Saturday, 21 February 2015

Love Locks and Splash knit mitts

How has the weather been where you are? It's been pretty cold here. I suffer from Raynaud's syndrome and when the weather is frosty my fingers can get very painful.
The other day I wanted to take pictures of the love locks on the Butterfly Bridge for a local "Photo of the Month" project. By the time I got back to the office I'd lost all feeling in the ends of my fingers. I had to wrap the camera strap tightly round my wrist for fear of dropping it in the river from the bridge.

I don't know how it happens but I manage to make holes in the fingers of my gloves really quickly. I decided I'd make myself a pair of fingerless gloves for my lunch hour walk along the river.

I'm not much of a knitter, I knit continental style, holding the wool in my left hand. It means that I sometimes a twist in my stitches but I wanted a close textured fabric to keep the wind out. My daughter had given me a ball of King Cole Splash in lilac, for Christmas that needed a project.  I made it up as I went along. 40 stitches on two 4mm needles starting with couple of inches of rib. Stocking stitch for another inch then increase in the middle over 15 rows to make the thumb shaping. Dropping the thumb stiches onto a holder I carried on knitting until it was long enough to cover my little finger. I picked up the thumb stitches on dpns and finished them in the round.

I lined the mitts with a rectangle of fleece for extra toastyness and joined the side seam with double crochet. It's neater than my sewing and makes a bit of a feature.

And that's it.
Warm hands for my next photography walk.

Sylvia  x

Sunday, 15 February 2015

Mango Chutney

I love mangos. They're quite my favourite fruit. I love fresh mango, mango yoghurt, mango bath bombs and the smell of my mango handcream is just divine. Walking through the market on wednesday my eye was caught by large box of beautifully blushing mangos and for only £2.  Now a bargain's not a bargain if I only eat one mango and leave the rest to go mouldy in the fruit basket. Inspired by the Indian lunch I had just eaten, I decided I'd try a batch of home made mango chutney.

I struggled to find a recipe I liked.  They either called for a specific number of mangos and I wasn't sure if my enormous mangos were the same size as theirs or they called for a score of expensive ingredients that I'd have to go out and buy.  In the end I found a generic chutney recipe here and threw in whatever I had in the larder that I felt would work.

This is my mango chutney recipe. I'm waiting for it to mature before I let the family pass judgement but I'm secretly really pleased with how it turned out.

4lb fruit comprising 3lb chopped mango and 1lb cooking apples
3 onions chopped
2 cloves garlic chopped
1 lemon thinly sliced and halved
7 cardamom pods crushed
black pepper
2 teaspoons salt
Piece of fresh ginger chopped finely about 2 tbsp
4 small dried chilli peppers from last year's crop, crushed.

11/2 pints vinegar, this is what I had in my cupboard -
1/2 pint white distilled malt vinegar
1/4 pint brown malt vinegar
3/4 pint white wine vinegar

2lb sugar
1/2 teaspoon saffron soaked in a tiny amount of hot water and and teaspoon powdered cumin waiting to be stirred in right at the very end.

I put everything on the list up to the sugar in the pan and let it simmer for about 20 minutes until the fruit was soft. Then I added the sugar and bought it up to a gently rolling boil for another hour until it had thickened and I could make a trail with my wooden spoon. I then spooned it into glass jars rescued from the recycling, dishwashed and heated up in the oven.

I foolishly let it catch on the bottom of the pan whilst I had picked up my crochet instead of stirring. It's perhaps a little more golden brown that it should ideally be but I couldn't taste it. In the spirit of St Valentine's day the jars just had to have tiny crochet entwined hearts for a label.

There is something very satisfying about having a row of homemade preserves on the shelf waiting for the family or friends to come visit for a curry night.


Sunday, 1 February 2015

Well how lovely to see you!

Come on in.

Take a seat.
    How have you been?
          Cup of tea?
                 One of my Blueberry and Chia seed scones?

I know they look a bit "rustic" but that's because they're home made and warm from the oven mmmmm.  Lovely with my homemade hedgerow jam.

I haven't been around much here over the last few months as my father was very ill but I've still been busy with my crochet. There are lots of WIPs. Crochet has kept me sane. I made sure I always had my craft bag in the boot of the car to keep my hands occupied on the many unscheduled visits to the doctor and hospital. I didn't manage to send out Christmas cards but I had lots of homespun yarny gifts to give to my fabulously supportive friends and family.  My goodness I don't know what I would have done without them.  
Here are just a few of the things I've made.

From top left, Ruffle scarves, A block of my own design from my daughter's "Going to Uni" blanket, Cushion made from Sophie's Garden pattern which I absolutely love and have two more on the go in different colourways and Santa brooches. I made loads of these and sold them in aid of the Bedford Hospital Primrose unit.

I'll blog more about them and my latest projects in the weeks to come. 

Now!  Another scone?