Tuesday, 8 December 2015

I'm still here, knitting ...

I'm still here, just some bad news on the 10th October knocked me for six. My dad has cancer (again) this time its stage 4 and lots of chemo has started, so I went a little quiet to reflect on this and my family and life in general - like you do when you get such bad news. Anyway as my dad wouldn't want me to dwell on bad stuff, he is such a fighter, I am filling my life with colour and knitting (I'm off the crochet briefly, I always find myself knitting at this time of year for gifts and just comfort in front of the TV watching I'm a Celebrity (its now finished :-(

Knitting at this time of year is addictive, isn't it? I've found a new passion, the Trendy Chale, you will see this on Pinterest and regularly on Instagram (as you know I post almost every day now and have over 770 followers, not sure how that happened but it s a comfort to know that people enjoy my work and pictures).

Anyway this is just a brief pop by to say hello and to show you some of my current projects finished and started. I'll get my Blogger mojo back and post more soon. Amanda

hand knitted wash cloths

my scrap afghan is growing

a striped blackberry beanie

a new blackberry beanie in purple Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Aran




a night out at the Theatre 28 Nov 2015

Christmas 2015 Covent Garden
Christmas tree - John Lewis Blue Water
a new granny stripe blanket

clay poppies made by our local primary school - in place at All Saints Church Iwade


 

Thursday, 29 October 2015

its time to start of new granny blanket



It's that time of year where the evenings have a chill in the air and the leaves are steadily falling from the trees. I've been watching my neighbours trees in their front gardens, such a pretty sight but also tinged with oh no winters on its way! I'm all ready, new woollen coat from M&S and a beautiful pair of hand knitted gloves from eBay this week in denim yarn, so lovely to own something that someone else has made, I can appreciate that being a fellow knitter even though I won them for the huge asking price of 99p. I feel a bit guilty really but that's the way these things go, you take a change listing something too cheapo and no one else bothers to bid.

But my real passion is crochet, I got hooked so to speak a while back and inspiration came from Lucy at Attic 24 and more recently from Heather at the Patchwork Heart amongst others I now follow on Instagram on a daily basis. Oh yes that's the reason for less content on my Blog, Instagram has taken over my life, I love it. It feeds my passion for colour and crochet and the odd knitting snippet. I post regularly and now have almost 500 followers, how did that happen?

Ok so back to my latest long line of projects, this list was shortened recently by finishing some WIPs and to fill the void I needed a longer project to pick up and crochet the odd row here and there although I have this strange feeling it may be more frequent. I do love sitting under a blanket in progress whilst it grows and covers your knees then you know you are making progress and keeping snug and warm at the same time. You really just can't beat making a blanket. My husband said to me last night, another blanket, but we really don't need another one do we? Yes of course we do I said, its going to be a cold winter, we always need another blanket smiling to myself!




So now starts another blanket journey using Stylecraft Special DK limited edition packs which I've now heard isn't so limited, but hey that's another story. So I plan to follow Lucy's pattern for the cosy stripe blanket, just 12 months behind the rest of you. 15 colours with 5 pattern (stripe) repeats is the plan. So 10 new colours and just need to choose the other 5 from the huge stash under my bed.

Monday, 19 October 2015

Production line

I had a good productive weekend with my UFOs, I finished a crochet snood and a knitted hat! The rainbow scarf was sitting in my craft room waiting for the ends to be sewn in and despite my original thoughts it was actually straightforward and took no time at all the complete.

merino wool crochet snood


My other project that needed finishing was my blackberry beanie and that was finished on Saturday night, I'm on a roll don't stop me! Sorry I couldn't find a glamorous model for the shoot!


Blackberry beanie


And finally a knitted snood that's been on my needles for over a year!


soft and snuggly linen stitch snood

So there you have it two items for my Folksy shop and one for me. I have had a lot of interest in my granny stripe snoods, and I sold one on Saturday. I'm now making another one this week ready for more orders! I hope you have a good week whatever you are up to. Amanda


granny stripe snood

Thursday, 15 October 2015

Lets talk about cake

Lots to update you on but not enough time today - holiday to the Norfolk broads, project updates but for now let's talk about cake!

I was given this recipe for the Macmillan cake sale and forgot to make it. Last night I decided to give it a try but left out the chocolate topping only because I didn't have a bar in the house (which is unlike me not to keep chocolate in every kitchen cupboard) Anyway here is the recipe, please give it a try its really simple and makes a good gift when visiting a friend or relative.
 





