Wednesday, March 30, 2011


The garden is just bursting into life. There are a few flowers scattered around, but most of the drama is coming from the leaves. The rhubarb astonishes me daily; obviously neglected when we moved in, with the most cursory care it has made a triumphant comeback.

Some of the roses have joined in, opening beautifully coloured new leaves. And almost every day I find a new rose that has been strimmered to the ground, or buried under rotting apples or a mound of climber, and has sent out a few wobbly shoots. I'm sure some won't make it, but others look like they'll give it a go.

Yesterday's discovery: violets! Tiny, stunted, neglected things but now I know they are there I can help out a bit.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Tastes of times past

Nothing tastes to me more like childhood than pikelets. Our babysitters made pikelets for us after school. Later, I made pikelets for my brother after school. I entered them in the local show (I think I may have won the odd third prize. My pikelets were never perfectly oval, which I seem to remember was the goal. I did better with the miniature garden category). And now I get to make them for my hungry boys. Turns out they are a perfect pre- and post-swimming snack, and conveniently sized for a two year old. And a great excuse for a sit-down morning tea on a sunny spring day.
My pikelet recipe:
Beat an egg, 2oz sugar, 1/2 oz butter and 5 tblspn milk together. Stir in 4oz SR flour and some nutmeg (or not, if you have a nutmeg-hating family member). Drop spoonfuls into a hot pan (despite using nonstick pans I still use a smear of butter in the pan, or they don't taste quite right). Flip when they start to bubble, serve warm (with butter if you're feeling decadent). Delicious.

Thursday, March 24, 2011


With all this spring in the air, I feel the need to get new projects started and to tidy up a bit. Using up some yarn in my stash seemed to fit both bills. The only jumper-quantity of yarn I had was some Jamieson and Smith 2-ply jumper weight yarn in the lovely colour of FC54. I love the colour, but the yarn put me off - a bit scratchy in that shetland way, and thin. But its all I had - so I swatched. And you know what? It is so beautiful. It is very hard to capture the colour - this picture is a bit light, but you get the idea - gorgeous heathered pinks and grey-blues. A bit crunchy, but it is softening as I knit. The swatch went so well that I cast on the next night for a cardigan. Now the big question - do I have enough yarn?

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Mellow Yellow

Our garden is currently green (grass, weeds & moss pretending to be lawn), brown (trees and bushes about to have leaves) and yellow (daffodils and forsythia). I'm hoping that this trend won't last and that there will be a lot more green and additional colours in the coming months, but right now its kinda cool. It keeps drawing me outside, promising spring. And these duck bootees keep making me laugh (thanks mum!)

Monday, March 21, 2011

Later than belated

A friend and neighbour had a lovely little girl last year. Yep. Last year. And not even at the end of last year, like I did, but in the middle of last year. Which is fine, except about 3 months before she was born I said that I would make a quilt and cushion covers for her room. Her mother had chosen some fabric and had been quoted a totally outrageous amount of money to have them made (the quilt in particular was ludicrously priced - and it wasn't even a quilt, just a single piece of fabric, front and back, with a single quilted seam about 3 inches in from the edge as a border). So I finished the quilt a month or two after she was born, and felt guilty about the delay. But then I started on the cushion covers - and got the heebie jeebies about them. The ones that I was copying (made for her first child) had a zip closure at the side seam, and piping. How hard could it be? Well, I wasn't sure and I didn't want to find out! Despite buying plenty of fabric (it is Elephant and Castle Blossom and Lafayette Peony from Designers Guild), I had a paranoia about wasting any and not making them to a professional level (like I would ever be able to!). Finally, guilt overcame my paralysing self-doubt, and I got started. This is the first one, and the second one was finished yesterday. You know what? They look great!! They aren't perfect, but they are pretty good considering my sewing skills, and they are handmade with love and care. I'm now inspired to make some for me :)
(my apologies - for some unknown reason Blogger is rotating my pictures for me today. Just tip your head to the right for the time being)

