Saturday, October 22, 2011

When someone gives you lemons...

A gorgeous friend of mine gave me a bag full of fresh limes from her back garden today.

When someone gives you lemons make lemonade?  Or when someone gives you limes - make lime cordial.

Cordials are very simple & quick to make - put it in a pretty bottle and you have a lovely, simple gift - straight from your (or someone else's!) back garden.

Generally strong flavoured, tart, fruits such as citrus and berries - make great cordials.  Frozen berries are perfect for this.  Why not experiment with different fruits or combine flavours such as lime and raspberry.

For the lime cordial you need ...

130g fruit (including the rind of 3 limes) - crushed or cut into small pieces
(When using citrus include the rind (the coloured layer on the skin) - but remove as much of the white pith as possible)
300g water
Sugar (for weight see below) *

  • Bring the fruit (& rind) and water to a low boil - stir to break up the fruit.  Let simmer for a few minutes then remove from the heat. 
  • Strain the water and fruit mix through a fine sieve into a clean measuring jug - making a note of how many ml -  Or weigh the strained liquid.
  • Return the strained liquid to a clean saucepan. 
  • *Calculate 2/3 of the weight of the strained liquid and add this amount of sugar.  If you want a sweeter cordial you can add up to equal amounts of sugar to strained liquid.
  • Return the sugar and liquid to the heat and bring to a low boil, stirring to dissolve all the sugar.   (If you think you may want a sweeter cordial - taste at this point and then add the sugar accordingly.)
  • Once the sugar is dissolved let simmer for a couple of minutes
  • Pour the cordial into a clean bottle and let cool.  Keep refrigerated
If you are making a berry cordial - or other non citrus fruit - add a squeeze of lemon (to taste) to the cordial before bottling - it gives a nice 'lift' to the flavours.

Serve with ice, diluted with water to the desired strength.

This recipe is an adaptation from the 'Thermomix - everyday cooking for every family' cookbook

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

My next craft book project...

This is my current craft book project.  I still have a bit more work to do on it to finish off.  I have used a 3mm wool cream felt (the same felt I used in the Scandinavian Needle work project) with 1mm wool felt embellishments.  I had never made the four petal flowers before - but they are surprisingly simple.

I hope to have some more detailed pictures when it is finished.

The title of the book *I think* translates to 'Felt de Komono' - but I am unsure of the translation for the author or publisher.  The ISBN is 978-4-07-257064-7.  The project I am working on is from page 40.

Below is a picture of the project from the book on page 40.

I have two japanese craft books that focus on felt - although they are printed in japanese (which I don't speak or read) - between the patterns and the photos they are quite easy to follow - well at least I think they are... I may well be missing some of the finer points to this craft!!  There are some really beautiful projects - quite unlike anything I have seen in other books.  I would highly recommend having a thumb through some Japanese craft books if you can get your hands on them.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Scandinavian needlecraft bag - finished.

I found some cotton lining and have finished the bag from the Scandinavian Needlecraft book by Clare Youngs. I used some cream 3mm thick pure wool felt for the bag, some wool felt scraps (1mm thick) for the embellishments and pearl cotton for the stitching. The fabric in the cut outs is a light denim from some 'too small' children's clothing. I really enjoy stitching in felt - because it is easy to bring the needle up anywhere through the felt and you don't have to worry about the weave of the fabric.

Sewing the bag together and pulling the needle through 6mm of felt can be difficult - especially where I was criss-crossing back over stitches - so I used some small pliers to pull the needle through - it is a lot easier on your fingers!

I am am so pleased to have finished this project - it has been on my 'want to make' list for a very long time! Now... I'm not exactly sure what I will do with this bag. It's not really a going out bag - but would be lovely have on display, or keep craft projects in.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Felt Garlands

I have become rather intrigued with felt garlands. Last Christmas I sewed together a string of circles from double sided scrapbooking papers to make a lovely twirly Christmas garland - but I have never made them from felt... until now

This is my first one (and I have a few more in the planning stages)
The colours and the design are fairly unimaginative, next time I will create something a little more interesting! - however it has been a good learning experience.

I have never sewn with nylon thread before. It is very slippery - I need to check my machine settings and manual.
The spacing of each flower is a little too close - I could have spaced them out more to get a 'floatier' look.
I need to work out the best way to space them - if I run my machine a few stitches with no material to sew the nylon thread twists and catches easily - maybe if I arrange the flowers on tissue paper and use the tissue to sew through in between the felt pieces?

