Sunday, 23 December 2012

Christmas Eve

Merry Christmas!
Pickle-Lily and I would like to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
Little knitted robin
Thank-you to all our lovely followers and readers for your comments - and we are looking forward to 2013. I already have lots of ideas flying around in my head!

See you in the New Year!

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Oh Christmas Tree

Paper strips tree
This week has been busy again - but amongst the organised chaos timetables, I have sat with the children and we have made tissue paper Christmas trees. It has been a delight sitting, chatting, cutting and sticking these. So easy, but so much care and taken by them in choosing colours and getting the right sizes. Very simply - tissue paper cut into strips and using a glue stick stuck on white paper.
I also thought ribbons or felt strips on a Christmas decoration, or why not use the paper hats from crackers to make multicoloured snowflakes, stars or just shapes on thank-you cards after Christmas.
Why not make one, these have been my oasis of calm in a week of plays, parties and pantomimes and still more to go!

Sunday, 16 December 2012

90 cards

I know it doesn't look like 90!
This afternoon I made 90 Christmas cards for the children at school! I've always given the children homemade cards, and for my last 'full-time' class I knitted 30 little stockings. This year as I'm teaching three different classes I've made them all a card each. The pictures are from Dots and Spots wrapping paper, that I've cut out and stuck onto coloured card. I just love Becky's designs. Now I've just to write in the cards and do 90 envelopes!!!!

This morning Pickle-Lily and I visited our favourite garden centre - Cadburys, and it didn't let us down! Beautiful Christmas displays ...

Lovely things to buy - I loved the hyacinth basket.

And as a treat I'd booked an ice-skating session for P, which she loved!
This week has seen the last Christmas fair, and I have one order to post tomorrow. I've got a full week at school, but in between times I'm making Christmas gifts and reading all the lovely blogs on Handmade Monday. So now to write 90 envelopes!
Ice skating at Cadburys

Friday, 14 December 2012

Festive Friday

A few Fridays ago I blogged about mini Christmas cakes made in a baked bean tin, and I said to keep one empty tin back and this is why! It is now time to marzipan and ice your cakes. I usually have a few days between each stage, but for Festive Friday I have combined them.
So ...
Turn your little cakes uspside down, you may need to slice a little off the old top so they don't wobble. You will be left with a lovely smooth surface. In the photos Pickle-Lily forgot this step, but it really doesn't matter!
Then brush a little melted apricot (traditional) or raspberry seedless jam over the top of the cake to make it good and sticky.
Then using your clean tin as a cutter, you can cut a perfect sized circle of marzipan to put on the top of the cake. You can also use it to cut out a perfect matching circle of fondant icing to put on top of the marzipan.
The cakes can then be decorated with whatever you like!

We then wrapped our cakes in small clear presentation bags ready to give as Christmas gifts. You still have time to make some to give!
Have a good week-end!

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

From little to BIG

On Sunday I showed a sneak peek of my knitting work in progress.
With glittery red festive needles!
Now I can show you the finished products! I love them so much I'm now on my third one! What I did was to use the pattern for the mini stockings I knit as tree decorations, and using super chunky yarn  make super chunky stockings!
From small .....
. . . to big
I'm now filling them with small gifts for those awkward men in my life - socks, smellies, chocolates and a little torch so far! They are so quick to knit as well!
I've also found a lovely link party to join in with - Hookin on Hump Day hosted by My Merry Messy Life why not go and visit!

Sunday, 9 December 2012

Running out

Merry Christmas everyone!

My beautiful door wreath made by Pickle-Lily
I thought I'd better do this now because I am running out of time and space!
Last time I blogged, Blogger told me I was out of picture space in my Picasa album, so I had to delete a few photos to add some new ones. Since then I have been trying to find a way round it. Google offered to rent me some space at so much a month, but I didn't feel happy doing this, having my details 'moving around' each month. After much googling the solution I have come up with, thanks to Grit in the Gears , is to create a new 'personna' with a new set of storage space. But any better ideas or suggestions would be very gratefully received!
I'd ran out of time because I was just so busy, and to be honest I'd overstretched myself. Last week-end I had four major fairs (Fri to Mon) in different locations and was very, very busy as well as a lot of travelling. This week I had personalised orders, as well as the day job and family life. Then I was supposed to do four fairs (Thurs to Sun) this week, and I just couldn't do it all. So, after much hard thinking I cancelled three of my fairs as I just couldn't be in three places at once. It has taught me a lesson about over stretching, and it will certainly have an influence on next year's activitiess.
Personalised felt bag
One of the things I didn't have to this year was sort out a front door wreath. The very clever Pickle-Lily made one with the Guides. I love it! It was made using a very simple oasis wreath and we keep adding bits from the garden as parts die off, so it changes every so often. I think I'll get her to make one again next year!
wrist warmers
The knitting needles have been busy too! I wanted a pair of wrist warmers to keep my hands warm, but my fingers free when at fairs or I'm out and about and these were so easy to make. They took me a day to knit, using Adriafil Knitcol merino double knitting. Using 3.75mm needles I cast on 40 stitches and knitted two knit, two purl rib rows until they were the right length. Sewed up the seams leaving a gap for my thumbs and now I have some very useful wrist warmers. They would also make a super Christmas present.

