Week 14 – crochet cord tie

Well, I missed blogging last week due to our computer throwing a tantrum and refusing to do anything useful. Even shutting it down proved tricky.

Anyway, hubby spent some time putting it in recovery mode and hey presto, we are back in business.

This teeny tiny crochet project came about as a request from a friend who was expecting. “Please can you make me a crochet cord tie” , she said . Errrrrrrr, not sure, let me look into that!!!!  On googling it appears that crochet cord ties are a thing for those who would like to tie babies cord with something other than a plastic clip. Looks much softer for little ones.

She sent me a picture of the sort of thing she would like. Looks straightforward enough to make but what should I use to make it and how can we make sure it is clean for baby.  Decided cotton would work well and the Mummy to be took charge making sure it was washed and then popped in the freezer to keep it sterile till the big day.

Looking online for ideas on how to make these, the basic idea is two small crochet motifs, one on each end of a crochet cord that is around 30cm in length. I found a few articles online to help me make this item and gave the new Mum to be strict instructions on how to use it as well as the recommendation that they check with their midwife too.

Have look at this one on Simply Crochet.

Beautiful Tribe have an article on how they approached this.

Etsy have loads for sale but if you are even a beginner crocheter, this is really straightforward to make.

The motif we went for was a heart. Attic 24 have a lovely pattern for teeny tiny hearts that were the size for my cotton yarn and a 4mm hook. The hearts were about 4cm across and the tie measure in at 30cm.

It took me all of about 15 minutes to make this including the faffing about trying to find a tape measure!

Enjoy,

L 🙂

 

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Week 13 – Amigurumi Sheep, a weekend project

This weeks project instalment is a very cute amigurumi sheep. On hunting for something to make using a couple of balls of Sirdar Snowflake that I had picked up in a sale. I found this glorious blog, The Friendly Red Fox full of wonderful things to crochet. Kali, the blogger has filled her site with loads of free patterns as well as handy tips and tricks for the beginner as well as those of us who have been crocheting for a little while. She has a soft spot for all things amigurumi, I suspect I will be making a few more of her creations. Definitely be adding this blog to my useful resource page!!

Kali’s ami sheep is the cutest thing. My version hasn’t quite captured the cute lameness of Kali’s. In fact it looks a lot like a mouse in a sheep costume. However, for my purposes (gift for my neighbours 6 year old) it did the job. It is squishy and cute. What more do you need from a cuddly toy 🙂

Overall this project took me around 8 hours to make. It most certainly is something that could be made over a weekend, although I enjoyed making bits of this over the course of a week.

Happy crocheting,

Enjoy,

Lx

Note re Sirdar Snowflake – this yarn is a little tricky to use at first. Trust your fingers, you can feel the loops more easily than you can see them. Plus it is so fluffy that if you miss the odd stitch or add the odd one, it won’t show up anyway 🙂

Week 11 – this week has become a rather useful resource page!

Week 11 – a weekly challenge is proving to be more of a challenge than I can manage!!!

So here I am, 11 weeks into this challenge I set myself with no make or bake achieved this week. Not the plan for this blog.

However, as we all know life can get on the busy side. I have been busy spending time with my offspring. Mainly the youngest who popped home Wednesday evening for a long weekend home. We have tackled lots of very important issues over tea and pastries, including but not limited to – what colour sofa should we get next? whats for dinner? and is it ok to have a nap now? Really important stuff. We did also discuss this blog and things that we could incorporate into it and so it was decided that this week I could write about things I would like to make and do and take the opportunity to point you all at some of the wonderful blogs and websites out there that I use for inspiration.

