Happy (Knitting) New Year!

Hello and a very happy 2010 to everyone. I am having a very nice unexpectedly quiet and domesticated weekend thanks to the snow. I should have been teaching this Saturday but all classes have been cancelled due to the bad weather so instead I have been concentrating on knitting and making soup!

We arrived back from the sunny shores of Spain on Weds – a little late but safe and sound into a very snowy Manchester Airport. We are now once again fairly snow bound here as our road is pretty bad and the pavements icy but we are near the main road and buses are running and I have been and stocked up with food and lots of soup making and baking ingredients so will not go hungry! More snow arrived today and more is forecast for Mon and Tues so who knows if classes will be running this week!

At Jake’s request I made Tomato and Red Pepper Soup from my Covent Garden Soup Company Recipe book yesterday – doesn’t the veg look pretty ready to be roasted.

Lovely healthy veg!

Today I have made Cauliflower and Roquefort using the Delia Online recipe (Jake didn’t want any of this one though it was lovely!) Tomorrow will be Parsnip and Sweet Potato (a variation on Nigella’s Butternut and Sweet Potato recipe) using some of my left over veg from before we went away. Am also planning to cook the Cranberry and White Chocolate Cookies from Nigella’s Christmas book that we didn’t get around to doing on Xmas Eve.

Have been spending some more time knitting just recently and have decided that 2010 will be my year and improving my knitting skills. In terms of knitting for re-enactment purposes I would love to be able to knit my own socks, stockings and hats so need to get really good with double pointed needles and know how to turn a heel before I can attempt these feats! My fellow knitters at the Woolly Minded and Beady Eyed knit groups assure me that socks are really easy once you can understand the pattern so I shall aspire to master that this year. I have just come across an online resource about historical knitting – from this month’s Let’s Knit mag – called Knitting History so will be looking at that for info.

I do know of a very talented woman called Sally Pointer who I met through re-enactment who makes all sorts of lovely knitted and felted items as well as cosmetics. She has a web site  where you can buy her very informative books and patterns and I have just discovered her blog  Wicked Woollens as well so shall be reading that as well for inspiration.

So I have decided to make lots of birthday gifts to practise pattern reading and new techniques. since all my knitted Xmas gifts were so well received. My first knitting WIP is a present for a friend of mine’s little girl and comes from the Nov 09 Let’s Knit mag –

Let's Knit mag
The November issue cover

It is a very cute little bear with a knitted dress that has a bed that folds up to be a bag that the bear can be carried round in.

Teddy bag 1
This is the magazine pic of the finished article
The very cute teddy ….
Teddy 2
….. In her little bed

This is my progress so far …

Teddy 3
The outside of the bag

I have altered the design slightly by chain stitching around the edges of the border and all the rectangles in an attempt to neaten them up! The pattern has not been too difficult to follow though there were no instructions on how to prevent getting gaps between rectangles when you swapped wools but I remember reading somewhere about twisting the wools together at the back on each row and that worked. I really like doing Moss stitch which is all around the border as it has such a pretty effect.

I was very pleased yesterday as my long-awaited ASOE  Xmas ornie from Marlene in the US arrived. I was concerned as I knew that she had posted it well in time for Xmas but what with the volume of post and the weather issues here it took a long time to come! But it was worth the wait.

Xmas ornie
Marlene’s Xmas Exchange ornament for me

It is really lovely so thank you very much Marlene – I have taken the tree and all the other ornies down but this one is going to stay up for a few weeks and have its five minutes of fame!

I hope you all had a very Happy New Year – we had a lovely (warm!) time in Spain and I will be posting some pics of that later on. I hope that 2010 is going to be a very good year for you all. I had a really good 2009 thanks to my lovely family and friends and am really looking forward to this one. Thank you to all those people who have visited the Xmas newsletter page to read the summary of our year.

It is always particularly significant having a new decade and this one is going to be very full of big changes for the family – all very positive and lovely ones. Jake will finish school this year and hopefully go on to 6th form college and Ellie is very well settled at Uni. Who knows I might even be a Granny by the end of this decade – more things to knit!

The 1990s were very much about the kids for me – Ellie being born early in 1991 and Jake in 1994 and the 2000s very much about work and career as I started my full-time job at the University in 2001.

So this next decade is going to be about my new roles as I concentrate hopefully more on developing my ideas for my textile business. I am not in position to do much at the moment but have made a resolution for 2010 that I am going to produce a design from scratch based on my pictures from Spain. This is just the tiniest start but who knows what might happen!

Thank you for visiting, hope you are not too cold or snow bound and Happy New Year!


Our very traditional Christmas

We have had a very nice, and very traditional Christmas this year – this is the first one in 5 years where we have not been away on holiday (first Prague then 4 years in Spain) and Ellie really wanted a traditional family time now she is away at University. 

So we had a very lovely time – helped by the very seasonal weather – the first white Christmas I can remember for at least 35 years. 

There was snowman building on Christmas Eve – 

Jake and his friend Sammy built this

And lots of baking as we decided to make our own Yule Log this year – 

Yule log
Nigella's Yule Log recipe - very, very sweet frosting but it all got eaten!