Saturday, March 19, 2011


The other day I won a blog contest on Made by Rae's Celebrate the Boy month - 3 yards of fabric from Fabricworm, from the Circa 60 Beach Mod collection by Monaluna. And it has arrived already! It is organic cotton, and is a bit lighter and smoother than regular quilting weight cotton, but it is glorious and makes me think of sunny days and holidays and shorts. And even shirts (especially the caravan print) - I know I said I would never make another one, but it seems that sewing shirts for boys is something like labour - after a while you forget about the process and focus on the wonderful outcome :)

I thought I would order the spots and the ducks as contrast trim, but they aren't quite right. However they are gorgeous in their own right (although I wish I hadn't chosen the spots - I have so many already!) and I think I'll have enough in those half-yard sections to make something for the littlest boy. But there are a few other projects to finish before I can cut into these beauties.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Pink poppies

I love having two little boys, and sewing and knitting for them. But there are so many pretty girl patterns out there that sometimes I just have to have a go. And luckily I have friends and family with gorgeous little girls to be recipients. I found a ball of Sublime Yarns cashmere merino silk in my stash, in a pretty pink colourway and cast on for the sweet Poppy hat. And guess what? It was finished the next night! Its a lovely and interesting pattern that knits up quickly, and looks cute even on my two year old boy (he quite likes pink, so he was happy to model). This photo somehow shows up the short-row wraps more than in real life, but its still cute (and my girl-knitting urge has been temporarily sated).

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Delicious deliveries

In my efforts to avoid going to the supermarket with two small children, we have begun ordering veg boxes. It has turned out to be good fun and definately perked up my interest in food. I don't know about anyone else, but I seem to get into ruts with cooking - I suddenly notice that I have cooked the same five meals with minor variations for months. Usually I've tried to deal with this by using new cookbooks, but this time the veg box has done it for me. We still struggle to use up a whole cabbage every week, and we clearly eat less carrots than other people, but surprises like the red kale above have been fun and usually delicious.
One of the side effects of having a box of fruit and veg delivered every week that you don't specifically choose is that meals need to be planned a bit more. I really dislike the idea of scheduling meals - what if I don't want to cook that thing on that day (or eat it)? So instead I have come up with a system where I write down at least eight meals that could be made with the ingredients I've bought for the week, and then we cook from that. I love this new system - so often, the major problem I have is deciding what to cook - now half the work is done for me, and I really enjoy the time when I sit and go through books and blogs deciding what to put on the list.

Friday, March 04, 2011

Good mornings

I love pancakes for breakfast, especially good, big, fluffy buttermilk pancakes. But recently, I had some buttermilk that needed to be used and no great desire to eat pancakes (I know, I must have been ill). However, in my favourite cookbook (this one by Rachel Allen), just a page or two on from the pancake recipe was one for rhubarb muffins with buttermilk. They were quick to whip up (with pear instead of rhubarb) and so delicious. And of course what boy doesn't love cake for breakfast?

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Going Dotty

I finally finished the baby quilt I started sometime towards the end of last year. The front piecing only took an afternoon, as did the back. The binding took considerably longer as I decided I wanted thick binding with mitred corners, and of course I made every mistake I could. But it was finally finished, and I quilted using my new walking foot (which is sensational, by the way).

I'm really happy with how it turned out - its a very long time since I made a quilt, and the first time to make one only on the machine. We haven't stopped using it - as a blanket, toy, playmat and draught stopper. It has polyester batting (I had a piece this size in my stash, and only smaller pieces of cotton/bamboo), which is fine for this purpose as it is nice and light and squishy.

Top: Kaffe Fasset Spots (using this pack from Cotton Patch)
Bottom: Amy Butler Full Moon Polka Dot (from various sources, but binding in Tangerine is from Emma Garry Fabrics).
Quilting: purely for my own notes, I used Presencia Thread Finca 60/3 in light grey (352).

Yes Way!

Something unbelievable happened this morning. I opened my inbox, and there was an email from Made by Rae, saying I had won the fabricworm giveaway run on her blog the other week! It is a brilliant prize - 3 yards of fabric from one of two collections - I chose some from the Beach Mod collection (including the cute Ukeleles above), and I'm so excited! Summer clothes for the boys have been playing on the edges of my mind lately (although I'm still sewing winter weight trousers), and this has just inspired me even more to get thinking of shorts, shirts and shortalls! Woo hoo! Thanks Rae and Cynthia!