Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Didn't we have a lovely time..

...the day we went to London.
On Sunday the Pickle-Lily family had a day out in London. It was a rather strange mix of a day. We started in Trafalgar Square to see the Christmas tree and then into the National Gallery. We took the children round to see a few of the paintings - Sunflowers, The Ambassadors, Leonardo's cartoon were just some of them. It is just so different seeing them in real life as opposed to a printed image. I wanted to buy a soft toy doll of Van Gogh in the shop with a Velcro ear to give to someone you love, but at £20 he was a little too dear!
We then walked down Whitehall, past Horse Guards, Downing Street, the Cenotaph and along Westminster Bridge, and then back again!
Carnaby Street
It was then onto Carnaby Street for a visit to Choccywoccydoodah - P's end of term treat. We both love watching the tv programme and this was our chance to visit. The shop was smaller than I expected with a long queue for the café. The staff were very friendly and the cakes AMAZING - even better in real life. It was all beautifully displayed with so many beautiful things.
Outside Choccywoccydoodah

From there P wanted to go to Liberty where I spent some of my Christmas money on some beautiful Rowan Kidsilk Haze which I knitted up into a lovely scarf yesterday evening.
P and I also went to John Lewis where she spent money and met the bear from their tv advert. Then it was onto the new Cath Kidston store at Piccadily where I spent more of my money (and so did she!) in the sale.
my Christmas treats
We then got the tube back to Epping and back to Nanny and Grandpa's. We all had a lovely day admiring the Christmas lights and windows and it brought back many memories of when my dad worked in Oxford Street and my parents used to take me to Selfridges to visit Uncle Holly and Gamages at Christmas. Now that does date me! My children were also a little impressed by how I would walk to the tube station, catch two trains and then another long walk at the end to go to secondary school and then the return journey back for seven years.
I will just finish by wishing you all a very Happy New Year!

Sunday, 22 December 2013


I have had the usual present struggle for the men on my present list again this year! Last year I made a chunky stocking which I filled with goodies. This year's presents also involve knitting.
This pile of stripes have been turned into pairs of fingerless gloves. Made from lovely merino yarn including a favourite rugby team colour scheme, and with a bag of homemade fudge, I'm hoping they will be practical and fun! You've still got time to knit a pair if you're looking for a quick gift idea.

fingerless gloves

Sunday, 17 November 2013

Easy-Peasy Reindeer

This is my 200th Post - and by sheer coincidence I am taking part in Bugs and Fishes Blog link-up as part of it. Such fun! The link-up is all about Christmas and I am sharing my easy-peasy reindeer tutorial. Last year I created an easy-peasy robin for Pickle-Lily ( my crafty daughter ) and this year she asked for a reindeer to make and here he is.
Easy-Peasy Reindeer
You will need -

Two circles of medium brown felt - now these can be any size depending on how big you would like your reindeer to be.
A smaller circle of red glitter felt, or just red felt or even a red button for the nose.
Two black brads for eyes or appropriate sized buttons.
A length of ribbon to hang him from.
Some darker brown felt for the antlers.
A template for his antler - this I made by using the Kristen font in Word, enlarging it to the size I wanted, cutting it out and rounding it off to get what looks like this...

Or you could draw your own shape. The beauty is no two antlers look alike so you can make them as simple or as intricate as you like. Cut out two antlers from dark brown felt.

Place the nose where you like on one brown circle to be his face and stitch it on with running stitch.
At the same time - trap the folded piece of ribbon on the back of this circle.
Then ..
Place the two antlers in position and hold them in place with the eyes...
Now, put the other brown circle over the back and sew in place.
I use a cross between a running stitch and back stitch, this gives the effect of a simple running stitch on the front but is as strong as back stitch. To do this, sew as if it was back stitch making the top stitches shorter, so they don't touch each other and the under stitches longer.
The top stitching looks like this ..

