Made from scrap

Made from scrap
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Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Smiley 'In The Sky' - 50 000 Hits 'Give Away'

Wow!  My last celebratory 'Give Away' was 20 000 page views.  I decided I would have another when I reached 50 000.  I woke up today and had exceeded that 'Magic' Number.   It seemed a long long way off.  I am amazed in under twelve months (my First Years Blogiversary is at the end of January) this blog has clocked up so many page views.  I am very grateful to all my followers who continue to pop back to share my madness.  Cheers!  I love each and every comment that you leave.  My obsession with my 'Flag counter' continues and I am over the moon to say I have had visitors from 112 different countries, not forgetting the visitor from the mysterious 'Unknown Satellite'.

What a lovely 'Festive' time to have a 'Give Away' Celebration.  It is only fitting to have a Christmassy Craft theme.  I have a copy of 'Tis the Season to Crochet' ' to Give Away.  The winner will be drawn by Random Number Generator on Thursday 8th December (I will post the prize out ASAP).  All entries must be in by Wednesday 7th December.  All you need to do to enter is leave a comment on this post :) 

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Tea For Two - No Thank You!

Here is my own little piece of 'dottie angel' the 'master' of 'Vintage Granny Chic'.  I absolutely love this crazy little tray.  I say little but it is just big enough.
Perfect for a cupcake and a cup of tea.  I got home from work today and the Chicken Girlies were happily rampaging around the garden at will.  It would seem the 'Big Bad Man' is not so bad after all.  He must have had a change of heart!  Aaaah!  I did hear him talking to the 'Chickie Wickies' too.  I think my silent sulky protest on their behalf has paid off.  Not only have they had their 'freedom' reinstated but I also had a cupcake provided.  :)   I will forgive anybody anything for chocolate or one of these:
What a cute little Gingerbread fella!  This cupcake made me very happy.  Look at him!  The cutest little gingerbread man, sitting in cream cheese and orange frosting, on top of a carrot, ginger and orange cupcake.  Absolutely scrummy.  I had to get the tray out and my bestest favourite cup and saucer.
The cup of tea got stolen by my seven year old, I think he would make an excellent Village Vicar, show him a cup and saucer and hot tea, he is smitten!  I made myself replacement mug of tea!
I love the back of my tray so much:
 It says:
 "and they found happiness on the shelves of despair"
I can relate to Mr and Mrs Monkey!  xxx

Sunday, 27 November 2011


Incarcerated, behind bars, harshly judged and an unfair trial!  Poor Chicken babies!  The Big Bad Man has had another meltdown about the 'fun' these ladies have!  I do not mind the Brassica Massacre.  I don't mind them rearranging the garden borders, I don't mind them camping out on the back step, but The Big Bad Man does!   As the garden gets seasonally wetter and muddier there has been a showdown, an 'In The Sky Style O.K Corral'.  It concluded with The Big Bad Man threatening to erect a large fence!  I agreed, a truly spiffing idea!  I will concede a little and agree, I wish the children would look where they were putting their feet!  So the result is a temporary loss of freedom to my girlies, but we all know 'When the cat is away, mice will play!'
      Today the girls were most appreciative of my titivating in their coop.  They came and admired the fresh covering of wood pellets and sawdust as I was putting it in situ.  They quietly cooed and clucked at the thick layer of warm straw I placed in their nest boxes and then as everyone else was out walking, they came out on the rampage again!  He he he!!!  They ran around at their leisure scratching, pecking, marauding and pooping wherever they pleased!
      I have a cookathon on Sundays, making lunch, then a homemade soup and usually Monday's  Main Meal too.  I wanted some Parsnips from the garden for the soup and tomorrow's 'Lamb Casserole'.  I dig for the parsnips with my bare hands, which is not at all good for the manicure but is the most effective way I have found of extricating the parsnips from the soil.  I use raised beds for gardening.  The chickens treat the raised beds as an Adventure Playground with tasty benefits.  Today I really struggled to get my parsnips, I tugged, and burrowed, wiggled and pulled for about five minutes.  I had two chicken helpers, Poppy and Daisy, in front of me, scratching the soil as I burrowed.  I pulled and puffed and puffed and pulled as they watched on in bewilderment and fascination!  Then I felt a little pair of feet on my back, Rosie had jumped on my back to peer over my shoulder and get a better look.  Obviously I could not take a photograph but I really wish somebody could have.  She sat on my back encouraging me in my parsnip digging plight.  I thought of the story of 'The Enormous Turnip'.  I really appreciated the help and support of my chicken buddies.

