Monday, 29 February 2016

More Weaving Progress


Well Sunday was a good day for trying to complete a project. I have spent a few hours trying to make something that looks suspiciously like a rug and am now about half way there.

Now for all the finishing off and sewing the ends in and decorating it (yes). The finished rug or wall hanging will be around 2 ft. 9in by 3 ft. 10in. Not as big as I would have liked but pretty good for a first attempt. Next time I shall have to measure it more carefully (the weave is wound around a bar on the loom and it is virtually impossible to know just how big it is until it is released from the loom).  I shall have to discover how this is solved for future reference. I recently saw a wall hanging which was decorated with small glass and pearl beads and I think that perhaps there might be a case for some around the first attempt at pink, which went disastrously wrong - it might just work as a camouflage. The tassels are far too long and will need a trim but this will be the very last thing I shall do after I tidy all the ends in and make the back look as interesting as the front. 

I have loved this my first project and learned quite a bit about warping the loom and ending the weave and also that the lack of pick up sticks makes it virtually impossible to attempt any sort of pattern. I shall now go to Fibrehut, (a wonderful online store), and buy the necessary tools to try something else - probably a scarf rather than something quite so wide and difficult for a beginner. I do like the little splashes of colour provided by the sari silk but they are rather thick so may and try and deal with that in future work also.

I shall post a further picture once this is finished - possibly in a few days time!

A Gaelic Weaving Song

Saturday, 27 February 2016

Weaving Progress

I did not realize just how time consuming a craft could be - and also just how much space it takes up. This new loom is on the breakfast table in the conservatory - a space we used daily with a good view of the garden while having breakfast. Not any more. It is totally taken up with a loom, wools, sari silks, scissors and all the other necessary bits to do with weaving. I have  promised to move all this to my sewing room just as soon as I have finished this first project - heaven knows when that will be.

I actually have not progressed too much due to 'life' getting in the way but have managed a few more inches. I have introduced irregular lines and blocks of sari silks to aid the texture and overall colour of the small rug. I am not sure that they are appropriate but too late!

Hopefully tomorrow I can continue and make some progress.

Meanwhile - back to the rugby!

Wednesday, 24 February 2016



Paul Hollywood

I was listening to Desert Island Discs recently and heard Paul Hollywood say that tartiflette was his most favourite dish. I had never heard of it. I looked it up on the Internet and cooked it that evening - and he was quite right - it is absolutely delicious. There are two distinct methods of cooking it; one for vegetarians and the other for meat eaters. I shall try and describe the two differences. They are both simple and take no time at all.

Ingredients for Vegetarians:
Potatoes, onion, carrot, garlic, white wine, double cream

Method for Vegetarians:
Cut some large potatoes into chunks - leave the skins on. A chopped onion, and a carrot can be added at this point. Cook them gently in the microwave until barely cooked. Transfer to a frying pan the potatoes, carrots and onion and a crushed clove of garlic and cook in oil and butter until golden brown all over. At this point add one glass of wine and one glass of double cream and bring to the boil. Transfer all into a baking dish and pop some sliced cheese on the top (Reblechon is the cheese suggested - available in Sainsbury's) and bake for half an hour in a hot oven. Serve with bread and lots of wine.

Ingredients for Meat Eaters:
Potatoes, onion, carrot, garlic, white wine, double cream, bacon diced

Method for Meat Eaters:
Cut some large potatoes into chunks - leave the skins on. . A chopped onion, and a carrot can be added at this point. Cook them gently in the microwave until barely cooked. Transfer to a frying pan the potatoes, chopped bacon, carrot and onion, and crushed garlic and cook in oil and butter until golden brown all over. At this point add one glass of wine and one glass of double cream and bring to the boil. Transfer all into a baking dish and pop some sliced cheese on the top (Reblechon is the cheese suggested - available in Sainsbury's) and bake for half and hour in a hot oven. Serve with bread and lots of wine.

Basically the only difference is the inclusion of bacon bits (I chopped a packet of back bacon).
Apparently this is a very common dish served in ski resorts and although a keen skier for many years I had never heard of it let alone tasted it - what have I been missing?

Ready for the oven

Gosh that was good!

