Mr Knitter

String Chaos For The Converted…

So 9 days ago I went for my surgery to remove my skin cancer. My youngest sister messaged me with lots of irritating questions, “what time are you leaving for the hospital, what ward will you be on, will you go straight down to theatre when you get there, what is the latest time they take people to surgery, what time is your operation, how long will you be there, will you have many stitches, what’s happening after the operation, is it a day case, will you have to go back, whats the surgeons name” and many many more! She is one of those people who continually ask questions in rapid fire and never really take a breath, and asks many daft questions. I am not the type of person who likes being questioned and find it irritating, and usually close-down or give generalised answers when this happens as I prefer to tell when I am ready and not be under a spotlight.

After the surgery I drove home and replied to a few more texts from my youngest sister and one from my mother, mainly ones of “are you home yet”. Today I finally got a call from my mother asking how I was, but I could tell from her tone she was not really calling to know how I was, then it came. “The reason for my call, can you ask your mate how much a new computer……” When my phone rang, I said to M “oh! here we go! I wonder what she wants this time?” knowing it would be a “can you” type call and not a genuine call of concern.

One of my sisters has not bothered calling to find out, and my little brother has become an ass and does not think he has to ask about anyone, including his father when he was in hospital.

M and I are always suspicious now when we get calls from our family as it is either a call for help or in the case of M’s mum, a mistaken call as she is trying to call someone else. It would be nice to have parents like we see on the Hallmark channel, or to have family like my cousins, but coming from a broken home I realised that would never happen.

So, my surgery went well, and I got away with only 4 stitches. The surgeon said it was deep and he removed skin and what lies beneath in the shape of an ellipse. He said he thought it went well and for me to go back to see him at the end of the month. I removed (yes I did) my stitches on Thursday and boy was I glad to get them out as they were irritating me. I heal really fast, always have no matter the injury. Cuts tend to take about 24/36 hours to fully knit, and usually within a week they are pretty much healed and just faint scars. This is no exception, and on Thursday when I took them out you would not really tell I had surgery. There is a fine scar and very thin mark that will fade to nothing before I go and see my surgeon.

I thought I would share a photo of the surgery, this was taken about 2 hours after. Although 48 hours later I did have a slight black eye as can be seen in the second picture.

With a twist…

I do love a good mince pie, and since Christmas is on its way, I decided to start eating them this month, and today I made my own version.

Now, I know that my American readers, and, thinking on, most readers that are not it the UK may not know what the hell a mince pie is. They go by other names of Christmas Pie, Shrid Pie and Mutton Pie, and date back to Tudor times. Although we now use sweet mince and not savory fillings. Sweet mince was also a favourite of the Tudors.

Mincemeat is a sweet filling made from fruit, spices and sugars and has many veriations, but all have the same base with currents and sultanas. My version has a lemon & rose twist to it.

Ingredients

  • 150g Currants
  • 100g Sultanas
  • 100g Chopped nuts (I used salted caramalised pican, almonds, cashew, hazelnuts, macadamia)
  • 150g Golden Caster Sugar
  • 100g Unsalted butter
  • ½ tsp Ground clove
  • 1 tsp Ground nutmeg
  • 1 tsp Ground cinnamon
  • Zest of 1 Lemon
  • Zest of 1 Orange
  • 60ml Lemon Juice
  • ½ tsp Salt
  • ½ tsp Rosewater
  • 500g Short Crust Pastry
  • Lemon Curd
  • 1 egg, beaten

Method

  1. Combine the currants, sultanas, chopped nuts, citrus zests, lemon juice, spices and salt.
  2. Heat butter butter together with sugar in a large saucepan. When butter starts to bubble stir in fruit mixture.
  3. Remove pan from heat. When cool add rosewater.
  4. Roll pastry out to about 2mm thick, cut discs and fit into muffin or small tart tins. Cut discs for the tops too, or have fun and cut stars for the tops.
  5. Place a few spoons of the filling into the pie cases and add a blob of lemon curd on top of the mixture, then add the pastry lid/star. You can use the whisked egg to bond the lid if you are not crimping the edges.
  6. Brush with a bit of egg/eggwash.
  7. I sprinkled the tops with some lavendar sugar that I had mad with culinary lavendar that I keep in a sealed jar.
  8. If using disc lids cut a few little holes to allow the steam to escape.
  9. Bake for 15 – 20 minutes at 200°C / fan 190°C / Gas mark 5 (adjust times for your oven) or until the pastry has turned golden brown.
  10. Allow to cool slightly and dust with icing sugar before serving.
  11. I like to serve with a dollop of extra thick double cream.

