Happy New Year! It’s 2011 already, really? Time flies when you’re ridiculously busy. I so didn’t get 20 hats knit for the ‘Big Knit” maybe about 6 in the end, I’ll just have to start earlier next year. My exams in December were pretty grim, I’m still waiting for the results so fingers crossed they’re not as awful as I’m expecting. Ireland was buried in snow for a few weeks, the most snow since records began, so the libraries and then the college were closed for a few days, not very helpful when you’re trying to cram. Our last exam was very nearly canceled because of the weather, in the end I’m glad it wasn’t, it’s one less exam i’ll have to think about next semester.

I may have got bored of the snow quickly, but I know someone else who definitely didn’t…

The photo above won a competition on facebook- I got a €100 voucher for a pet shop!! I’m considering using some of it to buy Grizz a coat, I know he’ll look ridiculous, but he shivered so much in the bad weather when we took him out I felt cruel making him go for walks. On one or two really icy days he downright refused to go out! Most days though he just loved jumping around in it.

I had a nice quiet Christmas at home in Dublin with my family, we usually go to our holiday home in West Cork for Christmas but this year the weather was insanely cold and the roads were icy, so we stayed in our nice warm house until the 28th when we headed south. The house was freezing for the first day or so but the sense of community we have down there more than makes up for it. Grizz loves it as he can run free across fields and along the beach every day, and play with his doggy friends.

I finally finished knitting this hat, I finished it before, then realised it was too small as I did one less pattern repeat than i should have before the decreases, woops. Oh well it’s finally done now and its very cosy. I think dad is jealous, I might have to make him something similar for his birthday in February!

I didn’t get to do nearly as much baking as I would have liked over Christmas, mainly because we seemed to already have a mountain of sweet treats to last us until March! I made some Peanut brittle for the first time for my mum for part of her Christmas present and it worked out amazingly well for a first attempt. Unfortunately I didn’t get a photo of it, but I imagine I will be making it again soon as it was very popular! I needed a recipe with no sugar thermometer required, and no corn syrup. You can’t really get corn syrup in Ireland but sugar syrup does the job. I subsequently tried to omit the sugar syrup and change the sugar and water amounts to account for it but it didn’t turn out as well at all. I also changed the measurements to metric for those of us on this side of the atlantic!

No Thermometer No Corn Syrup Peanut Brittle!

edited from http://www.couldntbeparve.com/2010/12/peanut-brittle-2/

400g granulated sugar
240ml water
120ml sugar syrup (recipe below)
1/2 tsp salt
2 tbsp margarine
1/2 tsp baking soda/bicarbonate of soda
200g peanuts

Sugar Syrup = 200g sugar, 80ml water (makes more than is needed for this recipe)
Directions: Add sugar and water to a pan, gently boil until sugar has dissolved and mixture is syrupy (about 5 mins). Keep excess to make more brittle later!

Line a rimmed baking tray with parchment paper. In a medium saucepan, combine sugar, water, syrup and salt. Bring to a rapid simmer over medium-high and cook until deep golden/until mixture has reached hard-crack stage, about 20 to 25 minutes. Remove pan from heat. Stir in margarine, baking soda, and peanuts (mixture will foam). Stir until mixture is no longer bubbling and caramel is smooth, 1 minute.
Transfer to the prepared baking sheet and spread with a lightly greased spatula. Do this quickly as the mixture sets quite fast. Don’t be tempted to have a taste until it has cooled completely- it’s REALLY HOT!!! keep kids and unsuspecting family members away! when it has cooled break into pieces, SMASH tray on a hard surface so peanut brittle dramatically shatters- clearly the best way to do it!


Tiny little hats

I’m a little late to the game, but I’ve decided to knit some teeny tiny hats for the Innocent smoothie ‘big knit’. The idea is they ask people to knit tiny hats that fit on their smoothie bottles. For each yummy smoothie that is sold wearing a hat they give 25c to the charity Age Action. I think it’s a really fun idea to raise money for a worthy charity.

Irish website link http://www.innocentdrinks.ie/thebigknit/
UK website link http://www.innocentdrinks.co.uk/bigknit/

I have pledged to knit 20 hats, I am doing a lot of sitting around at the moment as I had to have surgery on my leg last Wednesday. So far I’ve knit 4, but the deadline is 10th November, so I better get knitting!

They’re really fun to knit and great for using up scraps, and you even feel good about yourself while doing it as it’s for charity!

The website proved a few hat patterns and there are a few more on Ravelry, but my own imagination has run away with the prospect of being able to knit such fast little projects with such instant gratification. Here is one of the patterns I concocted.

Checkered Pixie Hat

Using 2 colours of sock/baby/4ply yarn (or whatever you want to call it) and 3.5cm needles (that’s US size 4) needles, Cast on 28 sts
Join in round and k 3 rows in k1p1 rib in main colour (MC)
row 4 & 5 (knit 2 sts in CC. knit 2 in MC). repeat till end of row.
row 6 & 7 (knit 2 mc, knit 2 cc) repeat to end of row
repeat rows 4 to 7 two more times
Row 16-(mc) k2tog all the way around (14 sts).
Row 17 (mc) k2tog all the way round (7 sts)
Row 18 (cc) k2tog 3 times, k1(4 sts)
Rows 19 to 28 (cc) knit these 4 stitches as i-cord, changing colour every 2 rows.
row 29 k2tog twice
cast off & weave in ends.

Ravelry link http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/innocent-smoothie-checkered-pixie-hat

For guaranteed laughs take silly photos of family/friends ‘wearing’ hat, by holding it in the foreground and with them in the background, like this- http://www.innocentdrinks.co.uk/bigknit/fun_corner/

If you have any questions about the pattern just ask, and I would really love if you showed me photos if you knit it!