Thursday, 29 January 2015

Woven Rug

The disappointment of my woven scarf  hasn't put me off using my peg loom. This small rug was finished recently and I'm really pleased with it. You'll probably have noticed that some of my recent photos have a snowy background. That's because I took lots of photos when I got the chance and it was nice and bright. The snow has gone again and we're back to our usual grey skies and rain.

The rug is made using the entire width of the loom; three feet wide. The warp took a ball and a half of Wendy Thor super chunky (42.5% wool 7.5% alpaca 50% acrylic). I used shade Baltic - a lovely turquoise. For the weft I used another ball and a half of the Thor super chunky, the ball of Harrris tweed I bought on holiday (near the bottom of the post) and several balls of Rowan pure wool DK. I had to use six strands of the Rowan pure wool wound together to make it as thick as the Thor super chunky. 

I made the weft rows as close as I possibly could so the rug is firm and thick. Not good for a scarf but excellent for a small hearth rug. The weaving swallowed up vast quantities of yarn that wasn't at all cheap. In the end, I spent more than £40 on the materials! But I love it.

I'm now trying to think where else needs a rug!

Bye for now and thanks for all your comments. I look forward to seeing them.

Monday, 26 January 2015

Armchair Cushion

Remember the armchair throw? Judging by your lovely comments you all seemed to really like it. You also seemed to like the armchair too so I'll tell you the story!

First of all, have a look at the cushion I made to match the throw.

It's made using Granny squares in each of the colours used for the throw (Stylecraft Special DK in Claret, Burgundy, Petrol and Mocha). Back and front are the same. I made the cushion filler using an old t-shirt belonging to the husband. He never liked it nor wore it so now it has a new life!

Here are the throw and cushion together on the armchair.

Now the armchair story. We got this, another the same and a leather sofa from Next about this time last year. Our old leather suite had seen much better days and had to go. Actually, calling it a leather suite was a bit of a liberty. It was bonded leather. Something I didn't know anything about until our suite started to shed the very thin layer of leather it was covered in. It looked really awful. I covered it with a tartan quilt for a while but eventually we could bear it no longer.

Our son was living in a rented house in which the landlord had left a suite that was arguably worse than ours. So son contacted landlord and agreed that the leather suite could come to live in his rented house. We hitched up the trailer and delivered the leather suite, where it lived happily until the landlord happened to call one day a few months later. He thought it looked so bad that he got it removed and supplied another suite which, although it certainly isn't new, is a lot better than either of the other two suites!

Would you like to meet Priscilla? Priscilla is the beautiful pink rabbit I won in Suzy's giveaway. She arrived a few days ago with a card from Suzy and a little bag of tiny hearts.
Thank you so much Suzy; I don't know how you could bring yourself to part with this gorgeous bunny!

Isn't she just the cutest rabbit you've ever seen?

Welcome to my new followers and thanks for all the comments you leave. All the best for now.

Thursday, 22 January 2015

Snowy Days

Welcome back; it's lovely to have you visiting again. When I tried to do this post a few days ago, I couldn't load my photos because of a server error. I've no idea what caused it or how to fix it. Thankfully I have a new iMac, just set up today, and I'm able to load my photos without any problem.

On Friday last the husband was off for the day; I'm always off on Fridays. We were going to take the trailer and get loaded up with wood blocks but we woke to a white world. We decided that discretion was the better part of valour and didn't try taking the car out with the trailer attached.

We leave plenty of food for the wild birds and they really needed it. The feeders are next to our beehives.

 I couldn't resist taking some photos as it looked really lovely.

 All of a sudden the snow started falling again. It was beautiful to watch though it made everything look like the world was in black and white instead of colour.

The poor wee birds. They still had to come looking for food even though it was snowing.

These two daffodils are the only two in the garden that are blooming!

Now it just so happens that on Thursday last week (the day before it snowed), I saw a pattern for crocheted socks in the Simply Crochet magazine. And, I saw where Daisy had actually crocheted said socks. In fact, she has since crocheted another pair for her mother. Well, when I saw the snow I knew what I simply had to do; crochet a pair of cosy socks for myself. I couldn't start right away as we braved the elements and went out for coffee. It was actually Friday evening before I could finally get out some yarn, my hooks and the pattern and get started. I thought it would be a good idea to work the two socks together. So make the toe for the first sock, make the toe for the second sock, work the first stripe of the first sock, work the first stripe of the second sock and so on. Things went really well until I had done the number of rows stated in the pattern before I was supposed to turn the heel. I have long, narrow feet which necessitated me having to work an extra five rows before the foot section was long enough! That held me back!! I crocheted like someone possessed as I really wanted to get them finished before going to bed. Anyway, I turned the heel on both socks and crocheted the number of rows that were supposed to be completed before the rib top. Again this was too short for me and I needed an extra three rows. Too late though for Friday night and I had to leave them to finish on Saturday.

The snow was still about on Saturday as there were some more snow showers overnight. It was a beautiful day so, after being out in the morning, I spent the afternoon in the kitchen. I made more blackcurrant cordial and a batch of cranberry sauce. We had some with Sunday lunch and it was delicious.

Then I also baked apple and blackberry tart using fruit from our garden. This is the first tart ...

... and this is the second.

Side by side!

These were also delicious even though I say so myself!

What about my socks? I got them finished on Saturday evening and took some photos on Sunday morning.

