Knitting For Myself

I don’t knit for myself very often. I always have approximately a million of ideas of things that I’d like to make for other people, but inspiration often fails me when I turn my attention to something I might want. But over the Christmas holidays, after the main celebrations, I finally had a chance to sit down, binge some Netflix (loved the first season of The Punisher and the latest season of Black Mirror, in addition to the 7 Sisters movie), and knit a few things for myself.

First, I wanted to use up the odds and ends of Bernat Handicrafter Cotton Yarn left over from making cloths throughout the fall. I made at least two dozen as gifts for friends, family, and my kids’ teachers. All of those ones had lovely, coordinating colours — leaving me to make ugly, mismatched cloths for myself. I thought I had enough Black Licorice and Hot Purple to make a Brick Stitch Dishcloth, but as you can see I ran short, so I just went with 45-stitch knit squares for the other ones. How they look doesn’t matter too much to me, though, since they’re just going to be used for cleaning up messes.

The second thing I knit was a hat from the Red Heart Super Saver Stripes in Favorite Stripes that I got in my Christmas stocking. I thought that something especially warm was in order since we’ve been seeing record-setting cold here lately; New Year’s Eve it went down to –28.6°C (-19.5°F) before wind chill, the coldest it’s been in 71 years. I whipped up double-layered rainbow tuque, using all but the last few meters of one ball of yarn. The hat is so thick and comfy that it muffles sound significantly when you put it on! I used some scraps of white yarn from my stash to make a pompom and to do the accent stitching. I finished it last night right before bed, and my timing couldn’t be better. The temperatures had dropped again from a relatively comfortable -5°C-ish (23°F-ish) during the day to a nighttime temperature of -20°C (-4°F), -32°C (-25.6°F) with the windchill. This is the kind of weather where the air hurts your face as soon as you walk outside, so anything to help prevent frostbite is a plus.

Halloween Bread Trials

A friend who knows me really, really well recently sent me a link to the Necro Nom Nom Nomicon — more specifically, to the instructions for how to make Brimstone Bread. This is totally up my alley, especially this time of year. The photos are spectacular, and the instructions seemed pretty clear, so I knew I had to at least try this recipe for my upcoming Halloween party. That being said, I also thought it would be the better part of valour to give the recipe a try before I depended on it on the day of the party. That’s never a good time to experiment with new dishes.

I was really happy with how the finished rolls looked! I didn’t have any instant bread mix, so I whipped up some of the dough for Nan’s Pan Rolls, which I have baked so many times now that I find them extremely simple. I only made up half of the recipe, since this was just a test, and then I divided the dough in half again to try the Brimstone Bread alongside a second recipe. I found the bread tasted pretty good (not surprising since I rather like Nan’s Pan Rolls), but I wasn’t terribly fond of the taste of the blackened crust. I’m wondering if it would taste better as a sweet roll, like an apple cinnamon roll with a sweeter, spiced topping. I think I need to experiment more on this one for the flavour, but the technique is sound.

The kids loved this roll, and were thrilled to see that the colour was part of the bread and not just an icing or some such. I will probably be making this bread again for the party if only for this reason.

My husband pointed out to me that the dough, when thoroughly saturated with food colouring, strongly resembles PlayDoh. I have to say that I agree. However, PlayDoh doesn’t rise, and it’s a lot easier to shape than a well-kneaded bread. The latter likes to snap back to its original shape.

Another thing to keep in mind when working with high concentrations of food colouring is that it will stain your hands and nails. Most of the colouring wore off within a day or so, but if you have to make a first impression after making these breads, wear gloves. The black dye is especially potent — this photo was taken after thoroughly scrubbing my hands. To protect your clothes, I’d suggest wearing an apron as well, or just wearing clothes that you don’t care if they get stained.

On the other hand, once the dye is worked into the dough and baked, it doesn’t rub off onto everything and stain. This is the complete opposite of coloured icing. It’s a great argument for serving dyed bread at a party when it can be pretty much guaranteed that one of the guests will spill something somewhere, usually on the one surface that you can’t easily clean and yet will show every stain.

The second half of Nan’s Pan Rolls dough went into making a miniature loaf of Voodoo Bread. I was a little worried that the crust might end up being too tough after changing the formula a bit with the dye, but it just ended up being a tiny bit more crispy.

I think I really should have made a full-sized loaf of this one, actually, to show off the internal swirls. There just wasn’t enough dough to do a proper roll. Even so, I am very satisfied with this recipe and I plan to make it for the party. My youngest is even more enthused with the Voodoo Bread than the Brimstone Bread, partly, I think, because she calls it Rainbow Bread. I think that I might try making this bread in different colours for special occasions once I have mastered the swirl technique. Also, I think I’ll use a lighter purple dye for the Halloween party loaf.