What the heck is Wings of Goose?

Thursday, 30 August 2012

Why, what a lovely sack you are wearing!

After speeding (for me) through my lovely Shellseeker, I finally reached the end of the front and decided now would be a good time to try it on (pause for derisive laughter). I had tried it when I got past the armholes, which was quite some time ago in terms of the length of the garment, but had neglected to since then. Items turning out too short is usually my problem; I certainly didn't anticipate an item being far longer than intended...

Don't misunderstand - I had been looking at Shellseeker with a critical eye and wondering if not only the length but also the width were somewhat more than intended as I got closer and closer to the end, but I somehow managed to sweep this possible issue to the corner of my mind.  I didn't think it possible for one of my garments to be so drastically large in comparison to the schematic. I notoriously need to go up a whole mm in order to get gauge as I knit so tightly.

Well, as you may possible have inferred from this post title, miracles can happen, and my lovely, soft, alpaca Shellseeker is a lovely, soft, alpaca sack!

I don't think I need to elaborate on how unimpressed I am with this fact - my expression says it all - the front is a whole 12cm too long!

You can't really appreciate from the photos just how large, unshapely and unflattering this jumper is. Because there is no side shaping anyway, and the only shaping consists of side decreases and centre increases to form the pocket, unless the garment turns out exactly the intended size, you risk looking as if you are, indeed, wearing a sack.

On the first of these back views you can see the size of the jumper in all it's rectangular glory. On the lower photo, you can see how, when one's arms are by one's sides, the fabric forms protrusive folds on each far side around the armholes, which Marno kindly pointed out to me, due to my not being able to see the back!

I knew Shellseeker had no body shaping and relied on the pocket shaping to create interest and, well, shape, and I was fine with that, but I think this jumper can only work if its exactly the right size for the wearer. With that thought in mind, I have taken drastic action. For the first time ever, I have entirely frogged (for the knitting uninitiated, ripped out) Shellseeker. Well, not entirely, as I hadn't anticipated it taking so long and didn't have time to rip it all out during Noah's nap, so I'm about two thirds through, but make no mistake, it will all be gone and I will start again, from the very beginning, with a 1mm smaller needle (I did go up a needle size and a half)! Its funny actually, because even when I did my tension swatch I wasn't entirely happy with the looseness of the stitches, so hopefully with Shellseeker mark 2, it will be a little stiffer (though not much as its alpaca) and just hold together better.

I am entirely blown away but the pattern though, and can only say good things about it. It is sheer genius. So utterly simple yet you can't imagine how on earth something is going to work, in this case, particularly the pocket, until you get to it. Then the method, which you've read through so many times before you arrived at that point, just falls into place and uses such obvious yet subtle ways to achieve it's aim.

So I hope to have a me-sized Shellseeker very soon, although ironically it would be better at this point in time to keep the large version, as I will be expanding in the next six months to accommodate Noah's little brother or sister!!! (Pause for gasps and "ahhs"). Yes, I'm 14 weeks pregnant, and its certainly very exciting. We are so very blessed and thankful for all God has given us.

But I seem to have created a little pattern of making clothes too big for myself lately. I made a dress quite a few months ago that ended up looking like maternity wear, which I decided to keep for when I became pregnant again, so photos of that to come in a few months when I have a bump to fill it with! I also didn't pull it apart because I was actually really pleased with how it turned out, even though it is a tent.

So, all in all, not a particularly successful couple of months in the clothes making department. A sack for a jumper and a tent for a dress. Surely it can only get better from here...

xxx Sam

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

2 ply

I hereby proudly unveil my second ever plied yarn! With a bit of inspiration from my friend the Midnight Sheep, who was a great help in recommending which rovings to ply, I have finally produced another 2 ply yarn. I can't remember whether I ever posted about my lovely MIL's trip to the knitting and stitching show at Alexandra Palace last year, and the stash of dyed roving she brought back for me - I know I took photos with the intention of, but I may have got waylaid. Aaaanyway... I was showing said stash to Helena, who immediately saw a fantastic pairing that I just hadn't thought of. One roving was lilac with no varigation, the other was mainly green, with lights and darks, but also, as it happened, a little of the same lilac. An obvious pairing, but maybe I didn't think of it because I must admit to being far more drawn to block colours then varigated. So after many months, I can finally reveal the finished yarn, complete with progress shots just to give an idea of the individual colours.

