Saturday, January 30, 2010

Breathe deeply

Winter sunshine, a frozen tarn, good company and a tailgate picnic including pea soup whipped up in the 45 minutes between arranging to go and hustling out the door (Thank you Nadine Abensur for the ever useful Cranks Fast Food cookbook). I didn't really get the photos to do it justice because I was too busy just enjoying the many spectacular views of Tarn Hows and breathing in all that wonderful fresh air. Snow and ice may be very pretty and snuggling in for a bit of winter hibernation is all very well, but I think the picture of our little boy sums up how we all felt. He ran on his not-yet-two year old legs all the way up that hill, shouting joyfully at the top of his lungs most of the way!

Friday, January 29, 2010


Making marmalade was an annual event in our house when I was growing up- the scent of it cooking holds all sorts of memories as a result. My mum used to joke that it was in her marriage contract to make it and back then I think my dad was about the only one who ate it. As they've got older, some of my siblings have developed a taste for it and in some cases make their own. I still don't 'get' marmalade but have married someone who does, so I thought this year I should give it a go.
Funny thing about Seville oranges- some family friends who have moved to Spain tell us that over there, where this sort of orange grows, and falls off, trees everywhere- in the streets, in town squares, in people's gardens- you can't actually buy them. They're regarded more or less as a waste product so unless you have your own tree- no marmalade! I think they've found some friends with trees in their garden to supply them, although those friends think our friends are mad to want them.
Anyway, having got hold of the requisite oranges over here easily enough I was very happy to have use of what I'd previously regarded as superfluous technology in our kitchen, namely a citrus juicer bought by C's Nana for extracting what she terms 'liquid sunshine'. That which normally takes up too much space in a cupboard was an invaluable time and hand saver when it came to juicing all the fruits.
I like the way that with marmalade you use all the fruit- the juice and skins in the marmalade, the pith and pips in a muslin bag to provide pectin. It feels a bit like alchemy, especially when using the good old brass lined 'cauldron' that I still have on loan from the farm (it had been languishing in the cellar under a layer of grime and is yet to be missed). Also in the style of the alchemist, I did struggle slightly to get the end result- setting point and still have my doubts about how solid the final product will be. Still, I'm sure it will taste okay and it does look very pretty, especially lit up by some gorgeous afternoon sunlight- we had snow earlier, so it's a day of weather surprises!
As to the housework...well, some of it was done this morning. Some I'm off to do in a minute. But I did get that last sewing job done- behold the 'Old MacDonald Had A Farm' bag! P was treated to a debut performance from both parents, with Daddy acting as animator to each animal as it emerged from the bag and Mummy joining the chorus from the kitchen as she stirred her cauldron. He seemed quite delighted- if a little bemused. Maybe the marmalade will make more sense to him.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

All sewn up

I had a 'hang the housework' day today when I caught up on some napping and cracked on with the sewing. Even though I'm not going down to my Ma's for a few weeks to do the next stage, I just felt the need to get the quilt top finished and go back to working on my Fairisle in the evenings. No doubt C will be pleased as knitting is a lot quieter than the sewing machine. I think I can add 7 hours onto the previous time total to get to a result that I'm really pleased with. I can hardly wait to do the next stage- need to decide on batting and backing first. I'm thinking of a wool/cotton mixture batting and brushed cotton backing so that in winter it can be an extra layer and in summer a cover on its own.
Just one more bit of stitching I'm planning before the machine gets put away for a while- with more time at home with the boy coming up, I thought I would do something with these old shirts, a collection of toy animals and a certain well known song about a farmer. Had it not been for a phone call from a friend tonight I'd have got it done, but maybe I can fit it in around that still-waiting housework tomorrow morning. A more pressing job tomorrow is to go shopping for Seville oranges though- for until I heard someone mention it on the radio today I hadn't realised they were about and this year I'm going to make marmalade!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Hearts for Haiti

Here, as mentioned the other day, is the small effort I'm making towards the Haiti appeal. When something that huge happens it's so easy to feel so personally small and helpless- sometimes it's hard even to concieve of the utter destruction shown in newspapers and on television. That said, I truly believe that every contribution, no matter how small, is worthwhile. So when Williams Wools put out the call on Ravelry to knit 'Hearts for Haiti' I was very much up for it. The idea is that knitters visiting the shop knit hearts that the lovely Adrienne will then make into brooches. These will be sold for Valentines Day with proceeds going to the earthquake appeal- raising money and awareness at the same time.
So far I've made the three pictured, but as they take less than an hour to knock up I'm hoping to have more to contribute by Wednesday when we next go to Kendal. Just in case anyone out there wants to have a go, the following is a bit of a 'Holy Eye' sort of pattern. I've no idea if it would work with yarns and tensions other than those I used, but at least it gives a general idea.
Using small amount of Rowan Kid Classic and 3.25mm straight needles, cast on 20 stitches.
Row 1: K2tog, knit to last stitch, inc. 1
Row 2 and every even row: knit
Row 3: As row 1
Row 5: As row 1
Row 7: Knit to last stitch, inc.1
Row 9: As row 7
Row 11: Knit
Row 13: Knit
Row 15: Knit to last 2 stitches, K2tog
Row 17: Knit to last 4 stitches, K2tog twice
Row 19: As row 17
Row 21: As row 17
Row 23: As row 17
Row 25: Knit
Row 27: K2tog, knit to last 2 stitches, K2tog
Row 29: As row 27
Row 31: As row 27
Row 33: K2tog twice, knit to end
Cast off
Make a second heart the same way, place two hearts together and sew all the way around. Place button on front of heart and attach, sewing through both layers.