Baby Ruffles number two (the beautifully named Cicely) has arrived and had the most lovely nursery ready and waiting. For some reason Lizzy insists she can’t crochet so she asked me to make her this garland for the baby’s room. This is a really fun project, you could make it a complete mix of flowers if you wanted and it knits up very quickly. Obviously sewing in the ends is a gigantic pain in the arse but my Mum did a lot of this for me, she’s awesome. I mostly used a pattern from Mollie Makes (the first time anyone has ever made something from it I imagine!) but I added some extra flowers to it and made it a lot bigger. Another crap photo I’m afraid, light was bad and I am unskilled and impatient.
There are a LOT of good nutella recipes out there, Nutella fudge, Nutella swirl buns, nutella and banana cake, nutella cheesecake and (next on my list) nutella surprise cookies – it’s not that much of a surprise; there’s nutella in them.
But I’ve been wanting to make this roulade for ages, (recipe found via Pinterest of course) I’ve been putting it off as I could not find one of the ingredients, hazlenut extract, anywhere. I have looked in every sodding baking shop, health food store and posh supermarket in London to no avail so in the end I just bunged in a teaspoon of hazelenut butter which worked perfectly.
I made this for my birthday to take into work, the joy of a roulade is that it looks bloody impressive with very little effort. Make the sponge, roll up and leave to cool, smother with nutella and roasted hazlenuts and dust with cocoa and icing sugar. Bosh.
Comments from the office included ‘the best cake I’ve ever had’ and this:
I’ll take that as a win.
You may remember some time ago I posted about the most amazing handmade item we had as children, the Harwood’s Quiet Book (apologies for the shit photos on there – I have gotten marginally better these days).
Hilariously I blogged that I was planning to make one in the ‘coming months’ HA, that was almost exactly 3 years ago! I have, however, finally produced said book for my lovely un-god daughter Beatrix, she will receive it when her new baby sister arrives (probably sometime next week!).
Preface: This took me a good 2 years to make, it’s probably the best thing I ever made so feel free to affirm my creation in the comments/on Twitter or facebook/call me up to congratulate me etc.
So let’s get down to it: The Ruffles Quiet Book has arrived.
I have to say I copied a lot of the pages form the Harwood book wholesale, having done some research online ours really is one of the better ones I’ve seen (take a look on Pinterest and Etsy). The idea of the book is to train your fine motor skills, as well as to divert annoying children of course, and the activities in ours seemed to be the best, and clearest for that.
The cover above was inspired (copied) from the Vine app home screen, perfect simple representations of hot air balloons, which I’m obsessed with by the way. If I won the lottery I’d buy a hot air balloon. I mean I’d have to play the lottery to win it but you get the idea. I like them.
The mitten page, which on reflection isn’t that great but does look nice. I must say up front that this is obviously not my writing (which is a barely legible scrawl), my sister used her perfect teacher handwriting to finish the book off, it would have looked crap without her!
I really love the fabric on the washing line page, which I bought especially, this was always my favourite page as a child for some reason. It’s odd because my sister was the one who professed that she wanted to be a washer woman when she grew up.
This is the first page I made and I tried to machine stich everything, didn’t go so well.
After that I hand-stitched most of the small felt pieces as a) I’m not that great/precise on my machine and b) it meant I could do it in front of the TV. I particularly like the ladybirds as I know Lizzy has a bit of a phobia of them. I gave it extra-mental faceted eyes to make it more freaky for her.
So the clown is scary, I know. Why has he got no eyes? Why has he got massive unformed yellow ear tufts but no ears? Suck it up, kids need to learn to deal with these things. His eyes and mouth are latched on and the nose is a magnet (a really strong one actually). The policeman replaces the american baseball player, I wanted it to be more British. I found this image on Flickr and I copied it unashamedly, I love his mental face.
It’s important to be able to use an abacus, come the apocalypse when all electronic items fail this will become a key life skill.
I had planned to make some stuff to go in the train’s carriages, but I failed. Also no puffs of smoke – completely forgot about those!
Plait, NOT braid. FFS. I made loads of candles, I always wanted more when we were kids. I’m really pleased with this page, I think the cake and present are bloody brilliant. The present is a pouch for the candles too by the way.
The trainers replace the laced football in our book, I like how loud they are but if I’m honest they are not that well constructed and I failed to get proper laces to go in them, also they have no tongue. Annoying.
The flowers on the other hand are brilliant, the pot is a pouch to store them in, clever huh?
Ok the cat is awful, I know. I hate his eyes especially. Eugh, don’t look at it.
