Made from scrap

Made from scrap
All's well


Total Pageviews

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

The Ninth Weave - Beautiful 'Hand Woven' Give Away

One of my Favourite Blogs / Blog buddies is having a 'Give Away'.  I have been following Sarah at Knits and Crosses since she started her blog and started to weave.  Her Blog never fails to put a smile on my face and I am quite literally in awe of Sarah's weaving and how quickly her skills have progresses.  I wish I had half the talent.  I can not believe how quickly Sarah creates beautiful scarves and fabrics.  She adapts ideas and experiments with her own ideas and I really think she is the most inspirational 'weaver' that I have encountered. Somehow she places a funky, contemporary style into her weaving projects and her enthusiasm is infectious.  It is a joy to follow her work.  Sarah does not run workshops (yet) but it would be a dream to meet up and work with her imparting her knowledge and passion for weaving.  I know she will probably be quite embarrassed by my compliments but seriously don't take my word for it, pop over and search some of her 'Woven Work', see for yourselves.
            Well, I was overjoyed that Sarah is having a very generous Give Away and offering one of her own hand woven scarves up for grabs.  This is not just any old woven scarf, it is a scarf quite literally with a fascinating little twist.
Now tell me you wouldn't love to own this beauty.  I know I would wear it with 'Panache'!  In my mind I can picture myself swishing around in it and I know because of its colours it would be a really versatile piece.    I wasn't going to tell you about it!  It would be mean not to share though wouldn't it?  If you would like a chance to win this scarf just leave Sarah a comment on the link above at 'Knits and Crosses'.  You can get entered twice if you are a 'Follower' of her blog and trust me on this is a blog worth following!  Good  Luck!  Please don't gloat if you win...I will be sore about it!
                  Take a look at Sarah's Etsy Shop too, The Ninth Weave the shop looks beautiful at the moment with a 'Rainbow' of hand woven treasures to inspire you.  If you deserve a special treat for yourself or you are looking for a stunning 'One Off' handmade gift for someone, this could well be the shop for you.  My favourite piece selling in the shop at the moment is 'Jaipur' the scarf in the photograph at the beginning to this post.  It was hard to choose a favourite though.

Monday, 28 May 2012

Just Another Day in Paradise

It is still exceptionally hot here.  I have been going through the mill a little health wise, nothing I want any sympathy for, you understand, it is just I do not really have much other news to share.  Euan and I both have horrible heat rashes/viral rashes not sure which.  The joys of being redheads in the heat!  This morning I got us both a doctors appointment as Euan also has a very painful eye infection that has come on suddenly and I have psoriasis and my 'bleeping' back has decided to be very naughty again!  It is very painful and took about twenty micro moves to get out of bed this morning.  I am taking a veritable cocktail of medications!  Not good.  This evening it ceased up when I was on the sofa and I could not get up, both boys came to my aid and shoved and pulled me,  while I could not help yowling and howling!  Henry got me more pain killers and Euan stuffed a cushion behind me!  Thankfully this is a temporary condition but it is rather humbling being at the mercy of  my children.  Not a great state to be in.
               My parents came down today, my Mom helped with housework and my Dad planted my Runner Beans and Tomatoes.  I am very grateful.  I had to photograph these silly girls!  I do not know where these plastic tubs came from, but we have had them for years and I plant them up with vegetables or flowers.  This tub is/was planted up with the Oca, my new vegetable of the year.  I do not hold out much hope for it now as the girls have adopted this particular tub for their 'dust bathing' and 'sun bathing'.
They do look hot and tired.  Dust bathing is excellent for them to cool off and keeps them free of bugsies!  Of course they are Ginger Ninjas too and I think they suffer in the heat, they do have the option of shaded shrubs and have been spending lots of time hidden from view.  I still only have to whistle and they come running like hungry puppies!  They have been very naughty in the heat and their happy 'We have laid our eggs' song has got louder, longer and earlier!  They are very noisy at about 6.30am until I let them out to run around the garden and then you don't hear them at all!  I am expecting a complaint about noise any day soon!
                My friend popped in this afternoon, to drop off 'Herman the German'.  My friend Sue and I have been friends since we were 11, she is a great buddy, we have lots in common, we both like gardening, cooking and we can happily talk about dogs all day long.  Sue is a professional dog groomer and works to a really high standard.  I am always impressed with her skills.  We go back a long way together.  Time always passes too quickly with Sue and we 'chin wag' a lot with each other.  Herman will be staying at our house for about ten days.  He came with an A4 sheet of instructions that I have misplaced already!  They will turn up. . .
Herman is a 'German Friendship Cake', Sour Dough Starter.  If I look after him right he should be ready to divide into four in ten days time.  One will make a cake, two will be passed on to friends with instructions and one will be kept to do the whole thing again!  Fingers crossed Herman likes it here and does what he is supposed to do.  Little bubbles have appeared over the last four hours.  He is like having a new pet.  Hermy is Mommas new baby!  Have any of you had any experiences with a 'Herman' of your own?  I will keep you posted as to his progress.
Love to All Yall!  xxx

Saturday, 26 May 2012

Be Careful What You Wish For. . . .

