happy birthday victoria!

the holiday was last monday, but officially today was queen victoria's birthday. we had two kinds of cake. this kind:

a lovely present from our visiting friend jenr8, and especially welcome when i am officially not allowing myself to buy any yarn except for charity knitting! jen got it from the loving path in london.

we also had this kind:

a victoria sandwich! i had a moment of worry since we were out of jam, but luckily we had strawberries on hand.

i just ignored them on the stove for a while, during which i mixed up the batter, and they turned out delicious.

and the best most important ingredient:


victoria sandwich

1/2 lb strawberries
1/2 cup sugar
1 jar devon cream

1 cup butter
1 cup sugar
2 tsp vanilla
4 eggs
1 1/2 cup cake flour
2 tsp baking powder

combine strawberries and sugar over low heat. boil gently until it gels - you can test by leaving a saucer in the freezer to get cold, and putting a drop of jam on to see if it runs or sits. let cool.

cream together butter and sugar. beat in vanilla and eggs.

sift together flour and baking powder. fold thoroughly into butter mixture.

pour into two 7" or 8" round cake tins, greased, floured, and lined with waxed paper in the bottom.

bake 25 minutes at 350f, or until they spring back when lightly touched, and just start pulling away from the sides of the pan. let cool briefly in tins before unmolding on racks to cool thoroughly.

spread bottom layer of cake thickly with devon cream, then with strawberry jam. top with second layer.


to catch a thief: the pursuit continues

okay, i am a bit blah on the summer knitting, what with it getting cold again.

but, as a relief from the horrors of endless navy blue linen stockinette, i am tackling the charts for the to catch a thief top.

i started from a photo of the top - the biggest, most hi-res one i could find - blown up and printed out. notice that the pattern is basically symmetrical, so i'm just working with half of it.

i've gone over the outlines of the individual paisley motifs (or "paisles" as my sister and i called them when we were kids) in pencil, and then drew a rough graph over the printout to guide placement.

then i printed out a chart of the basic shell, and sketched the paisles on it roughly. once i had them in approximately the right place, i started converting the outline to "stitches" following the chart lines.

you'll notice some of those are half-wide stitches: you can do that with duplicate stitch! you get a slightly "higher resolution" pattern that way. next step is transferring it back to the chart file.

i will need to tweak the placement of a few of the paisles i think, but that's easy enough to do by simply copy-pasting. the whole process does feel like it will last well into next summer though!


sick day knitting

ugh. i am blaming the current round of ugh on the swims i took in the lake over the weekend. there was a dead fish in the water and i guess i didn't stay far enough away? i don't know.

worse luck, it didn't occur to me until too late in the afternoon that this would have been a perfect opportunity to watch the final episodes of mad men! sigh.

anyway, i have been plugging away at the dreaded fine-gauge splitty dark linen middy top, reading brideshead revisited and imagining myself in a more glamorous past.

this thing is taking forever. i joined the second ball at the cottage yesterday:

dark colours are so hard to photograph! it is producing a nice fabric though, you can see a bit better in this one how the linen and cotton contrast softly against one another:

this project will kill me, i swear!


that's the way it crumbles, rhubarb-wise

i had to make a dessert for the kid's school's teacher appreciation luncheon the other day, so i thought - why not make dessert for us as well?

this isn't really a proper crumble, it's more in between a coffee cake and a square (the version for the teachers was done in a round springform, so more on the cake end of things). in any case, it contains the best things in the world: butter, flour, and sugar. the three ingredients can be combined in so many different delicious ways. yum.

the teachers' version got filled with applesauce and topped with cinnamon; ours got orangette's roasted rhubarb and topped with a bit of nutmeg and ginger.

so good! it was gone in no time!

coffee cake crumble

1 cup sugar
1 cup soft butter
2 1/2 cups flour
2 1/2 tsp baking powder

2 cups applesauce, roasted rhubarb, or similar cooked fruit concoction

2 tbs sugar
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon (or other spices)

cream butter and sugar.

sift together flour and baking powder; mix into butter. use your hands.

press half the dough into the bottom of a baking dish (if using a springform to make it cake-like, press it up the sides to prevent leakage).

fill with fruit filling.

crumble remaining dough over top.

combine sugar and spice, sprinkle over top.

bake 30 minutes at 350f.


Linnen - nice, but oh you kid!

About a zillion years ago, my mum picked up some navy blue Scheepjes Linnen from a thrift shop - 10 balls! More than enough for a sweater. I actually thought I had rethrifted it myself, but it turned up the other day (a sign I have way too much stuff!) so I thought I'd cast something on.

