Saturday, February 23, 2008

Baa-Baa-BaBa-Baba-Baa-Bamboo, ~or ~ Joining the Sock Flock

I is brekin mi duk.

I have #1 of a pair of socks for Tiny Husband on the dpns. They are from a Regia Bamboo kit I purchased from PurpleLinda, 10% off atm. The maddcolorz are befuddling my eyes a bit, but I have about 4cm done so far. The yarn feels nice, but the dpns included, man oh man, very loooong, very sticky.

The 100% bamboo Silk Slip now has 2 boobies, and I've begun the rib-band. It has two hundred and stupid stitches, so I am going to take my time!

I also have, on bamboo circs and in 100% mohair, a sweater loosely based on Irina Poludnenko's Ruffled Collar Pullover, published in February's Knitting magazine as Moonlight Cashmere Top. The gauge was fine, but I didn't care to trust the sweater to fit itself so I started at the bottom with 7mm circs for about 10cm, and switched to 6mm for 3 rows and finally to 5mm. I shall reverse the process when I need to expand for the bust. I have no idea whether I will ever wear this. The pattern is HAWT, and the yarn is HAWT red, a colour that looks particularly HAWT on me. However - it's mohair. The result might merely be hot, as in sweaty. And it's mohair. As in, adds a stone to my already overloaded arse.

Oh yes: and the bamboo circs, they do not like the mohair.

Really must try to get back to my WIPs, too. I have crocheted another leg for my amigurumi unicorn - just another 2 legs and ears, a horn, mane and tail to go.

This really doesn't belong here, but I'm venting anyway. I was perusing my local Freecycle (go join) posts today and saw yet another appeal for Playboy-related tat to decorate a girl's bedroom - pictures, lamps, duvet covers, etc. This really disturbs me. Since when has it been socially acceptable to allow your daughter to indulge a morbid interest in the seedy world of pornography, much less involve others in your lamentable parenting? If you're teaching your daughter that spreading her legs for the titillation of the smut-buying public (including her dad, uncles, brothers) is okay, then do it on your own - and take responsibility for the fallout from providing your child with her own Barbie Brothel.

Much as I want another child - no daughters, thanks. I cannot raise a girl in a society this sick.


Wednesday, February 06, 2008

The Staff of Life

Or not, as the case may be. If you can't eat wheat, does that mean you're dead?

A departure from crafting. But not from creating...??

I can't eat wheat. I'm not coeliac, it's just IBS, but I do often eat gluten-free products for coeliacs. However, I'm violently allergic (projectile vomiting, as opposed to the flu-ey symptoms I get from wheat) to buckwheat, a major coeliac staple, especially in brown, high fibre and multigrain baked goods. For some reason, buckwheat is very occasionally listed by other names, including its name in other languages. I recently had a horrific experience thanks to Doves Farm's Plain White Flour, which lists buckwheat as 'sarrasin' - the French word. Oddly, they call it buckwheat on the Brown Bread Flour. Thanks, Doves Farm! Also, as I learned to my cost - or rather my mum's cost, since she'd bought the stuff in advance of my visiting - these days, not all coeliac foods are wheat-free: those clever clever food scientists have worked out how to remove the gluten from wheat, which can then be used to make gluten-free foods! Great for the coeliacs, not great at all for me. And tbh, the stuff looked as bad as the wheat- and gluten-free food.

Nowadays it's a lot better for me. At least now I can buy gluten-free food in supermarkets, rather than having to trek into the city centre to go to the big Boots, and food labels now list wheat in the short health warning section of the label. Of course they also plaster the shelves with Look! Gluten Free! signs. My poor mother (who ought to know better, she's a Trinity graduate, ffs) has been robbed blind buying special gluten-free apples, chicken, lettuce and sellotape for my visits. Recently though, I've been getting fed up with the stodgy fare available to me, happy as I am that it's there. But sometimes I want soda bread. Or a sandwich bread that doesn't need to be toasted (although I sound a rousing hurrah for Sainsbury's part-baked baguette). And I've never found anything, buckwheat-filled or not, that substitutes for the dense nutty brick that is the Irish Wheaten Soda. Thing is, I'm not a great baker, and I don't enjoy yeast baking. Stovetop cooking generally I'm fine at, and I've mastered roasts now that I have people to cook for, but the results from the oven are disappointing. My cakes, buns and breads don't rise well, although my pastry and biscuits are surprisingly good considering these are supposed to be harder to make. I used to have a very basic bread machine, but results were not great. When the element died, I didn't bother replacing it.

However, I've heard great things about the Panasonic bread machines, and there are now dedicated cookery books for gluten-free bread machine baking. I ummed and ahhed for a while over the price - £70+ - and then LIDL had a Bifinett bread machine on offer for only £25 which appeared to be more or less identical to the Panasonic in function. So I dispatched Tiny Husband to purchase one, and yesterday I gave it a trial run using Dove's Farm White Bread Flour ("sarrasin"-free!) and quick acting yeast, and the basic bread-making programme No. 1 as per the recipe for breadmakers on the Dove's Farm pack, selecting a medium-coloured finish.

The result was fabulous. A squarish well-risen, easily-cut loaf, moist, with a defined but not overly chewy or crispy crust. The centre is not dissimilar in appearance to the sliced pan loaves of my Irish childhood, Knutty Krust and so forth, with medium-sized air bubbles, but with a firmer texture closer to that of British pans (KK slices were sadly limp). It ate well straight from the oven, cooled with butter and with butter and jam, and toasted and buttered this morning. The butter sank in nicely instead of melting into a puddle on top to splatter my work blouse minutes before I have to lasso the baby and run out the door. A little crusty this evening, but I had left it out on the counter, uncovered, since I took it out of the machine.

I'm really impressed. Especially so since the programme I used wasn't even the gluten-free programme! The only thing that's inferior to the Panasonic machines is that there's no facility to add fruit or nuts automatically during baking, though you can set it to beep at the right time. However, this feature has only been present in the last two Panasonic models anyway. I'm looking forward to trying out other recipes - maybe even trying the pasta programme!

Fibre crafts wise, Cillian's Trellis cardi is finally done, blocked and sewn, and is only sans buttons. It'll need a re-block. Boobie #2 of the Silk Slip is almost done as well.


Sunday, February 03, 2008

Senior Moment

Truly the brain is dying.

This is one of the first things I ever made, and the first I made for myself, after I started crafting again. I wear it quite often, too. Though I have to say it has not endeared me to shrugs - there's something about the 'frontlessness' of it that makes me look fat, pigeon-chested and middle-aged. Well, more fat, pigeon-chested and middle-aged than I actually am. Not that I'm pigeon-chested, I just have a very straight back, courtesy of mother, music and military, and larger than average boobies.

It is a fairly straight copy of the Noodle Shrug, excepting that I abandoned the yarn-overs as they were driving me bananas, in favour of using one 10mm and one 4mm needle. I've since discovered that I was doing the yarnovers the wrong way round (sensibly I wrapped the yarn over then under the needles, whereas in fact one wraps under then over the needle) not that it matters a hill of beans either for this pattern or for my sanity. The yarn is undyed 2-ply 100% wool, and the 'noodles' are a cream cotton chenille. I did not pay much attention to the instructions for these, I think they've worked out longer on mine.