Monday, 14 February 2011

The Ministry of Marmelade

Around this time of year there's always a worried exchange of telephone calls between my husband and my father about the appearance of seville oranges in the supermarket aisles:

'Have you seen them yet?'
'No, but I'm on the lookout. Sorry, stakeout.'

Seville oranges, you see, can only be found for a week or so sometime in January or February. (This uncertainty in timing only serves to heighten already raised levels of anxiety.) Since the window of opportunity for marmelade making is short, one should not plan holidays around this time of year. If you marry someone who likes marmelade, you had better not enjoy the ski season.

I have numerous childhood memories of being forced to chop boiled oranges for the purposes of marmelade-making. As a result of this traumatic experience I now refuse to have anything to do with the process other than observe, record and make the occasional helpful comment such as 'You missed a pip' and 'Should the pan be boiling over like that?'

Nonetheless, there is something special about seeing the whole thing taking shape. There is a general buzz of excitement as oranges are boiled, chopped and re-boiled. (As long as you are not the one chopping of course).

The jars are heated and filled.  An animated discussion ensues about the ideal size vessel for a pot of marmelade. 

Slowly but surely the table is covered with warm jars of gleaming orange goo that will keep the breakfast tables happy for another year.


Tuesday, 1 February 2011


I posted last time about my general desire to finish stuff this year. I promptly followed this by casting on for a new project. Not an obvious manoeuvre in the circumstances I admit.

This foray into spontaneity was prompted by the appearance of Fleece by Kieran Foley, one of the patterns in the latest Knitty offering. It reminded me of this lonely old skein of sock yarn that I'd bought because I managed to successfully ignore the fact that I generally don't do stripey (or knit socks).
Noro Kureyon Sock
It occurred to me that I might have found the perfect use for that ball of wool. Until I started knitting that is. Upon picking up the needles I discovered that Monsieur Foley has you knit 15 times into one stitch (well actually it's a k3tog stitch but let's not be pedantic about it). Achieving this stitch correctly is no mean feat. For this reason I did what any sensible person would do and fudged it wherever possible.

Undeterred by having the wrong stitch count on almost every single row I forged on ahead. Another less adventurous knitter might have attempted to sort things out. Not me. I recognised a certain thrill in just carrying on regardless.  After all, I had resolved to 'finish stuff' had I not? And let's face it, we all know that going backwards is seriously detrimental to going forwards.

So it is that I am able to present a so-very-nearly-finished-I-can-almost-taste-it Fleece: