I’ve owned a tagine for several years now; it was a gift from my family, who know I love to cook and am fascinated by all kinds of ethnic cookery styles.

Today, I got around to using it for the first time.  Before using it for the first time, you have to:

  • convince yourself that it really *is* for cooking in, and not just ornamental
  • remember that it came with a bunch of spices, so is probably oven-safe, at least
  • soak it in cold water for an hour
  • wipe dry and season the internal surfaces with olive oil
  • put it in a cold oven, then turn the oven up to 350F.  Let it heat up and leave it there for an hour or two
  • Remove it from the oven and let it cool

Fortunately, you only have to go through that rigmarole the once.

After all that, I managed to cook a respectable lamb tagine with pine nuts and dried apricots, and served it with couscous.  Chickpeas in the tagine would have been nice, but it turned out that I didn’t, actually, have any.


Putting a terracotta vessel on a gas ring is… odd, to say the least.  Suffice it to say that I made sure the hob top was clean before starting, so that if it shattered, I’d still be able to salvage the food.

yes, I finished

Not quite on time – I did end up giving Dad a wrapped up sweater with the needles still in – but I did finish before I left my parents to come back down to foggy Cambridgeshire.

I was late because the sleeves took much longer to sew in than I anticipated, and because I nearly had a crisis with the neckline (especially the cast-off), but even more than that, because I suddenly had to spend a lot of time working.  Working-working, for pay, which is always worthwhile, but does rather cut into the knitting time.  I suppose I *could*, technically, have finished knitting it before wrapping it, but the whole point of travelling up to my parents’ house is to spend time with my family, and so there seemed little point in hiding myself away to knit.  Besides, Dad got a significant amount of amusement out of being given an unfinished sweater at Christmas.

I only got one photo of it completed, and here it is:


This is, I have to say, I good photo of it.  The overall fit is OK, if not great; it hangs away from Dad’s body at the back (because of his stooped posture and because the fabric is quite stiff).  If I could re-do, I would make the neckline narrower and possibly shallower, and would re-knit all the ribbing on much smaller needles.

The overall fit is OK, though it wouldn’t have hurt if the body was narrower and the sleeves correspondingly longer, but I’m glad that the cuffs hit Dad’s wrists in a good place.  The seam where the sleeves join the body is really very stiff.  I don’t think this has anything do do with the machine stitching of the steek, as some have suggested, but is because of the sleeve facing.  The sleeves are knit with a reverse stockinette facing that is stitched down over the cut edge and machine stitching on the body.  This double thickness over the seam area is, understandably, rather thicker than a single layer of fabric, and correspondingly stiffer.

I cast off the neck bands using the sewn cast off, following the excellent tutorial here.  First off, I have to say that this took *ages* and would be a total pain to rip out, so it might be worth practising on a swatch first, to make sure you have your tension right.  (I didn’t).  After an inch or so, it became clear that the bound off edge was unpleasantly wavy, so I tightened up each stage of the bind off (even step 2!) pretty much as much as I could, and it worked out OK.

Most importantly, the recipient appears to love it, though hasn’t been able to wear it for very long yet, as it is apparently a very warm garment.  Merry Christmas, Dad!

Well, how interesting…

I was just over at Scarlet’s place, and felt the need to comment.  Grinding my teeth somewhat in irritation (because of the previously-ranted-about Blogger weirdness), I chose to log in with a ‘nickname’.


Oh, hey!  Look at that!  I can enter a URL with my nickname, too.  Well, that’s sure nice of them.  Do you think they’ve been listening?

Happy Paws


No wonder I can’t seem to keep the floors clean.  😉


The Deed is Done


Obligatory scissors shot.

The *hard* part was the sewing.  It seems my machine is in need of a service; I think it has all but seized up due to lack of use, poor thing.  There’s a resolution for the new year: more sewing!


Back view, reinforements all sewn in.

However, the *scary* part was definitely the cutting.  I was most scared that I was going to cut the machine stitching; I just had to have faith that this technique, that has worked for hundreds – nay, thousands – over the years would work for me, too.  As long as I did it right.


And I think I did.

The edges look firm and crisp (though I certainly haven’t been tugging at them), and I can see that it will be stable enough to sew together.


Now all I need to do is locate the left over bits of dark brown yarn, so that I can seam this sucker up.  Oh, and knit the neckband.


My Dad’s sweater is still resolutely unsteeked.

The ends are woven in and it has been blocked (no photos; too much camnesia).  I have been biting my nails and fretting and reading over the last few days.  In fact, I have fretted away almost all the time I clawed back off my tight schedule.

I have read Eunny’s wonderful steeking series most of all.  Fortunately, her final word on the subject has greatly reassured me.  To quote:

"Norwegian steeks absolutely need machine sewing to create a sturdy edge."

So now I can stop fretting.  I need to use my sewing machine.  And, in fact, I wasn’t going mad when I failed to make a proper steek; I was, actually, following the pattern.  <<Ahem>>.  Another quote:

"The main difference between Norwegian and Scottish steeks lies in that
the body off the sweater itself is cut for Norwegian sweaters, while a
flap of waste stitches seperates the cut edge and the body of the Fair
Isle jumper."

Thankyou, Eunny.

I’m still putting it off, though.

A cautionary tale: always weave in as you go

It didn’t occur to me that I could weave in the ends as I went along on Dad’s Christmas Sweater.  Not, that is, until I started the last sleeve.

I wish I’d thought of it sooner.  This is the difference it makes:


Top: didn’t weave in as I went
Bottom: did.

I’ve now woven in the remaining ends on the top one, and it took me an hour.  Goodness only knows how long it’ll take me to do the other.

And then there’s the body…


D*mn you, Blogger/Google!

Leaving comments on blogspot (Blogger) blogs has always been a bit of a pain for people without blogger accounts, and even worse for anyone who wants to *respond* to such a comment.  But recently, I swear it’s gotten worse.

To leave a comment on someone’s blogspot blog, I can sign in using my ‘Google id’, or I can use a ‘nickname’ or be ‘anonymous’.  If I sign in using my Google ID, the recipient of my comment will automatically be directed, via a link, to my blogspot blog.  Which is defunct.  Oh, and I don’t use my Google mail account for blog-related mail, so I really don’t want it linked to my blog, thanks.

I have no option to enter an alternative email address, or an alternative website.

Clearly the Bloogle Hegemony is just trying to force us all onto their system, or become pariahs.  I hate this.  Livejournal manages a similar thing with its ‘friends’ system, though not as aggressively.  I just want to make contact with the people I want, when I want, how I want, dammit, and I do not appreciate the heavy sales tactics.  Especially for a free product!

It makes me very glad I moved to Typepad.  Except no-one with a blogger blog will be able to find me, if I comment on their blog.  Gah!!!

Over one hundred percent


  • I got my numbers wrong; on finishing, I have knit 102% of what I thought I needed…
  • It’s taken me seven weeks, minus one day to knit the body and sleeves of this sweater
  • I’ve averaged 1572.4 stitches per day since starting tracking my progress
  • I have finished ten days ahead of schedule
  • I still have a lot of ends to weave in

Clearly, there is more knitting to do – the collar will take some time, especially teh sewn tubular cast-off that I’m committed to doing (but have never done before).  I’m not looking forwards to cutting the steek armholes, either.

Fresh off the loom!

My 2/1 twill project is done with the weaving!  I’m pleased to have this off the loom, as I’m a bit bored with it, but also want to see the results.  This isn’t slated to *be* anything, other than a learning exercise, though I may turn the fabric into a little shoulder bag when I’m done.

The web as it came off the loom is probably a bit weft-faced, if you can say such a thing of a twill.  The top side of the fabric as woven shows the weft skipping over two warps and under one, and the brown warp threads are all but obscured, though flash photography brings it out a bit.  The textural diagonal pattern of the weft ‘floats’ is quite pronounced:


On the other side, the weft passes under two warp threads then over one.  The brown warp threads are far more pronounced, and the diagonal nature of the twill texture is far less apparent, I guess overwhelmed by the clear stripe in the warp:


The difference between the two sides is quite clear in this photo:


What I haven’t been able to show to my satisfaction in any photo is the *unwanted* textural effects caused by cramming and spacing the warp threads to achieve the correct sett in the rather odd threading pattern I ended up with.  This is the best I’ve been able to manage:


On a harness loom, I guess the equivalent would be reed marks.  I look forwards to seeing if this is counteracted by wet finishing.  And speaking of which, this thing went into the washing machine with a standard load of laundry earlier this evening.  It started out 92cm long, 24.5cm wide, somewhat stiff to the hand and yet with quite a lot of light passing through it.  Time will tell how it responds to washing.  (The yarn is pure wool knitter’s 4ply, hand wash only, so a certain amount of fulling is expected…)

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