Ingredients
200g butter, softened, plus extra for greasing the tin
200g golden caster sugar (although I used white)
3 large eggs, beaten
200g self-rasing flour
2 tsp vanilla extract
3 tbsp. milk

for the chocolate mocha
30g cocoa poder, sifted
1 1/2 tbsp. strong coffee, cooled
50g dark chocolate, melted (for the topping)

Preparation time: 20 mins
Cooking time: 55 mins
Serves: 10 (?)

Method

1. heat the oven 10 180C/160C fan/gas 4
2. grease and line a 2lb loaf tin with a strip of baking paper. In a large bowl (or mixer as I did) beat together the butter, sugar and a pinch of salt, with an electric whisk, until light and fluffy.
3. Add the eggs, a little at a time, beating well after each addition (you can add eggs to your food mixer through the funnel) Sift over and fold in the flour, along with the vanilla extract and the milk, transfer half the mixture to a separate bowl. Stir in the cocoa powder and coffee into one of the bowls.
4. Dollop spoonfuls of each mixture into the prepared tin, alternating between the two. Once all the mixture has been used up bang the tin (gently!) on the worktop to eliminate any air bubbles. use the handle of a metal spoon to swirl the mixtures together.
5. Bake for 50-55 mins or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean, cover with foil after 40 mins if it is becoming too brown.
6. Leave to cool in the tin for 20 mins, then lift onto a wire rack to cool completely.
7. Once cooled, drizzle melted chocolate over the surface of the cake and leave to set before slicing.

Friday, 25 September 2015

MacMillian Coffee Morning 2015

cakes all ready last night
A big baking session last night in my kitchen. Most of you that follow my blog will have been touched by cancer either a family member or friend - most people are touched by this at some point in their lives. We always thinks its someone else until it happens to us. I remember thinking oh god not the C word, my dad, why my dad? before sobbing.  Two years ago my dad was diagnosed with throat cancer and fortunately for us he had fantastic care through MacMillan and is in remission with regular check-ups. So this year I decided to hold another MacMillan coffee morning, or rather day at work! It started at 10am and finished at 3pm, not bad for a small office with only 14 members of staff there today. We grazed all day long. My day started with cake for breakfast, lunch was cake and tea time was cake. I think I'll be off cake for a day or so.


jam tarts in progress

I love cake, who doesn't so three ladies at work decided to bake and sell the yummy treats to the office today, all day (almost).


tray bake

I found a really east madeira tray bake recipe and it was a huge hit, I think I ate most of it. I'm going to make it again very very soon.

the baking team (me, Debbie and Janine) my lovely work mates


This is easy to make Madeira cake that keeps in the fridge for up to two weeks in an airtight container, so it can be done well in advance. But who keeps cake that long? You will make it and eat it immediately it is that tasty! Decorate with whatever sweets or sprinkles you have to hand, I opted for 100s and thousands and lemon icing.

Ingredients – for an 8-inch square tin 200g butter 200g caster sugar 4 eggs 150g plain flour 50g self-raising flour 3 tsp milk Method Beat the sugar and butter together until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after every addition. Sift in the flour then fold it in, then stir in the milk. Transfer into a greased tin and smooth the top, then bake at 160 C until the top is firm and golden (and you can smell cake!). Allow to cool then pour over icing and shake over sprinkles. Cut into squares once the icing has set. That's it, really easy.

So today I raised over £75 with the sale of chilli jam, strawberry jam, cakes and savouries.

Janine's malteser tray bake sold out first



my jam tarts with vanilla pastry


Tuesday, 22 September 2015

jam making and gardening (a lovely combination)


A fully packed weekend, need Monday to recover! So here are some photos of my weekend in the lovely warm Kent sunshine. I hope you had some sunshine where you live, sadly its now raining.

Faversham food and crafts on Saturday with Jack, lots of lovely produce and a great selection of hand made gifts.

