Knitting Needles, Crochet hooks and Dodgy Cakes


A friend of mine has just started to learn to knit and it was her birthday last week so I knew just what to make her.


I went back to the pattern in ‘Stitch and Bitch’ that I’d shrunk down to make a roll for my new crochet hooks and made a full size one for her.


I didn’t leave my gorgeous knitting needles in though – I bought her some plain ones.  I’m not that good a friend.


Possibly becoming adventurous beyond my burgeoning crochet ability I bought a kit from Black Sheep Wools who kindly deliver to France at a reasonable cost.  I was tempted by those lovely colours.  The yarn is James C. Brett DK Merino.  It’s actually mostly acrylic  – well, it is for a blanket that will need washing – but there is a 10% merino content so it feels lovely and soft and is great to work with.

I was daunted by the 162 chains as I’ve never yet managed to make even a small  one without twisting it and then, getting my U.S. and U.K. terms mixed up, I did the foundation row in double treble crochet instead of treble but that is how it’s staying as I’m not re-doing that chain!   It’s a nice easy pattern and perfect for me to get used to the whole technique of crochet.

This is it so far…..

Crochet Blanket Start

….. and this is how I’m hoping it will end up.

Highland Heathers Blanket

Sara’s Highland Heather Blanket Kit – available from Black Sheep Wools here

Just in case you are thinking I’ve gone all ‘perfect’ over the weekend – think again.

It was Mlle. Tialys the Younger’s birthday on Friday and, flushed with success after making Nigella’s Madeira cake (feast your eyes here – no calories!), I had a go at her Dense Chocolate Loaf Cake (also from ‘How To Be A Domestic Goddess’).

Salvaged Cake

If you think this looks a little like a pig’s breakfast, then you should see how it looked half an hour after it came out of the oven.

And you shall –

Nigella says the cake is so dense and damp it will sink a little when it comes out of the oven.

Burnt Cake

 I don’t think she meant quite this much  😦

Some days I’m more of a domestic goddess than others.

I broke a few pieces off around the outside and it actually tasted good so I chopped it up into brownie sized damp, dense pieces and arranged them on a plate, sprinkled them with icing sugar and, because I couldn’t find the birthday candles, stuck a fancy straw in the top.  Luckily my daughter is easily pleased especially when chocolate is involved.  How fortunate was my friend who got a hand made knitting needle roll instead of a cake.

I Googled the recipe expecting to find loads of other, similar disasters but I didn’t.  So, it’s just me then.

I know I have a follower who happens to be a baker and, if he’s managed to get past the knitting and crochet, perhaps he will have an idea of what went wrong.  I think it was because I’m a lazy cow and, instead of creaming butter and sugar together by hand and adding the rest of the ingredients gradually, I did the whole thing in a stand mixer – although stage by stage and fairly gradually – so I might have beat too much air in.

Anyway, Sunday night we heated it up and had it with cream and it made a really nice dense, damp, chocolate pudding 🙂



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  1. #1 by claire93 on March 2, 2017 - 11:33

    needle bag is gorgeous – what a good friend you are ^^ And your yarns are very yummy. I’m waiting for an order from the Wool Warehouse, but I’m off to visit Black Sheep Yarns now, because I’m curious. Your crochet is looking brilliant, and you’re so brave to be tackling something so huge!! As for your cake . . . hmmm, I make a delicious GF chocolate “moelleux” which is possibly the same type as the recipe you followed. It only takes 10 minutes in the oven and will drop in the middle, like yours, if I pull it out the oven immediately after the 10 minutes are up. My solution – I turn the oven off after about 8 minutes, and then leave it in the oven to cool down.

    • #2 by tialys on March 2, 2017 - 12:14

      I’ve used Wool Warehouse in the past and they are very good too! Careful at Black Sheep – they do some rather nice fabric too 😉
      The cake I made attempted takes 45 minutes so I think the recipes must be a bit different. I will try it again as even as a failure, it was scrummy.

