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21  NEEDLEWORK / Needlework: Completed Projects / Embellished Quilt Square on: March 07, 2014 11:09:54 AM
I really don't know where to put this. The butterflies are crochet, the caterpillar is bullion stitch with a bead eye and the whole thing is going to be part of a quilt. 

Our Needlecraft guild is having an exhibition this year and one of our members is making a quilt to raffle.  She handed out squares of floral printed fabric for us to embellish and return to her by next Thursday.  This is my contribution.

The butterflies were crocheted in single strands of DMC floss. The red and purple glitter is E130, the silvery blue is E317 (5287) and the white is luminous E 940.  I didn't get a picture of it in the dark. The pattern is by Apak.
You can't actually see it very well, but for the butterfly feelers I just tied a thick knot in the starting and finishing ends of the thread they were made from.
The bodies are three long stitches of five stranded floss couched down in the middle to separate the abdomen and thorax.
 I have to say that although they are small it was a lot of work to crochet these. One of the hardest parts was separating out the single strands as I did not want to have to join any thread so it had to be continuous. Also the glitter thread is quite hard to work with at the best of times and the luminous floss kept catching on any slightly rough skin on my fingers.

The caterpillar is bullion stitched in single stranded DMC 4050 with a tiny green glass bead eye.

I'm looking forward to seeing what everyone else does and I'll try and post a picture of the finished quilt and some of the other squares here too.
22  COOKING / Dessert / bethntim's chocolate mayonnaise cake on: October 20, 2013 01:49:11 PM
 
Just to say how thrilled I was at the way this cake turned out.  I normally have no luck with cakes.  Unless it is a very rich fruit cake they always collapse in the centre.  I do keep trying new recipes all the time but without great hope.  They usually taste great but, without exception, flop.  Sad

But for our Silver wedding anniversary I made bethntim's mayonnaise cake and it was wonderful, such a success. I didn't have a ring cake tin so instead used two victoria sandwich tins. Also I used self-raising flour.  As you can see all this did not affect the success of the recipe. It rose beautifully and was so moist and chocolatey. I can't praise it enough.  At last I have found a cake that works.



Many many thanks bethntim.
23  CROCHET / Crochet: Completed Projects / Polish star cafetire cosy on: October 20, 2013 12:17:58 PM
The larger cosy was my entry in the crochet section of our Needlework guild annual competition in May. The theme was stars. The smaller cosy was a practice for the bigger one.



This is not done in proper Polish Star stitch.  I changed the way of doing it to make it easier (for me) but it still uses the same basic technique of weaving the loops to achieve the same star effect.

For anyone who wants to try this I have attached a pdf pattern. I had to include a lot of pictures in order to show the method of weaving the loops.  It is a bit complicated until you get the hang of it so I hope you can follow my instructions.  Other people have posted videos of the weaving of the loops on the web which may be easier to understand.

Also, although I took pictures as I went along - mainly for my own records - I didn't write down the method until afterwards so I hope there are not too many glaring errors.
24  NEEDLEWORK / Needlework: Completed Projects / Star pillowcases on: October 14, 2013 01:37:30 PM

A pair of pillow cases were my entry for the embroidery section of our Needlecraft Guild annual competition earlier this year.  The theme was "Stars"

I was inspired by the geometric string art designs of my schooldays.    Since this involved counted thread work I used waste canvas to stitch them on the cotton pillowcases.

A few in-progress pictures

The white thread in the centre of some stars is DMC glow in the dark floss.
25  TOYS, DOLLS AND PLAYTHINGS / Toys, Dolls and Playthings: Completed Projects / Dimples and Opposable Thumbs on: August 31, 2013 11:40:23 AM


I wanted to move on from the cloth dolls I have made from socks and try some new techniques.  In particular I wanted to have a go at a method of defining the mouth shown in Sunnhild Reinckens' book Stoffpuppen Wie Kinder Sie Lieben.  And also a way of making thumbs opposable that my mother told me of some years ago. 
Of course the day I decided I wanted to do this I had no suitable fabric in the house except a pair of sleeves cut off a blue t-shirt that I'd turned into a vest.  Being impatient I didn't want to wait and buy some fabric just for something that was going to be experimental and might not turn out well at all. 



These photos show how I stitched the inner head to give the face a bit more shape than the usual Waldorf type face.




All the body parts are marked onto the fabric using templates and stitched before cutting out. The pattern for the hands is squared off instead of rounding over the fingertips.