Crochet

  • Moogly – this is pretty much my top go to blog for crochet inspiration. Tamara Kelly is the lady behind this work. Its a great site full of top 10 patterns for various things. Lots and lots of free patterns. It is an American site so generally using US terms for crochet patterns.
  • Attic 24 – love this site, particularly for colour inspiration and stitch choices. She has beautifully clear instructions. Her blankets are a thing of beauty and kits can be bought too.
  • Ravelry – this is a fabulous resource that I’m sure most of you have come across before. Lots of free patterns as well as paid for patterns.
  • Etsy – again another that most are familiar with. I have used this particularly to buy patterns for baby shoes as well as slippers. There are tons of free patterns out there but sometimes you need the security of a tried and tested pattern. With paying for a pattern you often get the support of the designer as well. Two girls patterns are a huge favourite and really great for responding to questions too.
  • Den Dennis – a designer from the Netherlands. The Amigurumi patterns on this site are a mixture of free and paid for and also a mixture of languages. Although a lot of the patterns are available in English. Do try some of the free patterns to get an idea of he puts his patterns together. You can buy patterns on Ravelry and Etsy too though. Great value patterns, easy to follow and consistently good results.
  • All about Ami – another great site for amigurumi, household items and clothes to make. Her site is a treat for the eyes too, I may have a go at making her gorgeous cardigan in the Autumn.
  • Its all in a nutshell – Esther runs this marvellously generous, fab site full of wonderful ideas and superb video tutorials. Lots of CALS (crochet alongs) to be inspired by.
  • Look what I made – another fabulous crochet site featuring most famously Sophies Universe. Dedri Uys is the designer of this blog. Featuring loads of free patterns that you will need to make 🙂
  • Crystal and Crochet – this site, run by designer Helen Shrimpton features paid for and free patterns. The mandala madness is a must 🙂
  • The Friendly Red Fox – my latest find and love, full of free patterns and super tutorials. A must if you love Amigurumi.

Food

  • BBC good food – this site is so easy to use. You can search by ingredient, recipe or keyword. Because it is such a reliable site and utilises so many chefs works, you can pretty much use just this site.
  • Madhur Jaffrey – Having not been a curry fan for many years, when I finally decided to start having a go at finding flavours that spoke to me, it made sense to look at Madhur Jaffreys books. She has been on the scene for many years, all the recipes that I use from mainly her book Curry Easy have been reliably easy to use and generally these days the ingredients have been easy to source. If you are not a fan of coriander like me then do try some of her recipes. Gorgeous flavours, varying levels of heat and lots that don’t use coriander 🙂
  • Nigella – not a lot I can say here really is there. I do prefer her sweet recipes with the Christmas recipes being used year on year.
  • The Great British Bake Off – every year since this cooking programme started there has been a companion book. I have bought almost all of them. You can however get hold of many of the popular recipes on their site direct. My Stem Ginger cookie recipe came from the first Bake Off Book and is consistently my most viewed recipe.

There is so much online these days. It can get a little overwhelming when looking for inspiration. Think that is why my go to list is possibly on the small side. There are of course loads more sites, books, magazines that I use but sometimes it’s nice to have slightly fewer choices to make 🙂

Keep it simple perhaps.

Enjoy,

L 🙂

 

P.S Next week, I will have a few more granny squares made for the 49 week granny blanket as well as something made!! (or not, depends on what inspires me 🙂 )

 

Week 7 – Crochet moses basket blanket and converse style baby booties :)

As ever, another one of my friends is expecting. This time though we don’t know what the sex of the baby so I am doing something a little more neutral. The friend has already decorated the nursery in shades of white and grey so I have taken that as inspiration. Not my usual colour palette but very soothing.

A different yarn choice too for me. This time I have bought grey and white style craft bambino supersoft DK yarn. It s a little more expensive than special DK but you can really feel the difference. Lovely to work with.

As the little one is due in June I decided to do something a little more lightweight and in a size that would work with a moses basket or car seat.

The pattern I chose was inspired by this fabulous modern heirloom crochet blanket by Mama In a Stitch. Check out her blog, its glorious. Full of free patterns and inspiration 🙂

I tweaked it slightly as I was making a smaller version but the pattern really lends itself to a bit of personalisation. The basic pattern is simple moss stitch with colour changes as you like. Depending on how big you wish to go and how fast you crochet, this could be worked up over a weekend really easily. In a chunky variegated yarn, I should think you could have the first of many Christmas presents ready to go!!!

Anyway, as I had a small amount of yarn left, I decided that a pair of booties were in order. Made a pair of my reliable crochet converse booties. Love it in the soft grey. Will suit a boy or a girl, lets face it, the baby doesn’t mind what colour it is as long as its squishy soft 🙂 The pattern for these was a paid for pattern found on Etsy by Choosy Stuff. The pattern is really well written, great value and includes a box you can print out for the shoes if you desire. For £4.20, this is really good value. For this baby, I haven’t added the black detailing as I thought it would be a little harsh with the soft grey yarn.

