Thursday, 26 February 2009

Found and Lost

When I start new embroideries I spend ages, sometimes weeks, living with a pieced work up on the workroom wall. Sometimes they go from the wall to the back of the cupboard - and you know how full that space gets! Sometimes I re-piece and stew it over again.
Eventually, hopefully, they find their way into the sewing basket and join me on the sofa where I do my stitching in front of the stove and sometimes the TV. After yesterdays clear-out I seem to have gained some clarity and I have 5 embroideries in the basket!....Yippee! I hope to have two more by the weekend. It has been a good week.

This morning I caused utter chaos at the beautiful boy's school. I thought I had left his complete games kit outside under the school clock yesterday afternoon. Turns out it was in the car all along...!
Kirstie Allsopp, poor love, has lost something far more precious. So if you're in the right part of London, eyes down and see what you can see!
Find out more here Kirsties Lost Ring
I'm looking forward to the weekend - our first completely free weekend in weeks! No parties, no work, no sports... Bliss! t.x

Counting our blessings.

As I tucked him in tonight my thoughts were all for David and Sarah Cameron and the loss they have to bear. It is unimaginable to think of it, particularly so in the full glare of public life.
We send them our condolences. They are in our hearts. x

Wednesday, 25 February 2009

When is a w.i.p. not a w.i.p.

I've been giving wips a lot of thought in recent weeks. I am feeling a little swamped by ideas and half started, half finished projects. I find the unfinished ones nag at me but really, there are some that get so far and really really don't deserve the time it would take to finish them! So I had a rummage through the workroom cupboards and was horrified to find that I may be a serial wipper! I have decided to separate the genuinely deserving w.i.p.s from the general mass of unfinished objects which will be mothballed away perhaps for another generation to love!
In my 20's I discovered tapestries. I did a lot of travelling with my work and would hate to be stuck in a hotel room without something to stitch. Many are from kits given to me by friends and family. All of them were supposed to become cushions or chair covers! But all of these have become unfinished objects.
If anyone has ever worked an Elian McCready needlepoint, you will understand the work that goes into every square inch! It took me a year to find the time to finish this one! I think it should definitely find a home on the sofa somehow!In my late teens I began lace making, but I have little need for lace edged handkies so I have no idea why I started on one! I suspect the appeal of lacemaking to me was more about those bobbins and beads! I have all of my grandma's bobbins too.
Just look at those adorable doggie buttons!
Going back much much further, does anyone else have one of these? This would have been before I was 10. French knitting was a bit of a craze for a time in our household. We had imaginings of rugs and bedspreads but really, truthfully, I think it was more sibling rivalry relating to length!
6.8 metres of squirly, colourful, yumminess!
(I don't think my brother reads this blog, but I know his daughters drop in from time to time - so, for the record girls - I have daddy's french knitting too and it's only 2.4 metres long!)
This wonderful ball of hopefullness comes from my teens. I spent hours and hours joining and plaiting rags to make a coiled rug- I haven't even unwound it to measure how far I got. The colours are not at all what I would wish and so this, I think, will be hidden back in the cupboard!
And here's a w.i.p no more! The second chair is back home in the hall and very comfy it is too!
I took it outside to photograph the colours in that piece of vintage Sanderson fabric. The gimp was ordered specially here to match the pinkest rose.
I won't be Upholstering in the summer term so only 5 weeks to go before a long break. But I'm feeling ambitious so the next project will be the beautiful boy's armchair! It will have to be started and then wait until the Autumn Term to be completed as I expect it will take some considerable time! Not least to find a fabric. The beautiful damask is completely worn but the boy is keen to keep it the same! So the hunt is on!
And here's one of many fledgling w.i.ps. I have hit troubles with how to embroider the different elements to bring it together....so I'm going to keep you guessing until I work it out!
Hope you're all having a good week. I have been trying to work out Twitter, but have no idea what I'm doing so, if any of you are more experienced, feel free to do whatever it is Twitterers do to make contact! Link in the sidebar... t.x

Tuesday, 24 February 2009

Flipping delicious!

250g plain flour, a pinch of salt, 500ml milk and then a splosh more, 2 eggs fresh from the farm. Whisk it all up!
Slice up some lemons
Put out a bowl of golden caster sugar.
Oil a very hot pan, just a very little oil, not too much!
Fry until golden, flip and fry again!
Sprinkle liberally with sugar
A good squeezing of lemon..
Roll it up!
Add lots and lots more sugar when you think no-one is looking!
and gobble it up quick!
A few more from the left-overs will be re-heated later in the bottom oven! More heaven on a plate for tea!
Happy Pancake Day everyone! t.x

Sunday, 22 February 2009

Wip Wip Hurray!

