Friday, May 30, 2008

Vera goes to Duxford

Well here, as promised, is Vera. We all went to Duxford today - one of my most favourite days out. Vera had a great time too - she got to try on this tin helmet just in case of air raids. It was very heavy and poor girl, she was nearly squashed.

But travelling round the corner she came across this rather scary looking tiger. Good job there was a thick glass screen between them.

But never fear, this dashing young American Air force Pilot came to her rescue. And she was very smitten, let me tell you!

She wanted a ride on Concorde but this was the closest she got to sitting on it - the wheel!. (That's my 2 children up front, the man at the back kept frowning at us all, he obviously didn't understand about Monkees).

Oh but Vera got to ride on an army truck - it was huge, but she's a brave young thing and wasn't at all scared...

... not until she got stuffed down the gun turret of a very, very big tank that is.

But all frivolity aside, the Imperial War Museum is essentially about war. And whilst being totally absorbed by the sheer magnitude of some of those planes, some things just hit you and make you really think about just what it is you're looking at. For some it's the World War I boots at the entrance to the Land Warfare building.

But for me it was this picture. I couldn't stop looking at it. How young does this 'man' look? Fast asleep he looks like any little boy to me. I wonder how far into the War this was taken. Did he survive? What horrors did he see on the Normandy Beaches? Did his mother ever see this picture? I'm sure it would have broken her heart if she had.

It's a hat!

Now I know it looks more like one of those ghastly toilet roll cosies, but it's a hat - honestly! It will look better on a baby I'm sure, only I didn't have one to hand for the photo. It fell right over Vera's face so she couldn't even act as my model.

Haven't taken any pictures of Vera lately have I? Well I'm taking the boys out today (in the hope that they will stop arguing for a few minutes) so she might very well come with us. To keep the peace you understand.

I have a few newcomers to this blog, so maybe you don't know who Vera is - come back tomorrow and you may find out!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Sensible Cake

I don't often do sensible cakes. For some strange reason I seem to have got myself a name for doing silly cakes with crazy people on. But once in a while it's nice to reacquaint (what a strange word, but apparently spell check says it's right) myself with the more formal skills of cake decorating. I'm far happier doing little people, flowers take far too long, and damp weather like we're having at the moment can ruin them.

I had a lovely e-mail from Merry Mog the other day (she's really called Maureen, but Merry Mog sounds great I think!) Anyway, apparently I've given her mojo back - she gave me a lovely big picture to put on the blog, but I can't remember how to do that. Merry has now started crafting again in a big way, knitting and sewing and baking... It sounds a veritable hive of activity at her house, and I'll bet with all that baking going on, it smells pretty good too!

Thank-you Merry, but I really didn't know I had your mojo in the first place.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Soggy Bank Holiday

On Sunday we all went out. A rare occurrence for all 4 of us to go out at once to something other than a football match. We went to a Craft Show at Burleigh House (this is the house used in the film version of Pride and Prejudice where Lady Catherine lived). The house is beautiful , so pretty and fairy tale like.

If only the same could be said for the weather and the 'Craft Show'. It rained, and it rained and it rained. The stalls at the show were not at all inspiring, most didn't even involve a craft as I would have described it. Hardly anything looked hand made, and there wasn't a single hand-knit at the place let alone a ball of wool. Did anyone else go? Am I just being very fussy? I shan't waste my time or money (£15 for us to get in) going there again.

Fortunately there was a redeeming feature. Mum and dad live just a few miles away, so we called in there for tea. Look what we had for pudding!

This is called Tipsy Cake and brings back so many memories of my childhood. I was always allowed a tiny piece of this when mum cooked it at parties. It's basically chocolate cake, doused in sherry and covered with cream. Very delicious thank-you mum!

This is my mum. She's lovely - and not just because she makes nice puddings! Do you like her cardigan? I made it for her ages ago - it was what I call a freebie as I didn't have to buy any new wool for it, using up scraps from the stash basket. This was in the years before The Stashbasket and was just a carrier bag of scraps left from previous Kaffe Fassett projects.