Well, well, well.  I would have posted sooner but Blogger has been being very naughty!  Tut tut tut, frustrating. It appears to be having glitchy little issues that are preventing it from behaving as it should and preventing me from posting.  Anyone else having troubles  I am glad it is working today.  I have felt very cut off from you all!!!  *Smiles and waves*
             I wished for sunshine and my goodness do we have sunshine!  We also all have horrible Summer colds, all of us including my parents.  These are not just sniffly little colds, these are relentless coughing, rib aching, head aching, asthmatic, nastiness!  To top it all I have head to toe, itchy, prickly heat rash!  Do remind me next year when I am wishing for sunshine!  The only thing cheering me up is my box of Union Jack tissues!  (I also have special Jubilee limited edition 'Loo roll'!  Yep this Jubilee fever is reaching .  . . . well. . . .reaching erm. . . .well. . . .fever pitch. I have Jubilee Jam, Jubilee Marmalade, Jubilee Clothes, I had to stop myself buying a mask of the Queen yesterday, I am regretting it though!  Currently Britain seems to be just about Jubileeing whatever it can!  I may muster up the energy to put bunting in the garden today. . . I may not though!  I have still managed to lose weight this week but have struggled to find the energy to exercise.  We cancelled swimming due to ill health.  It has been too hot to walk the dog during the day I did take her yesterday morning.  The air was thick with fluff, some sort of pollen, I really had to motivate my self to plod around the local pond, then meadows and then through an 'Arboretum'.  The dog had the most fantastic time and was very happy chewing branches and chasing squirrels.  I felt grotty.  I forgot to take my camera.  The wild flowers are pretty right now and the sunshine enhances everything.  The birdsong was lovely, (I tried hard to feel uplifted)!  I even stopped and 'hugged' a couple of trees, well I gave them a little pat!  I took a shine to a rather nice Horse Chestnut Tree.
Crafting has really been on the back burner.  I have so much housework to catch up with and no energy to do it!  The kids had an Epic water fight yesterday, it created some extra washing.  Euan had Henry cornered by surprise and turned the power hose on him!  He had a nasty glint in his eye as Henry howled and yelled, begging for mercy!  Henry had a girl to visit, he was fully clothed in his 'favourite gear'!  Euan did not stop until Henry was soaked through to the skin.  His sunglasses stayed on but were rather askew!  It was very funny but I saw a sinister streak in my youngest!  There are about ten boys in this street and they all play together.  Boys from other streets come and join them.  I have given up worrying about footballs, cricket balls, tennis balls....I think so have the neighbours.  Euan played out with lots of friends and they all had water guns.  There are a few 'For Sale' signs popping up around here!!!
         I have another observation at work on Tuesday so I have time consuming work work to do!  If the postman delivers some books I have been waiting for, 'work' could involve reading in the garden with a sunhat on!  Life could be worse.  I also break up this week for a weeks holiday!  Lovely, lovely, lovely.
I hope you are having a great weekend :) xxx  

Monday, 21 May 2012

Oh Good Morning!

