Saturday, 16 February 2013

Craft Books

I have attachment problems with books. Novels I am happy now to have on my kindle I cant share them easily but can recommend them and as most are around the 20p price it is not too onerous for others to purchase  BUT craft books I covet, usually read a copy from library or if possible or download sample via kindle if I am unsure about purchasing but once in my hand it is very hard to let go. Just maxed out library card on 6 delicious knitting and quilting books and a couple will sad to be returned

My 30 year old Pfaff sewing machine has died, ok I killed it somehow, going to try to get it fixed, needs a new crankshaft I think, or guess so from the noise it makes, also the clutch is slipping. Making do with a £20 slightly broken budget machine for now which keeps breaking the threads and has it's needle stuck on the left hand side so no zig zag either, I usually have it set just for machine embroidery with no feed dogs and stitch length set to 0 and it is fine for experimenting but I need something reliable for regular sewing....Sooooo treated myself to a new machine, very exciting, looking forward to it's arrival on Tuesday.

Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Brioche knitting

Well here we are brioche knitting sample mark 4 on the needles and no mistakes  yet! Syncopation attempted and successful on a whole row as you can see in the pictures the dark is thrown to the back and the light comes forward and the opposite in the reverse. 
So glad I invested in the Craftsy Class as well as the book. by Nancy Marchant

Now when I try to do a stitch at a time as though to make a gradiented effect I get into a terrible mess. Back to the book and the class, for more revision. I think I am changing things on the wrong row but we shall see.

The knitting here will become a scarf  I have unpicked so many samples I have nothing to show for hours of practice so a completed item is needed to boost the confidence and get the muscle memory working on this stitch.

Monday, 28 January 2013

Ponies and Brioche

Oh joy just after my last post I had an email from Craftsy and the Explorations in Brioche knitting class was on special offer. A bargain at just over £9. I have now got the whole barking and burping thing sorted (technical terms for this style of knitting!) so this evening it will be progressing to two colour brioche... watch this space!
My daughter asked me to make her some knitted ponies, I still have some adapting to do but so far have come up with this cute little Shetland pony which my daughter thinks is hilarious..  not the reaction I was hoping for but ..... see what you think?
He does need a comb and a hair trim but the proportions seem to be ok.
I knitted a scarf with some hand dyed wool I have been hoarding for a long while. Got to about 2' long and realised I didn't have enough wool to make it long enough. So off the needles and back to the start with a 
narrower version crochet this time, as it is quicker, I hope!

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Booties, books and afghans

Well it has been a while but I have been busy crafting over Christmas. Topped off with colds and losing my voice, I think holiday times we all congregate close all the doors and just swap gifts and germs. How has this stopped me typing I hear you ask. I will think of a good excuse later..but in the mean time a Happy New Year to you all.

 I have just made three of the tiniest pairs of booties from a simple pattern for my good friends premature baby granddaughter weighing in at 4lb. The baby not the booties they are just little bits of fluffy wool and ribbon. I found the pattern here It is a simple easily adapted pattern and knitted in four ply on small needles 3.25mm.

First pair were stocking stitch with a rib cuff, then a pair stocking stitch again with a moss stitch cuff, I found it made the tiniest booties, I then went up to a 4mm needle and still casting on using the smallest size cast on, made as the pattern says in garter stitch main and a moss stitch cuff. I can recommend this free pattern for beginners and a quick knit to use up all those scraps of wool.

Talking of using up scraps of wool I made a baby blanket over Christmas for the fun of it. Crocheting granny circles into granny hexagons and the beauty of it is you join as you go so no tedious sewing up at the end.

Just treated myself to a new knitting book. Nicky Epstein's Knitting in Circles it arrived yesterday and I am working on my first circle, one from the back of the book of course. Start with the hard ones and work your way forward is my usual plan of attack! A fascinating book full of lovely patterns and ideas to use them. A nice variety of stitches and working too, not all circular needles. Nice to have a proper hardcover book as opposed to the posh paperback style that most craft books now come in. I used to buy two or three magazines a month but they are so costly and I usually only want one item of interest from them.

knitting Brioche by Nancy Marchant was a Christmas gift from John. I had wanted this book for a while, it kept me amused for days trying out new stitches and designs. Eventually managed to get a sample to look like the illustration, so now I am waiting for a special offer on her Craftsy class Explorations in Brioche Knitting I think it will fill in the gaps.The book is fine it is me that is the problem.....More on this later....Here is a link to the class on Craftsy

Monday, 26 November 2012

Phew what an effort I had trouble with my pictures loading last night. Purely my fault, I realised where i was going wrong but it was too dark to sort it out last night so here we are all pictured published and revised the glasses case pattern is now live!

