Comfort and Joy – Sunday Sevens 18th March

Radiant and Green Travels book review

Joining Nat’s Sunday Sevens post this week…

It has been a tough six months -moving home and starting a new job, but it seems that things are getting easier – the worst is behind me – a bit like Spring things are starting to bloom. Although right now, I have woken up to a lovely covering of snow!

I have been struggling health wise – back in January I decided to try a wheat free diet – I bought two books Radiant and Green Kitchen travels. I think this decision has added to my misery- Green Travels has a wonderful recipe for chocolate cake that looks delicious but the steps to make it are very complicated – you have to use hazelnut flour that you grind yourself! I have taken the trouble to make it twice now – but my palate has not caught up – it just tasted rubbery and bland! (I do feel a rant coming on but I will save it for another post!)

wheat free peanut butter biscuits

However these little biscuits have been a life saver! My friend, P came over yesterday and I showed her how to make these – they were hot out of the oven in 10 minutes and they are gluten free.

Put 200g of peanut butter in a bowl, add 100 – 175 grams of sugar, ( I use 100g the recipe calls for 175 but I cut down all sugar in recipes) add an egg and mix. Put small balls on a baking tray lined with parchment paper. Press with the back of a fork (tip if you want them crisp flatten them down – if you like them crispy on the outside and soft in the middle leave them a bit thicker. Also use dark muscovado sugar) Bake at 180 degrees for about 8 to 10 minutes.

Weekend Baking - Lemon Drizzle cake
Lemon Drizzle Cake

It has been a week where I have needed comforting – I’ve had 9 days of constant migraine so I have focussed on home comforts to soothe myself. I love baking – it is such a nurturing comforting activity. So on Monday I made a lemon drizzle cake and a dark ginger cake. The ginger was wrapped in one of my wax cloths (you can read how they are made on my other blog) – it helped the flavour develop for a couple of days and kept it very moist.

Comfort food - Mac Cheese
Comfort food – mac and cheese

I have also been reaching for comfort food in other ways – this Mac cheese was delicious – why should it be that carbs are demonised recently? I think food is so much more than the elements it is made from. I think this week has seen me rebel because despite cutting down on wheat – I am still getting horrendous migraines!

Seasonal Celebrations
Ready to decorate for Spring

My new tree arrived this week – we have a large alcove above the fireplace and I decided to buy an artificial tree to decorate as a way of celebrating the seasons. So I have been gathering items together to decorate it for Ostara which falls on the 20th of March – and Easter just after. I am not a pagan, but I love the story behind Ostara and it seems to be more Germanic – either way, Spring is a welcome guest.

Preparations for Spring Ostara
Eggs, Daffodils, Spring

 

I have been collecting egg shells – as well as polystyrene eggs to decorate – E and I will sit down together to paint them today which should be great fun. I will also save a few for little ones when they visit – we have little chicks too.

I am relishing the glorious bright sunny daffodils in abundance outside as well as in. They are so unashamedly vibrant – which is just what is needed after the dark months of January and February.

moon gazing hare embroidery
Ostara celebration embroidery

I have been loving slow sewing – this little Moon Gazing Hare embroidery was a delight to do – you can catch up with it on my made for mi blog. I am really enjoying hand embroidery – it is similar to colouring – there is no counting just following the lines one stitch at a time. It can be done easily while watching  listening to the Television.

Mini Vintage linen Quilt Embroidery
Mini Vintage Quilt Embroidery

I am using up all old vintage linens, (I found these pieces in a charity shop) to create mini quilts that I will be posting on made for mi soon. I think the sentiment sums up my week!

ttfn x

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Cable tied duo

I have completed my cable cushion! I love the texture that can be achieved by knitting, it is astounding just how many variations of pattern that can be made with two simple stitches. 
I used a very chunky yarn, in soft pale cream – it was satisfying as the knitting grows so quickly! I did not manage to copy the pattern, rather making my own using the technique. 
I chose to use crochet for the back as the tweed yarn was only two ply, I would still be knitting until next year it was so tiny! The effect of the two textures add interest. 
I always use a single crochet to stitch the cushion together, it makes a lovely edge and creates more of a contrast between the crochet back and the knitted front

As each stitch is worked together it makes the finish tidier. 
The button edging was created afterwards using crochet which handles buttonholes easier than knitting techniques. I also added a slight curve / frill to the edge. 
The crochet back is wider to create a pillowcase effect, folding over inside covering the cushion. 
While I enjoyed this project – I could not help but consider how expensive it is to knit or crochet, the wool was approximately £7 per ball! I used two balls for this project but fortunately I had the buttons in my own button box. 
So when I came across a cable scarf in a charity shop it gave me an idea…..
This cable cushion is made like a patchwork quilt with the cable squares rotated at 90 degrees. 
I zigzag stitched the edges to prevent the kitting from fraying and then used one longer piece as a flap for the back. 
I wanted a contrasting back re-using this old white jumper. The bottom edge meant I could use it for the opening – there was no need to hem the open edge. 
The back looks like this – and this cushion was made for £5. I love up cycling – it gives me a real thrill. 

