Tuesday, 18 December 2012

One a Day 18th Dec 12 Tuesdays Tallies

Oh my goodness, what a week! Somewhere in the middle I have finished my Vintage Granny Blanket for my mum, but mostly I have more tallying to do in trips to the dump, the charity shop and cleaning. We finally had confirmation that our house was sold last Wednesday, with completion on the sale this Friday. The removal men came yesterday and the rest of our "stuff" has gone into storage for a month or so until a new purchase goes through the motions. I will do a proper "Done" post at some point, but not today.

I have been running up something else in spare moments, mainly in the car travelling up and down the hour each way, but that can't go on here.

I have to start Christmas preps now! How is everyone else doing, have you finished all your Christmas Makes or will it be a frantic middle of the night job on Christmas Eve? The latter is normal for me.

Please join in Tuesdays Tallies, I suspect we all have brand new projects we are planning for a New Year and a New Start!

If you want to join in with Link Party add your details below. Copy the One a Day header and put that in your post too with a link back too if you wish so we can all find each other! Lots of chance to chatter on the One a Day group on Ravelry here Ignore the Tackle it Tuesday bit...I can't get a Tuesday's Tallies header but it is one and the same!

Friday, 14 December 2012

Red Onion Marmalade

I am finally getting a few things prepared for Christmas, it has been a bit of a roller coaster week. Finally we exchanged on our much loved family house of 15 years in gorgeous Minchinhampton, Gloucestershire, where our girls grew up and went to school. We have already moved to Somerset, in October, but it has felt very transitory as we can only be in this house for 4 months. At least now we are certain ours is sold and we can buy somewhere to call home again. I put some jars in the oven with an inch of water in each for half an hour.
However home is where your family are, and everyone arrives "home" next Friday for 2 weeks, so we are a complete roost again. We go from 3 to 6 adults in this house, it is quite small but it is home, for now. I can finally get my head around cooking and preparing for Christmas, well after the small matter of packing up the rest of our belongings this weekend to go into storage on Monday, and cleaning our "old" house. I detest the selling system here in England, nobody has any comeback on a sale as it is not binding until about a week before the move happens, so you can't plan. Thankfully, as we just need our things to go into storage sometime next week, and not a coordinated move on a particular day, I could nab the one free slot with the removal company not charging a king's ransom! We were thinking we were going to have to do all of it ourselves at one point, a steep drive and a piano...hummmmmm!
We had been assured the exchange was happening every day for the last 2 weeks, no chain was involved, and every couple of days there was another excuse, but on Wednesday I was assured for the nth time it was happening today so I set about making red onion marmalade as distraction therapy. It is a good job it takes a while....on a freezing frosty day it is a good way of warming the house up by having a comforting pot bubbling on the stove. Lots of red Christmassy colours; gingham jars, red onions, red wine, balsamic vinegar and chillis.
It was a mish mash of several recipes including Sarah Raven's in her garden cook book and a Good Food magazine one online. I peeled and finely choppped a good kilo or so of red onions, almost filling my largest Le Creuset casserole. A very good glug of sunflower and olive oils went in first.
I then sweated the onions for about 40 minutes, stirring regularly. I added about 150g brown sugar, choppped garlic, a shake of chilli flakes, seasoning, some whole cloves and thyme and sweated a bit more, what a lovely phrase! Then about 6 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar went in and half a bottle of the cheapest red wine you can find. In my case I always make sure I bring lots back from France as cooking with wine that cost €1 a bottle is not as extravagant. Then you bubble and bubble and stir and it is not too much trouble at all for another 30-40 minutes or so until very soft and thikened. Jars out of the oven and empty the water and then in goes ladlefuls of your red onion marmalade. Well it would if the ladle was smaller than the jar, it goes everywhere. The solicitor rang at this point to say that we were exchanging in five minutes if that was OK with us, ohh heck! I put the tops on tightly straight away, I don't bother with wax discs (shock horror 'elf and safety) and try and wipe the sticky gloop up off the jars as well as I can. When cold I put on my labels, I found some clip art last year and just print them off on Avery labels, replace the clip art for whatever it is you are making. That should be enough for all the lovely cold gammon and turkey for the next few weeks! Pity, our new house wont have a pantry either, I've always fancied having a pantry or a cellar. in reality it won't last that long anyway.
..and crochet has also been my distraction therapy. I finished my Vintage Granny last night, more about that soon.

