Tuesday, 29 November 2016

Winter Woollies

Hello and a lovely Tuesday to you. It's very cold here today. It was -2.5 C when
we were driving to school and even now at midday with clear skies and full
sunshine there is still frost on the ground. I think it's the coldest weather we've had
for this November - just the day for wearing my newly made winter wollies:
my Mollies Makes scarf and matching hat. I had them on earlier when I went for
my morning walk and I was comfortably cosy the whole time.

The pattern is in the magazine's November issue (number 72). I used the recommended
yarn for both hat and scarf which is Stylecraft Special Chunky. They are worked in
suzette stitch (1dc,1tr in each alternating stitch) to create this thick, lovely texture
which was what first drew me to this project. I really like this stitch;
I think it will make a gorgeous, plush, snuggly blanket.

I've made some changes, though, to both patterns. As you can see, the original
scarf tapers off on the last few rows with a different coloured yarn and there are
big pom poms on either ends. I decided to skip those rows and continue with
the same colour yarn and finished off with a row of suzette stitches and double
crochets in fuchsia. I think that's a bit more my style, a little more subtle, and
I'm pretty happy with that.

I decided to have a go at making the hat, too. I've never crocheted one before
but the pattern looked straightforward enough and actually it was. It's worked
in double strands of yarn so it's much chunkier and made up really quickly.
I finished it in one evening and was really chuffed that it fits!

Again, I changed the yarn colour and finished the edge with a round of double
crochets but I didn't skip the pom pom this time. It makes the hat, don't you think?
 I certainly couldn't leave it out. 

I am not fond of the winter season but I'll be a little bit more toasty and a little
less cold in the coming days and weeks, thanks to these chunky scarf and hat.
What I need now are mittens and wrist warmers to match. I have a lot of leftover
yarn for those but they will have to wait. I have to get cracking with our festive
preparations. We've already made our Christmas cards and the girls' advent
calendar is nearly ready. I'll share them here next time.

Have a great week. See you soon!

Wednesday, 23 November 2016

A Walk in the Woods

This was our walk in nearby Carr Wood last Sunday. It was a bit of fresh air and
exercise for us four and also a little bit of exploring. We live just a short walk away but
we haven't known or seen much of this area until recently. We usually go uphill towards
the playgrounds when we're with the girls or we drive to one of the local parks or
to Derbyshire. So it's been a lovely surprise to discover what's right on our doorstep,
 and even more when we read up about its history and heritage.

Carr Wood is an ancient woodland, one of many dotted all over Sheffield
that have been around since or before the 1600's. Meers Brook, which you can see
in the bottom photo, flows through part of it and once formed the boundary
between two Anglo-Saxon kingdoms. It later formed part of the county boundary
between Yorkshire and Derbyshire. Of course, that has all changed now but it's all
very good and interesting to know. And so we are going to make up for our ignorance
and years of neglect and lack of appreciation with regular walks along its many
well trodden paths from now on. There are so much more to see and discover,
mushrooms and fallen logs to investigate, leaves to pick up and play with, things
to poke and inspect, games to play. Us grown ups fancy giving the Round Walk a go,
or even just a section of it. The girls reckon Meers Brook will be all right to paddle in
at summertime. Well, the only way they will find out is to get their feet wet and
come summer, they'll have the chance to know whether that's true or not.
How about you, do you like to go for walks, too? And where do you like to go?
I'd love to know.

Thanks for your lovely comments on all my latest projects. I have just finished
making a scarf and a hat. I'll show you next time. Till then, take care and
have a good rest of the week!

Sunday, 20 November 2016

Granny Triangle Shawl

This is my new shawl. It's a granny triangle mainly in dark green with
stripes of soft yellow, blue, beige, pink, white and green colours.

The dark green yarn are Rowan merino wool and cotton mix that I picked for our
wedding anniversary this year. We celebrated our seventh last August and wool is
supposedly the traditional gift for this anniversary year. To make it easier for my
husband I said I'd be happy to receive some nice new yarn and to help him further,
I chose the yarn and colour myself. I'm not one for big, flashy presents and neither
is my other half, so this suited us perfectly. But I really was pleased and excited.
I wanted to create with my new yarn something that's a lovely reminder of the day
 that was also useful and not just decorative. This shawl, I feel, fits the bill just right.

My Rowan wool were not enough, though. Once again, my stash of leftover
yarn came in handy, adding colour as well as size to my shawl.

And it is a good size. The base is about 63 inches wide and wraps around my
shoulders easily. All that merino yarn makes it cosy and snuggly and it's wonderful
to wear on cold days like today. The granny triangle is a simple pattern and I made
progress quickly, finishing it off with a row of double crochet stitches. It's a treat
to have and in my book, a really brilliant present.

I hope you're all having a lovely weekend. We're off for a walk soon and I'll be
making more of my orangey chocolate cookies when we get back. Then the
Strictly results show after dinner, and Planet Earth II. My kind of Sunday.

See you soon!

Wednesday, 16 November 2016

Orangey Chocolate Cookies

I have a recipe I'd like to share with you today. It's for chocolate orange cookies and
I'm chuffed to say that it's my own. Well, soft of. It's generally based on the double
chocolate cookie recipe from the hummingbird bakery cookbook but I've added
my own little tweaks and twists to it and it had resulted to these completely different
but so delicious chocolate cookies. These are soft and chewy with an orangey scent
and flavour, plus a lovely bit of saltiness in every bite. If you're a fan of chocolate
and orange, then I'd love for you to try these.

