the homiest comforts and the shawl thief strikes again….

spelt and seed blend

When it’s cold and wet outside I find myself spending more and more time in the kitchen, pottering about with slowly simmering pans on the stove or baking bread.  Sadly we don’t have a huge kitchen so no room for a table in there which is probably a good thing as I’m imagining myself sitting there with a comfy old cushion underneath me, a pot of tea on the table (which would no doubt be all cup ringed and marked), a stack of cookery books all dog eared and pieces of paper torn off envelopes to keep my place for a “oh that looks nice” recipe….I’d wave goodbye to the boy as he cycles off to work and then plonk myself down and take root….anyway I can dream of the day we have a roomier space and content myself in the meantime while washing up with gazing out the window watching the birds at the feeders hanging from the cherry tree….

Baking bread has become part and parcel of my routine, some weeks I only seem to bake on a Sunday, other times I need to do a mid week bake as well…..I’ve been using a natural starter (or a sourdough starter) to make bread for getting on for a couple of years now I suppose, and while it means the bread takes longer to make it’s really more time to allow the bread to prove and rise rather than actually doing anything to it…and I can happily fit my work in and around the bread making.

oat and honey bread

Usually I add a few handfuls of oats, some honey, a selection of seeds and a glug of oil to the bread flour…whenI remember a grated apple gets put in to as I’ve found that seems to stop the bread drying out too quickly…I can’t really eat bread anymore myself but my boyfriend is a bit of bread fiend and will happily have toast with honey as a pudding in the evening, however there’s a limit to what he can eat and I think homemade bread is always best in the first day or so, so the apple (and the oats too) help stop it going stale too quickly.

Sometimes I like to use an old bread tin, I inheribted a couple of proper oldies when my Nanny died, I think she used them for fruit cakes or tea breads.  But mostly I leave the bread to rise in a proving bowl and then just up-end it onto a lined baking tray, cut the top and pop it into a hot oven where the shape it comes out is a happy surprise…sometimes the loaves look all artisanal and I feel right proud, other days they look more like the Venus of Willensdorf..but the boyfriend asures me they all taste good.

freshly baked and hard to resist

Yesterday was a mid week bake day and I ended up letting the bread rise a bit too long in the proving basket (2 hours rather than 1) and when I turned it out on to the tray it sank a little and spread out….I cut the top and put it in the oven….it rose better than I thought it was going to and smelt…my eyes close now as I love the smell when the oven door opens and it’s that warm and homey smell….so good…perhaps a bit too good as within half an hour someone was making hints to bread and honey as a little evening snack…..the bread seemed very light and springy though and I’m not sure if it even touched the sides of his mouth.  I didn’t add seeds or apple to this loaf, it’s just oats and honey along with the flour and starter.

spindrift damson socks

And while I’m talking homey comforts…..tah dah…I’ve finished my second pair of socks.  I’m really pleased with these as they were a bit me being being all thrifty and using something I had that had been ferreted away in a cupboard…I bought this wool um, 4 nearly 5 years ago I think and it wasn’t getting used…these have been on my feet the past few days and my toes are so so warm……it’s Shetland Spindrift wool from Jamieson’s of Shetland.  The colour is damson and each sock took about a ball, there’s a wee bit left so I’ve made a couple of tiny balls and have tucked them into my darning tin so I can at least repair them in a matching colour for the first couple of darns.  I’m quite a …cough cough…tight knitter…if Anne is reading this I know she’ll be laughing as I don’t think she’s ever seen anyone knit as tight as me….I just need a glass of wine and then my tension seems to improve no end.

I guess I need to test these out a bit first but on warmth alone I’d certainly think of using this wool to knit socks with again…

a sheepy sock read

I’ve spent the past few days reading this amazing book by Debbie Zawinski.  (My boyfriend bought it for me for Valentine’s and it’s such a lovely present…sheep and socks…awesome)

I’d mentioned the book after hearing a review for it on a Knit British podcast (which is so good to listen to, Louise reviews some really interesting knitting books and I’ve got a long list of books I’m waiting for my local library to get in for me) …In the Footsteps of Sheep is the story of how Debbie walks and travels around Shetland and some of the other islands at the top of Scotland, collecting wool from the different breeds of sheep that she finds and then goes on to knit socks from that wool…the people she meets are all fascinating and the pictures of the sheep are amazing, you’ll never think all sheep look the same again.

It’s a really brilliant read and even though I’m a beginner knitter, the patterns for the socks are much easier to understand than a lot I’ve seen.  It’s such a great book and I’m keen to try out the breeds mentioned in it.  In case you’re wondering, there are substitutes given for the wool she has used in her speical socks such as WYS Aire valley so you don’t have to go all the way to Shetland to gather your own wool.