Hmm, I could make a few more of those right now. Oh no, just as Startitis is getting under control as well. I only cast on one new thing today. I'm obviously on the road to recovery!

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Saturday pudding

Lemon Meringue Pie.
One of my favourites!

Saturday, May 24, 2008

How to make a felted jumper blanket

Before I start, let me just say that I'm really not very good at this sort of thing, so please let me know if I explain something very badly or don't tell you enough information. I shall try my best!

You see, I start off all wrong - why is this photo so much smaller than all the others?!

First of all, collect together a pile of pure wool jumpers. They must be the sort that say on the label 'hand wash only' - the machine washable jumpers just don't felt. Cashmere works too, but not as well as lambs wool in my experience. I have used 8 jumpers here, but have some large bits left over. Bung them all in the washer on a hot wash - 60 degrees works for me - with something bulky like a pair of jeans.

When they're washed and dried, give them an iron - yes, sometimes that ironing board has to be used people! Then take a piece of A4 paper, and using the narrow side as a width guide, cut out lots of pieces of felt. They must be all the same width but different lengths. You should end up with a big pile of rectangles like this:-

Find a big space and lay out your rectangles into a pattern that looks right to you. Lay them in vertical strips, each strip being approx the same length - don't worry about this too much, you can trim them much later.

Keeping the vertical strips together, machine sew the rectangles, leaving a half cm seam.

When all the vertical strips are sewn, lay them all back out again so you remember where everything goes and machine the strips together. This will give you the basic blanket shape.

Trim off any wonky edges and pieces that are too long. Get the iron back out (believe me, this is so much more fun than ironing shirts!) and press the seams flat. You will find that thicker jumpers lay flat and the thinner jumpers are much easier to bend. That doesn't make sense reading it at all, but when you do it, you'll know what I mean, promise!

Now you need to sort out a border. I was lucky that I had 2 orange jumpers here, but you can use different shades - using contrast colours makes the middle stand out more. Cut out long strips approx 3" wide and sew them together to make 4 lengths, slightly longer than each side of your blanket.

Back to the sewing machine and sew the border on, again taking a half cm seam. Iron it all flat.

Now for the fun stuff - cut out 4 different motifs to applique on and embellish with embroidery, buttons or ribbon.

Hand stitch the motifs on the corners of the blanket - or anywhere else you might like.

And here we are - all done.

Was that OK?

It's a very forgiving design, all sorts of mistakes can be hidden on the back! If you do make one, please let me see the results!

Thursday, May 22, 2008


Many thanks for all the kind comments on the latest addition to my blanket supply. There seem to be one or two of you who want to know how to make one, so I shall endeavour to do a 'how to' post in the next few days. Just bear with me whilst I get organised.

This will also give you time to collect some woolly jumpers so you can join in the fun. (You could always go to Amazon to buy a copy of this book - it's worth every penny believe me!)

Wednesday, May 21, 2008


So here is the second felted jumper blanket. The dark mark down the centre of it is just the shadow from the cherry tree at the side; and don't be put off by the slightly odd shape, that's the fault of the gently blowing breeze, it's quite rectangular really.

So there we have something else done, and guess what, Startitis is still not cured because whilst perusing baby knitting patterns for another friend, I came across this. And I just have got to make one. I love mad and wacky baby clothes! Not doing it in the yarn shown, don't have any of that, but something else from the Stash Basket. Off to find some right now....

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Startitis - not just knitting...

So startitis is back with a vengeance. It doesn't just appear to take place in the kitchen either. The dreaded disease over comes me in every single room in the house. Yesterday I started the ironing, I started to clean the bathroom, I started to tidy a couple of cupboards, I started to think about hoovering (only think of it mind you!). I passed the sewing machione and remembered a project I had started to plan weeks ago...

Here are a couple of little bags I made for my mum to give as a present to some little girls (she's planning on filling them with goodies apparently). Well at least I finished them!

Startitis in the kitchen - rhubarb and strawberry jam. I made some scones to go with the jam, but they are long since eaten. Something else also finished.

And of course I cast on for Trudie. It's been ages since I knitted something on such big needles (5.5mm) and can hardly believe how quickly it's growing. Quickly for me you understand, not being one of the world's fastest knitters (infact I'm one of the slowest) this is whizzing along.