It was a busy Monday morning, Henry has his final school exams going on at the moment, he is coping very well so far.  He has always been pretty laid back if I leave him be.  He isn't exactly a ray of sunshine in the morning but he takes after his mother!  Euan has been cough, cough, coughing pretty much non stop, so he was bleary eyed.  The dog is a sweetheart and 'asks' me for food when she wants it, she likes breakfast and dinner.  The chickens also need breakfast and letting out.  If I don't get out there early the chickens make their feelings known and you can hear them loudly clucking!  For the sake of the neighbours I try to get out there asap.  I live in a very noisy street though, so I am not to troubled by the noise the Chooks make, it is my payback for other peoples late nights, dogs barking, kids yelling, teenagers coming and going at all hours, cars revving etc etc.  If you can't beat them, join them.  Any noise me and mine make justs add to the hub bub.  As long as we are not the noisiest I figure that is ok.  This morning look what greeted me in the garden.  Wow, the first Poppy of the year.  Isn't she a beauty.  It looks like there will be plenty more where that came from too:
I thought I just discovered a stray egg in the picture, but I remember now, I chucked egg shells around the base of my Camellia.
              Today it has finally felt like May, the Sun has had his hat on.  It was lovely to get home from work and have some warm sunshine.  It motivated me to get out in the garden at last.  I found the very last of last years harvest.
  What a whopper!  I think this leek may be as tough as old boots!
Here is 'Chicken Proofed' Alcatraz.  I have to remove the fences to do any gardening.  Last week Euan and I weeded the raised beds and the chickens gobbled worms as fast as they could, they slurp them like spaghetti and ate loads of them.  I put them in their coop as they are just too helpful in the garden.  I was out for about and hour and a half and the poor things did not stop whinging and complaining the whole time they were cooped.
The poor things.  It was only because I was in earshot and they really think they should be out if I am.  I was determined to sow some seeds though and get the bean poles ready.  I planted two types of beetroot, some dwarf  peas, swede, turnips and kale in the raised beds.  I planted some oca in a large container.  Oca is a new one on me.  It is like a small potato.  I will let you know how I get on.  I should have photographed it for you as it is a bit weird.  Check out this link for Oca to read more about it.  If you have grown it, tried it, cooked it, eaten it, do let me know what you think....

   I planted the potatoes about a month ago and the spinach is left over from last year.  My next job will be weeding this bed.  The spinach is soon destined for soup or curry.
Meet my Fartychokes.  Jerusalem Artichokes.  They are delicious and come back every year.  Sadly now we just enjoy them for their tall yellow 'sunflowers' as when consumed they have some most unfortunate side effects which have earned them their pet name.  In the name of good manners I shall just leave it there, nuff said!

This used to be the chicken naive!  It is a large pen and more than adequate for a chicken run, but it simply isn't good enough for my girls!  They need half of the garden.  The biggest half no less.  Rhubarb is supposed to be poisonous to chickens so they leave it alone.  My chickens did not read that page of the book and ransack the rhubarb, hence the rhubarb is now penned in the chicken pen.  It seems to be their favourite and they would scratch it to oblivion.
The soft fruit is looking promising.  This old blackcurrant bush is heavily laden again.  The raspberries are also coming along ok.  They are not fenced off yet...  I don't know what to do about them.  I am sure as the fruit ripens it will take a greedy chicken ten minutes to strip the whole bush.  The rhubarb may be set free and the chickens penned again.  It is funny watching them jump for the fruit though.  Chickens can do quite high standing jumps and 'boing' like they are on springs for ripe juicy berries.  
          When my gardening was done and I had watered thoroughly and replaced the fences, I went to the coop to find three noisy, disgruntled girls.  They were elated to see me.  I opened the door to the coop and they shot out like 'grease lightening'.  
I love this photograph!  I know it is not the most aesthetic part of my garden.  I like it up there though.  As soon as the door is opened these girls move like a trio of 'Road Runners'.  Beep beep!  Just look at the speed and gusto in their sprint for freedom!  After the impertinence of their incarceration here they are doing what chickens love to do best;
Scratching and pecking.
Here's to hoping this is the first sunny day of many.  xxx

Sunday, 20 May 2012

Messy messy messy!