And the finished skein...

The last one is taken in super vivid, just to emphasize the colours a little more, but actually the previous photos are quite a good representation of the true colours. If I were to name this yarn, it would have to be called Lilac Tree in Spring, as that is exactly what it reminds me of. We have a lilac tree at the bottom of our garden, but the blooms are always over so soon.

On a sadder note, and talking of the bottom of our garden which is where our rabbit's hutch is, we came back from a weeks holiday on Monday to find our previously healthy Little Bun in a state of unwellness. He had hardly touched his food or water since we'd been away, and his eyes were all red rimmed. We kept an eye on him yesterday, and he did venture outside his hutch (he isn't usually shut in so has full reign of the garden and only goes in to escape from Noah or to eat and drink) last night. But he seemed worse again this morning, so Marno took him to the vet this evening, who immediately diagnosed him as having myxomatosis, and recommended he be put down, as treatment is difficult for the rabbit and only has a 3% success rate. So Little Bun went to the vet with what I imagined to be overgrown back teeth, and didn't, in fact, come back. A very sad evening altogether. I know Noah will be very confused, as he adores Little Bun and spends many minutes standing at the patio door shouting "Bun, bun", and pointing at him, as well as trying to stroke him at every possible opportunity.

Having said all that, I don't really know how to end this post, so I'm just going to sign off I think - a cop out I'm afraid.

xxx Sam

Sunday, 1 July 2012

Baking Backlog

I seem to remember in a previous post saying that I would be introducing a lot more baking into my blog, and now, time has passed, I've done a lot of baking, but I haven't blogged about it. So this is going to be a bit of a list type post, with lots of photos of cakes and me trying to remember what they are and from which baking resource I obtained them.

It seems the easiest way of going about this task is to begin with the most recent bake and work backwards, scanning the mists of my memory, which will no doubt become ever more vague the more cakes I record. So, here goes...

Moist walnut cupcakes, made for the Bible study group we have at our house every Tuesday evening - they are my guinea pigs! From Marks and Spencer "Scrumptious Cupcakes".

Coffee sponge drops from Low-fat Baking.

These have a merangue like consistency, due to lots of beating of egg before adding the remainder of the ingredients. They are incredibly light. I just made a butter icing filling, but the one in the book uses root ginger in syrup - unfortunately I didn't have any to hand (!), and Marno isn't a huge ginger fan, although that doesn't usually stop me from including it in quite a few meals!

Chocolate fudge cake from Chocolate Box.

This was one of those books on the very cheap book stand you often get at garden centres, full of delicious cookbooks, ridiculously reduced. It is a gorgeous book, and looking at the link I've given to Amazon, the only reviewer has given it one star. I cannot believe this - the recipes are stunning; ok, I have only made this one so far, but it turned out beautifully, and I have more planned for the not too distant future. I totally recommend this book and refute the one star rating as written by somebody who was frustrated their baking endeavour didn't work out - goodness knows that's happened to me before!

Wholemeal orange cake with Earl Grey icing from River Cottage Handbook No. 8 Cakes.

My version of this cake looks somewhat dishevelled, and as I made it back in May (I don't remember that because I have a photographic cake-eating memory, but because I looked at the properties of the photograph), I don't recall exactly how good it was. I seem to remember the Earl Grey icing not being pungent enough, but the sponge being incredibly moist. Certainly a pleasant cake though.

Apple and walnut cake with treacle icing from BBCGoodFood.

At least I think that's what it was... my icing looks decicedly different from that in the recipe. Made for Marno's birthday quite some time ago. Can't really remember what it was like at all - that is a sad thing.

Chocolate souffle, also from BBCGoodFood

A very easy and very yummy dessert I made when we had friends for dinner a while ago. It's a nice touch making them in teacups.

Probably the best cake in the world, Nigel Slater's Coffee and Walnut cake, from here.