When the first parsnip came up they were fascinated but when the second Monster parsnip was wiggled free, I could tell I had earned their admiration and respect they cooed and clucked  in awe and wonder!   When push comes to shove... I would choose my 'Loyal Feathered Buddies' over many of the Human Beans in my life.  We have a bond and I love them!  Mess and all!  I have three lovely eggs a day as a reward for my earache!
      Therefore 'What God has put together, let no man separate.'   

Thursday, 24 November 2011

'Tis the Season To crochet'

I had to whizz into the town centre today.  I never hang about.  I don't enjoy it.  We are lucky to have a large indoor shopping precinct though but the shops are so unoriginal.  Not to grumble too much though, I popped into a 'Bargain' Bookshop called 'The Works'.  There are lots of these in the UK.  I found this very cute book for an absolutely bargainous price.  Cheaper than your average magazine.  I flick through pattern books like these like they are going out of fashion!   I prefer a good pattern book to a Novel!  This really is worth a looksy.
It is choc full of ornaments:
Gift Ideas:
Greetings card ideas:
Decorative favourites:
Garments and accessories:
I want a pair!
Aren't these cute?
He has to be my favourite.  There are loads more patterns and ideas in this book.
Another seasonal cutesie I have spotted today in Blogland that I wanted to share is this sweet little Angel tree topper.
I think she is adorable.  Complete with her little crochet halo.   You can find her at  'The Smiling Robot'  She was designed by Grace.  I think she is very clever.  The pattern is available for free on Ravelry Here.
Have you found any Christmas Crochet Goodies?  

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

'That Crafty Fish  has reviewed a beautiful new craft book Here.
There is also a chance to win a copy, which I think you will agree it looks like it would make a wonderful addition to any crafters bookshelf.

Becks is also having a yarn Give Away on her blog Knit Sew Hooked pop over and take a look.  As my Dad would say 'You've got to be in to win!'

Monday, 21 November 2011

Very Random but so cool!

Just as the post title says, very Random but so cool.  This video is very popular in my house at the moment.  The seven year old is in awe and wanted to get his BMX out immediately!   I encouraged Henry once to be brave and cycle down a huge hill and up a scrambling ramp in the woods one day!  I am the sort of Mother that can be pretty irresponsible at times, it had a nasty ending!  Not seriously hurt, but let's just say he didn't land gracefully.  Well I didn't know you need a special type of bike for this stuff!  Ya learn by your mistakes don't ya?  Rule number 1)  Mother is not always right!

Saturday, 19 November 2011

Last Nights 'Ripple' Progress

All this Crochet Rippling has made me rediscover these!  Mmmm delicious.  I ate mine like this:

Ok not quite like that, it was a bit chilly in the Garden last night and on the verge of a frost,  but it was an indulgent moment!
Back to the crafty stuff!

Friday, 18 November 2011

Congratulations 'Give Away Winner' - and remembering....