The underside will look like this

You can add a little stuffing if you want to make him a little plumper.
If you prefer you could make him into a badge - leaving out the ribbon.
A tip for this is to add an extra little piece of felt onto the back of the back circle to strengthen your badge and to use double thread to sew it on. Sew the front and back together as before.

I'm looking forward to seeing what everyone else is making and sharing their tutorials for! A big than-you to Laura for organising this.

Saturday, 9 November 2013

This took a bit longer ...

... than I anticipated!
Sorry about the delay between posts, but half term week was very busy and since then school has been even busier and I haven't stopped! I've even tried getting up at 4.30am to add some extra hours to my day!!!! The pictures for the tutorial had to be done in the evening, hence the warm yellow glow.
So - the Heat Me Up Hand Warmer tutorial first, as promised. The name for these came from Pickle-Lily, if you are wondering.
Hand warmer tutorial
You need two squares of brushed cotton 25cm x 25cm, 150g of rice and two lengths of ribbon about 10cm long each if you want tags.
1. Cut the squares in half to create four rectangles.
2. Place one on top of the other to create a double thickness. I used a plain one that wouldn't be seen and a pretty one for the outside.
3. Fold in half to create a four thickness square, pretty side to pretty side, and pin along two open sides.
fold and pin
4. If using ribbon to create a tag, fold in half and pin between the two right sides with the cut edges lined up with the cut edge of the fabric, to create a loop pointing towards the middle of the square.
5. Sew along the two open sides, trapping the ribbon. Leave the third side open. Sew where the pins are in the photo below.
6. Turn right side out and fill with 75g of rice.
7. Tuck the open edges inside, to create a neat side edge and pin.
8. Now sew all the way round all four sides. Smooth and tip the rice away from the side, before you sew it, turn at the corner, and then smooth the rice away from that side and so on, until all four sides are sewn.
9. Now make a second one or make the two together at the same time.

Heating instructions - pop both into a microwave up to 800W one hand warmer for 30 seconds or both for 45 seconds.

A simple present ready for Christmas, or for now! The lovely brushed cotton came from Cloth Head.
I also need to announce a winner for the kit giveaway and the winner is ...

I am writing this tutorial quite late, so if any of it does not make sense - please let me know!

Sunday, 27 October 2013

Bags of fun

Hello again to Handmade Mondayers! It is half term this week, so I can join in with everyone.
My dear daughter has finally let me on the computer so I can blog, but I will have to be quick as there is a roast dinner to cook! Mind you, I showed her how to make origami gift bags earlier in the week and they are now taking over the house. I believe a tutorial on them will be appearing on her blog soon.
Baby Christmas Bunting kit

I have had fun creating a new kit for Christmas - Baby Christmas Bunting.
To to launch this new kit I am having a giveaway on Pickle-Lily of one the new kits. With it you can make two metres of felt and pom-pom bunting. Everything you need is in the kit, apart from scissors. I'm also including two gift bags with a surprise in them as well.

How to enter
Follow my blog and then leave a comment to say you have done this. If you are already a follower (thank you) please just leave me a comment.
For extra chances to win you can....

'Like' me on my Facebook page and leave a comment on my blog and on my facebook page to let me know you have done this.
If you already 'like' my FB page then please just leave a comment here to remind me!
If you would like to blog about my giveaway this will give you another entry. Again leave me another comment here on my blog.
I'd like to boost Pickle-Lily's own Facebook page, so for an extra entry, please 'like' her page and  leave another comment on here.
Please ensure that I am able to contact you. Pickle-Lily will pull all the names out of a hat next Monday 4th November.
Good luck!

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

A quick catch up

I shall start with a picture of my latest buy to entice you into reading my latest post!
Fox lights

Life with Pickle-Lily has been busy, but not particularly exciting lately, now there's a turn-off from reading any more! I have been busy with school and crafting has been taking a bit of a back seat. P has had her first stall on her own, which was a success and has been busy dancing and with guides, as well as school.
Both of us have been very busy on Pinterest - which is highly addictive and I'm now hooked on Instagram! This has led me into finding even more fabrics to add to my collection! I have made some glow in the dark bunting from Riley Blake fabric.

