Saturday, 12 April 2014

This is Hardcore/My First Quilt/Misshapes

Oh, I could have had a lot of fun with that title if I'd had more time...

Remember last week when I was telling you that I was inspired by that kitchen sink quilt?  Well, this week I managed to weave some time in between other things to make a start on it.

Accompanied by the BBC radio shows on the 20th anniversary of Britpop, I started churning out strips and then squares - gaining confidence with my machine and the process as I progressed.
(please excuse the poor mobile phone photos - Cameron is using my camera this week).

first quilt: first ten squares


Much more quickly than I had imagined- and somewhere between Suede and The Verve - the squares began to multiply and I was so excited to see that I almost had enough squares for a quilt top by the end of day three.

first quilt: squares ready


Today, while pondering on the immense amount of chart-knowledge I have managed to retain from the 90's (and yet complete failure to remember such things as where I put that library book...), I began to join the squares with white borders - ladders first and then the longer strips.  I can't quite believe how neat it looks - usually my sewing is very hap-hazard and improvised.  It is by far the most uniform thing I have ever made with a sewing machine. I'm starting to get a little bit nervous as I don't want to make any mistakes and mess up my hard work. 

first quilt: adding borders


The next stage is the sandwiching, basting, quilting (I'm planning to do that by hand) and edging - none of which I've really done before, certainly not on a large scale.  I am enjoying trying something completely out of my crafting comfort zone, though - as my skills improve there's much more of a sense of hope rising from my fabric stash!

Sunday, 6 April 2014

Birthday, Bug, Books


Happy birthday Cameron


This week we celebrated Cameron's 14th birthday - where do the years go? In many ways Cameron is so mature and grown up and yet in other ways nothing has changed at all...

some things never change

The birthday cake request this year was a Malteaser cake. I made a sponge flavoured with Malteaser hot chocolate (adding in the same quantities you would for cocoa powder if you were making chocolate sponge) and vanilla marscapone icing (marscapone cream cheese whipped up with a couple of tablespoons of icing sugar and a teaspoon of vanilla extract) and then decorated, of course, with Malteasers.  It wasn't the prettiest cake I've ever made but it tasted divine!

Birthday 1


Birthday celebrations were swiftly followed with that sickness bug that has been doing the rounds (for me, anyway, Cameron has the strongest immune system of anyone I know and rarely gets ill). I'm doing ok now but it means I don't have much to show for my week. I did, however, get some interesting things from the library so I thought I'd share those with you.

I'm itching to get started with a quilt and so I borrowed Jane Brocket's Quilt Me! from the library.  This is a follow up to The Gentle Art of Quilt-making and has some less conventional ideas for fabrics. 
I'm really loving this simple idea from the Kitchen Sink quilt and I'm hoping to give it a try with some jelly roll strips.

quiltspiration

Nicki Trench's Geek Chick Crochet has so many lovely ideas in it.
I fancied making this cowl for Cameron for next autumn but he's not feeling the cowl idea - even when I called it an infinity scarf. I thought the colours were quite Doctor Who-esque but no. Never mind - it's better to know these things before you've spent yarn money and a week making them, isn't it?

Geek Chic Cowl


This dress with contrasting features also caught my eye but disappointingly the sizes only go up to a UK 14 and I'm not clever enough with crochet yet to adapt it.

Geek Chic dress

I also borrowed The Thrifty Gardener and The Thrifty Forager by Alys Fowler - looking forward to diving into those as I own a copy of The Edible Garden and really love it. 

Hook, Yarn and Crochet was also in my stack and has some pretty ideas but nothing really jumped off the page at me.


We're looking forward to a nice quiet week ahead after a very busy period and before a new one begins. I'm definitely ready to establish a new routine and rhythm to my days now that there is the extra light and a few tasks that had been consuming time are out of the way.

Wishing you a wonderful week!


Monday, 31 March 2014

Time Flies..

new window star

cute baking

Shortbread bunnies

shortbread bunny

Sunday morning geometry

Geometry mandalas

Mothering sunday mantel

Washing drying the line

Socks taking ownership of my yarn

Peanut butter cookies

This week flew by in what felt like an afternoon and yet I feel more in my stride than I have for a long time. Perhaps it's the days getting lighter and the clocks changing, perhaps it's having Cameron at home, perhaps I thrive with more direction. Whatever it is, I'm enjoying myself in the midst of it all.

