Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Cranberry-Fudge Pie

Today was Cranberry Fudge Pie day! It's been a pretty tough week, so it was lovely to hole up in my kitchen with the radio and boil the crap out of some cranberries.

I have no idea how it tastes, but we'll find out tonight.

Fudge Pie

Cranberry Fudge Pie
I followed the recipe but used digestives instead of graham crackers (which aren't available in the UK), and G&B Maya Gold for the chocolate. Here's hoping the orange flavouring in the chocolate enhances the cranberries and doesn't make it taste awful!

Sunday, 21 November 2010

Vegan Jelly (Jell-o)

Owing to the fact that I now live on the other side of the world from my family and have recently found myself vegetarian, I will be reinventing Thanksgiving this year with my husband, the strict veg, another vegan friend, and a Canadian omnivore.

This is the first post in my journey through a vegetarian, part-vegan Thanksgiving.

Also, this if my first time making any gelatin dessert (vegan or not), so I can't really vouch for any of my methods, here.

Day One: Test Run
Vegan Jelly 
(Or Jell-o to you folks back where I originally came from)

2 sachets of Dr. Oetker Vege-gel (Not sure of a US equivalent. Main ingredients are carageenan and guar gum instead of the usual animal-derived geletine).

Liquid Ingredients:
500ml of 100% apple juice

50ml of mango juice
The juice from a can of mandarin oranges

Solid Ingredients:
 I used what I liked here (and what was in the fridge). 100g of blueberries, 100g of strawberries, 75g of raspberries, a kiwi, a banana, and the orange segments from the can of mandarin oranges.

I started with the directions on the box, which I suppose is a good place to start, I guess. Except I can't read and boiled all the liquid ingredients before adding the vege-gel. I put the saucepan on the windowsill to cool but the vege-gel still lumped together when I poured it into the liquid. Will definitely add it while the juice is cool, next time, and sprinkle it over gradually while I stir it in, instead of dumping both packets in, one on top of the other.

Then I added the fruit and heated for a few minutes, which I don't think I'll do the next time. I don't really fancy partially cooked fruit.

I poured it into a Pyrex dish (carefully) and put it in the fridge, where it set wonderfully.

Other changes for next time:

I will add the fruit to the Pyrex dish before the liquid is poured in.
I'll add some sugar, especially with sour fruit like raspberries. There's no added sugar at all in this, which leaves it wanting of sweetness.
Read the instructions on the box.
Use more juice. It set better than I expected, so I don't think adding another 250ml (so there aren't blueberries poking out obscenely from the surface) will hurt it.

Also, why has no one posted Vege-gel recipes on the internet? Shocking!

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Gwynedd is Now Available!

After months of writing, erasing, knitting and tinking, testing and tech editing, my first eBook is now available as a Ravelry Download!

All patterns are also available as individual Ravelry Downloads.

I'm also pleased to announce that I have opened my own Ravelry group, a place to get the latest news and share tips and FOs with others, as well as some KALs down the line!

Thanks for your patience as I got ready to bring Gwynedd into the world.


Saturday, 9 October 2010

More new patterns, and coming soon:

I've been both catching up with my backlog of work from when I was without internet and hurrying to get everything finished for my book, and in the meantime I've released quite a few patterns that I haven't quite managed to tell you about.

Stonemason is now available:

So are these cute headbands:

And this soft, cable and lace cowl, called Trevi:

These patterns are all available now as Ravelry downloads and will be available in Gwynedd next month.

Also coming out next month is the pattern for my newest shawl design (and one I'm a teensy bit proud of):

The Neolithic Shawl will also be published in Gwynedd.

Just one more knitted glove and a few more patterns to go, and the e-book will be avaliable! If you want to be notified when it is, drop me an e-mail at ashleyknits (at) hotmail.co.uk and let me know.

Friday, 24 September 2010


Last night I finally cast off the Evening Primrose Scarf, something that's been torn out and re-knitted so many times I'm actually a little startled that I finished it at all. Fortunately, Fyberspates Faery Wings (4 ply) is much more forgiving than 99% of other mohair yarns out there, and allowed me to re-knit to my specifications.

