Jumping for joy beans

I am very pleased at the moment, after having been a little bit unobservant of my little kitchen windowsill garden, (although you can’t really see out the window anymore so really it is quite hard to miss) I have noticed that it’s making some grand progress. We’ve got a bean! A really big bean! (yes, just one of them) And tomatoes too! Such a happy feeling to see. I can’t wait for those to grow a little bit and maybe turn red.

tomatoes growing little beanbean in a kilner jar

The basil is a big success too – I recommend this a lot – such a lovely flavour in our pasta sauces – especially this time of year. On the road to self sufficiency?

Hooray for indoor gardens. x

Little Red Cardigan

I am feeling very happy at the end of this long weekend as have finally finished this work in progress knitting project – my first cardigan in a really really long time! Little red gem. I got the wool for Christmas when Rose was six weeks old, and now she’s two and a half! But I had a good incentive and am really pleased with the end result!

fluffy red yoke cardigan - adriafil soffiofluffy red yoke cardigan

I used my trusty yoke cardigan pattern as tried and tested previously here, and here, and here. Debbie has also made one! I love this one so much, it’s just such a great pattern, a good fit for me, and economical with wool and not very much sewing up at the end. Lots of good features.

For this one I used Adriafil Soffio Plus yarn, a nice fluffy one, colour shade 055 – red, nice and bright. I got the buttons as a gift and think they are a perfect finishing touch. This time I decided to elongate the body of my cardigan a bit by adding a few rows between increase rows. It worked out nicely. The original pattern can be found in this book if you like the look of it. There are lots of projects in there inspired by different decades, but I admit this is the only pattern I’ve tried. But a lot of good use it’s got!

And I think my next big knit is actually going to be the same cardigan again. I got some more of the rowan colourspun wool I used to make this version and I think I am just going to remake it exactly the same! It is my absolute best cardigan- I could wear it everyday (instead I just wear it most days!) I think I will really enjoy making it, the wool is so luxurious and I love the colours, and hopefully can finish before the end of the year to complete my new year’s resolution (and bolster my winter wardrobe)

Apart from knitting we have really been enjoying the better weather recently. Rose just loves to be by the sea and throwing stones and paddling. And I am enjoying this interest of hers too. I hope the sun is shining for you too.

Hearts and heatwave

I have enjoyed this weekend so so much! It has been filled with dressmaking and sunshine – what a treat for me.

I have had on my to do list for a long time to make a little dress pattern for Rose and then make her some dresses. She only likes to wear dresses now, and gets through at least one a day, and is quite picky, so I was starting to feel the pressure. The last (and first) dress I made her was when she was about 9 months old, but it didn’t go over her head so I think this experience had put me off a bit making her anything again, but it felt like it might be a good time to put the past behind me. I got her to pick out some fabric she liked when were last shopping, and despite her normally going for anything flowery or pink, she chose a blue fabric with white hearts which I thought was a good choice and was a bit of extra motivation for me.

a little bit of pattern cutting

Rich was out yesterday evening and so to give me a bit of time he took her out in the day and I really got a lot done. I found pattern cutting for children was a very much simpler and quicker process than for women’s wear. The shapes are simpler, and the pieces are smaller. I managed to not only draw the pieces but also cut them out in quite a short space of time! Triumph! (To make my pattern I referred to this book by Winifred Aldrich which sets out step by step how to draw a block and then adapt this into a pattern. I did do some evening classes on pattern cutting which helped me get my head around the process, which I think is actually the biggest challenge of all! But it’s easy when you know how – grand skills.)

a little bit of pinninga little bit of cutting out

As I was on a roll, I decided why not make a start on the sewing too, and managed to put this little gem together in about half an hour… The bodice part is fully lined so that really just involved sewing around the edge and turning inside out, which I think was actually a much better plan than dealing with facings, even though lining it sounds like more work. The skirt is just a very simple shaped and slightly gathered piece and sewed on very easily too. It took me much longer to finish off all the finishing off bits (and made a bit of a mess with my poppers and buttons really) but I am really encouraged now that making dresses for Rose isn’t such a big chore.

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I left the little dress out over night and Rose was so excited to find it in the morning! She really loves it and she really looks great in it. I did use measurements for a slightly easy-fit shape (to really be sure it would go over her head!) and I really love the way it looks on her. It is always a little bit of a gamble with a new pattern but I think this one I got it in one!

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And today was perfect summer dress weather (and first bare leg day of the year). We spent all day at the beach. The sea was freezing, but Rose was undeterred! And when we got home I started some more cutting out for some special dresses we need for a special event next month.. I hope I can keep up this sewing momentum a little while longer.

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And hope you had a lovely sunny weekend too.

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Woolapple woodland wandering

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Today’s adventure was a trip to Stanmer Park to see the bluebell woods. Unfortunately we didn’t find the bluebells – I think they were up a bit of a steep path, but I’m not really at all sure where they were, so there might be a part 2 to this adventure where we go back after having done a bit of research- but we really had a very lovely time even without bluebells. Rose enjoyed walking through the trees and finding bugs and sticks (although she was very sad that we didn’t see any squirrels)

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After our walk in the wood we stopped for a scone at the cafe in the house, then walked back through the park, with a long pitstop while Rose played under a tree. It was all a little bit too lovely. After all the walking we thought we would be in trouble with a very tired toddler on the train home, but even this journey was tranquil. What a wonderful day! And tomorrow is a bank holiday. Hooray hooray! I am happy today.

catch!

I have been a bit quiet here on my blog but I am just working my hardest to finish a big knit at the moment! And doing a little bit of dressmaking for Rose and me as we are in great need of dresses. It’s hard to keep up with everything at the moment. But see you soon. Yes.

And happy weekend!

 

Making doughnuts to cheer us up

It has been a bit of a stressful time for us around here this last week, and over the weekend I had the biggest urge to make some doughnuts! A real treat.

I thought they were going to be difficult and was really worried about the deep frying part because I’ve never done that before – but actually they were quite straightforward and the frying didn’t feel as dangerous as I had feared!

mmm the doughnuts

i n g r e d i e n t s :

  • 1 tbsp yeast
  • 4 tbsp caster sugar
  • 150ml warm milk
  • 225g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
  • ¼ tsp salt (optional)
  • 50g melted butter
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 300ml vegetable oil, for deep-frying
  • Jam

m e t h o d :

Start by measuring out 2tbsp of your warm milk and add your yeast and half a tsp of sugar. Leave for the yeast to foam up and go frothy- about 15 minutes is right.

Add the salt and a tablespoon of sugar to your flour. Make a well in the flour and add the frothy yeast, the rest of the milk, the melted butter and the egg. Mix together and knead to form a soft dough. Place in your bowl, cover and leave to rise for about 45 minutes.

Knead your dough once again and then divide up into 12 little dough balls. Leave to rise again for about half an hour (or until they have doubled in size)

doughball doughnuts

Heat your oil in a pan with deep sides until it reaches 190C, or if (like me) you don’t have a suitable thermometer, until a little piece of bread sizzles and toasts in about 30 seconds. (CAUTION: be really careful with the hot oil – don’t leave it unattended)

frying doughnutsdoughnuts fried and looking fine

Place your dough balls one at a time into the hot oil, in batches of two or three, and fry for 3-5 minutes or until golden brown, then turn them over. Take them out and place on kitchen towel to help soak up the oil.

While they are still warm, roll your doughnuts in the rest of the sugar. I used a piping bag full of jam to fill my doughnuts too, but you could always use a knife to make a slit and fill with a spoon.

DSC0rolling the doughnuts in sugarpiping the jam into the doughnuts

They were so delicious – and really tasted like doughnuts – the dough was so rich and tasty. Straight after frying I thought they looked a bit over baked on the outside, but they softened up and soaked up the sugar – they were so nice – we ate them all!

doughnuts

Parklife, country life

Today we enjoyed a little bus ride and went along to the big parks project park in Peacehaven.

We really like this one – it’s such a wonder. We haven’t really had a proper explore because Rose is a bit little for a lot of the park, but the toddler area has some lovely things -little climbing rocks, lovely natural wicker tunnels, and a pretty treehouse. One thing we found very amusing was a little trail of bricks in the grass that led us round and round in circles.

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In the big park there is a wonderful looking acorn tree house, and some most amazing looking swings. Everything is lovely and wooden and it’s a nice place to be.

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Last week was really quiet at work as it was still the Easter holidays, so I found myself binging on radio 4 to keep me company and am now a bit hooked. I had seen in the news there was a bit of a gripping storyline happening in The Archers and as I do love a soap opera, I started as far back as iplayer would allow me and am completely sucked in now. I have been getting the podcast to listen to while I’m cooking. A nice daily dose of country life (and DRAMA!!!!). I subscribed to Women’s Hour while I was there too which has been nice with my knitting at bedtime (grandma!) I am really enjoying the radio at the moment, especially because it has had a wonderful effect of making me switch off my screens, and I feel I am much less interested in them at other times too – I think a habit is broken – I am very happy with this effect. I tried to get Rose involved with the Sarah and Duck podcast but she was just a little bit confused at the moment.

