In our quest to find the best way of making porridge (you may remember this post) we've been trying a new recipe, this one from the back of the Rude Health Oatmeal box, and very good it is.
You measure the oatmeal* by volume, not weight, and for two generous portions (and we are obviously hungrier than the Rude Health people as we've doubled the suggested quantities) put 200ml in a bowl, add 300ml of warm water, stir, cover, and leave to soak overnight. In the morning, bring a further 300ml of water to the boil, then add the oatmeal mixture and some salt and simmer for a few minutes. As to toppings/accompaniments, I'm always open to new combinations, but our current cream and maple syrup preference is hard to beat.
The porridge bowl pictured is from Anta and is in their Anderson tartan range - as that's my family name I should really get one. If Black Watch is more to your taste, it's Anta's Vintage Design of the Month, so you can order a piece specially in April and receive it in May, and if you're bargain-hunting (for their goods are not cheap), sign up for the Tartan Tuesday emails to be notified of their weekly offers.
Another bag, this one made for a larger project (of which more anon). The finished measurements are approximately 15" x 15", though the bottom is narrower as I've boxed the corners to create a flat base. I've interlined this with wadding to give it a bit more body,
and used Liberty Tana Lawn 'Betsy' for both the upper exterior and interior, and a button loop closure (there's also a lined pocket inside). The handles are cotton tape salvaged from a carrier bag.
Each bag contains knitting!
(Details, such as they are, of the smaller bags are to be found here, here and here, and all were made with bits and pieces I had to hand - nothing was bought specially.)
"... I knew I wanted to display [the jewellery] in a living setting, silver and gold appearing magically among real growing plants, arranged on moss and twigs and grass. Back in my workshop at home I built a series of oversized seed trays out of old timber, salvaged long ago for just this sort of eventuality. I headed out to the countryside to forage. Tiny nettles and holly seedlings from Suffolk; mossy rocks and ferns from Wales. Hazel branches from the woods down near Pin Mill to cut into minute logs. I planted up my seed trays and scattered grass seed over the bare patches. Now they just needed to grow, and for the plants to spread and intertwine. This was going to take a great deal of care and patience.
Meanwhile, Kathy and I put the finishing touches to the book, and by that time the jewellery was almost designing itself. I drew sketches for a bunch of keys, plant labels, some rough garden string and a smooth apple. There was a bee buzzing by and a pea ready to pick. A tiny watering can with a drip just hanging from its spout."
On the right, my third project bag based on this design, but instead of the drawstring I've sewn in cord handles, and I've given it a lined pocket (for holding stitch markers, ball bands, etc.).
The exterior is navy linen as before, the interior is cotton from an old shirt (the scrap bag comes up trumps again), and the contrast fabric is yet more Liberty Tana Lawn, this time 'Floral Eve' - which Vivienne Westwood used to charming effect in a dress.
My smaller knitting projects have up to now been kept in very basic white cotton bags, but I wanted something a little larger and smarter and with a bit more body, so I've made a lined drawstring bag following these comprehensive instructions.
I used navy linen for the exterior, Liberty Tana Lawn 'Ianthe' for the accent piece, and 'Betsy' for the lining, with some cord from the ribbons and trimmings box for the ties.
The finished bag is 10.5" tall by 10" wide with the base 3.25" deep, and as it was fun to make and has turned out exactly as I'd hoped, I'm going to make some more.
"When did you last ...?" I asked myself when I picked up my spindle the other day and had another go at spinning.
These pages (very useful in that respect) tell me that I bought the spindle back in 2008, and I worked away for a while, improving my technique but not really getting very far. Determined to have a more productive year craft-wise (hence the 'roll' which Karoline astutely spotted I'm on just now), I took the spindle out of the cupboard, refreshed my memory with the help of some Youtube* videos, and set to. A helpful tip I picked up late yesterday was to pre-draft the fibre, so I'm trying that now and getting a more even, if still very beginner-ish, result.
How about you? When did you last knit/spin/sew/quilt/embroider/play a musical instrument/draw/paint/etc.? If it's been a while, why not pick it up again?
*In the olden days, a girl would have been taught to spin by a female relative; nowadays, you can learn from YouTube - or as Mr. C. quipped when I made that observation - 'ThouTube' ...
The pattern is Cauchy from Cookie A's Sock Innovation - all perfectly straightforward except for the picking up of the stitches on the folded picot cuff which must be the most fiddly of fiddly manoeuvres (I cast on the second sock today and had just as much trouble with it as I did the first time, so if you want an easy life, do ribbing instead). Happily, I'm now on the leg section which is plainer sailing.
Wanting some mindless knitting too, I've also cast on the Simple Rib Hat in Blue Sky Alpacas Worsted Hand Dyes, colour 'Midnight' - a very dark, inky blue with the subtlest of variegation. I got the yarn at Wool & Co., and I commend them for their speedy service and their competitive prices.
I'm determined to be more productive this year than I was last and I'm off to a good start, but what about everyone else? Are you making anything tricky/soothing/fun/ambitious? Have you made any craft-related resolutions for 2014?
an ashet covered with pine branches and ivy leaves, strewn with cranberries and 'snow', with three hyacinths in individual vases to add a little height and fragrance. Small white bowls of snowy cranberries carried on the colour scheme, as did the place card holders.
The napkin rings themselves took no time to make - though as the florist's wire I had was very fine, I used a thickish needle to pierce the berries first - but the hyacinths offered no resistance of course. I made them all on Christmas Eve and they are still looking as good as new today. Sarah Raven says in her video that in summer she uses cornflowers in the same way as they also last very well out of water, so that's an idea I must remember.
I ought to say here, by way of explanation, acknowledgement and appreciation, that with the exception of some canapés, Mr. C. does all the cooking of the Christmas lunch, and a grand job he makes of it, and that is why I am free to fiddle around with the frou-frou.
"... Two Turtle Doves traces the intimate journey of how an idea is transformed from a fleeting thought into an exquisite piece of jewellery. It is about where we find our creativity, how we remember and why we make the things we do."
I'm just beginning Alex Monroe's book, subtitled A Memoir of Making Things, and have high hopes for it. It includes hand-drawn maps, working sketches, and its epigraph is from Arthur Ransome's Swallowdale, "When a thing's done, it's done, and if it's not done right, do it differently next time."
Lynne's post on Maeshowe has had me leafing through my books on English language this morning, taking me back to the days when I knew a bit about runes and their descendants in Old and Middle English. I was taught by this man, who in turn was taught by Tolkien, and so although it's all a bit hazy now, that heritage is special in itself.
Anyway, the brooch in the picture happens to bear a runic inscription from Maeshowe: reflecting times past and present. It comes from the Orcadian jeweller Sheila Fleet, and it's worn on a Harris tweed jacket*, so when I go about I am in effect a cryptic advertisement for the arts and crafts of the Scottish islands and thus in keeping with the runes, you might say.
*It may look a bit wild here, but it's actually a sober, heathery green in the flesh.