Saturday, 29 September 2012

How to make a log cabin cushion

This workshop will be held @ Unravel in Denby Dale on Saturday October 13th 10-4pm, its a good starter project for the novice quilter and although sewing experience will be beneficial its not essential.  Unravel has a fabulous range of fabrics and you can easily get them on the day, there's still a couple of places available - so come along and have a relaxing time 'log cabinning'....

Saturday, 22 September 2012

Bramble ( Blackberry) Jam

Autumn is here and the hedgerows in our valley have an abundance of brambles (blackberries).  My husband loves his jams and marmalade so I always make a load of the stuff as he goes through a jar every 2 weeks...fortunately he is in a very physical job to burn up all that sugar.  He's also a bit of a traditionalist and sees it as a sign of Autumn if we go 'blackberrying'. but this time he did the 'blackberrying' as I was running a workshop.
Some of my first cookbooks - and what got me into cooking - was the Seasonal Cooking books by Claire MacDonald, she was doing seasonal cooking over 30 years ago: before it became hip to do it.  Not only are her recipes good these books are a running diary of the seasons on the Isle of Skye and make really nice reading, If you havn't seen them I would definitely check them out - her hotel is also fab as we stayed there many years ago: and if you are a MacDonald it will have even more significance as her and her husband are heads of the clan MacDonald.  In fact thinking about it, the visit to the hotel came first and then I bought the cookbooks.  So, I use Mrs Macdonald recipe which I have photographed below but I'll lead you through the production: 

                                                             A very worn book

Weigh your fruit, double it and this will give you an idea how many jam jars you will need - you need a jar for every 1lb in weight.  You then need to sterilise your jars - put clean jars into the oven not touching each other and have the oven at its lowest temperature.  Keep the jars there till you are ready to fill them.
So having weighed my blackberries and clearing away any nasties, I then wash the fruit and tip it into the jamming pan.  I then add some water to the pan but leave it to below the fruit level - as the fruit will produce its own juices I then slowly heat through till the fruit loses its blackness, becomes red and softer.  So it should have this appearance......

Then take a large bowl and put your fruit into a sieve - and the bit I hate - strain the fruit and start to work it through the sieve to get as much of the fruit pulp as possible.

You are then left with the pips and sediment in the sieve - discard.

Now measure your liquid and for each pint of fluid add 1lb of sugar.

On this occasion I also used 1 sachet of Pectin although you do not have to.  Pectin will reduce the boiling time and make it set quicker - if you do not have any it will just take longer to boil.  Put a saucer or small dish into your fridge or freezer.

Add the sugar and pectin and put over a gentle heat - if you melt the sugar quickly the jam will crystalise later.  So gentle heat and when it is all melted turn the heat up and get it to a rolling boil.....

Let the mixture boil - when I say boil I usually have the ring on a medium/high heat, you do not want it to boil over - for 10 mins and then remove from the heat.  Carefully - its very hot - put a teaspoon of the mixture on to the chilled saucer and let it cool slightly.  Run your finger through the 'sample' and if it seperates and does not run back it will be set.  But I doubt if it will be ready: it usually takes about 20 mins for me.  Put dish back in the fridge, put pan back on the hob and boil again for 10 mins and re-test.

This is what it should look like when the jam is ready for setting, it will also have a more syrupy appearance.

Then put your jam into a jug, take the jars out of the oven and carefully fill the jars with the jam - it will be very hot.  Put some tissue discs on top of the jam and you can put a lid on the jar or you can leave to cool.  When cool put a polythene lid on the jar held in place with an elastic band  - if using - and label your jam up.
OR get the kettle on, make a cup of tea and have some on a scone...........mmmm yummy!

Thursday, 20 September 2012

Autumn knitting, crochet and sewing workshops

The weather is definitely cooler this week and its starting to feel like Autumn so its time to get crafting, this is my workshop programme for the Autumn and I hope there's something that 'takes your fancy'.  If you want to know more about me have a look at my various posts for workshops and my 'quilt gallery'.  Hope to see you sometime...

Knitting and Crochet Club @ Up Country - September 22nd, October 20th, 2 - 4pm, held every 4th Saturday a knitting and crochet group that meets above 'Up Country' in Holmfirth.  The 'club' costs £10 which gives you a £5 voucher to spend in the shop plus knitting and crochet advice from myself plus tea, coffee and home made cakes - and the chance to be around like minded crafters.

Quilt-in-a-day @ Unravel. Saturday September 29th, 10 - 4.30pm.  £40.  Make a quilt in a day, sewing experience beneficial but not essential.  I provide all equipment and you learn to make a 36" x 36" quilt, fabric needs to be purchased so make sure you have a material list. Check out my 'Quilt Gallery' to see previous quilting workshops.

How to make a log cabin cushion @ Unravel,  Saturday 13th October 10 - 4pm Denby Dale. £30.  Design and make your own log cabin cushion: this is a good beginners project for an introduction to quilting, you will make an 18 x18" cushion and learn the technique of log cabbining.  Contact the shop or myself for materials list.

How to make a skirt - that fits! , Saturday October 24th 10-4.30pm @ Up Country, Holmfirth. £40.   A good introduction to dress making  - making an a-line skirt that will actually fit you.. Sewing experience beneficial but not essential.  Contact the shop or myself with regard to materials list.

