Saturday, 30 January 2016

A long awaited Ta Da!

Long term readers may remember that back when we were in St Helena we were visited by some lovely friends. Well, shortly after they returned home Janet and Toby got married. I couldn't go to the wedding because we were still 4500 miles away, but due to the magic of the interweb I was able to watch it live on YouTube! I put on my best hat and sat alternately, and sometimes simultaneously grinning like a cheshire cat and sobbing my heart out. 

I had always planned a handmade gift and made a start shortly after we got back.Then I stalled, and got distracted and started something else and then something else. Their first wedding anniversary came and went and my WIP was still in a basket under my sewing table.

Then some how, Just before Christmas it all clicked into place and I got my act together. It is no longer a WIP, it is a real and actual Ta Da! 

Ta Da!

 A Ta Da so large that I found it very hard to photograph. I completely love it and hope they do too.

I even love the back!


Friday, 29 January 2016

A small hat for a small Small.

My cousin has a quite small Small who needed a hat, and while she is quite capable of making a hat, she has a quite small Small so has no hat making time or energy, so I made one instead. 

Ably modeled by Little Man's bunny.


PS you can find the pattern here.

Monday, 25 January 2016

Paintbox Blanket

Some lovely friends we met on St Helena are going to have a baby in March. I wanted to make them something special for Bub that would remind them of our crazy rock once they return to Blighty. I was casting around for a boy type colour pallet that avoided the usual and remembered this place...

This valley is called paintbox because the eroded soil and rock has so many colours in it. It is very hard to photograph and we didn't have any pics that really did it justice so I have borrowed these from another St H friend. Thanks very much Ceri.

Inspired by these colours and the folded landscape I made a baby blanket. I used the most excellent ripple stitch pattern written by Lucy of Attic 24.

I used a starting chain of 143 stitches, a 6mm hook and  two 50g balls of seven shades of Drops Paris cotton for the ripples: Dark grey, rusty red, strong yellow, light ice blue, dark old pink, orange and petrol. The edging came from a further ball each of dark grey and rusty red. The finished blanket measures approximately 65cm x 85cm.

I have named it the Paintbox Blanket.


Friday, 22 January 2016

Here and Now

Loving: That there is a reindeer painted on the rocks at the end of Bamburgh beach.

Eating: Cashew nut butter for the first time... uh oh...

Drinking: Another cup of tea. Of course!

Feeling: Chuffed to bits that a Top Secret WIP is nearing completion. And I love love love it! Nearly time to show and tell.

Making:The most of every scrap of light during these dark days. I have even begun to make my peace with the dreaded snow. I still dislike its slippery ways but I do like how much light it bounces around.

Thinking: About how to turn my resolution to be more Brave into concrete action.

Dreaming: Of warm sunlit camping trips next summer.

Hooking up with Sarah at Say Little Hen again for Here and Now.

Tuesday, 19 January 2016

Say Little Hen 100% Spelt Sourdough

A little while ago I offered to test a recipe for Sarah at Say Little Hen. She had been working for a while to perfect her own 100% spelt sourdough loaf and was thinking of publishing the recipe. Now, Sarah grinds her own spelt flour (as well as rearing sheep and cows and hens and tending a fab veggie garden) in Queensland, Australia. It is hot and dry there right now and we wondered how the recipe would fair in damp cold Blighty. 

I don't grind my own spelt flour, but I know a place that does, so I used spelt flour ground about 10 miles away at Heatherslaw Mill, Northumberland's only working water mill. 

All went well until I left my loaf to rise... It rose more out than up so mid-rise I flopped my UFO pancake thingy into a loaf tin which probably knocked some air out of it. It was a bit denser than I would hope but it was very yummy ad I will definitely be having another go. I think I'll go for the tin from the outset and see what happens. 

You can try Sarah's recipe too because she has published it on her blog along with a fab photo tutorial. I'd love to hear how you get on.


Thursday, 14 January 2016

Bits of stitchery

Two bits of stitchery I spotted this week...

A huge quilt, about 6 foot by 10, hung in the stairwell of Borders General Hospital. 

A jungle scene printed and stitched in my school textiles lessons when I was about 12. My Mum keeps it on the chest of drawers in her spare room.


Wednesday, 13 January 2016

Twelve Days of Christmas

Can you hear it? That slightly mechanical manic laughter? That is the sound of time mocking me. I have been trying to make time to blog more and have failed spectacularly. I only have time right now because I have skived off choir with the aim of an early night. Hmm we shall see...

Anyway, back in those early days of the New Year, I finished opening my 12 little parcels from Janet of MacQue who was my partner for the 12 days of Christmas swap organised by Jo at Through the Keyhole. The plan: to send and receive 12 little individually wrapped parcels of happy for the 12 days of Christmas.

Janet had obviously gone to a lot of trouble with pretty wrappings and hand made tags. Some of my gifts were hand made too...

Thanks very much!


Friday, 8 January 2016

A year in the garden - January

All of last year my poor garden was sadly neglected. Not totally abandoned but I certainly didn't put as much time and effort into it as it really needs, or, if I am honest, I really need. So, here's the plan - every month or so I am going to take you on a little tour so that together we can see how the garden grows and develops. I am going to try to get out there as often as I can and see if it doesn't do us both good.

I am afraid we have had a string of dark and gloomy days here so the pics aren't great, but these were snapped on 1 January without any preliminary tidying or titivating to show you the reality of the start of the year. The grass needs cutting because it has been so warm, and the wind has strewn things about a bit. Anyway, here we go...

This is the view as you enter the garden. The central path runs right up to the garden gate. 

Working our way up the right hand side: This little area contains a lovely cherry tree which I am reluctant to lose but otherwise has no real purpose. One day I will work out what to do with it. In the mean time we will wrestle with the lower branches of the cherry every time we need to mow.

This bed currently contains gooseberries which I have already moved once but which I am planning to move again. The pesky thorns are in the way.

This has ambitions to be a small herbaceous border in front of our little terrace which is one area of the garden that works well and I love. The borders need some time and energy to remove all the boring stuff that under-performs and add some more goodies.

We built the terrace in what I think must have been the remains of an old greenhouse. It gets lots of sun and has some great climbers that scramble up the posts and along the ropes.

This is the veg patch which needs seriously sorting out and reorganising. I have already started since I took this pic. Today I moved the rhubarb and dug some crowns up to give away. I also forked over some of the little beds and removed a bucket full of potatoes and carrots that we never got round to harvesting. I think they are mostly salvageable and they are awaiting my attention in the kitchen.

Now going up the left hand side we have a grassy area with a north facing wall that used to be covered in ivy, which was great, until it brought the wall down. I need to sort out what I am going to do with the whole strip along this wall to soften it and introduce some much needed interest.

This is the utility area with the fab compost bins built by my friend who looked after the garden when we were in St Helena. We need to keep a space for a bonfire and access to the bins but I would love to add a greenhouse or a shed up here.

Now we are looking back down the garden towards the house.

The last two pics are of the very bleak looking front garden, which had just been tidied. It gathers a lot of litter which I have to go out and collect up. Mostly due to the wind, although even the recent storms can't blow glass bottles around...

Hopefully next month there will be improvements and even signs of life from snowdrops and other spring things.