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

One-a-Day Vintage Solid Granny Blanket - Week 6 - Tuesday's Tallies

One a Day Project
The lovely Carole of Gingerbread Girl fame had the wonderful idea of the One a Day project to inspire us all to pick up our yarn every day and crochet or knit something, one square, one row or one stitch is better than nothing! Anyone can join in, it is not competitive just a place to keep in touch with fellow yarn enthusiasts and keep on top of your projects at the same time at a pace you dictate. Carole hosted a Mr Linky and whilst life is a tad busy for Carole I have volunteered in to "babysit" One a Day for a while and the Mr Linky link stuff is below so we can all admire each others progress and offer encouragement when it has been "one of those" weeks!

I was hoping to have a "DONE" post for you today...but um...I have not quite.... sort of...like.....finished my Vintage Solid Granny Blanket! I have completed all the dc joining and 6 1/2 rounds of border...the plan is 8 rounds, well it has evolved to 8 rounds. Initially one round of plain treble in Teal (RS), then double crochet worked the other way round to keep the border flat in Pale Rose (WS), then a treble chain space round in teal (RS), another dc round in Mint (WS), then a teal treble chain space round (RS) then a dc round in Grape (WS), a round in solid treble in teal (RS) and the final round will be....watch this space!
The border is growing!
crochet border
It will be "done" in time to be mum's Christmas present.

If you want to join in with Link Party add your details below. Copy the One a Day header and put that in your post too with a link back too if you wish so we can all find each other! Lots of chance to chatter on the One a Day group on Ravelry here Ignore the Tackle it Tuesday bit...I can't get a Tuesday's Tallies header but it is one and the same!

Friday, 7 December 2012

Oaty Banana Nutella Muffins

I picked up various recipe cards at the checkout last week. They were on the table and when my 16 yo came in from school she looked hopeful that I had made the muffins. Never mind, I have now managed to procure all the ingredients and planned to make them for after school today, warm out of the oven, but could I find the recipe card anywhere? Of course not! I went back to Waitrose and they had changed the displays so no oaty banana muffins it seemed.. Thank goodness for google, here is the original recipe but I changed it a little so this is my version:

Oaty Banana Nutella Muffins

Makes 12 - 15
Prepare 10 mins
Cook 20 mins


300g self-raising flour (or plain + 2tsp of baking powder)
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
100g light brown soft sugar
50g porridge oats
2 ripe bananas
285ml low fat plain yogurt
75ml sunflower oil
2 medium eggs, beaten
100g Nutella or similar Hazelnut Spread

1 Preheat the oven to 180ºC, gas mark 4. In a large bowl, sieve together the flour, bicarbonate of soda and sugar, stir in the oats.

2 Using a fork, mash the bananas until puréed in a bowl. In a pyrex jug measure the oil, spoon in the yogurt to the 350ml mark making sure it is level. Beat in the eggs with a fork. Add the banana and oil/yogurt/egg to the flour bowl and stir lightly to mix — don’t worry if it looks a little lumpy.

3 Divide half of the mixture between 12-15 paper muffin cases then drop a teaspoon of Nutella into each one. Top with the remaining muffin mixture then bake for 20 minutes until risen and golden. 

Speed is of the essence for good muffins, both mixing and getting into the oven! Best eaten on the day of making, preferably warm and they freeze well too (ha ha does anyone ever have any left to freeze?)

Very scrum-dilly-umptious....we are now trying to decorate the tree but of six strings of lights only 2 work, disaster! A light party has been dispatched out to buy some more, well fuelled.
A Baker's Dozen of Banana Oaty muffins with Nutella surprise in the middle

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Vintage Solid Granny Blanket - Week 5 - Tuesday's Tallies

Still joining the squares. They are looking neater now I am joining crosswise too. Next week I will be on the border...I will!
Apologies for the quick rumpled snaps...it's gone midnight time to go and put the bread machine on!

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Vintage Solid Granny Blanket - Week 4 - Tuesday's Tallies

So one hundred and ninety two squares, twelve each of sixteen colours are whizzed up. The only teeny tiny annoying bit being I didn't sew in the ends as I went. Now regretted, naturally.
Although it isn't too bad as I am sewing in the ends for a pile of 16 different squares and then adding to my throw, a row at a time.
Using teal that has not been used so far. I will work all the rows one way, and then the vertical rows.
A nice neat join going through the back 2 loops only, and just an end at the beginning and end of each row.
Properly arty types can be random.....but I have equal numbers of 16 colours, and am randomly working out each row as I go. So I sew in the 32 ends for 16 squares, and place next to the throw to date to make sure a colour only ever repeats in one row of 16 and never more than twice is a 12, and of course never adjoin each other. The top row is "planned" but not joined yet below.
So is this random or not? Who cares.....! 6 rows of 12 done!
I love the Elmer Squares, so neat.