I got my whip out on Saturday, as both boys are hoarders...I don't know where they get it from *whistles innocently*.  They both hate me tidying their stuff even worse they hate me getting rid of anything!  To motivate them I offered 10p for each item to the charity shop, thinking Euan would make £1 at the most.  He had a major de-clutter for him and put his little heart and soul into it.  He sorted out baby books and a few toys.  He is so reluctant to part with any of it but we are drowning in clutter.  On the one hand I think he did a great job and he did surprise me, but on the other hand I was a bit disappointed he did not part with more.  I raised the stakes and said 20p per large item.  He didn't get rid of any large items.  Tonight he said 'do you think you should pay me more because I did not fuss giving you my stuff!'  Henry was much harder to budge, like pushing an elephant up the stairs, I called my Mother for back up!  Henry started to de-clutter once his Nan arrived.  He managed two boxes of junk, old annuals that was part of his 'Get Rich Quick' scheme, but I explained the importance of charitable donations!  He reluctantly got on board.  Then for our exhausting efforts we were rewarded by Euan's Bookshelf collapsing beyond repair!  Euan has a lot of books, we all do.  Disaster!  I had to race out to get a 'build your own' bookshelf...rubbish really for £50.  What an expensive decluttering mission.  Henry and Nan helped to build the bookshelf.  We need about another ten sessions like that to get anywhere near straight in this house!  Of course my stuff is always last to receive attention so my stash remains untouched for another week!
           This afternoon me and the boys had had a 'Sonic The Hedgehog' tournament on the Xbox.  Both boys are impressed with my skills.  Skills learned from the days before either of them existed.  It is fun when we manage to do stuff together that we all enjoy.  Now when Euan is in bed I have 'work work' to do!
          Talking of pulling my hair out, I went to the hair dressers on Friday, this is getting quite regular for me, as I have now been twice in three years!  I had about five inches of my hair cut off, to tidy it up as a '1 stone off treat'.  Gah!  Living in an all Male household, do you think anyone has even noticed or said anything?  Not one dicky bird!  Perhaps for the '2 stone off treat' I will get it dyed bright pink and see if they have anything to say then!
             Monday tomorrow.   Boooooo!  I think I am going back to work for a rest though.  The chickens are still playing out and the dog is snoring loudly on the sofa next to me.  I suppose all is well with the world. Hope you have had a good weekend.  xxx

Saturday, 19 May 2012

London 2012

It is official the Olympic Torch landed in the UK yesterday under much pomp and ceremony.  I went up town early this morning with Euan as one of the National Newspapers is running a 'Lego' promotion and they disappear quickly.  He is delighted with his 'free' Lego Batman on a Jet Ski.  I am sorry I am too self conscious to walk around my town centre with a camera but it really looks a picture.  All of the shops are 'Red, White and Blue', there is bunting, flags and Union Jacks everywhere.  There are Union Jack Tshirts, dresses, biscuit tins, teapots, table clothes, tea towels, bedding, you name it everything has been Union Jacked.  Even in the Supermarket everyday food has got 'Celebration' packaging.  There are flags, crowns, corgis, and English Roses everywhere.  We have two more weeks of school and then we have a week off.  Many Communities are planning Jubilee Celebrations to celebrate 60 years since Queen Elizabeth II came to the throne.  I will be celebrating somehow...I just don't know how yet.  Once the 'Bunting' goes up though it can stay up all Summer as we have the Olympics too.  It is uplifting to have such a sense of National Pride as for years Britain has been in Economic recession and everyone has been hit where it hurts financially.  As a Nation we have struggled to be proud of our country and now we have several reasons to be celebrating.
        The Olympic torch is being relayed throughout the Country and it comes to our county in a few weeks. It is travelling through the centre of our town on July 1st, (I think), nearer the time I am sure arrangements will be clear and hopefully I will be able to take Euan to witness the event.  I will of course try to photograph  that!  I bought my Union Jack Tshirt yesterday and I am getting a bit panicky about the bunting, I really should have got it by now.  I am planning some sort of 'Tea Party' celebration for Jubilee weekend.  The 'Posh' cups and saucers can come out to play and we will drink tea and eat quintessentially 'British' cakes.  (Not of the Weight Watchers variety)!  I have a celebratory 'Craft' project to get working on too.  All we need is for the Sunshine to come out to play.  We have had a really wet few weeks.  The wettest drought on records!  These records are bonkers.  ..the wettest drought  .  . .tut tut what is going on?  When the sun does pop out for a couple of hours we try and make the most of it and rush outside to catch up with the gardening or walk in the sunshine and soak up the rays.  This weekend is wet again. . . and I think I may be forced to stay in doors and try to get the house clean and tidy. . . that will keep me busy and out of mischief for a good few hours.
Hope you are having a good weekend and if you see the Sunshine. . . please send it in this direction.

Thursday, 17 May 2012

One Stone Gone!

