Friday, September 28, 2007

I'll be cabling in my sleep!

It hasn't been the craftiest of days. DH has had today off work and I've been attempting to do an impression of a busy little housewife - LOL! I managed to squeeze in a bit of sewing.

A dear friend of mine is going through a very bad time at work and is under a lot of stress. I considered buying her some flowers but then realised something to bust that stress might be in order.

A Dammit Doll to take it out on:

She was very pleased with him and is going to share him with her colleagues next week - poor little guy won't last 5 minutes! (You should see my kids when they get hold of one of these - the pent up aggression is scary!)

It was a very soggy and grey afternoon so I hit the kitchen. I used all my leftover veg to make a big pot of soup. A bizarre combination of veg went in but with a little tweeking it ended up being very tasty and wonderfully comforting.

It included an onion, two carrots, a parsnip, half a savoy cabbage, the end of a marrow, 4 mushrooms and some leftover sweetcorn plus veg bouillon powder. Before I blitzed it in the liquidizer it resembled watery cabbage soup -mmmm.

Ever done the cabbage soup diet? - I never have but I've witnessed it (M-I-L!), including the (raw looking) minced beef 'soup' (?) day and the bananas only day - yum!

The kids loved my soup - even when I told them it included (gasp) mushrooms.

I made my best ever bread too. I ignored the quick bread recipe on the flour pack and went for the slow option. I used easy yeast but let it 'grow' with the warm water and sugar:

Isn't yeast wonderfully weird.

Then I mixed and kneaded and left the dough to rise. I then knocked it back, kneaded and left it to rise again on the baking tray. I was so excited as it came out like a real 'bloomer' loaf - just like Tesco's! (is that a good thing?) only much, much, better and with just 6 ingredients.

My beautiful babes loved it and the Sausage Monster informed me it was the best bread he'd ever eaten (have I told you just how much I love that little man?)- DH said it was v nice.

I only tend to get compliments on my culinary expertise from DH when I've done something complicated like cook some oven chips and fry an egg - or made beans on toast. I suppose being asked by your wife every 2 seconds if you like the soup/bread/cake might not help with spontaneity in the compliments department!!!

I needed to bake a cake this afternoon. I found a recipe for marmalade cake from my Mum's very old Good Housekeeping cookbook. I always seem to end up with some leftover marmalade in the fridge so this seemed like a good idea.

The recipe calls for orange marmalade. I used grapefruit because it's what I had. It also called for glace icing made with oranges.I used lemons because that's what I had. I am so like my Mother sometimes it scares me :-) She was an amazing cook but she never followed a recipe to the letter. Her daughter is just as fearless - wow do I live life on the edge ;-)

I recklessly put the cake in to bake just before going to fetch the kids from school. When we got back it was done. If we'd been another 5 minutes it would have been overdone. Another 10 and the kitchen could have started smoking!! See above - life on the edge - you don't know the half of it!!

A slice of this was our dessert tonight. My beautiful beautiful (easy to please) babies loved it - and were totally disgusted when their father snuck out to the kitchen a couple more times for an extra slice or two. He tried to pretend he hadn't but the crumbs and hamster cheeks totally gave the game away!
That surely is compliment enough - but I may have asked once or twice more if he liked it! I'm like a little old dog desperate to be told what a good girl I am! See I'm sitting up and begging too...

In keeping with the recklessness of the day I even dared to bring out my cable knitting before the kids went to bed. They were watching Lord of the Rings - The Two Towers (against my better judgement - according to DH cert 15 doesn't necessarily mean you have to be 15 in order to watch something) and being reassured it was 'just a story' and 'just men in suits' or 'just computer graphics'.

So while my three kids (DH included here) were goggled eyed I cabled - and cabled - and cabled. The pattern is repeated over 12 rows and I did about 36 which, for me the cabling newbie, was pretty good going. I've about another 10cm to go on the back of the jacket and then to the fronts and sleeves.

The pattern has finally clicked with me, which helps, although I still have to keep note of which row I'm on - but I have sped up a bit. Who knows the Minx might even get to wear it whilst it still fits!!