Thank you for all your comments regarding the 'Lantern Scarf' my models and the Blog Interview.  The winner of the 'Lantern Scarf Pattern and Yarn Give Away is Becks.  Becks has already been knitting her little girl a hoodie in the same yarn, so now she can have a matching scarf too :) 
I used this Random Number Generator here.
Yesterday, 17th November,  Becks wrote a touching post on her Blog Here at 'Knit Sew Hooked' it is called beginnings and talks about her learning crafts from her Grandmother.  Yesterday would have been my Grandmothers Birthday.  Kathleen Annie Maude Kettle.   We all called her Nana.  I would have a hard job describing how fantastic my Nana was.  It was Nana who encouraged my love and knowledge of crafts and cookery.  I can not remember a time when she did not have time or patience for me...and I was enough to try the patience of a saint!  She made many sacrifices for me both in time and money.  I secured a place at a university 200 miles away from home in 1991.  I had been seeing my Grandmother practically daily.  One day she seemed a little uneasy and she shared with me she had a problem with her breast.  That generation really didn't like to discuss their bodies.  She allowed me to examine her and she had a huge lump.  It turned out it was Breast Cancer.  She refused surgery as she was elderly and infirm, but with medication the cancer was kept at bay.  As she lived to her late eighties her health suffered she got diabetes, she had minor strokes, causing confusion and demetia and in the end she also had cervical cancer.  She ended her days in a Nursing home, safe and medicated.   It was very hard to go to University, but I traveled home each weekend, to be with my family, dogs and my boyfriend at the time (who would be my ex husband, Henry's Dad).  In my second year at University I had the chance to go to the USA for two months on Teaching Practice.  We would be there in the depths of Winter.  Nana knitted this fantastic Aran for me to take and it has survived 19 years so far and looks almost as good as new.  The miracle of this Aran is it has stretched with me, so it still fits.
Now only knitters would know the love and care in each stitch.
If I am cold or poorly I love my trusty Aran.

I realise how much Nana's wisdom and example has shaped who I am today.  If I am wrestling with a situation I often think 'What would my Nan say or do?' and it is usually a sensible option.  She was a feisty independent lady.
I have one picture of Nana with Henry she passed away before he was a year old.  This photograph was taken on Henry's First Christmas Day.  Her favourite saying to me was "You'll get old some day."  This photograph lives in Henry's room.

I have loved Winnie the Pooh for years but never read the ending, when I did it made me cry!  I didn't know Winnie the Pooh and Christopher Robin had to say goodbye when Christopher Robin was a big boy!

"How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard"
A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh

I am sure she would have been an avid reader of my Blog and she would be offering up her constructive criticism willingly.
I know many of my readers are Grandmothers, some are brand new grandmothers, some are patiently awaiting the title with with an imminent bundle of joy, I think you all do a fantastic job.  x
God Bless 'Nanas'.  I can wait a while before I am one!

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Healthy Flamin Eating Plan - Homemade Salmon Burgers

Nobody in my house liked the sound of these yet stoically everyone tried them and hey, guess what?  They enjoyed them!  Result!
2 cans of Salmon
100g of Breadcrumbs
1 Finely chopped onion
1 finely chopped red pepper
2 tablespoons of finely chopped fresh parsely
salt and pepper.

Remove all of the bones from the Salmon.
(Regular readers will be beginning to predict what is coming next!)
Plonk all the ingredients into a large bowl and mix thoroughly with clean hands.
Chill the mixture in the fridge for a couple of hours.
Shape into burgers.
Grill until Golden on each side.

I served mine with a healthy portion of broccoli and New potatoes.
Then I spoiled the healthy status a little by smothering it in homemade Parsley Sauce.  I have lots of parsley growing in the garden, it seems to be the one plant the chickens do not massacre.
I did not waste the salmon bones they are very rich in calcium, I fed them to the chickens with some crumbs of stale bread.  They scurried around like they had struck gold!  If you feed them something special they snatch it and sprint like roadrunner so it doesn't get stolen away.
I am like the Pied Piper of Chickens, I step outside and it  takes all of thirty seconds to have three feathered faces at my feet looking adoringly at me (well at my hands to see what goodies I have!)
I set myself a challenge to get a shot with all three chickens in it.  It involved running away from them and turning around quickly with the camera.  It took about eight attempts.  It is a wonder my neighbours don't call the white van to come and take me away.  It must look like I am playing some kind of 'Chicken Tag!'
Great exercise, but results in three very confused chickens!

