Monday, 2 August 2010

ladies that lunch

Had a lovely day at Yorkshire Sculpture Park with my friend Moira. We met for lunch and a natter. The Park was quite busy as it was the first week of the summer hols - we had a great lunch and wander around the walled garden and viewed the David Nash exhibition in the Bothy and the underground gallery - all very woody and a lot of it very charred, not allowed to take pics but have taken some of the espaliered apples in the walled garden. Lovely place to sit and watch the world go by.
I haven't been very creative of late - I have been undertaking training for CAB which has been quite intensive and time consuming however I have now been turned loose on the public - enjoying it! I will be getting back to crafting very soon - more bags to make and I am going to Fabworks - a fabric/trimmings/beads warehouse in Dewsbury on Thursday with my friend Lynne. Lynne makes bags in Sanderson and Liberty fabrics. Anyway we are off for a bit of Fabworks therapy! Will take some pictures if allowed.
Daughter Lizzie runs, with her partner, a catering company - I make the cakes! The favourite dessert is Choccy fridge cake - made 280 portions for a function today - so delivered it yesterday to Leicester. My position within the company is chief cake maker! Suppose we all have our uses!

Friday, 16 July 2010

49 years is a long time ......

Met up with my cousin Paula whom I haven't seen for 49 years and in my excitement I forgot to take pictures as did she! We had quite a lot to talk about and wished we had allowed more time or perhaps spent a holiday together! Still we won't leave so long next time and I will remember the camera!
Tony has been experimenting with bread - it is the standard loaf from the recipe I developed with additions. The honey and olive oil in the bread make it keep well. Here is the basic recipe for a 2lb loaf. 1.5 lbs of wholemeal bread flour, 1 sachet of easy yeast, 1tblsp good quality olive oil, 1tblsp runny hunny, water is dependent on the absorption capabilities of the flour but a guide is 15fl ozs of finger hot water, for onion bread add about 4 ozs of fried dried onion in with the flour and yeast. I don't use salt. Can be shaped into a cob but Tony uses a 2lb loaf tin. As this is made using easy yeast it requires just one proving so when mixed to a smooth non sticky dough (takes about 10 mins in kitchenaid) shape it, into the lightly oiled tin, leave to prove in a warm place, inside a plastic carrier bag tie the handles, until doubled in size - probably about 25 mins. Another variation of this is to divide the mixture at the dough stage into two and shape into 2 cobs, onto a baking sheet, using the handle end or your forefinger poke 'holes' over the top of the loaves, pour a little olive oil into the holes with sprigs of fresh rosemary, grind of sea salt over the top, leave to prove (for a baking tray either use the carrier bag as above or use a clean bin bag) and bake for about 40 mins. Now Tony puts the dough into a cold oven - not preheated as he finds this gives a softer crust, set the oven to 160c that's for a fan oven. Turn the bread out of the tin or if cobs turn them over on the baking sheets, knock the bottoms - should sound hollow, return to the oven for another 5 mins just to ensure cooked through. Try to resist cutting chunks off and spreading with cold butter - sooo yummy! I love making bread and enjoyed developing this recipe, it also good with 2 ozs oats in with the flour - remember to take out 2 ozs of flour to accommodate the oats or you will end up with a very dry crumbly loaf. When shaping the loaf - use some oats mixed in with the flour and sprinkle over the top. Enjoy!

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

birthday flowers, rainbow bracelet and birdie brooches

As promised here are some pics of my birthday flowers - a beautiful handtied bunch presented in a boxy carrier bag from flowerbox in leicester. The lovely bracelet was made for me - handblown glass beads in rainbow colours with a ladybird and a bumblebee!
Here are some of the things I have made for sale - birdie brooches and corsage in welsh tweed, will put up some pics of the bags and knitted things - sheep tea cosies, socks and other bits.
I enjoyed making the birdie brooches the tweed was lovely to work with and I think the little birdies are quite sweet, people seem to like them!

Monday, 12 July 2010

happy birthday to me!

Good day today although it rained and that is the first time it has rained in my part of the country on July 12th for 56 years! Some record. Had a good day - went to Yorkshire Sculpture Park - membership there was one of my birthday pressies. Also had a pastel portrait of Hamish - the westie, taken from a photograph of him looking appealing, that was from Rachel. Lizzie and Ramadan gave me a lovely bracelet - hand blown glass beads in rainbow colours, the last one being coated in 24ct gold - the pot at the end of the rainbow - two of the beads have little friends on them - a ladybird on the the red and a bee on the yellow - made by an artist who exhibited at New Designers - one year on. Will take a pic and also put her name on my next blog. Also had lovely flowers from flowerbox in Leicester - peonies, stocks, green chrysanths, sweet william, canterbury bells, roses and rainbow roses (each petal sprayed!) delightful and beautiful - also from Lizzie and Ramadan
Part of my birthday celebrations was to have my eyebrows threaded - strange experience but very effective and a good shape. Have also had eyelashes dyed so feeling beautiful!
Busy trying to get a pair of socks finished for my uncle who is visiting on Thursday with my cousing Paula - she and I haven't seen each other for 49 years! Lots to say I am sure as our paths took very different routes! Will let you know what happens!

