Tag Archives: christmas

Happy New Year!

1 Jan

Well, goodbye 2012. It was nice knowing you!
It’s been an exciting year for me. In the spring I set myself a goal of having 20 patterns available on Ravelry, which I achieved as the year drew to a close. I’ll have 10 more coming out in February, which were finished some months ago – more on that soon.
Over the summer we published issue 50 of The Knitter, with a frankly bonkers 50 patterns, and redesigned the magazine.
My only regret was all that work meant I could only take a one week holiday while
Storm had 7 weeks at home before starting school.
I made some new friends, and got to know some others better.
My journey as a minimalist is now in its third year. At Christmas this meant having an emptied car driving home after the festivities, and actually being able to see out of the back window for a change! Being a minimalist doesn’t mean all white interiors and a penchant for Philippe Starck (at least, not to me). It means fewer possessions, and more real life. Zen Habits and Becoming Minimalist are both great places to start if you’re curious.

While letting go of possessions has felt relatively easy, one of my biggest challenges as a minimalist is reducing my commitments. For about four months over the summer my workload meant I barely had a moment to just ‘be’, and also resulted in much reduced blogging here.

So my goal for 2013 is to look at balance, say no a little, and have some more fun and get some more adventure in my life!
I’ll have 2 pattern collections coming out this year, but first up is a very exciting trip to New York for Vogue Knitting Live.
In the meantime, here are my key moments of 2012. I hope you had a good one, and wish you all the best for 2013,

Rosee
Xxxxx

1) Storm starting school. And starting to read and write. Just wow.
First school packed lunch. Awww.
2) Making new friends and renewing old bonds
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3) The death of one of my oldest friends – in itself a terrible loss, but with some surprising silver linings.

4) Starting and finishing (!) quilts for my dad and Storm

5) Being able to call myself a designer – after 20 plus years of dreaming about it

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6) Watching my husband launch his fledgling breadmaking business
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7) Helping Storm learn to swim and being able to share my passion for swimming with her

8) Handmade birthdays and a minimalist Christmas
Christmas chutney!
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9) Being constantly reminded that happiness in work, family and friends is more important than anything money can buy
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10) And this picture… (thanks Steven)
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Last minute presents…

24 Dec

Peppermint creams – 2 cups icing sugar, 1 whisked egg white, 2tsp peppermint essence, green colouring if you like them minty looking too. Roll out using icing sugar for dusting, cut out  (lovely cutters from Kitchens) , and leave to dry for a few hours.

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Mince pies – half a cup of butter, cup of plain flour, pinch of salt, juice and zest of an orange for the pastry. Leave at least 2 hours in the fridge before rolling and cutting out. Just 15 minutes in a medium oven.

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Gingerbread trees. Cut out stars of different sizes from gingerbread dough (secret ingredients – dark brown sugar and black pepper). Layer up using plain icing as glue and leave to dry.

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Ice with thin green icing and add silver baubles. Leave to dry again before dusting with icing sugar and edible glitter.

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Covers and ribbons on the preserves!

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And that’s it!

Happy Christmas everyone! I do hope yours is absolutely wonderful xxx

Crafty ways to speed up your Christmas countdown

21 Dec

Yes, I like to make stuff at Christmas. I like to give homemade presents. I like to cook for people.

But it helps to have a production line mentality. I don’t mean that you shouldn’t put any thought into what you make or give. More that big batches of gifts allow you to make things more quickly, and be more generous at the same time.

Stephanie Dosen’s brilliant Heartfelt Rings are just lovely, and take less than half an hour from start to finish. So I’ve made at least ten (here are just a few of them).

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Lots of pretty presents to go around, each one slightly different, but made with an identical process that’s easy to memorise and do on auto-pilot while watching Elf for the ninth time.

Eierzucker biscuits take considerably longer…

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You make the dough (icing sugar, eggs and flavouring – in this case lemon zest) and then rest it overnight, roll it out painstakingly (otherwise you will be finding icing sugar in your hair WEEKS later) and leave for another 24 hours to dry, before finally putting the moulded shapes into the oven.

They taste good when you make them, but even better after a couple of weeks (they keep practically forever in a tin). So you make a lot in one go. In this case, 36. They’re such a sweet treat you wouldn’t give away more than two or three per person, so that’s at least a dozen people with a sugary smile on their faces (unless you ‘don’t like sugar’ in which case, you are banned).

Chutney and jam are the same. You make lots, but weeks or months in advance. Come Christmas it’s just a question of labels and covers. I made these in September, so fingers crossed, they’ll taste good now.

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People keep asking me if I’ve ‘done everything’ or if I’m feeling ‘stressed about Christmas’. Honestly. it’s no on both counts. I’ve still got plenty to make with just a few days to go.  But doing lots in advance, and in big batches takes the pressure off, and makes Christmas crafting fun.

Joy to your world! What are you making today?

How to light your Christmas pudding

20 Dec

Find a candle with a big flame. Advent candles are perfect.

Fill a ladle half full with your booze of choice. Not more than half!

Get your warmed Christmas pud at the table, and hold the base of the ladle just over (not in) the flame. The candle needs to be close to the pudding for this trick.

Let the brandy/ rum/ Tennants Super heat up for a minute or so until it starts steaming.

Now, tip the ladle slightly so that the candle flame catches the alcohol fumes, and pour immediately over your pudding.