Work in progress .. all will be revealed!
I also have a work in progress on festive sparkly needles that I will share with you later in the week! In the meantime, I'm going to visit Handmade Monday and see what everyone else has been up to in my absence!

Sunday, 25 November 2012

Dotty about Spots

Love that bag!
 This week has had rather a spotty theme to it! I've treated myself to a new handbag for winter from the lovely Nicky at Love that Bag!

I've also made up lots of  kits, using the dotty bags that Becky from Dots and Spots supplies, as opposed to the old plain bags. I think they look brilliant if I say so myself!
Spotty bags
We also had to have a new kettle as the old ones switch had stopped working. and it was good-bye to the old spotty kettle and hello to the new!

Pickle-Lily and I have been busy making things for next week-end, as we have some really lovely events that we are looking forward to.
Saturday we are at Mells, for Christmas in the Barn . P and I visited it in the spring for their spring event and it was such a super event. Full of beautiful things to buy (which we did) and a gorgeous location. This Christmas we have been lucky enough to be invited as sellers and we are so looking forward to it!
Sunday I am at Exeter Castle for the Craft Hub's Christmas Craft Jam, another amazing location and it will be full of beautiful things to spend my pennies on!
Finally, Monday is the amazing Blackmore Farm Christmas shopping event. I was lucky enough to be there last year and have been invited back this year.
Today is Stir-up Sunday, the day when traditionally you make your Christmas pudding, and we have made ours today. A handy cooking tip - don't use your finger to clear the blender when making bread crumbs and then switch it on! It doesn't do fingers or blenders any good!
I'm off to check the water in the pudding pan, but should be back later in the week. In the meantime why not visit Handmade Monday and see what all the other bloggers have been up to?

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

It's Carnival!

Monday evening was Carnival night where I live in Somerset. Before I moved here Carnival to me was a Saturday afternoon in the local village with some tractors pulling trailers with the pre-school and primary school on.
Then I went to my first Carnival here - to be honest it just blew me and the kids away! My impressions were - the noise, the heat from literally tens of thousands of light bulbs, the detail and just how incredible the floats are.

For a video of this year's overall winner see here.
If you ever get the chance to see a Somerset carnival - go!

Friday, 9 November 2012

Festive Friday is back!

Pickle-Lily is making our big Christmas cake with the guides this year, but we also make mini cakes at home, which make lovely gifts.
Mini Christmas cake
So now is the time to bake your fruit cakes. This mix makes five mini cakes.
For the mixture you need
100g butter
100g of soft brown sugar
340g of mixed fruit
130g plain flour
1 tsp mixed spice
2 eggs

Cream the butter and sugar together and then beat in the eggs.
Fold in the flour and mixed spices.
Stir in the fruit.
Now the clever part! For the tins I use small baked bean tins - you'll need the sort with ring tabs. Give them a good wash after you've eaten the contents, and then using a tin opener, carefully open the the bottom of the tin. Let the bottom you've just cut drop through to the top. The cut edge will rest nicely on the small lip left by the ring pull lid, and voila you have a mini loose base tin. Be careful as the base is sharp!
Mini loose base tin for free!
I then lined it with a double layer of greaseproof or baking paper (no need to grease!) and filled my tins with the mixture.
5 little Christmas cakes
Bake them in the oven at 120 C fan / Gas 1 for about 2 hours - this timing really depends on your oven, and you may need to cover the tops with some foil or baking paper to stop them from burning.
allow them to cool on a cooling rack
When they have cooled, wrap them in greaseproof and then foil. I did mine individually and store in a cake tin. You can feed them if you want to.
A simple way to marzipan and ice to follow!

P.S. I was going to do a separate post for Handmade Monday, but as usual I ran out of time! Why not go and visit everyone elses blogs and see what they've been up to?

Thursday, 8 November 2012

Bobbles and Bunting

Girly bunting
During half term Pickle-Lily and I went to  Millie Moon's in Frome to have a girls day out learning to make bunting with the fabulous Jane from Dufflebobble.
Listening carefully
We had a lovely day together and between us made some 'girly ' bunting for P to put up in her room and I made some Christmas bunting to decorate my home with. The biggest problem we had was choosing which fabrics to use, as we could choose anything we wanted! Needless to say we came home with a bag full of fat quarters of fabulous fabric to use! Jane was an excellent teacher, very patient and clear with her instructions, as well as useful tips and ideas.
The next day we both made some more bunting - some Halloween for me, and P made some Christmas bunting to sell with her cushions!

Our lovely bunting!
Of course while in Frome  we had to visit Marmalade Yarns and like all the ladies I saw in Millie Moon, came out with a colourful bag full of pom-pom yarn called Jester. It is a great novelty yarn that comes in some really zingy colours, I brought a festive red and used it to knit myself a fab tea-cosy. I thought I'd share the pattern with you if you would like it?
Jester yarn
This week is back to a more 'normal' routine for me, apart from all the housework I have waiting to do! But I am planning a Festive Friday for tomorrow - so watch this blog!

