Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Rhubarb, Rhubarb

We've been having some beautifully warm, sunny weather during recent days though the nights are still very cold. Almost every morning we wake to a heavy white frost. All of which has resulted in the rhubarb going bananas. Well, not literally. It's still rhubarb. But there's so much of it!

I'm not sure what this plant is. It's growing beside the rhubarb. It doesn't smell very nice but it certainly attracts the bumble bees.

I pulled rhubarb ...

... lots of rhubarb ...

... but it has made virtually no impact on the rhubarb bed!

Have you tried roasting rhubarb? Normally I stew mine but I thought I'd give roasting it a try. I wish I'd found out about this long ago. It's so easy to do (as I found with the bit of forced rhubarb I'd already cooked) and is delicious. Just wash the stalks and cut into chunks. Mine were about 3cm long but you could make them a bit longer if you want. Spread in a single layer in a roasting tin and sprinkle generously with sugar.

Cover the sugared rhubarb with a piece of tin foil and roast in a hot oven for 10 minutes. Mine was done in the roasting oven of the Aga so about 250°C. You could do it a bit longer in a slightly cooler oven; say about 220°C. Remove the tin foil and cook for a further 10 minutes. The rhubarb should be soft but still hold its shape.

 Here it is, straight out of the oven and steaming away.

I made two trays at a time. I think it takes less sugar cooking the rhubarb this way. It seems to bring out the sweetness. I've also pulled the stalks before they got too big and tried to use mostly the pink parts.

I'm going to be roasting a lot more rhubarb before I get this patch cleared!

Thank you for your comments on my last post. Several of you were interested in how I wind a skein so I'll get the husband to take some photos and do a post about it soon.

All the best for now.

Saturday, 25 April 2015

Crocheted Bag Commission

My brother has asked me to crochet a bag for my sister-in-law's birthday! I'm really chuffed by the request. He wants it to be the same as my own crocheted bag but different colours.

The yarn has been purchased. The only brand that had all the colours I needed was Cascade; their Ultra Pima cotton. The yarn came in this bag. Seven skeins in all.

The colours show up better when the skeins are out of the bag. They have very sensibly named the colours! So, from left to right, we have Van Dyke Brown, Brick, Deep Coral, Butterscotch, Ginger, Blood Orange and Sepia.

I'm really looking forward to crocheting the bag. First I have to wind the skeins which, fortunately, is another job I love. I can wind the skeins myself without any sort of help or tools; a skill I learnt from my mother many years ago. Actually, today would have been her eighty eighth birthday. Unfortunately, due to illness, she didn't quite reach her sixty seventh birthday.

Would you like to see another little lap blanket that I finished recently? I'm sure you would!

This one has already gone to a resident in the local nursing home who will, I hope, get plenty of snuggling with it. It is amazingly warm I found while making it!

The hexagon pattern was taken from one of the recent Simply Crochet magazines. I joined the hexes as I went along and worked out my own pattern for the half hexagons. It was made using acrylic yarn from my stash and took exactly 300g. When I was making it, I didn't like the way the flower petals curled but once it was finished and the ends sewn in I really liked the way it looked.

Thanks for all your comments that you very kindly leave. I'm looking forward to reading what you think about the cotton for the new bag and the wee lap blanket.

Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Garden Art

Hello and welcome back again. I thought I'd let you see some more of the garden. Spring is the time of year when things change so quickly. It's hard to keep up with it!

We bought some plants from the market in Banbridge. Here is a selection of purple ones planted in an old Belfast sink.

We still have lots of daffodils and other Spring bulbs flowering. 

The hyacinths smell delicious.

The rhubarb is really coming on well. I've already pulled the stalks that were forced, roasted and eaten them! They were so tender and sweet.

 More flowers ...

The tulips are starting to bloom now as well.

The flowering currant looks well - this is its best year so far.

The forsythia is one of my favourites at this time of year.

This is a birch tree that has tiny catkins on it. I thought it looked lovely.

Remember our silver birch saplings. There is amazing growth on them.

The husband decided to indulge in some garden art and built this stone structure among the saplings. Eventually it will hardly be visible, when the trees have grown bigger.

I think it looks a bit like an old-fashioned bee-hive. Built entirely from granite stones found in our garden!

The conifers we bought from the market are still in our 'nursery' section to get a bit bigger before planting out.

Here are a few more flowers to finish with.

I hope you are all enjoying Spring - or Autumn - wherever you are. All the seasons have their good points, don't they? All the best for now.

Monday, 13 April 2015

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

It seems like a very long time since I did a post. Things have been hectic and I just haven't had time to post anything or, even worse, to getting reading or commenting on any of your posts. Hopefully things will settle down again soon. In the meantime, here's a very quick post to keep you up-to-date.

Good things are happening in the garden. We had some glorious weather over Easter but it has now turned cold, wet and windy. We even had snow on the mountains over the weekend. It hasn't stopped the flowers though. Have a look and see what you  think.

This little Easter basket was crocheted using string. This was all the chocolate the husband and I had between us! The whole packet of mini eggs that is - not just five.

That's the good covered. Now for the bad. Remember my Aran coat? Started back here, then some progress shown here. It's finished, sewn up and almost all the ends sewn in. It's hard to know why I kept on and on with the sewing up because it was obvious very early on that the coat is way too big for me. Even the smallest size would have been much too big. I checked my tension (guage) again and it is right. Then I checked the pattern again and it gives two tensions for the two different honeycomb patterns. So I checked my tension for the second honeycomb pattern and discovered that this is where I was wrong - very, very wrong. However, in my defence, I don't think it would be possible to achieve the correct tension with the size of needles used. Now if I get the correct tension with the size of needles given for the first honeycomb pattern then I would (obviously wrongly) assume that the same size needles should give the correct tension for the second honeycomb pattern. In order to achieve the correct tension for the second honeycomb pattern I would have needed to use  much smaller needles.

Whatever. It's wrong and I'm not terribly happy about it. I've tried to think of ways to adjust it but it's just so much too big there's really only one option. The dreaded ripping it all out and starting again option. So far, I can't quite bring myself to start the destruction process but I will. There's plenty of time to get it finished again before the winter. I'm going to get another pattern though, as I don't think I could face knitting exactly the same coat over again even if I could make it fit me properly.

And the ugly? Nothing ugly at all to report. Crochet and some tapestry has been progressing nicely and I'll let you see soon. Even some new plants for the garden plus some "garden art".

All the best for now and I hope it won't be anywhere near so long before I'm back.