Sunday, 13 December 2015

Homemade Chutney

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I've been doing a lot of preserving lately and while not quite obsessed, I have spent the last few months collecting every glass jar that comes into the house with thoughts of filling them to the brim with pickles, preserves and jams.  One thing I've been wanting to make for a while is a really good tomato based chutney.  When I mentioned this to a work colleague she raved about a friend's chutney, but had no way of getting the recipe so I've been biding my time, looking through recipe books to see if one caught my eye.

In the end it wasn't a recipe book that caught my imagination, but Mary Berry's TV show and in a fantastic twist of fate, the recipe is on youtube and so simple that anyone with basic cooking skills could make it.


Sadly, my small container garden is no where near as productive as I need it to be to provide a couple of kilos of veggies, but we do live very close to a market and so as I was spending my Saturday morning driving children to where they needed to be, my husband was sent on a mission to the markets with a long list of vegetables and spices to purchase.
Making any preserve is a long and satisfying project so you do need to set aside a couple of hours while pots of lovely vegetables and spices simmer gently on the stove.



In the end, the chutney smelled divine and I filled every jar I had to the brim.  Mary says it will last up to two years, but given how delicious it is, in this household I don't think we'll be having to worry about use by dates.

Happy preserving


Deb

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Thursday, 10 December 2015

Joyous Gingerbread Gift Pack

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We've been busily (and excitedly) coming up with a project for Lincraft this festive season.

You can get all of the details of our "Joyous Gingerbread Gift Pack" over at the Lincraft website

Happy crafting

Deb and Louise

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Sunday, 22 November 2015

Charming Advent Pouches

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Many years ago, I made an Advent Calendar for Deb and her family when they were living in North Yorkshire.  (The original post can be found here.)


I was so happy that she loved it and, what's more, uses it every single year .. and it got me thinking.  A handmade advent calendar is a wonderful present for the little ones - but it doesn't have to be elaborate.  The little fabric pouches can be used in many different ways.







We thought we would show you a very simple way to make the pouches using charm squares (or if you would like to make your own - simply cut your fabric into 5" x 5" squares)

Materials

52 charm squares.  If you wish, the inside can be a plain fabric in which case, you would only need 26 'Christmas' squares of fabric.

Embroidery thread and needle

Fabric pen























Instructions

1.  Line up your charm squares - right sides facing each other
2.  Stitch along one edge.  This is a fabulous project for chain piecing.
3.  Snip the chain between the fabric.
4.  Iron each set open
5.  Once the set is open, iron the sets in half lengthways, ready for sewing.
6.  Press closed and begin sewing from the corners.  
7.  Once you have stitched about 1.5" past the fabric join, stop, lift the needle and pull the fabric through the machine for about 1.5" - essentially making a giant stitch.  Picture 7 shows that the needles left the fabric at 'a' and didn't start sewing again until 'b'.  Finish the seam and then snip through the thread of the large stitch.  This creates the opening that the pouch will be pulled through.
8.  Using the gap that has just been created, turn the pouch inside out, press and then hand sew the small gap closed.
9.  Push one end of the pouch into the other.
10. Using a fabric pen, either draw (if you are confident and trace if you are not) the number of the bag.  Position the number towards the bottom so that the number is not distorted when the bag is closed.
11.  Using embroidery thread, chain stitch each number.

Once you get a system going, the pouches come together very quickly and then you can spend a relaxing evening in front of the television hand sewing all the numbers of advent.

If you are a bit stuck for ideas, what about - 
Action fabric for a little action man

  • Green combat fabric can be used for the little 'Action' man in your life.  It is green after all. Using a red ribbon to secure the pouches will give them a festive feel.  






Christmas 'Funk'
  • The 'hard to buy for' teen in your life might appreciate something tailored specifically for them.  What about some funky fabric in Christmas colours?






Super adorable faeries.




