The oranges are interesting. Either they dried out a bit more and stopped smelling so bad or I got used to the smell. I’ve put some across the windows where they are pretty colours when the sun is out and brown when it is dark (from inside) and just brown all the time from the outside. I put the left over ones on the tree and they look ok – if you can line them up with the fairy lights then they look like little bits of stained glass. The oranges, lemons and limes made the most even and round slices, the grapefruits were much harder to slice thinly and came out a bit thick and lumpy. The ruby grapefruits were good for a bit of colour but I probably wouldn’t bother with the ordinary grapefruits again and the limes look more brown than green. So on the whole it was an interesting experiment. Maybe they would look more Christmassy with some holly and mistletoe.
I am supposed to be tidying up but I had a request on the way to school this morning and I am a sucker for small people with knitting requests (and large people with knitting requests. And large people with strange requests for Christmas backdrops and collapsable trees, now I come to think of it). Small asked if I could please make him some of those flippy-top gloves that are sort of like gloves and sort of like mittens in red and orange and black and blue and with stripes but ones that go that way not ones that go that way. I said ok apart from the vertical stripes because I didn’t think that would work and how about some little squares and we did some hasty hand measuring in the playground. (Four of his fingers are as wide as three of mine.) So far I have this:
which is made up out of my head somehow, I’m not too fussed on the colours but then they aren’t my gloves. I didn’t know I knew how to make gloves and then I thought I had made rather a lot of them recently and I probably did so I guessed how many stitches to cast on and off I went! I decided I’d better stop there and make sure it fits before I do the flippy-top bit or start the second one and plus I am supposed to be cleaning or ironing or generally not knitting. I hope I don’t forget what I did before I make the second one…
The paws are finished. I still don’t have long enough arms to get a decent photo and I would have waited for some bigger hands but I wanted to get the paws into the post. It’s as cold as a witch’s wotsit here (by my standards anyway. Standards of tolerance to the cold, I hasten to add, not standards of coldness of wotsits…) and the paws need to be sent to the Wild North where it must be even colder so I thought the Bear might appreciate having his paws sooner rather than later.
I’m really pleased with how they turned out because it was only a vague idea and I thought there would be more patterns already written for bear paws but they all just looked like mittens with pads on which didn’t seem quite right. In the end I used this one which I think is supposed to be a webbed foot but it looks like a paw to me, it has sort of fingers but they don’t come right down as far as fingers on a normal glove do. I added some extra stitches to make a bigger size and the cuff seemed really tight so I did the increases slightly differently. The Man in the Shed tested them out for me because he has almost the same size hands as the Bear (just a little thicker) and he said the paws were enormous. I thought they looked ok and he doesn’t like the way his fingers rattle around inside mittens anyway but I thought I would humour him and have a go a making some linings to take up some of the slack – I had some offcuts of fleece left from something else (me, a hoarder?! No!) which I used for the pads so I cut some hand shapes out which I thought would be plenty big enough but by the time I had sewn them together they were pretty snug even on my twiggy fingers. The second attempt was much more bear sized so now they have cosy linings which help keep your fingers in the right place a lot better and they are lovely and snug and warm and going in the post this afternoon.
The puddings look reasonable although one of them crunched up the plate it was cooking on and they formed a really thick skin which we weren’t sure whether you were supposed to take on or leave off when you changed the cloth. When it came down to it half the skin had welded itself to the cloth anyway so we peeled off the rest to even it up and are munching our way through rubbery, floury Christmas pudding skin (like Victoria Wood eating tofu, I was going to put a link to a video of it but I can’t find one so you’ll have to use your imagination) because it tastes ok and it seems a shame to throw it out. We put clean cloths on them with less flour this time and hung them back up in the cupboard where, for some reason, out of the corner of my eye I keep seeing them as a nice brace of pheasants lurking in the corner, must be something to do with ancient memories pootling about in the back of my brain somewhere. This picture is before we changed the cloths so they are about half an inch smaller all round now.
The other Christmassy experiment I am doing is I dried out a bunch of slices of all the different coloured citrus fruits I could get my hands on. The idea is when they dry out they are less sticky and a bit translucent so you can hang them up on a string and they catch the light and look pretty. I only burned a couple (oops!) and I am waiting for them to air dry the last bit before I try and hang them up but at them moment the all look a bit brown and the room smells vaguely of festering oranges so I’m not quite sure how it’s going to turn out yet…
Sorry for the dearth of posts, I’ve been knitting secret Christmas things and haven’t got good enough at arty farty close up shots to show you anything without giving away what things are and also we’ve had a house full of plasterers followed by damp and black mould so I’ve been alternately too busy painting/too busy moping about the damp to feel like writing anything.
I have no idea when stir up Sunday was this year because our church doesn’t do the collect, (Stir up, we beseech thee, O Lord…) but we thought it must be about time to make the Christmas cake and puddings. I usually make a couple of puddings in basins, we eat one at Christmas and the second one has variously been given away, eaten at the next big family do, eaten at Easter or once eaten the following Christmas when we found it lurking in the back of the cupboard. Last year the small people had an advent calendar thing on the computer about an Edwardian house at Christmas with animations and interesting stuff and Small asked if we could make a round pudding like they did in that house. My first reaction was, ‘No!’ thinking of the mess but they did some research with the Man in the Shed and they persuaded me to have a go. We boiled a couple of old muslins up for some Tuesdays before tying up the puddings and they are currently being boiled (for even more Tuesdays than the cloths were) as I type. The photo was taken by my small assistant at about eight o’clock this morning from a height of four feet.
The other thing I’ve been doing is knitting some bear paws for a friend who has acquired a bear hat for his birthday, he seems quite pleased with his hat and excited to have ears (despite his wife pointing out that he did already have ears) and I suggested that he needed paws to go with it. Here is the first one, I’m hoping it will look a bit better with the right sized hand in it. I have also discovered I don’t possess long enough arms to take photos of my own hands. It’s not quite finished, I need to dig out some grey fleece that I have got in a box somewhere and then I can sew on some pads but it’s not looking too bad.