I was thinking a sleeveless shell with a scarf collar, almost a middy look. To go with my grey linen trousers, for a 1930s beach/sailor/Deauville look.

Well, I think I know why this yarn got thrifted.

I really like the feel of the fabric, but it is not friendly to work with!

Being a cotton/linen blend, it has none of the sproinginess of wool. Being dark, it's hard to see the stitches. being slubby, it is extra-hard to see the stitches. And being splitty, it is easy to put your needle in the wrong place.

Still, I think this is going to be awesome when it's done.

And the leftovers will likely get thrifted again, after all these years.


standing on the side of love: a scarf for syria

i started this a while ago, and then lost steam. but i got all inspired again, because of a good cause: we're sponsoring a refugee family from syria!

i had been feeling really helpless about the situation in syria - so awful, and seemingly so little we can do from so many miles away. so i was excited when the unitarian congregation i attend announced a new project: to sponsor a refugee family to come to canada!

the family we are bringing over has two little girls, and for the past two years they've been living in a refugee camp. that is no way for a child to live. on average, refugees eat 400 calories worth of food each day - that is not nearly enough for a growing kid!

so as one of our fundraising efforts, i got myself together to chart and write up a standing on the side of love scarf.

standing on the side of love is an interfaith public advocacy campaign that seeks to harness love’s power to stop oppression. it is sponsored by the unitarian universalist association and all are welcome to join.

the campaign is “open-source” so stand on the side of love in the way the spirit moves you, but honour the intention of the campaign, and harness the power of love to stop oppression!

it is also asked that you stay true to the official colour scheme, which is black, white, and a rich orangey-yellow (pantone 137). patons classic wool superwash dk has the perfect gold for this! right now i'm working from stash, but i have some patons on order to do it up right!

the pattern is for a double-knit scarf to keep warm during the next “thirty days of love” campaign, which typically runs from martin luther king jr. day through valentine’s day. you need to understand how to work double-knit to make this pattern (there are plenty of great tutorials online), but you could just as easily use the chart to add a bit of love to something else!

i am asking that anyone who downloads this free pattern makes a donation of $5 or more to our refugee sponsorhip. you can find out more about the family we're sponsoring and make a donation here. the link is through canada helps, so an income tax receipt will be generated for any donation of over $20.

and once you've made your donation, here is the link to download the standing on the side of love scarf pattern, or you can find it on ravelry. enjoy!


is it really summer? almost?

it certainly feels like summer all of a sudden!

yesterday i sat on a patio, drinking gin and grapefruit juice, wearing linen, and knitting with cotton. perfect way to spend an afternoon.

and, i got a good amount of work done on the to catch a thief pullover. i had the shell finished, but didn't like the neckline - too wide. so i ripped it back and re-knit. think it will be better this time.

and, i found some cotton voile in the right shade of yellow to go with! it has been washed and pressed, will get that skirt made soon i hope.

i actually got more sewing done, too! i started with a simple four-gore skirt, because it was already cut and pinned, and had been for a good year. i did iron it, but apparently after being folded up and squished in the bottom of my fabric stash for a year, those creases don't want to leave. hoping some time hanging and a wash will help with that.

i likely won't wear it until fall, anyway. then i moved on to things i will wear sooner: the navy capris and jacket (mccall's 7938) here's a shot of the jacket bodice with collar interfacing:

maybe i will finish it today? the capris are basically done. i had them almost done on friday, before realizing i didn't have a zipper! boo. this morning i installed the zip and tacked the hem up so i could wear them today. and then we were unaccountably detained, so i actually would have had time to do it properly... sigh. tried to take a photo of them on - photographing dark colours is hard! here's the least blurry pic:

feeling very betty draper in my get-up. the top is one i made a couple of summers ago. for the capris, i used the same pattern (simplicity 8869) as for these grey linen trousers, which now have buttons! i wore them yesterday, and i love them. they have a very 1930s feel - not quite beach pyjamas, which i am slightly obsessed with, but a close enough shape.

finally, here's a shot of the bird dress i altered last week - the original midriff piece was more of a waistband, not even two inches wide. i found more of the fabric and cut a new piece. had to take out a bunch of seams, and the zipper (grr) and put it back together. but now i can wear it, after it gets a wash and a good pressing!

we've still three weeks to go before risk of last frost has officially passed, but i'm really starting to feel like summer is actually finally here!