Sunday, 13 November 2011

Blog Interview - 'Anastacia Knits' and 'Yarn and Pattern Give Away'

Having recently discovered Anastacia's Designs and her donating the 'Lantern Scarf Pattern' for 
 I thought it would be great if we all got to know Anastacia and her work a little better.  Anastacia kindly agreed to subject herself to a 'Blog Interview'.  I have also decided to increase the Prize for the 'Give Away' to include enough Yarn for you to make the scarf.  (That way if you do not Crochet, even though you really should learn, you can put this pretty yarn to good use).  To enter the 'Give Away' Just leave your comment stating which of Anastacia's Designs is your favourite.  I would be delighted if you leave a link to me on your Blog directing your Blog Buddies to the 'Give Away'.  Just let me know where you have left your link and I will enter your name twice into the draw.  
You could win the pattern for 'The Lantern Scarf' and 100g of Yarn to enable you to make it.  Good Luck!  
Leave your Comment by the 17th of November and the winner will be drawn on the 18th of November.

I would describe you as a Veteran Blogger and Knitting and Crochet designer. How would you describe yourself?

I’d definitely describe myself as a crazy cat lady, seriously! I crocheted 131 cat blankets this year in memory of our beloved cat, Zorro - one for each month he lived with us. That’s 131 cat blankets in less than 10 months time, & I actually miscounted somewhere along the way & ended up with over 150. That’s crazy!
I know you have numerous designs available. How many have you got to date and where can people find them? 
I currently have 62 designs, including one sock pattern in the Lion Brand book, Just Socks. They all can be found on Ravelry here Ravelry Designers - Anastacia-Zittel & most of them are also available through my website, & a few weeks after release to Ravelry I also sell my paid patterns on Etsy.
How long have you been knitting and crocheting and who taught you? 
Great question, I always love hearing about this from other crafters! 
I was taught to crochet mainly by my Mom & her Mom, but my Dad & his mother also crochet (though as far as I know, my father only crocheted one afghan, which I own). I don’t remember how old I was, but I do remember being 14 & wanting a new afghan for my bedroom & no one would make me one.  So I went to the store, bought yarn & crocheted myself one. My gauge drastically changed throughout the afghan, so one side is about a foot & a half wider then the other! Right after that, I made my mother teach me how to read patterns, & my first pattern was a granny square pillow. My grandmother started giving me her old vintage patterns, & an obsession was born!
I learned how to knit from a beloved church friend, a lady who was actually closer in age to my parents then me, but somehow was my friend & not theirs. It didn’t really stick; at the time, I didn’t know there were different methods of knitting. She knit American, so that’s what she taught me. Years later, I picked up dpns & sock yarn at a lys, not having any idea really how to make socks, & I just couldn’t figure it out. I kept trying, & finally I started knitting. After about a month, I realized I was twisting my stitches, & figured out how to stop twisting my stitches. A couple of years later, I learned that what I had figured out on my own is a weird variant of combo knitting, that Annie Modesitt made famous. It’s not quite how I knit, but close.
What are your most popular three designs to date?
Dudley Do Wright is definitely my most popular paid pattern, by far.

My most popular patterns overall are my York Shawlette

My Ocean Tranquility Afghan 

 & believe it or not, a very simple dishcloth pattern that was one of my earliest designs, that I call Beginner’s Dishcloth.  It’s been used to teach beginner crocheters many times by different groups & charities, so I’m so pleased with this little design!
What is your personal favourite design?
I still really love my first ever self published paid design, though I wish I had thought of a better name for it, my 'Half Circle Shawl with Scalloped Edging'. It still sells well, and because of the success of that first pattern, I kept designing. I think of all the people & friends I wouldn’t have met, if that first design hadn’t done well.