I also coloured my hair today - plum (had me down as blonde did you?). Every time I've looked in the mirror - which was often having just coloured my hair - my Mum's voice said 'I prefer your hair lighter than that - it looks a bit too dark' and I've looked back and said 'it's my hair and everyone else really likes it!'. It's amazing how you can miss someone so much - and she always was bossy :-)

I'm not sure what the weekend will hold blogwise. Saturday is swimming, dancing, football, a bit of food shopping and Sunday - well Sunday might be tricky as it would have been my Mum's 71st birthday. DH is going away on Sunday - up to North Wales for his job interview. I'm also taking the kids to a friend's birthday party. I may/ may not blog - we'll see.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Star gardeners

I'm very pleased to report that the Minx and her gardening club friends won Gold in Southampton in Bloom for their school 'kitchen garden'. Last term I helped out with the after school gardening club that Minxie went to and we had a great time growing herbs, strawberries and runner beans and lots and lots of flowers.
The garden was entered for Southampton in Bloom for the first time and we came away with an impressive silver trophy, a certificate and a book for the school library. Well done to all my little green fingered friends who worked so hard digging, planting and weeding.

The very same Minx had a surge of creative energy this morning - before school (not the best time) - and this is how the table looked just before breakfast:

Trying hard to be a positive Mummy I asked what she was making (with my PVA glue!) and she said 'The Great Fire of London' and look - it is...

The ladybird is 'flying away home' - how cute!
They are doing a topic on the Great Fire of London at school and Minx loves it. She tells me new interesting facts every day :-)
I had a heavily caffeinated morning! First my friend came back for coffee after dropping the kids at school. We opted for a cafetiere of proper coffee (with cream!) which I do not normally do. Then a dear friend who I used to work with called to see if I was in. When she got here I made another pot of coffee. So 2 mugs of strong stuff for a girl who usually has maybe 1 mug of instant a day left me in something of a caffeine-induced dither!
I couldn't seem to get focussed on anything for the rest of the day. I did play with my new machine a bit though. Here is the little pack of felty goodies that came yesterday:

Here's what I did with some of them:

and just look at these lovely colours too:

Both babies are tucked up in bed after a story with the Dadmeistergeneral and I feel some cabling coming on - 'bout time too!!
Brrr - it's been freezing here today - winter seems to be barging it's way in already and we haven't even had autumn yet. The school crossing lady told me she's hoping for snow! (barking mad ;-) ).
Very much inspired by Lucy's marathon soup making exploits I shall be making a big thick veg soup with homemade bread tomorrow - mmm.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007


Just a quick one today - I'm supposed to be making the dinner! I've been wanting to make some autumn/winter clothes for Minxie for a while but wasn't inspired. So this morning I looked on t'Internet at Next, M&S, Pumpkin Patch etc. I didn't want to make anything too 'home-made' looking - if you know what I mean - but had to use fabrics from my stash.

There were lots of tiered and patchwork skirts and lots of trimming and ruffles in evidence.

I adapted a pattern for an A-line skirt, that I originally drafted from a 70p charity shop skirt earlier in the summer. Thrifty thrifty girl!

So here is the finished article - denim from scrapstore, big print from Auntie's stash, small print from my Mum's stash, burgundy brade leftover from my wedding flowers 8 1/2 years ago. I don't do waistbands so used a leftover length of homemade bias tape.

I love the colours so much. That big print is going to have to go into a skirt for me too.
I also made my first ever ruffle and love how it finishes off the bottom of the skirt and adds some much needed weight to the hem.

As you can see it is sufficiently swirly for a little girl to dance about in:

So glad she can still wear last year's suede boots too :-)
It's getting it's first outing this very evening at an awards ceremony for the school garden club.

I received an instruction DVD for the Pfaff and some lovely fibres to felt with today so will be playing with those when we get back later.

Off to fill our lovely hot jacket potatoes now - yum xxx

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Do what I should do or do what I want to do? Mmmm

I know I said I had decorating to be getting on with, just in case DH gets his job and we have to move, but I have to admit today is not the day! I wanted to play instead. I did a bit of prettyfying in the bathroom. DH has been going to make doors for two years now for our two bathroom cupboards. These things take time and planning you see.
I decided to make something to at least hide the contents for now and came up with these curtains:

Cotton fabric - thrifted or gifted, can't quite remember; very cheap ie. 3 for £1 cotton waffle teatowels, some old buttons and a bit of hand embroidery. I didn't have any curtain wire so used the nice thick bra elastic I got from the scrapstore!!
Not perfect but prettier than what was there before. It's amazing how wanting to put something on the blog can make me suddenly feel the urge to clean! No really, the bathroom always looks like this ;-)

I haven't Pfaffed today but might do a bit before I pick the kids up from school. Then again I could go and put the ironing away that I did on Friday!