Sunday, 25 November 2012

Very Crazy Quilting

I have written a pattern for my very OTT  glasses case. Although I am ashamed to use the word pattern more a random explanation pf its construction but if you wish to make it and get lost or confused on the way do message me and I will do my best to explain!

Collapsing in an exhausted heap now. Pattern is in my Cratsy store.
Grateful thanks to Adele who has sung to me all evening and kept my sanity intact.

Wishing you all pleasant dreams..

Saturday, 24 November 2012

Quilt books and baking

Oh joy, the postman brought me a parcel this morning, Amazon was quick to send a delicious new quilt book I have been craving since September. Japanese Quilting piece by piece by Yoko Saito. My initial pre order showed a delay on this new to print book, so I cancelled the order and then 8 weeks later it was reduced by £2 and in stock. bargain! I am now looking forward to a pleasant afternoon reading. I was unfamiliar with Yoko Saito's work until I saw this book pop up under the ... people who bought this also bought.. selection when I was browsing the web, I love the subtle colors and there are some sculptural bag patterns with instructions that leave plenty of room for you to fly free with your imagination.

Winter is coming and the squirrel in me is filling the freezer and sorting the cupboards in readiness. I have been baking today, first off a batch bake of a new recipe for orange drizzle cake. A basic 4 flour, 4 fat, 4 sugar, and  2 egg sponge recipe with rind of an orange added, I also introduced some orange essence.  I made the ingredients times two and produced two 1lb loafs and an 8" round sponge. Coated whilst warm with a luxurious blend of the juice of an orange mixed with castor sugar and topped off with a sprinkling of toasted coconut.

I then went onto scones, good old British cream tea ones and some yummy cheese ones to follow.
An old recipe but works well every time.

1 lb plain flour, 4 oz margarine, 1 tsp bicarb of soda. 2tsp cream of tartar, @8 fluid oz of milk  ( I used buttermilk once but found it made a denser scone.)
For a cheese version you add 4 oz strong cheddar and a teaspoon of grainy mustard.

Mix the fat with the dry ingredients until breadcrumb like, add the milk to make a firm but not wet dough.
Roll out on a lightly floured surface to about 3/4" high, i fold the dough in half at this stage and roll again, it makes a scone that splits through the middle with no effort or knife needed. The less handling you do of the dough the better it is.

Cut into rounds, brush the tops with a bit of the milk and place onto a warm baking sheet, into a preheated hot oven my fan oven was cranked to 210 degrees. remove after around 10 minutes or when well risen and a light golden brown.
Serve with cream and jam or as in our house let the kids and husband just eat them from the cooling rack as they are!
The cheese ones are great with soup and small ones made using a 1" cutter and lightly buttered make great party nibbles.
I couldn't be bothered to grate the cheese (chip in the domestic goddess halo here!) Anyway I threw the cheese in the food processor with the butter and flour and pressed the button until it looked like breadcrumbs. It worked like a dream and one bit less washing up.

As I sit here typing the kitchen is filling with the smell of chocolate a couple of trays of brownies are baking slowly and forming a gooey centre with a crispy crackled top.
Easy to make and hard to resist. The secret is to cook in a slow oven so the center cooks but doesn't dry out. I used  225 g castor sugar, 100 g melted butter, 40 g cocoa, 2 eggs, 1 sp vanilla essence, 50 g self raising flour, 50 g chocolate chips  (I hadn't any so I smashed up a 50 g of rich dark 74% cocoa chocolate)
All the above was stirred until mixed then spooned into a 8" square baking tin lined with grease proof paper.
(I take no chances and use those liners that fit in tins and cover the bottom and sides. Nothing worse than a sticking cake! My oven was set to 160 degrees and I left it in there for about twenty five minutes the top wants to be cooked and the centre soft but cooked.

Getting a bit carried away with cooking today and promise to have a crazy patchwork glasses case pattern for you tomorrow. Just right for embroidering over the long nights.
I am off now to curl up with my lovely new book and a nice cup of tea, wishing you all a lovely afternoon.