  • And we can't forget all the little Christmas Faeries in your life.  The fabric can be fussy cut to ensure that there is a faery on the front of each pouch.


The pouches can be used in so many ways - in a basket or a box.  They can be pegged onto Christmas twine with little pegs or you can create a 'hide 'n seek' advent by hiding one each day.  The little ones will love that.

Happy Christmas,
Louise & Deb

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Sunday, 8 November 2015

Regal Bookmarks

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Someone in our household owns a bookmark collection, but a strict "no sharing" policy seems to have arisen over the years and I've resorted to grabbing whatever small piece of paper I could find to mark my pages as I read.  I thought it was probably time to make something a little more permanent, and dare I say regal, to use in future novels.



Pattern

Using 2.25mm needles and crochet cotton, cast on 12 stitches.

Row 1:  Slip first stitch onto needle and then knit remaining 11 stitches.

Repeat row 1 a further 40 times - 41 rows in total.

Cast off leaving very long piece of thread attached to make crown topper.



For the crown topper:

Using length of thread attached and 2mm crochet hook, slip stitch into last cast off stitch of knitted row.  Chain 1 and single crochet into same stitch.

*Double crochet into next cast off stitch, Triple crochet into next cast off stitch, chain 3, slip stitch into end of chain 3, Double crochet into next cast off stitch, Single crochet into next cast off stitch.  Repeat from * until row is finished.









Block the bookmark (you can find our blocking tutorial here )






Happy reading!

Deb








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Sunday, 18 October 2015

Rope Coasters and Bowls

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If you were driving along a busy Melbourne street not long ago and happened to see me huddled over a car boot feverishly grabbing large spools of trims, let me assure you that there was absolutely nothing suspicious going on, despite how odd the scene may have looked if you gave it a casual glance from your car window.  You see, it just happened that a  friend who works in fashion mentioned that she had a car boot load of things to give away that from a wholesaler that had gone out of business and well..,the rest is history.

Among the ric rac, lace and leather trims, were three  large spools of rope in natural shades of cram and khaki.  While I plan to make a few tote bags and use the rope as handles, that project definitely won't take a lot of my rope stock and so I thought a small project would be a fun and stylish way to accessorise the house now that the warmer weather is on it's way.

What you will need

Rope
Glue and paint brush or glue gun
Scissors
Bowl or glass to use as a template if required.










Method

I chose to use PVA glue and a paint brush for this project, however a glue gun would also work very well.  Just make sure that whatever glue you decide to use dries clear.

To start, glue along the edge of the rope and roll the rope firmly along the glued edge as pictured. Continue rolling and gluing rope to form either the base of your bowl, or if making coasters, cut rope and glue end once your rope roll is the size you require for a coaster.




To continue making bowl, once you have made the base to the size you require (you may wish to use a china bowl or a glass as a template), glue onto the top of the previous rope layer and continue to layer the rope to form the sides. 

Each bowl only took about twenty minutes to do and the coasters are even quicker.  I can't help but thing that will the festive season just around the corner, these might be a fabulous handmade gift.

Happy Crafting

Deb 

















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Sunday, 23 August 2015

Easy Eyelet Infinity Cowl

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For the last few years I've tended to crochet more than knit, but this long, tedious Melbourne Winter has seen me get out the knitting needles of an evening rather than my usual crochet hook.

This project was helped along enormously by the generous folk at Lincraft who very kindly sent us some Montego Yarn to play with.  The colourway is Rose and while the 100% wool 8ply yarn is normally knitted with size 4mm needles, I went for something a little chunkier for this project.








You will need:

Size 9mm knitting needles
3 balls Lincraft Montego 8ply yarn





Pattern

Using 9mm needles cast on 31 stitches.