Remember this little w.i.p?
I thought it would be a couple of evening's stitching and all done! I thought I might even finish it for a Valentine's post... but the piece had other ideas.. as they so often do!
I thoroughly enjoyed stitching the hearts and working texture into the nest and the tree... but somehow the whole thing wasn't working.. it needed height. It needed to be up in the clouds.
And so this little embroidery became a tiny quilt. And of course once I had added wadding and batting it needed binding. And what with one thing and another, well,
today it feels finished. My little love nest in the clouds.
And what of the other artworks? Well, I decided against getting out my inks. We decided to make a start with more accessible watercolours. And I was reminded of how much I hate painting with watercolours. I missed the deep bright colours of my inks. I missed the extra definition I can achieve with a pen nib. But it was a start!
I had fun selecting pots and crocks - I'm calling this one "Egersund, Meakin, Green" - very literal! I think my painting will remain another w.i.p. for some time! It is like riding a bike; you never forget but you do have to practice to keep from falling off!
And there have been lots of bike rides this week of half term. Spring is in the air and the days are finally getting warmer.
I have heard my first skylark this year and seen the first catkins.
Lots of deadlines coming up, lots of plans, lots more w.i.p.s to share.
Hope you're loving what you're doing. More soon. t.x

Saturday, 21 February 2009

Let them eat cake, cake and more cake!

You know how we love to bake in the kitschen! Well, what better excuse than Grandma's birthday?!
The beautiful boy did his usual exceptional work taking charge of the decorating!
In celebration of spring and Grandma's love of all things blue and white, I made a little cushion...
...using this piece of vintage embroidery from an old tray cloth. Forget-me-nots and Primroses.
Not to be out-done the beautiful boy made daffodils. Can you tell which are the real ones?
And with spring in the air there was kissing in blue and white too...
And as if all that were not enough excitement, a shared birthday week meant more cake for a much loved little cousin too! Hurrah! Cakes for everyone!
Hope you are all having a lovely weekend. Back to school on Monday and I must get myself straight back into the workroom! Much going on in the coming weeks. New and exciting projects underway, but more on that later. For now I have one more day of half term to enjoy with my boy.. and catch up on homework! Now, exactly how far away is the moon.....?? t.x

Wednesday, 18 February 2009

Aga Marmalade

This holiday week is whistling past in a haze of play dates and lunches. I've been enjoying myself and not taking too many pictures. So, especially for my Aga ❤ Love Flickr group, here are the marmalade sessions.
Place 3lb Seville oranges in a pan with 4 pints of water and 2 tablespoons of lemon juice. Bring to the boil and transfer to the simmering oven overnight (pop an old plate on top to keep the oranges submerged!)
Measure out 6lb of sugar. I use cheap, ordinary granulated and mix in about 400g of muscovado sugar as we like our marmalade to be dark! Put this in a heatproof bowl on the back of the Aga to warm through.
The next day, when you're ready to get cooking, take the oranges out of the bottom oven and place all your clean jars into the bottom oven to warm through. Place a stack of teaplates into the fridge.
Remove the squishy oranges from the liquid and place in a colander over a dish. Leave to cool a bit until you can handle them.
I use an ice-cream scoop to remove all the bits and pith.
Plonk it all back into the pan with the juicy water (not forgetting the sticky liquid in the dish under the collander!)
Heat this through on the boiling plate for about 5-10 minutes.
Meanwhile chop up the peel to your preferred size - we aim for goldfish sized lumps in the Kitschen household, but not everyone wants to chew their way through huge lumps of orange at breakfast!
Once the liquid has boiled, strain it through a sieve and really push through the pulp to catch all the sticky goodness.
This is the pectin rich liquid that will make the marmalade set.
Add the liquid to your orange peel and separate into two batches. This is to enable a good rolling boil without a horrid mess spilling all over the boiling plate!
Place the first batch into the preserving pan and add half the sugar and 1.5 pints of cold water. Heat through on the simmering plate until the sugar has thoroughly melted. If you are using a heavy based pan it should be fine, if not be sure to stir continuously to avoid burnt sugar at the bottom of the pan!
Once the sugar is all gone and there are no crystals in the liquid, move the pan across to the boiling plate and allow it to boil for 10-15 minutes.
Test for setting point - put a teaspoon of liquid onto one of the cold tea plates, pop it back in the fridge and then see if the surface wrinkles when you push it with your finger. If not, lick your finger, and the plate, then try again (with a clean plate of course!). It shouldn't take more than 20 minutes!
As soon as your marmalade is cooked remove the pan from the heat. Allow to cool for 5 minutes then add 4 tablespoons of Single Malt Whiskey snaffled from hubby's decanter.
After another 5 minutes, remove your jars from the bottom oven and fill the jars using a jam funnel (this and the preserving pan are my two essential pieces of equipment for all preserving). Where possible use screw lids to close the jars; they are so much more practical for re-closing! Put the lids on either when the marmalade is still steaming hot or when it is completely cold; never when it's just warm! If you don't have the lids you can buy standard sizes from Lakeland.
I have made 4 batches this year so we are well stocked for my favourite Sunday morning breakfast; Thick buttered toast and Dark Seville Orange and Whiskey Marmalade.

Tomorrow the beautiful boy and I are spending a day at home doing some still life painting.
Orange on a Plate. Ink line and wash. 1992.
I have promised myself that I shall start painting again this year and the boy is keen to help.
I'm really very excited about unpacking my inks and brushes and beginning to dabble. I just hope I'm not going to be painting a still life of 'Hot Wheels, iPod and a dinosaur' ... t.x