Stone 1 Clip Art

I am in shock rather than elated!  I have managed to lose 14lbs, that is one whole stone!  I guess all the crabby might be worth it after all.  I have finally discovered the solution to the marvelous mystery of weight loss.  Eat less and do more!  Simples.  Now I just have to repeat the process another five times and I should be just about within the healthy weight range for my height.  Tut tut tut.  So easy to put on so hard to get off.  What I would give for a good old fashioned Pie Day Friday!  Tonight I had a crustless Quiche for my tea,  hmmm now could ya answer something for me. . . a crustless quiche is suspiciously identical to an omelette, what is the difference?  Quiche is a bit of a pie, so I am surely committing brain trickery upon myself by calling an omelette a 'Crustless Quiche'.  Who stole the pie bit of my quiche, making my quiche not a quiche but an omelette.  My brain is haddled due to the calorific deprivation it is enduring.
           Has anyone ever tried Weight Watchers bread?  Yesterday I nearly caused a fire again by trying to toast it for breakfast.  I popped it in the toaster as I would 'normal' bread, whizzed up to give the chickens breakfast and came back to black billowing smoke!  I tried again on the lowest toaster setting, nipped to pack Euan's school bag and came back to black billowing smoke.  I am going to take Weight Watchers Bread camping, I am gonna use it as tinder for starting the campfire!  Nothing ignites with the ease of Weight Watchers bread.  It is similar to Candy Floss in texture, you bite it and as if by magic it has vanished before you have a chance to chew and swallow.  Ingenious stuff.  Trying to make a sandwich with it is pretty futile too, a slice of cheese, lettuce, tomato, cucumber and mayo (low fat of course), you might as well just stick the filling in the palm of your hand and forget the bread because the bread disintegrates on impact with anything.  Spreading it is the best. . . the bread vanishes and you are left with a bundle of crumbs on your knife!  Yep I sure am enjoying all that this diet  healthy eating plan has to offer!
           We won't go in to Weight Watchers Coconut Cake. . . I think it should carry a health warning, cigarettes have got to be safer. . . Weight Watchers Coconut Cake must be a close cousin to Weight Watchers bread. . . it is incredibly chokesome!  Cake my a**e!  More brain trickery, I am quite old enough to know cake when I see it and I sure as eggs is eggs know what is not cake!
           No body seems to have noticed I have lost any weight yet and the only difference I have noticed so far is that I am having trouble with my knickers!  They are much more likely to fall down these days and when they are not falling down they are quite literally getting in a twist!  Shopping list for tomorrow:  New knickers or a pair of Braces!
Yep loving this diet plan and embracing all that it has to offer!  

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Lucy 'Proud to be Crabby'

I have told you before I love 'Peanuts'.  I used to have a huge collection of 'Peanuts' books in my teens.  I was a very crabby teenager and 'Peanuts' used to cheer me up and make me laugh out loud.  Lucy has always been my favourite, closely followed by Snoopy, Woodstock, Charlie Brown, Peppermint Patty....oh lets just say she was my favourite, closely followed by all of the rest.  I admit the last week or so, I have been 'Proud to be Crabby' too.  I think it could well be the diet Healthy Eating Plan!  It may be work!  Sometime things get silly at work!  It maybe exercising has made me tired and crabby?  It may be home.  Last week I had a scare with the electrics when my OH was at work on a night shift.  One of the light switches was hot hot hot!  I noticed at 11.30 one night.  I did not really know what to do, so I turned the fuse box off and went out to the shed in a gale and rain, with a cigarette lighter for light!  I found an extension lead for the freezer, isolated the lights and had a fitful nights sleep thinking of all the nasty scenarios there could have been.  I need my sleep if I am to function happily.  OH arranged for a very helpful electrician who came out the next day and sorted it out and made us safe again.  He couldn't replace my lost sleep though.  I was struggling to smile.  I staggered into Blog Land to find a lovely message from  I had entered her Blog Give Away.

I won a prize!  Nothing like the winning of prizes to give one a smile!
Now this cheered up Crabby old me immensely.  I had won a prize of crochet lovliness.  The photograph does not do them justice at all.  A cheerful garland of Crochet Flowers with a sparkly in the centre of each one and beads on either end of the garland.  I realise my 'crabbiness' is fairly fickle and it is easily banished by 'Crochet Lovliness'.  They redressed the balance of my 'lot' fantastically.   I have hung them opposite my front door so they greet me when I come home.  They remind me that if I am feeling crabby, happiness is not far away.  It is often to be found in yarny stuff.  I just have to remember to look for it!   Do pop along to Sue's Folksy Shop, especially if you are feeling a bit Crabby, you might just find a little something to make you happy again.  :)  xxx

Sunday, 13 May 2012

The Trouble With Tribbles - Peg Loom Weaving Workshop

This is my Mom's first Peg Loom Weaving

Well what a fun day!  It was my job to write the report for the day for 'Guild's Newsletter'.   I wanted to get it written because if I leave it for too long I will forget as my life gets a bit hectic.  I thought I would post it here as it explains the day.  I am not 100% happy with it, but as many things in my life it will just have to do.  Once I start tweaking I could tweak all day!  I much prefer 'Random Bloggy Writings'.  My Alpaca 'Tribble' weaving is in the Washing Machine right now, on a hand wash cycle, I hope it has survived.  Here it is as a 'work in progress'