Rows 1 and 5(right side):   Knit
Row 2 and all wrong side rows:  Purl
Row 3:  Knit 1, *k2tog, yo, k2:  repeat from *, end k2
Row 7:  Knit 1, *k2, ssk, yo: rep from *, end k2
Row 8:
Purl

Repeat rows 1-8 until work measures 160cm (approx 63inches), block work,  sew end seams together and weave in ends


Using larger needles means this infinity scarf is completed in next to no time and the eyelets give texture and interest - perfect for adding a bit of style to your Winter wardrobe.

Happy Knitting

Deb

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Sunday, 16 August 2015

Simple Oversized Cable Cowl

Pin It It's cold!  How cold I hear you ask?  Well, it's all relative.  The mornings are dropping to 3C (37.4F) which many of you would laugh at.  But, from where I am (Perth, Western Australia) it's about as cold as it gets and that can only mean one thing - knitting!

I have some gorgeous Araucania Tepa left over from my braided cowl which knits up beautifully.  It's thick, colourful and, most importantly, warm. 
Gorgeous colour blending

I wanted a cowl that is very 'high'.  That is, it can be squished down around the neck but pulled up past the ears and even over the head when times are tough and a bitter wind is blowing from the south (or east or west - wherever the bitter wind comes from where you are ..)





Pattern

Abbreviations:

K2tog - Knit 2 stitches together.  This creates a decrease that slants to the right.

Taking Shape
SSK - slip 2 stitches purlwise.  Place left hand side needle through the front of the stitches (the right hand side needle will be at the back ready to knit) and then knit the 2 stitches.  
This creates a decrease that slants to the left.


Using a set of circular 5.00mm knitting needles, cast on 176 stitches

Row 1: *P2, K4, P2, K6, P2, K6* rpt to end

Row 2:  As row 1

Row 3: *P2, K2tog, wrap yarn twice around the needle, SSK, P2, K6, P2, K6* rpt to end.

Row 4: *P2, K1, Knit into 1st wrap then  knit into 2nd wrap (to create 2 stitches), K1, P2, K6, P2, K6* rpt to end.

These 4 rows form the pattern for the cowl.

Continue until work measures the desired length - which in my case is 40cm long.

Cast off and prepare to be warm - very warm.

This cowl is very easy to knit and is one of those delightful patterns that comes together effortlessly in front of the television.

Happy Knitting,
Louise

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Sunday, 9 August 2015

Alpaca Neckwarmer

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I was very tempted to call this neckwarmer something like "Will Winter ever end Neckwarmer" or "That wind feels like it's straight off the Antarctic Neckwarmer" but instead I went for something far less connected with the current state of the weather here in Melbourne and decided on Alpaca because as expected it's made from 3 balls of Moda Vera Husky - a 100% baby alpaca yarn I purchased from Spotlight a couple of years ago.  It's a chunky 12 ply that's ideal for Winter knitting.







The stitch pattern is Diagonal Slip Stitch from Yarnsprations.

Neckwarmer Pattern:

Using 8mm (US size 11) needles and the chunky 12 ply yarn of your choice, cast on 41 stitches.

Continue Diagonal Slip Stitch pattern until work measures 72cm (approx 28 inches)

Cast off,


Block finished work.


Sew end seams together, leaving the last 8cm (approx 3inches) unsewn,  I did mine with the cast off row showing to provide texture and detail to the finished project.  I was very tempted to add wooden buttons to finish, but decided that it would be a little busy and that the slip stitch should be the star of the show.

Wear with the top edge rolled down slightly and enjoy having a lovely warm neck for months to come!

Happy knitting

Deb

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Sunday, 2 August 2015

Pickled Chillies

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I've been a fan of Rachel Khoo for a while now.  Who could resist the charm of Little Paris Kitchen and what could possibly be the world's smallest restaurant?  I was lucky enough to receive a copy of the cookbook at Christmas and have slowly been working my way through some of the classic French dishes it contains, not quite in a Julia & Julia kind of way, but in an every recipe works exactly as it should and my family have been enjoying some tasty French cuisine kind of way.