The three on the left of the photo with the slashes in are puff pastry ones I made at the same time. For this I cut out a disc of puff pastry, added the filling to the centre, brushed the edges with egg and added a puff pastry top and pressed it down, washed with egg, slashed the top and baked at the same time, but I did not add the lemon curd to these.

I hope you enjoy this recipe if you make it. But be warned, you may put on weight if consuming too many of these delicious mince pies.

A few weeks ago I had two “growths” removed, one from my face under my right eye and one on my chest. I had had them for a little bit and noticed that the one on my face was getting bigger. It was not bit at all, and most people did not notice it, but I did and that was all that mattered. The one on my chest was a funny brown colour and not like a regular mole. One of the GP’s at my surgery (not my regular GP) does minor surgery so I booked an appointment with him and off they came, but I have a lump on the right side of my face about 2/3cm from my right eye that he could not do as it was not a surface lump like the other two, but deep into the skin. The GP told me he would get me an appointment to see a specialist. Just over a week later I was booked into the private hospital to see a consultant in Maxillofacial surgery.

The hospital is only a 10-minute drive (very convenient) and is in the middle of several farmsteads, surrounded by trees turning gold in the autumn sun, and many many pear trees shedding their fruit. The hospital itself is state of the art and appointments always run on time which is a nice change from the overrun NHS hospitals. After being booked in and completing registration paperwork I saw Mr B. He examined the lump quite extensively and quickly diagnosed it as skin cancer, namely basal lymphoma/b-cell lymphoma. He assured me that it was nothing to worry about and he would perform surgery and remove it and I would be left with a few stitches where it was cut out, but as he is also a plastic surgeon the scaring would be minimal. The only thing that I was disappointed about was the scaring, as I do love a good facial scar, also I am a sun whore, but I guess factor 30 or 50 from now on.

I have had many operations in my life and have had 16 (over 8 years) just to rebuild my face including plastic surgery after having it smashed in when I was 17. Yes I picked to look this way ha ha.

I am just awaiting my appointment to go in to have the surgery now, which should be just over a week away.

“All sad peopled like poetry” Vanessa Ives – Penny Dreadful. I could not have put it better, and I too love poetry, especially gothic poetry, William Blake being my favourite of all. But there are a plethora of gothic poets that I admire, Tennyson, Coleridge, Shelley, Keats, Browning, Byron to name a few. So for this year’s National Poetry Day, I give you William Wordsworth. Although I had read this poem before, it really struck a chord when recited by “John Clair” at the funeral of “Venessa Ives” in Penny Dreadful’s final episode. Although he only recites two stanzas, it is perfectly formed and adds gravitas to the scene. But the poem needs to be enjoyed in full. I have therefore posted the scene from PD and the poem in full. I hope you enjoy it.

Ode: Intimations of Immortality from Recollections of Early Childhood

BY WILLIAM WORDSWORTH

There was a time when meadow, grove, and stream,
The earth, and every common sight,
To me did seem
Apparelled in celestial light,
The glory and the freshness of a dream.
It is not now as it hath been of yore;—
Turn wheresoe’er I may,
By night or day.
The things which I have seen I now can see no more.

The Rainbow comes and goes,
And lovely is the Rose,
The Moon doth with delight
Look round her when the heavens are bare,
Waters on a starry night
Are beautiful and fair;
The sunshine is a glorious birth;
But yet I know, where’er I go,
That there hath past away a glory from the earth.

Now, while the birds thus sing a joyous song,
And while the young lambs bound
As to the tabor’s sound,
To me alone there came a thought of grief:
A timely utterance gave that thought relief,
And I again am strong:
The cataracts blow their trumpets from the steep;
No more shall grief of mine the season wrong;
I hear the Echoes through the mountains throng,
The Winds come to me from the fields of sleep,
And all the earth is gay;
Land and sea
Give themselves up to jollity,
And with the heart of May
Doth every Beast keep holiday;—
Thou Child of Joy,
Shout round me, let me hear thy shouts, thou happy Shepherd-boy.