Sunday, 28 October 2012

Screme - It's a ghost!

For Halloween a quick and easy knit! A Screme Egg Ghost - and ... pause for effect ....
It glows in the dark! 
Taking a photo was tricky, and it doesn't show you how brilliant (if I say so myself) it is. Pickle-Lily and I had great fun trying to take photo's in the cloakroom, trying all the different settings on the camera.
It really does glow!

To make the ghost, you need
4mm knitting needles
white double knit yarn
2 googly eyes
and DMC Glow in the dark embroidery silk No E940

Using the white yarn and the embroidery thread together cast on 25 stitches.
Knit the two 'yarns' together, counting each one as a stitch
Garter stitch 15 rows and then cast off. I had to use just the white yarn to cast off with. This is your body. Fold in half length ways and seam the two long sides.
For the arms, using just the white yarn cast on 8 stitches, knit 1 row and then cast off.
Over sew the two long sides together.
Leave a long tail to sew with
Then sew to either side of the ghost and then add two eyes. Pop a screme egg inside, as the yarn is very thick it will support your ghost nicely.
To make your ghost glow, stand him under a light for a while, the longer he stays, the longer he'll glow.
I'm joining in with Handmade Monday as it's half term - yippee - so I can visit all the lovely blogs on there.
Happy Halloween!

Monday, 22 October 2012

Little Robin Red Vest

One of our favourite Christmas stories is a lovely picture book by Jan Fearnley called Little Robin Red Vest, and a few years ago I made a story sack about it and collected a few robins!

This inspired me to create a little robin decoration and pin badge for Pickle-Lily to make to give to her friends and sell at the Christmas fairs she comes to with me.

Cut two brown felt circles - whatever size you like, and a red felt circle. We used sparkly red felt on ours. Cut the red circle in half and sew it onto a brown circle across the diameter.

Then sew a yellow felt diamond shape on for a beak.
Add two eyes. This one used 4mm black beads - these are shiny but fiddly. P used two black brads - very easy.
We pinned a loop of ribbon and cut two sail like shapes from the brown felt for wings.
Finally the robin was sewn together with a little stuffing inside, the stitches holding the wings and ribbon in place. I used blanket stitch, P did simple running stitch.
For badges we left out the ribbon and sewed a brooch pin to the other brown circle before the robin was sewn together.
Little Robin Red Vests
I am very happy to be able link in with Wendy and Handmade Monday this week and am looking forward to visiting all the other blogs on there. It will be like visiting old friends.

Thursday, 18 October 2012

Christmas Owls

I have managed to fit in a little sewing and knitting over the past few weeks, so I thought I would share...
Christmas owls
These are my favourites - so far - this year, Christmas owl decorations. I have loads more ideas in my head but just not enough hours in the day! A quick post today, just to let you know I'm in the land of the living! Perhaps that's the answer, little and often, to blogging at the moment?
Jo x

Sunday, 30 September 2012

The right decision

Pickle-Lily and I went to Exeter this morning, to the Creative Craft show. To be honest I'd ummed and ahhed over whether I could 'afford' the time, but I am so glad I went!
Crafty Ribbons
Crafty Ribbons and buttons
I'd been wandering around - well actually P had devised a route - looking at all the ribbons, and had decided I'd much rather wait until I got home and then would order them from my favourite suppliers. When P pointed out that I didn't need to, as they had a stall there! It was heaven - we bought lots, chatted to the very friendly Ali and Tony - who are even nicer in real-life, if possible, than they come over in their blog, and also ordered ribbon that they had sold out off on the stand, with free p&p! It was lovely to see the quality and colours for real, and to pick and choose. So next year I'll be there on opening day so I can see all the stock! By the way Crafty Ribbons have not had anything to do with my glowing recommendations!
 Sorry about the pictures but I had to use my phone camera, and I don't know how to use the flash!

Ribbon Heaven
The other thing that really made my day was when P spotted a whole stand where people were sitting knitting my knitted paper chains!
A while ago you may remember me blogging about how the WI were using the pattern for the world record for the largest number of people knitting together at the Royal Albert Hall. The pattern is now being used in the Crafts Council Craft Club campaign.
I was even credited on the publicity board - fame at last! That has really made my day!
Lots of knitted paper chains

If you look very carefully you should see my name!

Saturday, 22 September 2012

From little acorns ....

Autumn table
It has been a busy week at school again, so busy I didn't even make it to the W.I. on Tuesday, too many books to mark. But as you can see I did find a use for all the leaves I'd knitted a while ago, as a sort of test drive for another project.

Here's one I grew earlier!

We've been thinking about autumn and collected acorns to plant. It does work!
I planted this one last year. The secret is to - test your acorns! Seriously! Put them in some water and if they sink to the bottom, plant them now, and if they float put them out for the squirrels as they won't grow.
Another use for my little milk bottle