Glow in the dark bunting
The screme egg critters have gone down very well and I am trying to knit some more - you can find the pattern here.
Next week is half term and there will be more posts and a tutorial and a giveaway, so keep watching!

Sunday, 13 October 2013

From little things

A couple of years ago I designed a very simple knitted paper chain pattern for Pickle-Lily to knit. It was then used by the WI to create the Guinness World Record for the most people knitting at the same time at the Albert Hall.
 A week or so ago I went to the stitch and sew show at Westpoint in Exeter, where I found the UK Hand Knitting stall, and there on the table were huge balls of green and white knitted paper chains.
knitted paper chains
The challenge had been extended to knit 1km of knitted paper chains, so I sat down and had a lovely chat with one of the volunteers and 'modestly' let it slip that it was my pattern, and there was my name on the display. I also knitted a chain to add to the grand total.
Yesterday, I met the lady again who told me to check out the UK Hand Knitting website as this record had been met, and that they are now going for one mile!

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Forest School Log - Autumn smells

As many of you know, my day job is a key stage 1 teacher, and the best part of my days are forest school. I 'do' forest school three times a week with three different classes, and quite often I am looking for activities, so I thought I would share some of mine with you. My sessions with the children only last for half an hour for one group up to an hour for another group, and I generally have half a class at a time. This half term has been all about senses and this week we have made autumn smells!
Autumn smells
This involved collecting the plastic tubs that you can buy lovely cakey goodies from M&S in, I have now collected 12 and they are brilliant for all sorts of things- ideal size for little people to use and have good lids. Any excuse to eat the contents really!!!
The children worked in pairs to collect autumn things from the forest school (after a reminder about not eating anything) and stir them with a little water using a stick. One group of boys found a small log and put the pot on the floor, gathered round and took it in turns to mash it altogether using the log as a pounding tool.
A lot of sharing, turn taking, describing words, discussions and smelling went on. The children were absorbed and would have carried on but we ran out of time. All agreed that it was a lovely smell, not what they'd predicted, and some looked beautiful as well.

Sunday, 6 October 2013

All bunting out

This week-end I have been helping In a Pickle-Lily make bunting. Some of the bake sale bunting was used in a local shop window as part of the local food and drink festival, and it has generated orders for more! In fact the shop has asked for a selection of bunting to have as stock, so I have been helping her make bunting. This week-end we have made nine lengths of bunting, which is 22.5m or 99 flags.

lots of lovely bunting
I did distracted this week-end however, by turning my fox, squirrel and hedgehog into Christmas decorations! It wasn't part of the plan for this week-end, but my fingers sort of cut and stitched them by themselves and I am very pleased with them. In fact when I have finished this post I am going to put them on folksy, the first items in my Christmas shop for this year!

Sunday, 29 September 2013

Heat me up!

It's been a little while since I blogged so it's good to be back! Life has been its usual busy self - working, ferrying the children to all their various activities and trying to fit a little crafting in, here and there! Knitting and sewing are what keep me sane at times, and I have even started a little project just for myself !!! I'll show when it's finished, but the smallest clue is - fruit salad!
I have 'made' a new product
Heat me up hand warmers
Teddy is modelling one here, Heat me up hand warmers, a name chosen by Pickle-Lily herself. In fact this is her one teddy is cuddling. It's made from double thickness of flannel or brushed cotton filled with rice and then you pop it in the microwave to warm up. I was so pleased with it I made some more!
more Heat me up hand warmers

I'm wondering - would you like a tutorial on them, or are there too many around already?
 I've decided they would make rather good presents for all my teaching friends for keeping hands warm on playground duty.
By the way the lovely fabric comes from Rebecca at Cloth Head.