Sunday, 11 July 2010

Back again .....

Sorry folks - just about settled in! Only 6 months since my last blog! Well life has gone on apace and is really very busy. We have been away to West Wales for a few weeks staying in a converted cow shed in Ceredigion at St Dogmael's. First stayed there in 1970's and I have to say it hasn't changed that much! Lovely time going round the woollen mills, Welsh tweed very different to Harris Tweed in that it is a double layer - my textile designing daughter says it's jacquard - which I am not going to argue about! Some lovely stylish and very expensive tweed at Meilin Tregwynt. Bought a lovely tweed rug at the Solva Woollen Mill - far too nice for the floor! The Wool Museum outside Newcastle Emlyn was amazing - particularly as one of the displays is a Hattersley loom - memories of Sheila's (Scalpay Linen) loomshed. When we weren't looking around mills we were on the beautiful beaches around St Davids, Tresaith and Llangrannog (lovely cafe there!)
Been very productive on the bag and sock front and selling well at craft fairs. Thinking about doing a regular market stall - the only problem being when I was attending the Sassygael fairs in Harris keeping the stock level up was so difficult - so I am being a bit picky about how many and where!
Enjoying being more central - the Yorkshire Wolds were a bit far out, here imbetween Wakefield and Huddersfield gives me good access to all sorts of things. Texere yarns is close so is Rowan at Holmfirth, access to all the things I need for my bag and craft production.
Have been to a Goddess session today in the tradition of the Sisters of Avalon to celebrate the Solar eclipse. I have been annointed with the Waters blessed by Domnu - Goddess of the Deep which where sprinkled over me by the Priestess using a long white swans feather - it involved candles, visualisation and meditation which I love so will be going again!
Anyway will get the camera sorted - the lens has jammed with sand from the welsh beaches when I shoved in my pocket which was full of shells and sand!
And good news Daisy, the ewe I reared from a day old who went to live with my friend Sheila is in lamb! I am going to be a stepgranny!

Sunday, 24 January 2010

Lots of things happening ...

Well we are betwixt two houses at present! The cookware is in one and we are in the other, quite deliberate! Don't intend to be multitasking whilst moving - so it's carry out curry again! My husband does not need any encouragement!
What fun we have been having - the snow thawed and we have seen the back of most of it although there is still a mountain in the yard that was cleared from the driveway. More fun when the loo started making noises that sounded as if it was going to bite! Then the dishwasher started bleeping and sending weird messages and refusing to work so we were not surprised at the gurgling sound coming from the wet room as a fountain of raw sewage shot up through the wet room drain - it being the lowest point in the house. Called Bob the dyno rod who arrived within 30 minutes, septic tank needs emptying he said, no it's nice and crusty (healthy septic tank), the feed pipe was blocked not with babywipes or other unfriendly to septic tank things but with the inside of the inspection chamber lining which had cracked in the frost and snow and fallen into the feed pipe - three huge chunks of cement. The loo isn't talking to us anymore and the dishwasher has rejuvenated itself - but that isn't it - the water pressure is very low so suspect there is a leak somewhere between us and the well.
The rest of the move happens on Tuesday so it will be crafting and living in the Pennines! I have several lots of curtains and blinds to make - I thought shocking pink flamingo roman blind for the bathroom to go with the shocking pink towels and bathmat I got in a sale last week. Bought the fabric 'just in case' a couple of years ago from the big blue and yellow shop, the only problem is that I have rather a lot of 'just in case' fabric...... I am going to cannibalise my much loved navy blue beach hut and yacht curtains which are now in house no3 into a big roman blind and a curtain to cover a door for house no 4. I certainly do not intend to move again for quite a while. Have also got some Cath Kidston seconds fabric for the kitchen window again a big blind and a door curtain. I love roman blinds and they are relatively easy to make, I don't use a kit but put them onto a batten - will take pictures when done!

Thursday, 7 January 2010

Still stuck, knitting fingerless gloves

Sorry to keep going on about the snow and being stuck and unable to get out - this is day 3 and likely to be so again tomorrow. The snow is coming down heavily this evening and we are at about -6 already, -11 is forecast! We have everything we need so it is just a matter of sitting it out, we are warm and have a big woodpile - the only I don't like is the UHT milk - I hate that sweetness that comes with it!
Have kept myself occupied today with cooking and knitting some cabled fingerless gloves, I quite liked my handwarmers that I knitted the other evening however these are much better and look great - I have done them in a pistachio colour 6 ply merino wool - very snug and warm!
We are on the move again - this time over to West Yorkshire to a little town in the Pennine foothills near to the Rowan mill and factory shop! Heaven! Being stuck inside is getting the boxing up done although this is not the big move we did over from the Hebrides. Major sort out then and a minor one happening again now - trying to get all my stuff down to two large wooden chests and a very large wicker commercial laundry basket - that is just the wool and fabric! I have this romantic idea of it all going on the back of a cart and being pulled off by a horse - maybe I am a romany at heart!

