in foil, and that you can grab on your way out the door?  Very handy!  I agree that they are convenient, but in my opinion they are:

 

a) overpriced

b) oversweet

c) undersized

 

The other day his favourite kind were on sale (pfff) and still worked out to 2 packages of 5 tiny bars for $6!  That’s 60c each!  I pointed that out to him too, and told him that I would make him some much more delicious museli bars which would be far more healthy and much, much tastier.

 

Even though the store-bought bars are tiiiiiny (about 35 g each), I can hardly eat a whole one because they are soooooo sweet.  I’m not a huge sweet tooth, and for someone who can eat a whole packet of Toffee Pops in an afternoon (ahem), maybe that is OK.  But anyway, I thought that I could do better.

 

The other day I saw a recipe for Honey and Peanut Butter Booster Bars on River Cottage, and I based what I made on this recipe.  I think I’ve sufficiently adapted it to be able to call it its own recipe, so I’ll put it down here…  All my ingredients are approximate, as I don’t tend to record/weigh things (I started out loosely following the River Cottage recipe for the butter, sugar, peanut butter and honey, and then improvised based on what I thought it should look like – you can, of course, do the same).

 

 

Apricot and Date Bars

  • 150 g butter**
  • 150 g brown sugar
  • 2 heaped tablespoons peanut butter
  • 1.5 heaped tablespoons honey
  • Zest of one lemon
** I used an Olive Oil spread instead of butter, purely because I forgot to buy butter at the supermarket.  I think it made the bars a little softer than they would have been with butter, given the “spreadableness” of the Olive Oil spread, but it worked fine, and is a good option if you are cutting out dairy or fat…
Combine these first ingredients in a pot, and heat slowly until they are all melted and combined.  Set aside.
  • 250 – 300 g whole oats (depending on what else you add)
  • 2 handfuls of chopped dried apricots
  • 2 handfuls of chopped dates
  • 2 handfuls of chopped walnuts
  • whatever is leftover in the sesame seed jar (about 1/3 cup is what was in mine)
Add these ingredients, and mix well to combine.  You want a mixture that is not too sloppy, but also not so dry that it won’t stick together in the oven.  Add more oats if your mixture is too wet.  If it’s too dry, you might want to melt a bit more butter and add that.
Press into a lined baking tin (size depends on how thick you want your bars, mine are quite fat!) and bake for 20 – 30 minutes at 160 c (until it goes golden, and before the edges start to burn too much).  Remove from the oven, and if you want to, melt some dark chocolate to spread over the top (I suspected that the chocolate chips on the store-bought bars were a large part of their appeal).  Wait until they are completely cool, and then cut into slices.  I made mine into 12 large bars, you could just as easily make 24 more manageable-sized bars…
Would you like to see mine?  Yes?  OK!
And a close up of the insides…  I spy a date!
Of course, store-bought muesli bars are really, really convenient.  They are all individually wrapped in colourful foil packages, so you can just pop one in your bag (you won’t even notice the extra weight!  They are so light!).  So, I wrapped mine individually in wax paper.  When you do this, remember (unlike me) that waxed paper has a waxy side and a non-waxy side.  You should probably put the waxy side inside the packet…
Look – a blog post that combines Wool and Spoons!  You could also use rubber bands if, unlike me, you don’t have a lot of spare time…
And you can’t have all those muesli bars running wild in your pantry, so they all need to be packaged into their special own box:
One thing I forgot to put on the box was the weight, which even after my dad took one bar for himself, is 1.2 kilograms (1200 grams)!  Compare that to the 175 gram store-bought box.
The price per serve (per bar) for these, which I worked out using some fancy Excel workings, is about $1.50 which may seem quite expensive (it did to me!).  However, I did use some pretty pricey ingredients such as “gourmet” dates, and the nice apricots from Otago instead of Turkey, walnuts, and organic peanut butter.  You could make them a lot cheaper by using other dried fruit such as raisins, and using a lot of seeds like pumpkin seeds instead of more expensive nuts.  I made these ones especially with all my boyfriend’s favourite things in them, to prove to him that they can be a zillion times more delicious than store bought ones!  You also have to remember that my bars weigh about 100 g each, compared to the store-bought ones (costing 60 c per serve), which weight only 35 g each…  So, my bars aren’t super-cheap, but they sure are a lot tastier, judging by the crumbs I have been eating off the bench..
And of course, mine have an extra ingredient, and it’s not high fructose corn syrup…

Rotorua Intermediate Hat

Recently in Rotorua, we went for a trip to Spotlight (which now we don’t need to do, since we have one right around the corner here!).  I bought three colours of wool, which for some reason just looked lovely together to me – a dark grey, a dark green and a funny mustardy yellow colour.  My mum said they looked like her old school uniform from Rotorua Intermediate, so that’s what I’ve called my hat!

It’s a pattern I made up as I went along, with a grey picot edge, even stripes, and some lacy eyelet holes in it.  It was super quick to knit, especially after (or maybe it was during!) the scarf I made my friend (which by the way, she tells me is super warm and cuddly in the Wellington wind!).

This hat probably wouldn’t stand up to the Welly wind – look at all the holes in it!  But it’s perfect for the Tauranga autumn weather, and it goes perfectly with a mustardy yellow merino wool top that I bought too.  I never realised it before, but I’m really drawn to that colour!  It’s a bit more mustardy than it looks in the photos here, the sun was shining too brightly here in the Bay, I guess…  I like the way this hat turned out, very simple, a nice way to make a simple striped hat a bit more interesting, and so it doesn’t turn out looking like a sports supporters hat (I only realised afterwards that I have made this hat in the Australian colours, I’ll have to put it away for the Rugby World Cup later this year…)  Here is a shot of the hat on my head;  I did knit it a liiiiittle bit too big for me (especially after I blocked it, and it stretched a little).

Over the next few posts I’ll try to catch you up on what I’ve been knitting – for me the hardest part of having a knitting and cooking blog is not doing the knitting and the cooking, but then sitting down, uploading pictures, and actually getting around to writing a blog post!!  If only there were a way that I could knit and type at the same time.  I did manage to knit and read at the same time the other day, though from my laptop and not a book…

Anzacs and Afghans

Before we went camping for Easter, I did a whole lot of baking to take with us.  I’ve had the cookbook Ladies, a Plate for a while now, but haven’t cook much out of it.  For camping, I baked two New Zealand classics – Anzacs, and Afghans.  I have to say that these are the best recipes for these biscuits I have used.

These are my Afghans:

And from another angle:

So close up you can see my fingerprints on the chocolate icing – I’m an advocate of using hands for cooking!  They are not too sweet, nice and have heaps of cornflakes in them for crispiness (if you don’t know what Afghans are, they are a cocoa-y chocolaty biscuit, with crunchy cornflakes in them, chocolate icing and always a walnut to top it off!).  Yum.

I have always had problems with ANZAC biscuit recipes, but this one is great.  I have made them several times before from recipes which end up as one big pool of golden-syrupy buttery oats, but these ones spread out nicely – not too much!  They melt in your mouth too.  ANZAC biscuits are made from mainly oats and coconut, and are flavoured with Golden Syrup.  For the first lot I made, I used some walnuts as the recipes suggested – apparently they are one of the traditional ingredients, but not used so much these days because they are quite expensive…  Are you ready for the photo?

Absolutely delicious – they just melt in your mouth!  I was so impressed with these recipes, I’ve now bought the second Ladies, a Plate book so I can do some more yummy baking!