All posts by lookingglass12

About lookingglass12

Mum to one little boy, chef, crafter, wife....

A Knitting Bag! (Or Crochet Bag, I’m not picky…)

Here’s the review Gemma from Snug Creations wrote on my Knitting Bags! https://throughthelookingglass12.wordpress.com/2018/06/28/mustard-black-knitting-bag-review-gemma/

Through The Looking Glass

I plan on making more fabric items this year and I started with this lovely knitting/crochet projectbag. It’s made from high quality quilting cotton and lined in cream cotton. There’s black grosgrain ribbon pulled through an abstract black & white quilting cotton to close it, and it will hold 3-4 skeins of fingering yarn + needles/hooks and notions. I have enough fabric to make 3 but after that, no more. So kind of “Limited Edition”…. 🙂

Mustard & Black Knitting Bag

Drawstring Bag

Bag with 3 skeins of yarn inside

Peeking into the top of the bag

Side of the Bag

Standing up and open
It’s listed in my Etsy shop here and I plan on having more join it soon. What do you look for in a knitting bag – pockets for notions? Do you prefer a zippered bag, or a drawstring with a toggle on it? How about…

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Chocolate Fudge Cake Recipe

Chocolate Fudge Cake

I made this last week for one of hubby’s work colleagues who retired and had his last day on Tuesday. There hadn’t been any big plans for a party or anything special, he wanted to keep it low-key. Originally hubby thought there would be about 10 people but there were several groups of people who wanted to wish the colleague well on his retirement so there actually ended up being several cakes and other bits too. Hubby told me mine was the most popular – people thought it was a bought cake. I did buy the truffles I put on the top, and we had the gold dots in the cupboard so decided to toss them on too, to jazz it up a little. I also sent in raspberry coulis to serve with it; it’s very rich and needed something to cut through the ganache.

Top of cake

The cake is made in a slightly different way than by creaming the butter & sugar together and makes a nice slightly dense cake that isn’t too dry. I’ll make it again to get a few more photos but I hadn’t planned on writing a blog post for it, so only took photos of the finished cake. I did have to level the cakes so that I could stack them.

Chocolate Fudge Cake

400g plain flour
250g caster sugar
100g soft brown sugar
75g cocoa powder
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
3 large eggs
150ml greek yogurt
2 tsp vanilla extract
175g butter (not margarine!) melted & cooled
125ml veg oil
300ml cold water

Butter & line 2 x 8” cake tins; preheat the oven to 180’C/160’C Fan.
Mix together the sugars, flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a bowl.
In a jug or bowl, whisk together the eggs, yogurt, and vanilla.
In a large bowl, beat together the melted butter and veg oil with an electric mixer then mix in the cold water.
Add in all the dry ingredients and mix slowly until blended.
Add in the egg mixture and blend again. Pour into the tins and level.
Bake for 35-45 minutes, checking at 30 minutes to see how much longer they will need.
Let cool in the pans for 15 minutes, then turn out to cool completely.

Ganache Icing:

15 oz dark chocolate, chopped into small chunks
15 oz cream
1 tbsp golden syrup
1 tbsp icing sugar

Gently heat up the cream until it’s almost at a boil. Pour over the chopped chocolate and let sit for a few minutes, then whisk together; if there are still chunks of chocolate after a few minutes, place over a pot of boiling water to warm up slightly, whisking constantly – don’t let it get too hot. Add in the golden syrup and icing sugar.

Let sit and cool for 15-20 minutes. You may need to cut the cakes level if they have a domed top. If you do, then flip them upside down so the bottom of the cake is now the top and the crumbs won’t get in the ganache at the top of the cake.

Spread about 1/3 of the ganache on the bottom cake for the filling. Top with the 2nd cake and ice the top and sides. Decorate with whatever you like. This cake will easily serve 12-16 people.

Variations:

Add in cherry pie filling to the middle, and only have the ganache piped at the sides to hold in the filling, then top with chocolate covered cherries, whipped cream rosettes and chocolate shavings.

Add a thin layer of marmalade to the middle and candied orange peel on the top.