Fast forward to Mother's Day and I gleefully unwrapped some preserving jars and cookbooks.  I'm not big on commercialised gift giving days, but there was absolutely no complaints from me this year as I had visions of pots of fresh garden vegetables on the stove, slowly cooking away to transform into delicious pickles and sauces.

Sadly for me, things then got a bit hectic and between studying, working, crafting, blogging and doing all the parenting things there simply was no time.  The weeks turned into months and my preserving jars sat unused, while I wistfully researched what fruits and vegetables were in season and read recipes  - longing all the while to get started.

At the moment I'm on a little study break and this has coincided very nicely with Rachel Khoo's new Melbourne Kitchen Notebook which has just started airing recently and there in the very first episode was a recipe for Pickled Chillies.  It's easy, quick and perfect for the time poor cook who always seems to not have chillies  when they need them (that would be me!)


Rachel's recipe calls for an assortment of chillies and so I spent a lovely Sunday morning chopping away at the different varieties we'd picked up at the markets.  The recipe recommends wearing rubber gloves and I decided that it would probably be for the best,  I also made the decision to use a flimsy old chopping board that I don't generally use, just to make sure that the chilli then didn't seep into my good chopping boards and forever infuse everything we then made with an unwanted heat kick.


Once my jars were sterilised and my chillies chopped and rinsed, it was a simple case of adding the preserving liquid, sealing the lids and popping the jars in the fridge ready to use.

I'm busy planning my next venture into preserves and I can't wait.

Happy cooking 

Deb


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Sunday, 19 July 2015

Sari Ribbon Crochet Placemats

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I've been looking at Sari Ribbon online for a while, thinking I might use it for weaving, but knowing all the while that setting up the loom is quite time consuming and lately I haven't had much free time for anything, let alone fiddling about with warps and wefts.   So I delayed purchasing any until I found some at Feltfine for the bargain price of $8.50 per 100g - how could I resist!

Sari Ribbon is the byproduct of sari manufacturing and is colourful, uneven, frayed,  and you never know quite what you are gong to get.  In other words it's utterly wonderful to work with if, like me, you aren't looking for perfection in every project, but find joy in watching yarn transform and being excited by the journey that unfolds.

To find out just what the Sari Ribbon is like to work with, I've decided on some casual Summer placemats (even though it feels like Winter will never end here in Melbourne at the moment).

You will need:

Large Crochet Hook - I used a 12mm hook for this project.
Skeins of Sari Ribbon - I found that a 100g skein makes approximately one and a half placemats.
Stitch markers

Pattern.

Chain 2, Slip stitch into first chain to form circle

Round 1.

Chain 1. Work 10 single crochets (SC) into circle, slip stitch into first single crochet to join.

Round 2.

Chain 1, Work 2 SC into each stitch of previous round.  Slip Stitch to finish round.

Round 3.

Chain 1, Work 1 SC into same stitch as chain, *work 2 SC into next stitch, work one SC into next stitch* repeat from * to * until round finished.  Slip Stitch into initial stitch to finish round.


Round 4.

Chain 1. Work 1 SC into same stitch as chain, *1SC, 1SC, 2SC* into stitches of previous round repeat from * to * until finished. Slip Stitch to complete round.

Round 5.

Chain 1.  Work 1 SC into same stitch as chain.
*1SC, 1SC, 1SC, 2SC* Repeat * to * into stitches of previous round until finished.  Slip Stitch to complete round,




Round 6.

Chain 1. Work 1 SC into same stitch as chain. *1SC, 1SC, 1SC 1SC, 2SC* Repeat  *to* into stitches of previous round until finished.  Slip Stitch to complete round.

Round 7. Final Round

Chain 1.  Work 1SC into same stitch as chain.  *1SC, 1SC, 1SC, 1SC, 1SC, 2SC* Repeat *to* into stitches of previous round until finished.  Slip Stitch to complete placemat.  Weave in ends.


