Thursday 29 September 2016

Errata: Barley Twist cardigan

Barley Twist baby cardigan
There is an error in the version of this pattern that appears in Knit Now Issue 65.

At the end of the yoke instructions, Rows 1 and 2 should be worked 8 times in total, not 8 more times after the first repeat. This will give you 144 sts and the sleeve separation row will work correctly.

If you find errors in any of my patterns, please email me and I will do my best to rectify the error.

Wednesday 28 September 2016

Bake Day Wednesday 2016: Week 6: Botanical Bakes

It's week six of Bake Off, and apparently my baking mojo has run out. I just don't want to bake, which is terribly unusual for me. It might have something to do with the theme for the week, which is botanical bakes, and I'm not feeling at all inspired. Hopefully I'll feel more like baking after watching the show this evening as I have a bake sale at school on Friday that requires contributions of cake (followed by purchase of cake; it's a hard life). For the time being I have purchased supermarket bakewell tarts, and will have a think about what to bake for Friday.

While I'm here, the winner of the Barley Twist competition is Sara Roberts (there were six entrants, and the third person to comment was selected via random number generator). I shall be in touch very shortly to work out how to get your prize to you, and thank you to everyone else for entering.

Friday 23 September 2016

Bake Day Wednesday 2016: Week 5: Pastry week

This week it was pastry week on Bake Off. As I went to see Bridget Jones's Baby at the cinema instead of staying in and watching Bake Off (which I loved; it'd been ages since I last went to the cinema) this post is a little delayed. I did manage to do some pastry baking though.

It took me a while to decide what to bake this week. I tend to prefer sweet pastry, but I'd already baked a cake this week (with a lot of assistance from my children), so we didn't need pudding options. I didn't have time to bake a pie, which would have been my preference, so I settled for sausage rolls. I was going to make them with shortcrust pastry, but had a last minute change of plan and went for puff pastry instead. I have made rough puff pastry once before, and it was horrible. I made it as part of a school food technology project on different types of pastry, and mine can out grey and non-flaky, so I have since avoided it.

I went for the rough puff pastry recipe from the Bero cookbook that I mentioned last week. The recipe was straightforward: chop fat up, stir into flour, then add enough water that it becomes a dough. Then there was a lot of rolling: roll the pastry into a long strip, fold into thirds, roll out again; repeat several times, then leave the pastry to rest. So far so good. When I took the pastry out of the fridge, it was rather sticky (I think the butter was too warm when I started, and I might have added a little too much water), but I just about managed to fashion messy sausage rolls out of it. Once they came out of the oven they looked a lot better (even if I did forget to brush them with egg), and the pastry turned out much better than I remember my first attempt tasting. Not that it's all that flaky, just very buttery! I think this is one that needs revisiting.

Don't forget you have a few more days to enter the competition I am currently running. I'll drawer a winner once I'm back from Yarndale this weekend.

Friday 16 September 2016

New pattern: Barley Twist baby cardigan (and a competition)

Alongside my Hedgehogs and Hoglets baby blanket, the latest issue of Knit Now magazine (issue 65) also features my Barley Twist baby cardigan. The cardigan is a top-down raglan, with simple four stitch cables running between the yoke increases. The pattern is written in one size (0-3 months), but with 5 cm negative ease, it should fit beyond 3 months (and is modelled on a slightly older baby), and can be knitted with just 100g of the beautiful Milla Mia Naturally Soft Aran (100% merino, and it's machine washable), which is wonderful to work with.

Barley Twist cardigan. Image copyright Practical Publishing

I'm giving readers of my blog the opportunity to win a copy of Knit Now issue 65, two balls of Milla Mia Naturally Soft Aran in Cherry Red, and 7 wooden apple shaped buttons (6 should be enough, but a spare button is always welcome!). If you'd like to enter, just leave a comment below, telling me what's currently on your needles; make sure you leave some way for me to contact you (e.g. Ravelry or Instagram username).*

Here's what you could win!

*Entries need to be in by 23.59 GMT on Sunday 25th September 2016 and the winner will be selected by random number generator from all entries submitted. By commenting you confirm that you are over 18. I will pay for the prize to be shipped to the winner (including internationally), but any customs fees and associated charges are the responsibility of the winner.

Thursday 15 September 2016

New pattern: Hedgehog and Hoglets baby blanket

Autumn is very definitely on its way, the mornings are starting to feel crisp (Tuesday was an exception, with the hottest weather of the year so far, but today it's cooled down again), the leaves are starting to turn brown round the edges and the nights are drawing in. My latest pattern has a very autumnal feel: a little hedgehog family on a beige background.

Hedgehog and Hoglets. Image copyright Practical Publishing

Hedgehog and Hoglets is knitted from the bottom up, with the hedgehogs knitted in to a stocking stitch background using the intarsia technique, and a moss stitch border knitted as you go. The blanket is knitted in aran weight yarn, and with the two large stocking stitch sections shouldn't take too long to knit.

Not only would the blanket be the perfect gift for an autumn baby, it would also work in a woodland themed nursery, and make a nice change from the ubiquitous owl!

The blanket is knitted in King Cole Fashion Aran, a wool/acrylic blend. As with all my blankets, you don't have to use the recommended yarn, and can use any wool, wool/acrylic, acrylic yarn that knits to the correct tension. Remember though that babies have delicate skin, so you'll want to go for something soft; I used a tweedy yarn to add extra texture to the hedgehogs prickles.

