“D’oh”

Back near the beginning of the year, you may recall, I began my experiments with sourdough. It was before lockdown and it was just a whim… a vague desire to see whether it was really possible to create, from scratch, a viable culture of micro-organisms with which to make bread. And then came coronavirus and everyone had to stay at home and madly started hoarding random things… including yeast. There was no yeast in the shops and so, suddenly, sourdough became “the thing”. By this time my culture was well established and I was using it for most of my yeasted baking. I’m sure that most cultures that were started during lockdown have long since passed away, but mine is going strong.

Anyway, a couple of months ago Kate (Tall Tales from Chiconia) mentioned that it is traditional to name sourdough cultures. I wasn’t feeling inspired, so I asked Mr Snail to come up with a suggestion. He though about it for a while, and finally proposed Homer… “because ‘D’oh!'”

And so, Homer is our sourdough starter. This meant that when we passed a portion on to a friend, it was naturally named Bart. Apparently Bart too is still going strong.

Anyway, in recent months I have become a little more adventurous with Homer and was delighted to discover what beautiful sweet, enriched dough it is possible to make. I found a recipe for cinnamon rolls that I adapted slightly to make apple Chelsea buns, and it was a triumph… better than my previous attempts made using commercial yeast.

The filling is grated apple with the juice squeezed out through a cloth, then mixed with melted butter, cinnamon and brown sugar. The glaze was made from the apple juice mixed with a bit of sugar (rather than the traditional milk and sugar mix), Although the dough is sweet, it actually doesn’t contain too much sugar, so the result is not sickly, especially if the apples are a bit sharp.

Homer is also now our go-to source of yeast for all bread-making and the packet of commercial yeast is languishing in the fridge, being used only occasionally because I feel I should use it up.

Please plesiosaur me

When you sew your own clothes you are removed from the constraints of fashion and other people’s ideas of what you should wear. Admittedly, it’s not always possible to find exactly the fabric you have in mind or a pattern that’s exactly the right design, but if you keep your eyes open, lovely and inspiring fabrics do crop up, and as you get more experienced, patterns can be adapted. Sometimes, however, you fall in love with a fabric and you find just the right pattern, and you can make an item of clothing that you would simply never find in a high street store.

Currently, the world needs to smile more, and this dress is certainly making me do that at the moment:

The pattern is Indigo from Tilly and the Buttons and the fabric is Jurassic Sea by Lewis and Irene. My only slight criticism of the fabric design is that you can either have the pink plesiosaurs the right way up or the blue ones, but not both… I chose blue although I think this means the ammonites are actually upside down.

The pattern is great, although next time I make it I will move the bust darts as they are a bit low for me (I’ve already marked the pattern accordingly so I don’t forget). There is no zip and no buttons, making it a very straightforward piece of sewing and a garment that, I suspect, is going to be made many times in the future.

Months of yarny makes

Being trapped at home over the past few months has not inspired me to write much, but I have been busy making, so I thought I would share some of what I’ve been up to…

There’s been plenty of crochet and a bit of knitting. I finally got round to completing a coatigan in Jacob wool for my friend Kt. This latter project got held up whilst I awaited the arrival of some beautiful handmade toggles, plus I added some pockets , which the original pattern did not include. It has gone to it’s new home now and seems to be greatly appreciated.

I made a duffle bag – a kit from the lovely Little Box of Crochet, who I’ve taken out a subscription with to provide me with a parcel of cheerfulness and inspiration every two months. Although the pattern didn’t suggest it, I lined the bag, which I think will make it much more useable. It’s rather subtle bleached driftwood colors, so I chose a nice bright green lining to provide a startling contrast. I also made a poinsettia mandala, which uses a surface crochet technique that was new to me and can be used to produce lovely effects., Then there was a tiny Daisy-alike using a pattern from Toft. Finally, there has also been a bit of knitting in the form of a pair of socks which had been hanging around unfinished for months prior to all this staying at home business and which I finally got round to working on because I needed a portable project to take with me when I went on a mission of mercy that required a lot of waiting around.

I’ve also made some more Dorset buttons after my initial trials. First, a peacock brooch and then a variety of sizes to form a necklace. They are fun to make and I think many future projects are likely to incorporate them.

As the winter draws in and we’ll be spending even more time at home, I’m planning a big scrap yarn project plus I have plenty of lovely wool just waiting for inspiration to strike, so I don’t think I shall be short of more yarny creativity for a while yet.

Mend it Monday #15

There’s a bit of a pile of mending building up again, including the never-ending sock darning. However, today’s mend required a bit more care than simply brandishing a darning needle.