 How would you describe your income from selling your designs?
ha, ha, ha, ha, ha!! That’s SO funny!
Seriously - I’m averaging about a sale a day, between Ravelry & Etsy. That’s enough to keep me advertising on Ravelry, covers my Rav fees & my etsy fees, & gives me enough money to pay my tech editor for the next couple of patterns. I’m not getting rich by any means! But a year ago, I was selling 3 patterns a month, so I’m really happy with how well I am doing. There’s a lot for me to learn, still, but I’m really pleased with how far I’ve come in a year.
Where would you like to see yourself, regarding your design work in five years time? 
I’m hoping to get published in a book or a magazine in the next year/18 months, but self-publishing works really well for me because I don’t do deadlines well! I’d really love to start selling my patterns in LYS (besides the program through Ravelry) & I really want to become a certified crochet teacher & start teaching using some of my designs. If I really want to talk crazy, I’d love to work at an LYS full time, teaching classes part time, & fitting in design work every other waking hour. It’s a madness, I tell ya!
How long have you been blogging? In your Recent 'Blog Tag' Post you said that this Beginners Dishcloth Pattern has had 5000 hits this month!
LOL Off & on since 2000, actually. I always kept a personal diary, and a friend introduced me to livejournal in 2000, the same year I got married. That was pretty much a personal thing. I started a blogspot craft journal maybe a year after that, but deleted it after a year because I was bored, & went back to livejournal & posted some craft stuff there, mainly things I was really proud of. At the time, I still had dreams of being a writer, though I crocheted all the time, so my blogging was more about writing then crafting at the time. Around 2005, I started a blogspot blog again, started writing up my earliest designs, & I’ve pretty much continuously craft blogged since then, though I’ve switched up the names & the formats over the years. My archives only go back to January 2007, all the other stuff has been lost over the years.

Saturday, 12 November 2011

Birmingham and District Guild of Weavers, Spinners and Dyers 'Annual Exhibition 2011'

Today was the Annual Guild Exhibition Day, it is a chance to showcase examples of our work throughout the year  Also you can eat cake and drink lots of tea.  I quite like it because I get a chance to sit and spin.  I love to look at what others have been working on and chat to like minded people.  I whizzed around taking a few pictures before the 'Public' arrived.  I should have  taken more and have made a note to myself for next year.  It is quite tricky to get the balance right for a blog post, too many photos or not enough, sometimes you can't win.  This year we have had workshops on:

Colour Theory
Design Theory
Flower Pounding
Everlasting Christmas Crackers
The History of Ribbon Making
Natural Dyes

That is to name a few.  All of the displays looked impressive this year.  I particularly liked the Weaving tables.  We have some very talented weavers that are in their eighties.

Examples of a variety of methods of weaving were on display.  It fascinates me to see the skill involved.  There are also several 'Sales' tables.  I was fairly good today and did not spend!  I am due a large quantity of 'raw' Alpaca fleece at the end of the week and I don't know where to hide it, so I really had to resist more yarn or fibre.  I was asked if I wanted eight large bags of Alpaca for free!  What is a girl to say?  All the giver would like in exchange is something made from the fibre.  I think it is a stroke of good fortune but I will of course let you know.  It will definitely keep me out of mischief for a while.
At the Exhibition there is also an Annual Competition, this year the theme was 'The Sea'.  I am such a fool not to have taken more photographs but I got carried away spinning once I settled.  The entries were fantastic.  I was frogging mine on Thursday night, so gave up and didn't enter this year.  It is my own fault for getting addicted to 'Rippling' instead!  I remind myself that craft should be for leisure and pleasure anyway and if something becomes a chore I leave it alone for a while.  I did get a photograph of my Mom's entry.  I feel very proud of her and I think she did an absolutely fantastic job using entirely her own handspun yarn and some of the techniques and ideas we have picked up throughout the year.  She didn't get placed but the standard of entries was incredibly high this year.  Mom's piece is a 'Winner' in my eyes, I love it!

