Thursday, March 28, 2013

Pasta making

Lately I've been playing with my new kitchen gadget, a pasta machine and I love it. I thought it would be a bit of a faff to do but how wrong could I be. I got the hang of it after the first go and the pasta turns out perfect every time and it's loads of fun as well , kids love it. So I'm going to share with you my easy guide to making your own fresh pasta.
To start with it's best to use "00" pasta flour as it's a lot finer than regular flour and it's going to give the best results. Most supermarkets stock it now. For each portion you will need 100grams of flour and 1 egg,- that's all. For us three I only use a double portion rather than a triple as it makes plenty for our appetites.

The correct way to mix it is by hand with plenty of kneading, but since the operation on my wrist I find it aches quite quickly so I cheat and mix it in the food processor, it still gives the same results. 

When it's mixed it should look like this, a nice, squidgy dough. I find I have to add an extra half an egg as Hazels eggs are slightly smaller. 

Once you have mixed your dough wrap it in clingfilm and leave it to one side for about 15 mins to rest.

A word on pasta machines, buy the best you can afford, it's worth it in the long run as it is going to last for years. Your machine needs to be heavy and solid. A friend bought a cheaper version and it broke after the first use. When this machine is attached to the table it doesn't budge which is vital as you don't want it sliding all over the place , it just makes the job harder and you will be less likely to use it. It will sit at the back of the cupboard gathering dust. 
This machine comes with an attachment for making spaghetti and tagliatelle.

It has a knob on the side to increase/decrease the width of the rollers.

When you are ready to start rolling set the knob to 6, the widest setting. Break the dough into manageable size pieces ( they are going to get long) and make sure it isn't too sticky by flouring it. Put it in between the rollers and turn the handle. Just support it as it comes through so it doesn't stick to itself.

When it's gone through once you need to fold it into three and put it through again on the widest setting, and then repeat this again. This is to increase it's elasticity. 

Once you've done that 3 times then just keep turning the knob round to the next number and feeding the pasta through once on each setting ( no need to fold the pasta into three any more). For tagliatelle I tend to stop at number 2 as I don't want it any thinner, but it's down to personal choice.

The pasta will just keep growing

and growing. Repeat it all again with the rest of your pasta until it's all been rolled.

Now comes the exciting bit ,the cutting attachment. I'm making tagliatelle here. 

This is where you need more than one pair of hands on your first attempt! Feed the long sheet of pasta through the cutter (again flour it to stop it sticking) and magically it comes out the other side perfectly cut. Ta-dah.

I hang mine on wooden coat hangers until I'm ready for it but it will dry out quite quickly,so if it's not going to be cooked for some time take it off the hangers before it dries out too much or it will break when you try to get it off ( I learnt that from experience). Lie in on a tray of polenta to stop it sticking together.

Bring a large pan of water to the boil and drop in the pasta, it takes about 3 -5 mins to cook depending on the thickness. 

Serve with whatever sauce you want, (we went for Ragu) and enjoy.  

Hope this inspires you to have a go. Any questions, just ask.
 I'm feeling quite hungry now!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Meet Bunny

I've finished my knitted bunny, what do you think? He doesn't look like the original one in the book but I think he looks quite cute.

Do you like his cheeky face?

I don't know his name yet, I'm waiting for him to tell me it.

And I haven't made him any clothes so far, I will have to work on that. I'm very pleased with him even though he was very fiddly to make but the pattern was easy enough to follow. He's knitted on 5 dpns and the arms,legs and head are all knitted together so no horrible sewing them on (I'm rubbish at attaching limbs) so that's a bonus. His ears are different to the pattern, I knitted them in seed stitch and attached them in a floppy style. What a cutie.

The Easter bunny and egg garland has been hung up now on the fireplace, I like the simplicity of it. The links for the patterns are on the previous post. Let me know if you make any as I would like to see what you have done with them. 

Thanks for stopping by.Bye for now.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Easter knits

During the half term holidays I went to visit a friend and we had a lovely day out in Newcastle. While we were there we called in here, a fantastic yarn shop run by the lovely Anne. Well it would be rude not to!  The shop is in the grounds of the 13th century Blackfriars Priory and is well worth a visit if you are in the area. Anne is very welcoming and helpful and runs a very popular knit and natter club. This is what I bought, it's a wonderful book of knitting projects for Easter (obviously). I've seen the Christmas bauble book by the same guys but I think this one is fairly new.

I'm attempting to make this rabbit. I love the details in the photos and how they have displayed everything. It's worth owning this book if only for the pictures.

