a busy domestic blog of knitting, sewing and all kinds of needlecrafts, cooking my garden produce and preserving it

Sunday, 17 October 2010

What is that?

So, I've finished my latest knitting project, with which I'm pleased.

I've used up lots of those irritating odds and ends of wool left from other things, have a short-sleeved jumper ready for cold weather on its way and a little bit of space in the storage cupboard. It was intended to be a slip over but as I had some brown yarn left, it grew sleeves.

Showed it to the teenager who said "What is that?", "Why didn't you ask me before you made it?" and " You're not going to wear it are you?".
Well, I have worn it and I STILL like it!

Monday, 13 September 2010

Preserving summer

I've had an extremely busy fortnight making jams and chutneys to make the most of a sudden glut of fruit and veg. We came back from holiday to realise that we'd not told the garden-minding neighbour to keep an eye on the courgette plants - so there were several marrows waiting for us.

The first of them was turned into chutney - a recipe cut from a magazine at some point in time but with a difference - I had a couple of pints of maroon coloured vinegar left after eating pickled cabbage. Having already been used for pickling I don't think it works a second time but I used it for the initial boiling down of the marrow and ended up with a lovely plum coloured chutney.

marrow and tomatoes boiling in the red cabbage vinegar

Then a friend offered us some - as many as we could carry - of his plums
- so I made jam

my parents offered blackberries
and someone local offered pick your own apples on Freecycle and we couldn't say 'No', so I made an autumn mixed fruit jam with apples, blackberries and a few plums

autumn mixed fruit jam

Meanwhile there were still some marrows left and some rhubarb in the garden needing to be picked

soaking marrow and rhubarb in sugar overnight turns the sugar to liquid!

So with some strips of orange peel and a chunk of ginger, they were turned into marmalade, basically the same flavour as rhubarb, ginger and orange preserve I'd made earlier in summer. I'm hoping not all of this ends up on toast as it goes very well with yogurt as a desert.

marrow and rhubarb marmalade

Friday, 16 July 2010


a busy week of jam making.
started with 3lb of gooseberries from parents' garden with lemons and a dash of elderflower cordial.
rhubarb, lemon and ginger preserve yesterday - not really to be used as a spread but to add to plain greek yogurt with maybe ginger nuts sprinkled on top

and lastly - and certainly the 'pinkest' - apple and blackcurrant made with 3 1/2 lb of thinnings from the apple trees and about 8oz home grown blackcurrants to add flavour and turn it such a gorgeous colour.

wine making

I've been inspired over the last month or so to take up wine-making again. I used to make gallons of it - most of which would be put in a dark cupboard to mature and then be forgotten about. By the time it was opened, it would taste more like paint stripper than wine.

This year's experiments started with a bumper crop of dandelions in my parents' front lawn, then elderflowers and lastly lemon balm and mixed herbs from the garden


I forget to read the whole of the recipe for the elderflower 'champagne' and only when I tested it, after being bottled for 14 days, did I realise that it isn't actually alcoholic - at least not at this stage - several people have since said that I should leave it several months to have proper alcoholic wine. Still it tastes lovely and bubbly, just like elderflower fizz.

straining dandelion wine

The herb wine is the only one still bubbling away and not bottled yet. Sitting on the kitchen windowsill, on dull days the bubbles die down but start up again with some sunshine. I'm hoping this works well. I've made a variant of it before which tasted rather like Cinzano Bianco (which rather sadly I love with lemonade) but this year there's no fennel in the garden, so no aniseed taste in the wine. Hopefully it will be drinkable.

herb wine bubbling

Wednesday, 19 May 2010

using up the odds and ends

actually getting somewhere with using up all those bits of wool!

Monday, 26 April 2010

waiting to get started

trying, yet again, to clear out some of the accumulated bits of wool - far too many half balls lying around and there HAS to be something I can make from them. so, a selection of brown, beige, green, tan with tiny bits of red and blue to try and knit a slipover - striped or fair isle.

Sunday, 25 April 2010

new from old

The changes to this old jumper are finished at last. The sleeves shortened and body lengthened with stripes from oddments of wool left over from other projects.

Tuesday, 9 March 2010

Rowan "Bruegel" jacket

Bruegel from Rowan mag44 knitted up in some old mohair found in a drawer - it's been there for years! I'm not sure whether this is a jacket or a waistcoat - can a waistcoat have sleeves? Discovered I was short of yarn so finished body, collar and front edging and knitted the sleeves last of all. Started them at the shoulder and knitted downwards - the cuff should have been doubled and rolled back but there was no yarn for it - I even had to undo the tension square to finish off and sew up!

Monday, 1 March 2010

renovating old jumper

trying to give this much altered jumper yet another lease of life.

It started out as a cropped, high neck jumper knitted for my older daughter. When she stopped wearing it, the sleeves were shortened for my younger daughter to wear it as a long baggy tunic but she was never really impressed with it so I've started altering it to suit me.

At first I just took off the high neck but it's really too cropped and the sleeves are awkward at three-quarter length.
What I intend to do is turn it into a short-sleeved, longer-bodied tank top. Step one completed this weekend - sleeves un-ravelled and new cuffs knitted.
next step is to unravel the bottom and extend in with contrasting yarn.

Sunday, 21 February 2010

cushions for the Den

Daughter's wendy house is being slowly converted to an outdoor teenage den requiring something in the way of soft furnishings. She made the pink plaid one herself - with a little help. Her first time using a sewing machine, so a little bit nervy.

I made the flowery one as part of a 'how- to- make' post for Make It and Mend It

Tuesday, 16 February 2010

pink mohair jacket

I have run really short of yarn for this project. it was bought as a cheap bundle a long while ago and it isn't possible to buy any more.

the back, front and collar/edging are finished. I have 2 balls and some bits left, which doesn't seem a lot. the sleeves are only elbow length but with a turn back cuff. I'm knitting them downwards from the sleeve head and the length will depend on how much yarn there is.

Tuesday, 2 February 2010

leftovers soup

Using up bits and bobs of leftovers to make soup for lunch.
Starting with about a pint of water/stock from boiling gammon at the weekend,adding a small carrot not much bigger than a finger, a slice cut from a turnip, half a sweet potato left sitting in the fridge, a handful of yellow split peas and half a chopped up onion. Everything in a saucepan and simmered for about half an hour.
Today's magic ingredient though was 3 or 4 tablespoons of sauce left over from yesterdays fake boston beans - I could always add a little tomato puree, a pinch of mustard and a very small dribble of black treacle another time to see if it tasted the same, but today's was a wonderful accidental soup.

Monday, 1 February 2010

fake boston beans

to serve with cold gammon

first chop up a pepper, or half a red one and half of a green, put it in a saucepan, add a small chopped up onion, cover with water and start to simmer.
add - a tablespoon of black treacle, a teaspoon of mustard powder, half a teaspoon of chilli powder (could be more, or less, depends how spicy you like things)
simmer everything till the veg are soft
here's the 'fake' bit - add a tin of baked beans and warm through.

this serves 3 as a side dish or add a little more water and make soup for 2


add mushrooms or courgettes
serve with pasta - only enough for 2
use as topping for baked potatoes