Blog archive

Autumnal Projects

 Well hello there!

I'm sitting in my sewing room writing to you, and the November sunshine is streaming through the window.  It's a lovely day out there and I relish these days, as November can often be so dark.

On those dark days this autumn I have been busy finishing off some projects that have largely been lurking in my sewing room for some time.  I needed some more space to start on Christmas projects so I've had a good go at getting some projects completed, as well as sneaking in a couple of new ones!  

Firstly, knitting! I have never considered myself much of a knitter, and have shied away from anything too patterned or what I considered 'complex'.  More time at home has given me a chance to read up on different techniques and I have knitted my first simple lace pattern!  I started this cardigan months ago, but put off knitting the lace yolk as I had no confidence in my abilities, but it turned out to be so easy to follow and I actually enjoyed doing the lace pattern more than the stocking stitch!  The pattern is King Cole 5305 and the yarn is 'Drifter'.

I also had a look at a slip stitch pattern and fancied making a pretty shrug I spotted as a free pattern on the Knitrowan website.  The pattern is called 'Kew'.  Clothing that ends where this shrug does aren't that flattering on me, so I lengthened it by 5cm, so it is just on my waist, and I am really happy with it, and have worn it loads already.  The yarn was from my stash and is Rowan Cashsoft DK, which is sadly discontinued, sad as it is the softest yarn and was available in such gorgeous colours.  The slip stitch pattern was so easy to do and I love the effect it gives.

I've also finished two quilting projects, which I started back in the summer, then put to one side as there was 'loads of time' before they would be put out on display.  Well, that time evaporated and it was a rush to finish them whilst there were still some golden leaves left on the trees!  For these I used the pattern 'Handstitched Autumn' from Anita Goodesign.  Most of the fabrics are Lewis and Irene 'Scarecrow Acres', now also discontinued.  There seems to be a discontinued theme here, but it did mean I managed to purchase the fabric greatly discounted from the wonderful shop (online as well as physical) 'Nicola's Fabrics'.  If you like to quilt and have never visited the website, you are in for a treat!

Here is the wallhanging:

And the table runner:


Now I've made some space in my sewing room, I have been trying to organise things a bit.  My friend Christine, the super-talented Winwick Mum, has this fantastic idea on her blog for circular needle storage.  As most shops are closed at the moment I hunted around the house and came up with an adapted version, less colourful, as this is all I had, but does the job.  I love it!  Such a simple idea but I can now see at a glance which needles I have, plus I no longer have to hunt them down and deal with all the slippey slidey packets.  Thanks Christine for the great idea!

So, what am I working on now?  Well, Christmas presents I can't yet reveal, but I can show you my latest knitting project, which is this fabulous vintage cardigan.  It reminds me of the television programme, 'Call the Midwife', which in turn reminds me of my Mum, as I was a child of the 60s.  I chose the Drops yarn 'Cotton Merino', ordered from Wool Warehouse, and it is the softest, scrummiest yarn.  

One thing I love about most vintage patterns is the tension square is more often than not just 1 inch square, plus a couple of extra stitches each side.  So much quicker to knit, and I was delighted to see my tension was spot on so I could get straight on to the knitting.  

What projects are you working on at the moment?  Please do share as I'd love to hear!

Donna xx


Autumn

Hello Friends,

I love the autumn, I always have.  It's hard to pinpoint why exactly but maybe it's something to do with the golden light we get this time of year.  Or the colour of the leaves.  Or maybe the cosiness of the woodstove alight on a chilly, dark evening.  Perhaps it's kicking through leaves and picking up conkers?  Maybe it's cooking warming, comforting food again?  Perhaps it's my birthday celebrations that fall in 'fall'?  Whatever it is, autumn is a season I simply love!

I've been out and about, walking and admiring the colours.  Daisy too has developed a love of skipping through the leaves, so she is a good companion on my walks.


Before we in England were restricted to meeting with only one other person outside, I had a lovely, long, birthday walk with two dear friends, M and J.  We walked for about 5 miles and were planning to end with a picnic.  I had packed a healthy lunch and was bemoaning the fact I had not packed any sweet treat, as I felt I had earned it. However, when we sat, J produced from her rucksack a cake, complete with candles and napkins, and M the accompaniments!  The candles were lit, 'Happy Birthday' was sung, and the candles were waved out (blowing out of candles is also not allowed!) It was such a lovely thing they did and I will always remember my 2020 birthday.  (Note in the photo the sign of the times in the hand sanitiser, wipes and picnic table covering!)


