Thursday, 26 January 2012

I'm Hooked!

After years of longing, I taught myself to knit in 2005. When I first became a "productive" knitter, I began wishing I had multiple arms, so I could work on multiple projects. When I started listening to, and watching, knitting podcasts, I heard most of the presenters express the same desire :-) Isn't it a great feeling, when you realise that something about you, that isn't exactly "mainstream", isn't "just you"?

Being a knitter soon made me want to spin my own yarn. I doubted my ability to learn. Could I really join the cool spinning kids? But my first amazing little spindle and me just "clicked", and I loved it! After that, I pined after a wheel until I was finally able to buy my Kiwi. The act of spinning fibre is a fantastic place to go to, and any spinners who read this will already be familiar with the pleasure, companionship, fulfilment and contentment that spinning, (usually), brings.

Being able to spin the yarn I wanted, competently enough to be able to knit something half decent, gave me the encouragement I needed to tackle crochet. As with knitting, I have wanted to crochet since childhood. It has always confused and slightly intimidated me. The construction of the stitches just seemed to make no sense! With knitting you, pretty much, work each stitch once, and then the little fella just hops across to the right hand needle. There are "fancy" stitches, such as cabling, or knitting/purling into the front and the back of the same stitch, but you don't have to learn these techniques to create a knitted fabric. Crochet felt to me like listening to Bach - how does something so complex and beautiful get written? How do you fathom the construction out? Until finally, thanks to watching a tutorial by Kim Werker I just "saw" it. I stuck to working with one stitch, the Treble Crochet (UK) - a.k.a. Double Crochet (US) - and went on from there. While my crochet is still at beginner level, I am a beginner! I recently completed my first Granny Square Crocheted Blanket. It may not be a highly original thing to make, and it is only made out of acrylic yarn, costing £1.69 a ball. But, it is my Granny Square Crocheted  Blanket!!! :-)

I used This pattern on Ravelry and added an edging from This beautiful baby blanket . It measures about 41 inches across, from side to side. - I am now, officially, addicted to crochet!

Saturday, 21 January 2012

Talking Tea

Growing up in a tea drinking family meant that the kettle was always nearly on. In fact, if any of us walked into the kitchen, my father would always call out, "Are you making tea?".
There are several good "everyday" brands here in England. PG Tips,  Tetley Tea and Yorkshire Tea were the ones usually drunk in our house.

About five years ago I discovered "Earl Grey", and everything changed. It requires a longer brewing time then any of the teas I had drunk before, and I enjoy it with either a slice of lemon or a splash of milk. It is smooth and subtle and lemoney. And so, it suddenly occurred to me a few weeks back, that I could "branch out" and try other teas! The Earl Grey tea I like the best is made by Twinings -  and it made perfect sense to me to try their "Special Selection" box. I had also had good feedback from many Plurk friends that "Lady Grey" was a nice little tea, and Lady Grey is included in the Twinings selection box. Bingo!

The Ealy Grey is included in the special selection, so I knew those bags would not be "wasted", and so I tried the Lady Grey first, and loved it. Somehow, it has more "life" then then Earl, and there is definitely a strong presence of the citrus fruits it contains. Strong, but not over-whelming or unpalatable. The "English Breakfast" tastes like a younger version of the teas I drunk while growing up, with a very similar brewing time required. It is easy for this tea to become "stewie" and over brewed, and while I enjoy it, it isn't my first choice in the morning. I found the "Assam" and "Ceylon" very similar. Both are a little to strong and dry for my taste. The Lady Grey is definitely the winner.

Next up, I suppose, will be the black and green tea. To me, they are of a different family to the others I have mentioned. As with the herbal teas, who are also in a family of there own, they seem to have a different purpose and do not appear to be teas that I would have multiple cups of in succession. The Lady Grey however, I would be very happy to have "on tap".

Tea is the perfect companion when I am knitting, crocheting or spinning. Putting the kettle on is just the thing when I need a break, to celebrate something going right, or console a fibre related disaster.