There has been art work, secret gift making, a bit of experimentation with some geometry which turned into mandala making. Washing drying on the line in the garden (I'm almost at the bottom of my basket!), window star making - oh, how I've missed that! Baking - peanut butter cookies for a pre-birthday sleepover and shortbread bunnies just because they're cuter than cute. Meetings with friends, naughty kittens (can I still call him a kitten when he's almost two?) protesting about too much knitting and not enough attention, testing of patterns, photographing, planning, knitting and nattering, a little bit of crocheting for a group-yarn bombing project, peeking at a BBC drama being filmed at the steam railway, trips to the park and to Grandad's and so much more.

I wonder what this week will bring....

Sunday, 23 March 2014

Weekend Blogger

Cheering up the windows

I seem to have become a weekend blogger here on Home Baked but I'm cool with that, for now. The whole point of being able to self-publish is that you're in control and it works the way you want it to, isn't it? I'm going to stop making myself feel guilty and just go with the flow.


daffodils


Why am I so quiet? Well, there have been a lot of hospital visits these last couple of months (nothing terribly life threatening, it turns out) which has been great for progressing with my knitting but has interrupted daily life somewhat, not only with appointments, needles and waiting rooms but also with a bit of renewal of lifestyle priorities and health goals along the way. 

hospital knitting

After three years of mainstream education we have returned to Home Education and that transition has taken some adjusting to - for me more than Cameron. 


Cameron made pie!


I say returned to home education but it's really a completely different thing with a teenager than with a small child so it's like the first time in many ways, however the change is all positive - we left school on a high note and on good terms - and there are some very exciting things happening already. The amount of opportunities and options for young people are both amazing and overwhelming but we're enjoying exploring those ideas together and dreaming up some plans for the future.

totoro in hama beads by Cameron


We have been studying formally from a curriculum, meeting with friends (and making new ones), taking part in groups, enjoying books together and also cooking, crafting and exploring nature. 

spotty lamb spotting

Our regular walks, exploring our new area, are a wonderful chance to talk which is my most favourite part - I feel blessed that Cameron will still chat openly about his life, interests dreams, hopes and wishes in a way that the average teenager would never do with an adult. I'm so grateful that I get these extra years with him at home and that the choice exists.


improvised rainbow crochet plant pot cosy


Obviously there is much less time and energy for work and I've been squeezing it in here there and everywhere I can manage. 

bread proving on a sunny windowsill


I have to scale back some plans a little bit but I can always pick them up again in the future when I'm in less demand at home. With this time being so fleeting I'd rather tighten my belt than be less present with Cameron.

sneaking in a few stitches while cooking dinner

That's probably enough news for one blog post!  I am blogging sporadically over on The Knit so feel free to come and catch my knitty chat over there (there are some vibrant new yarns in the shop, too!). 
Wishing you a happy, Springy week!

Homemade cockerel coffee stencil


Sunday, 16 March 2014

What can you crochet in half an hour or less?

Gosh, I don't think I've gone more than a week without blogging here in a very long time without warning. Life is busy, busy, busy and I am tired, tired, Tired but that's not very interesting to read so I'll keep that bit brief!

Last weekend my weekend project manifested in the form of a little crochet project I found in a book from the library - 30 Minute Crochet: What Can You Crochet in Half an Hour or Less? 
I love all those glass mason jar projects you see in style articles but attaching clips/magnets/brackets to walls or whatever else is required is always just a step too far for me to actually make it happen so when I saw these crochet jar "cosies" with a handle I thought how perfect they'd be to pop an impromptu vase of something lovely here and there without any hassle at all.

The project took a bit longer than 30 minutes but certainly not a whole hour and once you get to a certain point it was just repeats to the end. I used some leftover natural coloured organic cotton yarn, a 3.5mm hook and it fit a standard jam jar pretty perfectly.

30 minute crochet jar cosy/holder

It was beautiful weather that weekend (judging from my social media feeds, we seem to be the only people in the country who have gale force winds and rain this weekend...) so we went for a walk and collected some branches with buds to emerge in the jar - the original idea was to find some branches that would blossom but I couldn't find any on that particular walk.
If I had any daylight remaining I'd show you what they look like now as the leaves have all sprouted and are looking cheerfully Spring-like.


I'm pretty happy with this little project. I do enjoy squeezing a bit of something new and creative into my week(end), however small.

What crafty projects have you been up to lately?