I'd been wanting to make a coffee and walnut cake for a very long time, and when I searched for a recipe, this one came up pretty much immediately. It is the utmost in indulgence, being smothered in the most incredible coffee flavoured butter icing on every available outer surface. Mmmmm, my mouth is watering just thinking about it :) This really is a fantastic recipe, I can't recommend it highly enough.

Well I'm trawling my photos and I can't seem to find many more bakes, though I know what I've shown above isn't a fraction of what I've baked recently. However, I think that is plenty to be getting on with. If anybody has a go at the Coffee and Walnut, I'd love to know how you got on and if you loved it as much as I did.

I have two lovely knitting projects on the go at the moment, as you may know, but I seem to have lost my motivation momentarily. For the last couple of weeks I've just not felt like doing much at all when the evening comes and I have my few hours of free time. I've had an awful cough and husky voice for that time as well, which perhaps hasn't helped, but I don't want to waste the precious time I have by not making the most of it. I hope to be feeling back to normal soon.

Happy baking!

xxx Sam

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Under the Apple Tree

We've reached the stage with our house where we're running out of projects and looking for what to do next. It's funny when doing up your house becomes a hobby and you start to think, "What shall we do when we've done everything?" Of course, that will never happen, however, we have made two new projects for ourselves, both rather large, though one more so than the other. The first is that we are going to replace the bathroom. Only the suite and the floor, as the whole room is tiled and it would be a mammoth and expensive job to replace them. They are large and white with bevelled edges, and there is a row of coloured mosaic tiles around the centre. Perfectly inoffensive, and plenty of potential for improvement.

The other, somewhat larger job is that we have begun to strip the paint of the front of the house. It began when Marno, after a few weeks of saying what a bad state the paint on the bay windows was in, took a chisel out to the front garden to see how easily the paint would come off. Low and behold, it stripped off like wallpaper over most of the surface, revealing very well preserved sandstone, typical of the majority of houses in Cardiff and one of my favourite features. We are hoping to be able to keep the sandstone bare and just treat it with a weatherproofing finish, but I want to paint the sills, which are currently black gloss, a nice matt charcoal grey, rather more period I think!

Here's a progress shot;  it's not particularly clear, but you can see where we've removed the paint on the bottom bay (n.b. not all of it came off like wallpaper - there's still a fair bit to remove from that one!)

So what was I doing under the apple tree? Well the point I was getting to with the above is that, what with all these projects suddenly piling up around our ears, you'd think we'd make the most of the weather and get on with it, but it's been so gorgeous here, we spent a lot of Saturday sitting on the picnic mat in the shade of our beautiful apple tree, chatting, (me) knitting and reading, and generally chilling, followed by a lovely barbeque at a friend's house in the evening.

 View from the picnic mat

 I made a little progress on my Shellseeker, which is charging along, for me. I'm so glad I changed my technique, it's made such a massive difference to my speed, and the alpaca couldn't be more perfect for this project.

So all in all, a rather pleasant weekend with far too much relaxing and certainly not enough work, but you just have to make the most of these rare moments of warmth and sunlight I think.

There's what I'm reading - The Help. A fantasic book, which, on this very rare occasion, I'm glad to have seen the film of before I read the book, because it's written in the accent of the narrators of the story, and it really helps to have that fresh in your head. I can imagine it would read rather peculiarly otherwise.

Last Friday I was due to have some friends over from our church with their little ones. There were supposed to be four of us mummies and six babies and children, but in the end, only one friend could make it with her two - a seven month old and three year old. Anyway, in anticipation of such a crowd, I hastened to the kitchen to make a gargantuan chocolate fudge cake. There would be plenty for all for us, but hopefully not too much left for Marno and me to have to finish. Unfortunately, as I was in the process of making, which was the day before, the friend who did come texted me to say it would only be her. Oh dear! I foresaw myself wrestling inside for the next week until the chocolate cake was finished, as there was no way it was going to be demolished the following afternoon...

