February Baby (in March)

The February Baby Sweater, is probably one of the most knit baby patterns on Ravelry (after of course, EZ’s Baby Surprise Jacket).

February Baby

I know lots of people love EZ and her pithy instructions and it’s hard not to enjoy her writing, which is part personal journal, part informative, and part pattern – and the pattern seems sometimes as almost an afterthought.

However, after reading a bunch of project notes, I did decide that there was a decidedly pithier way to knit this cardigan, and that involved a circular needle and putting the sleeve stitches on a holder and knitting the bottom, and then the sleeves in the round.

image

Despite the many helpful project notes on Ravelry that instruct a provisional cast on when knitting the February Baby Sweater in the round, I just did what I usually do, a backwards loop. What could go wrong?

Pick up stitches

Exhibit A – trying to pick up lace stitches, which are not anything like so easy as they are to pick up from stocking stitch. Next time I’ll do a provisional. Despite this hiccup, I managed to do a decent job on the sleeves, and the best part is that any holes look like part of the lace patterning. Brilliant.

I veered off the EZ path again (I know she wouldn’t mind) and only cast on 7 stitches under the arm instead of 14. I just felt that 14 would be too big and I was using one of my sunnyside cardigans knit in 3months size as a guide. I think I got this mod right.

February Baby size

I love the gull stitch lace pattern, it’s so simple that it’s easy to memorise and you can get in a good rhythm of knitting without having to look at the pattern.

Very happy to have knit an EZ baby sweater, now I’ll have to make a Baby Surprise Jacket, just to see what all the fuss is about! 

 

Unbirthday Apple Cinnamon Cake

I’ve made this cake and variants thereof, many many times. The base is a classic butter cake, and the recipe is from the Australian Women’s Weekly Birthday Cake Book – the original one, from my childhood in the 80s.

The book

So many birthday parties had cakes from this book, and I spent hours in the months prior to my birthday every year studying the cakes in an attempt to make a selection.

The wood cabin is kind of boring, but wouldn’t I love the opportunity to eat that much Flake chocolate? Yes, yes I would (I never got the wood cabin).

I really like horses – do I want the rocking horse cake? But potato chips on a cake are kind of weird (I did get the rocking horse cake, but with licorice instead of chips).

It was a tough call between ‘something I like the look of’ and ‘something with lots of lollies I want to eat on it’ and perhaps the most important determinant of ‘something my mother is willing to make’.

At any rate, this cake still reminds me of birthday parties, and I’ve always used the recipe to make birthday cakes for my own kids. The new WW Birthday Cake Book has an updated recipe, and it may well be improved – it has slightly more sugar and milk – but I still just like the old one better.

I’m not making a birthday cake though, this basic butter cake is very versatile and I’m making an apple cinnamon cake. I love apple cake, and you can use tinned apples for this (quick and easy), or you can use fresh apple slices, but I find it tastes best if you poach the apples before you make the cake.
Apple cake

Unbirthday Apple Cinnamon Cake

Apples
4 medium sized apples
1 tablespoon sugar
water
ground cinnamon

(or a 400g tin of apple slices)

Poaching the apples is easy, just core and peel and cut into slices. Pop them in a saucepan with a little bit of water, enough to nearly cover them, and a tablespoon of sugar and a sprinkle of cinnamon. Bring to the boil and simmer until soft.
Then pop them in a colander to drain and cool.

Cake
125g butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract/essence
½ cup of caster sugar
2 eggs
1 ½ cups of self raising flour
⅓ cup of milk.

Beat the sugar with the vanilla until light and fluffy. Add the sugar and keep beating.
Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each.
Add the flour and milk, half at a time, beating all the while, until the mixture is smooth.

Topping
1 tablespoon Caster sugar
½ teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons melted butter

Mix the caster sugar and cinnamon together. Melt the butter.

Assembling the cake

Making a cake

Preheat the oven to 180˚c.
Now put about half the mix in the bottom of a greased and lined 20 or 23cm round cake pan.
Place half the apples on the mix. You can sprinkle with extra cinnamon if you like.
Add the rest of the cake mix on top and gently smooth it out.
Place the rest of the apples around the outside of the cake (or just any way you choose really).
Place it in the oven and bake for 45 minutes or until cake is cooked through.

When it’s ready, take it out of the oven, have your melted butter and cinnamon sugar for the topping ready. Quickly baste it with the butter and sprinkle the cinnamon sugar on top. Do this as quickly as possible, the butter will soak into the cake and you want the cinnamon sugar to stick to the wet butter on the cake.

Wait for it it cool and serve with a cup of tea.
Apple cake slice

 

Tiny

I love making baby cardigans, and not just for my own nephew. This little one is for the nephew of a dear friend of mine.