Anyway, here she is on the blocking bed!

I can't wait until Evening Primrose is dry so I can take some proper pictures. Not only is the yarn gorgeous (it has a heavy core of silk and a fuzzy, soft mohair halo), but I actually just quite like the pattern. While I didn't feel the curve was necessary for the scarf, not only will it allow it to stay on a bit more, the curve also means...ruffles.

This is knit end to end, with short rows worked in a narrow garter stitch band so absolutely no wrapping is required. Perhaps the easiest short rows I've ever done! Can't wait to show it off a bit more.

The pattern will be coming out next month and as one of the patterns in Gwynedd.

ETA: A few action shots:

Monday, 20 September 2010

I'm Back, and also: Patterns Coming Soon

After a month without internet access, I'm finally back. And a lot actually seemed to happen in my time away.

I moved in behind a field of gossipy sheep:

Had a pattern, the Flame Yoke Pullover, published in Issue 30 of Yarn Forward:

Modeled here by Sarah. Modeled much better in Yarn Forward 30 (sorry, Sarah!)....check it out.

And finished up a few more patterns for my upcoming e-book Gwynedd, tentatively set for release in November. Here's another sneak preview (and psst! These patterns are just now going up for testing).

Monday, 16 August 2010

Out of Office 20 August - 7 September

I'll be out of the office from 20 August - 7 September as I partake in a bit of holiday/moving-house-so-no-internet-for-ages fun. Please be patient for replies as I will only be able to check my e-mail and Ravelry account intermittently. Thank you!


Saturday, 7 August 2010

Charity of the Month: August

Sometimes having a featured Charity of the Month is quite disheartening, because, every month, something new seems to happen that deserves help.

This month, I'm going to donate 10% of pattern proceeds to an old favourite: MSF. With the flooding in Pakistan and the continued need in Haiti, this fantastic organization could do with every penny we can give them.

Tuesday, 3 August 2010

A New Design, a New E-book!

I am very pleased to announce two things: I've just released my newest design, the Snowdonia Shawl. Secondly, I have a new e-book coming out this August!

First things first: the Snowdonia Shawl.

The pattern is available as a Ravelry Download for £3.00, including both charted and line-by-line instructions.

Snowdonia is a shimmering stole with a variety of Estonian motifs reminiscent of the Welsh countryside, ranging from the scalloped waves of the Irish Sea to the leaves and stony flint trails of Snowondia’s rivers and forests. Knit in icy blue silk-cashmere blend, it also can’t help but bring to mind the snow-capped mountains of the Welsh wintertime.
This stole is worked in two pieces and grafted at the center, with no knitted-on borders to be found!

Snowdonia is perfect for wrapping, draping, tucking into coats and settling into on cool evenings.
And then, the pattern will also be available as part of an as-of-yet unnamed (seriously, any ideas, let me know!) e-book coming Autumn 2010.

Here's a little preview...

The Fine Print: Sorry, but refunds will not be available for purchases of single patterns prior to purchasing the e-book. Hope you enjoyed this preview!

Monday, 5 July 2010

Charity of the Month: July, Oxfam West Africa Appeal

 Photo: Cristina Vázquez Moreno

Right now, several countries in West Africa (including Niger, Chad, and Mali) are suffering from one of the worst droughts, and one of the worst famines, in over a decade. Current low rain levels are leaving millions of people at risk of starvation, and destroying their livlihoods.

Fortunately, fantastic organizations like Oxfam are there to help. Oxfam are raising funds for a £7m appeal to send aid to West Africa. Every Dollar (Pound, Euro) can go a long way, with £60 enough to feed a family for a month.

So this month I'll be giving a little more than I usually can. In July, 20% (instead of the usual 10%) of sale proceeds from my patterns will go to Oxfam's West Africa Appeal, where the money will be used to distribute food as well as bolster up the local economy by trading with local merchants--a rare and extremely helpful double-whammy benefit from a charity.

