Still Knitting

I’ve spent quite a bit of time on my allotment recently, but I am still knitting I promise!  Currently on my needles is a pattern by Cath Ward called Lazy Ocean Shawl. I’m making it out of Fyberspates Scrumptious Lace a luxurious, 55% merino and 45% silk blend.

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I cast on sometime in March (I’ve gotten really slack at updating my project pages on Ravelry and I can’t remember when exactly).  Its on 2.75mm needles and laceweight yarn so I’m not expecting to finish it any time soon either, but I’m past the halfway mark and really enjoying taking my time knitting it.

The pattern only has four other projects on Ravelry but I can’t imagine that staying that way for long as its a lovely design and well written with both charts and written instructions.  In fact, I recommend checking out Cath Wards pattern page as its full of pretty lace shawls and scarves that are all available for free.

I made a few modifications; I added some width, omitted a couple of the eyelet stitches at the edges and didn’t do the border at the start as I wanted to have as much of the stole in the lazy ocean pattern as possible.  If you’re interested in the details of the mods, you can find them on my project page.

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I think of this as the ugly duckling stage of lace knitting; it doesn’t look like much now, but I know this will be beautiful when finished.

Refreshing the Herbs

One of the favourite parts of my allotment is my herb bed, partly because I have fresh herbs all year round and also because its established and low maintenance.

I recently found a picture of what it looked like in July 2015.

Herbs 2015(From the top; sage, fennel, thyme, parsley x2, bay, parsley, rosemary, chive, marjoram and dill.)

Fast forward to 2017 and you can really see how they’ve started to fill out the bed, the rosemary is huge!  It’s also evolved to include a few new herbs.

DSC_3450(From the top right; sage, fennel, thyme, curly parsley, mint basil, bay, coriander, rosemary and hiding behind the rosemary are chives, marjoram, flat leaf parsley and lavender.)

Thankfully, I didn’t have to do much to refresh the herb bed this year, just a bit of pruning and planting some fresh parsley plants.  I thought the original white planters from 2015 were looking tired and getting grubby but rather than replace them I bought a few pots of tester paint (£1 a pot from Wilko in Boathouse Blue), and spruced them up.  They look so much better now and the blue looks great against the deep green/purple of the mint basil which is just starting to come back after dying down for the winter.

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And in other news, I thinned out my spinach today and came away with the first crop of the year!  Spinach Crop

Allotment Additions

The main addition to my allotment this year is the plastic greenhouse.  It came from Wiko and I’m really happy with it so far. I’m determined to have some decent tomatoes this year and it will be really useful to have somewhere to put plants before planting them out, especially as its been pretty cold here recently.

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I had quite a bit of help from my parents (thank you!), Dad helped make the wooden frame and Mum helped with just about everything else.  It may seem like overkill to have a wooden frame inside but it can get very windy on the allotment, sheds have been moved (or even overturned!) in storms so I’d rather have too much extra stability than not enough.

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The first resident has already moved in; a Rapunzel tomato plant which promises cascading trusses full of fruit.  Fingers crossed!

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Allotment Progress Pictures

One of my plans for this year is to take pictures of my allotment from the same point on a regular basis.  I thought it would neat to see how the plot changes and grows over time.  Plus, its a real boost for the days where you don’t feel like you’ve achieved much to see where you started from because sometimes you just don’t realise how far you’ve come until you look back.

This is April’s gallery, the first picture was taken on the 8th of April and the final one was  last weekend, the 23rd of April.  A lot of structural changes this month!

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Pumpkin Delight

I brought this delightful vegetable home from allotment.

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It’s such a lovely pumpkin.  I’m quite pleased considering it’s the first time I’ve tried growing pumpkins.  They’re definitely going on the list of ‘Things to Grow’ for next year.  I think I might have a go one or two other varieties of squashes as well.

The orange beauty is 5.5kg.  So far it’s made two batches of Pumpkin Soup, a Pumpkin Risotto and a Pumpkin and Raison tea loaf from River Cottage Veg Every Day, which was lovely and very tasty (you can find the recipe here if you don’t have access to the book).  It’s one I’m planning to make again but with beetroot instead of pumpkin as that is supposed to create a purple marble effect in the cake which sounds fun.

I’ve still got about a quarter of the pumpkin left, not to mention the two other pumpkins still on the allotment and seven butternut squashes…

Any squash recipe ideas?

Manchester

I was recently in Manchester to visit a friend from university and see Muse on their Drones Tour (they were absolutely amazing!)  But this isn’t a music blog so I’ll keep it mostly on topic.

While I was there I visited Abakhan’s fabric and knitting shop.  I could have spent hours (and a lot of money!) in there, rummaging through the stacks of remnants and bolts.  They also have 50% off Liberty fabric and I’ve wanted to try Liberty Tana Lawn for ages so I bought enough of this beautiful feather design to make a dress.

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I’m not certain what style of dress I’m going to make yet, but I’ve narrowed it down to something from one of Gertie Hersch’s books, possibly a variation on the shirt dress in her first book.  I’d definitely recommend visiting Abakhan’s if you’re in Manchester as their stock varies from what’s available online and you get to touch the fabric and speak to their helpful staff.  In my opinion, their knitting range isn’t worth going out of your way for; very standard brands that are easily available anywhere in the UK.

We followed this with tea and cake at Teacup Kitchen where I couldn’t resist ordering a slice of Rainbow Cake.  You can’t help but smile when you have this in front of you!

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I’m not a big tea drinker, coffee is my beverage of choice, but when in Rome… so I ordered Indian Chai with a touch of honey which was very lovely indeed. These people take their tea very seriously; I’ve never had it come with its own set of coloured egg timers so you can brew it for exactly 3, 4 or 5 minutes!

The trip also involved many hours on trains (one was delayed for over an hour at Nottingham!) so plenty of time for knitting.  I like to take socks on train journeys; they’re perfect small projects.  I’ve been working on this in The Knitting Goddess‘s merino/nylon sock yarn:

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I love each and every colour in this yarn, it’s so pretty.  I wanted a simple pattern that would show off the colour and not get lost in it so I used slip stitches and mini cables.  I think it works quite well and it also means it knits up fairly quickly so it won’t be long before it moves from the needles to the feet.

 

Broccoli – Old & New

In with the new…

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I’m growing a summer purple sprouting variety.  I’m starting it indoors, along with a few other seeds as I’m desperate to start sowing stuff but common sense is telling me that it’s still too cold to sow outside for most things.

And I’d say out with the old, but I’ve still got plenty of broccoli growing on the plot.

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I’m not sure of the exact variety as they were donated to me, but I know they’re a white sprouting variety which takes around 44 weeks to crop.  For ages I thought it was a failed crop but I left it in as it was keeping the weeds down.  I didn’t realise that they had such a long growing period!

I’m enjoying eating something fresh at a time of year when I don’t have anything to harvest on the plot besides herbs but I need to find more interesting ways of cooking it other than boiling or steaming.  Otherwise, my freezer will soon be full of broccoli!

In other news, I finished the top I started last Monday.  Pictures to come soon!