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Hello Mollie! Crochet flowers and egg cosies galore

10 Mar

Happy weekend! After a morning spent beavering away in the garden, getting ready for spring (hurrah!) I gave myself permission to tear open the wrapper on my yummy new issue of Mollie Makes. Thanks Mr Postman!

Even better, there are several patterns in this issue that I lent a helping hand with on the tech editing front.

First up is this month’s star project …

These lovely egg cosies by Suzie Johnson of The Wool Sanctuary, are lickitysplit quick to knit up, and will give you a nicely sample sized challenge, with a little bit of Fair Isle and intarsia knitting needed to make them up.

I also provided a little assistance with the adorbs (as Mollie would say) cover gift – a pretty crochet flower brooch in pink cotton yarn, designed by Anna Rakoniewska, who has a super-cute Etsy shop.

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You only need to be able to do double and treble crochet (single and double in US speak) to put this together. It really is very simple – don’t be scared!

The garden is waking up to spring, so I spent a lovely hour outside after I’d finished digging, weeding and re-potting, sat in the warm(ish) sun with Mollie and a nice cool drink.

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Ooo, look, buds! Hooray for sunny days! Ttfn xx

Reading List: My favourite blogs

22 Feb

Mmmmm, pondering what to write today, it occurred that there are a gazillion great blogs out there, but tracking them down can be tricky.

Some of the ones I like are well known, some not so much, but all are worth a peek, I hope you’ll agree.

So, here we go!

1. Posie Gets Cozy

Portland designer Alicia Paulson has an impossibly beautiful home, an incredible collection of sweet felt, cross stitch, embroidery and crochet patterns, and takes truly beautiful pictures. I’ve made A LOT of her designs. Go Alicia!

2. Yarnstorm

Quilting, baking, knitting, crochet, art and gardening, with Jane Brocket, who has a spectacular eye for colour and a ‘can do’ take on life.

She started me on my quilting journey. And hurrah for that! (More quilting here this weekend if that’s your bag)
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3. Brooklyn Tweed

Jared Flood has superstar status in the knitting world, but is also an accomplished photographer, and now has his own yarn range. If any designer will persuade you to get into knitting, he is it.

Here’s his Rock Island shawl. Not one for beginners but totally GAWJUS.

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Photo (c) Jared Flood.

4. Craftiness Is Not Optional

Mum of two and sewing genius Jess posts daily about clothes, with regular free tutorials on kid’s and women’s clothes and accessories. Great for last minute presents. I love her ric-rac flowers.

5. Feminist Ryan Gosling

This blog exploded just a few months ago, and riffs with exceptional humour on the whole F*ckYeah web meme that won’t go away. Succinct feminist theory and hot pictures of Ryan Gosling. What’s not to like?! This is my favourite post.

6. The Sartorialist

I love Scott Schuman for his coverage of the shows, but his street snaps are second to none. A superstar fashion blogger who deserves to be so.

7. Needled

Scottish knitwear designer Kate Davies takes you on adventures through the Highlands, and regularly reveals her latest, exceptional design. She has a penchant for ‘woolly wool’ and Fair Isle and great taste in dogs and hats.

Like this one…
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8. Cotton and Cloud

Kyoko Nakayoshi is a talented Japanese knitwear designer, who I feel privileged to have worked with regularly over the past year. Her blog is full of useful knitting tips and techniques, as well as links to lovely products like these fab knitting needles. Knitscene recently named her one of the top 8 knitwear designers to watch in 2012, and deservedly so!

9. Birdface

Helen Ward is a graphic designer with a sideline in amazing paper art. She has occasional tutorials for everything from pretty Christmas decorations, to  leg warmers and is always inspirational. She rocks!

Here’s Helen with her fabulous knitted gate, which she created during Totterdown’s Woolly Wonderland
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10. Jen Arnall-Culliford Knitwear

Jen AC is a widely respected technical editor with a sideline in just-so designs. She’s also my friend, and the person who encouraged me to go for my job on The Knitter. Thanks Jen!  Her blog is a lovely mix of knitting, stitching, foodie loveliness and good old common sense.

Enough from me. I’d love to hear about your favourite blog, so leave me a comment!

O’ Christmas tree!

17 Dec

Sorry for the lack of posts this week. I have been poorly and so I had to put the Christmas countdown on hold while I was busy feeling very sorry for myself and distinctly unChristmassy.

No more! Yes, I still feel rather rubbish, but we dragged ourselves out of the house today to get our tree, and I am really glad we made the effort.

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Our tree was from the brilliant Riverside Garden Centre (playground, lovely cafe, friendly knowledgeable staff, and lots of little extras, like a working beehive and bird spotting area).

I love Scandinavian red and white, so perhaps our tree is a little cliched and twee, but I love it!

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Our live tree from last year is looking a bit poorly, so I thought I’d give it this Christmas off so we got a traditional cut Norwegian spruce instead. Part of me wishes we had an artificial one, so that we could put it up much earlier, but it wouldn’t be the same.