Oh and everything has been photographed on top of the latest felted jumper blanket - hopefully finishing that tonight.

So I'm not doing too badly, that's a few things finished isn't it?

Monday, May 19, 2008

Startitis - again

Well, it's arrived again. Coming round more quickly than a number 12 bus. My bouts of startitis seem to be getting worse - more regular, more frequent and oh so much worse than ever before.

Before you go rushing to conclusions, I bought this yarn last year at Ally Pally with the full intentions of making a lovely silk cardigan that Kerrie had on display. But somehow, things overtook it in the stash basket hierarchy of importance. And I just can't imagine why (oh yes, it was all Tipsy's fault wasn't it?). Well no longer will you be tight little skeins, my precious Hipknits Aran Silk. Now is your chance to breathe, be free and become that fantastic cardigan. Tonight you will be wound into balls and begin the exciting journey into knitted clothing. I can almost hear the silk singing and sighing with eager anticipation. Or is that just my over active imagination?

I shall also be continuing my progress with the Regia sock yarn (strangely enough also silk - perhaps this is the year of silk whilst last year was cashmere). I felt the stripes needed a plain stocking stitch pattern so have opted for Yarn Harlot's basic sock recipe. Damn but I love stocking stitch, so neat and perfect - I can hardly wait to get my tootsies in some comfy silk. (It was very cold last night and despite working hard on a felted jumper blanket, me and my toes were freezing!)

There will be more news on the blanket another day. Hopefully when startitis has calmed down a bit (but then I did only start that last night too).

Send a cure someone please, it's getting serious here.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Saturday pudding

Just a very quick pudding today as we're going out tonight - yet another football do. (Have I told you how much I don't like football?)

Anyway, today's pudding is Mars Bar Rice Crispie cakes in little ice cream cornets - so we don't get sticky fingers! Will try and be more adventurous next week - sorry.

Thursday, May 15, 2008


Dear Warren,
What happened was this. I went into the charity shop yesterday feeling cold and fancied warming up. So I looked in the jumper section and found 2 very pretty cardigans. Neither of them went with what I was wearing at the time, so I decided to bring them home and wear them another day. Now I felt compelled to wash them both first, so I did. Unfortunately the temperature was obviously too high as both cardis shrank considerably in the machine, and surprisingly they got all matted and turned into felt. So I'm left now with some extra felt to add to my pile.

And when I said I wouldn't be buying any more wool before Ally Pally, I obviously didn't mean clothes. Surely you wouldn't want me to get cold now would you?

Love from

Dear Marie
ROTFLMAO? I had to ask a friend what that meant. Shocked I was. But thanks anyway.
Love from

Dear Rooknits
No, not sick of blankets just yet. Watch this space, you may see one 'ere long.
Love from

Dear Barbara
Strange, I've not even had a drink and already I'm seeing double! The Regia you sent has already started forming into a sock - it's lovely!
Love from

Dear Trashalou Conscience
I have made something already - several somethings in fact, but it's top secret and I can't tell you what. However, if you want to e-mail me your address, I might just make you something, since you asked so nicely.
Love from

Dear Kylie
That reminds me, your quilt is now finished and I must send it to you.
Love from

Dear Working Mom
Well, did I manage to wriggle out of that one? And yes, that Warren is a very, very clever one.
Love from

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Felt, and more felt...

I'm always on the lookout for jumpers to felt. Every time I go into town, I head for the charity shops and have a browse. Today I was in luck. Look at these extremely pretty ones I found. Oh how I wish I was a size small. Sadly I'm not, so this pair are heading for the washer to become felted. I had great plans for them, I was busy planning all sorts of pretty badges, flowers, bags, blankets, wondering what project to start on first.

And then I thought, I wonder if I have any other pieces from previous trips to go with them.

So I looked in my wardrobe. Yes, there was a bag full.

And I went into youngest son's wardrobe. Yes, plenty in there.

And the blanket box at the end of my bed. Loads in there too.

And the ottoman in the living room full of cake boxes and boards. Hmm. Full of felted jumpers as well.