Friday, 11 November 2011

Quick and Easy Spicy Meat Kebabs

This is another recipe adapted from Alia's Creative Life.  I am increasingly shocked at the cost of my grocery bill which seems to rise each week as the global economy continues to create a painful 'credit crunch'.  I 'work' part time and try to cook economically and create a variety of family meals on a budget.  I wander around the supermarket tutting to myself as I seem to have a photographic memory for grocery prices and I feel like these huge supermarkets are doing an excellent job of ripping us off!  My Dad laughs at me because I grumble about inflation and he still laughs about my comment that 'Budgie Millet has gone up over 100%'.  It is a good job the budgie has a tiny appetite!
This is 'Bob the Budgie's' Blog Debut.
 I can't say he was overjoyed to have a Camera stuck in his cage.
  He is 8yrs old and very chatty.
He loves Millet!
My 'boys' however do not have tiny appetites.  They go through phases where they will eat with gusto anything that I cook but currently both are going through a 'picky' stage!  That does not go down well in this house.  I think it is since I have started this *^""*ng diet Healthy Eating Plan and the offerings have altered somewhat!  They both viewed Homemade Salmon Burgers with suspicion, but tucked in and enjoyed them!
Grilled Salmon Burgers, Served with New Potatoes, broccoli  and Parsley  Sauce
Henry and I prepared live Mussels from Scotland this week and cooked them in White Wine and garlic.  I thought they were delicious but Henry prefers his usual pickled variety!  He was not happy de-bearding a kilo of live mussels.  I say it is character building.  I really should have got a photograph of the boy at work!  Whilst this dining is not the most economical they were still cheaper than any take-away meal.
These spicy kebabs were very easy to make and make a fast food style meal to be eaten with salad, pitta bread and sauce.  I think you could use any regular meatball/ meatloaf recipe and add spice.  In my case I added Balti Curry Powder.  Yeah for Spicy Balls.  They were a hit in this house!

400g of Lean Minced Beef
400g of Lean Minced Pork
1 large grated onion
2 tsp of dried Mixed Herbs
150g breadcrumbs
2 eggs
2 tablespoons of Balti Curry Powder

Plonk all ingredients in a large bowl and mix thoroughly.  (  I used clean hands to do this job.)  Leave the mixture for an hour or so to chill in the fridge.  Roll into small, walnut sized balls.  Deep fry your balls (No giggling please!)  For 5 minutes.  Serve hot with Pitta bread or Naan bread, salad and Raita Sauce.  I have made a note to myself to experiment with a vegetarian recipe for this style of kebab, it will probably involve my old favourites, Chick peas.

Thursday, 10 November 2011

'Give Away' Ta Dah - 'Lantern Scarf' by Anastacia Knits

Woohoo!  This is a cheeky little pattern from Anastacia Knits.  It has made a light but warm scarf.  I loved making this because it is not the type of scarf I would usually make.  I usually stick to the plain stuff!  It has a simple but effective repeat pattern.  It grows very quickly and was easy peasy.  I learned how to read a chart finally, thanks to this pattern.  I didn't use the written instructions and followed the chart, which made me feel very grown up.  Previously I have had a total mental block with charts but I really enjoyed this.  Who says you can't teach an old dog new tricks!  I also manged to read USA crochet terms without having to use a written translation.  What a great pattern for raising my self esteem and giving me a nice smug feeling.  The yarn I used was 'Sirdar Click' Aran, which is very soft and snuggly, but the pattern is so adaptable it can be made with any yarn.

My lovely boys were willing models!
I think Henry thinks my Blog may be a good way of getting a date, he is clearly open to offers.
I think I may have trouble getting rid of him, it is a good job I love him!
Euan was also enthusiastic to get in on the act!

Anastacia has kindly offered give a copy of this pattern away as prize to one of you lovely blog readers.  All you need to do to win your copy of the 'Lantern Scarf' pattern is leave a comment below stating which one of 'Anastaciaknits' designs is your favourite.  Leave a comment by the 17th of November and I will arrange for a winner to be Randomly drawn  on the 18th November.  You would still have time to whip up a couple of these for last minute, hand made Christmas gifts!