Monday, 22 October 2012

Knitted Friendship Rings

I knitted these friendship rings! How cute.
They are for myself and my lovely friend Rachel.

These are the first things I have knitted on double pointed needles and I would recommend this as a starter project for using double pointed needles because it is quick, small and produces something cute. They are felted as well which lets you get away with a lot because the felting masks any mistakes you may have made.
A giant duplicate stitch is used to make the hearts, duplicate stitch is also something new to me so I learnt two techniques in the space of 30 minutes.
I got to use my lovely new knit pro double pointed needles and the Jamiesons yarn I got from the knitting and sewing show at Alexandra Palace.
I used the free Heartfelt Rings pattern from the lovely Tiny Owl Knits, and decided to make them into friendship rings by inverting the colours on the second ring.

I'm quite proud of these, they are not perfect, but then again most friendships aren't. 
They are cute and chunky and are keeping my finger warm in this horrible British weather. 

Saturday, 20 October 2012

Featured designer - Tiny Owl Knits

I just had to share with you my favourite knitwear designer, because I'm pretty sure my friend Rachel is getting fed up of me constantly these designs to her, it is the lovely Stephanie Dosen from Tiny Owl Knits.

Being a 20 something knitter, I sometimes struggle finding patterns that I like and that I can actually wear, as despite the rise in young knitters, the majority are still a fair bit older then I am, so a lot of what is out there is what I shall call 'classic' (read old), not me at all.
Stephanie's patterns on the other hand are gorgeous. They are cute, kitsch, charming and whimsical, all things I love. Stephanie also has some vlogs on her site which are a joy to watch because Stephanie is as lovely as her designs, I wish she would make them more often though!

Anyway just look at these great pieces of knitwear! 

I could go on all day, but I won't.
Her patterns are all available to buy on her ravelry page and are $5.50, around £3 each, definitely a bargain.
I have made the gnome home (blog post coming soon) and I can say her patterns are very easy to follow, the instructions are clear and there are plenty of pictures so you can see what your work should be looking like, and if you still struggle there is even a Tiny Owl Knits group on ravelry where there are loads of friendly, knowledgable people who are there to offer help and advice on anything you struggle on.

If you hadn't guessed by my recent purchase of sock yarns, I am going to give the beekeepers quilt a go, which is very daunting because it took Stephanie a year to make, so it will probably take me about 3, but I think it is something that I will be able to pass down to my children (when I have them).

I just want to end this post by saying I asked Stephanie via a ravelry message for permission to use her pictures. I didn't really expect a response back because I can imagine that she is very busy and must get a lot of messages everyday, but she responded very quickly and was so nice it made me fall a little bit in love with her, I am total girl crushing, it's hard not to when she creates such fabulous designs!

Thursday, 18 October 2012

Mini Skeins

Is it me or is everything better mini? Mini cosmetics are so cute and great for travelling, it turns out that you can get mini skeins of knitting yarn, and yes, they are even cuter then the full size.
I just had to share this with you. 

These are mini sock yarn skeins from The Knitting Goddess
This is the October mixed set, she brings out a new batch every month as they hand dye them, and they have a subscription service where you can get them delivered monthly, they are so pretty!
Sock yarn is one of the main things I was looking for at Alexandra Palace knitting show, but there wasn't that many, and the ones their was where very expensive.
This set is £10, or you can buy them individually for £1.50.
They are 75% super wash merino and 25% nylon and you get roughly 10g a skein, great for if you are working on a sock blanket or want a variety of yarns for cheap.

Here is a close up of the colours.

I just had to share them because I love them so much! Hope you like them too. 
Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Auntie Tor's Brownie Recipe

These brownies are pretty tasty, if I do say so myself. I'm not normally the biggest brownie fan as I'm not a big dark chocolate fan, but even I like these ones and they where gone in 5 minutes when I took them to work.
I got the recipe from my aunt, who got it from a TV programme but she reckons she has tweaked it enough not be plagiarised.
These are quite quick and easy to make so here we go.

225g Unsalted Butter
100g Dark Chocolate
200g Caster Sugar
4 Large Eggs
1/2 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
50g Plain Flour
50g Cocoa Powder
Pinch of Salt
75g of Hazelnut Pieces
Makes roughly 18 large pieces.