Baby cardigan

I wanted to make it newborn small; the baby is due in winter. He is going to be induced a little early, so we expect this baby will be quite a little one.

I love this free pattern but having made it before I know that it’s not a newborn size. So I decided to do the math and figure out a way to make the pattern work. I used 8ply Bendigo Woollen Mills Luxury yarn, it’s quite soft and warm, and even more importantly for baby knits, it’s washable wool.

Tiny yoked baby cardigan

The gauge I was getting was 22sts = 10cm so using that and the sizing given on the Paxton jacket pattern, I adjusted the pattern to fit a preemie/small newborn. If you want to make one yourself, you can put your calculator away and just have a look at my notes on Ravelry or this google doc.

Slip stitch yoked baby cardigan

And there you go, a tiny little baby cardigan and matching hat for a much loved little baby.

Warm woollen mittens

Although I live in Queensland and there is not much call for warm woollen mittens, it still, sometimes, will be cold enough in winter to warrant some form of woollen hand coverings for comfort. So I have been knitting ‘mittens for gifts’ for a couple of friends whose birthdays are coming up shortly.

Mittens

These guys are a free pattern from Drops Design. Looking through the revelry projects and comments, I noticed that several people had mention that the thumb increases hadn’t been charted, so before I started I created a little plan with the increases in pattern on a google doc, which made things a lot easier.
image

Next on the mitten list was a pair of toasty mittens. A delightfully simple pattern, and these guys  are just so soft and cosy. I used Jo Sharp Silkroad Aran Tweed and I have to say there are some terrible reviews on Ravelry for this yarn. It does have a tendency to grow, and it’s quite delicate but I haven’t had it snap on me yet. It’s very soft, and it is lightly spun, so it’s a little insubstantial in a way, however it really does feel nice.

My plan is to wrap these up with some nice tea to make a cosy present for some very dear friends.

More Babies!

My little nephew finally arrived! Just before xmas I sent off a parcel full of little woollens.

AssortedCardies

The little cream coloured cardigan is in cotton because the baby is due in summer and I had the yarn leftover from another project. The one underneath is one of the Sunnyside Baby Cardigans I’ve knit.

RedCardigan2
blue3

The red hooded cardigan and blue cabled jumper are both free Rowan patterns and knit in Bendigo Luxury 8ply. I’m really happy with both of them and because they come in so many sizes I’ll probably knit the cardigan again in a bigger size for him. I made no modifications to the pattern, and I thought they were perfect just as they are.

It’s such a nice feeling to send not just a gift, but things that you have made especially for a new little member of your family.

Granny in Training

I think we’ve had a crochet granny blanket kicking around our house for as long as I can remember. I even found this old photo of one my Mum made, that I remember snuggling up under on the couch. Whether you think the granny is the height of crafty chic or perfectly hideous, you can’t say it doesn’t, at the very least, have a certain element of homeliness and comfort.

OldieTimeyBlankie

I’ve been meaning to make a granny square blanket in some form or another for years, and recently inspired by my mother’s crochet endeavours (she still makes crochet throws), I’ve decided that this year, I’m finally going to make one.

granny

I’ve started with a bunch of aran and bulky weight scraps I’ve had sitting in a tub for years. Yarn I bought when I started knitting and didn’t really know what sort of things I like to knit. That I still have some of that yarn nearly a decade later is testament to the fact that sometimes new knitters, in their enthusiasm, make foolish yarn purchases.

Nevertheless I have now found a use for that stash of bulky yarn and I hope I’ll get a nice granny throw out of it all. It might be a little heavy given the weight of the wool, but it will certainly be warm, cosy and made with love.

Making Jam

Jam making, for me, has always sounded like something that would be difficult. I had the perception it would be a huge ordeal of some sort with hours of cooking and huge amounts of fruit and just a rather large fuss in general.

strawberries

However I stumbled across Food in Jars who seemed to make it look easy. Making a small batch of Strawberry and Vanilla Jam was a good place to try my hand at jam making, and as I was making this in September before xmas, a good opportunity to have some homemade jam gifts ready. And it worked, I have jam.

bubbling berries

Some of the benefits of small batch jam-making:

If you are not sure about making jam, small batches are a good place to start as you needn’t invest a lot of time or massive amounts of potentially wasted fruit in your experiments.

You don’t cook it for long, so it’s quick and easy – and it was even easier than I thought, I bought a thermometer but I suspect I could have done it without. Apply heat until delicious is a good general rule to have with cooking, and jam-making is no exception.

You don’t get heaps and heaps of  jam – just a couple of jars which means you can experiment with different flavours, or just make enough for your family, or the fridge without having to process in jars (unless you want to, which I did as I was making xmas gifts).

You get to eat delicious homemade jam!

Successful jam