Learning to Knit Socks

I seem to have been busy with gardening & family stuff but have found time to learn to knit socks!

Thanks to Lucy at Attic24 for introducing me (via her blog) to the basic sock pattern and the sock along from  the amazing Christine at Winwick Mum. Here are some pics of my first ever socks. I used Drops Fabel self-striping sock yarn which magically produces a lovely fair isle pattern as you knit.

   
   
  

  These were a bit too big for me in the end so I had another go. It’s fiddly but Christine’s pattern is ok once you understand how it works. My advice to newbies would be to make a smaller pair with a short rib just to practice all the elements. I would also suggest using lifelines (esp if you are a hooker) so that if (when) you have to frog it is easier to pick up your stitches. The sockalong Facebook group is full of helpful people who will help & won’t judge you even if you are making a total hash of your early socks!


My second pair – also in Drops Fabel sock yarn- fit better & were finished in time for a few days of hot weather! It’s cold again now so I can wear them!

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Tiny Potager Update

Do you remember that part of my garden revamp, (aka reclaiming the corners of my garden), was to create a small but beautiful veg patch? Well here’s the development so far.

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It really is tiny- approx 2.5m x 2.5m, I started off last autumn by emptying my compost bins onto a layer of cardboard then topped that with well rotted manure & an old carpet & let the worms do their stuff.

In spring I started getting it organised, remember my mantra – ‘if it isn’t pretty, it isn’t staying’ – so it had to look good.  I used a large pot as the focal point & planted a lovely standard dessert gooseberry in it & have sown edible flowers in the pot too. The front edge of the bed is planted with wild strawberries, & the left border with herbs & edible flower mix. I have a row of 4 tomato varieties at the back & the 3 sets of bean poles have climbing french beans,  runner beans & sweet peas (underplanted with squash to grow up the trellis too). 2 corners have dwarf maypole apple &  pear trees. In the little gaps I have some broad beans & lettuces & will sow more salad crops in succession.

Oh & I have a very nice crop of mushrooms – thats a good sign apparently!

Hope you like my little veg plot:)

Maybelle flower cushion 

I wanted to make a quick housewarming gift for a friend & thought the crochet maybelle flower square pattern from   My Rose Valley  blog would be perfect. I had some Drops Mistral cotton yarn in my stash & used cream & a neutral grey as a contrast row when squaring off the flower. 

  
I made 9 squares stitched them together  & then found a plain cream cushion cover & hand stitched the crochet cover onto the front. 

   
 It looks great & was very quick to make. My friend loved it!!

Might have to make another for myself:)

Cooking for my  family’s ‘special needs’

As I write this Easter Monday storm Katy is raging outside bringing wind rain & even snow!

We have a large extended family & at all major holidays & birthdays we always have a big family dinner with myself & my sister in law sharing the cooking duties. We have always had to consider food intolerances as my brother in law suffers from cheese & chocolate induced migraines,  recently my husband has been diagnosed with gluten & dairy intolerance & one of our boys has become vegan!

 For Easter Sunday I was on dessert duty & As you can imagine thinking of desserts that cover all needs has been tricky, gluten free flour is ok but I find it too dry so often use flourless cake recipes – a favourite being the whole orange & almond cake see Here – there are lots of variations, it’s very simple to make & is gluten & dairy free. Another favourite is Nigella’s Lemon polenta cake also gluten & dairy free.

Finding vegan desserts is a little more difficult – fruit salad being the obvious choice but a little boring. Yesterday I tried something amazing, vegan meringues made from the waste liquid in a can of chick peas!

OMG it actually works – whisked, it has enough protein & starch to become a direct replacement for egg whites. It is a total revelation & I can’t wait to try making mousses & cakes without eggs!

  
My first attempt – a little flat – I probably should have added the sugar more slowly but I will be experimenting with this a bit more to make the perfect vegan pavlova. I also made a lovely vegan lemon cream/curd using coconut cream to go with these meringues – both recipes from Vegan Lass – hers look much better than mine! No one could believe they were made without eggs.

We make homemade hummus all the time so chickpea water is in abundance here- lots of experimentation to come:)

I need to continue to add more vegan dessert recipes into my repertoire so that I don’t make ‘special’ desserts just yummy ones that everyone wants to eat!

Garden Revamp #5 (potager)

The garden is starting to spring to life & I need to get on with the last corner in the new revamped garden – the veg plot. I have decided to try to make a little potager garden- a mix of fruit veg & flowers, all grown together to look pretty & act as companions to reduce pests by confusion /distraction. In France this is a common style of productive but pretty gardening,  my plot is quite tiny, approx 2m square, I will try not to get too carried away……

   

 
 
At the end of the summer I covered the area in cardboard & then emptied emptied the compost bin on top & then covered with well rotted manure. We found an old carpet & more cardboard to cover over winter & to encourage the worms to do their work, so now it should be ready for some planting. 

My plan is to have a permanent structure of columnar fruit trees / standard bushes & then grow some beans, sweet peas, squash etc up obelisks & edible salad & flowersin the space around.

The trees are ordered & should arrive soon but I need to purchase or make some type of obelisk & decide on some veg varieties. 

This is the picture in my head – watch this space……………

  

This is the tiny potager in a beautiful Berkshire garden – see here for more stunning images from this garden.

New Year New Projects

I’m home alone for a few weeks as all my boys are away – one in Australia, one touring with a band & one back at Uni so its just me & the pooch mostly. This means lots of crochet time:)

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Since visiting Barcelona in November I have had in mind to make something inspired by the amazing Casa Batllo – Gaudi’s House of Bones.

The colours & shapes used throughout this building are just beautiful, no straight lines were used in this building design -if you get a chance to visit it is worth the queing!

I particularly like the front with its wavy lines & mottled colours. It also has beautiful stained glass windows – circles of different colours – only just visible in this picture.IMG_7411

I already had some leftover yarn in my stash with similar colours but I couldn’t decide what to make or how to give the feel of Gaudi’s work.

I decided on a baby blanket using up my Drops Baby Alpaca Silk yarn leftover from my squircles blanket, using a wavy stripe pattern, I chose this Lazy Wave pattern available on the lovely blog lookatwhatimade.net. Its a very easy pattern & has a lovely rhythm to it.

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Lazy waves pattern

I think the colours work very well together & I will do some kind of border incorporating some Gaudi circles I think.

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It’s growing nicely & the more I work on it the more I think I might keep it for myself & make it into a wrap, which means I need to find some more yarn & time to make the baby blanket gift I originally intended!

 

Crochet Christmas Wreath

I can share my most recent crochet project with you at last- it was a surprise gift for my mum but she has it now so it’s not a secret anymore!

I made her a lovely Xmas wreath inspired by Lucy’s winter wreath- see here at Attic24.   

I covered a polystyrene base ( from hobby raft) with a stripy base – blues for the sky & greens & red for the garden – just a wide strip of single crochet stripes stitched together at the back.   

Then I made a few baubles & pine cones, a poinsettia flower & holly leaves, together with a few ready made pom-poms, baubles & tiny bells, all stitched into the base.  I embroidered stars onto the sky in silver thread & a red ribbon to hang it by. The little robin is a perfect addition I think. 

   
 
A lovely project if quite fiddly & time consuming but fun & very effective. My mum loves it!

Leaves & bauble patterns from Lucy at attic24. Poinsettia from  The daintydaisy blogspot & pine cones from PlanetJune

Might need to make one of these for myself…….next year:)