Serve with a raspberry sauce/coulis – or redcurrant, as long as it’s slightly acidic & not too sweet to cut through the richness of the ganache almost any fruit sauce will work.

Roasted Curry Cauliflower & Chick Peas

I still love this dish!

Through The Looking Glass

I don’t often manage to get savoury recipes blogged. I do them far more often than sweet ones but they don’t usually get photographed and written down.

Bowl of Curried Cauliflower

This one I made for lunch last week; I felt like something veggie and had a half a cauliflower to use up. This is definitely one I will make again!

Cauliflower & Chick Peas

Roasted Curry Cauliflower & Chick Peas

1/2 med. cauliflower
1 small onion
1 can of chick peas, drained & rinsed
3 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
3 slices ginger, sliced into sticks
3 tbsp veg oil
1 tbsp mild curry powder
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp tumeric
1 tsp nigella seeds
salt & pepper to taste
2 tbsp water
small bunch of fresh coriander
plain yogurt

Take the cauliflower and slice into 1″ thick slices, then cut the core out to break…

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Making Ante-natal Teaching Aid Sets

The week before last I screwed up. I managed to swap 2 address labels on orders going to France. In 7 years, I’ve done this 2 other times. Usually the buyers are happy to send each other the parcel and I pay them the postage. This time was complicated by the fact that neither buyer spoke English.

It would of course, be the buyer that ordered the more expensive item – an Ante-natal Teaching Aid Set that realised she got the wrong order when she received a skein of yarn. I already knew she was impatient – she ordered a listing with a 2-3 week turnaround time (with a Rush Fee add-on possible) and messaged me 4 days later wanting to know where it was. I sent it 6 days later and 8 days before the processing time was up.

I figured out which orders were swapped and contacted the 2nd buyer. She didn’t respond until the next evening, but before the cut-off I gave myself to remake and send by courier the ante-natal teaching set; I still had to make the set well before that cut-off, so I made it again – in 1 day.

This post shows in-progress photos of making that set, in about 30-40 minute increments. The set was a uterus with a caesarian opening & drawstring top, a placenta, a crochet breast and a drawstring bag. (The drawstring bags are all RTS in the listings that offer them).

In this photo I have knit the ribbing and                               In the next, I’ve made the caesarian  started the body of the uterus:                                                  opening and knit a little more of the                                                                                                                  body of the uterus.

30 minutes
1 Hour

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The next 2 just show how much more of the body has been made:

90 minutes
140 minutes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Then I moved onto the decrease section:                             And the uterus mostly finished:

3 hours 15 minutes
4 hours

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now I have started on the placenta and:                              Here’s the placenta parts with  added on loops for the button closure.                                 the velcro added.

5 hours 10 minutes
4 hours 35 minutes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The placenta is ready to crochet together.                            This photo shows the finished                                                                                                                              placenta, the uterus w/buttons and                                                                                                                    the crochet breast started.

6 hours 30 minutes
6 hours

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The crochet breast is coming along in the next 2 photos, the uterus only needs ribbon through the drawstring top and ribbing.

7 hours 10 minutes
7 hours 45 minutes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This last photo shows the crochet breast almost done – it only needs stuffing and crocheting shut.

8 hours 30 minutes – almost done.

As you can see, they do take a lot of time– and I barely stopped working on the set at all. If I’m working normally on one of these sets, I give myself 2 days to complete them so my hands and arms don’t complain. I know what your question is – Why do I have a processing time of 2-3 weeks if I only need 2 days to make the set? I often have 3-6 uteruses, crochet boobs and sets on order at any one time and if I had a shorter processing time, I would have to work like I did when I made this set – pushing hard to get them made in time. By keeping a longer processing time, I can make sure I never send an order late – and I usually send them in about 5-8 working days, occasionally a little longer.

Back to the mixed up orders. Both buyers sent out the parcels to the correct buyers and I repaid them the cost. Each buyer now has their order & only a few days later than if I’d been on the ball and put the correct address labels on each parcel.

