Made from scrap

Made from scrap
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Monday, 31 January 2011

Adventures in Dyeing

I have experimented with dyeing fibre or yarn three times so far.  I can't really say any of it has been a success.  Attempt two and three were an attempt to rescue some Merino roving that failed to take on colour in a mixed berry dye bath.  The yarn I dyed was pretty awful, but the roving was even worse, an awful bluey, browny pink colour.  To be positive I invented aroma yarn as even after rinsing it smells very Tutti frutti.
Here you can see why it needed help.  I used Alum as a mordant, and raspberries, blackcurrants and blackberries for dye.  I really should have made more jam, as that turns out a beautiful colour. The rovings had loitered in the shed for a few months in disgrace and I did not want to waste them.  So I ventured on a learning curve with food colouring as the fibre was already treated with mordant. 
I used my very old slow pot and 'cooked' the wool on medium for about six hours with the colouring added.  Then I let it cool in the pot.  No stirring because I did not want to make felt.
Not a subtle result.  If I can spin it fine enough it may make a pair of socks, or it could make hats for children to wear when you take them to busy places and do not want to lose them.  A woolly hat like this would be great on a crowded beach for example, when it helps if your child sticks out like a sore thumb.  To achieve this beauty I used whatever red and yellow food colouring I had left in the cupboard.  I also had very orange hands the next day.
This is the other marvel.  I used whatever black food colouring that was left in the cupboard.  Blended with the orange I think it could be used to make an anti theft hat, scarf and glove set.  No one would ever steal garments made from this stuff.  To evaluate this little experiment I can conclude I will no longer use berries or food colouring to dye yarn.  I will be patient and wait for the 'Birmingham Weaving, Spinning and Dyeing Guild's' planned 'Dyeing Picnic' in the summer and I hope for more attractive results then.

Sunday, 30 January 2011

Just had to share today's Teatime Treat - Turnovers

These were really easy.
I used ready made 'Flakey Pastry'.  I did make it a couple of times at school but it is really quite labour intensive.  I rolled out a large thin rectangle and cut it into 12 squares.  I filled them with a teaspoon of homemade preserves.  6 with a 'Spiced Apple Butter' filling and 6 with 'Blackcurrant and Raspberry Jelly'.  I brushed the edges with a mixture of beaten egg and milk to glue them in to triangles.  Then brushed the top with egg and milk and sprinkled them with granulated sugar.  They baked in a hot oven with the Sunday roast chicken.  They took around 15-20 minutes.  WARNING!  The filling is ridiculously hot if you sneak one, as my partner found out today!  Of course delicious with a cup of tea. :)

Dig for Victory

Today there was some long awaited sunshine.  I have been thinking about the garden a great deal, but the time is not right to do anything about it yet.  This week I have been buying vegetable seeds in anticipation to start the growing year again but the ground has been frozen solid.  I did manage to get out and mooch about and see what is going on out there.  It looks sorry for itself but already there are signs of life and rejuvenation.  The first plant to bud each year is my big old blackcurrant bush, I only have one and it grows enough currants for at least 5lbs of jam each year.  I wait for optimum ripeness then I have to race the Blackbird to get them all picked.

Big Old Blackcurrant Bush - Always the first plant to bud
 I also have Raspberry canes, they are rather intrusive and love my garden so now my neighbour has lots too, wether he wants them or not!

Somewhat invasive Raspberry canes
 Last Year for my Birthday I had three large raised beds put in to the garden, they do not look great at this time of year but there is still plenty going on in there and in the summer when they a brimming with fresh green peas, courgettes, tomatoes, broad beans, turnips, beetroot, lettuce, chillis, rocket, herbs, spinach, onions, potatoes and runner beans they look alot more inviting. 
Please note Percy Pigeon observing the goings on.  We rescued a baby pigeon last year and nursed him for about a week until he left.  We worried about him like you would a pet.  We kept releasing him and then finding him wondering down the path at night in the dark, looking little and vulnerable.  He would bed down in a wicker basket with a Digestive biscuit soaked in  milk for supper, then go about his business again during the day.  One day he was strong enough to leave the garden and now four regularly feed here.  I am sure one is Percy, he has that look about him.
On closer inspection today there are still small tasty offerings to be had, that have proven their resilience against the extreme winter weather.
Kohl Rabi
Lovely Leeks

Curly Kale
Jerusalem Artichokes

Amazing Sage will soon be covered in flowers and Bumble Bees

'Greensleeves' Apple Tree and Percy Plum Tree
I will find it interesting to Blog the garden and its produce as the year evolves, It doesn't look much now but in the Spring and Summer it is my favourite place.

