Sunday, 17 February 2008

Better than expected

Well the weeks adventures were better than expected - the lodge we stayed at for our team bonding was stunning, my room had a four-poster bed. The resident ghost kept some of the others awake but I seem to have slept through that one!

This picture is the view from my bedroom quite early in the morning - stunning.

I meet some knitters whilst I was there, they very kindly agreed to take me to some local knitting shops next time I am in the Finnish office.

We did some Nordic walking - I couldn't really see that it was that different to normal walking, apart from the poles that kept my upright on the ice!

As you can see there was very little snow, the ski resorts in the rest of Europe are doing okay but the Nordics are missing out this year.

A very beautiful dawn, it was about -7 degrees but very very windy!

I felt the urge to bake this weekend - cream cheese swirl brownies, I am taking them to work so I don't eat them all myself!

375g Unsalted butter
375g Good dark chocolate
550g Caster sugar
7 eggs
1 tbsp Vanilla extract
1tsp Salt
200g Cream cheese - Philly!
225g Plain flour + 2 tbsp
Tin that measures 33 x 23 x 5.5 cm

Preheat the oven to 180C or gas 4 - we have an Aga so it's pretty much guesswork for me!

Line the tin - brownies stick very firmly - I use tin foil

Melt the butter and sugar together in the microwave - if it gets to hot you should wait for it to cool down or you get scrambled choco eggs - yuck.

Mix 6 eggs and 500g sugar with the vanilla - stir to combine

Tip the egg/sugar/vanilla mix into the chocolate butter, stir carefully as the mix thickens slightly.

Add the flour (except the 2 tbsp) and salt. Mix gently to remove lumps, try not to incorporate too much air as you really want stodgy brownies (I think that is the point of them really!)

Pour the mixture into the tin. Now make the cream cheese bit - mix the cream cheese, egg and remaining flour together, if you squidge the cheese about first it is easier to get the lumps out. Plop blobs of cheese over the top of the brownie and swirl together prettily.

Pop them in the oven for around 40 minutes in my Aga but normal ovens can take as little as 25 - keep checking, you want the brownie squidgy but not liquid. They keep cooking after you take them out as well. Let them cool before trying to cut them, then apply to face.
Ahhh at last some knitting!

I confess I bought these in Helsinki - I was cold and they are beautiful. The lady in the shop was really lovely and helpful. They sold yarn too - of course I bought some, who am I kidding!
These are a Finnish pattern but made in Estonia because the labour is cheaper - 32 Euros for these gloves! I was surprised they are made from alpaca but it is a lot softer than the traditional rough wool, that was available as well and I don't think you notice itchiness when it is very cold but I wanted these really bright ones.

Some of my own knitting now - This is the Ene that I have been making - I have got no further and still have not decided what to do about the possibility of running out of yarn!
These pictures really aren't doing the colour justice, I find it hard to capture dark yarn on a light background but can't seem to find a better way to show the stitches.

Tuesday, 12 February 2008

Oh No!

I'm in Helsinki again - I have a team building event for three days, I don't know about you but just the words team building makes me feel tired! We are going snowshoeing which I am looking forward to but the other bits - mehhh! I love my job - don't get me wrong but the thought of all the other socialising I will need to do - not being completely myself because it's work, I'd much rather be knitting!

I can hear people asking - can't you just go and hide in your hotel room in the evening and knit. The answer would be quite possible yes except on HUGE problem! I didn't pack ANY knitting -argghhhh not a single thing - I am really quite upset about it and I have no time to go to a yarn shop for an emergency stash run (they shut at 5 and I am still at work, we are leaving at an unhealthy 7 am). I am astonished that I could be so unorganised - admittedly I was packing on Monday before rushing to the airport but how did I forget something that important!

I have been working on my Ene scarf (scarf style) but I know for sure my gauge is off and now I am worried about running out of yarn. Yes I did a swatch - it was stockinet and perfect, there is something about this pattern that has made the gauge giant. I am torn, do I rip out the hours of work I have done and redo with smaller needles or do knit really quickly in the hope that there is enough yarn (why do I think that might work!). The yarn is lovely - the colour is pansies from Posh yarn, one off dye so no chance of getting any more. Maybe I could bind off early - that way instead of being triangular the scarf will have a 'neck' triangle missing, the pattern is knit from the outside edges in towards the middle of the hypotenuse. Why am I even thinking about this - it is just making me more annoyed that I am not even in the same country as the project!

Thursday, 7 February 2008

Helsinki in winter

I have been working in Helsinki this week, it isn't as cold as it normally is at this time of year, it should be -20, with lots of snow and the harbour would normally be frozen over.

I went out for a drink with people from work on Wednesday evening, to a place called the Torni hotel - it's a big tower in the centre of Helsinki with a bar at the top we sat out on the terrace, which despite the unseasonably 'warm' weather was still pretty cold! The view was amazing and the bar is tiny - very steep spiral stairs to reach it. It was advisable to only have one of the fab cocktails (or make a large soft landing walk down the stairs in front of you!)

I took some pictures from the office this morning in Espoo - as you can see it is wet and gray with very small bits of snow.

The front of the office has an interesting 'sail' sculpture. You can hardly see it - I am surprised the pictures came out, they almost look grayscale!

This is the front of the office overlooking the fjord. It should be lovely in the summer.

I went to a knitting shop in the centre of the city but by the time I got there it was closed - I'm going to try again next week. I found an excellent site that can tell you where the LYS are in any city - just don't believe the opening times!

I heard from my secret pal too - very exciting - hello to my lurking new friend!

I went to the London office today - what a difference in the sunlight! We have a really interesting view over the city.

I have been doing some knitting whilst I was away - but more of that latter - when I can take pictures with natural light.