We ate it with fillet steak and grilled tomatoes, (we eat lots of tomatoes as they are supposed to protect men against prostrate troubles - so my nurse friend tells me - and I just love them anyway) and it was very tasty indeed.

Thanks Paul.

Tuesday, 23 February 2016

Cushion Covers From Tea Towels

Ikea has some amazingly cheap tea towels, which are colourful and hardwearing. I was a little short of cushions and decided to make some covers from tea towels and buy some cheap pads. This is what I did...

Most tea towels are approximately 28 inches by 20 inches and the nearest cushion insert is 20 inches square. Stuffed into a slightly smaller cover they are fuller and more attractive so I decided that the covers should be 19 inches square.

A simple envelope backing is the quickest and easiest way to make the covers and this is how I did them. There was very little sewing as I used the already made seams.

Using the already sewed seams to complete the opening I merely turned over the first tea towel 8 inches from the top. This was A. This then became the inner flap. The second tea towel (B) I cut off 8 inches from the bottom and sewed this together to the bottom of A. The sides were then joined over the flap and up the sides. (I am totally useless at describing anything!) All you clever people out there will know exactly what to do - and me a mere beginner managed it easily. This is one of the tea towels which became the back of the 'birdy' one. The flowered one had the same backing as the front and the third was made of all the pieces left over from the other two plus one tea towel.

The finished cushions were not brilliant but very cheap and cheerful as the tea towels cost just £2 each and I made three cushion covers from five tea towels.

Sadly they were not universally admired and consequently everyone bought me cushions for Christmas. These are some of them ...

From Anthropologie

From Marks and Spencers

From White Stuff

From Anthropologie

From Anthropologie

From Next

I have to admit they are all so much nicer - do you think my family was trying to tell me something?
I particularly love the Anthropologie ones - but then this is definitely my most favourite shop so I do love everything from there!

Sunday, 21 February 2016

Cauliflower Chipotle Steak

Chipotle Grilled Cauliflower Steaks

I do love cauliflower but apart from one or two recipes I seldom find anything too different to do with this vegetable. I then discovered cauliflower steaks. They are a simple and tasty alternative to cauliflower cheese.

Buy a large cauliflower and cut it right through the centre into two (or more) one inch thick 'steaks'.
I then marinade these in oil, seasoning and chipotle sauce (or chilli powder, oil and lime juice, which appears to have a similar taste). Turning the steaks over leave in the fridge for several hours or overnight. Then grill for around twenty minutes until slightly blackened at the edges - or bake in a hot oven as I do, (I have no grill), until well cooked - about 30 minutes - turning once.

I served this cauliflower steak with grilled fish wrapped in pancetta and with grilled tomatoes. Yummy. Do give it a try.

Friday, 19 February 2016

Beginning Weaving

Today is the big day! After a trip to John Lewis I was able to buy supplies and came home elated and ready to begin weaving proper. The choice of materials took me over an hour - there were so many, and in the end I had to seek the help of an assistant to make sense of all the wools. Having this amazing store on my doorstep is either a blessing or a hindrance, (depending upon my bank balance), and I came away happy with a selection of Rowan Felted Tweed wools. I took a paint chart along with me to try and get as near the colour I wished to buy - the idea worked very well.

I drew a plan on my graph paper - and then immediately junked it realising that it was far too complicated. The very first few rows did not look at all like the graph and had been extremely difficult to do ... from now on it is free styling all the way! (These are the pale pink rows, which I am leaving in situ ... a reminder that I am just a beginner!)

A pattern it is not!

I am extremely happy with my muted colour choices and just bought a few balls to be sure I really liked the colour scheme.

I then decided to incorporate some sari silks to give a little texture and interest to the otherwise flat design. I bought this in New Zealand but understand it is widely available in the UK. I was dying to find a use for it!

I am not sure how this will work overall but I love this touch of colour and texture. The weave looks very loose but I understand this will correct itself when the finished article is washed and blocked.

I have fallen in love with the following music so have it playing loudly in the background while I have a cup of coffee and plan my day ... do you like it?

(Sister Rosetta Goes Before Us by Robert Plant and Alison Krauss - from Raising Sand)