These textural and colourful placemats are a breeze to make and perfect for outdoor dining or a casual meal.  I've decided that it's not quite the medium I'm wanting for my next project - think I might have to try some recycled sari yarn for that one.

Happy Crocheting

Deb

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Sunday, 12 July 2015

Big Dreams Table Runner

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I have big dreams for this table runner.
Our lives our undergoing a bit of a transformation at the moment.  About 18 months ago, as a newly engaged couple, Peter and I found our dream home clear across the country in Victoria.  Ever since that moment, we have been working towards the big move.

We have been planning vegetable gardens and chicken coops.  We have been looking at interior and exterior colours for the house.  New french provincial furniture has been purchased and is now sitting in storage.  I'll be able to have a craft room again but, we are doing all this planning from 3497 kms away and it is very frustrating.  We can only get so far into our plans before we have to stop and 'wait and see' when we get there.

All our wedding presents (fabulous saucepan sets, cutlery sets, glassware, sheets and crockery sets) are still in the boxes.  Peter and I (well, mainly Peter) have agreed not to open anything and save it all for the big move.  Definitely something to look forward to - but, once again, frustrating none-the-less.


The source of inspiration - a stunning, hand made
Mothers Day present from Hayley









One thing I could do though is make a start on the interior 'things'.  A few years ago, my daughter Hayley made a wonderful cross stitch sampler for me for Mothers day.  I absolutely love it and promised her that one day, I would get it framed.  Fast forward a few years and with my new french provincial furniture firmly in mind, I went to the framers and described what I wanted - a modern, french provincial, shabby chic frame .. and they delivered exactly what I was after.  I love it and it will take pride of place on my new kitchen wall.  This was the starting piece for my interior design.  

I also had a few fat quarters of fabric in a similar hue.  I had purchased them at Spotlight during a massive sale - (10 fat quarters for $10.00 - did I say massive sale?) and thought I would quickly make a table runner for my new kitchen table.  I know in the scheme of things it doesn't really rate on the planning scale alongside the practicalities of organising removalists, finding jobs and  researching climate conditions for vegetable growing but it is something that I can do now and in some small way, feel as though something is actually happening.


Materials

9 fat quarters (ideally bought on sale during a big discount)
Wadding/batting - I used a cotton wadding as it is quite thin and reduces any bulk

Choose 4 separate colours/patterns and pair them up.  One pair will be for the 4-patches and one pair will be the half square triangles.

4-patch
Cut 2.5" strips from each fabric and then sew 2 different strips together.  Once they have been sewn, press them and then cut 2.5" strips to leave you with lots of little 2-patches.  Use these 2-patches to create your 4 patches.  I made a total of 22 4-patch squares.
Arrange the finished blocks to form the above layout

Next, using the remaining 2 colours, cut 4.75" strips and then cut these strips into 4.75" squares.  Place 2 different colour squares together and either draw or press a line diagonally through the middle.  Sew a scant 0.25" seam on each side of the seam line and then cut along the seam line.  This will leave you with 2 half square triangles.  
Finished 'quilt' top.















Using the alternate layout, join your squares together by joining a half square to a 4-patch to make a larger patch comprising 2 blocks of each.











To make the back of the table runner, I used 3 fatquarters, cut into 5" strips and joined.  This makes the table runner reversible.






Machine Quilting - a very pleasant way
to spend a Sunday afternoon


I chose to machine quilt the runner using a stipple stitch - mainly because it is easy and comes together very quickly and can be done in an hour or so.

I used another fat quarter, cut into 2" strips and joined together to make the binding.

Time to attach the binding - ready for hand sewing.
No messy pins for me - bobby pins make the job much
easier (and less painful)

Reversible - Very handy to have this feature on a kitchen table runner.





















All-in-all, this is a very simple weekend project and I am very happy indeed to not only have made a table runner for our new farmhouse kitchen but one that matches the wonderful Mothers Day present which will always be hanging on my wall.


Happy Quilting,
Louise

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