Tag Archives: summer

Isla dress: New child’s dress pattern in The Knitter

15 Jun

Word up peeps. Just dropping in to say I’ve got a new pattern out this week in issue 46 of The Knitter, whatevs.


Isla is a kiddo’s dress in Rowan’s lovely new Wool Cotton 4 ply, which is a fantastic yarn for spring/ summer, and most importantly for the Head Laundryperson in your house if you have a nipper, it’s machine washable.

It’s sized from age 2 to 10 and doesn’t take much yarn – even the largest size is 5 balls of the main colour, with tiny amounts for the colourwork.

Storm was kind enough to lend her modelling skills to the shoot…


With hindsight, I should have added extra length to her ‘sample size’ as she is way taller than an average 3 to 4 year old – so it look super short. But it’s easy to lengthen if, like me, you’re the proud parent of a baby giraffe!

Look, matchy matchy!


The bottom section is knit in the round and there’s hardly any shaping so it’s a great first Fair Isle project too.

Most exciting for me, this pattern is now available online to buy from The Making Spot, along with some of my old designs. Welcome to the 21st century peeps! Not that I’m saying don’t buy the mag, but, if you want to cast on, like NOW, you can – hurrah!

More design news coming up really soon…

PS. Thanks to Al, James and Sarah for helping Storm have a great time on the shoot, Frances, for her amazing knitting, and Phil for taking such lovely pix.


How to grow tomatoes: Tomato joy!

18 Aug

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


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.


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


Blackberry and apple crumble. Thrifty noms.

9 Aug

You may recall I spent a lovely afternoon foraging for apples, blackberries and plums.

Well, you need to find something to do with all that free food!

So, blackberry and apple crumble the easy way…


(1) Preheat oven to gas mark 4 (medium). Peel and chop apples. Butter a large tray and bung in the apples and blackberries.

(2) Cover with a thin layer of oats, and a thin layer of brown sugar. Be sure to leave some fruit poking through!


(3) Cube butter into small pieces and spread across the top


(4) Bake for at least half an hour until the fruit is soft and siizzling. You may need to add more butter half way through to prevent the oats burning.


(5) Eat. Lots.

Big fat summer foraging. Apples, blackberries and plums, oh my!

3 Aug

I’ve been a forager for years. My mum always took us to pick your own farms when I was a kid, so grubbing strawberries, raspberries and gooseberries off the actual bush they grew on never seemed a big deal to me.

And pinching blackberries from the hedgerows which lined the country lanes around my little town was just normal.

Monday was a holiday for me, so I set out with three year old in tow to snaffle the first of the summer blackberries from the rambling cemetery which spreads over 45 acres behind our house.

You have to know where to look – to figure which spots ripen first, and find the shortcuts around the back of the most aggressive brambles.

We did pretty well, and then bumped into a friend who’d spotted an apple tree on a piece of common ground a little way away.

Kids, bikes, books and blackberries already in tow we set off down one of the steepest hills in Bristol in search of our prize.

We found the apples – still a bit unripe, but fine for cooking and weighing down a huge tree. Plus, more blackberries nearby.

Best of all, was the tip from a passing gent – there were plum trees further up the slope away from the road.

While my pal herded the kids, who were by now naked, except for their wellies, and covered in sticky blackberry juice, I scrambled up the slope, glad for my gardening gloves as I grabbed at thorny twigs to hoik myself up the incline.

Our benefactor had issued one proviso ‘don’t take too many plums – people around here like to pick them’. Fair enough – we were half a mile from our house so it wasn’t exactly ‘our’ territory.

He needn’t have worried. With several trees within easy(ish) reach, and plums already scattering the ground, I filled my jumper – now a makeshift apron, with fruit from just one branch, and left probably a van load for those lucky enough to live nearby.

So, blackberry and apple crumble for pud, apple pie, and plum jam are all on the cards, and all for free. Hooray!

(Apologies for some weird photos – I have a new app – Little Photo, which I’m playing with).

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…


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

(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.


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!

Toothpaste tee shirt necklace tutorial

14 Jul

I’ve wanted to make a tee shirt necklace for ages, but I just couldn’t find the right tee shirt. I wanted something patterned, but most tee shirts are printed lightly, rather than having intergral colour. So the pattern doesn’t show on the back, which ends up being the ‘right side’ when you cut and stretch jersey, because the edges roll.
Then, yesterday, I stumbled across this new M&S nautical job in our local charity shop for £2.95. Now that’s my kind of price.

So I…

Cut the bottom hem off and made that into a wristband and…

Cut the rest of the top up into loops.

Got into a bit of a tangle here…


Untangled that.

Stretched each loop as much as possible and lined them up in order of size, leaving one spare, which I cut at one end to form a single length of fabric.


Held the two ends of the loops together and tied the spare length around them in them in a figure 8. (slightly dodgy pic – wasn’t really concentrating!)


Chopped the cap sleeves of the top, and some of the green binding, and used these to cover over the join.

Hey presto!


It sort of looks like a tube of toothpaste, gone mad. But I quite like that.

Busy busy bees

3 Jun

The garden is alive at the moment. Our lilac bush veritably buzzes with bumble and honey bees all day long, while the spider cocoons nestled under the kitchen window have finally burst, showering the garden with strands of glinting silk.


The 15 yard walk to the washing line is already a cobwebby obstacle course and within a month there will be a good two dozen beefy speckled spiders resident in the tomatoes, lilac, poppies, strawberries, jasmine and wherever else they can set up shop.

Even with my slightly menacing eight-legged neighbours taking up residence again, I feel so lucky to have this beautiful garden. I spent four hours digging in all the plants the day before Storm was born – my own outdoor version of ‘nesting’ I guess. Three years on it is nothing short of glorious. Summer is here at last!