Sunday, 14 May 2017


I'm late again, aren't I? I just don't seem to get myself together these days. Ah well, I suppose better late than never. Easter has come and gone, and our weather here in West Norfolk has been changeable to say the least; we've had dull, overcast, spotty-rainy days, bright sunshine but bitterly cold days, and, occasionally, bright sunny days which has warmed the cockles of our hearts. But that's what living in the UK is all about - variable weather!  And grumbling about it - it's a national characteristic!
So let me jump straight in and update you on what I've been doing.

What's on my plate?

I am having a THIRD attempt at keeping a sourdough starter alive! Two very kind friends have, in the past, given me a portion of their long-lived 'babies'. Which I proceeded to kill-off within a couple of weeks. Both of them! So I had given up sourdough bread making. However, my friend Blanche - whose wedding we attended last March - bakes regularly, and as we were going to stay with her to celebrate their first anniversary, I wondered whether she could let me have some starter from her very successful batch. She did, and I am the proud guardian of Doris, a healthy, bubbling starter who has improved each time I bake - only had one real disaster where the loaves over-proved and came out like flat bark-cakes!

What's in the garden? Sorry, the light wasn't very good when I took these photographs.

The garden is looking quite good, we've been enjoying lots of lovely chard and i've planted some more. I've put celeriac and several varieties of salad leaves in the raised beds, and I'm about to sow some vegetable seeds to go into the cold frame. Early potatoes are in their sacks. Oh! And some Jerusalem artichokes, much to Jim's disgust! And look  - the lovely Welsh poppies, given most generously to me by my blogging friend Dc, from Frugal in Norfolk  blog. They have popped up and are so beautiful - thank you so much Dc! The heifers are in the nursery field next door, and often come to look over the wall/fence when we are in the garden. And up on the summer house roof the cock-pheasant holds court - he had THREE young admiring hens in the garden the other day - as long as they leave my fresh young leaves alone they are welcome.

What's on my sewing table?

I stitch with friends once a month, and have to confess that this is probably the only time I work on my colour wash hexagons, so it is a slow job, but that doesn't matter, does it? I still have many patches to put together, but I'm beginning to get one of the larger pieces squared up, because I need to get it into shape soon. Still enjoying working with these lovely fabrics, they cheer me up!

What's on my hook?

Well, my Moorland Blanket (Attic 24 pattern)  is plodding into the final rows - at long last! I'm on the 'sky' now, and then I've got the 'ends' to weave in and the border to hook. I was desperate to begin this blanket but had a few false starts  - like many people, so I understand. And it is SO BIG! To be honest, I'm hooking to get it finished now, rather than enjoying the journey (as they say).

The "solid granny squares" are growing in number and I've sewn several strips together. This is going to be a 'snuggle blanket' for grandson Fraser. When the Moorland is finished I can get cracking on one for his big brother Dylan too.

This is an accidental throw - begun with left-over 4-ply and some fine Noro yarn. I seem to have amassed a fair amount of 4-ply so this will go into this throw which began as a way to use up bits and pieces. I don't know where it will go, or how long it will take to finish, but I'm enjoying hooking on it for the odd half-hour here and there.

What's on my needles?
Yes, you heard me - I have become a KNITTER! And a SOCK KNITTER at that! I won't dwell on the huge learning curve that has taken place, but I've wanted to knit stripy socks for quite some time now, and I took the plunge.

First pair… learned lots on these two socks, tried various types of needles and fought the good fight with FIVE double pointed needles at once, which does not float my boat! I much prefer the circular needles which I've taught myself to use. So this pair is a little mismatched but I don't care I love 'em!

Couldn't wait to cast on the second pair, and decided to knit them concurrently - after a fashion. Here I've int the heel flap and begun the turn on one and just catching up on the leg on the second. When these are done I want to try a cable stitch sock…. and a triangular scarf on the circulars too.

I also joined a small group of women who knit for charity - blankets for the homeless, clothes and soft toys for a local Family Refuge, and tiny woolly hats for prem babies. I'm knitting squares for a blanket , because I wanted to just be really relaxed and unstressed about my knitting time here. A couple of hours twice a month isn't too much to ask is it?

I have to confess to playing very little music this last month, I've felt distinctly averse to picking up my instruments I don't know why. But it is the session at our pub this week so I'll be there and playing the melodeon so perhaps that will nudge me back into music-mode. It's not like me, but I haven't even been able to listen to music recently. How strange.