Do you think I have enough now, or should I keep on hunting?

(Oh and I've just remembered another hiding place that has a big bag jam packed full of more felt. Stop me someone please....)

Monday, May 12, 2008

Finished - at last!

It's done. Finally done. Oh it's been a slog this one has - over a year - the Debbie Bliss rib and cable cardigan, knitted in the marvellous Posh Yarn Emily. The yarn is a dream to knit with, but blimey, what a boring pattern. And to be quite honest, I'm not even sure I like it very much. Oh it looks pretty enough off, laying on the gras, but on me is a different matter. It's quite short and rather snug fitting. I knitted the large size, but am I really so big that large is too small?

I do, however, love the fact that I've cast on in a dfferent colour and have variegated buttons and have made a silly flower thing to go on it. My mother in law assures me that I have the flower on the wrong side ('ladies should always wear a corsage on the right dear') but I like it there so tough!

To celebrate finishing something else, I've got new yarn! And no Warren, I didn't buy it. I won a competition over here. Lucky old me! some beautiful silk Regia sock yarn and would you just look at the araucania blues. It's gorgeous! Thank-you so much Barbara. Needless to say I shall be casting on something with that tonight! Socks? Shawl? Scarf? Ooh, decisions, decisions....

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Saturday pudding

Sorry this is a day late, but yesterday was hectic to say the very least. It was David's party - the one I invited you all to last week. Well I have to say people, you missed a great time. I had intended on taking a photo of all the food, but sorry, I forgot - I was too busy handing it all out. I went for finger food (you know, the sort you pick up with your fingers , things on little sticks etc) rather than plates - much easier to balance your drink!

We managed to get a fridge outside in the shade packed with white wine, boxes with iced water in to cool the beer and soft drinks and the red wine was piled high inside. The weather was perfect and the friends that came were all lovely. The children played on the trampoline (as did a few adults) and came inside on the playstation when it all got too hot.

It really was a wonderful day, a perfect way to celebrate Mr Not So Kitten Soft Hands' 50th birthday. Here he is with his cake making a very ridiculous face (see MonkeeMaker, I told you you'd be surprised!) (I mean, does he really look like someone who was ever in the SAS?) (or is that just a very good disguise?!)

Anyway, there's loads of wine left over, a few beers and plenty of cake - anyone fancy a trip to our house?

Wednesday, May 7, 2008


I've changed my broadband supplier and now have a new e-mail address - please will someone e-mail me and check if this works. Many thanks.

Can't get a link to work but I'm here

rowlands dot family at talktalk dot net

if you get my meaning

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Headless Chickens

Well we have returned from the Welsh Wales Party and just have the Garden Party to arrange now. So that'll be more cake to make and decorate. And lots of Party food too (just a thought, but if any of you want to come and celebrate David's 50th next Saturday, consider yourselves invited - 3pm onwards, just e-mail me for my address)

I have another very important cake to do for this weekend too, as well as getting the house organised, all the washing and ironing done, the garden to sort out - David being away until the weekend - and running about doing football duties. Calling in sick at work sounds very tempting, but as I only live a few doors away from school, they might notice the activity going on and wonder just how sick I really am.

Does any of this make sense? I really am running around like a headless chicken at the moment.

All this pressure and then I sit for a few minutes on the computer and realise that a very good friend is in trouble.

Don't worry, help is on its way! (Well it would be if I could just find my car keys under all the cake tins and washing up!)

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Penblwydd Hapus

Well it's now gone midnight which means that it's May 2nd - my husband David's 50th birthday. Happy Birthday you grumpy old man, love you really!

We are heading off to North Wales later on today (after I've been to bed and woken up and been to school) for a party with all of his family. Naturally I'm taking the cake - this one - and this will infact be Saturday Pudding. So take it a day early will you?

Glad you like the blanket idea - just need to work out a recipient and will get it sorted. I liked the Linus Project, but would quite like to do one for someone elderly this time. Just watch this space, I will organise it all before too long. I'm beginning to think I have a bit of a blanket fetish!

See you when I get back - Monday that'll be then. Try not to miss me too much!