I hope you have had a good week too.

Little cook’s apron

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A little while ago I found this great fabric in a charity shop. I was hoping there would be enough for a pillowcase, but alas not (it was bundled in a bag so I couldn’t tell) but for a while I have wanted to make Rose a little play apron for when she is playing in her little kitchen (which is quite a lot really) and this seemed the perfect use for my fabric find.

I had the perfect home alone morning at the weekend which was the perfect time for a little bit of sewing machine action. A sweet but simple little project.

finished little apronfinished little apron

Here is how I made my little apron in case you would like to make one too…

t h e  t h i n g s  y o u  w i l l  n e e d :

A piece of cotton type fabric about 90cm x 70cm
Scissors, pins, a hot iron, a sewing machine, a tape measure

w h a t  t o  d o :

Cut out a piece of fabric  90cm x 35cm (my fabric was 90cm wide and this was perfect). Using a hot iron,  turn up the hem 1cm, then over again. Turn in the side edges 1cm. Then sew all the way around with your machine to secure everything.

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Next you want to put some gathering in the top of your apron. To do this, put two rows of a long running stitch along your top, unhemmed, edge. The first needs to be about 1cm from the top and the second another 0.5cm below. Start and finish these lines about 5cm from the side edges and remember to leave long threads at each end. I find doing two rows is useful to give a good even gather, and also good if one of your threads snaps (argh!). Snip a little notch at the top centre point of your apron as a marker for later.

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To prepare the waistband, cut an 8cm wide band which is about 130cm long. You may need to cut two bands and sew them together to make up the length (as I did). Next press over the top and bottom edges of your band by 1cm, then turned in the ends by 1cm and finally fold and press the band in half all the way along (see pictures!)

Mark the centre of the waistband with a pin, then place two more pins one each either side at 20cm  away from your centre pin.

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Pin the edge of your apron to the first outside pin on your waistband. Pin the centre notch on your apron to the centre pin on the waistband, and then the other edge of your apron to your last outside pin.

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Draw up the threads one edge at a time until your apron fits the waistband. Make sure the top of your apron is sitting straight against the fold line in the waistband. Fold the band over and pin evenly along the length. This bit can be a little bit tricky to get your gathers even and fitting properly but persevere, it’ll fall into place.

little apron waistband sewn

Secure everything with a sewing machine line close to the bottom edge of the band, sewing from the end to end of your waistband.

preparing the patch pocketslittle apron patch pockets

To add pockets cut out two squares 12cm x 12cm. Press in the edges by about 1cm, then stitch along the top edge. Pin and sew your pockets onto you apron about 20cm in and 9cm up from the outside edges of your apron (or where you think looks about right). I added my pockets last as it can be tricky to work out how the fabric will gather and effect the spacing, but it might have been easier to get them straight and even if I had done these before gathering the fabric…I’ll leave this decision up to you!

Then all that is left is to cut off your loose threads and find a little baker to model your creation.

finished little apron

Rose really likes her little apron. And not just for the kitchen – it has proved also a good shop keeper’s apron for when she is selling icecreams – the pockets are a win to put the money in. I am pleased she likes it.

Rose in her apron checking recipesRose in her apron, whisking a cookbook

Little Spelt and Apple Biscuits

This morning was a bit of a sugar fuelled one around here. We went to meet some friends at a cafe on the beach and this meant an icecream for Rose, then a biscuit on the way back and that seemed to lead to chaos and unhappiness. All was well after some lunch and a rest (no nap!) but i decided it might be a good plan to stock up on some refined sugar free treats to help see us through the afternoon and beyond.

I found a lovely recipe which I wanted to try instantly, not only because of it’s sugar free quality, but also it’s simplicity. I still have some spelt flour in the cupboard from our little spelt, fig and walnut bake, so just a little trip to the shop for some apple juice and we were ready:

i n g r e d i e n t s

100g plain white flour
100g spelt flour
half a tsp of baking powder
75g chilled butter, diced
75ml apple juice

m e t h o d

this was not such a toddler friendly bake to begin with as there were not many steps and they all really needed to be done by me! But the cutting out part is good for little hands so perhaps get to that stage before introducing little helpers.

Mix together the flours and baking powder in a bowl. Add the butter and rub in until evenly combined. Add the apple juice and mix together to form a soft dough.

That’s it!

