Thursday 30 October 2008

Six Random Things

Nan from Shells and Roses (a beautiful blog filled with cats and other lovely things so do pop over and say hello) tagged me for this and though I have done it before it doesn't mean that I can't do it again. So...
  1. I still find it hard to not believe in Father Christmas. There is something in me that really wants the North Pole and the reindeer and all the rest to sneakily be true.
  2. The same with Hogwarts really. It would be happy to think that there is a magical school in the Highlands with Quidditch and the giant squid and everything else. Not Voldemort though, he is not invited...
  3. And while we are on the theme of know at the end of Labyrinth, when the Goblin King asks Sarah to just love him and everything? I never understood why she turned him down - I mean I understand now but when I was a teenager there would have been no decision at all - pass me that white sparkly frock thank you very much!
  4. Autumn makes me feel sad - but I love Halloween and Bonfire Night and the wonderful comfort food we can eat this season
  5. I am tremendously untidy which is unfortunate as I like my environment to be kept neat.
  6. I am a qualified teacher but would like very much to re-train as a nurse. It is a big decision though and not one to be rushed. I am still thinking about it - watch this space
And that is it. I won't tag anyone for this because there is no one left to tag I think. But if you feel like doing it let me know and I'll pop over and take a look at your randomness which I am certain will be far more random than mine!

Friday 24 October 2008


We went to Ewenny Pottery and watched the potter at work. There is something magical about watching something being created and we stood entraced for ages. I eventually tore myself away to buy the cutest little brown mug for winter mulled wine.

We had lunch in Ogmore at The Pelican, one of our favourite pubs. Like a good blogger I took pictures of the food to taunt you with. V had poached salmon in a white wine and cream sauce and it was beyond delicious. My honey roasted ham with home made apple chutney was just as good and very filling. I have left overs for my tea.

And then we went on to Southerndown and one of my favourite things in the world...

A walled garden...

It was sleepy and warm, sheltered against the cold wind that was blowing off the sea.

And there were still flowers spangled about

Autumn sunshine poured lazily through the tangled apple trees but the sun was so low it felt almost wintery. Not long to go before the frosts arrive I think.

We enjoyed the golden afternoon.

Hope your weekend is just as lovely.

Just a Bit More Wool

Lily in front of the BFL fleece,
(yes it did indeed come from a sheep, not a polar bear - that is one big fleece let me tell you.)

Yes, it is official, I have finally lost it. How in the sea of fibre that I am swimming in already, do I reach the conclusion that I need a whole fleece? And not just one fleece, oh no - I have three of the suckers waiting to be washed and dried. They take flipping ages to dry too. My entire house is now delicately scented with wet wool. I think it is quite a pleasant smell, but others may not agree.

These are destined to become peg woven floor mats. The fibre that I have in my attic is all carded and combed and ready to spin and it is mostly merino and other pretty fine stuff - far too good for mats and mats are what we need for the floor of our tent to keep the drafts out.
We looked for sheepskins but they are too expensive to lay down in such quantity (it is a very big tent!) So there I go again, saying the magic words "I can make that".

To that end, V and I had a quick jaunt up to Brecon Wool Market and picked up a Blue Faced Leicester (beautiful, crimpy and soft) and two Black Welsh (bouncy but hard wearing) and I spent a fine evening a few days ago skirting the fleece outside - that is picking all the pooey bits off round the tail end and pulling off the belly wool which as the sheep has already laid on it all year has already turned to felt. Then it has to be washed which is a bit of a bind really.
Eden came into my room yesterday looking bemused "Mummy, there is a sheep in the bath"

Now that's not a sentence you hear everyday is it?

Tuesday 21 October 2008

The Future of Jousting

Only the British would do this...

Okay, maybe the Aussies would do it as well.

Monday 20 October 2008


Okay, the camera has gone AWOL again and I have got fed up of waiting for it to turn up in order that I could show you the evidence of the latest welter of crafting activity. So you are just going to have to take my word for it...

Do you remember The Haul? Well shortly after that, another haul arrived - my fabric order for the medieval stuff - linen, more wool (woven this time) a few yards of silk/cotton blend and an experimental few yards of jute. This last is not for clothing I hasten to add but it will do very well for the floor of our tent.