So there we are, I was amazed to find that I have only posted once before in 2017! I can't promise when the next one will be, but I hope to make it reasonably soon! Until then, keep smiling!

Wednesday, 18 January 2017

Winter Warmers

Brrrrrrr! Actually here in west Norfolk UK we aren't doing too badly with the weather, and today it is dry, no rain sleet or snow, but it is dull dull dull and I am COLD!!!!!!!! So food has been a great cheerer-upper, both the cooking of it and the eating of it. Also I have spent hours with a crochet-hook and yarn in my hands, hooking away like a mad woman. Some stitching too - bizarrely I am making paper-pieced hexagons. Not a lot of music playing, to be honest, just not in the mood for it. I am in the throes of post-Christmas ennui and finding it difficult to do anything which I'm not feeling passionate about at the moment.

So, here we go with some photographs of warming activities.

A wondrous smoked fish risotto. I used the poaching liquid - milk - to cook the rice, a bit unusual I guess for risotto - but it was luscious!

This is a stuffed and roasted pork loin. Well, two pork loins actually. The recipe was one I pinched after we watched the Hairy Bikers Comfort Food episode on television. It's a bit of a faff, and not something to whip up every weekend, bit it was delicious, went a long long way, and really is a bit of a show-stopper. Great for serving up to a bunch of friends!

A stuffing of fresh white breadcrumbs, chopped onion, stem ginger, garlic, eating apple and some of the syrup from the stem ginger jar really sets the very lean tenderloin off. I served it with a sauce made from the pan juices, ginger wine, and cream. No low-fat rubbish in this house!

What's off my hook?

This lovely (though I say it myself!) chevron shawl has been a delight to make. The pattern just tootles along, very relaxing and soothing. I made it with three 50 gram balls of DK  - pretty fine DK . Then I thought no, it will work better as a shawl than a scarf, so hooked another three balls. I love the colours in this variegated yarn, which is Rico Creative Melange DK in Pastel Mix. 

What's ON my hook?

I'm using up all the left-over Stylecraft yarn in my basket - I have a LOT of it! I'm making oodles of these solid granny squares and stitching together not randomly but not too concerned with clashes of colour . It's a great little  "as you go along" project, when you just want to do something un-challenging and you can make a square in no time… they all add up. I've no idea when this will be finished, and I don't really care. 

What's NOT on my hook?

Well, I blush to admit…. after my great enthusiasm to get cracking on the Moorland Blanket from Lucy art  Attic24, that I haven't begun mine yet. I had such a battle doing the tension swatch ; the actual pattern wasn't the problem, but the starts were weird, and I went wrong each time, so my finishes were incorrect too. The middle bits were OK because I fudged it, but I can't start the blanket in this manner, I need to crack the entire pattern first. I note that MANY people have been frogging row after row of the blanket - that's a lot of frogging! So not just me. Lucy assures us that she did too, and that the pattern gets easier as you go on, and I'm sure that's true. But I can't raise the enthusiasm to get going knowing `I am probably going to have to be ripping it out , maybe more than once, before it clicks. I feel very guilty. And I have to say I have NEVER had a problem with any of  Lucy's patterns before, she writes an excellent tutorial. No idea why this one is so difficult.

What's on my sewing table?

Well, I had no intentions of making another quilt. And certainly not a hexagon one. But I caught sight of some of my gorgeous fabric which I had been 'saving' for a special project (unspecified!). And I thought - why am I hanging on to these fabrics? At my age I need to be using it up! And stitching away at a few hexies really appealed, you can do a few , or work at the different stages, cutting paper templates, cutting fabric shapes, stitching a few together….. and so on. Very undemanding I guess. So the fabric I picked up was the Kaffe Fasset collection, and my even older Liberty Lawns collection which I've had knocking about for about 25 years. I've supplemented these fabrics with others of similar pattern. It was so liberating cutting into them!

I had a small amount of the bright roses fabric so cut six hexies from this, and made six granny's flower garden blocks. However, I didn't want that to be the dominant pattern in the quilt, so have softened the effect by attempting a random colour-wash effect around the granny patches. NO IDEA how this will pan-out, as I have no plan. But using these gorgeous fabrics is such a joy, it is really warming me up!

Working in these projects has brought lots of colour into my daily life, which is something I crave. Now I just need to find a sudden passion for exercise and I might feel a bit fitter. Until next time!