Wednesday, 12 January 2011

Ripple Afghan Finished!

I think summer has been waiting for me to finish my winter work…it’s been unseasonably cool this year (I am not complaining) and I have fortunately enjoyed extra evenings and cool afternoons to finish those last stubborn rows.

Phew....My stripy ripple blanket…finished!

85 x 65 inches

So much work! So many rows! So many hours!

It's a longish one because I wanted it to be tall enough to actually cover my DH's feet!

No technique, I just used up whatever colours I had in whatever turn I felt like. Sometimes, the following morning, the colours I teamed up looked different from the night before...but I think, overall, it works.
And I addded  two borders, a green and a black which keeps the rows behaved.
A finished crochet blanket is such a satisfaction.

What now? Well.... launch of the next BOM of course…

Sunday, 9 January 2011

Finished Afghan Garden!

My flowery afghan is finally finished.
Another WIP taken off the shelf!

I had some fuchsia yarn left over from the flowers so I added and extra border…I made several changes from the pattern and overall I’m happy with it. Next time, though, I will do things differently. I will join as I go.

What was I thinking when I made 94 separate motifs???

Blocking can work miracles for garments, but I think that it flattens loft in blankets, so after a quick wool wash rinse, (double bagged to prevent agitation) I straightened out the afghan to breath. 

No steam, no ironing, no blocking. Normally I don’t end my afghans with a wash, when they are done -they are done, but because it was made over several months and my tension changed, I wanted to shake it out.

After a spin, I laid it out in the sun (it was very hot yesterday) and it dried beautifully. I’m very happy with the quality of wool. And I am so glad that it is finished now because it is a deep winter blanket and I didn’t want to be working away at it any longer in the heat. Now I just have to finish my ongoing ripple blanket.

It is super heavy – I love the weight, it feels so decadent.
I have thrown it over my crocheting tub chair and it’s a perfectly cosy corner now.

All my wool blankets are folded with a rosemary sachet or lavender wand.

Today I realised that I am out of both! It's something I always like to have on hand for blankets, drawers, cupboards, the pantry, window ledges...there are so many uses. I cant be without one!

Does anyone else still make these?

Although a session of sachet making is on my To Do List, and I didn't have time to run them all  up today, I decided to snip some lavender and just make a single one for this afghan so I would feel it was properly and completely finished.

I couldn't stand the idea of folding this blanket away over summer without a wand. 

The bees are still buzzing by my front garden. I decided to trim the bush and as I took the stems, the bees were hanging off my bunches! I had to move extra slowly so they wouldn’t become agitated.

I have left this a little late this year (surprise surprise).

The best time is spring when the lavender is fresh and just starting out - at the moment the stems are woody and dry (even after last night’s cool change and rain). Still, I persevered and although not as pretty as early spring wands, it will do nicely.

It feels good to be finishing projects
and moving along to the next thing…

Wednesday, 5 January 2011

Bees & Lavender

Thanks to so much unseasonal rain this year, the lavender is lush, bright and scented. This shrub is by my front door. Last week I stepped outside and I had to look again because at first I thought it was covered in was golden and sagging- but no - it was covered in bees.

I have never had bees visit this close and in such numbers, it's fascinating to watch. The lavender is humming non stop and seems to 'move' with the activity.

This morning the lavender was a little quiet, (maybe the bees  have moved on?) but there were still enough coming and going to take these pics.

They dart around so fast, I just held out my camera and snapped. There were plenty of fuzzy ones I deleted right away, but in between I managed to capture some close ups.

Isn't lilac and lime simply stunning?
 I don't have a quilt in these colours... (I can feel another WIP coming along)

And whilst I was inspecting the passion fruit flowers, I discovered a craftily hidden nest from last season. It isn't high up, about  1.6m on a curved frame - but it was concealed enough to keep it hidden from our roving neighbourhood cats.

I still marvel at the ingenuity of bird nests, they are so beautiful. 

You'd be forgiven for thinking that I'm spending my days strolling around the garden- but no - I am hard at work and looking forward to seeing my WIPs come together quickly and finally get finished.

And of course, the new BOM is coming soon. How soon? real soon!

I am working, working, working..

Thursday, 30 December 2010

The Charm of Old Things

Aren’t the days flying by quickly? It’s just about New Year’s Eve and I haven’t even finished clearing up from Christmas…

I admit that I am the kind of person who becomes distracted when sorting through things. I might be clearing out a box of fabric….then I find a print I was looking for a few months ago…and that gets me started on returning to my idea….and before I know it, I’ve started another WIP.

This year I ‘found’ some long lost (but not sorely missed as I actually forgot they existed) cutlery as well as another box of Christmas Tree lights that I knew were somewhere…but couldn’t find them when we needed them. That will be useful next year.

In amongst the sorting through, I got to the back of the tea towel shelf and found our favorite apron. We have a lot of aprons in my house, but the most charming has to be this one. Isn’t it just the real thing?

My DDs always negotiate over who will wear it when we get Christmas or Easter baking as it has a special ‘something’ about it.

 I purchased the fabric and sewed this apron up 35 years ago. No pattern of course. You didn’t use patterns to make your aprons 35 years ago – you just did it.