So my latest bout of crafting has resulted so far in these:
  • 4 bonnets - two felt, one calico but lined with felt, one crocheted. The last one is for the etsy shop, the other three are for the girls, it is probably going to be cold in Chepstow Castle for Yuletide celebrations
  • 1 cape - double lined with fleece and brushed cotton for Eden
  • 1 underdress - basic rectangles with side seams left open to the knee for Rose.
  • A whole bobbin full of lace weight merino in purple
  • A hank of lace weight silk dyed purple to ply with the merino
  • Sheets of merino felt that have since been made into the bonnets
  • A small band of weaving on a borrowed box loom just to get a feel for a loom again. I used mercerised cotton for the warp and the tail end of the shetland lace weight that I have had hanging around for the last year or two. I bought four hundred grams of shetland fleece and four hundred grams goes a heck of a long way when it is hand spun to filament thickness.

I also had a go at making some braeis for V. These are basically medieval boxer shorts. It was an utter disaster but it was well worth the giggle. Shall we just say that I have only ever sewn skirts or dresses for myself and the girls. Men's undies are a whole different ball game as it were...and well...they didn't fit and I'll leave it there!

I still have a huge amount to do sewing wise - hand sewing takes me an awful long time but using a machine doesn't really save me any time at all. The machine goes so quickly I have hardly any control over so I make mistakes quite frequently so I plod along taking three evenings to do what someone else would take half an hour to do with the machine. Ah well, I shall get there in the end and the although the journey is slow, it remains pleasant and rewarding.

Hopefully I will track down the camera very soon and I shall have a few pics up before long. I might also show you the latest handicrafting - a completely new direction for me - as soon as I have anything that is worth showing off.

Have a great week won't you

Saturday 18 October 2008


It is 7 am.
It is dark and raining out.
I am snuggled under two blankets, a cat and a warm laptop.
It is very peaceful.

Rumblings from upstairs indicate that this is all about to end.
Soon, porridge will be demanded.
and warm milk
V will trundle downstairs
I'll light the fire, it's pretty chilly down here,

Slowly the day starts.
I'm off to put the kettle on.

Have a good Saturday won't you.

Tuesday 14 October 2008

When the Cat's away...

the mice eat what the heck they want. Discuss:

Me: - rummaging in the cupboard, hungry after work - Where are the biscuits?
V: Eaten
Me: The whole packet?
V: Yup
Me: -with gathering dread - What did you give them for tea tonight?
V: Well, they were being really picky and everything
Me: Yeeees?And?
V: So they had crisps
Me: ...and biscuits
V: and those little red circular things
Me: ^&*(!...?
V: Those red circles you put on pizza
Me: They ate the chorizo?
V: Yeah
Me: What!
V: Hey, it's what Dad's do.

Thank goodness I only work part time.

Friday 10 October 2008

Little News Flash

Some of my work has been included in a treasury selection on etsy.
Click on the colourful writing to see I'm not kidding!

Shall we say I'm a bit chuffed?

*my face is hurting 'cos
I am grinning so hard*

Bramble Jelly

I am still stupidly busy spinning and sewing right now but here are some pictures of the bramble jelly that I made a little while ago. I meant to post about that earlier but never got round to it. So what with the crafting projects being rather higgledy piggledy at the moment (there's not much that is photo-worthy in heaps of part stitched cloaks) I am backdating rather at the moment.


Pick as many blackberries as you possibly can! (absolute minimum, 1 kilo).

Weigh them, put in a large heavy pan, and for every kilo add a chopped apple (including skin, pips and core), the juice of a lemon, and 250 ml of water.
Bring to the boil and simmer gently until the fruit is very soft and pulpy. Mash to extract maximum juice. Strain through a jelly bag (do not force through, but allow to drip — takes ages!)

Measure the resulting juice, and add 750g organic granulated sugar for every 1 litre. Return to a low heat, stir to dissolve sugar, then bring to a fierce boil.

Boil hard until setting temperature is reached (112 C) – or until a little of the mixture, dropped onto a chilled plate, sets with a slight wrinkle.

Pour into still hot sterilised jars. Allow to cool slightly and start to set before topping with a disc of waxed paper (if you like) and screwing on the top.

This is stunningly delicious on hot buttered toast and it is dead easy to make. I got the recipe from The River Cottage site. Do take a look if you are at all enthusiastic about food and/or food production.