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Jellyfish in a bottle!

I saw this great tutorial for a jellyfish in a bottle over on Bhoomplay's blog. It is made very simply using a plastic bag. Cutting the plastic bag and getting it in the bottle is a little fiddly - but it is a great project.

We have all heard how turtles, dolphins and other sea animals can choke on plastic bags when they mistake them for jellyfish - this is such a fantastic visual to explain the concept to children and adults alike.

Needless to say our 'jellyfish in a bottle' went along to school for show and tell today... I hope the other children enjoy it too

Jellyfish tutorial here

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Current WIP.

Here is a sneak peak of what I am currently working on - if you have the same craft book you will know it - as it is on the front cover. I hope to finish it shortly - just need some co-ordinating fabric to finish the inside. I had some I thought would do ... but realised it is actually a poly cotton and won't iron well!!

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Kids Crafternoon - Sewing Project

I am on a mission to actually do some of the lovely projects from my stash of craft books. Craft books are lovely to browse through, pondering which materials I would use, thinking how lovely that would look on my bedside table/ in the kids bedroom / beside the fireplace, how much so and so would like that as a gift... but I very seldom make (and complete) the projects. So over the next few weeks... months.... maybe even years (I have quite a few craft books!!) I hope you will see more and more finished projects from my craft books.

I am in the process of completing my second project (more of that to come shortly) and I have already learnt a lot. By following the instructions as closely as possible (given in the Japanese craft book I was copying the picture rather than the written instructions!) - it has challenged me to do things differently - whether it is a different embroidery stitch or putting together colours I wouldn't put together. I thought that following the projects exactly in a craft book was not 'creative' - that unless I added my own twist to the project I was being productive rather than creative. However with the few projects I have completed I can see that they already have added to my repertoire of skills and possibilities.

Not long ago I bought the Kids Crafternoon, Sewing book (Hardie Grant Books, ISBN 9781742700403) Edited by Kathreen Ricketson. I thought the school holidays - especially with the weather we have been having - would be the perfect time to do some more sewing with the kids. My daughter chose the scarf project (page 46) - a series of rectangles and squares sewn together. She has used a sewing machine before - but I had to help her out quite a bit to keep the seams straight (one side of the scarf ended up a bit more like a 'J') - it was a fun project to do together.

We used some of her old 'too small' clothes (the florals and denims) mixed with some scraps from my stash. The beauty of using old clothes is that they are already soft, and loved, and the colours already go with what she has! Admittedly the scheme is a bit 'wild' for me - but she has worn it everywhere since it was finished!!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

My Grandmother's Advent Calendar

I grew up with this. In my memory we always had it and every late November we would start to pester mum about buying some sweets so it would be ready to put up on the 1st of December. To me it is as synonymous with Christmas as turkey and ham.

It was made by my grandmother from a cross stitch kit I believe she bought whilst on holiday in Scandinavia. It has seen a lot of Christmases and when on display has had a lot of little hands touching and marveling at its stitches and treats, counting the days till Christmas. I adore this calendar because it has so many happy memories and because my grandmother made it. I can remember the different houses and different places it hung in, the intricate schedules made up with my siblings about who would take the sweetie bags off each day, how some years we ate the sweets after dinner and some years we ate them in the morning, some days we would put in extra sweets because friends were coming to stay.

Now it is my children who get to marvel at this beautiful piece of work and touch the sweetie bags, counting the days till Christmas. I feel so lucky to have this piece of family heritage

I don't know if you can see from the photos - but there are a couple of rings that need re-stitching, the fabric has been stretched in places where it has been laden with sweets! So I am about to embark on repairing this embroidery piece. To be honest I am very nervous - I don't want to damage it in any way and I don't want to change anything about it. I need to google some information about caring and repairing embroidery pieces (any tips appreciated) But hopefully come December it will be ready and refreshed - I hope to show you a photo then.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Japanese Craft book project

I bought this Japanese craft book (ISBN 9784579111152) sometime ago and have spent a lot of time looking at all the gorgeous felt projects. I am afraid I do not know the english translation for the title or author - but if anyone out there does I'd love to find out?
I copied the project (page 24), including felt colours, as best I could from my supplies. I really enjoyed making this decorative bag garland - although the cutting out is quite laborious - sewing the details together is very satisfying and it is amazing how much the embroidery 'adds' to the design. There are also some lovely floral and bird motif garlands I am going to try. This style of work is something I think I could really get hooked on!!

My project... (above)

and here is the one from the book (page 24)