The opposable thumbs are done by stitching the arm seams including the thumb,  but  leaving the finger tips open. You may be able to see that in the photo above. Then you fold the tube of the arm/hand so that the seams move  to become the lines demarcating the little finger  on one side and the index finger on the other (instead of being directly opposite each other)

This pulls the thumb round into the palm. You have to make sure before you sew that you don't make two left or right hands Roll Eyes


My sewing of the fingers isn't all that neat.

The shoulders and hips are button jointed so she/he can be posed a bit.



In the end I thought he/she turned out quite cute if an odd colour.
26  COOKING / Recipes and Cooking Tips / Lots of lemons on: July 28, 2013 08:08:26 AM

Our lemon tree is covered in lemons and all last month I was busy making lemony food.
Lemon curd

I used this recipe from the Daily Mail  and it made two full jars. Very nice and kept well in the fridge.

Lemon Marmalade

From my ancient and dropping-to-bits copy of Marguerite Patten's Jams Pickles and Chutneys
Delicious for Sunday morning breakfast.

Lemon tang ice-cream

This is a recipe my mother used to make when we were kids in Nigeria. No freezers in those days but you could make ice-cream in the trays from the ice-making compartment of the fridge.
1 large tin evaporated milk 397 g
2 eggs separated
3 oz. sugar
grated rind and juice of one lemon
Put the unopened tin of evaporated milk in a pan of water and boil for 20 minutes. Allow to cool and then chill overnight in the fridge.
In double boiler (or basin over hot water) beat together egg yolks, lemon rind and juice and 2 oz. sugar until thick. Allow to cool. Whisk evaporated milk until thick and fold into lemon mixture. Whisk eggs whites till stiff. Beat in remaining sugar.  Fold into lemon mixture. Place in ice-making trays and freeze.

Lemon drizzle cake

Having made the lemon curd I had to have a go at r.craftwright's lemon and almond cake

Unfortunately it turned out nothing like her's because it collapsed in the middle, but since everyone was quite happy to eat it like that it didn't matter.  But I wanted to try and get it right so  I made another one and the same thing happened. Then my Mum-in-law said she'd had the same problem until she switched to making it in a round tin so I made another one and guess what, it collapsed in the middle again.  Cry
So I guess I am doomed to have all my lemon cakes sag in the centre but since they taste okay and I have no ambition to enter them in a show, I can live with it.

Lemon squash

My Grandmother's recipe
3 lemons
2 lbs. sugar
1 pt. boiling water
2 oz. citric acid

Pour boiling water over the lemons and allow to stand for 10 minutes. Remove lemons and dissolve sugar and citric acid in the water. Squeeze lemons and add the juice. When cool store in the fridge and dilute to taste.

Last of all  - Lemon creams

Only they aren't really. Just plain 1-2-3 biscuits sandwiched together with  thick glace icing made from lemon juice and icing sugar.

Still a lot of lemons on the tree so I plan to make lemon surprise pudding and lemon meringue next.
27  PURSES, BAGS, WALLETS / Purses, Bags, Wallets: Completed Projects: General / Quivers on: July 26, 2013 12:13:43 PM
I guess a quiver is a kind of bag which is why I am posting here.

My son  is a keen member of the archery club at his college.  They are short of quivers so when he was home for the holidays he asked me if I could make him some, the kind that you can hang from a belt. He  bought some 4 cm diameter PVC piping and cut it into ten 50 cm lengths.  He also bought ten end caps to go on the bottom to stop the arrows falling out.
My job was to make fabric cases to hold the piping.  I used medium weight fabric from my stash which is why they are all different colours.   He only wanted 10 but I got confused when I was cutting out and cut out 11 quivers so he has that one as a spare.  Roll Eyes

For one quiver you need :
One piece of fabric  55 cm long  by 17.5 cm wide
a piece for the retaining strap 19 cm long by 5 cm wide
a piece for the loops 14 cm long and 3 cm wide
Also a bit of Velcro, one pvc pipe 50 cm long and 4 cm diameter and an end cap.
All fabric measurements include a 5mm seam allowance. Length is based on the length of the arrows he uses at the club.

Fold the 14 cm long strip in half lengthwise. Fold both long edges into the middle and stitch down. Cut in half to make the two loops.

Fold the 19 cm long strip in half lengthwise and stitch.  Flatten the seam and stitch across one end. turn inside out and press.

On one long edge of the large fabric measure from the bottom  and mark 7cm, 16 cm and 41 cm.
Pin the raw edges of the 19 cm strap at the 7 cm mark and pin a loop at each of the 16  and 41 cm marks.


Sew the long edges of the quiver together.  Where the loops are attached sew again to make the seam strong.  Sew  the bottom closed.