Have a great weekend. Pick blackberries if you can!

Tuesday 7 October 2008

The Haul

Wingham Wool comes to South Wales every October and it is one of the most fun days of my year. I get to have a free sampling day, picking any fibre I like and getting to try it out on the wheel. Plus I get my years stash enhancement all in a few hours. Below is the entire haul just about fitting into my largest armchair.

There are:

  • three different kinds of wool, merino (dyed in rainbow colours), blue faced liecester and shetland.
  • two kinds of flax, bleached and unbleached.
  • egyptian cotton.
  • a cashmere and silk blend which is eyewateringly beautiful - it feels like it would melt when in contact with water, just soooooo gorgeous.
  • there are two different weights of silk yarn for a warp - apparently it is just not done to use handspun as a warp thread, though of course they must have once (pre industrial revolution) but there you are.
  • there is a super bulky merino yarn which, though I can spin that kind of yarn quite well, I just could not resist the colours - cherry truffle, purple heart, bed of roses and herb garden. I bought an undyed hank of this as well so I could have a play at dying my own.
  • there is also a five ply geurnsey which I will also use as a warp thread.
  • and finally I bought two drop spindles - one to use and one to teach with on medieval days.
  • oh, and a crochet hook because you can never have too many crochet hooks, right?

I had so much fun. I learnt how to work a drop spindle properly, how to spin with just a stick, I learnt the correct way to ply, how to slow the flyer down to make even finer yarn ( and I could do pretty fine already) and I learnt how to spin flax which I had always thought was a terrible bind - water, dressing the distaff etc but it isn't - it is just a simple as spinning wool, so I was just fine!

This is the finest of the silk yarns with my thumbnail in there for scale. Yes, it is cobweb fine but it is also amazingly strong. I intend it for two projects. One for when I have spun up the cashmere and silk blend, either to ply with it or to use as a warp for when I weave it and the second as a warp for when I start weaving the braids for the girls belts to go with their medieval costumes.

If you don't spin or weave then almost all of this post must have been either bewildering and/or boring so sorry for that but this fibrey stuff really thrills me so there we are :o)

I have already started on the girls capes and belt bags for the medieval days so I will post some pictures of these later in the week. I may well be too busy to post for the next day or two so I wish you a wonderfully soft and colourful week ahead!

Sunday 5 October 2008

Honey Bread

As promised, the picture.
There's a pity there is no scratch 'n' sniff option with computers. This smells lovely!

No picture yet because it is still proving in my airing cupboard but this is a lovely loaf. It is very sweet for bread but not sweet enough to be called a yeasted cake. I am taking it to evening service today as it is harvest festival.

1lb of strong white flour, though I have made this with plain too, I don't think it matters that much
1 sachet of dried yeast
1 teaspoon of salt
2 tablespoons olive oil or you can rub 1.5 oz of butter into the flour before the wet ingredients are added
10 fl oz milk warmed
2 medium eggs beaten
3 tablespns organic honey (organic honey tastes better by miles)

  • Plonk the dry ingredients in a very large bowl, glass for preference as it holds the warmth. Add the oil, honey, eggs and milk and mix together, first with a fork and then with your hands. Knead it for about five or ten minutes. The texture should change from sticky to pliable silkiness. Add more flour if it feels too sticky.
  • Then cover it with a tea towel and leave it in a warm place for about an hour and a half until it has doubled in size. (See the need for a large bowl!) You can leave this to prove over night too, only leave it in the kitchen rather than somewhere warm like your airing cupboard otherwise it will spill over the bowl and make a mess all over your clean linen!
  • Split the dough into three roughly equal pieces, roll into a long sausage, about the same width as...well a sausage and then holding one end, plait the three sausages together in memory of the trinity.
  • Place on a lightly oiled baking tray and brush the loaf with some milk. Bake in a pre-heated oven at 200 C for 30 minutes until it is toasty golden.

Really this is good enough to eat on its own but the addition of home made plum jam is just heavenly. I'll put a picture up when it is out of the oven.

Have a honey scented day won't you...

Thursday 2 October 2008

Sewing with Zac

Here I am trying to get something done. And Zac is doing his level best to get me to tickle his tummy. Place your bets ladies and gentlemen - who do you think won? The human or the feline?