Sunday, 15 September 2013

Halloween's coming

Amazingly enough despite my post title, it seems the supermarkets have skipped Halloween and gone straight to Christmas! I went to look for Cadbury's screme eggs and couldn't find any yet, but could find Christmas chocolates! So I settled for a Kinder egg.
Anyway, in preparation for Halloween, and after the success of the glow in the dark ghost, I have made him some friends to keep him company.
Happy Halloweeeeeeen!
We have a pumpkin with twirly tendrils and a bat - all ready for some screme eggs (or Kinder eggs).
The basic body is the same for both the bat and pumpkin.
You need double knit yarn and 4mm needles.
With the yarn double - knitting two strands at the same time - cast on 25 stitches.
Keeping the two strands garter stitch 15 rows and then cast off.
For the tendrils I used 3mm needles and one strand of yarn (as normal).
Now, there are two versions of the tendrils as I experimented for the best twirl. One is very simple, the other more complicated. I actually tried about five different versions, including knitting two stitches together and purling, but these two were the best.
easy tendrils
For the easy tendrils cast on between 10 to 20 stitches - I knitted mine in various lengths to add to the effect. Then cast off, leaving the last stitch on the needle. Use this stitch to cast on some more stitches and then cast off again, leaving the last stitch to cast on some more. You can do this as many times as you like, depending on how 'hairy' you want your pumpkin to be!
For the trickier version, this is the one on my pumpkin and is far curlier.
Again cast on some stitches as with the easy version. Then, knit into the front and back of the first stitch, so that there are now two stitches on your needle, cast off one of these, leaving you with one stitch on your needle.
Knit into the front and back of the next stitch, three stitches on your needle. Cast off two of these, leaving one stitch on your needle ( take the middle stitch over the stitch closest to the tip, then the end stitch over, as in a normal cast off). Continue to the end, keeping the last stitch as your new casting on stitch. This gives a lovely curl!
To make up - fold the body in half and sew down either side. Sew on two googly eyes and the curls on the top.
For the bat, I did the same but in black yarn. No tricky knitting here at all, for the wings I cut a piece of black felt into a bat wing shape and sewed it onto the back of the body.
Pickle-Lily is making rude comments about how weedy the ghost looks as I type, but I only bought one egg!

Sunday, 8 September 2013

Autumn days ...

The past few days have made me realise that autumn is now well and truly on its way, and I have been finishing off some woodland based designs, as well as thinking about Christmas! So with no further ado ...
Foxy Loxy bag
Meet Foxy Loxy - Pickle-Lily thinks this is my cutest design ever, and I have to admit I am very pleased with it. I was also pleased when the latest issue of craft magazine arrived and it was full of woodland creatures.
Next up is ...
Cyril Squirrel
and then last, but not least ...
Pog the hog - hedgehog that is! Pog came from the children at school last week, when I took my hedgehog puppet in and they decided to name him. I had a lovely afternoon with them building different homes for him with the children, one even had Christmas decorations in it! Some were very construction based, roof, walls, a food store, whilst others were based on the presentation. I put a couple of pictures on instagram and if I can find how to put the pictures in my blog I will do so. If you would like to see them I am jopicklelily on instagram.
I'm off to join in with Handmade Monday today - why don't you say hello as well?

Friday, 30 August 2013

Lemon Drizzle Cake

Good morning - it's Friday and the last day of the school holidays for me. Lucky Pickle-Lily doesn't go back till Thursday next week! So I thought I'd cheer myself up with some lemon drizzle cake. I  said I'd share the recipe in my next post and with son due back from cadet camp later today, the cake tin needs refilling.
lemon drizzle cake
So here goes ...
You need
2 lemons - zest for the cake, juice for the topping
225g soft margarine
225g caster sugar
275g self raising flour
2 teaspoons of baking powder - level ones please
4 eggs
4 tablespoons of milk