Peg Loom Weaving Workshop 12.5.12
With Jaqueline Jeynes of Pen Coed Textiles
Jaqueline travelled from her home near Cardigan Bay to deliver her ‘Peg Loom Weaving’ workshop in Birmingham.  She brought with her a range of Peg Looms, fibres, fabrics, yarns and a wealth of experience and knowledge to impart.  Jacqueline has been a tutor with the Open College of Arts for twenty years, providing support for students on the ‘Understanding Art and Textiles Design’ courses. 
Very quickly members were given practical instruction in how to warp a peg loom and begin to weave.  Jacqueline provided many ideas and examples as to the versatility of these simple, portable looms.   Pen Coed textiles provide a variety of looms by mail order and all of these are made to a high standard of finish by Jacqueline’s husband.  The ‘Combi’ looms are rather ingenious and have three sizes of pegs all on the same solid base.  This is excellent value for money in comparison to other Peg Looms available and ‘Pen Coed Textiles’ have applied for the patent on this design of loom.  Peg Looms are not a new idea but the single loom containing three sizes of pegs is an innovative and versatile design introduction to the ‘weaving market’ enabling the Peg Loom Weaver to produce a wide range of fabrics from a single loom. 
Members were weaving a wide variety of commercial yarn, hand spun yarn, novelty yarn, ribbons, rags, chiffon, fleece, fibre and ‘raw’ fleece, producing a wonderfully varied array of textiles and fabrics.  A wide range of textural and colour effects were explored by the group as a whole with some fantastic results.  Jacqueline also explained methods that could be used for adding, beads, buttons and making a feature of decorative fringes.  Shaping is also possible on the Peg Loom.
Whilst the history of Peg Loom weaving is unclear it is believed to be an old method of weaving cloth.  The main advantages of a Peg Loom are the simplicity and the portability.  The pegs can also be used for ‘Stick Weaving’, producing strong dense fabric.  Peg Loom Weaving has gained in popularity over the last twenty years and Jacqueline has a book that is currently at the printers.  I am sure many of us cannot wait to get our hands on a copy as there is a gap in the market for information and design ideas/instruction for this particular method of weaving.  Workshop participants had a relaxed, informative and creative day and I am sure individuals left with a wealth of ideas and intentions to continue ‘Peg Loom’ weaving at home.  It was most enjoyable to work with Jacqueline and as always to work alongside each other.
I  like this one using yarn, chord and rags.

This one grew very quickly and is made with hand spun yarn
This one is destine to be felted
I love the Colours and textures of this piece
I like the way this one explores colour
More experimenting with colour effects
A Cheerful 'Jubilee' inspired piece
This Piece is very Pretty
Quick update from the Washing Machine, it looks as if the 'Tribbles' have survived.  Hopefully tomorrow will be a nice day so it can go on the Washing Line to dry.  Lord knows what I can actually make with it though.  I suggested to my Other Half it would make a lovely cat blanket, we just need to get a kitten!  He gave me the silent treatment!  I think that means yes...I can get one!  

Friday, 11 May 2012

What A Tangled Web We Weave!

I have been putting my little Ashford Kiwi spinning wheel through it's paces.  I have been pushing it to the 'Pepsi Max' of it's capabilities.  I am in experimental 'Lucy in The Sky' style territory.  If there are rules, they are there to be broken!  Finally I have made a little dent in my Alpaca stash.  I have realised that if I want have any chance of spinning a 'decent' yarn with it I am going to have to be brutal and lose a massive proportion of my haul.  Just keeping the better quality fleece.  It seems like a terrible waste to me, but some of it has too much vegetable matter in it and I do not have the hours in the day to pick it all out.  I have also only ever spun Alpaca unwashed and uncarded.  The next lot I spin will be washed and carefully carded.  I still have at least seven black bags full to play with!  Tomorrow I am going to Weaving Spinning and Dyeing Guild and I am doing an all day workshop, 'Peg Loom Weaving'.  Well I have a plan.
In among by Gizmos and Gadgets I have an under used peg loom, and the most delightful little 'Owlie' bag.
The pegs fit nicely in the 'Owlie' bag.  I have used the loom briefly at work where as a collaborative project the kids all had a go at weaving a group piece.  We used an assortment of odds and ends, bright acrylic and novelty yarns.  As I say, the loom is under used.  The pegs were too much of a tight fit so Euan has very kindly and diligently filed the end of each peg and now they are a much better fit.  I have done a little bit of 'Googling' about peg looms and know you can pretty much weave anything on them from rags to raw fleece.  I didn't want to buy anything in addition to the too much fleece and yarn I already hoard so the natural conclusion I came to was to prepare some of my 'Free' Alpaca.
I have literally chucked it through the wheel and made some Super Duper Ultra Bulky 'Yarn' as I Navajo Plied the already thick singles.  The little 'Kiwi' groaned under the pressure.  My Other Half came across a ball of the said yarn today and said 'What the Hell's that!  It looks like a creature!'  It does as well, it reminds me of that episode of Star Trek with all those 'Tribbles'
I wonder how they will weave up tomorrow?  I will of course be back to update you regarding my adventures.  Beam me up Scotty!