A great source for cabling instructions and lots of knitting techniques can be found here

Re-invention of wooly wonder

This cushion started out as a jumper from a charity shop, it is a gorgeous cashmere wool jumper in a lovely delicate shade of pink, although the computer does strange things with colour! It is also square, but the angle of the camera gives it a slight wedge shape! 
Before the transformation, I love the scarf too, but give me time and it will magically transform to something else. 

Here is the detail of the middle panel which I have smocked, I love the depth of the smocking it really gives the cushion some lovely structure. 
Will post a tutorial on how to make your own but could not wait to share, as you can see it still has my chalk markings on it! 

shhh…

I have been playing all day with my glue gun, it has been a delightful pleasure. I bought these little wooden cotton reels back in the summer from ebay. However when they arrived they were too small for ribbon storage and they have remained stored away in a box until I saw the cover of hand made magazine this month. 
I love the nordic blue for a Christmas colour scheme, it works with both white and a deep red. I also have collected some pretty ribbons and vintage buttons. 
I simply cannot resist buttons in charity shops, they have a story all of their own. When I was a child I played with my Nanna’s button box and I used to love the pretty glass ones, it has created a bit of a collection which I keep by colour in little glass jars. (spice jars seem to be just the right size and these little pots of colour look so pretty on the shelf. 
I love my glue gun it makes such quick work, as it gives instant results. Cut strips the width of the reel, pinking sheers make such a nice edge. If you glue a small amount each time and press the fabric with your finger. 
You can decorate the edge with a button, and thread the braid through the holes and tie it in a knot. Add some glue down the hole and push the knot in, add a tiny bit more glue and hold the button down hard on the top of the reel. This will keep the tread in place firmly so you can hang the reel. 
You can use ribbon too I bought this vintage set from the dotcomgiftshop. I am very pleased with the results and they have a lovely hand made feel. Keep quiet though, it’s not quite Christmas yet! 

In praise of hand stitching

These little lovelies were inspired by the pretty one I bought yesterday. I do love my sewing machine but it is so easy to get caught up in trying to avoid as much hand sewing as possible in order to get things made. Hand stitching is easier in a lot of ways when it comes to smaller scale items, and it wasn’t until I was sitting on the sofa stitching away while enjoying a film that I realised how transportable hand sewing is. 
I think the pace of making something stitch by stitch is so satisfying, it feels like more of a connection somehow. You can really make the stitches almost invisible in a way that machine stitching can’t achieve, and it is why most couture garments are still hand sewn today. 

What I most like about these projects is that they are made from scraps of material that are too small to make into anything else. I love this vintage rose fabric so much that throwing it away seems such a difficult thing to do. What I like most is drawing out different aspects of the colours. Photographed with a blue background brings out the cool tones. I like the way the red dot fabric draws the red of the rose out but the roses are more subtle when surrounded by the blue stripe. 
It was while I was investigating pictures to do with hand stitching I came across this marvellous site, it is a needlework encyclopaedia and looks to have been written in the late 18th early 19th Century. It is a wonderful find; I have enjoyed reading all about the joys of needle work, especially the following advice: 
“Long experience has convinced me that no kind of needlework necessitates a stooping or cramped attitude. To obviate which, see that your chair and table suit each other in height, and that you so hold your work as hardly to need to bend your head at all. The practice of fastening the work to the knee, besides being ungraceful, is injurious to the health.”I thought ergonomics was a modern invention, it is good advice though, especially if you, like me, intend to indulge the joys of hand sewing. 

As you can see, I am getting better with each one, this one is made from lovely Clarke and Clarke fabric with some gorgeously soft tweed, the tweed matches a coat I have. I love the middle button it is one of Tilda’s collection of brads. I am making quite a few for Christmas presents. 

Naughty but nice – Applique

There are times when I am rushing through a project and my sewing machine is going great guns  it is all about getting the project done but hand sewing seems to be the opposite. It means that you have to take your time, enjoy the process of creation one stitch at a time. I made this project one sunny afternoon in our little caravan, the appliqué is entirely hand stitched right down to the beads and ribbon bow, but the bag itself is machine stitched.  I use it to keep all my tights handy as they seem to end up all over the place. It is unashamedly girlie but then I am a girl after all.