In case you are wondering, this is what the machine basically consists of:

Five small barbed needles that punch up and down at a rapid rate. You can use fewer needles depending on the effect you are after.

Here are the bits I did last night:

This one is mostly 'silky' synthetics with some merino wool embellished over the top. The textures are very much like bark.

I love white on white so had a go with a few different fabrics and fibres. Sorry about the awful photo - the sun was brighter than I thought and threw a lot of it into shadow.
You can also use the reverse side of the work and the white one came out like this:

I've got so many ideas and things to make buzzing round my head at the moment - knitting, sewing, crochet etc and need to get some focus. I've still to make the soft toys I promised the kids 3 weeks ago! I'm going to have to write myself yet another list and maybe even a timetable to make sure I do actually get some of those things done.
How do you decide what to do first? Let me know if you have any cunning plans.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Pfaffing about

When I got back from the dentists this afternoon my neighbour popped round with my new toy, that had been delivered whilst I was out having my gums prodded with a sharp implement.

I would like to welcome you to Pfifi Pfaff my new embellishing machine. See she has a pretty butterfly - how cute :-)

Well before Mummy could get a look in the Minx had to have a go. The great thing is the needles are really well guarded so no harm can come to squidgy little fingers.
Minxy spent a very happy hour with my scraps bag, trying out which fabrics worked best and making some great little collages. Her first was an abstract:

Followed by a flower:

Here are just some of the pieces she whipped up:

She broke one of the needles and was really concerned. I told her not to worry as I got a full extra set of 5 with the machine plus another set from the show and didn't really expect to be breaking them much myself.
Once Minx was in bed it was my turn. As I've only just finished I haven't taken photos yet. Organzas and any shiny synthetic fabrics seemed to work really well, as do felt and wool tops.
(Unfortunately I went on to break another 9 needles - leaving me with one left in the machine plus the packet I picked up at the show - which in the space of two hours has disappeared without a trace. I found them earlier on and must have put them somewhere safe - fatal, as I now have no idea where they are. I hope breaking this number of needles is not normal as they cost £10 for a pack of 5!!!)
You can get some lovely textured pieces and can work into it with machine and hand embroidery. It's going to take a lot of practise and perseverence (and needles!). I can see the fabrics being used for bags and cushions but especially for abstract embroidery pieces.
Tomorrow I have to get started on a bit of decorating. This house had so many wallpaper borders when we moved in. Only the downstairs loo and our bedroom still have them but they are dreadful to remove. So it's out with the steamer tomorrow - which doesn't always work on borders :(
For now, I'm going to sit down with a simple bit of hand-embroidery to finish off something I should be able to show you tomorrow (if it looks any good!).

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Pretend I'm not here

I wasn't going to post today but DH is watching 'Hellboy' and I'm sitting here downloading today's photos - so just act like I'm not really here, ok?

I love this time of year so much when we reclaim the forest from it's hoards of summer visitors and enjoy our now established family tradition of blackberry picking. I am always thrilled that I can pick such beautiful and delicious fruits for free - unlike the lady in front of me at Tesco's this week who paid £3 for a tiny punnet!

If we were confident in our identification of fungi we would be eating those too - but a bit too scary for my liking!

So here's a bit of today's goodness:

The bracken is starting to colour up.

A puffball - edible - I think?!

A beautiful patch of heather still in flower.

On of our famous New Forest ponies with her baby. It was pony round up day today where the folk who have grazing rights come together to muster all the ponies. Some are sold on for riding. Not totally sure what happens to others but we have a horrible feeling dog meat comes into it somewhere - or is this an urban myth?

Moog being 'dogged-up' by an inquisitive Moo. Poor old girl just didn't know what to do about this encounter. She was so relieved when I called her 'Oh, sorry she's calling, better be off then'.

Minx enjoyed the blackberry picking! We also discovered today that all four of her front top teeth are loose. This baby lost her first two teeth within 10 minutes of each other. Tooth fairy better start saving up then!