Ye blessèd creatures, I have heard the call
Ye to each other make; I see
The heavens laugh with you in your jubilee;
My heart is at your festival,
My head hath its coronal,
The fulness of your bliss, I feel—I feel it all.
Oh evil day! if I were sullen
While Earth herself is adorning,
This sweet May-morning,
And the Children are culling
On every side,
In a thousand valleys far and wide,
Fresh flowers; while the sun shines warm,
And the Babe leaps up on his Mother’s arm:—
I hear, I hear, with joy I hear!
—But there’s a Tree, of many, one,
A single field which I have looked upon,
Both of them speak of something that is gone;
The Pansy at my feet
Doth the same tale repeat:
Whither is fled the visionary gleam?
Where is it now, the glory and the dream?

Our birth is but a sleep and a forgetting:
The Soul that rises with us, our life’s Star,
Hath had elsewhere its setting,
And cometh from afar:
Not in entire forgetfulness,
And not in utter nakedness,
But trailing clouds of glory do we come
From God, who is our home:
Heaven lies about us in our infancy!
Shades of the prison-house begin to close
Upon the growing Boy,
But he beholds the light, and whence it flows,
He sees it in his joy;
The Youth, who daily farther from the east
Must travel, still is Nature’s Priest,
And by the vision splendid
Is on his way attended;
At length the Man perceives it die away,
And fade into the light of common day.

Earth fills her lap with pleasures of her own;
Yearnings she hath in her own natural kind,
And, even with something of a Mother’s mind,
And no unworthy aim,
The homely Nurse doth all she can
To make her Foster-child, her Inmate Man,
Forget the glories he hath known,
And that imperial palace whence he came.

Behold the Child among his new-born blisses,
A six years’ Darling of a pigmy size!
See, where ‘mid work of his own hand he lies,
Fretted by sallies of his mother’s kisses,
With light upon him from his father’s eyes!
See, at his feet, some little plan or chart,
Some fragment from his dream of human life,
Shaped by himself with newly-learn{e}d art
A wedding or a festival,
A mourning or a funeral;
And this hath now his heart,
And unto this he frames his song:
Then will he fit his tongue
To dialogues of business, love, or strife;
But it will not be long
Ere this be thrown aside,
And with new joy and pride
The little Actor cons another part;
Filling from time to time his “humorous stage”
With all the Persons, down to palsied Age,
That Life brings with her in her equipage;
As if his whole vocation
Were endless imitation.

Thou, whose exterior semblance doth belie
Thy Soul’s immensity;
Thou best Philosopher, who yet dost keep
Thy heritage, thou Eye among the blind,
That, deaf and silent, read’st the eternal deep,
Haunted for ever by the eternal mind,—
Mighty Prophet! Seer blest!
On whom those truths do rest,
Which we are toiling all our lives to find,
In darkness lost, the darkness of the grave;
Thou, over whom thy Immortality
Broods like the Day, a Master o’er a Slave,
A Presence which is not to be put by;
Thou little Child, yet glorious in the might
Of heaven-born freedom on thy being’s height,
Why with such earnest pains dost thou provoke
The years to bring the inevitable yoke,
Thus blindly with thy blessedness at strife?
Full soon thy Soul shall have her earthly freight,
And custom lie upon thee with a weight,
Heavy as frost, and deep almost as life!

O joy! that in our embers
Is something that doth live,
That Nature yet remembers
What was so fugitive!
The thought of our past years in me doth breed
Perpetual benediction: not indeed
For that which is most worthy to be blest;
Delight and liberty, the simple creed
Of Childhood, whether busy or at rest,
With new-fledged hope still fluttering in his breast:—
Not for these I raise
The song of thanks and praise
But for those obstinate questionings
Of sense and outward things,
Fallings from us, vanishings;
Blank misgivings of a Creature
Moving about in worlds not realised,
High instincts before which our mortal Nature
Did tremble like a guilty thing surprised:
But for those first affections,
Those shadowy recollections,
Which, be they what they may
Are yet the fountain-light of all our day,
Are yet a master-light of all our seeing;
Uphold us, cherish, and have power to make
Our noisy years seem moments in the being
Of the eternal Silence: truths that wake,
To perish never;
Which neither listlessness, nor mad endeavour,
Nor Man nor Boy,
Nor all that is at enmity with joy,
Can utterly abolish or destroy!
Hence in a season of calm weather
Though inland far we be,
Our Souls have sight of that immortal sea
Which brought us hither,
Can in a moment travel thither,
And see the Children sport upon the shore,
And hear the mighty waters rolling evermore.