I should be on the border next week, and I am hoping to goodness my mum hasn't taken up crochet and blogging and seen her Christmas Present!  Keep up with Carole's One A Day Tuesday's Tallies here

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Vintage Solid Granny Blanket - Wks 2 and 3 - Tuesdays Tallies

Crochet is fabulous. However bananas life goes you can carry yarn and find 10 minutes in a day to squeeze in a square. Dead time becomes profitable. so progress has been good on my Vintage Granny despite an update not happening last week. I have finally decided on 16 colours for the blocks and a 17th to join. Yes I know, a prime number! I love the maths and counting and repetitive patterns in squares.
So I am making 12 squares each of my 16 colours. So far I have ten of each so the missing siblings should be finished this week.
I love the way the squares all curl in the same way.
I have spent quite a bit of time jumping ahead of myself and contemplating the joining method. Originally I was planning a final round in teal for each square and then a join as you go technique suitable for the solid squares. It was not right. In the end I think I have settled on a double crochet join but through the back loop of each stitch when wrong sides are together. So the join is a feature of the design. Last time I joined in this way on my flowery throw I joined through both loops (so through all 4 loops in the two stitches) and it was not very neat.
It looks a lot neater through the two rather than four loops. I am also gleefully enjoying the fact that this is a very quick way to join with minimal ends to sew in as complete rows are worked up and down and then side to side. I think the border may also be teal heavy, after all I bought 3 balls of teal expecting to need a lot!
My work basket...some of the colours are hiding!
Stylecraft Special DK unless stated Left to Right. Row 1: Mocha 1064 Copper 1029 Meadow 1065 Silver 1203 Row 2: Gold (King Cole Big Value DK 323) Mint (Stylecraft Life DK 2342) Pale Rose 1080 Sherbet 1034 Row 3: Claret 1123 Parchment 1218 Apricot 1026 Raspberry 1023 Row 4: Soft Peach 1240 Grape 1067 Walnut 1054 Aspen 1422 Finally Teal 1062 (not pictured above) to join

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Aran Cushions - Part 2 - Blackberry Stitch DONE!

Do you remember  way back when? The summer sometime, before the trees turned, before we moved house etc etc etc Middle one wanted an assortment of cushions for her uni room. Aran Cushion number 1 was completed before the start of term, but number two was finished for her birthday last week. It was going to be a knitted bobble stitch with a plain back but I decided to have a bash at a crocheted Blackberry Stitch instead based on this pattern.
I Bobbled Along.... quite happily. Working in Stylecraft Chunky was harder on the hands, and each bobble takes some working, 5 stitches into 1 do go with some elbow grease.
The lovely effect of this stitch does come at a price, you need a massive amount of the yarn. I was so far out I used double what I expected and that was keeping the back as plain trebles. It is a gorgeous effect though, just be warned on the yardage!
I worked a simple button closure slip stitching along the last row of trebles and just working a 3-4 chain loop where a button was sewn on accordingly on the opposite side. The cushion is a large 60cm square, and cost a fortune to post with its pad to my daughter.
Pictures were hard to get on a gloomy day when rushing to pack and post off.
But she did like it! One of those "DONE" projects that was enjoyable but I am glad to be moving onto something else, namely my Vintage Solid Granny that is progressing well, no update so far this week as my mum has been here for a few days and I just worked on the odd square here and there keeping the rest hidden away.....

BLACKBERRY STITCH CROCHET CUSHION finished 5th November 2012, it took me two months off and on.

FINISHED SIZE: 60cm square

YARN: 3x100g Stylecraft Special Chunky each in Fondant 1241 and Cream 1005

Hook: 5.5mm

PATTERN: Based on this Blackberry Stitch Baby Blanket


Friday, 9 November 2012

Blogging Fame (tongue in cheek smiley inserted here!)

