Don’t think, just do!

They say action precedes motivation. It sounds counter-intuitive, right? But after taking a couple of tiny actions, I’ve found it to be true. So much so, that I’ve decided to take a bigger action and restart this blog, which I’ve neglected for over three years.

I need to have at least one project on the go at any given time. Without that, I get a bit lost and waste any free time I have. So, when I saw that the Edinburgh Yarn Festival was coming up in March, I decided to take action and go along and see what it was all about. I enjoy knitting, teaching myself via the pearls of wisdom gleaned from the American ladies of YouTube. But when I arrived, I was rather blown away by the size of the event, convinced it was full of super knitters – this was no place for me, I was a mere beginner by comparison. My confidence felt knocked, but I decided to seek out the stall of one of my favourite designers, Kate Davies.

The aspirational hoodie

I eventually found the Kate Davies stand, and immediately saw my aspirational hoodie sweater on display from her Islay book of knitting patterns. I’d never knitted using more than one colour before, so as this one had two main ones and a third accent colour, it was simply a jumper for me to admire from afar. I plucked up the courage to ask about the sweater, and the woman on the stand advised me that I might be better trying my colour skills on a hat first. I bought two colours of yarn – not cheap but very nice wool, so I wanted to make sure I did a good job. In fact, I mentioned I was worried I would waste the wool. Her response – if it doesn’t work, just rip it up and start again. Of course! If at first you don’t succeed try again – and no harm done to the wool. So obvious, but sensible thoughts like that don’t always run through my brain.

Bolstered by my first buy, I hit the Ysolda Teague stall. I saw a five colour hat pattern and balls of wool in a handy package. I was feeling bolder now and up for the challenge, so I bought the pack on a whim.

I left the festival still feeling a little traumatised by the sheer amount of experienced knitters out there, but excited and keen to start the challenge of my two new projects.

Kate Davies Design hat

Back in the house I realised I didn’t have the right size circular needles for the hat, so I ordered them online. As I was itching to get started, I decided to knit a test square to practice. After the first three rows of the colour pattern, I could see the pattern starting to emerge. This was amazing! I couldn’t believe I was making this happen. I continued to test knit the pattern until my needles arrived.

Blue and white pattern hat

As soon as the needles arrived, I was off. The pattern emerged as per the photos and I kept on going until I had knitted the entire hat over the space of a couple of weeks. I was very proud of the results. Without hesitation I started the five colour hat pattern. This was much trickier than the two colour one. I felt pinned to my seat by all five balls of wool. It got off to a shaky start as I didn’t know how to change colours without leaving a hole in the seam area. I should have Googled this, but common sense had deserted me. I cracked on with a ‘twist the yarn’ tip ringing in my ears from a knitting ‘pro’ the year before. I experimented with twisting and the holes became less frequent. Before long I had the hat finished, again feeling rather amazed at my achievements.

Five colour hat – pattern by Ysolda Teague

I couldn’t believe I had put off knitting colour patterns for so long. There really wasn’t anything to be scared of. I gave myself a small goal of just a hat, parked my over thinking to one side, and just took action. I’m now feeling bold enough to scale up my experiment to a v-neck tank top. I won’t over think it next time, I’ll just ‘do’!

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Little Gardening Miracles

I remember the day I discovered spring greens were not only a species of plant, but also offshoots from a number of brassicas after they had produced their main crop. If that’s not an amazing gardening 2 for 1, I don’t know what is.

I’m rather hoping that I can recreate this magic in my own garden. I naively planted cabbages, cauliflowers, purple sprouting broccoli and brussel sprouts without covering them. Now I have a garden of green lace, as the cabbage butterfly caterpillars weave their way in and out of the leaves. It’s going to be a long wait, but I’m willing to experiment rather than waste what could have been some wonderful vegetables.

This got me thinking. I’d seen the term cut and come again referring to lettuces. I think the context was in relation to growing little salad leaves. I had a few lettuce plants ready for the chop. I cut the heads off and left the stumps in the soil. After enjoying my home grown salad immensely (it always tastes better knowing you’ve grown something yourself), I noticed that the stubs left in the pots were sprouting after only a few days. Now, after a month, I have leaves ready for picking and a further row of sprouting stubs. Bargain! Here’s hoping the brassicas follow suit!

Sprouting lettuce stubs

Sprouting lettuce stubs

Lettuce Sprouts

Lettuce Sprouts

Sprouted Lettuce Leaves from Stubs

Sprouted Lettuce Leaves from Stubs

Green Lacy Cabbages and Sprouts Hoping for a Miracle

Green Lacy Cabbages and Sprouts Hoping for a Miracle

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Pickles and Pasta

Pasta Bake

Pasta Bake

What do you do when the fridge is bare but dinner still needs put on the table? Use up all the pickled and frozen odds and ends and create a delicious pasta bake. That’s what! Faced with half eaten jars of pickled guerkins and red peppers, I had to engage in some creative cooking to turn them into a meal.

Taking in the aroma of the pickled guerkins I was reminded of dill. Aha! I have fresh dill growing on my windowsill. Hmm… what goes with dill? Thinking Scandinavian style, I remembered a had a couple of pieces of frozen pollock in the freezer. Pickles and fish are not a bad combination, but would the vinegar be a bit too full on? Well, I could counter balance that with a white sauce. Oh wait, there’s a little dried up bit of mouldy parmesan in the fridge. Taking the peeler to the bit of cheese I was able to salvage enough cheese to add an extra dimension to the white sauce. With the discovery of a few frozen peas and a dawn raid on the kale in the garden, a pasta bake was coming into sight. From the most unlikely of beginnings, I created one of my best dishes to date. It might not be up there with the gourmet recipes I read in books, but I might create this again in the future.

Pasta Bake

Pasta Bake

Here is the recipe. The quantities depend on what you have lying around. It may not take your fancy, but it may inspire you to create something new with your own odds and ends.

Ingredients

  • Frozen white fish
  • Frozen peas
  • Guerkins
  • Preserved red peppers
  • Kale
  • Dill
  • Garlic
  • Flour, milk and butter/oil to make a white sauce
  • Grated cheese of any variety
  • Pasta

Method

  1. Boil the pasta
  2. Create a white sauce from the flour, butter or oil and milk and most of the grated cheese
  3. Fry the garlic, frozen peas, sliced guerkins, peppers and kale
  4. Cut the fish into cubes and add to the vegetables
  5. Add the vegetable and fish mix to the pasta, mix well and turn out into an oven proof dish.
  6. Cover the mix with the white saue and sprinkle with any remaining cheese.
  7. Bake in the oven at about 180C for approximately 25-30 minutes until slighly golden
Pasta Bake

Pasta Bake

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