New Year, New Blanket…

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Hello!

January signifies the start of a new year long blanket project for me – 2017 will see me working on a Sky / Weather blanket

Using Lucy’s Neat Ripple pattern from Attic 24, I will crochet a row each day, the colour influenced by that days’ sky colour / weather

My yarn of choice for a blanket like this is Stylecraft Special dk – the colours I’ve chosen are:

Aster – clear blue skies

Cloud Blue – blue sky & puffy white clouds

Silver – grey skies

Grey – rain

Graphite – stormy

White – snow / fog

As you can see the first week of January has brought quite a lot of grey skies & rain here in Staffordshire, interspersed with two rather beautiful sunny but chilly days

I hooked up a 213 stitch foundation chain which has given me a width of 120cm – as the blanket will potentially have 365 rows (!!) & be exceedingly long, I’ve decided to make 2 blankets, each one 6 months long

Full project notes can be found on my Ravelry page

Looking forward to seeing how this develops…

 

Comforting Carrot Soup…

…add Coriander for a tasty twist!

What a grey, rainy, cold day needs is thick & yummy homemade soup for lunch…

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I like to make my soups in a slow cooker so that it just sits there until I need it, but this recipe works equally well in a saucepan

Ingredients – serves 4:

  • 50g oil or butter (or a mix of both)
  • 150g sliced onion, leek, celery – if you have equal quantities of each, that’s great – if you don’t have one of them, don’t worry, just top up with the others!
  • 400g sliced carrots
  • 25g plain or gluten free flour
  • 1/2 tsp tomato puree
  • vegetable stock cube – I prefer the Kallo range of organic stock cubes – they add just the right amount of seasoning, have great flavour & are gluten free
  • 1 litre water

Optional extras

  •  1 tbsp ground coriander
  • fresh coriander

Method

  • Melt butter & oil
  • Add the onions, leek, celery & carrots
  • Cook gently with the lid on – without colouring – for 5 minutes
  • Stir in the flour
  • Add the water, tomato puree & stock cube
  • If you’re using ground coriander add upto 1 tbsp now, to taste
  • Bring to the boil & simmer for 15 minutes or leave in slow cooker
  • Once the vegetables are soft, blend until smooth
  • Reheat gently with some freshly ground black pepper
  • Garnish with fresh coriander, if using – perfect!

Healthy Bits

  • 170 calories per serving using butter
  • 11g fat per serving using butter

Simple Stripey Jar Cosy

Jar Cosy 1

A versatile little crochet project that has many uses –  tea-light holder, flower vase, storage pot for crochet hooks or pens or whatever you like…

This pattern will make a cosy to fit a 340g Tiptree jam jar but is very easy to adjust to fit any size jar that you may have stashed away! The pattern for the little flowers is from Lucy at Attic 24

I’ve used Stylecraft Special dk with a 4mm hook – Yarn A Grass Green & Yarn B White – I like to support small independent businesses & currently purchase this yarn from Lynn at Lusciously Loopy

Once you’ve mastered the basics,  get creative – use different sized jars, change the colours, alter the stripes, embellish with buttons or crocheted flowers…the possibilities are endless!

Notions required:

  • scissors
  • tapestry needle
  • stitch marker
  • notepad & pen

Pattern:

With Yarn A start with a slip knot on your hook – 2ch

rnd (round) 1 – 6dc in 2nd ch from hook (6)

  • ss to join – 1ch

rnd 2 –2dc in each dc (12)

  • ss to join – 1ch – pull tail yarn to close

rnd 3 – 1dc in first st (stitch), 2dc in second strep (repeat) to end (18)

  • ss to join – 1ch – you may find it useful to start using a stitch marker now

rnd 4 – 1dc in first 2st, 2dc in next strep to end (24)

  • ss to join – 1ch

rnd 5 – 1dc in first 3st, 2dc in next strep to end (30)

  • ss to join – 1ch

rnd 6 – 1dc in first 4st, 2dc in next strep to end (36)

  • ss to join – 1ch
  • 6 rnds are sufficient for this size jar – if your jar is bigger just add further rnds in the same way increasing the 1dc in the first stitches each rnd

rnd 7 – 1dc in each st blo (back loop only) – insert your hook through the back loop of each stitch not through both – this will create a neat line for starting to work upwards (36)

  • ss to join – 1ch

rnds 8 & 9 – 1dc in each st (36)

  • change to Yarn B – ss to join – 2ch

rnd 10 – 1htr in each st (36)

  • change to Yarn A – ss to join – 1ch

rnds 11 & 12 – 1dc in each st (36)