So that's 20% of pattern sales at my store this month. Of you can go directly to Oxfam and donate, and read more about what's going on.

Thank you for your help!

Saturday, 19 June 2010

The Measurements Collective

Usually when I'm designing a garment, I can't always find all the average measurements I need in the same place. Not only that, but they're not always extremely accurate. As with most of my frustrations, it drove me to such distraction, that I thought: why not do something about it?

Any why not do something about it that will benefit everyone else?

Please list all measurements in INCHES ONLY. This will be a great help in putting together all the numbers; don't worry, any product that comes as a result will be available in both inches and centimeters.

The Measurements Survey
(Please read notes below before completing)

How much ease do you prefer in your sweaters (loose-fitting, close-fitting?)?

1. Bust/Chest Circumference (across fullest part of bust/chest)
2. High Bust Circumference (above bust, around underarms)
3. Shoulder to Bust/Chest (measure this from your shoulder down the side where your sleeve seam is to the place place near your underarm where you measures your bust circumference)
4. Waist Circumference (around the narrowest point of your waist)
5. Bust/Chest to Waist (do not follow curve; let the tape hang so it's exactly vertical)
6. Hip Circumference
7. Waist to Hip (again, let tape hang vertically)
8. High Hip Circumference (about 3in, 7.6cm above hip)
9. Cross Shoulder (from shoulder point to shoulder point)
10. Circumference of shoulders (around upper arms and chest, along approx. high bust line)
11. Shoulder to Waist on Back (From base of neck at center back to waistline)
12. Upper Arm Circumference
13. Shoulder to Underarm (Armhole)
(Not Shown): Underarm Width (press your upper arm against your side and make a note on the two distant points where your arm touches the side of your chest. Lift your arm and measure the distance between those two points)
(Not Shown): Neck Circumference (at lowest point)
14. Underarm to Elbow
15. Forearm Circumference (at widest point)
16. Wrist Circumference
17. Underarm to Wrist
(Not Shown): Measurements around palm (inc. thumb)
(Not Shown): Measurements around palm (excluding thumb)
(Not Shown): Length from where wrist joins hand to base of middle finger
(Not Shown): Length from where wrist joins hand to crook of thumb
(Not Shown): Hip to Knee
(Not Shown): Knee to Ankle
(Not Shown): Calf Circumference
(Not Shown): Knee Circumference
18: Ankle Circumference
19: Around Heel and instep
20: Foot Circumference
21: Shoulder height (vertical height from shoulder to base of neck)
22: Underbust Circumference
23: Waist to Underbust

What is this? 
Well, right now it's just a mess of numbers that will be averaged out and give actual bodies a say in an eventual measurement table, which I will start work on when I get a whole bunch of filled-out surveys!

What's the benefit of this?
Instead of going by the existing tables I can find, which aren't always based on real people, don't always include all the measurements I need, and which I haven't always found extremely helpful when sizing patterns for larger than, say, a 44in size, this will help me create designs that will fit a large range of people. Also, once I publish my results, this might help other designers do the same. And you, as a participator, will have an easy reference for your measurements for fitting your own patterns or customizing others', if you decide to save it to your computer or keep it somewhere else that is safe.

What can I do?
Fill out the survey below! Feel free to fill it out and post it here, with your name attached or anonymously, or e-mail it to me at themeasurementscollective [at] hotmail.com (except replace the " [at] " with a "@"). Post in inches only, please.

A few tips for measurements

You may need someone you trust to help you with some of the measurements to make sure they're as accurate as possible.

Hold the tape so it's comfortable; not too loose, not too slack.

If you're not comfortable posting some measurements or for any reason can't post some of the measurements, no worries! Just leave them out or your finished survey. As long as there's more than one measurement given, each survey matters.

Numbers on survey match up to numbered lines on diagram (not all measurements shown on diagram)

Thank you for your help!

Friday, 4 June 2010

CotM June: The Donna Louise Trust

The Sale might be over, but we have a new charity for the month of June!

In June, 10% of my pattern proceeds will be donated to The Donna Louise Trust, a hospice in Shropshire and South Cheshire that provides respite and end of life care for ill children.