Grey Lace Stole

Grey Lace Stole

I made this stole for the first time just over a year ago for my son’s Form Tutor, he saw it on my knitting machine and wanted to give it to her. It’s knit from a fine alpaca/merino blend yarn in a soft, slightly fluffy dove grey. She wore it to a wedding last August and got several compliments on it.

Chevrons

I had planned on making more to sell last summer but it didn’t happen and I finally sat down at my machine to knit this one a few weeks ago; it ended up getting put away for some reason and as they say, out of sight, out of mind… anyway, I remembered about it last week and took it out and washed and blocked it.

It’s not complicated lace, but creates columns of chevrons and eyelets into a striking pattern. It’s hand-manipulated, meaning that I move the stitches around to create the pattern instead of using a punch-card and having the lace carriage move the stitches, so it’s slower than some machine-knitting.

I think it’s a lovely stole, soft and feather-light – it only weighs 75g of yarn, less than 3 oz. if you think in ‘old money’. You would also be surprised how warm it is, the alpaca and merino blend hold in a lot of body warmth.

Over the shoulders

I tried to show a couple of ways of wearing it, but I bet there are more; if you have a delicate pin or brooch this stole would set it off brilliantly. You can find it here in my Etsy Shop and here on Amazon if you prefer to shop there. This is a pattern I’ll use again – what colour would you love it in?

Tied up as a scarf
All wrapped up

Cheesecloth Wraps

I started dyeing cheesecloth last summer to make wraps to sell and I decided to use only food/plants to dye with. Commercial chemical dyes are expensive and the waste isn’t great for the environment. I’d also need separate bowls, spoons, pots etc. for dying in and I have no where to store extra equipment.

Coffee-dyed Wrap

I dyed using tea, coffee, and blackcurrant juice(sold out) last summer and fall and listed the resulting cheesecloth layers in my Etsy and Amazon shops.

Recently I used turmeric and blackberry juice (see my last post about the blackberry) to dye 6 more pieces of cheesecloth, 4 in turmeric and 2 in blackberry.

Turmeric Wrap
Wrap showing the variations in colour

The turmeric ones, although I used different methods of dying – how long to leave the cloth in for and how long to simmer them too, turned out exactly the same shades. They came out unevenly dyed but I like that, they are unique. The blackberry ones I did separately as I didn’t want to use so many blackberries to be able to cover 2 at a time.

Once I have finished the last few pieces of undyed cheesecloth (if I do) I won’t be dying more. I have enjoyed doing it and seeing what happens – the colours I have achieved and how. The amount of water needed to rinse them out though, is astronomical! The 4 turmeric ones took almost 80L of water to rinse out, and 1 blackberry at least 15L. I want to save water and not use it willy-nilly so I am going to have to decide what to dye the last few Metres of fabric I have – or sell it as is.

Tea-dyed Wrap
Close-up of Tea-dyed Wrap

With the weather being so hot in the last 2 months and basically being in drought conditions, I am far more aware of the water we use both for household use and in our garden and allotment. We have no water left on our allotment, and have been taking 25L at a time down in a large plastic jerry can on a little trolley and have just about been able to keep the few plants we have left on the allotment going. Using a lot more than that to dye a few metres of cheesecloth just doesn’t make sense.

I think I’m going to make up 1 set of the 4 colours I have left and then sell the rest as singles – I’ll pop a post up with the link to that listing when it’s published.

Blackcurrant dyed Wrap (sold out)

Easy S’mores Recipe

An oldie but a goodie – have you had your s’mores yet this summer?

Through The Looking Glass

I know I’ve added some recipes recently, but as a former chef, I’m always making up new recipes, some work better than others. Some I share with you! This one is so easy that my son could make them, if I let him get near the BBQ, which I don’t.

This one was a big hit the other night. If you are from the US or Canada, then you’ll know what a S’more is – but Brits might not!

It’s usually a treat made in the summer when camping or when having a BBQ, perfect for a messy, yummy dessert that never fails to please.

I used a cheat here – chocolate covered digestive biscuits.