Hedgehogs and Hoglets appears in Issue 65 of Knit Now magazine, which is available in the UK now, or can be purchased digitally via the More Mags website. The issue also features another of my designs, which I will tell you about tomorrow (and there'll be a chance to win a copy of the magazine and a few other goodies, so you'll definitely want to come back for that!).

Wednesday 14 September 2016

Bake Day Wednesday 2016: Week 4: Batter week

We're into week 4 of Bake Off, and I'm really enjoying this series: the challenges feel a bit less complex than in the past couple of series, which means I am ocassionally looking at things for inspiration and thinking that I might be able to make whatever it is the contestants have been asked to make. Not that I will be making steamed bread any time in the near future. At this point I think Andrew in my favourite, not that I necessarily think he's the best baker, I just like his enthusiasm.
This week is batter week, which is a new round for the programme. The weather today has been damp and autumnal, so today seemed like the perfect day to make toad in the hole (which handily also answered the 'what's for tea mum?' question), using the trusty Bero baking book that officially belongs to my husband, but I suspect there is a copy in the vast majority of British kitchens (if you haven't come across one, they're published by a flour manufacturer, can be bought very cheaply, and contain foolproof recipes for basics). Toad in the hole is great for autumn as it consists of sausages cooked in batter, so is warm and filling. The sauages get steamed in the batter, just crisping up on the top surface and have a wonderful soft texture. Can you tell that I love toad in the hole?! I served it with brocolli and onion gravy. Delicious!

In other Bake Off news, this week we've found out that Bake Off is moving to Channel 4 next year, and that Mel and Sue are leaving. This news has made me rather sad. Bake Off is quintiscentially British, and seemed very much at home on the BBC. I'm hoping that Channel 4 won't tinker with the format, and that Mary and Paul will stay on as judges. I'll give it a go, but am not holding out much hope, not least because I can't really imagine it without Mel and Sue introducing it.

Happy baking everyone!

Thursday 8 September 2016

Bake Day Wednesday 2016: Week 3: Bread week

Bake Off is now in its third week and the baking theme of last night's episode was bread.
Cheese and ham swirls

Yesterday was a busy day as my son went back to school, but I did manage to fit in bread making between other chores. I've made quite a lot of bread over the years, so I decided to invent my own recipe based on basic white bread: cheese and ham swirls. The swirls were made over several hours (mixing, kneading, proving, rolling, filling, proving, baking!), but were ready in time for my son to eat after school. He really liked them! They'd also be a great snack to eat whilst playing board games or watching Bake Off.

If you fancy having a go for yourself, here's the recipe.

Cheese and ham bread swirls


500g strong white bread flour
7g sachet of dried yeast
1 tsp caster sugar
1 tsp salt
25g soft butter (if your butter is fresh from the fridge, microwave it for a few seconds to soften it)
300 ml lukewarm water (I used 250ml cold water from the tap and 50ml hot water from the kettle)

200g Gruyere cheese, grated
120g wafer thin honey roast ham


  1. Mix the flour, yeast, sugar and salt in a large bowl. Rub the butter into the flour mixture until it resembles fine breadcrumbs. Mix in the water using a blunt knife.
  2. Tip the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic (5-10 minutes).
  3. Return the dough to the bowl. Cover the bowl (use cling film, a clean, damp tea towel or a lid) and leave in a warm place until the dough has doubled in size (at least an hour).
  4. Knock the dough back by kneading it gently a few times. Roll the dough out into a large rectangle shape. Make the dough as thin as you can, mine was 0.5-1cm thick.
  5. Lay the ham evenly over the dough sheet, then sprinkle with the cheese. Roll the filled-dough up like a Swiss roll. Chop the roll into slices approximately 2.5cm thick, then transfer the slices to a flour dusted baking sheet, allowing plenty of space between the rolls for them to rise.
  6. Cover the swirls (use a clean tea towel or a sheet of kitchen roll) and leave to prove until doubled in size.
  7. Bake the swirls in an oven pre-heated to 200 C/180 C (fan)/gas mark 6 for 20 minutes or until golden. The base of a swirl should sound hollow when tapped.
  8. Allow the swirls to cool a little, then remove them from the tray and place on a wire rack to cool fully (or eat them warm; warm bread is the best!).
Let me know how it goes! If you wish to share this recipe, please credit me and link to this post; do not copy without acknowledgement.

Friday 2 September 2016

New pattern: Harvest's Bounty

Summer has sped by, and suddenly it's autumn again! While I've been busy looking after my children since the summer holidays started, I have managed to fit in a bit of knitting work, including *finally* writing up the pattern for the pumpkin hat I debuted on this blog a couple of years ago.

Harvest's Bounty is pretty simple, knitted in the round from the bottom up and features a leaf and tendril details that are knitted then stitched in place. The leaf is unique to this design and is knitted in the round to allow it to lie perfectly flat. The pattern is written in five sizes from baby to man and would make an excellent novelty hat for any age group.

The pattern is avaliable now in my Ravelry store and can be purchased for just £1.50 until September 10th 2016 (end of the day, BST), after which it will be £2.40.

Here are a few of the hats knitted by my lovely team of testers:

A toddler version by Sharon (coffeecrazycrocheter on Instagram)

A sophisticated version by Sarah (sarahsh123 on Ravelry)

A baby version by Elise (eliseandlife on Instagram and Ravelry)

Jenny's adorable version (Jennystitches on Ravelry and Instagram)

Ling's alternative colour version, worn as a slouchy hat (ftmhling on Ravelry)
 The copyright of the testers' images remains with the testers; all images were used with permission.

Have you created your own pumpkin hat from Harvest's Bounty? I'd love to see, comment below, or find me on Ravelry.