All posts by lookingglass12

About lookingglass12

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

New Winter Scarves

I managed to get 3 scarves made in January in between orders. 2 were made from yarn I’ve had for quite a while, the other one, from ‘newer’ yarn (is there such a thing?).

Technically 2 are cowls, I suppose, but the term ‘scarf’ is interchangeable to me for something you wear around your neck when it’s cold. These definitely fit that criteria!

The first one is a red/ombre grey/black combo in a slip stitch design that’s all in 1 piece – there is a seam simply because of the slip stitches. The grey/black ombre yarn gives it a shadowed effect that you can see in the photos. You can find it on Etsy and on Amazon.

Red/Ombre Cowl
Seam for Cowl

The next is definitely a scarf – long and doesn’t have a loop. It’s made from just the grey/black ombre yarn – and the tweedy effect of this yarn is more prominent as there isn’t the red to distract you from it. The teardrop shapes are made by looping the yarn over the needle then dropping the extra loops on the next row. Which is your favourite of these 2? You can get this one here on Etsy and on on Amazon.

Drop Stitch Scarf
Close up of scarf

The last one is made from a completely different yarn – Malabrigo Rios, a hand-dyed 100% wool yarn from Peru – I can’t remember what this colourway is called but I kept the sister cowl to this one as it’s so incredibly soft. The basketweave is perfect for this short-change colourway of pinks, purples, greys, browns and greens. It doesn’t sound like these colours should work together, but they do, gloriously. My photos don’t really do it justice. You can get this one on Etsy here and on Amazon here.

Basketweave Cowl
Close up of Basketweave Cowl

I hope you like these cowls and scarves as much as I do.

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A little update…

Hello all 3 of you that are still reading my blog! I kinda got lost with it last year and stopped blogging regularly. It’s harder to do than it looks! I’ve had this blog since I started Looking Glass Designs over 7 years ago and it’s never really taken off. But that’s OK. I don’t want to be known as a blogger.

I have been busy in many ways both personally and professionally in the past year. My son is getting older – he’s 10 now (not sure where that time went) and he’s getting so grown up (sometimes). I knit a shawl for his housemaster who left in December, she decided to move on after almost 22 years at the school as a parent, chorister parent, staff and housemaster. The photos in this post are of that shawl. (and yes,the pronouns are correct!)

Business was OK last year; it didn’t grow as it has for the previous 6 years — but I think that’s down to outside influences like Brexit and a lot of uncertainty in the world right now. It was steady and while I’d have liked my Christmas Rush to have started before Dec 1 I managed even with going away to York for 4 days before Christmas.

I will be starting up another Etsy shop in the next few weeks (see, now that I’ve told you I’ll have to, won’t I?) for reusable, recycled, and upcycled products. I am setting up a new Facebook page for it as well but will still use this blog to show you those items.

Personally, I’m sure you’ve noticed that I am very good at procrastinating – it sometimes feels like it’s my one true talent. I always hesitate to offer new items because I don’t know how well they will do and I don’t like going out of my comfort zone. However I decided to start this new Etsy shop as I have fabric and supplies coming out of my ears and need to use them! I have been looking for testers and have found a couple while making new items for them to test out for me; some will be redundant as they are items others sell, others will be slightly different so I want to get them tested by others as well as me. I plan on having 10 products ready to go when I open up – so keep an eye out as I’ll be running an opening sale!

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas!

I hope you have had – or are having – a wonderful Christmas. We had our usual Christmas morning – waiting for son to wake up and then doing stockings and presents before breakfast.

I haven’t been blogging recently; I haven’t had much to say, I guess. I have had a slower year than usual in my online shops; I think people are being more careful with their money and aren’t buying as many ‘wants’ as before. I have had some issues with my arms, shoulders and wrists at times through the year with spending a lot of time knitting and crocheting for orders; I need to increase the time I spend sewing and doing other things or I will have to cut back permanently on the time I spend playing with yarn…

I am opening up a new Etsy shop in the new year, and will be putting one or both of my current Etsy shops on vacation mode to get the new one up and running – I’ll let you know what’s happening soon! Anatomical Knits, Looking Glass Designs ,
Amazon

I do appreciate each and every one of my customers – some will never know how much their reviews, emails and happy comments have uplifted me. This isn’t something I do as a ‘side hustle’, a hobby or to keep me occupied while my husband brings in a paycheque. I craft for many reasons, one of which is my mental health. The joke is ‘I knit so I don’t stab people’ but for many people, crafting helps them with managing their well-being.

Some of the most popular items I sold this year have been my ante-natal teaching aids, camera scarf straps, camera buddies and photo props. Do keep an eye out for more styles and patterns of scarf straps!

Green Daisies Camera Scarf Strap
Blackcurrant dyed Wrap (sold out)
Wrap showing the variations in colour
Tied up as a scarf
Alpaca Chunky Blankets
Tweed Chunky Mini-blanket
Standard Sharp 5″ Interchangeable Gift Set
Pastel Rainbow Breast
Green Stripes

All 3 colours
Rainbow 1
Rocky the Penguin Camera Buddy
Boobs – each one is different….
Happy Caterpillar Camera Buddy
Large Octopus Camera Buddy

Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

An oldie but a goodie, I made these yesterday and ate far too many…

Through The Looking Glass

Oatmeal Raisin Cookie

I know there are thousands of oatmeal raisin cookie recipes out there, but this is the one my son and I make – and he does most of the work! LOL

Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

Ingredients:

1 cup (250g) butter, softened
1/2 cup white sugar
1 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 cups oatmeal
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
3/4 cup raisins or sultanas

Preheat the oven to 160’C (350’F). Cream the butter and sugar together (we used an electric mixer). Then add the eggs one at a time, then the vanilla, mixing in between until the mix is fluffy. Add all the dry ingredients and stir with a wooden spoon.

Using dessert spoons, scoop the dough onto a cookie sheet, they do spread out, so give them room. Bake for 8-12 minutes…

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Another Batch of Camera Scarf Straps

Here’s another batch of camera scarf straps – I’ve made another since but haven’t managed to get photos done yet. I think the cat print one is my favourite, which is yours? I still can’t decide which design is better – the nylon straps or the adjustable style with keyrings.

Duck Print Scarf Strap – available on Etsy, and Amazon and Ebay.

Duck Print Camera Scarf Strap
Close-up

Cat Print Camera Scarf Strap: available on Etsy, and Amazon and Ebay.

Cat Print Camera Scarf Strap
Close-up

Green Daisies Scarf Camera Strap: available on Etsy, and Amazon and Ebay.

Green Daisies Camera Scarf Strap
Close-up

Hot Pink Floral Scarf Strap: available on Etsy, and Amazon and Ebay.

Pink Floral Scarf Strap
Close up

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