Category Archives: crafting

Socks, socks, socks

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Loving the 9 inch mini circular needles. In fact, I am slightly obsessed with sock knitting at present and have produced a few pairs this month. As much as I love my knitting looms, I have to admit that knitting on the mini circulars is a lot quicker and also a lot more portable.  I got loads done on train journeys this month and even some at lunchtime at work.

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I do need to think more carefully about the number of cast on stitches as they are perhaps a little loose.  For anybody interested, i do not have one particular sock pattern I am using as I have kind of cobbled together my favourite elements for a ‘vanilla sock’. I can highly recommend the Fish Lips Kiss heel method as developed by SoxTherapist (see Ravelry).  Also, after trying DPNS and not liking them much, I have discovered how to do the toe decreases using two mini circulars. So basically I am well pleased with myself as I can now knit socks!

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What happened in January catchup – bad blogger

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I have been a neglectful blogger since the New Year so here is a catch up of things I have been up to in January and a taste of what I am planning for February.

I have completed my Coastal ripple blanket (see Attic 24 for details and Wool Warehouse to buy yarn and pattern).  Very pleased with it and it made me use a different colour palette.

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I made a teeny tiny pair of socks on the loom for a teeny tiny pair of feet expected this month.

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I have enjoyed watching my bargain Amaryllis unfurl itself from its cramped box and it has been magnificent and has now produced a second head of three blooms.  Funny story I heard this week involved non British folk eating  Amaryllis bulbs because they assumed that they must be food as they were on display in the supermarket. Was the little pot of compost not a clue people?

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Here we have Ziggy proudly sitting on his newly aquisitioned crochet blanket as I realise he was slowly destroying the leather armchair.
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I made some Crocodile bootees for the tiny feet and a strange pointy hat with the remnant yarn. Patterns are on Ravelry (not my own) – Pinwheel hat and Crocodile Stitch baby bootees.

 


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Another snap of the glorious Amaryllis which will remain uneaten and my lovely dinky little narcissus which are bringing early Spring into my kitchen.

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Projects for February

I have been a crocheter as long as I can remember. I was shown the basics by my Nan and an Aunt when I was a child. I have never really taken to knitting however although I know the technique (basics) and have made a couple of small things in the past.   Lately I have been remembering how my Nan would knit socks in double pointed needles and though I would have a go at brushing up my skills a little. This is also because I am not sure I should make any more crochet blankets for a while after the two on the hook right now are complete.  I have about a third of a Cosy blanket and the same of a multi -stitch stripey blanket underway.

 

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So… knitting practice so far…

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Targets … stop dropping stitches and count more carefully.  But I did achieve a whole knitted sock which fits and only has a few unimportant mistakes.

 

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Tah Dah…   will make a second one soon.

See you in Spring (survived another Winter)  – can’t wait 🙂

Autumn Bounty continued

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Shiny, shiny, shiny boots of leather chestnuts

DSCF4418There has been a lot going on in the woods and hedgerows of my part of England this year owing to the beautiful Summer we enjoyed.   The latest  bounty for harvesting from the wild has been the sweet  chestnuts pictured here. Although a bit smaller then the ones on the supermarket, they are actually a size worth picking up this year – sorry squirrels but I think there were plenty left.

 

Equally beautiful but I assume not edible….

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Spotted in the woods this morning along with lots of not so pretty relatives. Unbelievably bright colours!

 

Green tomato chutney

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Looks pretty horrible but hopefully will taste good although it is not really for me as I am not a chutney fan.

 

What have I made this month?

 

I have been finishing things for Christmas presents this month including a double bed size ripple blanket which has been nice and snuggly to work under in t e evenings.

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I have also made a star ripple for the first (but not last) time. This was fun to make and grew quickly. I think it will be a cool baby blanket.

 

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Completed man socks. That makes four pairs made this year – one for me and three for presents. Wish I could make them a bit quicker 🙂

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I also returned to the sewing machine after a long break. I haven’t got much money at present but I do have a large stash of fabric so I made myself a cheerful crazy bag and even made the button from Fimo which is my newest hobby. I love it when I get a fusion of crafts such as beading with quilting, and polymer clay with sewing.

 

The pattern for the bag was one I found online here: http://mypatchwork.wordpress.com/2011/05/02/tote-bag-tutorial  – thank you for sharing it.

 

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I have realised that I have worked with a pretty limited colour palette for some years – nearly always drawn to pinks, purples, greys on the whole. My next project is one from Lucy at Attic24 and I am shamelessly going to use her colour choices for the Coastal Ripple blanket to force myself to use blues more. Check it out on her blog at Attic24. Here is a preview picture complete in its cute drawstring bag from Wool Warehouse. Admittedly I didn’t really need to buy the kit but is no dearer than buying the yarn separately and it is nice to have the pattern even though I know if off by heart now. I don’t think this one will take long to complete so watch this space.