As I mentioned in my last post, I was lucky to win a gorgeous satchel from Julie Slater and Sons in a competition organised by Brands on the Blog. Part of the "prize" was evaluating the bag honestly. I don't blog for fame, or money, but it is quite flattering to see your work "in print" on someone else's site! A boost to the ego anyway. I love the bag, genuinely, but at present I could not have bought one so I am very happy!
Crochet on the go

Here is the article on Julie Slater and another one on Brands on the Blog...it is quite spooky as the picture of the bag in the French window I did not take, but the window is almost identical to the kitchen windowat our  gite in France, White Shutters, where we were last week. I wrote the article before we went away! I know I am not going mad, I hope I am not! Hang on, there are shutters on our window. Phew, sanity is retained for another day, just! It turns out that the day I took the photos of the bag on the bench was the last day I spent at our old house too. Mixed emotions as things are all topsy-turvey having half moved house!

Oh well, I'll keep on crocheting...that is a constant, along with family, and the friendship of lovely bloggers and twitterers and FaceBookers and Ravelry peeps worldwide! You can see my solid granny squares that travel with me, well my hook and a ball of yarn do.

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Vintage Solid Granny Blanket - Wk 1- Tuesdays Tallies

It has been a while fellow knotters, a very slack blogger I have been! Since my last post, after moving house, we have also had a flying visit out to France to close up our holiday rental gite White Shutters for the winter. We also started extensive refurbishing of the kitchen.  Our old people carrier was loaded with kitchen carcass base units and a lovely new range cooker that was installed in the island unit in the kitchen. We only had 4 days but boy did we work hard, the pool is now hibernating, the Virginia Creeper cut back and the shutters closed for the winter hibernation. 12+ hours in the car each way and evenings in front of the wood burner means lots of crocheting time too. Look what I started about 3 weeks ago.
A square takes about 15 minutes...so a square can be hooked up whilst the rice cooks, a square in the car waiting for an appointment and before you know it there are...
113 squares...oh my gosh how did I make that many without realising? The colours even go with my lovely new Sandstripe Satchel too! I wonder if the colour influence was also in my subconscious?

I started with 6 each of 6 colours, took another 10 colours with me to France and have 10 each  of most of those colours. I will add a couple more colours possibly. This throw is totally inspired by Sandra's beautiful Giant Granny Throw over at Cherry Heart. I am making this for my mum for Christmas, to coordinate with a lovely patchwork quilt she made years ago. I am having to remember the colours but they seemed to be so similar to Sandra's that I am mainly just sticking with her brilliance in picking out colours. The yarn is all good old Stylecraft Special DK with just the gold from another brand. The square pattern is of course the wonderful Elmer square by Little Tin Bird
I knew I loved this square having made the Gingham Cushion back in the summer. This time the last round on all the suares will be in teal, and hopefully I can work out a suitable join as you go method that will work with the solid squares.

It was so nice hooking in fromt of the woodburner with bread, cheese and wine for supper after a hard day's graft!
It's a good job mum doesn't "do" computers so I am not spoiling the surprise! It's nice to be back on course with Tuesday's Tallies again, keep up the good work organising us "One a Day" Carole!

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Bobbling along...

I have been a little bit busy (and absent from blogging) the last couple of weeks. After planning to move house for so long we suddenly did, with a week's notice. Rental houses are so hard to find, especially when there is a dog in the family. This one came up when S was in the US so I just paid the deposit and here we are. We still have our house to sell so this one is temporary. No more commuting to work for S, other than an 8km bike ride through Somerset countryside, and little S started 6th form here in September so now she is walking to school too.

We are now in Somerset, just south of Bristol and very nice it is. This is a sensible move. It is only an hour from our old house but still a new start in a new area after 15 very happy years in Gloucestershire. I can walk out the door with Rolo and walk him in the park, or into town, through the woods or go and see the swans and walk round the lake. The cycling is fabulous too, lots of off road Sustrans cycle paths. A much healthier, more economical and greener way to live!
I have been crocheting in between the moving ourselves, cleaning and unpacking, thank goodness for a portable hobby! I am trying to finish the large floor cushion for the student oop north, a companion to Aran Cushion 1. The blackberry stitch is very effective but uses a lot of yarn, 8 balls of Stylecraft Special Chunky 100g balls, I only bought 4 to start with and I have had to send off for more twice now, so I hope that is enough. It would be a lot more but the back is in plain trebles. I have to get it finished this week as it is her birthday soon! I'll be back soon with a "DONE!" post, hopefully.
Crochet Blackberry Stitch
I also finally got round to sorting my phone out (long out of contract and still paying £££s) and managed to get a superb deal on a Galaxy 3S that is far better than Martin's Money Saving Expert email could recommend  and cheaper than my old phone. So blogging on the go is now a possibility. I started this on my phone but after uploading the photos and saving I have resorted to PC blogging...hard to waffle on as much on a phone! My advice is  to order a phone with someone else, ring up and ask for the code so you can keep your number and, surprise surprise, they will then move heaven and earth to keep you even if you already asked for a price match. Take the offer there and then (I didn't, it took 10 days to get them to honour their verbal offer as I was cooking) and cancel the order for the first phone quick. The UK company in question starts with a "Vo"...I am saying no more!!