The shapes are fine, they popper on if you’re interested, although Amber reliably informs me that ‘diamond’ is not a shape.
Apparently the clock is ‘as crap as the one in our book’ but I like it’s retro look. Felt very pleased with myself for making the face with a nice button instead of a crappy split pin. The balloons are a bit hard to get on and off but it’s good to have a challenge I think.
The last page is a complete change, Amber and I decided the alphabet in our one was pointless and looked a bit lame plus we found this amazing page on Pinterest (original source here) which I really wanted to copy. It doesn’t have a specific educational purpose but it is pretty fucking adorable.
And that’s it, I finished this off in a panic of broken sewing machines, sewing buttonhloles on the flowers in the evenings after skiing (thanks Mum) and very last minute trips to the DIY shop in Geneva to make the rivet holes, completed on the day before I left Lizzy’s house. Remember people: a deadline is not a target.
Despite my bitching I’m really pleased with the finished result and I did enjoy making it, it’s fun collecting all the bits you need and rummaging around in all that crap you’ve been hoarding to find the perfect piece of fabric/ribbon/button etc. However it’s really nice to not have it hanging over my head, I am now free to craft without guilt!
I just hope Bea likes it, but Lizzy’s a good enough friend to lie to me even if she doesn’t 🙂
Another classic loaf cake, this one is from River Cottage in The Telegraph. To be honest it’s a pretty shit recipe, by which I mean badly written, it should be SR flour rather than plain and it doesn’t tell you when to add the caraway seeds but that’s just bad journalism. The cake is delicious!
There’s something a bit Bronte about a seed cake, I think this is the sort of thing they used to make at Christmas for the poor and the servants, the oranges and exotic spices would have been a proper seasonal treat. But it’s also ideal in this horrible cold weather, the toasted caraway seeds warm you up right nice.
As ever its perfect with a cup of tea for elevenses or a dollop of creme fraiche for dessert, a good quick cake to knock up at the last minute. I’ve made this to celebrate starting my new project at work and finishing the old one, or at least, its a good excuse to take cake to the office.
I started this without any real concept of the level of commitment it would require. ‘It’s only small’ I thought, ‘I like patchwork’ I continued, ‘Lizzy will love it’ was only third on the list, ‘oh look this shop stocks snap frames’ and it was all over.
I actually spotted this a while back and thought I’d like to make it for Lizzy so when I bought the snap frame I thought it would be a nice little extra for her birthday. It is not an extra now. It is THE MAIN PRESENT.
I used a mixture of fabrics for this, pretty much everything I had in my stash went in somewhere, although I tried to stick to florals. I used some Liberty fabric from the quilting exhibition range, some tana lawn, and then whatever else I could get a 1/2 inch hexagon out of. The flex covering is made from linen and the lining is Liberty quilting too.
I finished the patchwork a while ago and then thought the sewing up would take no time and so, as usual left it unfinished. On returning to it I discovered that the tutorial wasn’t massively comprehensive, I mean it’s work-out-able but not idiot-proof (my sewing skills are not what I’d like them to be). I ended up handstitching the lining in as I have no idea how you would get something so tiny through your machine but maybe I’m missing some vital attachment or something.
Now I’m pretty sure this is an utterly useless gift for someone about to have their second child with another under 3 years old, BUT Lizzy will appreciate the effort and enjoy its prettiness so hopefully that forgives me for being completely indulgent and terribly impractical!
It actually didn’t take that long and I really enjoy paper piecing so it was a nice tv project. Obvioulsy my finish isn’t as good as the original as I used various weights of fabric and they don’t all coordinate, but I like the higglydy-pigglydy-ness of it, that’s the point of patchwork after all.
A couple of weeks ago Emily and I had a Chinese New Year party, this was partly because it’s fun to have a party but mainly because Emily wanted to cook a shit load of Chinese food and I wanted to eat it!
I spent my Saturday decorating the house with strings of red paper cranes and apparently (according to Pinterest) traditional chinese paper cuts.
We had a pretty ambitious menu and Emily did almost everything single-handed, but I made a few sweet things and was her kitchen bitch for the prep. I utterly failed to take photos of all the delicious food as I was drunk (bar the uncooked dim sum below – I cut the square wanton rappers into a circle with a cookie cutter so they looked pretty) but here’s our menu, you can use your imagination!
Freshly deep-fried prawn crackers
Pork dim sum
Spring rolls (Clair made these – also fucking delicious!)
The most amazing ribs of all time!