The gingerbread house kit I bought had suffered a bit of structural damage but Ellie got very creative with the pieces – 

Gingerbread 1
Ellie's very good at using the writing icing for artworks
Gingerbread 2
And bits of it still look like a house!

I bought myself  Nigella’s Christmas cookery book as a treat – for the last few years when we have been away I have done a pretend Xmas dinner before we go but it has not been much more than a glorified roast but this year I did lots of domestic goddess stuff and thoroughly enjoyed it – even started off Christmas Day with watching Nigella on TV and doing a bit of stitching before sorting out the turkey as I was up ridiculously early (of course the teenagers didn’t surface for presents till after 9!) 

So we had a very nice lunch with some special additions of parsnip and sweet potato bake (not Nigella, think that was Good Food mag), and brussels with pancetta and then the buffets included Nigella’s Chilli jelly (bit liquid rather than solid but very tasty) and some other recipes from my new tapas cook book. 

Xmas lunch 2
Xmas lunch

We had lots of lovely pressies and I was very pleased that Jake and Ellie liked their hand knits – they had both asked for money and a few stocking pressies this year and as I have been trying to make a hand crafted gift for most people this year I made them both wrist warmers and Ellie got a matching hat as well. 

Jake gloves
Jacob likes his wrist warmers!
Ellie gloves
Ellie with her hand knit set


The patterns for these items are all freebies from Ravelry

After Xmas lunch we went sledging which the kids very much enjoyed – 

Sledging 1
Ellie - with hat!
sledging 2
A great action shot!

As well as the knitting I have been busy finishing the Xmas stitching. The Noel ornament from Helga Mandl  that I have mentioned before was my ornie of choice for the girls who are my very good friends here in Hudds so this was the collection I finished just before Xmas – 

Xmas dec 2
I love this ornie - have now stitched it 9 times!

I am actually taking the pattern away with me to stitch one of my very own for the tree for next year. 

I have also just finished these which are for my relatives in Spain – this is from the Gift of Stitch Mag – this year’s Xmas ornie edition. 

Xmas dec 3
A very pretty little snowflake design

All of these are once again stitched over my favourite 28 count sparkly evenweave (need my glasses to stitch this these days!) with Silk Mill threads. 

We are off to Spain in the early hours of tomorrow morning (snow permitting!) so am looking forward to some warm weather (it is 21 degrees there rather than -3 in Yorkshire), some cycling, some lovely tapas and the Three Kings festival on Jan 5th. Am taking lots of stitching and my latest knitting project as well. 

Hope that you all have a very happy New Year and let’s hope that 2010 will be filled with plenty of time for textiles! 

Thank you for visiting. 

Home alone …. with a pumpkin!

I have had a very rare occurence these last two days as I have been here all by myself! Ellie is of course in Worcester and Jake has gone to London on a drama and media trip. He left very early yesterday morning and is due back very late tonight. He was going to see two shows, visit an art gallery, have a tour of the sights and go to Covent Garden – there was also Pizza Hut for tea which he was very pleased about!

So I have been on my own for the first time in a long time – I think the last time this happened was about three years ago when everyone else had been invited away for the weekend and I was ill so couldn’t go. The house has been very quiet and it has been strange not having to make any meals. This is good preparation for Jake leaving home in a few years – what will I do with all that extra time!

More textiles of course! I can now post pics of the item I have had from Wendy Jo  in the US as part of the autumn exchange. As soon as she has posted pics of the ornament I have sent her on the ASOE  blog I can post pics of that but in the meantime here is the lovely pumpkin cushion she sent me.

The cushion being modelled on a pumpkin!
The cushion being modelled on a pumpkin!

It is a really gorgeous pattern from JBW Designs – I have admired their very detailed work for a long time but never stitched any myself. The back of the piece is equally lovely.

Cute oak leaf and acorn backing fabric
Cute oak leaf and acorn backing fabric

Thank you very much Wendy Jo. It is  a very appropriate design as at this time of year I always buy a pumpkin for the kids to turn into a lantern and to make what has become a traditional recipe for this time of year – a soup that I really love. It is from Delia Smith’s Winter Collection  recipe book and is called ‘Pumpkin soup with melting cheese’ – recipe is at Delia’s site via this link.   It is heaven in a bowl and one of the things worth putting up with soggy Autumn days for.

I shall be making the soup this weekend once Jake has cut out his lantern. He doesn’t actually like the soup though – which just means more for me!

The Winter/Xmas exchange is up next for a new partner Marlene (no blog) . I have hundreds of Xmas designs to choose from but think I know which one to pick. That has to be finished and mailed by 5th Dec so I have a while to work on it.

I have made good progress with my knitting – the second Xmas piece is now finished and I am starting the third piece tonight. Will be posting soon about the lovely new knitting shop we have here that hosts Knit and Natter. In the meantime have banana bread (have added cinnamon to the recipe this time) which smells like it is ready to come out of the oven!

Bye for now.