Saturday, 20 January 2018

Doubly early Rhubarb Jam




Early Rhubarb from the Yorkshire Triangle get made up into Doubly Early Rhubarb Jam this morning

Monday, 8 January 2018

In a Vase on Monday - Evergreens?

Yesterday it stopped raining for a whole day....

After breakfast we had a fine walk along the local hills and onto the Somerset Levels, all along the small lane, during the whole time passed by only a couple of cars and a handful of cyclists.  It was cold and slightly breezy and we were well dressed for the conditions.

On the way back I grabbed three stems of the wild ivy from the hedgerow, and then as I took off my shoes by the front door, came face to face with the ideal companions...

Here is the arrangement set up to catch the sunshine in the conservatory...


And here it is again in the sitting room..with a little escaped Christmas Mouse who had to stay out as the room seemed so bare..a few of the dried up flower heads from ivy in the Christmas arrangement
too, to form a nice little motif.  When I was young my mother's advice to me was always buy presents you would like to receive.  Sadly that piece of advice has its problems: you sometimes want to keep the presents!!  So when I found a lovely funny little Christmas mouse to give to my Daughter in Law, I knew straight away that there would be problems.  To avoid that two were purchased.



With a little shelter by the front door, the Loropetaum Fire Dance has been in continuous flower for several weeks.  For the present it is in a large pot enjoying winter protection, until we get more sorted out with the garden landscaping.


The third Evergreen, in the sense that it is not deciduous, but 'ever purply red and gold blotched' is the Pseudowintera colorato Red Leopard a New Zealand native.  It is at present by the front door where it sits again with some protection and looks very smart when the sun is shining off its shiny leathery leaves.

When I first bought the Red Leopard in Warwickshire, I found out that it is used in New Zealand in cookery...now that is a challenge for the next few months.

This week Cathy who leads us on this weekly quest to find something interesting in the garden, and write about it, has been inspired to explain a little of her character...the ability to defer gratification.  There are several parallels in our character....having enjoyed my small box of very tasty marzipan delicacies, I have decided to put away my box of turkish delight till Easter.  Mr S wanted to be generous....so when I said one box of something sweet and delightful, he bought two!!!


Sunday, 7 January 2018

Portreath Socks


When I started the first of the Portreath socks, I had to draw in my own chart and colour code it, as well as alter a couple of the symbols to make sense of the pattern.  There are many ways of making things as easy as possible.  This is much easier than reading from a small black and white chart, and there is room for me to tick off lines and have column repeats.

I decided to make the sock leg length twice as long as the pattern, with four repeats of the pattern and also made a change to the bottom of the sock.  This is the first sock pattern that I have come across where the pattern results in a completely reversible sock with a very different effect.  The designer Faye Perriam gives a garter stitch sole, but I have opted to change this to a stocking stitch, with the 'wrong side' ie purl looking facing the way the sock is knitted, and the smooth side will be on the reverse and balances the pattern on the leg and top of the foot.


Now onto the second sock....


Just picked up my knitting again after a lovely walk onto to the levels, past the first of the hills with a view to Glastonbury straight from home....its just the day for stretching ones legs:  sunny, and very cold, and not raining!


I've just read up that Portreath is a pretty little Cornish seaside place...here's wishing I'll be down there to  pose with my socks before they are worn out. 

Friday, 5 January 2018

Crassula Ovata Gollum

From time to time I like to feature one of the succulents which grown around the house.  Compared to our previous house, we don't quite have  windows with the right orientation.  This specimen could do with a little more light,  and as soon as the temperature rise above 10 C it will be moved into the conservatory.   Quite unusually the radiators were on side walls, which made the window sills far more favourable for growing plants on.



This plant is now over ten years old, about 12...it is really root bound, which I read, is no disadvantage.  It is  top heavy now, and has a wide trunk.  I am however fond of the plant, which is wedged in this oval planter which gives it some stability.  It has grown this shape just on its own.

A few years ago, I took some cuttings and was pleased to have given one to 'connoisseur' Kevin, who loves many plants but is really into orchids. It was he who brought Crassula Budha's Temple for me.  Having trawled through my blog, I'm really surprised that Gollum has not featured before.

Out with the old and in with the New

Just as they have been pointing out in the news, I have been aware for a long time that there are mountains and oceans of plastics and lots of non recyclables to contend with.  I still like to have a paper diary, and go for the cheapest as they usually have card covers. 

Back in 2011 I made my first cloth diary cover using some of the techniques which we were being guided through each week by our WI president and craft queen bee Kay.  Ever since I did my first bit of quilting, and that is something for me who had until then just sewed on the odd button or mended a hem that had come undone: First Quilting

The Last Diary Cover was made in 2011, so it has lasted seven years...and will go into the recycling bin.




When I came to change over my diary on the first of January, at first I thought it would just need a good wash as it had a couple of years ago, but then looking at the spine, I noticed that it was starting to fray.

My current handbag...and those who have known me for some time wont be surprised, is still bright and jolly, a sort of mango or pumpkin colour.  So for a new cover I decided to use bits and pieces which I already had in my stash.  Rummaging through I found just the right combination, together with threads, silks, and cotton batting.  In the end I just used a thick cotton quilting thread, in black and also mango.


I found that quilting on the black showed up the dragon fly motifs perfectly.



Here is the finished diary on one of my project bags.  The dragon fly fabric was first used when we were working on a  Cathedral Patch work trial.  I was pleased to make up a bag with it:  Cathedral Patchwork Bag.  This is another project I completed at the Kenilworth WI craft afternoon. When I have a small project on the go, whether sewing or knitting, I gather all the essentials into one of my project bags.


Here is my very cheap diary, for which I paid less than £1...the front cover fits into the sleeve, which can also accommodate all those notes, club membership cards and annual passes etc....



For the inside back sleeve, a little dragon fly motif finishes this off nicely.  This is where I keep all those vouchers....


I've spent a few hours when it was wet and windy outside, completely at ease, in peace, with only needle and scissors, using all the lovely techniques I was shown.  As I sipped on my lemon verbena tea this afternoon...the last stitches were put in place.


I wonder how long this one will last?  Maybe I should make a reserve one?