An entire crispy roast duck with all the trimmings
Beef in black bean sauce
Char sui pork
Salt and pepper prawns
Stir fried cucumbers in hot spices
Pak Choi and soy sauce
Sesame tofu and vegetables
Broccoli in hoi sin
We had a very tight prep schedule so Emily allowed me Saturday evening to ‘go nuts decorating/setting the table’, so as well as the cranes I made these lotus flowers for the table. They are ace because they use up the leftover ends of the A4 sheet of paper you used to cut out the squares for the cranes – genius right?!
I made the fortune cookies from scratch which was super fun, it’s basically like making a tuille biscuit so you really need one of those rubber mat things (which luckily I have), you paint them onto that and then put them in the over for about 3 mins, which them out and use your extremely tiny window of opportunity to insert the fortune, fold and seal it. I started by putting about 8 in at a time but there was no way I had time to fold them all so I reduced it to batches of 4. I used this recipe which was not only delicious but helpfully suggested cooling the cookies in a muffin tin to stop them uncurling.
I also made some almond cookies which were a bit shortbready (recipe here), they were so easy to make and went really well with the jasmine tea, I ate a LOT of these.
The cranes look so pretty I don’t want to take them down, I might move them to the craft room, it’s definitely not busy enough in there with all the crap I make.
Last thing: this is the symbol for Spring, it’s supposed to welcome it in so I’m leaving it up until it actually arrives!
I made this for myself for skiing as I hate wearing my hair down on the mountain and I wanted something to keep my ears warm but my bun in tact!
This was made with leftover Artesano Alpaca DK and is very loosely based on a Drops pattern but if you want mine here it is. It’s absurdly simple and takes about 2 hours:
Scant half skein of DK yarn, preferably something warm like alpaca
CO 21sts and knit in seed stitch for 38cm, slipping the last stitch of each row to prevent curling at the edges.
Sew ends together to form band
For the centre strip CO 9sts and knit 44 rows in seed stitch, sew ends together around main band over the join
This Christmas was a Christmas of hats. Beautiful hand-knitted, alpaca, fairisle hats. Selection runs left to right as follows:
Purl Bee ‘Little Fairisle Hat‘ only available in child size I sized this up myself, it’s still fairly snug but good for a small headed person and I love the colourwork on this one. Made from delicious yarn bought from the alpaca farm in the summer. I should have used smaller needles for the ribbing though.
Jared Flood’s ‘Seasons Hat‘ from Brooklyn Tweed. Now I don’t normally buy patterns for things like hats, it seems pointless, but this pattern was worth every penny. I love the fairisle pattern and the design is spot on with a selection of colour combinations and sizes, plus you get the decreases in chart and written format. The twisted rib is ace and sceptical as I was about the use of 3 different needle sizes for a hat, I am now convinced. It’s an awesome hat. I have made three already, the one pictured was for my sister who has added a pompom. I didn’t think it needed it but it does look cute. My sister got a fairisle design book for Christmas so I will use this pattern as a base to experiment with different colourwork options.
Another Purl Bee number, this time ‘Giacomo’s Baby Hat‘. This was also a resize job, made for my mum who has a BIG head! In hindsight I should have made the rib section longer and maybe used the twisted rib but it still works, and it fits her which is the main thing. My mother really likes a ridiculously large bobble so I toyed with adding a huge white one but in the end I let her choose and she went for the red one. The main colour is from the alpaca farm too, from ‘Mr Tumnus’, how adorable is THAT?!
Here she is, proving it really is excellent for skiing.
200th BLOG POST PARTY! Can you believe I’ve produced so much drivel?! In celebration I will be taking part in the pay-it-forward handmade challenge, see here for details of how you can benefit from my boundless generosity.
Another quick one for you. This is a very speedy but useful Kindle Fire Case, made for the incredibly shrewd Emily who managed to blag herself a Kindle Fire for FREE when she upgraded her phone. Mental.
The pattern came from a blog called Charmstitch and is really easy to follow and modify, I will definitely use this again. I padded the case with quilt wadding as I know Emily is rather clumsy (but is otherwise brilliant) so I wanted to make sure it was protected from knocks AND scratches. You can knock this up in an afternoon easily, highly recommended.
Just a quickie this time, found the pattern for these adorable pouches on Pinterest, the tutorial is excellent, check it out on the Three Bears blog. I had to mess around with the measurements a bit to get the shape I wanted and this definitely works better with stiffer fabric. The Ikea canvas worked best I think, but it would work fine with some interfacing or possibly even quilted too.
I made these as mini make-up purses but I’d like to do some bigger ones from oilcloth for wash bags at some point. They are really quick to make up, the lining took a little longer as you sew it in by hand. However, I didn’t realise you need to walk your sewing machine foot across zips in order to not break them. Lesson learnt!