Next, flour your surface and roll out to about 3mm thickness and introduce child and cookie cutters!

little one hard at workcuttting out shapesbiscuits in the making

Cut out your shapes and place on greaseproof paper or a greased baking tin. Bake in a preheated oven at 180 degrees for 15 minutes, or until starting to brown a little. remove from the oven, leave for a couple of minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool. And then enjoy.

apple and spelt sugar free biscuits I read that these biscuits are perfect for freezing, and a good first food snack for little ones and toddlers alike. They are quite a plain biscuit, but lovely and buttery with a tiny hint of sweetness which does make them quite satisfying. And the spelt flour adds a nice quality too. We had ours with some apple, although they might be good with a little cheese spread too. Next time.

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Woolapple Easter Break

Last week I had some time off of work, and Rich did too, and we had some lovely days (mostly near the seaside).

We went along to Eastbourne on the bus, which is a nice easy journey for us, although we don’t really seem to do it very often. I do like it there though. Rich wanted to visit the Towner Gallery which was a really grand one. There is a room there of Ravilious pictures which are really lovely ones of our local area. Rose was not very interested in looking at the pictures though but we very flukily had arrived just as a toddler arts and crafts drop in session was starting so Rose and I make some pictures and read some books while Rich had a proper look about the art.

in the townerin the townerwoolapple and ravilious at the townerwoolapple and ravilious at the towner

After the pictures we had some chocolate cake at the cafe and we enjoyed some lovely seaside sunshine that day too. I also managed a little fabric shopping while Rose took a little nap (a rarity these days!).

hopping about on eastbourne beachwoolapple on eastbourne beachlittle ones on eastbourne beacheastbourne pierwoolapple and eastbourne pier

Then at the end of the week, Rich and I had a whole day off to ourselves. We went to Brighton and drank coffee and ate cake and had lunch and sat down and looked at the sea. It was a real treat.

woolapple in moshimowoolapple in the lanesbrighton from the pierbrighton from the pierwoolapple on brighton pier

Back to work for me next week, but maybe just take it easy, put the kettle on etc.

I hope you are enjoying the spring a little too.

A play with macramé

On pinterest I seem to have a rather large collection of pictures of plants, and have seen lots of these lovely string plant hangers.

Most of my house plants sit together on a little table in the corner of our sitting room, but I’ve long been thinking it might be good to suspend a couple of them to add a bit of dimension to that area.

I wasn’t really sure where to start with the macramé – it looked quite complicated, but actually was really super easy, and after watching some youtube videos, I was feeling rearing to go! (I hope this description of what I did has the same effect on you and doesn’t put you off!) I warn you, I did go off in my own direction a bit….

I used some twine I had and some white knitting cotton I added in to make it a bit more robust. And found some wooden beads left over from my crochet beads which I thought would look nice with this natural colour scheme.

To start with measure out 4 lengths 4 metres long. Lay the lengths together, fold them in half and tie a loop in the top (so you are left with 8 lengths each 2 metres long)

I hooked my loop over a door handle and seperated the pieces. It was a bit confusing at first because I was using two different threads together, but had to remember that I was working with 8 (double) lengths and not 16. If you don’t use double thread though and use cording or something similar you won’t have this confusion to worry about.

DSC04914making a macramé plant hanger

Start by knotting two lengths together all the way around (4 knots) 20cm from the top knot. (There are a lot of different macramé knots to try, but I kept it very simple using a basic overhand knot throughout)

Next measure 10cm down and you want to seperate your two strands and tie one of these to one of the strands from the neighbouring pair. The strand that is left from that pair you want to tie to one strand from the next pair round. Repeat this all the way round. (make sure you always pair up with the neighbour – I did get in a bit of a muddle at one point and had to unknot!)

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At this point I added a bead to each knot by threading them onto one of the twine threads and knotting below the bead to secure it.

easter cactus in my macrame plant hanger

The next knots are another 20cm down (always seperating and knotting with the neighbour) with some more beads attached, then the next 10cm with beads, then another set 10cm with beads and finally some more knots another 10cm without beads. Lastly I tied all the strands together in one big knot 10cm from here to make a tassel. (I trimmed the ends and tied some more beads on for fun)

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I definitely want to make another one of these and will change my pattern a bit as realised that the top sets of knots hang tightly together so perhaps were not really needed, although do add a bit of interest, but could have been replaced with a plait or more beading or something like this. It was a bit of trial and error with the spacing of the knots and I think this will be fun to experiment with a little bit.

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Maybe have a go and report back for me!?