This is as far as I've got. I'm at the body knitting stage now. The wool is Lang Jawoll which is a fine sock wool. I like the tweedy effect of this colour, just right for a bunny. It's quite an easy pattern to follow but fiddly, as it's knitted on 5 double pointed needles with a small amount of stitches. Still it doesn't take long to knit up.

I've also been crocheting these bunnies. Aren't they adorable? I intend to use them for an Easter garland along with the crocheted egg. The bunny pattern can be found here and the egg here. When I've got them strung together I will post a pic.

Are you making any Easter decorations? I would love to see them.

Friday, February 15, 2013

How to make a rag rug

Today I'm going to share with you all how to make a shaggy rag rug. I've seen a couple of articles in magazines on the craft and it seemed like a nice easy one to attempt, so a rag rugging kit was added to my Xmas list. Luckily Santa was good to me and I found one under the tree. If you wanted to purchase one for yourself then this website is where Santa got mine from. The kit contains a large piece of Hessian and two handmade tools ( see further down). What you need to supply is the rags. If you are lucky you will already have a pile of old clothes suitable, but I didn't as all mine had been sent to the charity shop (very short sighted of me, I know) and Hubby wasn't letting me get my hands on his clothes. So I bought a load of cheap t-shirts in co-ordinating colours.
This pile needs to be cut up into 1 inch wide strips. If it was cotton you could rip it but jersey fabric doesn't really rip, so cutting it is.

That's the most boring part of it and I only do it a few bits at a time. 

Once you have your long inch wide piece it needs to be cut into shorter pieces ready to pull through the matting.

This is where the tools come in. The two that come in the kit are the rag rugger and the gauge.

The wooden gauge is an invaluable bit of kit as it means all your short pieces can be cut to the right length easily. Just wrap the long piece around the gauge like this.

And then cut down the groove.

And you will be left with perfect lengths of fabric. Magic isn't it. I really couldn't manage without it.

Once you have a pile of short (about 3 inch) lengths then the rugging tool is needed.

Push the pointy end under 2 or 3 vertical strands of the hessian it doesn't have to be precise.

Grab the end of the fabric by squeezing the handles together.

Then pull it back through the hessian and leave go of the fabric.

Next go back into the hessian about 2 or 3 horizontal strands above or below and do it all again. And that's it. Easy peasy.

You can see below I have pulled the lilac through underneath the burgundy. It doesn't matter where you start on your hessian but when you want to make the next row leave about 4 or 5 vertical strands between the rows as seen below. 

It looks like quite a wide space but once a few rows have been done you can't see the gaps - honestly.

This is what the back looks like, I haven't been very accurate with the gap spaces but it doesn't show on the right side.

A handy hint is to turn in the edges about 2 inches (to the right side) before you start and secure them all the way round with a bit of fabric. That way the frayed ends will be hidden under the shagginess of the rug and unable to fray any more.

This is how mine looks so far, I usually manage a couple of rows at a time before my neck and shoulders start to ache.

I hope this has all made sense to you but if you have any questions then please ask.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Infinity scarf

I've finished knitting my new infinity scarf and I love it. I didn't think that I suited a cowl type scarf as I have a short neck and they tend to be quite bulky thus emphasising the shortness. But this scarf drapes beautifully and isn't at all bulky.

The pattern is a freebie on the Deramores website and it's a Debbie Bliss rice stitch cowl which is nice and easy to do, not too much concentration needed. You can just make out on the photo below how the reverse side pattern is different to the other. I made it with the gorgeous Debbie Bliss Andes in Lilac and it took three skeins but knitted up very quickly, the pattern is for a bulkier wool I think but it easily converts to other weights.  I've been wanting to make something in this yarn for a while as I'm constantly drawn towards it in yarn shops to squeeze and stroke it so this seemed like an ideal project. Just right for this cold weather, it's starting to snow again as I write this.

Something else I've been wanting to share for a while now is this beaded glass cover. The crochet cotton I purchased from Italy last year and it came in a fabulous array of colours. The beads came from a local bead shop.I can't remember where I got the pattern, I think I adapted it from one off the internet. I will have to try and remember it as I want to make some more to keep the bugs out of our wine in the summer.  

A bit of a disappointment this week is my new socks. I've only worn them about half a dozen times and the heels have worn through!!! It was the sock wool I got for Xmas and it was good quality so I don't know why it's happened. If anyone can advise on how to avoid it in the future then I will be pleased to hear from you.

Quick rag rug update, this is how it looks now. I leave it on the floor all the time when I'm not working on it but I walk round it rather than on it!! Defeats the purpose of it really but I can't bring myself to tread on it, seems wrong somehow as it's not finished. Silly I know.

Thanks for visiting and a big hello to my new followers, you are very welcome.