1. Pre heat the oven to 180 degrees.
2. Melt the butter and chocolate over gentle heat.
3. In a separate bowl mix the sugar, eggs and vanilla.
4. Mix in the melted chocolate and butter with the sugar eggs and vanilla.
5. Sift in the flour and cocoa powder and mix.
6. Mix in the hazelnut pieces.
7. Pour into a pre lined baking tray.
8. To add something a bit extra, take some small hazelnut chunks (get the hazelnut, put it in a bag and bash it until you get some nice small pieces, or go to Tesco where they sell them already bashed.) and sprinkle them on top.
9. Bake for roughly 25 minutes (baking time depends on how thick your brownies are).
10. Take out the brownies, leave to cool then cut, or if you are like my boyfriend, dive straight in!


Sunday, 14 October 2012

The Knitting and Sewing Show Haul

So this weekend I went to Alexandra Palace for the knitting and sewing show.
The show itself was pretty good, there was a huge selection of vendors there and lots of lovely things on display, however I am not sure if I would go again next year as the venue got so crowded and hot that it made me feel quite sick and at times irritated, especially when people stopped in the incredibly narrow aisles and blocked them!
Anyway, whilst I was there I picked up a few things, so here is what I got!

I'll start up with the magazine bundle. 
Homemaker is a brand new magazine, so to try and promote it they had the magazine in a bag along with a Knit TV dvd, 3 different balls of yarn (they had different colours in each bag) and a set of knitting needles, you also got to pick either Knit Today or the sewing magazine, which both had free gifts with them, all for £6!
The yarn it comes with is 100% acrylic and is pretty awful, but considering Lets Knit is £5.99 and Homemaker is £4.99 it was bit of a bargain that I couldn't resist. I also picked one up for my nan.
Homemaker is a lovely magazine, and this one is full of Christmas ideas. It has a lovely mix of cooking, knitting, sewing and other crafts, and is great if you are into vintage things or the whole Cath Kidston style.

Next up are the very gorgeous Knit Pro needles I treated myself to. They are so pretty I had to take a close up of the pattern on them.


The ones I got are from the Symfonie range. 
I got double pointed needles in 3.5mm and 4.5mm and straight needles in 4.5mm.
These are the first wooden needles I have ever owned, actually they are the first non aluminium needles I have ever owned and now I know why people are so fond of them and why people don't rate aluminium.
As you can see I was so excited by these that I cracked them open as soon as I came home and started knitting up my latest project.
These feel so nice against my finger tips, hold onto the wool nicely but are also very easy to knit with, I can't get over how different they feel to knit with then my other needles!
I thought these where quite expensive, at £5.50 a pack, but after looking around other stalls I found that these where actually the cheapest by about £1. I got them from Knitting 4 fun which had a great stall there. 

Next up is the yarn I got from Jamiesons of Shetland.
Once again I opened it straight away as I was so excited to get going with my latest project.
I got the Shetland Spindrift in Peach, Royal (this is the most gorgeous, bright blue, the picture isn't doing it justice!), Crimson and Sholmit.
This is proper wooly stuff, and I am not keen on the feel at all, however I am using it for felting and I have actually already finished one of my projects this morning with the yarn and it works brilliantly for felting, they also have a huge colour selection.
I also have to say, Jamiesons had amazing customer service, the woman who was serving me was so lovely. There was a shade I was looking for and they had sold out so she offered to send it free of delivery, they already had discounts on the wool that day so it would've cost her the same amount to post it as the wool itself was, I told her it was fine and just picked another shade, but I really appreciate gestures like this, she also let me off 20p as I was searching in my purse for it, so I got these 4 balls of wool for £11, what a bargain!

The last thing I got was some gorgeous sock yarn.
This was bit of a splurge, £9 for 50g but its so gorgeous and thought I would treat myself for doing so well at work (to be honest the whole show was bit of a treat, but you know what I mean).
The yarn is from Tall Yarns N Tails and is 80% baby alpaca and 20% bamboo. 
They had loads of pretty colour choices, but I thought seeing as I am splurging I should go for shades of pink seeing as it is my favourite colour and I know I would always love it. 
I have bought this because of yet another project I plan to do, so many in the pipeline! Hopefully I can share them with you soon.

So there you go! Sorry for walls of texts and photos but I am just so excited to share this all with you.
The Knit Pro needles are probably my favourite purchase, just because they have completely changed my outlook on knitting needles, although the sock yarn is so luxurious its a close second.
I just have to mention Jamiesons again as the people where just so lovely and they have great products, so go check them out! 
Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Book Review - A Vicky Hill Exclusive

Let me start off by saying, I have always had great success when buying 99p books from the Amazon Kindle sales. This was my first failure.
The book is about a girl, Vicky Hill, who is living in the very rural town of Gipping, where the biggest scandal is that Mrs Peters got caught cheating on the bingo, that is until Vicky stumbles upon a death that happens to be suspicious.
I love a good old murder mystery, give me a bit of Agatha Christie any day, but sorry Hannah Dennison, you are no Christie.

I mentioned the world stumbled earlier, I feel like that is exactly how this mystery gets solved, Vicky literally stumbles from clue to clue as she always gets them wrong and comes up with bizarre theories that are just stupid.

Vicky as a character is one you never warm up to, and actually I wanted to slap her round the face by the end of it. 
She wants to be an investigative journalist, but she is stupid, at the start it comes across as being naive so you forgive her slightly, but no, making the same mistake time after time makes you annoyed at her and you realise that she isn't all that bright.
She also thinks quite highly of herself, always thinking that the people she meets fancy her, which often leads to her overlooking vital things that the character has said.
She also has this weird obsession with her virginity, yes she is a virgin. I'm not even sure why this is bought up in the book, maybe Dennison was going for the shocking angle, but it neither shocked nor added anything to the book, well it did, every time she bought it up (which was a lot) I got annoyed as it was so unnecessary, and obviously Vicky the character is so self obsessed she thinks everyone is out to sleep with her, be it man or woman. 

So on top of an annoying main character, and a awful plot, the book isn't very well written at all. 
Dennison introduces way too many characters so its quite hard to keep up, and Vicky's constant theories that are all wrong also make it hard to actually know what is going on.
Also, I would like to point out that at one point in the book, Vicky tells her friend who is going out with her first cousin that it is ok and people who look down on it are old fashioned, erm no it's not alright love, pretty sure its illegal too...

I felt so let down by this book because it had all the properties of a book I would love, a female main character, a murder and a mystery and set in England, but unfortunately this book just falls flat on its face. It's quite a short book, but it took me about 3 weeks to read, which is how you know it was awful, I refuse to not finish a book though.

If, despite all my warnings you still want to get this book you can from amazon, where they have the cheek to sell it at full price for £4.65

I give this book 1/5

Sunday, 7 October 2012

Hungover Sunday

So on Saturday I hosted a dinner party, which resorted as always in one too many glasses of wine. I felt pretty sorry for myself on Sunday morning so me and my boyfriend decided to sort ourselves out by having a proper breakfast. As well as French Toast and some sausages, we also made Breakfast Cups, a recipe that I got from one of my all time favourite websites, Domestic Sluttery.

So they are a little cup formed from a piece of bread with some bacon on top and a egg, very easy to make. 
They did make for a pretty looking breakfast when we was feeling far from pretty. They tasted great too. 
The egg was baked, which I have never had before, to me they tasted more like fried eggs, which is my least favourite type, also the yolk wasn't runny, which is more my fault for overcooking it, so definitely need to remember that for next time.

A bit later I still was feeling a bit rough, so I turned to my most trusted hangover cure and that is a some salted popcorn and a full fat Coke.
I think the salt helps get rid of any nausea you may be feeling, but its also very gentle to eat so not going to upset your stomach or make you feel worse and the coke is full of sugar to give me enough energy to get myself in the shower, which always makes you feel better.

Hopefully I won't have to talk about hangovers any time soon because I am going to steer clear of drink for a while, I just can't deal with the hangovers anymore and end up wasting so many time!
No doubt I will slip off the wagon at some point, so if I do any more hangover recommendations?

Fire and Stone, Spitalfields

So on Friday night me and my friend Rachel went to Fire and Stone in Spitalfields.
If you haven't heard of it before, it is a restaurant that does gourmet pizza, it takes inspiration from around the world to create its pizzas. Definitely worth checking out the menu, even if some of them you wouldn't touch with a barge pole.

Let's start with the drinks, because everyone likes a good cocktail.

A Raspberry Mojito and a Long Island Ice Tea. 

Lychee Martini

Mai Tai

So as you can see, the cocktails where very average. 
The only one I thought was a bit special was the lychee martini, which was very nice, but it had a lychee popped in for decoration which took some of the elegance away from the cocktail. It looked like a slimy eye just sitting there at the bottom of the glass. I did attempt to eat it as I normally love lychees, but it was quite bitter which was very unusual.
The other cocktails where quite murky and disappointing, the Mai Tai looked like a beer, and the Long Island Ice Tea looked like a vodka and coke, which according to Rachel is exactly what it tasted like too. My Raspberry Mojito was also too sour, it definitely needed a bit more sugar.
Very underwhelmed with the drinks, and definitely not worth the £6.95 price tag.

Now you don't really go to a restaurant for cocktails so lets move onto the food.

Rachel had the Hong Kong, which consists of Chinese five spiced pulled pork ribs, shaved fennel, spring onions, coriander and hoi sin dressing. 
It looks delicious, and I think Rachel enjoyed it quite a lot. 

I had the Florence, which has pepperoni, crude ham, mozzarella, tomato sauce, sun dried tomatoes, basil pesto and olives, essentially all my favourite things on a pizza.
It did make for a very tasty pizza, and I did enjoy it, I think it could have done with a bit more sauce though because it was a little on the dry side, either that or have a dipping sauce for the crusts.
The main issue I had with my pizza, and I think Rachel had the same issue, is the base.
It was very chewy and quite doughy, which made it taste very dry and probably the reason I wanted more sauce. It also had a lot of powder/flour on the bottom of the pizza that stuck to your fingers and went everywhere. It also did nothing for the pizza and was quite gritty in texture, not pleasant. 

This was all the left over powder on the bottom of Rachel's pizza. There was enough for us to make a lovely smiley face. 

One thing I really have to comment on is the customer service. It was excellent. Our server was lovely and attentive, introducing her self as we came in, asking us what part of the restaurant we would like to be seated in, asking us regularly if we needed more food/drinks without over doing it and just generally being a lovely polite server.
The service is quick as well, the food came out shortly after we ordered and the wait for drinks wasn't bad either. I have been in some restaurants where you wait so long for your drink you've already finished your main before you get it.

The pizzas are around £10 each, and they are quite light, not really for sharing. I think the food is fairly priced and quite tasty despite it's issues. I wouldn't recommend the drinks though, there is a b@1 bar around the corner and they are brilliant for cocktails, my suggestion would be to go there first during happy hour where its 2 cocktails for £9, then head over to Fire and Stone for some delicious pizza to help absorb the booze you've just consumed. 
Wednesday, 3 October 2012

This months Knit Today is out

Knit Today came out a week ago and I thought I would tell you because it is my favourite knitting magazine.
It's the Christmas edition so the freebie that comes with it this month is a booklet of 50 Christmas Knits, there is a great bunting pattern in there which I will definitely have a go at. My only gripe with the freebie is it has crotchet patterns in there, I can't crochet which is why I bought a knitting magazine and not a crochet one.

Knit Today is my favourite because the patterns are very easy to read, and often aren't too complicated, and they have a lot of lovely knitting features, such as looking at new yarns on the market, visiting different shops, interviews with famous knitters, great question and answer sections and looking at different knitting groups.

And seriously, a magazine that has a pattern for a Rudolph children onesie is definitely full of win. 

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

My current shoe obsession - Toms

The other day I had a sore back due to pilates (it's put me off for life) and stupidly wore boots that had a heel.
About halfway through they day I was in so much pain I had to go to Office and get a pair of sensible shoes. I had been thinking about getting a pair of Toms for a while because they have great ethics, if you didn't know, for every pair of Toms that gets bought, a pair is given to a child in need.
When I went into Office they had so many gorgeous pairs, including a white pair with flowers on, but I was strong and told myself if I was buying a pair of shoes they had to be sensible plain black ones, so I got the ones pictured above.

The shoes are £34.99, which seems pretty expensive for a canvas shoe, but technically you are getting two pairs of shoes for that price, and you can feel nice and smug about doing something good.

I have literally been wearing these shoes non stop since buying them. 
They look very cute on and they are so ridiculously comfortable! My mum tried them on after I got them and was so impressed with how comfortable they are too, and she's pretty picky. She is the same shoe size as me so if they go missing, I'm pretty sure I will know where to find them.
The sole feels slightly padded and it is a lot thicker then normal cloth/ballet pump shoes so you don't get the impact of the bare ground when you walk.
Although these aren't the most practical of shoes in the rain, the thicker sole and stiff material means that your feet won't get as wet as they would in other cloth shoes, they are also very fitted to your feet so no chance of the water getting in through the sides.

Definitely a shoe I would recommend, and I will be buying more pairs of these.
A small word of warning though, if you are buying these either try them on or get the size up, they come up quite small and where they are form fitting they may not fit people with wide feet.

I am currently eyeing up this pair....  

They have some nice wool lined ones for the winter too.

I really need to get off the Toms website now. There are 5 pairs in my imaginary shopping basket.