10lbs of blackberry scrumptiousness.

I made two blackberry and apple crumbles and the kids took one to our lovely neighbour - who we found out, as a result of popping round, lost her dog on Friday. She has lost both her dogs in the past 6 months. The Minx was very sad and we had to have a talk about dogs and Grannies dying.
I'm not sure what craftiness I will get up to tomorrow. I have a dental appointment at Portsmouth University School of Dentistry which could involve some very deep and painful cleaning to start to sort out a gum problem I've had since the kids were born. I always amaze myself with just how much pain I can stand (since I gave birth!) but I know I'll probably be pretty tired and sore afterwards.
I've learned to send myself away from the pain (it hurts even with local anaesthetic) - I go and sit on a perfect tropical beach with white sand, blue blue sea and palm trees - not bad since I've never been anywhere nearly so exotic! My mum was responsible for teaching me to do this :o) Thanks Mum xxx

Saturday, September 22, 2007


Things could be changing round here soon. DH has an interview soon for a new job that would involve a big house move if he gets it. As a result we need to get this place ready to go on the market just in case. We've been here 6 years and the house needed a lot of work that is still not finished. Today has been about planning and paint buying. We have lots of half-finished rooms. So for the next few weeks I will be painting, painting, painting but believe me I will be crafting too. I'm a craft addict so need my fix!
Before the onslaught we have decided to treat ourselves to a day out in the New Forest tomorrow. It is very local to us but the last time we went was way back in May before my Mum died.
Here's how it looked on our last visit:

So beautiful.
We're taking a picnic and lots of pots for blackberry picking and the cameras to capture the goodness of this beautiful place.
We might even stop off for a bracing walk along the beach at Leap or Barton-on-Sea (where you can get the best fresh cooked chips from the kiosk in summer). Moog always likes to cool her paws with a dip in the sea after a long walk.

Saturday's here are all about ferrying kids to swimming, dancing, football etc so no time for crafting before bedtime. I did a little more needle felting last night but haven't taken photos yet. This evening I may knit or sit here browsing all those lovely crafty blogs you are all putting out.
Hope you are having a lovely weekend xx

Friday, September 21, 2007

Waiting, ironing and more waiting

Heh, heh, heh - I have to say, I lurve needle felting. This is Eduarde d'Bear who emerged from a large wodge (technical term) of mustard coloured wool fibre last night and only involved a single stabbing injury.
Here he is meeting Clarence (snail) and Albert (lamb) this morning and enjoying a bit of Autumn warmth in the conservatory.

Eduarde takes his security blanket everywhere with him - in the form of an abstracty arty leaf shaped piece of felt.

So apart from 3 hours ironing, taking photos, reading blogs and reading Cotton Time issue 9 it has been a day of little craft around here.
It's been a day of waiting.....waiting......waiting....
I don't do waiting.
I've been expecting my embellisher to turn up today. It was not a firm promise that it would arrive today. It was a suggestion that it might. Which I took as an it would.
It didn't.
I even resorted to taking some photos of this:

See how it is trying to pretend I'm not there. And (I know - shouldn't start sentences with and - just happens sometimes) more to the point pretending it is not sitting on my new cushion covers :o)
Also pretending that it is not in the slightest bit responsible for this:

The Moog doesn't have too many annoying habits apart from overdoing the woofage at times i.e. anytime involving fireworks, the moon out during the day, birds twittering, hot air balloons, random noises. However, she does like to rip up tissues. This is not normally a problem as I'm pretty hot on making sure no tissues are accessible but this week it is Tissue City round here. Everywhere I go tissues. Everywhere I don't go tissues. Just lots and lots of tissues.
The law of averages would determine she was bound to find a nice tasty chewy one at some point. Despite the evidence to the contrary I had only vacuumed this morning.
'Spose that's what you get for rescueing a highly strung Border Collie.
Here's some Moog facts if you're interested:
Rescued at the age of 19 months
Had been in rescue centre for 2 months
Had been allowed to have 2 litters of pups by the time she was 17 months old - I know :(
Her pups had been dumped as newborns, rescue centre found where they were from and rescued Moog too - they were all totally bald with mange
She's now 12 and still thinks she's 2
She chases cats
If said cats stand their ground the Moog stands and whistles and pretends they are not there
She does not think she is as a dog - don't think she ever met any as a pup
She hairs everywhere
She loves swimming but only to fetch a stick - never for the sake of it - working dog, see
She has inate border collie instincts - when playing runs off and then circles round and then lies down to wait for ball/stick/whatever to be thrown
Loved her Granny so much - when Granny was very ill and couldn't sleep, one time when we were staying with her, the Moog sat on the sofa and cuddled her all night - she NEVER cuddles anyone
So that's the Moog in a nutshell - rather large coconut sized one but there she is!
Off to stick pins into myself again