  2. #3 by nanacathy2 on March 2, 2017 - 13:17

    I would say you had the oven too hot or the cake on the wrong shelf. Let’s see what your baker friend says! Love that roll and the wool is gorgeous. Take care with James Brett yarn it will contain knots which is very annoying,

    • #4 by tialys on March 2, 2017 - 13:30

      Hmm. I have a fan oven so I usually adjust the temperature down slightly and it’s supposed to mean you get an even temperature throughout the oven – I’m leaning toward the over beating myself.
      I’ve not come across any knots yet and I’ve used the marble chunky and the aran before and don’t recall a knotty problem. Are their yarns renowned for knots then?

  3. #5 by Dartmoor Yarns on March 2, 2017 - 13:29

    Well done on taking on crocheting such a long chain. Looks great the way you did it – the UK/US terminology thing can be such a nightmare 😦 As i said before the most important thing about the cake is that it tastes good!

    • #6 by tialys on March 3, 2017 - 14:03

      Next time (!) I might try the method where you make the chain and foundation row at the same time – takes a bit longer but I think it would stop me twisting it.

  4. #8 by katechiconi on March 2, 2017 - 13:40

    It can’t have been that bad, my mouth started watering when I saw it. I’m wondering if you let it stand around in the tin for a while before you put it in the oven? If you let the baking powder in the flour mix activate with liquid too quickly, it’ll start to produce the gas that aerates the mix too soon and when it does finally get into the oven, the gas escapes and the cake sinks. It’s always best to mix the cake, adding any wet ingredients last, and then get it into the oven asap. Speaking as a baker of incredibly fussy and cranky GF cakes, I’d say there were any number of possible causes, and you’ll just have to keep making the cake till you get it right. Oh, the hardship…
    Lovely colours you’ve chosen for your blankie, and I can only admire your bravery in tackling something that size!

    • #9 by tialys on March 3, 2017 - 14:01

      I made myself feel better by making another ‘perfect’ madeira cake.
      I can’t take the credit for choosing the colours of the blanket as those are the colours included in the kit. Although, the colours are why I chose that particular kit. If you see what I mean.

      • #10 by katechiconi on March 3, 2017 - 17:56

        Well, there you go. We all have brief hiccups in our skills… I think you’re allowed to take credit for choosing lovely colours to work with!

  5. #11 by lovelucie1 on March 2, 2017 - 15:28

    Oh dear (stiffling a chuckle). Well it’s not all about looks. Is it?
    Seriously impressed with the crochet. There’s no reason it shouldn’t turn out like the picture.

    • #12 by tialys on March 3, 2017 - 14:00

      I’ve definitely got my crochet mojo back – I’m finding it quite addictive actually.

  6. #13 by tinaor on March 2, 2017 - 17:34

    Great post. Love the fabric for the needle roll. I am lways interested to hear the best places to source great fabric. I have various stockists I use for wool purchases, but fabric buying is often a challenge. And the cake looked fab – love a bit of ‘homemade’ looking cake as shop bought cake is always so disappointing. Look forward to seeing more craft and food too!

    • #14 by tialys on March 3, 2017 - 13:57

      I have a limited (expensive) local supply of both fabric and yarn so I have to resort to online most of the time. Quilting fabric in particular is much cheaper in the U.S. than here (or the U.K.) but you have to search around for sellers with decent shipping rates otherwise any savings are wiped out.

      • #15 by tinaor on March 3, 2017 - 19:17

        Crafting can be an expensive hobby. Sometimes you just can’t resist that special something you see though, even if you can’t think of what it’s going to turn in to! Years ago we would go on our hols to the US and I would come back with a stash of fabric – to the despair of my family who never understand why I just don’t use up what I already have. True crafter!

  7. #16 by tinaor on March 2, 2017 - 17:37

    I meant to add, I often source my yarn from I recently used James C Brett Amazon and not a knot in sight – guess it’s unfortunate if you get knots – hopefully just bad luck if you do.

    • #17 by tialys on March 3, 2017 - 13:56

      I use loveknitting too sometimes – they sometimes have some very good offers.