  • change to Yarn B – ss to join – 2ch

rnd 13 – 1htr in each st (36)

  • change to Yarn A – ss to join – 1ch

rnds 14 to 19 – 1dc in each st (36)

  • change to Yarn B – ss to join – 2ch

rnd 20 – 1htr in each st (36)

  • change to Yarn A – ss to join – 1ch

rnds 21 & 22 – 1dc in each st (36)

  • ss to join – 1ch – if your jar is taller, just add a few more rnds now
  • the next rnd is the decrease(dec) rnd for the neck of the jar – as this jar cosy is crocheted in an amigurumi style, dec in flo (front loop only) as this will create a neater dec

rnd 23 – 4dc, 2dctogrep to end (30)

  • ss to join – 1ch

rnds 24 & 25 – 1dc in each st (30)

  • fasten off, weave in ends & slip your jar into your lovely cosy – sit back & admire your  hard work!

Mmmm… Mushroom Soup

Rainy days require homemade soup for lunch…

Mushroom Soup

I like to make my soups in my slow cooker so that it just sits there until I need it but this recipe works equally well in a saucepan

Ingredients – serves 4:

  • 50g oil or butter (or a mix of both)
  • 50g sliced onion
  • 250g sliced mushrooms – button mushrooms give a nice pale soup, chestnut & field mushrooms will yield a much darker colour
  • 50g plain or gluten free flour
  • 500ml water
  • vegetable stock cube – I prefer the Kallo range of organic stock cubes – they add just the right amount of seasoning, have great flavour & are gluten free
  • 500ml milk

Optional extras

  •  extra butter & sliced mushrooms
  • chopped parsley

Method

  • Melt butter & oil
  • Add the onions & mushrooms
  • Cook gently with the lid on – without colouring – for 5 minutes
  • Stir in the flour
  • Add the water & stock cube
  • Bring to the boil & simmer for 15 minutes or leave in slow cooker
  • Meanwhile, fry the extra mushrooms in the butter until nicely browned
  • Add the milk & blend until smooth
  • Reheat gently with some freshly ground black pepper
  • Serve garnished with the extra mushrooms & sprinkled with the parsley – perfect!

Healthy Bits

  • 225 calories per serving using butter & semi-skimmed milk
  • 13g fat per serving using butter & semi-skimmed milk

Apple & Cinnamon Loaf

As I’m writing this blog I have a cup of coffee in my favourite mug next to me & a couple of slices of this tasty, moist loaf cake – sooo yummy!

Apple & Cinnamon Loaf

Quick & easy recipe – great for using up apples that are just past their fresh best – better still, it makes up perfectly using less butter for a lower-fat version…

Ingredients:

  • 225g self-raising flour
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 110g sugar – granulated or caster
  • for lower fat version use 55g butter & 30g fat-free natural yogurt or just use 110g butter
  • 2 small / 1 large apple – eating or cooking
  • 1 egg
  • 3 tbsp milk

Method:

  • preheat oven 180’C
  • line or grease a loaf tin – I like to use preformed loaf liners
  • using a food processor or rubbing-in method combine flour, cinnamon, sugar & butter
  • grate apple – leave skin on for eating apples, peel cooking apples
  • add to mix along with remaining ingredients & combine
  • put in loaf tin – level – sprinkle with extra sugar for a glazed topping
  • bake for 45 minutes

Enjoy!

Chunky Sock Pattern

When it comes to knitting, socks are my new ‘addiction’! And what better to wear in this chilly weather than handmade woolly socks…

A while ago I picked up a 200g ball of James C Brett Marble Chunky yarn in dark pink…

JCB Marble Chunky detail

 …it’s flecked with a rainbow of colours which change gradually as you knit with it – gorgeous

For Christmas I had knitted my daughter a floppy beret & matching wrist warmers which she absolutely loved – what to make with the 100g I had left? Socks of course…

Chunky Socks finished

This is such an easy pattern & chunky yarn knits up so quickly – this pattern will fit boys & girls, age 10+ to adult…

 You will need:
  • 100g chunky yarn
  • 6mm double-pointed needles
  • stitch marker
  • stitch holder
  • tapestry needle for sewing up
Abbreviations:
  • st / sts – stitch / stitches
  • rnd / rnds – round / rounds
  • k – knit
  • p – purl
  • rep – repeat
  • rem – remaining
  • sl – slip
  • w & t – wrap & turn
  • tog – together
  • pm – place marker
  • tog – together
  • ssk – sl 2 sts then k tog
Stitches:
  • 2 x 2 rib – (k2, p2) rep
  • wrap & turn – bring yarn to front between needles, sl next st onto right needle purlwise, take yarn back between needles, sl st from right needle to left, turn work

Ready? Sitting comfortably? Cup of coffee to hand?

Chunky Sock Knitting

Cuff & leg:
  • cast on 32 sts & distribute evenly across 3 needles
  • work 6 rnds 2 x 2 rib
  • k 15 or 20 rnds depending how long you want the leg
Heel:
  • put 16 sts on stitch holder
  • working across rem 16 sts:
    • row 1 – (sl1, k1) to end
    • row 2 – sl1, p to end
  • rep these 2 rows 5 times – 12 rows
  • next row – k10, w & t
  • next row – p4, w & t
  • next row – k4, k wrap st tog with wrap, w & t
  • next row – p5, p wrap st tog with wrap, w & t
  • last 2 rows set pattern – rep until all sts worked
Gusset:
  • k across heel flap, pick up & k 8 sts along edge heel flap, k 16 sts from st holder, pick up & k 8 sts along other edge heel flap, distributing sts across 3 needles – 48 sts
  • k22, k2 tog, pm for start of round
  • rnd 1 – k16, ssk, k to end
  • rnd 2 – k to last 2 sts, k2tog
  • rep until 32 sts on needles
Foot & toe:
  • k until foot is 2 inches short of full length from heel to toe
  • rnd 1 – ssk, k12, k2tog, ssk, k12, k2tog
  • rnd 2 & 3 – k
  • rnd 4 – ssk, k10, k2tog, ssk, k10, k2tog
  • rnd 5 – k
  • rnd 6 – ssk, k8, k2tog, ssk, k8, k2tog
  • rnd 7 – k
  • rnd 8 – ssk, k6, k2tog, ssk, k6, k2tog
  • rnd 9 – ssk, k4, k2tog, ssk, k4, k2tog
  • cut yarn leaving 50cm loose
  • arrange sts across 2 needles, with front sts on one needle, back sts on other needle
  • graft together using Kitchener Stitch

Knit another!

I hope you enjoy wearing these cosy socks – my daughter certainly does!

The Best Broccoli Soup

Soooo cold & grey here again – the sun seems to pop out occasionally but soon gets hidden behind a blanket of thick grey cloud – time for more yummy soup to warm us up…

…the best broccoli soup is made from roughly 1/3rd flowers & the rest stalk! The flowers are great as a side vegetable but do not have the substance to make a hearty soup – do not be afraid to use the stalk – it really is super tasty & contains loads of nutritious stuff – a great way of using food that you would normally waste…

…I made my soup in my slow cooker but it also works well in a saucepan

Ingredients – serves 4:

  • 50g oil or butter (or a mix of both)
  • 100g sliced onion, leek & celery (it doesn’t matter if you don’t have all of these ‘white’ vegetables – any combination will do)
  • 200g chopped broccoli flowers & stalk
  • 50g plain or gluten free flour
  • 800ml water
  • vegetable stock cube – I prefer the Kallo range of organic stock cubes – they add just the right amount of seasoning, have great flavour & are gluten free
  • 200ml milk

Method

  • Melt butter & oil
  • Add the all the vegetables
  • Cook gently – without colouring – for 10 minutes
  • Stir in the flour
  • Add the water & stock cube
  • Bring to the boil & simmer for 20 minutes or leave in slow cooker
  • Add the milk & blend until smooth
  • Reheat gently with some freshly ground black pepper – perfect!

Broccoli Soup

…we had ours with some cheesey garlic bread today – yummy!

After lunch all I really wanted to do was curl up in my warm, cosy cottage & get on with some neglected sewing projects but Alfie needed a walk & the littlies had been inside long enough! So off we set, across the fields in a circular walk taking in a nearby village…

Sign

…we passed a lovely, old rotting tree stump which is obviously now the entrance to somebody’s home – maybe Mr & Mrs Fox or a family of rabbits…

Tree Stump

…passing through the sheep fields I was reminded of when my Littliest E was very young – as we kept chickens he thought that all animals had feathers, not fur – so when out walking through a field one day, he exclaimed, look Mum, I’ve found some ‘sheep feathers’ & we’ve called them that ever since!

Sheep Feathers

I often think that our Border Collie is mad & this just proves it…

Alfie

…it’s an icy cold day & he still insists on going into the brook to ‘rescue’ the stones!

Gayton Church

… once we reached our neighbouring village it was back towards home past the church – a strange building of two halves – it has a brick tower & walls to the rear, & a frontage built of stone

A lovely walk, but I’m glad to be cosy & warm back at home – my little display of Spring sunshine greeting us as we came into the kitchen…

Yellow Tulips