Friday, 5 October 2012

Not Just Another Granny Square Blanket - DONE!

Another Granny Square Blanket, but with a simple twist of a giant granny middle. However, it is my first granny square blanket, not just another one to me. Not very radical, but I disobeyed youngest daughter, whose blanket it is, and decided I wanted to work in a bit more interest. Starting with the intention of a 12x12 sqaure throw ie 144 six round solid granny squares. I thought I would try join-as-you--go or JAYG for the first time. Except I didn't mug up on the method before going away on holiday at the end of August. Six rounds because I am lazy, and it is quicker to make as you have fewer ends to sew in.
Cath Kidston crochet blanket
But I digress, the brief from my 16yo was a "Cath Kidston snuggly blanket for TV slobbing" so it didn't need to be big but it is big, plenty big enough for her double bed under the eaves in the attic! It covers two on the sofa too, we tried it out tonight as I am holding off on putting the heating on still.
crochet giant granny
The blanket has taken about 5 weeks, I got a move on the first week as we were on holiday so no PC and no guilt crocheting in the evening or a few squares over a morning cup of tea in bed...holidays are like Sunday every day.
I was using 8 colours of Stylecraft Special DK as commissioned by the customer: Candy Floss: Cloud Blue, Fondant, Lavender, Lemon, Lipstick, Spring Green and White. I tried to be random, but keeping the lights and darks spaced and fairly even in each row. The giant granny was not that giant, and replaced the centre 16 squares, so 24 rounds it was.

 The edging is 6 rounds of granny clusters, how easy is that?!
I officially love JAYG, it is a bit quicker than sewing up, as you are sewing in an end that still has to be fastened off if you JAYG. I just love the country blanket stitch effect. I found it easier to do on a table to get the tension even on the join.
join as you go

 The patchwork teddy was made by my mum aka Granny when our smallest one was born 16 years ago, she also made our other two girls one in different colours at the same time.

Not Just Another Granny Square Blanket finished 3rd October 2012, it took me 5 weeks!

FINISHED SIZE: 190cm square
YARN: 2 balls each Stylecraft Special 100% acrylic Double Knit 100g in 8 colours, up to half a ball of each left
Candy Floss 1130
Cloud Blue 1019
Fondant 1241
Lavender 1188
Lemon 1020
Lipstick 1246
Spring Green 1316
White 1001

Hook: 4mm

Solid Granny Square Pattern (UK terminology)

Ch=Chain Tr=Treble SlSt = Slip Stitch, Sp=space
Start with 4Ch join to a loop
Round 1
6Ch then 3Tr into loop
(1Ch 3Tr 3Ch 3Tr) into loop, repeat 3 times in total.
2Tr and join to 3rd chain
Round 2
Sl st into corner chains 6ch
6Ch then 3Tr into same corner chains
(1Ch, 3Tr into 1 ch sp, 1Ch, 3Tr 3Ch 3Tr into corner chains) repeat 3 times as before and finish with 1 ch 2tr and join to 3rd ch.
Round 3-5
Continue as set
Round 6
Complete first side to corner chain, Ch1 (not 3) then follow JAYG instructions on Lucy's Attic 24 photo tutorial. I chain 1 when turning a JAYG corner.

I have no idea if this is the correct method, just how I did them. Often there are no1 ch spaces on granny squares and just 2 chains to turn the corner, do what you prefer! I am also sure this pattern will have been written down somewhere before, I am not claiming to be original.

Happy Hooky Index: 9/10
I enjoyed taking part in the One A Day and Tuesdays Tallies on Carole's blog
Here is how it came together
Week 1
Week 2
Week 3
Week 4
Week 5
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