I love how the pictures turned out. The grey and white gives it a really vintage feel 🙂

The granny square that I have done this week was inspired by my scrap basket because I have a lovely shade of teal in it!!

Enjoy,

Lx

Week 6 – Damp Lemon and Almond cake, sounds delicious!!

Ok, so should anyone be paying attention. Last week should have been week 6, but it was sunny and a bank holiday weekend 🙂 So I did other stuff 🙂 Hope you all took advantage of the weather. If I’m honest it was a teensy bit warm for me but no worries it has already cooled down.

Today I have decided to bake a cake. Oh what a surprise she says!!! I really should broaden my cooking and baking, but I do love a cake 🙂

This recipe is from Nigella’s How to be a domestic goddess. As ever I have tweaked the recipe a bit to suit me. The main issue with this recipe (to be fair Nigella does mention this too) is that it can take anything from 30 minutes to 1 hr 10 to cook this cake. It means that you will be oven hovering for a while armed with a skewer!! My oven took 45 minutes to cook this today. You know your oven best, whatever happens,  you should start checking from 30 minutes.

Ingredients:

  • 225g soft unsalted butter
  • 225g caster sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 50g plain flour
  • 225g ground almonds
  • 1/2 tsp almond essence
  • grated zest and juice of two lemons
  • 21-23cm springform cake tin, greased and lined on the bottom

Now this is where I tweak things slightly. Ground almonds tend to come in 200g bags. This is technically not enough for this recipe if you follow Nigella’s list above. The last thing I want to do when I bake a cake is to buy more stuff than I need, and have it sitting around until I need whats left. So I use my 200g bag of ground almonds and top up with plain flour. I have made it as per Nigella’s recipe and with my alteration. I cannot spot any difference. My other addition is 1 tsp baking powder and 1/2 tsp bicarbonate and if you have it a large spoonful of buttermilk or yoghurt. You can leave these additions out but I find they lighten things a bit so the cake is less dollopy !!

Method:

  • Preheat oven to 180 degrees c
  • Cream together your butter and sugar till light, fluffy and pale.
  • Beat in your eggs one at a time with a 1/4 of the flour after each egg.
  • Gently stir in your ground almonds or ground almond/flour combo/bicarb/baking powder and buttermilk.
  • Then add almond essence and zest and juice.
  • The mixture will look very close to splitting. First time I made this cake I added more flour because I thought, yikes it is far too wet. Resist, I promise it will be fine. The whole point of this cake is a damp (hence the title) texture. Sounds yuck but tasted scrum.
  • Pop your mixture into your prepared tin and bake in the oven for around an hour. As I mentioned before, start checking after 30 minutes, popping a skewer in. You want the skewer to come out cleanish. Think damp!! If it looks like it needs longer but is browning too much, give it a tinfoil hat and pop it back in the oven. I would suggest checking every 10/15 minutes or so.
  • Once cooked, leave it in its tin for 5 minutes to cool before turning it out onto a wire rack to finish cooling properly.
  • Nigella then tells us to wrap it in foil and leave it for a couple of days before serving. This does of course improve the flavour and texture of this cake but I have never left a cake hanging around for days. It tastes yummy eaten straight away with icing sugar sieved on and served with fresh raspberries and a cup of tea.

Enjoy,

Lx

P.S As part of this year long project, I decided to make a granny square every week. Colour generally inspired by that weeks make (or what is in my scrap basket!!) This week I have made a lovely raspberry coloured square inspired of course by the raspberries. Really quite liking how the colours are starting to go together.

Week 5 – super speedy and easy, crocheted bag for a child

Week 5.

I can’t quite believe how quickly the time is flying by. My grown up children are too fond of mocking me when I say “where has the time gone?” But seriously, where has the time gone?

My youngest and I planned this year long blog challenge 5 weeks ago, which means that it is 5 weeks since I have seen her 😦 Luckily she will be home soon for Eurovision weekend. So excited, we do love a bit of Eurovision. Will have to think of something to bake or make that will suit the Eurovision theme for that week (ideas on a postcard please…..!)