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Nettle and Courgette Tripoline with Feta Cheese

Let me tell you there is nothing nicer than a heavily charred courgette.  Nope they are definitely not burnt!  Don't even think it!  Well done, but not burnt.  Can't you tell I am a Mom and used to saying stuff like that?  I went on a forage again, don't forget that rhymes with porridge.  I braved the nettles, feeling like an experienced porridger forager by now, I used my bare hands and pinched the nettle tips out assertively and paid the price. . .getting stung again.  When I got home I got creative in the kitchen.  I figured you can substitute spinach with nettles.  I fried off the courgette in spray oil!  Yep spray oil.  Any fool on a diet  healthy eating plan, uses spray oil. . . don't they?  While my 'Tripoline' pasta was boiling I added the nettles to the pan with the courgette and stirred them around until they were cooked.


I must say this 'Tripoline' strikes me as being considerably posher than spaghetti.  When the pasta was cooked I added the nettles courgette and crumbled Feta cheese.  I combined all the ingredients together well and seasoned with plenty of salt and pepper.  Rather delicious even if I do say so myself.

                This Italian 'folk' saying seems rather apt:

   Italian: Nessuno conosce che cosa sta cucinando nella vaschetta meglio di chi fa la mescolatura. 

   English: No one knows what is cooking in the pan better than the one doing the stirring. 

In this house that is too true!

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Beware of the Ginger Ninjas!

Enter those who dare!  This is the sign on the gate to the Chickens half of the Garden.  I love it!  I don't worry about the neighbour's cats, there are three or four that show regular interest in the chooks.  They come in to the garden but have so far not got too close.  I am sure three chickens could kick a cat's butt!  They regularly have a good peck at Euan and can actually hurt.  They peck my Mother and they occasionally give me a nasty peck on the back of the legs when I am not expecting it.  They are very worthy of this sign!
                They eventually came out to play at about four yesterday afternoon and seemed none too worse for their trauma.  They were very nervous at bedtime going back in their coop, I helped them each to bed by giving them a shove!  Never mind pushing an elephant up the stairs!  You try getting a reluctant chicken into it's coop.
They stuck together in numbers, I rarely photograph three Hens in one picture.  I am pleased to report three eggs were collected this morning too.  The neighbour has had his fence repaired and my Ginger Ninjas are safely in bed.  All is well. . . . . 

Monday, 7 May 2012

Trauma in the Coop!

My Poor Chickie Wicks!  I went to the coop as usual this morning, they normally come bustling out for a chat and are desperate to be let out to run around doing what chickens do all day.  Today was a different matter.  They appeared petrified to see me and squawked, flapping madly, hitting the ceiling of their coop.  I tried to calm them down with my voice but that just seemed to make them even more frantic.  I noticed quite a pile of freshly scraped soil by their coop door and a rubber mat we have there was turned over.  I set to work straightening it all before I took this photograph, that looks like 'Fox' scrape marks to me!
Now I am no expert but they do look like scrape marks and something had been causing a commotion up there, what do you think?  Two of the girls were flapping around making terrified clucks.  When angry or scared chickens can also make a low 'growling' type of noise, they were doing that this morning.  The more timid of the three has just retreated into the nest box with her face to the wall she does not want to move.