  8. #18 by CurlsnSkirls on March 2, 2017 - 19:18

    Lovely gift for your knitting friend – pattern placement with that red butterfly is great! The scrummy chocy cake looks as if your oven temp might be slightly high. Have you got a reliable oven thermometer you can stick in the oven to check? Must admit I don’t, but think my current oven isn’t delivering what the dial says it’s supposed to be. I recognise a few similarities . . . 😉

    • #19 by tialys on March 3, 2017 - 13:55

      It could be the temperature as it’s a fan oven and I do normally adjust it down a bit – can’t remember whether I did it or not that time :/

      • #20 by CurlsnSkirls on March 4, 2017 - 03:01

        Definitely needs another trial!

  9. #21 by anne54 on March 2, 2017 - 23:35

    I am a non-baker, so taste trumps looks every time. And it sounds like your brownies and chocolate pudding tasted mighty fine!! However, the present for your friend and the crochet rug both look scrumptious 🙂

    • #22 by tialys on March 3, 2017 - 13:54

      My friend was getting a bit despondent with her efforts to learn to knit but, hopefully, she will be newly inspired now she has her own knitting needle roll. She was learning from a book and I think she needs a one on one lesson just to start her off. I’m not offering because I’m already struggling with crochet terms varying between U.K./U.S./French and I don’t want to further confuse myself with the knitting terms.

  10. #23 by jendavismiller on March 2, 2017 - 23:39

    Julia Child reportedly said “Never apologize, never explain” and here you are making a grand display of a fallen cake! Julia would be so proud! As for me, I’d enjoy some of those chunks, no doubt.
    Love your yarns, the blanket will be cozy and lovely. And yes, you are indeed a very good friend (and not a lazy cow).

    • #24 by tialys on March 3, 2017 - 13:51

      I only know who you are talking about as I saw the film with Meryl Streep which I really enjoyed.

  11. #25 by dezertsuz on March 3, 2017 - 00:10

    The test of a cake is in the taste. If it tastes good, it can never be a fail! Especially if it’s chocolate! Your knitting needles are too adorable – almost makes me want to learn to knit so I can have some. =) The crochet piece is going to be great!

    • #26 by tialys on March 3, 2017 - 13:49

      They are lovely needles – though a little fragile, I’ve broken a couple of pairs which has never happened with any other knitting needles I’ve ever had.

  12. #27 by themateriallady on March 5, 2017 - 11:23

    Lucky friend! That needle roll is beautiful (as are your needles!).
    Regarding the cake. Is there any left? No? So what was the problem? Seems to have been a good cake.
    I’m seriously impressed by anyone crocheting a blanket. That seems like a huge commitment. Yours looks great so far 😃

    • #28 by tialys on March 5, 2017 - 18:05

      Thank you to all three compliments 🙂

  13. #29 by Beads and Barnacles on March 5, 2017 - 11:53

    That cake looks great (ok not so much when it came out of the oven) and hot with ice-cream sounds wonderful.
    The start of the blanket looks good 🙂

    • #30 by tialys on March 5, 2017 - 18:05

      Yes, I’m quite pleased with the blanket so far – it’s really getting me used to holding the hook and handling the yarn and just getting the feel of crochet generally.

  14. #31 by magpiesue on March 6, 2017 - 21:58

    In spite of what JM Barrie had to say about it, rich damp cakes are my favorites! With ice cream and hot fudge sauce… 🙂

    • #32 by tialys on March 7, 2017 - 09:21

      Mmmmmm 🙂 Ginger cakes especially lend themselves very well to being rich and damp.

  15. #33 by sewchet on March 7, 2017 - 01:10

    My speciality is making gorgeous tasting cakes that look like crap – but at least that’s the preferable way around! Love that blanket……

    • #34 by tialys on March 7, 2017 - 09:26

      That’s what I’m going to call it next time! ‘A speciality’. When my daughter came to visit at the weekend she made brownies which didn’t set properly so it was impossible to cut into chunks – we didn’t have a brownie tin and used a ceramic one which I think was to blame. After putting it in the fridge however it reset – we have been chipping bits off ever since and it’s gorgeous.

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