Mr Snail has a much-loved mug that he got when he contributed to crowd-funding a stage production of Aberystwyth Mon Amour in Aberystwyth a few years back… he’s also got an original script, but it’s the mug that’s the subject of this post. Sadly, a couple of months ago, there was an incident and the handle broke. Rather than add it to the growing collection of pen pots round the house, I decided a mend might be possible. I toyed with various options, but in the end I used Gorilla Glue combined with a cloth binding. I never trust a handle that’s just been glued and, indeed my first attempt without the binding just wouldn’t hold. So, I glued the surfaces that needed to be joined, and then I glued a “bandage” of strong cotton fabric in place. Once it was completely dry, I soaked some ribbon in diluted pva glue and bound this over the cotton fabric. A little more pva to ensure that the whole thing was waterproof and it was done.

We have lots of mugs and it has to be a special one to make it worth mending, but hopefully this will now last a good few more years.

ScrapHappy October 2020

IMGP8442

A new arrangement

Over the past couple of months I’ve been reorganising my work room, this included moving the big table so that it is adjacent to my sewing machine. Previously it was up a corner and lots of stuff had accumulated underneath, so the move meant that many things came to light that I hadn’t seen for ages… including a stash of fabric scraps from about 25 years ago! Combined with scraps from some recent makes and some rescued fabric from worn bedding and garments, I had a good selection for this month’s projects.

First, some new face coverings. Now masks are compulsory in indoor public places in Wales, I wanted to experiment with designs that would minimise fogging of glasses. I finally settled on a pleated version that tucks nicely under the chin and has a channel along the top in which to put a wire to bend over the nose. We experimented a bit and have found that an old-fashioned pipe-cleaner (I had an ancient bundle of them) does the trick. This particular design is such that the wire can easily be removed for washing. I made us three each. The lining is from old sheets/pillowcases and the outers are from various clothes I made over the years (apart from the snails).

I’ve also wanted to experiment with making more Japanese knot bags, so I returned to my original pattern, which I followed using some scraps. Now I’ve made it again, I have decided how I’d like to modify it to improve it slightly. Anyway, my latest creation has become the home to Mr Snail’s clean masks.

And finally, I made a few more gift bags. Having decided to give up wrapping paper completely, it’s useful to have bags in a variety of sizes for gift-giving. Since some of them end up in new homes (we reuse the ones here), It’s good to replenish my stock every so often. All the fabric, binding and ribbons were scraps (and there’s plenty left!).

-oOo-

I’ve been inspired to write this (and future) ScrapHappy posts by Kate,  Tall Tales from Chiconia. On the fifteenth of every month lots of folks often publish a ScrapHappy post, do check them out:

Kate (me!)Gun, TittiHeléneEvaSue, Nanette, Lynn, Lynda,
Birthe, Turid, Susan, Cathy, Debbierose, Tracy, Jill, Claire, Jan,
Moira, SandraLindaChrisNancyAlysKerryClaireJean,
Joanne, Jon, HayleyDawnGwen, Connie, Bekki, PaulineSue L,
Sunny and Kjerstin

If you fancy joining, contact Kate and she’ll add you to the list. It would be lovely to see more non-sewing posts, but any use of scraps is welcome.

Mend it Monday #14

“If you can’t fix it, you don’t really own it”

Stientje v Veldhoven, Dutch Secretary of State for the Environment

Whilst I’ve managed some fairly small mends recently, the mend I want to share today was so big that it took two of us to complete and I didn’t have the energy left to write about it. So, over to Mr Snail for all the details (prepare yourself for the puns)…

https://writinghouse.wordpress.com/2020/09/28/mend-it-monday-the-sheds-too-wet-without-roof/

Do pop over to read it, there is a picture of me brandishing a tool!

A fruity post

Over the years I have become fastidious about bottling fruit, so that I have a supply all year round with which to make desserts and breakfasts. It all started with apples given to me by friends and family. With limited space in the freezer, I learned how to preserve the (free) bounty in jars. I progressed on to bought fruit – pineapple, peaches, nectarines, plums… available cheaply and in abundance for limited times of the year.

This year, however, we’ve tried to minimise our travelling (for quite some time we were only allowed to go out for essentials and then ideally only distances less than 5 miles) and so there were few opportunities to acquire exotic fruits (the place we get them from is local for a rural area but many more than five miles away). It’s probably been a good thing, though, because it has encouraged me to use what’s on the doorstep. So this year the jars are once more filled with apples, but there are also red currants (it was a spectacular year for them) and rhubarb. There are still some jars of plums and pineapple, but most of the produce came from our garden or the gardens of friends. I’m currently still working on the 2020 apple harvest and have yet to juice any of them, but the cupboard is looking nice and full, and it will certainly see us through many more months with relatively few food miles.

A little bit more ScrapHappy

Because I haven’t been writing very often, I have rather a lot of projects to share. I know that I’m likely to finish some more ScrapHappy things before October, so rather than end up with a queue of posts, I thought I’d share this now…

One of the projects at the Crochet Sanctuary last year was a cotton rug in a kit from Hoooked. The company produce yarn from recycled or reused materials, in this case Zpagetti – a “t-shirt yarn” made from selvedges and remnants. So, whilst the yarn was new to me, it was definitely scrappy. I managed to complete about half of the project during the sanctuary weekend, but it was then put to one side and I never got round to finishing it… until now.

IMGP8377

Zpagetti rug

I should note that the kits contain just one colour, but we did some swapsies during the sanctuary, and so I had a ball of dark blue for the edging.

Once the rug was completed, there was a bit of the yarn left over, so I made a doubly scrappy storage basket – perhaps I should use it to store even more scraps.

imgp8385.jpg

A scrappy storage basket

ScrapHappy September 2020

The past month has been very ScrapHappy – I resurrected a cushion cover, the zip of which Sam had decided would make an exciting chew toy. I removed the zip, then didn’t worry about an inner case, but simply stuffed the canvas cover with a combination of Woolcool insulation, tiny bits of left-over fabric and yarn ends that were too small to tie together to make scrappy hats. There’s no point in making any furnishings with zips because of Sam’s predilection for them, so I simply stitched it closed and now we have an extra sofa cushion.

Sam not eating the cushion this time

I came across some red yarn that might be pure cotton or might be cotton and bamboo. It was a bit of a ball and I have no recollection what I used it for originally. Anyway, I used it to add to my ever-growing wash cloth collection. I like making these because I can play with different stitches and it doesn’t really matter how successful the design actually is. As you can see, I only had enough for a small cloth with the last of the yarn, even combined with a final scrap of some of the organic cotton that I’d been using for the same thing earlier in the year.

Three new cloths

My final project was a mend, but using a scrap (as is so often the case). Daisy’s harness is attached to her lead via a metal ring that slides along the “handle”. After two years, the fabric had started to wear, so I rummaged around and found a length of (nylon?) ribbon off a chocolate box and used that as binding. I wrapped it around and stitched it, then wrapped it around and stitched it for a second time, so hopefully it’s strong and secure and won’t need mending for another couple of years. The harness is perfect for an enthusiastic spaniel and they are quite expense to replace, so I’m pleased to have been able to mend it… especially since it was a scrappy mend.

So, that’s three different ScrapHappies for this month. How about you?

-oOo-

I’ve been inspired to write this (and future) ScrapHappy posts by Kate,  Tall Tales from Chiconia. On the fifteenth of every month lots of folks often publish a ScrapHappy post, do check them out:

Kate (me!)Gun, TittiHeléneEvaSue, Nanette, Lynn, Lynda,
Birthe, Turid, Susan, Cathy, Debbierose, Tracy, Jill, Claire, Jan,
Moira, SandraLindaChrisNancyAlysKerryClaireJean,
Joanne, Jon, HayleyDawnGwen, Connie, Bekki, PaulineSue L,
Sunny and Kjerstin

If you fancy joining, contact Kate and she’ll add you to the list. It would be lovely to see more non-sewing posts, but any use of scraps is welcome.

Dressy

I may not have been writing much, but I have been sewing. The plan to update my wardrobe is going well, and I have chosen to work as far as possible in natural fibres. I’ve made two dresses using a pattern from Anna Allen (the Demeter Dress), the first in a cotton and linen mix and the second in a wonderful bright pink linen. Both dresses are lovely to wear, especially in hot weather, and were simple to make, with brilliant instructions to follow.

After these, I decided to use a fabric remnant that I acquired last year. I modified the pattern that I made up in MayThe Avid Seamstress’ Raglan Dress – making the neckline a little lower and the skirt part a little more flared. This also gave me the opportunity to test out my new “invisible zipper” foot for my sewing machine, which turned out to be a dream to use and did indeed make the zip nearly invisible. This time I made the dress with short rather than 3/4 sleeves, because that was all the fabric I had available.

Now I’m on a roll with my dress-making, I plan to make several more, including some for winter and I have a few new patterns to try out. I have two more pieces of linen, some wool/viscose jersey and a number of pure wool fabrics (more on these in a forthcoming post), as well as some silk, so I have plenty to keep me busy for a while yet.

%d bloggers like this: