A crocheted scarf and some experimental cooking

I'm visiting some friends in a few weeks, an absolutely lovely family who I met through Girlguiding - their daughters used to be my Brownies (oh that makes me feel old!) and I became good friends with the whole family, they're now friends, rather than parents-of-former-Brownies.  They have always shown me great hospitality and I wanted to make a thank you present for the mum.

I saw a pattern in issue 15 of Simply Crochet magazine for a lovely long scarf.  The pattern suggested two skeins of Manos del Uruguay Silk Blend Fino, which sounded expensive straight away!  Looking online, it was going to be about £8-10 for a skein, and I needed two.  However, a quick search on ebay resulted in a few items, and within a couple of days I had won an auction, two skeins for £9.97.  Bargain!

Soft soft soft!
This wool is seriously lovely.  It's 70% Merino wool and 30% silk and is so soft.  When I took it out of the packaging I just stroked it for a while.  This wool is not only soft, it is ethical too - Manos Del Uruguay is a non-profit organisation which aims to bring economic as well as social opportunities to women in rural Uruguay.  The wool is hand-dyed and no two skeins are exactly the same (although I couldn't see any difference between the two I had).  The small touch I loved was 'Artisan: Mariele' written inside the label, so I know who dyed this wool, and where.

I put the skeins one by one around the back of a chair, and began to roll it up into a ball.  Have I mentioned just how soft the wool is?  This colourway is 'Autumn' and the colours are so vibrant.

I do like the scarf I crocheted using it, but I'm not entirely sure where I went wrong as it's quite short, and definitely not the 180cm finished size according to the pattern!  I blocked it over the weekend, making those lovely points.  It's now long enough to fit as a small scarf, perhaps not right for spring, but I hope it's appreciated nonetheless.  The weather is currently doing that thing where it is gorgeous and warm when you're in the sun, but it's still pretty cold as soon as you step into some shade, or the sun heads behind a cloud!

This weekend I went to London to spend time with my sangria friends, the friends I see every Christmas, without fail, for tapas and sangria.  This is the first year since I don't know when in which we've managed to see each other in addition to our Christmas meal! (Well, I'm presuming we will still see each other at Christmas!)  It's a lovely friendship group, we go for months without seeing each other but when we are together it's as if we've only been apart a few days.  We headed to Camden market for lunch (oh my goodness, so many people!) before sitting in the sun in The Regent's Park (up until Saturday, I had no idea it was called The Regent's Park).  It was very pleasurable to sit in the sun and just chat.

One of the girls is currently on a gluten-free and lactose-free diet, so on the way home we stopped at a wholefood store to buy some gluten-free pizza bases.  £8 for four! Then to a supermarket to stock up on lactose-free dairy products and pizza topping ingredients, as well as gluten-free baking ingredients.  She was determined to make some cakes she could actually eat!

I'd made a lemon drizzle cake at home to bring with me for the rest of us to eat, and some honeycomb for her.  I'd never made honeycomb before but it was quite a lot of fun, boiling 50g of sugar plus a tbsp each of golden syrup and water for 2-3 minutes then adding a tsp of bicarbonate of soda and watching it foam and fizz until it hardened into honeycomb.  Delicious!

I'm all for food experimentation, but gluten-free pizza bases are not for me!  They have an oddly cake-like texture, and taste nothing like pizza bases.  We slathered our bases in a lot of toppings, which kind of masked the weird taste and texture, but I won't be doing it again.  I think the key with a gluten-free diet is to eat different foods and try different recipes, rather than try and simply replace gluten products with gluten-free products.  I am no expert though!

We had a recipe for gluten-free cupcakes, which probably would
have worked had we not had to substitute all the dairy products as well. These are red velvet cupcakes, and they were just a bit odd.  They looked like cake, but they hadn't really risen and they didn't taste quite right.  The frosting was good, though!  I think my friend has a lot more experimenting to do in order to find recipes which work for her.  In the meantime, there is quite a lot of frosting left over in the fridge for her to be working her way through.  I'm just grateful I can eat pretty much anything, but I am on a mission to make a cake we can all eat, which is almost indistinguishable from its lactose-and-gluten-containing counterpart!

Let the mission begin!


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