PurpleSteph’s Blog

Just another WordPress.com weblog

…& I’m fee-eeeling good April 2, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — purplesteph @ 11:45 am

Yep, this is pretty much how I feel at the moment.

(I keep meaning to blog a couple of rants about the evil bank I worked for a few years ago, that keeps being in the news at the moment for all the wrong reasons.  But I’m way way too cheerful to go into any of that again.  Blogs will follow soon about more socks – I’m working on 2 designs.)


Spring is a state of mind March 15, 2009

Filed under: Dyeing,General yarniness,Sock obsession,Thoughts and Observations — purplesteph @ 4:09 pm

After spending this weekend at a conference centre (which had a swing! all conference centres should have swings!) I arrived home and found that my street looked unfamiliar.  The houses looked prettier, the gardens tidier; there were more green spaces than I remembered, and more trees.

I was pretty puzzled by this until the realisation hit me that I hadn’t walked down my street in that direction in daylight for ages, without carrying heavy shopping bags and being by definition intent on nothing else besides getting home to put them down.

For months I’d been leaving for work in a hurry without looking around me, and arriving back after dark.  At weekends I’d fallen into bad habits, hardly leaving the house at all except when I had somewhere else to be – and was usually again in a hurry.  It wasn’t the neighbourhood that had changed, it was me.

I never make New Year’s Resolutions, and suspect I’d have very little chance of keeping any that I did make.  The darkest and coldest time of the year always seems to me a depressing time to be making big changes.  Although it’s so long since I was in education myself, I’ve never managed to shake off the academic year, because I’ve always either worked at companies or volunteered with organisations connected to schools and education.  So sometimes I make September Resolutions, when the school year starts.  There’s an exciting bite to the breeze, the birds start massing to migrate, and there’s autumn to look forward to.

This time however I’ll be making some Spring Resolutions:

  • Get out more.
  • Look more closely at your local surroundings.
  • Take time to take time.

Every year the blossom catches me by surprise: This year I’m waiting for it.


Quite early in the year I dyed some yarn an optimistic spring-y green – right before the week of the biggest snow that I’ve known in 12 years living in Yorkshire.  The yarn sat and looked at me – it practically laughed at me – as if reproaching me for misplaced optimism.   But I’ll have the last laugh when I knit with it.

Top: Alpaca/Nylon sock yarn, dyed with many many colours of Kool-Aid. Bottom: Alpaca/Nylon sock yarn, optimistically dyed a nice spring green with Lemon & Lime Kool-Aid.
Top: Alpaca/Nylon sock yarn, dyed with many many colours of Kool-Aid. Bottom: Alpaca/Nylon sock yarn, optimistically dyed a nice spring green with Lemon & Lime Kool-Aid.

And here are the results of my first ever foray into natural dyeing:

Top: Pure Wool DK dyed with used coffee grounds. Bottom: Pure Wool DK dyed with beetroot. These yarns will be a toy lion eventually.
Top: Pure Wool DK dyed with used coffee grounds. Bottom: Pure Wool DK dyed with beetroot. These yarns will be a toy lion eventually.

The things you find out… March 10, 2009

Filed under: General yarniness,Odd stuff — purplesteph @ 8:48 am

…while sorting the post.

I picked up a small soft parcel and thought, ‘That’s yarn. But it’s not my yarn. Who else in the building is buying yarn?’

It turns out that one of the other businesses in our building does digital tweaking on Rowan’s photoshoots, because “They always choose funny-looking models with one eye larger than the other.”

Rowan also send them samples of yarn – presumably so they can get the colours on the photos to match the actual yarn, which would be a plus. Unfortunately they have to send all the samples back. Rats. (I had to ask).


Having + Eating Cake. Mmmmm cake. February 26, 2009

Filed under: Recipes — purplesteph @ 10:03 pm
Tags: , ,

Mum’s Chocolate Sponge Recipe

6oz self raising flour

2 tbsp cocoa powder (Fair Trade, please)

1 tsp baking powder

6oz caster sugar (ditto Fair Trade)

6oz margarine

3 eggs (free range)

A splosh of milk (we’re very scientific here)

My mum always uses medium sized eggs, I prefer to use large as I think it gives a moister sponge.


  1. Cream sugar and marge together.
  2. Add 2 eggs, 1 at a time, while continuing to beat the mixture.
  3. Add a little of the sifted dry ingredients along with the 3rd egg.
  4. Add the rest of the flour mix gradually, attempting not to spray it everywhere as you go.
  5. Add milk as required to achieve a soft mix, but one that will ‘plop not splash’ if a little is dropped from a spoon.
  6. Divide the mixture between 2 lined and greased 8 inch cake tins. Cook at 170 C for 20-25 minutes, or until firm to press on top, and just shrinking away from the edges of the tin.
  7. Very important step for anyone in a shared house whose housemate’s name starts with a V: While the cake is baking, wash up and tidy the cake preparation area.
  8. Cool the cake in the tin for a couple of minutes, then turn out onto a wire cooling rack.
  9. Make sure that there is a piece left for your housemate when eating the cake.