Then sing, ye Birds, sing, sing a joyous song!
And let the young Lambs bound
As to the tabor’s sound!
We in thought will join your throng,
Ye that pipe and ye that play,
Ye that through your hearts to-day
Feel the gladness of the May!
What though the radiance which was once so bright
Be now for ever taken from my sight,
Though nothing can bring back the hour
Of splendour in the grass, of glory in the flower;
We will grieve not, rather find
Strength in what remains behind;
In the primal sympathy
Which having been must ever be;
In the soothing thoughts that spring
Out of human suffering;
In the faith that looks through death,
In years that bring the philosophic mind.
And O, ye Fountains, Meadows, Hills, and Groves,
Forebode not any severing of our loves!
Yet in my heart of hearts I feel your might;
I only have relinquished one delight
To live beneath your more habitual sway.
I love the Brooks which down their channels fret,
Even more than when I tripped lightly as they;
The innocent brightness of a new-born Day
Is lovely yet;
The Clouds that gather round the setting sun
Do take a sober colouring from an eye
That hath kept watch o’er man’s mortality;
Another race hath been, and other palms are won.
Thanks to the human heart by which we live,
Thanks to its tenderness, its joys, and fears,
To me the meanest flower that blows can give
Thoughts that do often lie too deep for tears.

Not the best photo due to the lighting.

So far so good. I am now on section three which is the bands. This consists of a round of purl in cream, a knit row in grey, and a knit row of brown. This has to be done 8 times, I have only done three rounds of this so far. What started with an 8 stitch round has now grown to 224 a stitch round and 18 inches wide (45cm).

Whilst knitting it the other night I was thinking of my next project and the colourway I want to do. So far I am thinking of dark grey, white and a bold contrast colour, but so far not sure what the final bold colour will be, but I have quite a bit of time until I get to that pattern.

More on the blanket as it grows.

Summer is long over and quite frankly totally forgotten about. It was a fleeting thing that we all loved for the few weeks, alas memories are fading along with the dropping temperatures. Today it was really cold, 8c outside, which is so far away from the other month when we had 32c. The weather forcasters say that this winter will be the worst in 30 years, which will be interesting as near 10 years ago it was -17c at night and a few feet of snow, so god help us. The joys of living so far north.

Anyway, less of the weather and more of this…

So it begins; knitting

Now the weather has turned my knitting is out and off we go again. I am doing a circular blanket which will be in three colours, cream, brown and grey. Cream being the major colour and grey will be mostly edging.

I love knitting in the round/circular knitting. My mum, who has been knitting longer than I have been on the planet thinks knitting in the round is some sort of witchcraft. I have tried to show her that it is just standard knitting with 5 needles until the circular can be used, but she just does not get it. Although I did freak her out with 9 needles just to prove it does not matter if it is one needle or nine, it works just the same.

The pattern I am using is Stephen West’s “A Bit of Iceland”. The yarn I am using is the Womens Institute Aran (Cream) and Hayfield Aran (Grey & Brown), all knitted on 5.5mm needles. This is the third “Iceland” blanket I have knitted. The first is on the headboard of our bed and is in the original Iceland colours. The second is in Ireland as I made it for M’s mum, and done in creams and greens with the edgework in a sage green hank of merino that was rediculously expensive, but was lovely when finished. This new one will be used in the bedroom too. When we decorated the bedroom I did it in suble greys and browns, so this should look really nice when finished.

I have an idea for a hat I want to make for winter after seeing it on a film. I have checked and it is not a commercially available pattern or hat, and was made just for this film and sold at auction for £240. Once I have worked the pattern out and got to making it I will share it with you all. Just have to work it all out as it is not just a standard hat.

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