I opened all the doors on the coop and spoke in a calm and upbeat manner, but they are not having it!  There is no way they can be coaxed out today.  The poor things look like they are having a nervous breakdown.
They have undoubtedly had quite a traumatic experience.  I am already down to two eggs each day now, I do not know what has happened to the third egg!  I did say to the chickens last week 'Someone will be for the pot if you keep laying two eggs a day'!  The next morning I had three eggs.  Then we have gone back to two again.  Euan was very cross with me for telling them that!  he says they are like sisters to him!  Trauma effects laying so I had two eggs this morning but I am not expecting any tomorrow.  They have stopped laying in the past as a result of a large and loud thunderstorm and they have stopped laying twice last year when I went away and left my Other Half in charge!   Never have these Chicken babies appeared frightened of me before, they even let me bath and blow dry them and chat away quite happily.  It is sad to see them so neurotic, especially as I can't seem to make it better.
 Do they look terrified to you?  They do to me.  I have been up there this afternoon with a large can of corn kernels.  While they still don't want to come out to play, they gobble the corn and it seemed to help them to temporarily forget their troubles.  Poor poor girls, these are the chickens that like to play in the snow, the rain and whatever else the elements throw at them.  Not today.  Euan has asked for his own alarm clock so he can set it to wake him to go and check on them in the night!  I will be making some kind of barricade tonight and hoping for the best.  I will probably stack up flower pots that will hopefully fall and startle a fox.  It is the time of year for hungry fox cubs.  My Other half has a day off work tomorrow he said he will make the fences safer, two of my neighbours either side lost fences last week in the gales, we managed to fix ours the same day, the neighbours still haven't so we think the fox is able to get through the back gardens where previously it couldn't.  I have worried all day!  I think I will be sleeping with one eye open tonight!  I bet the poor chickens won't sleep at all!  

Sunday, 6 May 2012

From Sheep to Chic - Textile Artist Linda Moss

I just remembered I forgot!  I forgot to tell you about last Month's Weaving, Spinning and Dyeing Guilds 'Talk'.   It was called 'From Sheep to Chic' and the speaker was Linda Moss.  Linda is a textile artist who works mostly with fleece from her own sheep.  She keeps 'Soay' Sheep that are a 'Rare' breed, registered with 'The Rare Breeds Survival Trust'.
Soay sheep are unlike any other breed of sheep.  They are one of the earliest most primitive breeds of sheep.  They originate from St Kilda in Scotland, the remotest part of the British Isles.  It also has the harshest climate in the British Isles.  How Soay Sheep came to be in St Kilda, no body knows.  They are adapted for the really harsh climate and are excellent conservation grazers, they are content in woodland or hills.  They lamb much later in the year than other breeds, biological programming ensuring optimum survival of their young.  Linda lives high up in the Shropshire Hills, where again the weather can be exposed and much colder than lower ground.  These little sheep are extremely hardy.  They usually have only one lamb and they make very good mothers, they can pretty much be left to their own devices and they will deliver a lamb without problems on their own in the field.  Although Linda occasionally has Bottle fed lambs around the clock.   I can remember Linda said they do not flock, so you have to tempt them with a bucket of food to round them up, also conventional sheep fencing does not suffice to contain this breed, although they are small they are agile and feisty.  There coloured fleece is a treat for many crafters.  They do not need to be sheared like other sheep as they shed their fleece naturally or it can be picked/pulled off to be gathered.
They are also good for meat, (sorry I cringed writing that).  The meat portions are much smaller but apparently delicious.  Rather than eat the lamb, farmers would wait until the Lamb is older than seven months and then it is called a Hogget and the meat is also called Hogget...not lamb and not mutton, the portions then are bigger than they would be but still considerably smaller than your average lamb.  Enough already of all this talk of eating little Hoggetsies it is not a nice thought!  Delicious on the plate maybe but not a nice thought when you look at the cute little Baa Lambs.  I am such a 'Townie' and would really have never made a Farmers Wife!  My meat comes in packs not from animals of course!
You can read Linda's  Artists Statement Here and also see samples of her work, felting, Dying and crochet to make hats, scarves, bags and jewellery.  I loved the bags made with natural fleece that had been wet felted.  Some of them had buttons made from natural materials, stone with natural holes in them (as opposed to drilled holes), leather or horn.  Bags like this could have been made in Bronze Age Britain as the techniques and materials were all available then.  Bone, leather, stone and horn would have been used for buttons.  It is believed felting is the earliest form of fabric dating from at least 10 000 years ago.
Do pop over and read more about Linda Moss and look at more examples of her beautiful textile work.  Very inspirational stuff.
            Now me needs a little sheepy.  We have just about chicken proofed the garden (well we actually gave half of it to the chickens and gave up)!  I wonder if I could persuade my Other Half to Soay Sheep proof the back garden?  I have also heard about a Piggy Wig that needs a new home as it is upsetting its Llama and Alpaca brothers and sisters!

Mental note to self:  Must Buy Lottery Ticket!