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Felting, ripping, ripping and knitting

I got a bargain at my LYS several weeks back. Eleven balls of this cotton yarn for just 50p each.

So just over a month ago I decided to take the plunge and knit this:

From this book:

Having never cabled anything other than practice squares it is proving quite a challenge. After ripping it out twice, because I cast on for the wrong cardi twice,

I then knitted the rib and a few rows...and then left it for a few weeks.
Fatal because unless I write a very clear note to myself I forget where I got to and am hopeless at working it out by counting rows.
This morning I decided to knit so before I began I ripped what I had done before and started again.
And then had to rip it again as I had cast on and done the rib for the wrong cardi - again!

Not one to quit I decided maybe I was getting confused trying to decifer the pattern - no kidding!

So wrote down only the bits relevant to me:

I have now managed to get this far and have realised maybe I need to change to longer pins before I start dropping stitches!

It's lovely soft yarn but I find it very slippy to work on cable needles. A bent cable needle is helping but it does require all my concentration. This will not be coming out whilst the children are around!
I'm knitting age 5 to 6 as my knitting is quite loose (and it only goes up to age 5 to 6!). So I'd better get cracking so that Minx gets some wear out of it. At least it should be long enough and I can always add a little extra on the sleeves.
Last night I had a play with my needle felting kit. It is so lovely to do and I had no idea what was going to emerge so it was really freeing to just go with the flow.

I will make the flowers into brooches and may sew some beads into the centres for some extra texture.
How about this little guy?

I was quite pleased with my first attempts and only stabbed myself twice and broke one needle.
The snail hasn't been named but Sausage and Minx are working on it.
My embellisher should be here tomorrow - sooooo excited!
I did a bit of blog lurking this morning and found two sites I haven't visited before:
Monkee Maker who knits beautiful monkeys - check out her funny adventures with 007
and Lucy Locket who has some beautiful patchwork pieces to drool over.
Now of course I also need to be knitting monkeys!

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Fat bottomed cats

Sausage is back at school and I obviously have far too much time on my hands! Having promised both kids a handmade cuddly of their choice if they: kept their rooms tidy (ish) for a week and didn't have to be nagged (much) about getting ready for school, I set about fulfilling my promise.

The Sausage Monster is very accomodating and likes a teddy from one of my pattern books. The Minx on the other hand saw this Kitten on this site that is showing beautiful soft toys - but of course no patterns.

I set myself the task of coming up with a pattern myself. I have looked over all her cuddlies and checked out their gussets (!) to get some ideas. I then drafted a pattern and left room for adjustments.
I got really into it and buried myself (literally) in the task:

My prototype didn't quite come out right:
Neck too thin
Head angled a bit too much
Won't stand up - maybe needs much more stuffing than the one whole bag I used
Chest too wide
(I drew eyes on, this time, so he could see for a bit!)

Oh, and bum too big!

Yes, I know he/she doesn't have ears and a tail - those I can do - it was the rest of it that bothered me.

Now I suppose I could, with some more work and dedication, perfect the prototype and get there eventually. However, I just don't think I can be fagged! Sorry Minx.

What I probably will do though is tweek the design a bit on Hillary Lang's free Pointy Kitty pattern (which I just love) until it resembles the chosen one a bit more - and then hide all the pictures of the one she actually wanted!

What would life have been like if I were someone that finds fulfillment in housework,TV and magazines? Answer: cleaner, tidier, sweeter smelling but not half so much fun!!

How lovely - nearly time to pick the kids up from school and it's pouring with rain. I think 'Ice cream Wednesday' may have to become 'mug of cocoa and a chocolate biscuit Wednesday'.