S’mores:

For each S’more you need 2 chocolate covered digestives, 1 (or 2 if you are greedy) large marshmallow and a fire or BBQ.

Ingredients Ingredients

Stick the marshmallow on a metal skewer or bend a…

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Dyeing with Blackberries: A Cautionary Tale

I decided to dye cheesecloth with blackberries this weekend while I had the house to myself. I picked blackberries from the wild canes on our allotment yesterday morning and then used 6 cups of berries with 7 cups of water to cook up the juice.

I brought the water and berries (crushed) to a simmer for 30 minutes, strained out the pulp then put in the prepared cheesecloth. You prep the cheesecloth by soaking it in boiling salted water; the water is a fixative for dyeing in fruit juices. I simmered it for another 30 minutes, then left it in overnight.

I didn’t get photos of it straight out of the pot, but it was the same strong purple as blackberry juice. I started to rinse it, and rinse it and rinse it, changing the water 4-5 times. Eventually I decided to stop as all the red was gone from the cloth and I had a purple-blue shade.

First piece right after rinsing

I hung it up to dry. When I went back to it 20 minutes later it had changed colour again to a grey-purple. I had put in the 2nd piece of cheesecloth in and had simmered that for 30 minutes and it had been about 30 more since I had turned off the stove. I decided to rinse it out now. It was a lovely light purple. I put them side by side and the difference was incredible. I thought I’d take some photos and as I did I realised the 2nd one was already fading in colour.

Just after rinsing the 2nd piece

5 minutes later… I haven’t edited the photos in any way – they were taken outside in cloudy conditions.

5 minutes after hanging the 2nd piece up.

So as you can see, dyeing cheesecloth with blackberries was a dud. I ended up with 2 dull grey pieces of cheesecloth – at least they are right now. As I finish up this post, I looked at the 2nd piece again, and it’s almost completely grey-purple too, just a lighter tint. My advice if you want to try dying using plants, really research which ones make the best dyes!

The Shawl That Took Forever

I started this shawl over a year ago. I started it 3 times, the 3rd time after knitting about 3/4 through. I’m a perfectionist (I think I’ve said this before) and I wasn’t happy with the edge stitches – they were too tight and I thought it might not block flat well.

All wrapped up on my mannequin

It’s an asymmetric triangular shawl in purple & black. There are lace sections and garter stitch stripes and the shawl gets wider as you knit it. I used black for 1 of the lace panels and then finished it off in black once I had used up the purple yarn. Both yarns are a fingering weight yarn in a merino/nylon blend – the black is pure black and the purple is a hand-dyed variegated skein of blackcurrant, magenta and wine (you may have other names for the purples in this yarn!)

Over the shoulders

It’s also huge! The pattern says finished measurements should be 70″ x 17″ and this shawl is 100″ x 30″. For some shawls, bigger is better!

I should try to get a photo of it or 4 spread out but it’s so long, it’s not easy. I enjoyed knitting this pattern; if not frogging it twice…

Wrapped up the other way…

This is a surprisingly warm shawl even though with the lace panels; they really do add a nice contrast to the garter stitch stripes and I think the black border worked out really well too.

The middle section

You can find the shawl here in my Etsy shop, or here on Amazon too. For items over £150 I offer free shipping – Special Delivery in the UK and Signed and Tracked everywhere else.

I have been tempted to keep it for myself, so if this shawl tempts you…. don’t wait to get it!

Guess what? More Camera Scarf Straps!

I managed to get these made last week; I have 2 of each ready to send. I like the purple feathers scarf strap more than the Boho print; but I can see me wearing both – how about you? Each strap is long and adjustable and upcycled from a light scarf.

The Boho Print Camera Scarf Strap:

Boho print camera scarf strap
Boho print close up
Opened up

The Purple Feathers Scarf Strap:

Purple Feathers Scarf Strap

Feathers Close up
Opened up

There are 11 different camera scarf straps listed for sale in my Etsy, Amazon and Ebay shops. I’m hoping to get a couple more made in the next week along with several more knitting bags – more like those sock project bags and some larger ones with a zippered pocket too.