Anyway, I digress. This week I made a little bag for a child. Very, very simple pattern. Two crocheted granny squares and a dc (uk) sc (usa) handle.

I was on the hunt for a pattern for a granny square bag suitable for a child. There are loads online. In the end the one I made was very similar to this one by Wooly wonders Crochet. The difference being that I chose to crochet my pieces together and I created a handle by doing a row of 4 dc/sc on one edge (two stitches each side of where the pieces were stitched together) and the crocheted up until it was the desired length. Then simply crochet this to the other side. All in all, I spent around an hour on this in front of  an episode of Jane the Virgin. Oh what a perfect evening that was 🙂

I think I may well be adding a lining to this little bag as the granny square does have holes in it. If you made it with a denser stitch though, you may be able to avoid this. I love how this little bag turned out and will be posting it off to my niece as soon as I have lined it.

Finally I have also crocheted two more granny squares for the granny square a week project. I am not really getting to grips with this doing a thing every week. I really am not the most organised, although I got there in the end, so good enough I say. Colours inspired by the little bag and a bigger bag I also made this week.

The bigger bag doesn’t really fit the brief for this project as it took me a couple of weeks to get it done!! The tutorial for this mermaid tears purse can be found on youtube. It’s by The Crochet Crowd and is really straightforward to follow. Do go to their website for loads of brill ideas.

Enjoy,

Lx

Crochet / baking project April 2018 – March 2019 – oh my!

Not entirely sure that I have thought this through. Whilst having a leisurely weekend with my youngest offspring (I think we relaxed too much) , we have decided that a blog challenge would be “good for me” and her!!! All the lols 🙂

The plan in a nutshell is – once a week, blog about a thing that I have made that week.

The criteria for the things are as follows:

  1. It must be either a baked thing or a crocheted thing.
  2. It must be achievable in a short period of time – either an evening, an afternoon or a weekend. So for arguments sake we have decided on 2-4 hour projects or one, up to 8 hour project. That way I can have time to do stuff I have to do and still feel like I am enjoying my hobbies.
  3. My youngest can set some of the challenges! (yikes)
  4. Blog about the recipe or pattern. Post pictures, how to’s etc every week on a Sunday.
  5. The last was a clever (not really) addition of doing a granny square as well every week, that will over the year form a lap blanket. The colours each week will be inspired by the weather, season or what we feel like! This cunningly should work through my collection of tiny balls of yarn. All about the right size to maybe make one small granny square. At the end of 49 weeks (a number that makes a square) I will choose a colour and a border to put it all together.

As this is the first week, and we have only just planned this plan. I have only one thing to post. It is (drum roll please) the first granny square!! Inspired by the Spring feel of this weekend, I chose to do this in a lovely shade of meadow green. The yarn is Style craft Special DK. This is my go to yarn for pretty much every project. The yarn is consistently reliable and affordable. You can pick this up online really easily from WoolWarehouse or try your local garden centres. A few near me stock it, happy days.


So here she is. Number one of 49, simple Granny squares. DK yarn, 4mm hook, 4 rows. Here is a really simple, clear tutorial for the type I have made. Do have a google though. There are loads of these on YouTube.

Looking forward to seeing how this develops over the next few weeks.

Enjoy,

Lx

 

Spring has Sprung (maybe) hopefully :)

Well the last couple of days have seen a delightful shine in the air. Birds have been chirping, sky is blue with cottonwool balls of clouds dancing along (I know, the words are a tad whimsical but that’s how I feel today 🙂 enjoy it!). My garden is showing signs of life too. Lovely, although it is a teensy bit early so hope we don’t have too much of a downturn on the weather front (forecast is looking a little chilly ahead)

Anyway, I digress. I have found myself recently with a little time off. Apart from napping, I have also been crocheting like a demon and also a spot of baking again. Lovely.

Todays venture has resulted in a batch of lemon curd for my daughter to take back to Uni with her tomorrow so that she can make some lemon curd and white chocolate muffins. Check out my recipe here, for the lemon curd. Keeps for about two weeks in the fridge although we’ve never had it long enough to test that theory!!!