Sunday, spent almost the entire day gardening but did save time to make strawberry jam and chill jam and a few more rows of my snood, almost done and this one will be added to my Folksy shop. I plan to make another for myself on holiday later in October. I bought a bargain bundle of Cath Kidston yarn on eBay, can't wait to receive it!


garden tidy-up well under way



Local Kent strawberries



 
row ten complete




home made strawberry jam


home made chilli jam for my MacMillian coffee afternoon at work

Thursday, 17 September 2015

Cath Kidston granny stripe cowl

The start of another new project, this time a Cath Kidston inspired snood. 
This has been on my to-do-list for a very long time. I was lucky to find 4 balls off wool in my local knitting shop sale bin for £1.50 each plus I bought one at full price. The pattern suggests 13 rows but I may make mine a bit wider. Here is the pattern link if you fancy making one 


the beginning




adding the blue


curled up under my granny stripe blanket

Sunday, 13 September 2015

September Sunshine


Saturday night knitting spot

What's up with the weather? Four days of lovely sunshine and today's temperature was 21 degrees, perfect. Perfect for a spot of knitting in the garden. I bought some Louisa Harding Akiko yarn last week, it's beautiful, soft and the colour is just lovely - denim meets Aqua. It's knits up well and the blackberry stitch beanie is just perfect, soft and snugly. You can find the pattern here
I'm off to the Broads in October and although I've already knitted two of these for myself, it's always good to have a new colour and it looks great in the sunshine.

knitting in the garden


I've now gifted the latest granny stripe blanket to my niece Megan who's off to Bath next week to start her first year in uni. She loved the blanket which was such a relief, I've been making it on and off for almost six months alongside my granny square blanket and I managed to finish both of them in the same week. I'm sitting under mine tonight as it's chilly now. 

Megan and Mikes farewell dinner


Megan's blanket




My two nieces, Yasmin (with James) and Megan (with Mike)



farmers market

The local farmers market is still around and I showed my support this morning buying home made pies from my friend Linda and local veg - it's pie and mash for dinner today (yummy) oh and some cakes for later. I'm looking forward to the next one in October.

Tuesday, 8 September 2015

Hedgerow jam (blackberry jam recipe)


I found this great recipe on Friday. My next door neighbours daughter had been picking blackberries and I offered to make her jam from her harvest. It worked a treat and tasted lovely. Obviously I had to keep one large jar to sample with uncut bread and real butter!

the finished jam


one large jar for me

 

about to start

Friday, 4 September 2015

Do you Tunisian crochet?


I had the hooks, the basic patterns and this week I've had the time. I took the week off to chill out, do nice things including of course lots of crochet time.

I crochet in the Beth Chatto Gardens on Wednesday, more about the beautiful gardens in another post. If you've never been and you are near Colchester, Essex you should go it's such a tranquil place.

crochet granny squares at the Beth Chatto gardens


So earlier this week I found my Tunisian crochet hooks, popped over to Pinterest and taught myself in under 5 mins and now I'm hooked, I love it. It's sort of a combination of crochet and knitting. I experimented this morning with a bag full of merino scraps left over from my granny blanket and here is my stripey snood in progress. 

I made up the pattern, here it is. 

Start with a foundation chain of 30 on size 6 hook, use DK that would normally require size 4 pins. Then change colour on the return pass. It gives you a nice contrast row and that's it. I'm going to keep going until it's long enough to wrap over twice for a snuggle snood.


my first attempt at Tunisian crochet

adding colours

my yarn bucket



Monday, 31 August 2015

Ta dah moment


Not one but two granny blankets finished in August and I'm almost up to date with wips, just two scarfs and one granny scrap blanket and one summer jumper to finish. I think I'll leave the summer jumper for now as its pouring with rain and I'm far too focused on my new granny square blanket. And I bought myself four new crochet books to get more inspiration.

a new granny blanket

My nieces (Megan) uni blanket is finished and boxed ready to gift later in September (photos later) and I finished my large granny square blanket on Saturday night which I am really happy with. I have a large tub full of left over yarn and I've now started another blanket. I've worked out its better to sew in the ends as you go along which saves heaps of time at the end. This one shouldn't take very long to make. I've already made 30 squares, well with two rounds out of 4 but I'm working in batches this time. Not only is it quicker but I can work out which colours to use in advance to make the most of the yarn I have left. It was so time consuming with the first one changing colours all the time but the result was good and random which is what I was looking for. And it looked vintage which I wanted. It has so many colours from the Debbie Bliss Rialto range, some bought a few years ago and are now discontinued. Sorry to post so many photos, I'm kind of obsessed!

I've wanted to make one for years, ever since I saw one for sale in a craft shop in Rochester high street. I had to learn first and I've been learning new things ever since I taught myself to crochet. It's a lovely portable project, therapeutic and you get a lovely warm snugly blanket at the end. What's not to like? Anyway I have a weeks holiday next week just pottering about at home, lots of crochet time and gardening to do.


sewing in the ends
join as you go method leaves lovely hinges in your blanket when folded
ta dah my finished blanket

my first and most recent finished blankets

a new blanket in progress