You'll need:

50 grams unsalted butter
325 grams plain cooking chocolate, roughly chopped
2 eggs
170 grams soft light brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
85 grams plain flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon coarse sea salt
zest of 2 large oranges
75 grams raisins

You'll also need to grease and line 2 baking trays with baking parchment.

And here's how to make them:

Preheat oven to 170 C/325 F/Gas 3.

Melt the butter and 225 grams of the chocolate in a heatproof bowl over
a saucepan of simmering water. Leave until melted and smooth.

Beat together the eggs, sugar and vanilla in a bowl. You can use an electric mixer
or do this by hand. Beat until well mixed. Pour in the chocolate mixture and beat
until both are well combined.

Sift the flour and baking powder into a separate bowl. The sea salt granules are
usually too big to pass through the sieve so I just add them after sifting the flour
and baking powder together. Stir these into the chocolate mixture in 2 or 3 additions,
mixing well. Stir in the orange zest then the remaining 100 grams of chocolate
and also the raisins.

Place spoonfuls of the mixture spaced well apart on the baking trays.
Bake for 10-12 minutes. They're done when the tops start to crack and look shiny.
Leave to cool on the trays for a few minutes then transfer to a wire rack
to cool completely.

This recipe makes about 15 cookies and they'll stay soft and chewy when
stored in an airtight container.

Everyone who had tried these cookies really liked them. They were well received
when my husband brought some to work and also by a friend and her family. So I really
hope you'll like them too. It's like the cookie version of Terry's Chocolate Orange,
but even better. Definitely much, much better.


Saturday, 12 November 2016

Winter Projects

Two posts in as many days! This has never happened here before but I'm
posting this today because I'd like to join Jennifer's Winter Project Link Party
  for November. I really enjoyed joining in last year, getting to see what others
are making and seeing their progress through the weeks and months. I'd like
to take part again.

This is one of the projects I'm currently working on - Kazuko Aoki's
Gardening Sampler. I discovered her cross stitch book at the local library
last summer and just love all the beautiful motifs she had created combining
her love of gardening and embroidery. If you're a fan of those two things
you have to have a look at this wonderful book.

I started on this sampler sometime in July. It's a Christmas present for
my mother-in-law and I thought back then that I'll have plenty of time to
finish it before December. I suppose if I had been focused and worked on it
steadily, it would be finished and framed by now. Unfortunately, I got
distracted by so many other things - books, crochet, television, to name just a few -
and have only worked on it sporadically over the past months. So at the moment
it's still very much a work in progress. I don't think I'll get it done by Christmas.
It's not as portable as a crochet or knitting project and it's trickier to work on
now that we have darker and longer evenings. I really should have made hay
while the sun was shining more brightly last summer. Oh well, it will get finished
sometime this winter and it will be an Easter present instead. Good thing
I didn't make any promises on this one.

And here's on of those distractions I've been talking about. It's in the latest issue of
Mollie Makes and when I saw it I just had to make it. I decided I needed a really
warm, chunky scarf and I might not survive the winter without it! So here I am
busy with crochet and it's all about scarf making at the moment. There are also
plans to make hats for the girls as well as Christmas cards and decorations. I guess
my sampler will have to wait then.

Thanks to Jennifer for hosting this party. Thank you also to everyone who have
visited my blog lately. Thanks for welcoming me back- I'm really glad to be here!
Have a great weekend!

Friday, 11 November 2016

Crochet Pom Pom Scarf

We've had our first snow this week. It was very light and was gone in a few hours
but the chilly temperatures that came with it has stayed all week long. Our winter
woolies are back in use and there are a few more in the making, all to help us keep
warm and cosy this winter. So far, I've finished making a shawl and this scarf here
is for Markie. I'm currently working on a scarf for myself and after this,
I'll start on Lulu's.

I made Markie a cowl last Christmas but sadly and annoyingly, it had gone
missing. This scarf is its replacement. It is bigger in width than the cowl and
I've made it long so it can be snugly wrapped around. Hopefully it's cosier too.

As you can see, it's just rows of treble stitches finished off with pom poms
on both ends. Very simple and easy and it didn't take very long to make. It was
an enjoyable portable project to work on; I took it with me to her swimming lessons,
the school run and even to one of the birthday parties the girls attended. I always feel
very bored at these parties and having something to crochet whilst sat on the sides
waiting was great. I felt my two hours weren't completely wasted. 

Apart from the mustard yellow and dark pink yarns, the rest of the colours
were leftover wool from other projects, a mix of Drops merino and cotton.

I'm pleased that the colours go well together. Hopefully she'll get a lot of use out of this
and fingers crossed, she doesn't lose this one too!

That's it for now. This is my second post after my very long blogging break. Actually,
it's really nice to be back in this space and to be posting again about making
and crafting. I have missed being here. I still have a lot of catching up to do and
I'm looking forward to visiting your lovely blogs soon.

Take care, keep warm and have a great weekend!

Tuesday, 8 November 2016


Hello! It's been a long, long time since I've been here. How are you? I hope you've
all been well. Sorry for not having been around here for months and months. I had
to take an unexpected blog break over Easter which, initially, was only going to be for
a few weeks but which, again quite unexpectedly, stretched into the whole of summer
and now autumn. But I'm back, finally, and I'm looking forward to catching up with
all of you.

Thank you so much to everyone who have been visiting here while I've been away.
It's been a lovely surprise to see a steady number of daily visitors even though I haven't
posted anything for ages and ages. Thank you!

I hope to share some finished projects with you next time. Take care and wishing
you all a warm and cosy Tuesday!