 

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Well that’s all folks! Next post will see us deep into Winter and almost at Christmas so see you later x

 

Autumn bounty

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Well it is definitely Autumn although we have been blessed with a lot more sunshine than normal. This is reflected in the hedgerows with their wonderfully bounty this year. I wonder if the ‘Old Wives’ are right about it being a tough Winter if the berries are abundant in Autumn?

I have done a fair bit of foraging in the last few weeks and have brought home bags of blackberries, sloes, elderberries and even some damsons and what I think are cooking apples.

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I have already got two demijohns of blackberry and elderberry wine bubbling away and have high hopes for them

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I am also planning to make my sloe gin soon and no doubt a lot of crumbles/pies with the apples, Maybe I could try a wine made from damsons and apples (didn’t take a pic of the damsons before bunging them in the freezer.

It has been a much better gardening year than normal and for the first time in four years, my tomatoes did not get blight and I managed to grow outdoor cucumbers.

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 I also have a physalis (Inca Berry) plant in the mini greenhouse which has  produced some cute little lanterns with fruit inside. The basil plant which has been  my joy this Summer is still going strong but I suppose I will have to freeze the leaves  soon before they give up for Winter. 

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Ziggy dog and the family have enjoyed some lovely picnics and walks in our glorious Devon scenery this Summer and we hope for lots more if this beautiful ‘Indian Summer’ continues.  These snaps were taken around the Dewerstone – check it out here  http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/article-1356404139583/

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That is all for now. Will be back to update on the progress of the home brew and what became of the apples and sloes.

Oh no, it seems to be Autumn already

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Well I don’t know what happened to Summer as I was all prepared for my two weeks off work, planning picnics and ice-cream, reading and crocheting in the sun but,,, instead we have a chill wind and rather too many showers for picnic comfort. Nevertheless we hit Dartmoor yesterday for some fresh air, exercise and a rather windy picnic.

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We also have an abundance of blackberries in the hedgerow which are begging to be picked and taken home as well as a promising supply of sloes this year. Must remember to take a pot f0r picking every time I go out.

So, I have admitted defeat and embraced Autumn pursuits which has meant more baking, the first soup making of the season (lovely warning lentil) and even my first real foray into home wine-making. This a supposedly very easy Orange juice wine but I have plans for the blackberries. Will report back again on the wine front when things happen.

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I have been testing recipes in my new cookbook (Sweetness and Light) but to be perfectly honest, the results have not been brilliant. I have few pictures as they were not photogenic and barely edible in many cases which is more than a little disappointing. The one which wasn’t too bad was Apricot and Ginger cake but it needed a lot more liquid added than the recipe asked for and still came out of the oven very dry.  This is a pic of the Banana bread which was a bit of a heavy brick.

 

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To keep him indoors (who is not keen on my so-called healthy baking) happy, I made a quick Cherry Cake and I report that that went down well.

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On the crafty front, I am getting socks finished slowly (not sure about the colours of this pair) and also working on some granny squares which I envisage making a throw with a cosmic theme.

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That’s all for now folks.

Retro ‘colour hit’ throw and seasonal food …

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I have finished my circles throw and I must admit I am quite pleased as I was getting a little tired of joining them together. I do love it now it is done and laying over the sofa arm all ready for winter snuggles.  It was a fun throw to make as the colours were pretty random and so did not require masses of thought. I did lay all the pieces out on the floor as it was getting near to the end to make sure I had a good balance of colour as I do have a tendency to keep reaching for same colour palette. It reminds me of Pop Art and Bullseye sweets.

 

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I was really pleased with the way the border came out as I didn’t want a plain crocheted edge feeling that the circles needed something to set them off.  A quick Google search produced this pointed scallop border which adds interest to the  throw. If anybody wants further details on this throw, check out my Ravelry project page 🙂

circles to square1cicles to squares closeup

 

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In the cooking department during this heatwave  there has not been much actual baking but I did make a lovely ‘bung it’ tart to have with salad (it involved mushrooms, spinach and blue cheese as well as eggs). Will get round to writing the recipe up soon. We had lots of home made pizza too. I just love the ripe seasonal fruit and veg especially vine tomatoes. I will look as these snaps in the Winter and pine for tomatoes which taste of Summer. I am optimistic that there may be tomatoes from my yard this year (I don’t have much luck with them normally as they seem to succumb to blight every August. The plants are massive this year – amazing what a bit of sunshine can do.

 

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I have been a bit quiet here lately but now I have a backlog of things to show you so will do more very soon. I also have a new cookbook for sweet but healthy treats and will report about that shortly. Enjoy the sun! Here is Ziggy’s tip for keeping your cool…

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Posh salad, crochet circles and a Green Man for Spring

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Spring is sprung, the grass is riz, I wonder where the birdies is?

Spring is springing all around but it is still pretty cold here. The woods are full of  wild flowers and absolutely glorious: fields full of bluebells and even white-bells  as well as oceans of wild garlic scenting the air. This Green Man was rather awe inspiring, presiding over the abundance of flora and fauna in evidence.

