Saturday, 25 September 2010

Little Jam-Pots

In an annual ritual, I made some jam today.

My jam-making urge seems to stem from Chapter 2 of More of Milly-Molly-Mandy by Joyce Lankester Brisley, in which Milly-Molly-Mandy has a surprise. The surprise involves a little store-room where Milly-Molly-Mandy's mother keeps her home-made jams. Ever since I read that story, I have loved the idea of shelves stacked with ranks of glossy jars.

Sadly, my own jam-making is inhibited by lack of time, plus not having access to a huge garden full of soft fruit- unlike Milly-Molly-Mandy's mother. At present we have two apple trees and one gooseberry bush in our garden, plus access to a public footpath along which brambles grow.

As a result, I tend to make one batch of blackberry and apple jam every year, and today was the day.

Here's my granny's jam-pan, just arrived at the rolling boil stage. Twenty-five minutes later, I had 1.5 litres of blackberry & apple jam to put in jars.

If you're not familiar with the Milly-Molly-Mandy stories, which are pastoral tales of English village life  set in the 1920s, you can find out more at this blog.

Friday, 24 September 2010

Collective knitting nouns

This post is about knitting, but rather tangential!

Wikipedia defines a collective noun as follows: "In linguistics, a collective noun is a word used to define a group of objects, where objects can be people, animals, emotions, inanimate things, concepts, or other things. For example, in the phrase 'a pride of lions,' pride is a collective noun."

While I was stacking up the mittens I'd knitted lately, I started to wonder if there was a collective noun for a group of mittens - if you have more than a pair, obviously. I searched lots of lists, but the only vaguely knitting-related collective noun I found was a flock of sheep - and I already knew that one.

Trying to think of my own, I came up with "a knit of mittens"? Of course this could apply to many other knitted items, but as you can have "a flock of seagulls" and also "a flock of sheep", I suppose you could equally have both "a knit of mittens" and "a knit of socks".

I also rather like the idea of "a yarn of knitters", and may propose it to this list of Some that Might Be.

Sunday, 19 September 2010

Bishop's Hat Tea Cosy

Here's my September sewing - see, I hadn't forgotten my pledge to sew something, even if only small, every month.

The Bishop's Hat Tea Cosy pattern was in Sew Hip issue 20:

If you would like to see more of the work of this particular designer, take a look here.

The pattern appealed to me because not only was it small (so there was a chance I would actually finish it inside a month!), it used machine embroidery, which I was keen to try. Also, I already had plenty of suitable fabrics in my stash.

It was my first attempt at machine embroidery. I think it's not too bad, although I'm not convinced it's quite up to holiday gift standard.

Thursday, 16 September 2010


The nasturtiums in our garden are making a fabulous last stand as autumn approaches. We have yellow ones cascading from a terracotta pot:

and orange ones growing along the fence on the other side of the garden:

As well as flowers, we have crops:

These are a tumbling variety of tomato that grow from a hanging pot. They look very pretty, as well as being good to eat.

Sunday, 12 September 2010

Apple pie

The apple season has begun in our garden. We have two apple trees, both of which are allegedly eating apples, but we find they are better in cooking, unless you eat them on the same day as they are picked.

Today I picked some apples, sliced them up and mixed in some brown sugar, raisins and cinnamon:

Then rolled out pastry (shamingly, I buy the ready-made kind) and made a pie:

We ate it for dessert today, and it was delicious.

My traditional-style enamel pie plate came from Lakeland. I did have such a pie plate once before, which originally belonged to my granny, but somewhere along the line I lost it, so I was rather pleased to find a modern version.

Friday, 10 September 2010

Rosy baby mittens

This is the very first pattern I made up all by myself. I wrote it all down and posted it on Ravelry as a free Ravelry download (Ravelry log-in required).

The mittens are worked in the round with grafting at the end to minimise seaming. They include a little ribbing at the wrists to help them stay on. You can't see this, though, as it's hidden beneath the garter-stitch cuff. The mitten tops are grafted with Kitchener stitch. If you need full instructions on how to do this, I would suggest looking at Stitchdiva's excellent tutorial.

The mittens' actual size is 6.5 cms wide at the widest point x 14 cms high (with the cuff folded back as shown above). This size will fit a baby age approx 9 - 18 months. I used Easyknits bamboo merino mix in shade choc-choc cherry, about a quarter of a skein, so I estimate you need about 100m of yarn. You also need a set of 3.25mm dpns, or size required to achieve correct gauge (tension) - which is 15 sts and 19 rows per 5 cms in stocking stitch.

I'm quite proud of having published a design, even if it is extremely simple!

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

Top ranked?

Just look at that Wikio button in the right hand column there - it currently says 22!!  (It was only 35 last month.)

The button indicates a ranking within European knitting blogs. I'm not entirely sure how Wikio arrive at their rankings (traffic? length of time of visit? no. of times I write the word "knitting" per blog post?) but I am rather impressed to find myself 22nd on a list which includes such knitting luminaries as the wonderful Ysolda Teague (#8), Cornish designer Anniken Allis (#17) - previously I made her Regatta stole - and Katya Frankel (#10).

These designers publish regularly in Yarn Forward magazine, or all can be found on Ravelry. Although I also hang out on Ravelry, my own designing currently amounts to one pair of simple baby mittens!

Sunday, 5 September 2010

Holiday End

We hadn't booked a family holiday this year, mainly owing to ongoing uncertainties about my employment situation. Dh and ds spent a week in early August staying with dh's brothers in Ireland, and dd managed to get quite a few trips in, but I stayed at home.  We did however manage a couple of weekends away, staying with my parents.

Last weekend, in an effort to create a small family holiday experience (even though dd was in Jersey at the time) we made a day trip to Whitby on the North East coast. Here's the West Cliff - that's the North Sea you can see there:

Ds was very excited by the whale's jawbone at the entrance to the harbour steps:

It's been there as long as I can remember (I've been making trips to Whitby ever since I was a little girl).

We had lunch in a seafood restaurant, and it was perfectly splendid:

Note cup of tea accompanying meal. This was Yorkshire, after all :-).