One new organizational method I'm trying out this year is making daily lists of things I ought to get done, instead of running from project to project without completing anything, or sitting glazed-eyed in front of the computer for too long because I forget what needs to be done. Suddenly, my productivity has tripled, which miraculously leaves more time for my leisure projects, like knitting. It's only January 14th and I'm already halfway through a pair of socks, and I've just completed a pillow.
The pillow was an interesting project. Whatever it may say about my personality, I'm not one of those people who view patterns as a rough guide, adding their own personal touch here and there. I never, ever deviate from a pattern. I'm no knitting expert, and I prefer to hold the guiding hands of those who are. But when you make something like a pillow, well, you don't really need a pattern. Here's where it gets fun.
I pulled out Barbara Walker's Treasury of Knitting Patterns and chose a stitch pattern that I rather liked.
I ordered some bulky yarn in Cadet from Knitpicks, because I thought it would accentuate the blue in the plaid pillows we have on our living room couch, and also look fine with the cream and tan ones. I cast on 50 or so stitches and started right in.
Before long, I noticed that my knitting, bunched up as it was in its pre-blocking state, didn't really resemble the pattern.
When I double-checked, I realized that I was knitting lines 1 - 9, and hadn't realized that the pattern continued on the next page, lines 10 - 20. Therefore: zig zags. I'm not really a fan of that pattern, but I'd put too much work into it to quit. I finished it up with a straight stockinette back, and found some blue linen fabric that was a close-enough match.
I sewed a quick pillow form and stuffed it with polyfil.
I pinned the knitted fabric around the form and used mattress stitch to close it all up. Mattress stitch secures two pieces of knitted stockinette fabric seamlessly, but because one side wasn't stockinette, it left a seam. Still, it was very tidy. One of my biggest problems with sewing knitting pieces together is how messy and unprofessional it looks, but I'll always use mattress stitch from now on.
Here is the top:
...and here is the bottom.
Even if it didn't turn out the way I'd planned, I'm enormously pleased with the project. I made up my own pattern, chose my own color, sewed a pillow form that actually looked like a pillow, and was able to stitch my knitted fabric around said pillow form. Hooray for small victories!
Another little victory: finding an amazing crumpet recipe. I got hooked on crumpets when I visited Scotland over a decade ago, but couldn't find them here. Something made me think of them recently: I haven't had a crumpet in years! Crumpets are somewhat similar to english muffins, but much, much better. They have a bit of a sourdough tang, and it's unnecessary to slice them open. They're full of little holes that fill up with your chosen topping: honey, jam, butter, etc. They're soft and flavorful and flat-out amazing.
Please visit this King Arthur Flour page for the recipe, but I'll run through the steps here.
You mix up your ingredients and let the dough rise for an hour, until doubled. Heat up a pan or griddle and grease your crumpet rings. I read that you can also use a cut-off tin can, but that sounds sort of dangerous. I got 4 rings on Amazon for $10, and I think it's a worthwhile investment! Your wet dough - full of holes and stretchy, like sourdough, is going to be spooned (about 1/4 cup each) into the greased rings.
You cook them on medium heat for about 5 minutes, until they're delightfully bubbly on top.
Use tongs to pull off the ring.
It will hold its shape at this point. Oh...see those holes? :)
They are a nice golden brown. Only cook them a few minutes on the other side...and you're done!
You can cut them open like english muffins...
...but I prefer the top-slather.
I cut the recipe in half, which made 9 crumpets...that did not last beyond the first day. They're also good to slice open and fill with meat and cheese, so there's no reason you can't have crumpets for breakfast, and lunch...and supper.
Whip up a batch before the next episode of "Downton Abbey" and feel like a real Brit!