 Several slices later, I packed it off to work with Marno yesterday, to remove the temptation once and for all. It went down very well with his boss!

xxx Sam

Friday, 18 May 2012


It seems like Wonderwool was months ago now, as we've got so back to normal since our little holiday in Pembrokeshire (of which more in a future post), which we planned to coincide with the weekend of Wonderwool. We went to Pembrokeshire for a week and returned the Saturday of WW, so did a slight detour home through Builth Wells, the town in which it's held, to stock up on yarn for projects for the coming year. Ok, so I only bought yarn for two major projects, but we all know I, shall I say, take my time, over large projects. However, I'm hoping all that is to change as I've drastically changed my knitting style in the last month or so, intentionally, as I'm fed up of taking so long to knit jumpers which I want to wear, like, now! Like I've said before, my knitting is neat and consistant, but the reason I take so long is the method I used to create the actual stitches - I would take my right hand off the needle and kind of physically wrap the yarn around to create the new stitch; a method which requires much more time per stitch (ok, we're only talking mili-seconds but it all mounts up) than the new way which I've been working on, and which now feels like I've always used, of tensioning the yarn with my little finger as I used to do anyway, but then resting the yarn on my forefinger and holding it taught so I can just pass it over the needle tip without having to remove my grip of the needle. Sorry if that is rather impossible to visualise! I assure you though, it's made a huge difference to my knitting speed. I thought, after the Apres Surf, that I wanted a simple (but bot boring) project which was mainly stocking stitch so I could improve my new technique and speed up considerably. I chose Shellseeker by Heidi Kirrmaier as yes, it certainly complies with the request for lots of stockinette, but also has two colours, in the form of stripes, which is another new technique for me. So far in my knitting career, I've only worked with one colour, though I have a kit waiting for me for the Fiddlehead mittens, which the Midnight Sheep kindly put together for me quite some time ago, but which I've always found a little forbidding. I'm certainly fearful of all those colours!

Aaanyway... here is the lovely yarn I bought for Shellseeker. Its by UK Alpaca and I bought a cream and a muted lime green.

Actually, a more accurate description would be a mix between lime and mustard, which sounds rather revolting but trust me, its gorgeous! I've cast this on now, using yet another new technique - magic loop - which I wasn't sure about to start with, but it's turned out rather well. I was going to post a progress shot here, but I've only done seven rows so far so it may not be particularly interesting yet. I'm also not a huge fan of progress shots. One or two perhaps, but I like to save it all for the big reveal.

Ok, moving on. A few weeks ago, my friend Lorna showed me this beautiful pattern by Gudrun Johnston. It is rather reminiscent of something you may find in my very favouritest shop in the world (obviously I realize there is not such word as favouritest, in case you are wondering) - White Stuff. It reminds me of a cardigan I bought in there when I was pregnant actually, a size too big to accommodate growth (!). I couldn't get it out of my head, and found myself accidentally purchasing some gorgeous yarn from the most fantastic Jill of Jillybean Yarns. I bought her Knot Another Granny Yarn in Staying Calm.

I realize the colour looks different in each of those photos, but its somewhere between them all. Hopefully you can see why I couldn't resist it, and lovely Jill gave me a discount as well, so I couldn't refuse :)

I also bought some fibre for spinning. This gorgeous rhubarb pink, which I'm hoping to spin into yarn for a short sleeved, button up cardigan - well, it's in my head at the moment. Then the plain white to practise with and maybe experiment with some dye, and the bit of blue just because it was gorgeous!

Again, none of these colours are true. The top one is taken with the toy camera setting, and the bottom one on vivid. I'm looking forward to messing around with these though.

Time to go, as I've been trying to squeeze time out of my lovely boy, but he's fed up of me writing now and keeps dragging my arm away from the keyboard. I'll leave you with this photo of me enjoying some fibre.

x Sam

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

A Turn About the Garden

Yes! I've been so excited to finally write this post. I've been leading up to it shamelessly, which could have been dangerous as there was always the chance of stalling again, but I have, in fact, actually finished the Apres Surf Hoodie.

I was debating whether to knit the hood or not for a while, as I don't generally get on with hoods, I find them rather cumbersome and awkward to place when wearing a coat over the top. This is probably just me as I realize it does sound rather ridiculous as I write it, but nevertheless, a valid consideration since I'm going to be wearing it myself.  But after having scrutinized many, many Apres Surfs on Ravelry, I concluded that the hood is more like a light piece of additional fabric, rather than a huge bulk, and it does finish off the design beautifully, so I went along with it and am glad I stuck it out.

