Monday, 31 March 2014

Continental washcloth

A few weeks ago I decided to have a go at learning continental knitting, and optimistically started out on a simple washcloth. For the technically minded, I used Norwegian purl for the moss stitch and normal continental purl for the stocking stitch. The knit stitch is very simple but the purl took a bit longer to get the hang of. It is not the most beautiful piece of knitting; but it is a forgiving pattern and my deficiencies aren't obvious.

I have been knitting in the English style for over 30 years. So, is continental knitting quicker? Was it worth the effort of learning a new style? Being of a mathematical and scientific bent, I timed myself knitting English style and continental style. Remembering that I am very much a novice continental knitter, I am already quicker at the continental knit stitch. However, at the moment I crawl along at continental purling at about half the speed of the English purl. I obviously need more practice! Well, a girl always needs more washcloths!

Friday, 28 March 2014

The easiest chocolate cake decoration ...

Last weekend we popped down to see DH's parents. The weekend fell neatly between his Dad's birthday and Mothering Sunday, so cake was definitely in order.

This is possibly the easiest way to decorate a chocolate cake. A warning though - it's not the cheapest and it is definitely the most calorific!

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Is blogging hereditary?!

Those of you who are particularly observant may have spotted a new blog in my blogroll. Blogging is a bit of a family obsession; I have lost count of the number DH has. For about a year DS has been nagging us to let him join in.  After a bit of discussion we have allowed him to go ahead, with some safeguards. Frankly, anything that encourages an eleven year old boy to write has to be a good thing!

Saturday, 15 March 2014

A breathing space

Today has been unbelievably mild for March in our corner of the South East of England. DD had her practice walk for her Duke of Edinburgh award this morning, so DH and I took DS to Warnham Nature Reserve. It is a hop and a skip from home, and is one of DS's favourite places.

We only had a short time there, and spent most of it in one hide, just watching the birds. DH and I shared my camera.

A grey heron was stalking along the opposite bank. He was hunting, and caught an unwary frog. (DS got a photo of that, which I may link to soon.)


Who can resist an iconic swan photo?!

 A buzzard rode the thermals into the bright blue sky.

A tufted duck kept his golden eye on us.

It was a peaceful, serene hour in the midst of a busy week.

Thursday, 13 March 2014

Carrot and coriander fritters

For about a year we have been enjoying a weekly vegetarian meal, spurred on by various bloggers who sent me recipes and wrote encouraging comments. Recently, DH and I have decided to increase it to twice a week, partly because it is cheaper but mostly to reduce processed meat. (Oh sausages, I will miss you!) 

My veg box always contains a good supply of carrots, so this evening I had a go at carrot and coriander fritters from "Frugal Feeding". The recipe is available here. It uses gram flour and sunflower oil to bind the grated veg together. I had never used gram flour before, and after traipsing around the baking and gluten free sections of the supermarket, I finally tracked it down in the Asian section. It is basically ground up chickpeas, and I was a bit dubious about using it as it is very strong tasting. However, having bought a bag of the stuff I felt duty bound to try it. The mixture was very gloopy, and I was worried that it would fall apart in the frying pan. I also cheated and used ground coriander instead of grinding up coriander seeds.

It would be fair to say that I was amazed at the results. The fritters held together beautifully. I served them with pitta bread, mango chutney and the forlorn remnants of last week's rocket. They were delicious! Both children demanded a speedy second attempt. It's just as well really, as I have a whole bag of gram flour to use up!

Saturday, 8 March 2014

Continental or English?

No, not breakfast, but knitting! I have used the English knitting method for years, nearly forty in fact. I finished my latest crochet project last week - a dismembered rabbit is awaiting safety eyes and stuffing - and I fancied doing some knitting. I also want to knit using the continental method; my great-grandmother had French antecedents and apparently her needles flew. For some reason, maybe patriotic, my Mum was taught the English method which she passed onto me. I am very comfortable using it, but I am ready for a new challenge.

I had some sunshine yellow cotton yarn in my stash so I decided on knitting a washcloth. I have fancied knitting my own for a while, and the patterns are very simple, just purl and knit with no fiddly bits. I found a good pattern on Ravelry here. I also found video tutorials for the knit and purl stitches. In the end I decided to jump in the deep end and learn the Norwegian Purl first. This keeps the yarn at the back of the work, so ribbing is much easier. It is a bit tricky to learn, and I couldn't get on with any of the video tutorials - it all happened much too fast. However, I did find some useful pictures at the end of this article here.

Here are the results so far. I did the first three rows of moss stitch English style, and the rest is continental. The continental knitting is pretty loose! However, even now I am fairly quick on the knit stitches. I have a feeling this may become my knitting style of choice!

So, what do other knitters out there prefer? Do you stick to one method, or chop and change?

Monday, 3 March 2014

Panic over!

Thank you for the encouragement during the recent Ofsted visitation! I can't tell you the results, as Ofsted would have my head on a plate, but I have been served up as grilled governor twice before, and this time was the least stressful.

If by any mischance of Googling, a hapless chair of governors ends up on this page whilst preparing for an inspection, this is my advice. Anyone else would be better off coming back in a few days!
  1. Don't worry! The inspectors know we are volunteers, and in the end they are there for the same reason as we are - to give the children the best education possible.
  2. Take as many governors in with you as you can manage. I took in ten other governors, and I really valued the support and encouragement of each one. It creates a good impression to the inspector, and other people can chip in when you go blank!
  3. Know your school. Really be on top of your attainment data, data on quality of teaching and pupil premium report. 
  4. Have evidence of your challenge and impact. I took in a folder of all our the evidence from our monitoring visits, surveys, etc. It really helped to be able to give the inspector a piece of paper to back up my answers. 
Right, now that's over for a while, I must get back to my curtains! (Progress is slow but constant.)