Saturday, 29 January 2011

Meet my Grannies...and Snails!

One of my Grannies is pretty old and could be a contender for ugliest Granny of the year,  another of mine had a nasty accident in the shed and got chewed by mice, so she is on week two of three weeks in the freezer before I commence major surgery in an attempt to rebuild her.  The little Granny is my son's and she accompanied him throughout his temporary stints in a wheelchair.  The Sunny Granny isn't really my Granny I just adopted her.  Would you like to meet them?

Let me introduce you to the contender for Ugliest Granny of the Year...
She was made over twenty years ago when I was a student, she is made mostly out of second hand, or reclaimed acrylic and there was no colour co-ordination at all, whatever we had got used.  My Grandmother and I worked on it.  She is a very warm, much loved but very ugly granny.  The picture does not do justice to her thick, black 'frilly' edge.  If you have an uglier Granny I would like to see her!

Next I would like you to meet little Granny.

This little Granny is very bright and cheerful.  My youngest son was born with a clubfoot, which was diagnosed during his 20wk scan.  It has proved problematic in that the current treatment does not work for about 4% of children with the condition, we were unlucky in this sense.  So my son has had four lots of surgery and has needed to spend up to two months using a wheelchair.  He got very cold going out and about so I made him this Jazzy blanket.  He loves it.  He is now perfectly mobile and will probably need further surgery when he is a teenager, he is currently six.  The first day I gave him the blanket he was in his wheelchair at the kitchen table doing some craft, cutting and sticking paper shapes with very sharp scissors, he had the blanket for only about 30 minutes when he accidently gave her a three inch snip with the scissors, so she is a little scarred by my repair job.
Adopted Granny was made by my partners Grandmother over twenty years ago.  This blanket is in daily use and is also an aquired taste...

I have not embarked on a Granny Stripe crochet blanket for a couple of years but when I saw how beautiful they can be when I found Attic 24, a fantastic blog by another Crochet Crazed Lucy I had to get my hooks out again!  The other Lucy has a design talent for colour that I could never imagine.  It has renewed my enthusiasm for crochet and I enjoy using the beautiful colour 'Lucy Packs' that some online stores sell. I will write separate posts for my Lucy stripe blanket and will also record the trauma of the Granny that is currently in the deep freeze!

From Grannies to snails...

Last night I attempted my first Amigurumi, I found it very tricky.  I thought this snail was destined to remain a slug!  (But a happy one!) 
But I finally managed to persaude him to wear his shell and here he is, looking quite at home in the plant pot!
I think I will call him Brian!  In memory of my first pet snail, that I had in a Goldfish bowl for a few days, with nylon tights stretched over the top to prevent his escape.  I was about four and named him Brian after the snail on the Magic Round-A-bout.  Times were hard in the seventies no 24 hour T.V or computers we had to make our own entertainment!

I am sure this is one of my original Brian's descendants.

He has the look of an escapologist!

When life gives you Lemons...

Make a Lemon Drizzle cake

8 oz Butter
6 oz sugar
8 oz Self raising flour
4 eggs
Grated Lemon Zest from three lemons
Juice of 3 lemons
2tbls of sugar


Cream together butter and sugar with the lemon Zest.  Add the beaten eggs gradually mixing it together.  Fold in the flour.  Turn in to a large cake tin, a 2lb loaf tin or a Bundt tin.  Cook for 40 minutes in a medium hot oven.  When it is cooked mix the lemon juice with 2tbls of sugar and 'drizzle' it all over the cake.