Turn right side out and stitch the hook side of the Velcro to the strap close to the seam.
Insert the pvc pipe with the end cap on and measure where the fuzzy, loop side needs to go in order to hold the pipe firmly.  It doesn't need to be very tight, just enough so that it holds the retaining cap and that will stop the pipe from sliding out of the fabric tube.
At the open end turn under 5mm twice for a hem.  This leaves a bit of pipe showing so that it is easier to remove. 


My son also wanted to number them so the club can easily tell if any have gone missing. I used some scrap evenweave as waste canvas to stitch cross-stitch numbers which I got from 97 Needlepoint Alphabets by B Borssuck.


Very quick and easy.  I guess each quiver took about an hour in total.  I finished them in three days and I wasn't working flat out either.
28  KNITTING / Knitting: Completed Projects / Star Square Blankets on: July 03, 2013 12:48:20 PM
These two blankets are made of squares that are knitted from the centre out in an eight pointed star.

Long ago my mother-in-law had a small blanket made of knitted star squares that my baby daughter used to sleep under when we went to visit.  My mum-in-law didn't have the pattern for it as someone else had knitted it for her.  I tried to work out the pattern from the blanket and  started making one in three ply for my son when he was a baby.  However I took so long over it that he grew faster than the blanket did and I kept having to knit more squares.  I finally finished it for his 21st birthday -  when I hope he has stopped growing.
The smaller blanket is in double knitting and was my entry in the Novice Knitter category of our Needlecraft Guild annual competition for which the theme was Stars.  It won first prize which means I move up to the Intermediate category for next year's competition.

As you can see, the edging I made up for this blanket was actually rather unsatisfactory.  When I blocked it I was able to get it to lie flat but  otherwise it was much too frilly for the blanket and I'd have done better to just repeat the plain edging I'd done for  my son's blanket.
The original blanket disappeared long ago so I have no way to compare my version with it to see if I got it right.
I attach the patterns for both the three ply and the double knitting squares as pdf documents.  The double knitting one has lots of pictures; the three ply pattern only two. And also a pdf describing the two different knitted edgings.
29  KNITTING / Knitting: Discussion and Questions / Knitting and dying on: April 25, 2013 11:15:05 PM
This is nothing to do with Madame Defarge but just the story of how knitting helped make our last days with Mum into a truly  special time.  

It turned out to be a very precious two months.  My sisters and I spent some of the time helping her sort out things she wanted to give or throw away before she died.  We told stories, reminisced, laughed, cried.  

And more and more - we knitted.  My youngest sister hadn't knitted for years but started again and got so enthusiastic she finished  a complicated jacket pattern.  

As children we knew that Mum could always make something out of anything and even then, a month before she died,  she started and finished a cotton cardigan for one sister in time for her birthday.
   
When Mum could no longer knit she was still interested in what we were doing and helping us choose colours and patterns.  My aunt came to stay every week and  would bring what she was knitting for her grandchildren so the two sisters  could sit and chat and share the knitting - or occasionally the unravelling.  Wink

Mum was able to stay at home the whole time, thanks to the amazing National Health Service which  provided everything free of charge, including the community nurses and Macmillans who came several times  a day to help with basic nursing.  

And of course we knitted as we  watched by her bedside at night.  We shared the watching, so that there was always someone with her.  Knitting was a way of staying awake, especially on the 2 am to 8 am shift.  Sitting in a small pool of light in her dark bedroom while she slept peacefully nearby, knitting not only helped to keep me awake but also kept my mind busy as well as my hands and helped me deal with the grief of her gradual decline.

Now a year on she passed peacefully in her sleep in April 2012 I and my siblings are so much closer together  and we keep in touch so much more  - not only to share the knitting that we are doing.  And I have several garments that I made then which will always remind me of a gentle passing and the loving time we had together.

and a knitting bag, made hastily to hold my knitting and which Mum really loved.

30  NEEDLEWORK / Needlework: Completed Projects / Knitting Bag on: January 21, 2013 09:24:53 AM

I made this bag for my sister's birthday and since she has now received it I can post it here.

 I couldn't find a pattern for this that I liked so I made my own pattern for the crown and used Mr X Stitch's pattern of Keep Calm and Marry On for the font and altered the bits I needed. 



Here is the complete design before I made it up into a knitting bag.




I couldn't find any handles so my husband made me a pair out of an old piece of plywood and painted them white.  The bag buttons over the handles so they can be removed for washing.

And the thread is DMC's glow-in-the-dark embroidery floss so she can find her knitting bag in a power cut/air raid shelter/ whatever. Roll Eyes

These are the charts I made for the bits of the pattern I had to alter to get the Carry Yarn wording, and the crown if anyone else wants to use them. 

I hope they are legible.  The rest of the pattern is, of course, at the Mr X Stitch link above.
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