Professional Finishing Techniques Saturday November 24th,10 -4pm @ Up Country, Holmfirth. £30.  For the experienced knitter. How to achieve a professional finish on your knitted garment, the bit that everybody hates: putting it together and how to make it easier! You will learn loads....Requirements: 4 mm needles and a ball of double knitting yarn - preferably in a light colour: both can be purchased in shop.

Learn to Crochet Saturday December 1st 12 - 4pm £30. Learn the skill of crochet, be shown how to do the basic stitches, how to read a pattern and produce a small crochet project @ Up Country. Requirements: a 4 mm hook and a ball of double knitting preferably cotton: both can be purchased in shop. FULL

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Quilt-in-a-day @ Spun

Had a fab day @ Spun on Saturday and met some lovely ladies who all made some pretty gorgeous quilts.  Spun was a great venue for the workshop and I can highly recommend the shop to all you 'crafters' out there and Byram Arcade has a great atmosphere to it.
Here are some pics of the day.... and note the knitted wedding dress in the background.

Not bad for a quilt made out of 3 recycled blouses, 2 fat quarters and some furnishing fabric for the back!

Friday, 7 September 2012

Finishing Techniques

Do you ever knit a garment and feel that you are let down by the 'making up' of your masterpiece?  Do you dislike sewing your knitwear together - I do or in fact I did, until I learnt the various finishing techniques and tips over many years of knitting that have improved my finish on knitted garments.  The workshop I am running on Saturday 15th September at 'Unravel' covers all of this and will make your knitting life easier!  Its a 5 hour workshop and from the minute we start you will be knitting and you will be learning loads.
Class starts @ 10 and finishes @ 4.  Break for lunch - bring your own or we can order a sandwich.  Material requirements: bring 4mm knitting needles and a ball of double knitting wool in a plain - not too dark- colour. Or you can buy these in 'Unravel'.  
Come and join us - and learn!

A weekend in Wales

Just had a fab weekend in Wales Mountain biking....we travelled down on friday evening and came back Sunday afternoon......we are very keen mountain bikers in Fairislerona's household and we have not been out on our bikes this summer due to the rubbish weather.  So, with the prospect of a good spell of weather I packed about 10 bags: for all weather eventualities - even walking boots and waterproofs should it rain all the time- and we decamped to Betws-Y-Coed in Snowdonia.
On Day 1 we did route 17 from our trusty Welsh Mountain biking book.....

But we heard lots of whooping noises from the forest and realised that they had opened up the area for mountain biking and created the 'Marin Trail' through the forest and surrounding area.  I then looked at our book: we had done about 8 miles at this stage and realised the book was printed in 1995: Oh dear!   So, we hooked up this route with the Marin Trail and combined with our cycling from the B n B we managed to do a circuit of 20 miles, the biking was excellent and we survived the circuit.   As you can see there are lots of pictorial highlights and my other half was moaning about the number of photo stops - but the weather was so fab and the area was so gorgeous: hope you can appreciate this from my snaps.

Now for the technical stuff - we have 2 Bontrager mountain bikes which bikers like to call 'Retro' - old - hardtail bikes.  We have Pace front forks fitted and because our bikes are steel frames they are very lightweight, whenever we go to these purpose built bike routes they attract a lot of downhillers with all their fancy bikes and they 'preen' about with their bikes - for want of a better word - and everybody is weighing each other up or rather weighing each other's bikes up.  We have had our Bonty's a long time as they were some of the last frames to come into the country before the company was taken over and we love our 'retro' Bontys....

These are pics of the B&B we stayed in at Betws-y-Coed, it was called Bod Gwynedd it was just based just outside the town - only a short walking distance- and we had a fab stay here.  Our room was of a very high standard and we had a hearty breakfast in the morning to keep us going, Bev and Joe are 'outdoorsy' and walkers and cyclists are well catered for and they gave us loads of info about the area.  I landed in a bog on the saturday and they happily dried my gear out! 

With our new knowledge of mountain biking around Betws-y-Coed we then went to Penmachno to do the trail there and we thought it was better than the Marin Trail.  It was a bit dodgy at the start as it had rained that morning and it was very slippy but the days weather improved and the conditions became drier.
Afterwards we stopped at the Conwy Falls Cafe which was a cracking cafe....the breakfasts looked great and the place had a good 'feel' to it.  It was also a lovely building having been designed by the same architect who produced Portmeirion.

On our journey home we called in at Trefriw Mill, with my weaving background I was keen to call in.  They produce traditional Welsh tweeds which are technically 'double cloths', it is a working mill that you can go and visit and there is retail therapy and a cafe.  Their fabrics - I think - are very retro and pretty fab, I like some of the colourings but I felt they could be developed a lot more....  I particularly liked their exhibits which were from the 50's and 60's - they were really cool.  The gorgeous blue window house had the most amazing cottage garden that had a range of flowers and plants which were labelled and can be used for dyeing.


On the journey home and in our B&B I took my crochet with me and tried to start a ripple cushion....I had Nikki Trench's Cute and Easy crochet but I couldn't work it out!  Not like me to be unable to work some crochet out: so I made it up myself and hopefully will post that finished product at some point

.....hope you enjoyed seeing a bit of North Wales. 

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