Wednesday, April 23, 2014

No Sooner Said Than Done

or on spontaneous knitting.

Actually most of my knitting is spontaneous (what an interesting pattern, I'm going to knit it, but in a different color and yarn) versus planned (say, it's winter, it's cold, I need a cardigan, I'll knit myself a cardigan). However some of my knitting is more spontaneous that other. Some projects make it to my Ravelry queue and stay there and mature and when (if) I pick them up, I've had time to think my initial  urge over, to plan the color and the style to go with my existing wardrobe. But there are others, that jump right from the magazine to the needles with a short detour to the yarn shop, without any clear idea how the thing will fit with my other clothing items and if I need it at all.

Such is the case with this little cardigan from the latest Vogue. I started the second sleeve last night and I'm still not sure if I like it or need it, but I'm having fun, and in the end - that's what matters :))

And a bunch of muffins I made last night. I'm still in search for the perfect muffin recipe. This one is close:
  • 1 3/4 cups of flour
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup of milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 80 g of butter
  • 1 tbsp of baking powder
  • 1/2 cup of raisins
  • 2 vanillas
  • 3 tbsp of cocoa powder

Monday, April 21, 2014

Camellia Sweater

Finally, after a week of cold and rain, the sun is out again and I am able to show you my newest most favorite sweater - Camellia. Based on Kim Hargreave's hat pattern, it is a lightweight, breezy lace cotton blouse with waist shaping, round neckline and set-in three-quarter sleeves.

Pattern: Camellia Sweater, self-modified version
Yarn: YarnArt Summer, 300 g
Needle: 2.5 mm rib, 3 mm body

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Happy Easter!


This Easter will be remembered by Gaby and me as the most baking we've done in the course of two days :)) We made our first home baked Easter cakes  - cozonac!!! And they are not only eatable, they are delicious and (almost) worth all the mixing, and kneading, and braiding, and baking until 01:00 AM last night, while simultaneously coloring the traditional eggs. Frankly, if it wasn't for Gaby's enthusiasm and hard work, none of this would have been possible, but her joy in the kitchen made the day!

One of them is made with a filling of Turkish delight and the other - with raisins, soaked in rum. Yummy!

And we also made (two) dough egg baskets. The test basket was eaten right from the oven - so tasty with butter, white cheese and mixed spices !!!, that we made a second dose of dough and formed it into a bread the next day:

The baskets were made following this tutorial and challah dough recipe.

A basket consists of a basket body, an upper ring and a handle, fixed with tooth picks. A few pictures taken in the course of preparation (I forgot to take a picture of the handle):

I've always shied away from recipes, requiring yeast and dough kneading, but ... practice makes perfect. Now, after two days of  baking I think I have a better understanding of dough and next time my basket will be even better looking :)

Monday, April 14, 2014


Two cooking experiments, conducted in our kitchen this past weekend, linked by a green leitmotif.
The first is Irish Cake. Gaby's English club had a big charity event - a food bazaar with traditional dishes from English speaking countries. Her group chose Ireland and Gaby and I tried our hand at a recipe for an Irish cake found on the Internet. It is quite different from my usual cake, without eggs and quite heavy on the whiskey :) We made three cakes - two for the bazaar and one for home, so the recipe is printed in my memory for long :))

The ingredients for one cake:
4 spoonfuls of softened butter (appr. 100 g)
200 g of powdered sugar
2 cups of flour
150 ml whiskey
125 ml milk
10 g of baking powder
half a cup of raisins

The result is a fluffy buttery cake with just a hint of whiskey - all that liqueur evaporates in the oven, so it's completely children-friendly. We all liked it, but I'm curious to try the recipe again, but this time replacing most of the whiskey with milk and adding only 50 ml of whiskey, soaking the raisins in the liqueur first.

The second dish is a variation of this risotto with nettles from an interesting blog I came upon recently.

OK, full disclosure - I'm not a fan of cooked greenery and while I can live on tomatoes and cheese forever, when it comes to cooked dishes - I prefer at least a hint of meat and the less green leaves the better. However hubby loves cooked green things, so I tried nettles.

The risotto came perfect, the finish with President Cooking Cream was a novelty in my kitchen and we loved it! I'll repeat the recipe soon, only this time I'll replace the nettles with chicken breasts :)))

Friday, April 11, 2014

Black & Gold

Just to say hi! I'm here, occupied with the usual - children, work, house :)
I've resumed knitting the cotton/viscose summer sweater I started last autumn, inspired by Gaby's black Camellia. The process is very slow on 3 mm needles, the splity viscose thread makes the yarn difficult to work with. But I like the result so far and I'm almost finished, half way through the second sleeve.

And though if you ask me I would claim that I don't like black much, I've bought a new sweater worth of black cotton. I've been meaning to knit for Gaby a little black cotton cardi for school, so far I've got my eye on this interesting pattern from Verena 01 2014:

After which I think I'll knit this latest Vogue Knitting pattern, I'm totally smitten with this summer cardi:

And on another front, I can't help myself but tell you how proud we all are with our clever girl - not only did she reach the final round of the National Olympiad in Biology - she won the first place in the junior group! That's really, really huge - ranking first among students from all over the country, most of which study Biology as a major subject (her majors are Mathematics and Programming). Regretfully I don't have pictures from the Olympiad and the prize award ceremony, which was held in Momchilgrad.

Just a picture from the site of her school, with her teachers and other participants from her school in the final round of the Olympiad:

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Scotch Harebells Cross Stitch Panel

So here it is - the fourth and final of the wild flower panels, designed by John Clayton for Heritage. This was probably the easiest to stitch panel because of my stitch by colors method - I highly recommend the method for these panels!

The last three stages of the stitch by colors experiment - adding the two major background colors and the backstitch:

Pattern: Scotch Harebells by John Clayton
Canvas: white Aida 14
Floss: Rosace and DMC

In my first posting about this flower panel I mentioned that I'll try a new brand of floss - Rosace. Oh, how I regret it, I should have stuck to the well known and time-proven brand. At first glance the new floss looks the same as DMC, but obviously the thread lacks the color saturation and silky shine of DMC and the stitched picture looks bland, mat and lustreless. Never again!

I enjoyed playing with the four panels today, rearranging them and wondering how to frame them - together in one big frame or separately. Still thinking ...