Saturday, 8 March 2014

Spring Sprouts

I want to say a big thank you for your support of my new site! I was very nervous about launching something new and to have it be so warmly welcomed has been wonderful.

*****

Last weekend Cameron and I set our attentions to planting our March seeds. A quick trip to the garden centre was required and while we were there I couldn't help stopping to snap a picture of these baby willow trees - can't you just imagine a serene glade surrounded by these trees, gently swaying in the breeze? I'm such a dreamer sometimes!

willow trees at the garden centre

Anyhow, the seed planting was particularly interesting this year as Cameron is going to be growing independently in his own spot of the garden. 
I am very much a slap-dash kind of a gardener - I take care but I don't fuss over my plants and I find that Mother Nature is very good at just getting on with things without much interference from me, which is lucky because there's always something else I feel I should be getting on with. Cameron, on the other hand, is a perfectionist. His pace is slow and steady and his attention to detail is meticulous. 
I'll admit that I had to stifle a giggle when the ruler appeared!

Cameron's meticulous seed planting

In our part of the world it's looking very much like our mild winter is behind us. This time last year (and all the way up to April) we were still knee deep in snow and yet this year spring has sprung, it's almost too warm for a jacket already and I've switched the heating off.
The ground is still a bit wet for digging but meanwhile we have our seedlings to tend in the conservatory.
One week on and there's much more activity than we expected. The tiny heart-shaped leaves of radishes sprouted above the surface of the soil after just three days followed swiftly by lettuce, kale and today Cameron's nasturtiums are peeking out too.

Radish seedlings, day 7

Every few hours there's something new to see and every morning there's a dramatic change in the seed trays. I'm like a child on Christmas morning, rushing down the stairs to see what Santa has brought - except that I'm looking to see what gifts Mother Nature has left instead.

Have you got seeds planted yet? 

Tuesday, 4 March 2014

Introducing The Knit

It's March - yippee! I don't know about you but I'm very ready for Spring. I love the new beginnings that this season brings. A new routine as the light returns, a new pace as we venture outdoors a little more often, new life - I've been spotting fluffy bunnies and skipping lambs in the nearby fields, new colours appearing in the grey and brown landscapes of the countryside, new blog banner - I do enjoy a little change-up every now and then, new foods coming into season (soon, soon..) and something else new for me today; I'm a little bit nervous about it actually but there comes a point when you have to stop tinkering with things and launch them out into the world so, without further ado, I present you with The Knit!



The Knit is my new venture - the old shop felt quite dry which wasn't right seeing as knitting is one of my biggest passions. I want my new site to be so much more than just a shop, I want it to be a place to inspire, share a love of yarn crafts and knit and natter together - whether you're purchasing or not.
I also wanted the site to be more visually pleasing and I'm quite happy with how it's working out so far, although web design is far from my biggest strength!



There are some new yarns on there to peruse and more to come as the season unfolds. I'm super-excited to share some new patterns I've been working on, too.

Do you fancy coming over to join me? There are lots of ways to follow - point your browser at TheKnit.co.uk, follow on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and/or sign up for the newsletter on the home page where there'll be some exclusive offers.

I'm looking forward to seeing you over there!

Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Dyeing to Knit

I have quite a bit of yarny goodness to share with you today for Yarn Along.  
My Falling In Love socks are off the needles and I'm so happy with them.

Falling in Love Socks

I can show you the heart detail properly now - a nice little touch of detail to make them more interesting, don't you think?

Falling in Love socks, cable detail

After going on a course at the beginning of the month I finally took the plunge and had a go at some multi-coloured yarn dyeing at home. I'm using acid dyes - the acid being vinegar and the colour coming from food dyes - and steaming rather than simmering or microwaving for the heat source.

yarn dyeing - crocus inspired colours (not happy with the green)

My original intention was to make something crocus inspired. The bulbs are sprouting and blooming everywhere, reminding us that spring is coming, and I wanted something to capture those colours.  

crocus inspired yarn dyeing


The purple and yellow went well but the green was a bit too close to neon for my liking. When the yarn was dry and still in a skein I was really disappointed with it however, once it was caked (Lucy totally convinced me that I needed a wool winder...) it started to grow on me.

crocus inspired yarn, caked

It's actually knitting up in lovely stripy spirals that don't seem too overpowered by the green so we'll see.  I have purchased a better green to add to my collection for next time. It's all part of the learning process, right?


home dyed crocus yarn knitting up in stripes

I'm working on building a new site for my yarny wares as my shop is a bit clunky and outdated-looking. It's almost ready to launch and I'm super excited about it. There will be some gorgeous new items and a new pattern to accompany the launch. Here's a sneak peek...