I really like books like this, a combination of things to make and the story behind them.

Guess who has pinched my shawl

Mentioning no names, it seems that the shawl thief has struck once again….I’ve already had to share the shawl with him in the evenings, he perches on the arm of the sofa and gives me a right old fashioned Paddington Bear stare, cheeks all puffed out and whiskers forward, then he clambers over the boyfriend’s lap and climbs all over me, nestles in  my lap and paws the shawl so it folds around him.  But this morning was the limit…I’d only been in the kitchen long enough for the kettle to boil, and came back to find himself all comfy and sprawled out right where I’d been sitting….

I don't have the heart to move him

….when I asked what he thought he was doing…..he chirped and curled himself all up on his back, wriggling his paws and toes at me as if to say “I’m far too cute to be made to move”…..

I've learnt to share the shawl with Bernard

He’s been a bit windy again lately, all trumpety trombone noises so there is always the risk of  his secret weapon being released if I pick him up, and I’m sure you’ll be more than a little shocked to know when I tried to take the shawl away he bit me, not very hard, he just holds on and shakes his head…I’ve seen cats do something similar with kittens so I’m obviously being told off for trying to steal “his” shawl….I figure it’s easier to just leave it be and hope it doesn’t get too covered in cat fluff.


10 thoughts on “the homiest comforts and the shawl thief strikes again….

  1. I too stare out at bird feeders when doing the washing up. I love reading your blogs. They depict such a coziness, and the book you mention seems interesting. You must have to hand wash the socks, a good excuse to make plenty. They look very good!

    1. Hi Sally, I’m so glad you enjoy reading my blog and popping by….We have no end of long tail tits out there at the moment (they make a right noise)…the book is really good and I’d certainly recommend trying to get it from your local library if you don’t want to commit to buying it. I never mind a bit of hand-washing though I find the hand-knitted socks don’t need washing everyday, I can happily wear them a week before they need a gentle wash x

  2. Hi again, Ericka! Pure wool is meant to be hygienic and I think anti-bacterial so I think it’s better not to wash the socks after just one wear. I really loved the Lavenham Blue socks. I would love to try this yarn out sometime but also have a huge stash, so maybe not for a while. I am working on a jumper from Loop Knitting called Sous Sous, lots of cables and a lace pattern so a bit tricky. All the best, Sally

    1. HI Sally, yeah I thnk even with some nylon in the mix, most sock yarn is woolly enough so you do’t need to wash them so much as regular socks. The colour of the Lavenham Blue is so delicate, it’s very watery and the has lovely subtle shifts in colour.
      I’ve seen Sous sous and it’s a very pretty pattern.
      I’ve just ordered my first jumper amount of wool…Aran weight Shetland wool from Jamieson and Smith for a Ramona cardigan. I’ve got some beautiful rosewood needles from Meadowyarn to knit with and am so excited to get started.

  3. If I wasn’t allergic to cast fur you would come home one day to find that Bernard had been catnapped!!! He looks adorable in those photos although it sounds as though it is just as well we can’t smell over the Internet yet! You are so speedy with your socks, mine have been on hold while I have been finishing my shall test knit. It’s off the hook and straight onto Abi’s shoulders. Xxx

    1. Sometimes his trumpety trumps are so bad all we can do is laugh. He’s been so cuddly this week as it’s been chilly.
      I’ve gotten rather behind with everything else I’m doing while I’ve bee knitting socks so as of Monday I’m going to have to time slot when I do my knitting…it’s just so darn addictive x

  4. We had a cat once that used to suck the corner or the tea towel, it was his comforter I suppose. Your book sounds so interesting, I’ll have to look out for it in my library. Well done in your second pair of socks. Knitting socks does seem to mean nothing gets done here. I have vowed today to finish the pairs I am working on now, then have a break so I can get some other knitting done.

    1. Ooh naughty kitty. The book is great and I like that she appreciates we aren’t all able to go to Shetland to gather wool so her substitute wool is pretty much widely available…and I like how her patterns work, there’s maybe one pair in the whole book that I’m not so keen on which I think is really good.
      I’ve just ordered more of the shawl wool to now start my first cardigan…..I think knowing that if it goes wrong I can easily un-ravel it which seems to make me less nervous x

  5. Yep. I did laugh when I read it and I don’t think I do know anyone that knits a’s tightly as you, but as long as you know your tension it doesn’t matter. You just have to make allowances.

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