It's heartbreaking to think that a place like this is even necessary, but this place where children can spend their last days with care, activities, and surrounded by the people who love them isn't only a benefit to the community and the country as a whole, but is just necessary. It seems like a wonderful place where children can just be children to the end.

Go check it out.

Monday, 31 May 2010

It's Nearly Summer Sale; 1/3 off ALL of my Patterns through June 3rd!

We've been doing some Spring Cleaning around my house (eBay has been a constant friend for a few days), and I figured that while I'm clearing out, why not put a sale on all of my patterns?

From May 31st through June 3rd, all of my patterns are 1/3 off the normal price. And as always, 10% of proceeds will still go to charity (and a new one is coming up soon!).

 Or the Owl Wood Cowl for only £1.34

And lots more. See more of my patterns at my Ravelry Store.

Tuesday, 4 May 2010

Stop the Traffik

April's extremely worthy Charity of the Month (in which I donate 10% of all pattern proceeds to the designated charity) was Stop the Traffik, and because I'm a horrible blogger and failed to say anything about it, it's getting May's proceeds, too.

What is Stop the Traffik?
According to UNICEF, 1.2 million children are bought and sold each year. Children. They're sold as everything from slaves to pick the cocoa beans that make the chocolate on our grocery store shelves, as adopted children, as sex slaves.

Sometimes we get desensitized by the numbers, so let's put that in more imaginable terms:

The entire population of San Diego.
One and a half Birminghams.
One and a half Calgarys.
Four Cardiffs.

All children, every year.

That's not even accounting for the adult women that are trafficked each year.

So what does Stop the Traffik do? It is, in a sense, a community of organizations that seeks to educate, engage, and advocate against human trafficking, campaigning for legal change and against the loopholes and corruption that lets innocent children and adults slide through.

From their site, donations to Stop the Traffik will help:

  • Bring an end to child trafficking in the cocoa industry
  • Empower the world's young people to keep those at risk safe
  • Support Business Travellers to report trafficking wherever in the world they see it
  • Equip communities taking action against trafficking in their neighbourhood
Visit their webpage to find out more, and what you can do to help.

Monday, 29 March 2010

Catalonia (don't call it Spain)

Last Monday I left my surprisingly Spring-like home in England to come to Barcelona to visit family and soak in some sunshine. After intense fears that it would rain the entire time, I haven't seen a drop, but I hear it's supposed to snow in Cheshire on Wednesday. Take that, weather.

Spain Catalonia has been a mixed bag for me. While it's gorgeous and interesting and culturally different (though still intensely reminds me of my visit to Rome), some of the cultural differences are a bit extreme. Like the caged pet stalls on Las Ramblas where birds are a dozen to one small cage, and everything from roosters to pigeons and tortoises are kept in very close quarters, overnight, or the prostitutes that stand on the side of the motorway (more coming on Stop the Traffik next week). And (this coming from a vegetarian) the cebo legs hanging from the wall at the supermarket aren't exactly appetizing.

But it has some good points. Very little litter. Very good recycling. My family. The sunshine. And while the bad points reveal some extremely iffy legal issues, I feel that I have to embrace the good I find, and campaign about the rest.


Anyway, on to the pretty. (You can click on the pictures to make them bigger).

The Mediterranean



Monument to Joan of Arc on Montserrat


Tiny Daffodils from Montserrat

Votive Candles at the Monastery

Sagrada Familia

Cactus Flower


Next up, All You Knit is Love, the LYS. Can't wait!

Sunday, 14 March 2010

Bread Machine Soft Pretzels

I'm a sucker for soft pretzels. I've made a few different variations, starting with a version with plain (unbleached all-purpose) flour, to strong white flour, to this version, with a 50/50 cut of wholemeal (wholewheat) and white bread flours. These are the softest I've made.

Use the 50/50 recipe given here for a healthier, slightly sweeter pretzel, perfect for cinnamon and sugar toppings, or tempered with a dash of kosher salt, or substitute your own bread machine dough recipe with your preferred mixture of flours.