I also thought you might like to see Storm’s Christmas throne. I don’t really like tinsel, but I know kiddies do, so…

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The garland is based on the Peppermint Hearts Garland in Alicia Paulson’s first book Stitched In Time. Storm’s face was an absolute picture when she saw it for the first time! Heck, we can’t have everything uber-tasteful now, can we?!

 

Autumn’s here. Time for chutney

12 Sep

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I don’t normally ‘cull’ green tomatoes for chutney this early, but the fruit on one of my plants got so heavy that the weight pulled it over (even though it was staked!) and damaged the main stalk so much that the toms started to rot on the vine, so I picked the rest. I could have waited for them to ripen inside, but it’s getter cooler now, and that means it’s time to make the Christmas chutney.

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I washed the fruit, plus the last of our scrumped apples

…and chopped it all up with a couple of onions – I had about 2kg of tomatoes, and 3kg of apples (after coring and peeling).

Added 500g or demerara sugar and 500ml of vinegar – I used up the white wine and cider vinegars at the back of our spice cupboard.

Cooked it for 3 hours on a lowish heat (with lots of stirring in the last hour to stop it sticking and burning), and mashed it up a bit at the end to make it spreadable.

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Then spooned it into sterilised jars – I boil them for a few minutes, but you can do them in the dishwasher too. Added cellophane and labels once it had cooled.

It’ll go in the preserves cupboard now (where it’s cool) and come out at Christmas to play with the ham. There will be pretty homemade fabric covers too for the few I’ll give as presents, but that can wait. For now, it needs to sit in the dark, and get tasty. Mmmmmmmm.

Totterdown Front Room – The Plan

5 Sep

OK, so last year I promised that I would get more involved with Totterdown Front Room in 2011.

I have been pondering it, but still unsure what I would do, when I bumped into an old acquaintance, who I had met on the art trail in 2009.

H is a truly community spirited individual, and had opened her house that year for knitting, tea and cakes, as well as a little crochet teaching.

I really enjoyed meeting her, but had failed miserably to follow it up, so I was very happy to see her again at the park, where she was planting lovely edibles  as part of a local gardening campaign. Like I said, she is a giver!

So we got talking and I said I’d been thinking about doing some kind of yarn bombing event for this year’s Front Room, inspired by Johanna’s knit graffiti I spotted last week.

Serendipity! She had registered her house to take part, but not formulated a plan. So now we have one (well loosely anyway).

The idea:

Base yarn bombing workshops, plus other crafty fun, at H’s house during Front Room weekend (usually late November).

Make a few expeditions out each day of the trail into  Totterdown to scatter our yarny goodness.

Fuel up in between with plenty of tea and cake (maybe with a donation to charity?)

Generally have a bit of a giggle, and continue to brighten up our lovely corner of Bristol.

Now that I have written it down, I HAVE to do it! No more excuses!

So my next question is – would you like to get involved? If so just leave me a comment or email me and I’ll make sure you’re kept up to speed.

I’m guessing there will be a mixture of pre-arranged ‘installations’ and cheeky street adornment, so if you know anyone who has a bike rack/ gate post etc which is looking in need of cheering up, please send me your nominations!

How to grow tomatoes: Tomato joy!

18 Aug

A little while ago I wrote about how to grow tomatoes.

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This summer it seems to be working – hurrah! Although, doesn’t it just feel like you’re watering them all the time?!

Plus, there are a LOT of spider webs to be circumnavigated to pick these babies.

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While I’m here, our new toaster appears to have a face. Just sayin’…

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How to grow tomatoes

22 Jul

My tomatoes are just starting to produce lovely ripe nommilicious fruit/vegetables/whatever they are.

This is the first of this year’s crop…

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And this was the last of last year’s crop…

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(Don’t worry about them being green. You can turn them into chutney, but they’ll ripen on their own if you just leave them to their own devices).

I’ve got six plants this year. I’m a little tomato obsessed really.

So here’s the trick:

(1) Plant them out in the hottest, sunniest part of the garden you can find, as soon as the May frosts are over.

(2) If they’re looking fragile bring them in at night for about a week to help them toughen up gradually.

(3) Forget gro-bags. Plant each tomato in a pot AT LEAST as big as a bucket and fill with tomato or veg compost.

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My helpful assistant, practically dressed as ever

(4) Give each pot a full watering can of water every day it doesn’t rain. The back of the leaves should be green – if the veins go purple they’re either hungry or thirsty.

(5) Stake the plants so they don’t fall over in strong wind.

(6) Pinch out the first few side shoots to encourage the plant to grow upwards.

(7) After a month the compost won’t have much food in it, so feed with a liquid feed once a week (Follow the instructions on the label).

(8) Pick off the fruit when they’re ripe – if you leave them on the plant they’ll split…

(9) Come October they’ll stop ripening on the plant, so bring the remaining green fruit indoors and leave them in a dish at room temperature.

Wave goodbye to tasteless supermarket tomatoes forever!