Tuesday, 5 January 2010

Stuck, frozen water pipes, bread and handwarmers

We are snowed in. Managed to get out down the lane behind the bin men this morning to get supplies - well fruit, veg and milk. By the time we got back the snow was well and truly set in - great big fluffy golf balls falling thickly. The hot water pipes are still frozen and the sky dish is snowed in too! The plan is to get up in the loft tomorrow with fan heaters and thaw the pipes and at the same time lag them - the loft is thickly insulated but the pipes are above the insulation and don't benefit from any warmth from the house. Fortunately they are rubber/plastic pipes otherwise they would have shattered and we would have been very wet directly under them!
Enough of that, being snowbound certainly gets a lot of stuff done in the house. Have been making bread today and finishing off some socks and made one handwarmer, the other one will be done tomorrow as it is still snowing as I write.
The handwarmer is made from the bits of wool left over from making socks mainly german selfpatterning makes - socka, regia and some debbie bliss cashmerino that was left over from a baby cardigan. Didn't have a pattern for the handwarmer, made one up as I went along - some handwarmers are knitted straight however I have very broad hands (and these handwarmers are for me!) wanted a bit of shaping over the thumb. Knitted on 4 dpns these were 3.25mm used the same needles for both wools. Started with the wrist rib in k2 p2 - 64 sts (for this rib the stitch number has to divide by 4) so next size down would be 60sts etc; knitted the rib in cashmerino until it was long enough from where I wanted the handwarmer to end on my wrist to the base of my hand,(about 3 inches) changed to the sock wool, increased over the circle join (tail end) 2 sts every 3rd row 6 times (makes 76 sts again divisible by 4) then knit straight until knuckle length and back to the original rib wool and knit in k2 p2 rib for 8 rows or until long enough to suit, cast off in rib and that's it - sew in the ends. I thought about catching the top edge rib to just make a thumb hole but didn't like the stretched effect it gave, I think I will put something on the rib to show the thumb side. Very pleased with the one I have done - make the other tomorrow.
Also in the pics are some of the tweeds I will be making into cushions and bags, draught excluders and anything else I can think of. There are the socks that were finished today - the orange, khaki and brown ones are destined for my cousin Hil, the blue ones are the chilean hand dyed wool intended for Andrew for his birthday, the crazy yellow and red ones - someone brave to wear those - my husband has these in a larger size, this pair are size 5. The socks are all straight off the needles and need blocking to set their shape, this will be done before they go to their new owners.
Have made some bread today - this is a recipe I developed when we were doing b and b out in the Hebrides, needed a home made bread that wouldn't go stale too quickly but this tends not to hang around too long. This one has been made with stoneground wholemeal flour from the windmill at Skidby (just down the A1079 towards Hull) it is very coarse ground so I mix it with an organic commercial wholemeal flour, the other ingredients are olive oil, honey and yeast and a pinch of sea salt, it makes a lovely textured loaf that keeps - although as you can see my husband has been at it already!

Sunday, 3 January 2010

Not again! more snow, polo necks and christmas prezzies

It's snowing again - big fluffy cotton wool balls. I used to be so excited but the novelty has worn off and the inconvenience has taken over! This house is big and draughty - have to pull all the very heavy curtains early, life is taken in hands going to the woodstore, seemed quite a good idea to site it at the end of the path however with a lot of snow on a very long roof, the logstore is in an avalanche area as the snow crashes off the roof to the ground! Hard hat required to fetch the logs and possibly a St Bernard too! It is so pretty but I think we will be cut off again tomorrow.
Have been out in the snow for a while - Hamish out in his new polo neck jumper, this is a design first and it is a bit long in the body, have to pull it up a bit to stay out of wee range! Keeps him very snug and warm although he did decide to roll in the snow. Also some pics of him eating his very posh biscuit, present from Rachel - a Canine Cookie from Harrods in the shape of a christmas tree and icing flavoured flavoured with cheese and marmite - possibly two of his favourite things!
The lovely mug with robins and the triangular plate behind are the work of my cousin - Hil, she gave me these for Christmas. She has just moved so is 'resting' at present but will start production again soon. She has to get her kiln moved which involves tail lift lorries and strong boys!
The Harris Tweed bucket bags are on e bay, have sold some already and more in production. I have also got some lovely Islay tweed from the woollen mill there - it is the Bruichladdich plaid, turquoise background with orange and navy blue, which I am going to make up into cushions and bags - will take some pictures. The sock production is in full swing, it's Andrew's (lecturer son) birthday in January and he seemed to rather like his Christmas socks so at the risk of being boring will give him some more for his birthday and maybe a couple of tweed cushions too - he is refurbing his little house in Manchester and tweed cushions will look good on his sofa when he gets one!
The flowers were the Christmas flowers from daughter Lizzie, she gets them from an amazing flowershop in Leicester where she lives, she puts the selection together herself and then it is handtied. They have lasted really well - there was a cabbage, roses, sea holly (dyed red), honesty, grasses. Very pretty.