This ‘kitchen dress’ has seen a lot of action and has endured thousands of washes – look at the color. Can you imagine that it was even brighter than that 35 years ago? It must have been neon! I dearly wish I had a photo of me in it all those years ago to compare.

Saturday, 25 December 2010

Happy Christmas!

As it's Christmas,
I thought I would share this festive link

 It is a Russian production, however no language is used so don't let that stop you enjoying it.
The detail is simply lovely, it's a pleasure to watch and is suitable for children.

I am not usually keen on animation, but this one is so charming

Part 1: 7 minutes

Part 2: 7 minutes

Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Wow! Cherry Thieves Wins

Fall Quilter's Choice Contest

What a great honor - Cherry Thieves has been chosen by TQS members and has received 2nd place in the Fall Contest. I feel so privileged! The quilts entered alongside mine were stunning... so I am completely taken aback!

It means so much to be selected by other members. When you design from your own sketches you have no way of knowing if your designs and creativity 'speak to' others. Such positive feedback is always welcome!

Congratulations to dcrine who won first place with Autumn Birch and in third place was: Loving Nature by dreamquilter

A special thank you to Heather from my Yahoo Bom Group for alerting me to the fact that I had won. I didn't know! I was busy stenciling....

This is an extra special surprise because I also came 2nd in the Spring Viewers Choice as well earlier in the year.  Next year: Summer and Winter! (just joking)

Do visit the Quilt Show's blog HERE

Christmas Biscuit Presses

Christmas baking always gets me thinking about baking tools. With our 1950's Kenwood Cake Mixer (passed down from a dear friend) in the repair shop, my DDs and I had to modify some of our baking plans.

I am glad to report that the Mixer is in good hands and was told by the repairman that they don't make them like this anymore. How true. I think it's the same with sewing machines as well. I do almost all my sewing on a 1950's Husquarna and Elna. For decorative stitching over applique I move to my DDs Brother which has some lovely embellishments... Actually, my first ever posting on this blog discussed my desire for a new sewing machine with all it's improvements... and my longing for quality and durability you can only get when machines were actually made to last a woman her lifetime. They just don't make them like that anymore!

Going through our drawers of baking tools I marvelled a little that we are still using the same nut grinder I purchased over 30 years ago. You can see by the colour that it's a genuine vintage!

Each year when we pull out the box of decorations and Chritsmassy things, I always find something I had forgot about and the memories of so many past Christmases come flooding back.

30 years ago I was living in Hamburg and I had an 8 week old baby when I went out and purchased this Biscuit Press.

How can I be so sure? I taped the receipt inside the box! It cost, I cant remember if that was expensive or not...what I do know is that I used the biscuit press over many many years.

Last year my youngest DD snapped the lever hinge, however if she hadn't I have no doubt that it would have been in service for another 30 years.

It seems naive and fanciful to expect anything to last that long nowadays.

The Biscuit Press we replaced it with last year, at
AU 49.95 (overpriced), appears to be fancier. It has it's own box and is sleek in black and silver. It works just fine but it doesn't have the charm the Gerda one had.

The real test however is in the 'insider' recipe. The Gerda recipe for the biscuit dough is excellent, whereas my new biscuit press' recipe tastes oily and is not pleasant at all. I struck it out immediately once I had made a batch. That is such a shame for I think a lot of women will be turned off this tool if they only ever try the recipe enclosed and recommended.

I have been asked a few times for the recipe I use in my biscuit press biscuits, so here it is:

Vanilla Biscuits 
180gm butter
100 gm sugar
Tablespoon Vanilla extract
2 eggs
250gm flour
80 gms finely ground walnuts or almonds
Cream butter and sugar. Add eggs and spices. Sift in the flour, fold in the nut meal.
Refrigerate for 1 hour. 
Press onto non greased trays. Bake for 10 minutes at a moderate oven of about 180c-200c

Something interesting about this press is that all the discs in the new model are exactly the discs available in the Gerda 30 years ago. They must all be made at the same place!

This year I have started making an effort to write down recipes that I watched my mother and other women bake so that I can pass it on to my DDs.

Cooking seems to be very fashionable at the moment, and it seems to me that lot of traditional recipes have been tweaked so much that it is hard to get the real thing when you go looking for it.

Also, there are recipes which I always had in my head and knew off by heart....which I have now forgotten ...and a few that I have misplaced.
One of these was Bear Paws.

Luckily for me, Radka made a batch over on her blog and I am so delighted that she has shared the recipe as I have been meaning to hunt it down and make some for a few years now. How kind and generous. Thank you Radka!

It's only a few days now until Christmas. I really feel for all the people stuck in queues, stuck in airports, away from home, and of course, for all the people literally left out in the cold.

It's warming up again here with a forecast of 28c for Christmas Day. I can't complain as it has been unseasonably cool this December and I don't like freezing temperatures either.

Something that I am taking back this Christmas is time. No wasted time in car parks, in shopping centres, in the post office, in the bank. No, we are having a simple Christmas. After all, I can shop and queue anytime of the year.
I am taking it easy, doing things around the home, stenciling a quilt for my DDs birthday which is straight after Christmas and tomorrow I plan on baking stollen and potica with my DDs. I know, I am leaving it a little late. But after all, what's the hurry?
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