I am hoping she sends me some pics. I have also finally got all the pieces together for my latest blanket, here is a sneak preview of some of the pieces 🙂 

The other thing I have been doing is trying to get better at my food photography skills, looking back over the last year to try and find a picture of spring flowers, I stumbled across some pics I took last year that never really got showcased. Apologies for the self indulgence but I really like them despite the fact that one of them is of the peel of a garlic bulb!!! Not to mention that this is the best pic I have produced in the last year (I think!)

Enjoy,

Lx

 

Gingerbread House 2016 edition

As always, Christmas Eve is made up of me and mine making gingerbread houses. See my previous Christmas posts for recipes (although there are very many fabulous ones online). This year we also made two miniature houses for gifts as well as a gingerbread star tree. I have to say Christmas Eve is truly my favourite day during the festive period. Have a wonderful time, love and sparkles xx

img_3576

Enjoy,

Love L x

Mini Lime Meringue tarts – yummy and super cute too :)

img_3488 Not much baking seems to be happening these days in my household. The children have grown and are all busy living their lives. There simply isn’t the need for all the baking that I used to do. That coupled with my passion for crochet that has developed over the last few years has meant that baking has slipped from my daily routine.

I decided that this quite possibly was not the way forward for me. Welcome to my mini lime meringue tarts.

Sweet Shortcrust pastry

  • 125g plain flour
  • pinch salt
  • 50g unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 2 medium egg yolks
  • 50g caster sugar

Meringue topping

  • 4 medium egg whites
  • 225g caster sugar
  • 1 tbsp cornflour
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tsp white wine vinegar

Lime curd

  • around 5 – 8 limes (depending on size), squeezed- warm them up first to get lots more juice and zested into the bowl
  • 350g caster sugar
  • 4 whole eggs
  • 100g butter

 

Method.

  • Firstly you need to make your pastry as this will need to be rested in the fridge for at least half an hour, an hour is better 🙂 Preheat your oven to 190 degrees c
  • Sweet Shortcrust Pastry
  • Sift the flour and salt into a bowl. Chuck in your butter
  • Rub the butter in until it looks like breadcrumbs.
  • Using a fork you can then add your egg yolk and if needed a tsp or so of water.
  • Gather the dough together with your hands and wrap in cling film and leave to rest in the fridge.
  • Once your pastry is rested you can line your tins. I used muffin tins that I had lightly greased with butter. I pricked the bottoms of the tarts and then baked for around fifteen minutes or so until they were just turning golden. Basically you want them around 90% done I think. This recipe was very much about winging it so play with it to suit. You can use baking beans if you wish, up to you. You could also make a large tart as well.
  • Whilst your pastry is chilling you can get on with your lime curd.
  • in a double boiler (one bowl over a saucepan of simmering water) pop all your ingredients, whisk together over a gentle heat until the sugar dissolves and then heat gently for around 20 minutes. Leave it to cool, it will get thicker. Hey presto lime curd. This will make a reasonable amount so any leftover curd can be popped into a jar and then stored in the fridge for up to two weeks, yummy spooned straight from the jar into my mouth 🙂 Other citrus fruit works just as well, lemons (obvs) but also orange and although I haven’t tried it I suspect grapefruit might be a bit yum too.
  • Meringue – whisk your egg whites until stiff peaks form. Mix your cornflour, vinegar and vanilla in a small separate bowl.
  • Add the sugar whilst whisking, a spoonful at a time. Once your mixture becomes stiff and glossy you can add your cornflour, vanilla and vinegar mixture. Whisk for another minute or so. Pop your meringue into a piping bag or you can spoon on the meringue. Whatever your creative juices require really.
  • This mixture makes enough meringue for a dozen tarts plus a couple of trays of meringue kisses or you could even make some small pavlova bases. It will depend on how much meringue you got out of your four eggs and how generous you were on the tarts 🙂
  • In your pre baked tart shells spoon in some curd and then pipe on or dollop on your meringue. Pop into your oven that is now around 190 degrees c for around 5 – 10 minutes, keep an eye, you want the meringue to start browning. Once they are going brown, turn your oven off and leave them in it with the door slightly ajar to finish drying out the meringue a bit more.

All of my recipe components came from the wonderful step by step cookbook by Good Housekeeping. I have had various versions of this over the years including my Mum’s 1957 version. Cannot recommend it enough. You can often find a version in charity shops and pretty cheaply online too. Have a hunt.

Enjoy,

Lx