To make
Mix all the cake ingredients together - you can use a hand mixer or Kenwood to make it easier.
I should say this is my basic tray bake cake mixture that I add flavours too, and you can do the same if you like.
For my tray bakes I use a square tin ( 9" or 23cm) that I got from Lakeland and line it with one of those paper cases that you can get from supermarkets or again Lakeland.
Bake at 160 fan for about 30+ minutes until it is golden and a skewer comes out clean.
Now lift the cake out of the tin, still in it's paper case and leave to cool on a rack.
While it is cooling mix the juice of the lemons with175g of granulated sugar. This will seem an awful lot but don't worry!
When the cake is warm, rather than hot, put it back in the tin still in it's paper case. Stab it with a skewer, about every 2cm, there is no need to be precise!
Spoon the lemon juice mixture over the cake surface and leave to cool in the tin.
My theory is that by leaving it like this, all the icing mixture really soaks into the cake and makes it very lemony and moist. Be warned it is very sticky!
Cut into squares when you need to eat it!

Sunday, 25 August 2013

Yarn bombing bits and pieces

... but sadly it wasn't me!
This morning Pickle-Lily and I went for a walk along the sea front. We paused to watch the RNLI practise rescuing people,
RNLI in action
and found that someone had yarn bombed one of the Victorian shelters and it looked fantastic. They had obviously taken a lot of time over it, and all I can say is 'Such fun!
Along the seafront
This week-end I got my first smart phone and with the technical help of Pickle-Lily ( my 13 year old daughter to new readers) I am now on twitter and instagram . Please come and say 'hello' to me, I'm on as jopicklelily , I'm not sure if you can post links here.
Thank-you to all the lovely Handmade Monday people who visited me last week, and more especially In a Pickle-Lily's own blog, she was so pleased. With my new phone , and the fact that son is off sailing with the cadets next week, I will get extra blogging time next week, and my next post will be the recipe for lemon drizzle cake some asked for, so watch out for it!

Sunday, 18 August 2013

The Great British Bake-Off is back!

In our house The Great British Bake-Off is must watch viewing, and on Tuesday evening the new series starts, filmed here in sometimes sunny and sometimes torrential Somerset.
Last Wednesday Pickle-Lily went to Millie Moon's in Frome to do a teenage skirt workshop, you can read all about it on her blog - In a Pickle. I had a lovely browse and came back with a bag of fabric, including some Riley Blake Bake Sale. So in honour of TGBBO I made some baking bunting for my kitchen, but I'm so pleased with it has pride of the place in the hall!
Bake sale bunting
As you can see, it matches the cute little one cup tea set I got from a charity shop a while back, and Pickle the penguin photo bombed my picture!
I've also been busy baking - lemon drizzle cake is cooling in the kitchen as I type and I also made a batch of coffee cup cakes as a holiday treat. I love coffee cake, but no-one else does .. or do they? I was very sneaky and gave one to Mr P-L and No1 son without telling them what it was, and guess what they both liked them!
So here is the recipe just for you...

To make 12 generous cup cakes, you need
175g plain flour
175g soft margarine
175g caster sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
3 eggs
2 tablespoons of milk
1 teaspoon coffee extract

To make
Mix all the ingredients together until light and fluffy.
Divide between 12 muffin cases and bake at 170 degrees (fan) for 15 minutes.
Allow to cool.
You can use this basic recipe for any flavour you like, just change the flavouring.

The icing I used for mine was coffee fudge - again very easy.
55g soft margarine
115g soft brown sugar
2 tablespoons of milk
half a teaspoon of coffee extract

Put all of these into a large saucepan and melt over a gentle heat, stirring. Then bring to the boil and boil for two minutes - keep stirring. Remove from the heat and stir in 400g of icing sugar. I know it seems a lot! Stir until smooth and thick. Then pipe over your cakes.
I'm going to join in with Handmade Monday this week - why don't you?