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Works every time and looks spectacular (make sure the lights are off!).

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It should go without saying, this is one for the grown ups. Practise first (use a loaf of bread or a normal cake) if you’ve not done it before.

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Once you’ve got the knack, you#’ll want to do it every year! (spot the difference…)

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Perfect last minute project: Heartfelt Rings

18 Dec

Ugh. Being under the weather just before Christmas is not helpful  when it comes to all those Christmas crafting plans.

Lucky for me, Stephanie Dosen, aka tinyowlknits, has given knitters everywhere a lovely early pressie – a free pattern for a lightening fast project, xomplete with video knitalong!

Despite my mildly bedraggled state, I dived straight in with Stephanie’s new design, which uses up scraps of 4ply wool and takes maybe 20 to 30 minutes from start to finish. Perfect timing, right? She is so darn clever.

Anyway, do hop over to her site, where you can download the free Heartfelt Rings pattern, and knit along with Stephanie and see some of her other amazing patterns. Or, if you’re feeling too weak to even click your mouse, the videos are below too. Happy holidays!

 

heartfelt rings from tinyowlknits on Vimeo.

heartfelt rings part 2 from tinyowlknits on Vimeo.

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?!

 

The Holly and the Nativity

9 Dec

Lots of lovely Christmassy things today!

Storm had her first Nativity play at her pre-school. She was one of the angels, having been demoted from Mary due to constantly pointing out in a really LOUD voice that Baby Jesus must be ‘cold because he hasn’t got any clothes on’. Haha.

She looked super cute in her little costume, plus big boots. Very punk fairy. One of the mums made the most amazing glittery cupcakes as a treat for after, which Storm was besotted by, so we did a little cake decorating ourselves when we got home, although ours were nowhere near as posh. Aren’t they pretty?!

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I’ve now finished all my little Christmas ornaments. Here are some of them: a few crochet snowflakes, a polar bear, a mitten, an ice skate, and a little red pom pom. There are some more things I’ve been sewing, but I’ll show you those next week.

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Yesterday I went on a holly hunt and found quite a few branches with red berries (don’t worry, I left lots for the birds). When I got home I just stripped off the lower leaves and  poked a few pieces behind the top of our living room mirror (a v generous wedding present from Bristol Guild) and then wound our little red lights around it. It looks so festive!

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OK, here’s another gratuitous Nativity pic. Next week I think it’ll be time for some presents! Have a lovely Christmassy weekend!

Homemade tree ornaments: The Mitten

3 Dec

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I love making Christmas decorations. Last year our tree got three lovely sparkly pine cones, which Storm made at playgroup. So sweet!

You just spread a dab of PVA glue on your pinecone, sprinkle it with glitter and leave to dry on a radiator, before tying a bit of ribbon on for hanging it up with.

This year I’m having a go at some of Alicia Paulson’s lovely felt ornaments. Alicia is the author of Posie Gets Cozy, one of a handful of blogs I read religiously. She’s not exactly a secret on the interwebs, but if you’ve never looked at her blog before, I urge you to check out her stunning photographs, and delightful patterns for cross stitch, quilts, crochet, knitting and, well, these.
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The mitten is part of her Snow Day ornament set. I bought the PDF pattern, not the kit, as it seemed a bit crazy to have teeny bits of felt flown half way round the world (and it was way cheaper!).

You baste some waste canvas to a piece of grey felt, stitch the design and then soak the piece, which will soften the canvas and allow you to tweezer it out, strand by strand, leaving the grey felt adorned with the neat cross stitches. (This is the back, by the way!)

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I spent all my evenings at the weekend stitching the snowflake ‘front’ of the mitt. The other side is simpler and I’m hoping will be done in a couple of evenings.

I’ve also made the polar bear. He’s a bit harder to photograph, due to being bright white (my lens isn’t good enough to go closer) but you hopefully get the idea! I particularly love his mini knitted scarf.

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If you’re making Christmas ornaments do tell! I’d love to see what you’re up to…

Homemade Christmas countdown!

1 Dec

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OK, it’s officially December, so at last I am allowed to say the C word. Hurrah!

Last Christmas was the best I’ve had since I was a kid. Because I got to see it through the eyes of my then 2 and a half year old daughter. It was the first Christmas she really started to register what was going on and it reminded me how much fun it is supposed to be. Hurrah!

The fairy outfit and Russian dolls she got on Christmas morning probably helped get things going…

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And there was a lot of festive baking to be done too.

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This year I suspect will be the last before we get the many years of sleepless Christmas Eves, so we are going to treasure every single speck of it.

I’ve been making and giving homemade presents at Christmas since I was a teenager. It started at uni when I had no money, and each year I make more and buy less. The trick is finding pressies that don’t take weeks to create (unless you have oodles of spare time) – otherwise you are swapping the stress of The Shops with sitting up ’til 2am on Christmas Eve finishing socks (been there).

I can’t talk about all of what I’m up to as some of the intended recipients read this blog, but there will definitely be chutney, jam, scarves, biscuits, cakes and more. I’ll talk you through as much of it as I can.

I’ve also got some decorations to sew for the tree, so over the next few weeks, I’ll occasionally pop up with one of those too. There are some great festive makes out there in the interwebs, and Christmas is all about giving, so why not try these for a start…

Candy Cane playdough

Cookie Cutter ornaments

Fabric ‘paper’ chains

OK, let the countdown begin!