The yarn I used is Fyberspates Scrumptious 4ply sport superwash, which I bought at Wonderwool last year (more on this years WW coming soon), and it has proved the perfect choice and was a really pleasing yarn to work with. The skeins are pretty generous so I have a reasonable amount left to stash! Man, that hood though. It really was a work of patience to work my way through it after feeling like I'd finished the jumper when I completed the three needle shoulder bind-off. Speaking of that, I did use three new to me techniques including the three needle bind-off, plus provisional cast-on and i-cord bind off. I found them all really enjoyable to use, which may sound peculiar, but that is whan I love about knitting - the ingenuity of it. It looks so complicated to the untrained eye, but makes so much sense when you understand how stitches work with each other to create such a variety of effects.

Here are a few more gratuitious photos of the hoodie.

I think overall, it fits really well and the colour and yarn are perfect. The only thing I'd do differently is change up a needle size for the i-cord bind-off on the body and sleeves. I did for the hood, which has come out perfectly, but the cuffs and waist are a tiny, tiny bit tight but probably only noticable by me.

After ripping out my Spring Forward socks at the end of my last post, they have been re-cast-on and are going somewhat speedily for me. I've just printed out my next project, purchased on Rav, so lots in the pipeline, but I'm going to save that for next time as well, as I bought the yarn for that at Wonderwool.

Well, goodbye lovely readers. Leave me a little message. Have you knitted something which has just taken months and months, or even years? I have to say, the thing that attracted my to this project in the first place was the juxtaposition of a hoodie, usually associated with beach bums or chavs (!), with the use of lace to create a garment which is both beautiful and casual. What attracts you to a project and makes you want to give your time to it? I'd be really interested to know.

xxx Sam

Disclaimer: The beach bums and chavs comment was entirely for effect you understand. I do possess a couple of hoodies myself, though generally only wear them snowboarding on on outdoor activities - I can't deal with that hood problem too often!

Friday, 20 April 2012

A Room With a View

As is probably obvious from my severe lack of posts recently, I just haven't had the time to post, and when the time has presented itself, in the evenings, I generally find I'm too braindead from looking after a toddler all day to compose anything. Harsh as it may sound, looking after a toddler all day, every day, does sap your brain power. I seem to be spending an inordinate amount of time thinking about what projects I'd love to be working on, whilst sitting on the floor with Noah and being handed pieces of toddler sized puzzle (or whilst trying to have a peaceful breakfast!) with accompanying "uh, uh" sound. We frequently refer to Noah as a seal at the moment, due to said sound.

This post is being written whilst I wait for dinner to be ready, with the laptop plugged in on the kitchen worktop. I took these photos a couple of weeks ago, when the cherry blossoms which line our street came into full bloom. April must be my favourite time of year in our home, and the view from our bedroom window is of the cherry blossom tree immediately outside our house. The pink complements our bedroom decor perfectly, most conveniently!

As you can see, I've been messing around with the camera effects. The fifth and sixth are vivid and the last is toy camera effect. I love how you can create instant atmosphere, especially if you're not a fantastic photographer - I'm not!

I have so many posts to write, and I really am going to try harder to make time to post more often. I can't believe I'm not even making once a week. I've decided to expand my content repertoire to include a bit of cooking and baking as well. I cook every night, so have plenty to say about that, and have been really getting into baking recently. I have a plethora of cake photos just waiting patiently to be recalled from the depths of my blog photos folder. I'm hoping to have a finished Apres Surf very soon as well; just the neckband to knit now. It's Wonderwool Wales next weekend, so I've been planning on what projects to buy for. I also ripped out my pathetic attempt at the Spring Forward sock this evening, ready to recommence with renewed focus sometime soon. I have a couple of small projects I have yarn for already, and I'm definitely ready for a small one considering how long I've been slaving working on Apres Surf.

Have a fantastic and restful (if you need it) weekend :)

x Sam