The socks are very cosy and I just love looking at them. They make me laugh every time I see them. I'm hoping you'll let me know what you think of them.

I'm just so excited to be able to get back to my blogging with this new iMac. It's taking a bit of getting used to but I'm picking it up pretty quickly.

Something else exciting happened. I won a giveaway! And my prize arrived today. It is a beautiful pink rabbit that Suzy very kindly sent me. You can see the rabbit here but I will also be taking photos of it and letting you see how lovely it is.

That's all for now. Thank you for all your comments and a welcome to new followers. I hope you are managing to keep warm wherever you are and hopefully not too warm.

Friday, 16 January 2015

January Garden

Remember I told you about cutting a tree from our garden to use as a Christmas tree? I thought you'd like to know that it wasn't totally wasted. The pine needles have been used as a mulch for fruit bushes (they are alkaline as well as helping to reduce weeds) and the trunk will be used for fire wood when it has dried out.

Better than that though, we have planted a dozen new trees! They are all silver birch trees; just tiny little whips but they will soon grow.

We've also ordered some more trees that I'll tell you about once we get them.

The husband cut some of the willows which he will use in the garden. For example, to make a frame for the sweetpea to grow on in the summer.

 It has left a bit of a gap along the fence but the willow grows again very quickly.

It's hard to believe, but there are primroses flowering already. We've had snowdrops since before Christmas and a couple of daffodils are about to flower.

The heathers are providng some colour too.

What about this for a real splash of colour? Indoors, of course. We got this Christmas cactus just before Christmas and it has flowered magnificently!

Bye for now!

Monday, 12 January 2015

Armchair Throw

Hello everyone and welcome back again. A special welcome to my new followers. Thank you all for reading and for your lovely comments. It takes time to leave a comment so I really appreciate them all.

In my last post I promised you an update on my crocheting. Well, here is my armchair throw and it is finito. I took it outside for some photos to get the best possible light.

It's not a full blanket size but just the right size for leaving over the armchair. The yarn is Stylecraft Special DK, a really nice acrylic yarn. I used burgundy, claret, petrol and mocha. I love it when they give the colours a name; especially when the name conveys a good indication of what the colour is like.

Rather than making a Granny square, I decided to try my hand at a Granny rectangle. This ws actually more tricky than it sounds! Quite a bit of maths was required to get it started at the length needed so that when the number of rounds were done to make it the right width, it ended up also being the right length. I think it turned out very well, though I don't know that Granny rectangles as set to really catch on.

Here it is draped over the back of the armchair.

A good match, I think. I've also crocheted a cushion cover with some of the leftover yarn. I just need to get a suitable cushion pad to fill it and then I'll let you see what it's like.

My sister has asked me to crochet a scarf for her to match the hat I did. It's almost finished now. Then I will be able to get back to my knitted Aran coat. So far I have finished one of the fronts and probably a third of the back. I'm really pleased with how it is turning out and can't wait to see it finished.

All the best for now. It's hard to believe we're almost half way though January already! Which reminds me; I must let you see the latest additions to our garden. Next time!

Tuesday, 6 January 2015

Blackcurrant Cordial

Hello and welcome back again. Christmas has been and gone and we're more or less back to normal. The husband has taken the Christmas trees to use in the garden; the pine needles are especially good for spreading over beds with fruit bushes.

Talking of fruit bushes, we had a big blackcurrant harvest last summer. Rather than use the fruit there and then, I washed it, bagged it and put it in the freezer. This makes it very handy for making jam or cordial later on. I recently made some blackcurrant cordial so I thought I'd let you see the process. I got the recipe on the internet years ago and can't remember where. But it's just a basic recipe that you could find anywhere.

So, this is what you need:

450g blackcurrants
250g caster sugar
260ml water
whole lemon

De-stalk and wash the blackcurrants. You don't need to be too fussy with the de-stalking as none of the fruit ends up in the cordial. Just make sure there aren't anything creatures still there!

Place the blackcurrants, sugar and water into a saucepan. Melt the sugar over low heat, stirring occasionally to dissolve the sugar.

Once the sugar has dissolved, bring the syrup to a gentle simmer. Simmer the fruits for 5 minutes.

Now add the juice and skin of the lemon. You can see I'm using two lemons because I made double the quantity.

Bring the syrup back to simmer for a further 5 minutes.

Let the cordial cool for 10 minutes. Meanwhile sterilise a glass bottle.

Pass the cordial through a fine sieve (or muslin).

This is what was left behind after the juice had dripped through. The wild birds eat it once it has gone cold.

Pour the cordial into the sterilised bottle, cool and keep refrigerated until needed. I like to strain it through my funnel to make sure there are no wee bits still left in the cordial.

There it is! You only need a small amount of cordial diluted with plenty of water.

This same method can be used for other fruits such as grapes. There are some grapes in my freezer that I must use to make cordial. The grape cordial is very mild and I really like it. Sometimes I mix blackcurrants and grapes too.
Back in the summer I made some pink elderflower cordial which I froze in plastic bottles. We had it at Christmas, diluted with sparkling water. Very tasty!
There are some crochet projects that have been finished and progress with knitting that I hope to show you very soon. Just need to get the camera into action again.
All the very best for now. Thanks for all your lovely comments; I'm looking forward to getting lots more this year.