Variant Chocolate Sponge – Celebration Cake

1 large cake = 10 slices of chocolate extravagance.

I made this variation on the above recipe with help from T, for the wedding of 2 close friends. For the reception they had asked 10 people to bake cakes for distributing among the guests, which I think is a great idea.

You will need:

2x cake ingredients as above.

1 tub ready-made chocolate fudge icing.

2 packets Fair Trade dried mango slices

100g (1 bar) Green & Blacks Fair Trade milk chocolate

1 box of those little cigar-shaped rolled up biscuits, I forget what they’re called. (14 biscuits in the box I had)

  1. Make up 2 batches of the chocolate sponge recipe (it’s best to make 2 batches in succession rather than a double-sized batch, unless you happen to have 4 sponge tins and a very large oven. Unlike me. This is because the 2nd cake won’t be as good if it’s left sitting while the 1st one bakes).
  2. Soak the mango pieces in water until they are soft, then drain and puree.
  3. Drink the water that you drained from the mangoes.
  4. Melt the bar of chocolate in the microwave.
  5. Dip one end of each of the rolled-up biscuits into the melted chocolate. Leave them to set on grease-proof paper.
  6. Eat the left-over melted chocolate.
  7. When the cakes have baked and cooled, make 3 of the sponges into a stack, using the mango puree to stick the layers together.
  8. Cut the 4th sponge in half to make 2 semi-circles. Stack these separately, sticking together with the mango puree as before.
  9. You now have a large triple-decker cake, and a small, semi-circular, double-decker cake. Ice both with the chocolate fudge icing.
  10. Don’t eat all the icing that’s left over, it’ll spoil your dinner. Keep it in the fridge and pretend you’re not snacking on it. I saw that!
  11. Decorate the tops of both cakes with the chocolate dipped biscuits. I used 10 on the large cake, and 4 on the small cake.
  12. Give the large cake away at a special celebration.
  13. Keep the small cake to share with V, T, and me.
  14. Tidy up that kitchen right now before V sees the mess.
1 small cake = 4 perfectly sized slices of yumminess

1 small cake = 4 perfectly sized slices of yumminess


Thpoilt rotten in my firtht thwap February 21, 2009

Filed under: Geekery,General yarniness — purplesteph @ 3:56 pm

I took part in the Igor Thwap on Ravelry, with the Ankh Morpork Knitterth’ Guild – lithping ith part of the thwap ruleth, and ith thomewhat addictive…

Here ith what the lovely kathj thent me:

The thwap card, with eththeth carefully replathed with thth:

Thome foam handth and feet, alwayth utheful, ethpethially if another Igor needth a hand:

Thparkly red knitting needleth:

A book – it doethn’t tell you how to knit hipth, more’th the pity, but exthelllent all the thame. Altho note the hand and foot-thhaped paperclipth. Love them!

Toe thockth!

Thcented thoapth: thandalwood and carnathion:

The (Dithc)world’th finetht chocolate.  But how did thhe know it’th my favourite?

Heart thaped rubberth (that’th erathorth if you’re from the U ETH):

A thkein of Noro Bloththom – NORO!

What every Igorina needth – a heart-thaped bag to wear on her thleeve:

And inthide the bag, 3 ballth of novelty yarn:

Thith yarn ith thpeaking to me. It tellth me that it wantth to become part of a thwamp dragon.


Fings wot I lerned this week

Filed under: General yarniness,Sock obsession — purplesteph @ 8:10 am

1. Knitting in the round with a magic loop is all very well. Knitting cables without a cable needle is all very well. But trying to do both at once is a recipe for dropped stitches at the beginning of a loop section.  They fall right out of the sky. No, wait, that was something else.

2. (Following on from 1.). When you are trying to knit cables on a magic loop and have foolishly left your cable needle at home, the ink tube from a biro will just about do as a substitute.

–Both of the above discoveries made while attempting Fetching.


3. It is possible to do an invisible cast on for toe up socks with double pointed needles instead of 2 cable needles, it’s just a bit fiddly for the first few rows, and then you need to work backwards along the cast on row tightening the stitches.

— Discovered while attempting Ziggy.


And 1 thing I can’t do without this week or ever: Picasa photo editor tools, especially the Red-Eye remover.  It makes such a difference to photo my friends without glowing red evil eyes in every photo. Especially at weddings.


More socks February 10, 2009

Filed under: General yarniness,Sock obsession — purplesteph @ 5:16 pm

I said I’d made 10 pairs of socks. But actually I’ve realised it’s 11. Or maybe even 12. Is there no end to this madness?