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Salads

I have almost stopped making soups and began on the salad feasting of sunnier days. I love a fancy salad with lots of interesting bits not just lettuce, tomato and cucumber! Here we have spinach and basil leaves, sliced avocado and mozzarella, tomato, cucumber, beetroot and pepper with chilli mayo. Lovely.

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Crochet circles

 

I have also, rather naughtily, started another crochet project as it called to me despite all the other UFOs in my baskets. I am not yet sure how large this one will be when complete or where it will end up living but I am enjoying combining the colours at present. I am not enjoying weaving all the ends in so much but it is a necessary evil for something so colourful.

 

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Right must make more circles …. see you soon.

 

 

Spring walk in sunshine (whoop whoop) then cake and crochet

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Sunny Sunday

One of my perfect types of day today: sun was a-shining and no work. Into the car with people, dog, food and flask and off to the Moors.  We were in the area known as Cadover Bridge which is only around 20 mins from Plymouth City centre. Oddly it wasn’t very busy today despite it being a dry Bank Holiday weekend. 

Here are some snaps to give you a flavour of just how beautiful it was:

 

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… and then home mid afternoon for a bit of gardening in the yard (planted out tomatoes and sweet peas and some more seeds. Then apple cake and crochet while pizza dough rises for tea.

This is the Easter chicken I made for my lovely old school friend. It is an egg cosy pattern but makes a cute sitting chicken too. I have shown you a picture of the inside below as it has a lining in a contrasting colour which is rather lovely. The pattern is available on Ravelry if anybody wants to make their own chicken 🙂

Eggstremely Cosy Set

 

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apple cake and cream
… and Apple cake

 

 

 

Catch up needed

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I have been neglecting this blog. Life has just been getting in the way of blogging but I have still been busy making and baking.

 

In the last few months since Christmas I have :

  • finished the man socks which were dragging their heels a little (ha ha I will laugh at my own joke as I don’t expect you to)
  • started socks for Christmas presents but only done one of each so far as I am trying to avoid the boredom of the second sock seeping in
  • started a circles into squares crochet blanket
  • started another ripple
  • made an Easter chicken
  • baked various cakes: apple, carrot and lemon drizzle as well as flapjacks- nothing earth shattering but delicious all the same.
  • planted many seeds: sweet peas, nasturtiums, tomatoes, mange tout, cosmos, various beans and morning glory.
  • discovered Artisan Bread which has now become the OH’s speciality
  • made soups and pizzas – various flavours

Here a few snaps of the works in progress and/or finished and I will try to be a good little blogger and get on here at least once a month this year.

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artichoke, leek, rosemary and stilton pizza (unbaked and baked)

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Artisan bread

 

 

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Minestrone soup – lovely

 

 

 

 

Random half pairs of gift socks:

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I will post some pics of the crochet projects soon but they are still on the camera at present.

Festive greetings and all the trimmings

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I like Christmas

Whatever you celebrate this time of year, I hope you have a happy and peaceful time. I am not religious in the slightest but I love the break from work at this time of year. The chance to decorate the house with fairy lights and all the little decorative bits and bobs I have accumulated over the past 30 or so years that I have had my own home. Many of these were made by the girls when children and they are my treasures. Some favourite decorations were made many years ago and others were purchased a few at a time when funds allowed. All have memories and are part of my Christmas (even the tea bag chimp in his festive jumper!). The little hanging in the fireplace is applique and embroidery and I made it many years ago to brighten the dark fireplace.

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Festive baking

Something else I enjoy very much this time of year, again when there is time away from work, is the baking of different treats. last year I had a focus on biscotti but this year’s thing is Stollen which I have never before made. My first try is currently trying to rise… I say trying as it seems to be fighting a losing battle against the weight of the fruit and nuts in the dough.  I think I am going to have to be more patient as this dough is not in a hurry.  I used the Paul Hollywood recipe but added granulated sugar mixed with ground ginger to the crust when baked as I liked the sound of that. There seem to be gazillion different recipes for stollen out there in cyberspace and some don’t even include marzipan, now what s the point in that?

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Festive craft

This year I have made some crochet snowflakes to add to the decorations. The biggest decision was to stiffen them in some way or not. I feel quite uneasy about dipping them entirely into PVA as I worry it may take away the yarny look and feel of the snowflakes. Other options seem to be sugar water or corn starch solutions – both of these worry me as I think they may either go mouldy or attract wildlife. Hmm what to do?  At present I am leaning towards just blocking with water as seeing how they behave. Then, at least, I can reblock with starch at a later time if necessary.

There s a good discussion of these options and methods here:

http://crochet.tangleweeds.com/stiffeners.html#starch

I think I will make chain between them so that I can hang them from the wall arch and they can become part of my collection of treasures. Here they are before and after blocking.

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HAPPY CHRISTMAS ONE AND ALL