Thursday, 24 October 2013

150 Scandinavian Knitting Designs by Mary Jane Mucklestone

This is such a great resource book for those looking for fairisle knitting designs. However, it's not just a dictionary of design but also a guide to more advanced knitting, such as steeking and designing garments. It's so accessible but gently stretching too.

There are 29 pages on increasing, decreasing, working in the round and holding the yarn with heaps of tips for working with two or more colours.

I've always loved going at my own pace with knitting, gradually teaching myself all the techniques one at a time, then coasting for a while until I get bored. I do feel as if I want to try the hat above, maybe in my favourite colour combo - white and red.

There are four projects at the back of the book to knit - a cowl, a hat, mittens and a pincushion. The rest of the book is comprised of 168 design charts with an example swatch to show you what it looks like.

There are black and white charts as well as colour charts and alternative colourway charts to inspire you.

I love the Scandinavian look. The jumpers have really come back into fashion again, so maybe now is the time to knit your own?

You can buy '150 Scandinavian Knitting Designs' by Mary Jane Mucklestone from the Search Press website.

Thanks once again to Search Press for sending me this lovely book to review.

Sunday, 20 October 2013

Don't quit the day job

It's been over two weeks since I blogged and I can only apologize. Going back into full-time work again means I will start to schedule posts at the weekend so I still reach the same week-time readership. Unfortunately whenever I have time for a session with the camera the rain appears but I'm sure it will all work out eventually.

I get paid two months' in lieu so I have yet to be paid (ten days' time and counting) but I worked out all my finances before I started work and things are exactly where I predicted they would be just spending 25 per cent of my eventually normal spending money (there's an accountant in my family tree, can you tell?). Coming out of severe poverty, luckily, that still feels as if I've won the lottery so I don't mind so much. This time I haven't had to start an office wardrobe from scratch every weekend in my new dress size (although it's still lacking) so it's been nice to spend more money on crafting materials. Mostly, wool. I ordered the above Malabrigo and Classy wool from Tangled Yarn. It arrived so quickly and was such a nice hit. It's still a massive thing when I order really nice wool. Hopefully that'll go and I'll relax and create a bit faster with it. I'm teaching myself to knit socks on a circular needle using the magic loop method with the classy. I just gaze at the Malabrigo at the moment...

My other knitting has suffered a little from this sudden influx of nicer yarn. I still love knitting dolls though and I am progressing well with this one above, although I'm not sure about the colour of the skin. I may re-do it. I'm not sure. She's going to be a huge 50 cm high. I'm changing the clothes from the pattern so indecision is slowing her down a bit. She may remain naked and in pieces for a while longer.

Another purchase from a few weeks ago - Yarnmaker magazine from HilltopCloud on etsy and a beginner's spindle kit. I haven't attempted the spinning yet but I will come across the right moment to try it soon I'm sure. Knitting is taking over the sofa at the moment but I am sure I will crave something different again soon. The magazine was highly informative.

Whenever I return to work as a temp I realise having less time makes you more productive. There's one article in 'Yarnmaker' magazine written by a woman who produced a large amount of dyed yarn over an Easter Bank Holiday weekend. Lets hope it makes me more productive eventually with this blog : )

Friday, 4 October 2013

Book Review: Compendium of Cake Decorating Techniques by Carol Deacon

This is quite simply fantastic. It's especially perfect if you have been watching The Great British Bake Off and you're suddenly itching to take your baking to the next level. It's so cute, so accessible if you haven't decorated a cake before, so useful and so challenging if you already decorate a lot, it's just such a perfect book.

I couldn't stop looking at this when I received it from Search Press. It immediately answered a lot of my questions, such as if you can lay fresh flowers on a cake and how to do this, and how you will need more colouring for marzipan than fondant as it is not naturally white. Carol has split the book into four sections - Cake Basics, Fondant, Buttercream and Chocolate. At the end of the book are lots of templates for you to use to decorate your cakes.

To give you an example of how technically useful this book will be - there is a chocolate cake, a fruit cake recipe and a pound cake in a table so you can adapt the ingredients for eight sizes of cake - especially useful if you are baking a wedding cake. She tells you exactly how to calculate the position of the dowels between a tiered wedding cake. She covers writing on fondant, moulds, cutters and crimpers and making fondant figures - an amazingly illustrated section of the book. Just simply adorable.

In the buttercream section she covers piping animals and faces, frozen buttercream transfers and flowers. The Chocolate section covers tempering chocolate, ganache, making a chocolate lace bowl, chocolate cake pops and truffles.

You can buy this book from the Search Press website and I think it is so worth the money if you are a beginner and new to cake decorating. I felt really confident after flicking through the book that I had learnt a great deal.

Thanks once again to Search Press for sending me this book to review.
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