You'll need:
Ingredients for dough
Extra oil/butter for keeping hands ready to work dough
25g of butter for brushing on pretzels, melted
1 tsp sugar dissolved in a shallow bowl of water
Coarse (kosher) salt (optional)
Toppings (optional)

Part 1: The Dough.

50/50 Wholemeal Dough (from recipe book for Panasonic SD-255; I recommend checking your manual for order instructions and recipes specific to your machine)

1 1/4 tsp instant yeast
275g (10oz) Strong Wholemeal (wholewheat) Flour
275g (10oz) Strong White Flour
2 tsp sugar
2 tbsp oil
1 1/2 tsp salt
340ml water

Put into bread machine in specified order and set to whole wheat-dough cycle and leave to finish.

Part 2: Baking Preparations
Note: You'll want to keep your hands oiled for this

Preheat the oven to 230° C (450° F).

After your bread machine has finished with the dough cycle, separate resulting dough into 8-12 rough balls. Let rest, uncovered, for five minutes. Keeping hands oiled, roll each into ~18in length, shape into pretzel shape (as you can see, it's hard to get them perfect with dough that rises this much, so I wouldn't worry too much about it). Dip pretzel into sugar-water and set on greased baking sheet (parchment paper works great, as well). You may want to shape all pretzels before dipping them into the sugar water, to keep your hands from diluting the flour and the dough sticking to your hands while you roll them.

Sprinkle pretzels with coarse salt, if desired, and let pretzels sit for 10 minutes.

Part 3: Bake and Decorate

Bake for 8-10 minutes. The edges should be slightly golden brown (more pronounced if using white flour). Immediately take pretzels from oven and brush with melted butter. I usually put 2-3 coats on mine. If desired, sprinkle desired toppings (cinnamon and sugar is a favourite) on to pretzels and transfer to a wire rack to cool.


Friday, 12 March 2010

Butterfly Forest Shawls

Just thought I'd feature a few Butterfly Forest Shawls that have caught my eye over the past couple of weeks!

Esmerelda made this lovely shawl from Wollmeise 100% Merino Superwash in colour Spice Market.

From her flickr page.

Landers has made a stunning rendition in deliciously pink Posh Yarn Lei, in colour Hearststrings. I love how she used to the snow for her photography, using it to reflect light back on and highlight the lace. It's always so hard to photograph, especially in this colour, and she did it perfectly!

And from Minstrelspinner, we have a gorgeous piece made from her own handspun.

I am in awe of her spinning skills. It's so even!

Close up.

One of my favourite things is seeing so many people from around the world posting their completed projects. There are lots more beautiful projects in the Project Gallery on Ravelry. I can't wait to see more!

Monday, 1 March 2010

Yarny Yarn Yarn!

I despaired in January when I gave up buying yarn until July so I could buy a new camera. But my self-control has been rewarded; I was amazingly lucky enough to win a yarn haul a few weeks ago, on a raffle on Ravelry where proceeds went to send a Raveler to do dental work in Senegal.

I don't usually win things, so it wasn't a surprise that the package took so long to get to me, cost me 22 pounds to get out of Customs limbo, and then floated around the post system for nearly a week before I biked to the sorting centre and got it myself. But I have it! And it's beautiful! Thank you so much, Bradymom29 for organizing this and for all the helpers and volunteers.

And now for pictures.


Gorgeous Malabrigo Sock in Abril

Yarn Pirate Superwash Merino Sock in Hard Cider

Classic Elite Inca Alpaca in Rio Red (on my husband's knee)

Flydesigns Monarch in Myst

Textiles a Mano Vail in Autumn (destined to be a pair of husband socks)

And a cute sheepy pendent!

Also a lovely skein of Colinette Jitterbug in Oyster Blush (which didn't make it on to the camera I'd given up yarn for before I forgot my memory card at home and the internal memory was full). To top it all off, it was a gorgeous first day of March and we spent the late afternoon in the park. So in celebration here's a bonus squirrel:

Happy almost Spring!