My darling daughter and her fiancĂ© were due to spend my birthday with me, but sadly the restrictions prevented that.  My thoughtful husband and son had taken me to Bettys for a birthday lunch beforehand though, so that was a lovely celebration.  We also brought home a little box of treats for tea :)


Autumn is when I turn to one of my favourite desserts - baked  apples.  Yummy!  These are so easy to make and apples are at their best now.  It's such a simple dessert but so delicious and happy to sit and wait for a while if your main course overruns!  Here's how to make them:


Ingredients:

Large cooking apples - 1 per person.  Bramley apples are by far the best, if you can get hold of those.

Brown sugar

Sultanas or raisins

Butter

Method:

Firstly, core the apples with an apple corer, and using a sharp knife, cut carefully through the skin around the 'equator' of the apple, being careful not to cut through to the the hollow core area.  This is essential to stop the apple bursting all over the oven!

Place the apple(s) in an ovenproof dish.  Press some sultanas or raisins into the cored centre of the apples and then some brown sugar to your taste.  It doesn't matter a jot if you miss with some of it, as we will be adding some more to the dish in a minute.  Add a few more sultanas or raisins, and then a little bit more sugar.  Top off with a knob of butter, pressing it down well to cover the core hole.

Sprinkle a bit more brown sugar in the baking dish and then pour enough water from the kettle over the apples until the water is roughly1cm or 1/2 inch deep.

The apples are quite flexible in how long they take to bake, but to give you an idea I baked these ones on the lowest shelf at 180 degrees Celsius for about 45 minutes.  They are great to put in the oven when you've got something else in, but if the oven is at a hotter temperature they will obviously cook more quickly.  The main thing is to use a lower shelf and keep an eye on them so they don't overbrown or the water dries up.  Add a tiny bit more water if it looks like it might.

Serve with the syrup from the dish poured over, either on their own or with custard or ice cream.  Delicious!

The sun is setting and I need to do a few things before it gets dark, but I haven't even started to show you my autumn projects yet! I'll save those for next time! 

Take good care,

Donna x

Puzzles!

 Hello!

Years and years ago, when I was a little girl, the next best thing to Mum saying "Shall we get the (sewing) machine out after tea?" was "Shall we get a puzzle out?"  Mum only had a small selection of puzzles, but goodness me, did we enjoy doing them over and over again.

I was reminded of this during these months of having so much more time at home and so I visited  some local charity shops when they reopened and bought a couple.  Then a couple more.  Then searched eBay, and a whole new obsession began.  They are what Mum referred to as  'stop-works' and the quest to find just more piece can turn into half and hour or more! What a peaceful, mindful occupation, and a nice break from sewing, quilting, knitting and crochet.  These are just a few of the ones I have done:

Skipton.  One of my favourite local places.

An aerial view of London, which actually shows the bit of London my daughter lives in. 
I stroked that bit...

This one was called 'Too Many Cooks' and reminded me of cooking with my children when they were little!

Puzzles are great to have lying on the table as they just lure people to put a piece or two in, and before long everyone in the household joins in.  

I often think back to those puzzles Mum had and the one that was my very favourite was of Piccadilly Circus. (I grew up in London).  I searched eBay for a while and eventually found, and won, the very same puzzle! I was so excited when it arrived.  The box was smaller than I remembered, but then I was very small.  This one had the price of 23 pence on, which I seem to remember was the price of the one Mum had, but perhaps I am adding my own details to the memory.  


Mum used to let me do the easier bits - the two large buses, the Woolmark logo, and the largest advertising hoarding.  I started by completing those very same sections (although Mum would have done the edges for me).


I then had to do the trickier bits myself, but how lovely to remember back to those evenings in front of the fire, with the puzzle board Dad made for Mum on the coffee table.  I can whisk myself there now.


After a few evenings in front of our own fire, the puzzle was completed, and I loved it all over again.

After only a few short months of doing puzzles, I have to admit we have more puzzles that Mum ever had in the Cupboard Under the Stairs. Yes, definitely an obsession :)

Donna x