Sneak peek

Isn't it cheerful?

On the reading front, I have just started Knitting Yarns: Writers on Knitting (recommended by someone in the Yarn Along a couple of weeks ago) and am absolutely LOVING it!


What are you crafting and/or reading at the moment?

Monday, 24 February 2014

Rhubarb Curd and Weekend Musings

They say that a change is as good as a rest and this last week has been full of change of one kind or another. I kept the pattern going by making some changes at home this weekend - some furniture rearranging was in order now that the contents of our spare bedroom are now at my new office in town.

new kitchen shelves


A new set of shelves in the kitchen has created more ease and now all of my (many) preserves are lined up and ready to grab and use instead of sitting in a box on top of a cupboard that I have to balance precariously on a chair to reach. Yes, this way they'll get used and look pretty in the meantime.

Tulips in full bloom

There were long chats with my boy, snuggles with the cat, chores, craft projects and Hobbit films watched and I especially enjoy my fix of Call the Midwife on a Sunday evening before slipping into my fresh sheets and having an early night. Plus, my tulip bulbs on the kitchen windowsill have sprouted and bloomed and are opening right up each morning as if it were a summers day.

forced rhubarb, chopped

If you're a long-time reader you'll know I have a bit of a thing for making fruit curds and this weekend I got my hands on some forced rhubarb so I went for it and made rhubarb and vanilla bean curd. 

Rhubarb and vanilla bean curd

It is SO good! You definitely have to try it. Even my rhubarb refuser son adores it - he baked some scones to go with the curd. I used this rhubarb curd recipe but halved it and still got a good amount. We're at the end of forced rhubarb time so if you're using it with Spring/Summer rhubarb I suspect it will be a bit more tart - this one was just the right sweetness without being sickly - but that's part of the charm of rhubarb, I think; like cherries, you want a bit of sourness with it.

Despite all of that busyness I feel rather refreshed and raring to go this week. Long may it continue!

Thursday, 20 February 2014

Garden Planning 2014

The first six months of a tenancy always make me nervous. As a renter it's hard to settle when you're not sure if the landlord will be happy to keep you on and, with this question mark hanging over us, I have been missing the joy of seed catalogues and plotting and planning that usually accompanies my winter days - not daring to dream in case it turned out that we couldn't stay.
But... at the weekend we had some very good news - we've been offered a renewal and that means we'll be guaranteed to be here until well past the summer which means I can finally begin planning for the main growing season!

garden planning 2014


I'd be lying if I said that I don't feel a tinge of sadness for that enormous garden we left behind and all of the work I'd put into it. However, you work with what you've got so this year there'll be a lot of container gardening and some more substantial things in borders and we'll make the best of it.  
My garden plans are a bit less dreamy than last year but exciting all the same. I can't wait to get out there and get digging but we have a little while longer before it's time.

Veg harvest - typical August day 2013


Last summer we were pretty much self sufficient on the veggie front and I'd like to aim for that again. 

Garden harvest 6th July 2013


My plans include versatile greens like chard, and spinach which are quick to appear and will cut and come again so with a few successive plantings can feed us for many months.  Similarly with kale - although not quite as quick to appear - it's so hardy and keeps producing.

Homegrown Swiss Chard

Home grown salad is so thrifty. Salad is my go-to fast food, sometimes I even eat it for breakfast! And sugar snaps and peas are perfect for summer snacking.


august homegrown veg box for Dad

Courgettes, of course.

I also enjoy growing things that are difficult (or impossible) to find in the shops like my stripey beetroot and colourful beans so they may feature again this year.

stripy beetroot!


I'm not convinced that we're going to get the perfect tomato growing weather we got last year so I'm undecided about whether to plant any.

home grown heirloom tomatoes 2013


If you're curious about the stack in the photo above, my amazon store has more info on all of the gardening books I use and love. I've also been eyeing up James Wong's book - I'm not really aware of his TV work but I flicked through the book at a friend's house and liked his ideas for growing more unusual plants that cannot be bought in the shops.

Ooh, isn't it nice to see all those fresh colours on a winter day? What are your garden plans this year?


homegrown beetroot