Sherbert Pips for Rosie

And here is my first Finished Object of 2012: a little quilt I started on 29th December, for a brand new baby called Rosie. This is the first time I’ve restricted myself to one fabric collection. I usually love the process of selecting fabrics and putting them together – collections are too easy. But I needed to get this done fast, and I had a Sherbert Pips layer cake lying around calling me, so I went for it… I cut a load of 5″ squares, and then found some 7″ squares I’d cut for the Butterfly quilt in the Wrong White.  So I had a think, and worked out that a disappearing nine patch would give me four 7″ squares. Perfect. I found the binding and backing on sale in John Lewis. I adore those little bikes! I hope my friend and her new baby enjoy this! I really loved making it, and it’s got me back in the groove for basting and quilting my Hydrangea quilt, which must be my next job…

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Happy New Year!

I’m a bit late, but here’s a quick festive round-up before I show you my first quilt of 2012.

Peacock tutu! I couldn't get Sweet Pea to model it for me, but I am assured that these went down well with their recipients :) I don't want to see any more net for a while, though...

Salt dough everywhere!

Our first gingerbread house! A little rough around the edges as it was an Ikea flat pack and broken before we started... Sweet Pea had fun decorating it though

On a Boxing Day walk in the Isabella Plantation, Richmond Park

Christmas Cake. Mmmm it is tasty :D

We had a wonderful Christmas, and I can report that the Christmas Pud was Very Good Indeed :D

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A Quilted Kindle cover

My mother-in-law asked me for a Kindle cover for Christmas, and designing and making one for her was a job a relished. I came up with this, doing most my thinking at the sewing machine. It felt a bit like writing a tune at the piano. It has turned out well pretty well I think. A great project for using up some pretty scraps!

 

The back

 

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Dough days

There has been a LOT of dough-making going on around here in the last couple of days!

Firstly, another batch of mince pies. Now, I have been fiddling with recipes, and I reckon I’ve got a damn fine mince pie going on here :)

Would you like the recipe?

This makes at least 12 mince pies.

  • 300g mincemeat – I use half a jar of shop bought mincemeat, which I augment with goodies. This time I used about 8 glace cherries, a tablespoon of ginger wine, a dash of brandy and a tablespoon of dried cranberries.
  • 230g plain flour
  • 100g butter
  • 40g Trex
  • 50g caster sugar
  • Pre-heat your oven to 180 C and grease a 12 hole bun tin.
  • Whizz the butter & Trex up with the flour in a food processor (or rub in with your fingers).
  • Add the sugar and pulse a couple of times/stir in.
  • Pour small amounts of water in and pulse/stir until the dough starts to come together.
  • Tip the dough onto a work surface and knead it a bit. This is a robust, biscuity dough that does not mind being handled. I make mince pies with a three year old. Imagine how many times I have to re-roll… it really doesn’t mind.
  • Roll out and cut circles to fit your bun tin. Pop them in the holes and ease the sides down.
  • Load each pie base with a dessertspoon of mincemeat.
  • Re-roll pastry and cut smaller circles for the tops. Pop them on the tops of the pies, and squeeze the edges to seal.
  • Bake for about 20 mins or until golden brown.
  • Let them cool in the tin for a few minutes, and then turn them out onto a wire rack. When the pies are cool enough to eat dust them with icing sugar.

Serve warm – 5 minutes in the oven works wonders to reheat. It is well worth the wait!

So, onto our next variety of dough… Salt Dough

I decided that some salt dough ornaments would look pretty around our house, and would also make nice gifts for some relatives we’ll be seeing over Christmas.

Sweet Pea got stuck in as usual :)

I was inspired by these beauties on Katy Elliott’s blog and after a bit of a rummage in the pen drawer (which only ever has about two pens in it, despite being full to bursting -maybe I need to rename it in my head) I had a nice little collection coming along.

Now I just need varnish to finish them off.

Other jobs I can tick off today:

Cranberry sauce – Nigella’s recipe. Made and in the freezer. So easy.

Christmas Day soup – Chestnut, to be served with bacon crumbles, also from Nigella. Made and in the freezer.

Cake – marzipanned, all ready for icing.

So, not doing too badly on the catering front, but I am going to need a major push tomorrow to get the peacock tutus and various other bits and pieces finished…

 

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Christmas Trees everywhere!

Wow, it has been a day full of Festive fun! This morning Sweet Pea and I finished off our Christmas cards. I was the Christmas tree draw-er, using glitter glue, and he was the button-popper-onner. We made 50 cards, and they took over the whole kitchen as they dried! The cat sat on a pile of them, squashing the glitter glue rather. Some lucky recipients will be getting a free cat hair with their cards. I haven’t inspected the tiger-bottom, but it’s got to be embellished with green glitter until he next gets his grooming mojo working… Shame I didn’t get a picture of that, really…

I can’t believe I put sticky gluey glittery things on my sewing machine :o

Then this afternoon we went to choose a Christmas tree. That has to be one of the great pleasures of the festive season and indeed the year. Sweet Pea picked a lovely Nordman. When we got the tree home, he helped me make mince pies and then we decorated the tree, definitely my favourite job of the year :)

My inner taste police will not allow me to use any decorations that stray beyond the boundaries of clear/gold. I just adore the effect of a restricted colour palette. Even this adorable birdie is pushing it a bit ;)

These pics are not up to much; no doubt there will be more glittering baubliness coming up if I manage to capture it more successfully…

We didn’t even get around to decking the hall; a job for tomorrow :)

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Cake… check. Pudding… check.

I wish there was a release-aroma button on your browser, because I can tell you, my kitchen smells GOOD today! :D

Sweet Pea helped me make the Christmas cake and Christmas Pudding. I use Mary Berry’s fantastic cake recipe. I have made this quite a few times now and it has never failed me yet. If you’d like to try it, the recipe can be found here. I do love the task of feeding the cake with brandy and will be trying to restrict myself to only one feed a day between now and marzipanning :D

My mother-in-law makes a fabulous pud, which is very light and really just what you want after a great big Christmas roast. She got the recipe from her mother, but doesn’t know where it originates. It is, amazingly, fat-free, and contains no flour. This is my first time making it, so the proof will of course be in both the proverbial and actual pudding, but I am assured that it is failsafe! If it’s delicious I might even put the recipe on here next year ;)

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Sweet Pea’s first stitches

This definitely deserves a post all of its own. Sweet Pea’s first adventures with needle and thread. Ahhhhhhhh…

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A Countdown and a Catch-up

Christmas is coming, and the crafts are stepping up a gear… I’m currently working on Peacock Tutus for two of my nieces, and a friend’s daughter. These are utterly gorgeous. I can’t take credit for the idea, which is sheer genius. That must go to the fabulous Shauna via www.thetraintocrazy.com

I seriously cannot wait to see those little peacocks strutting their stuff!

 

I am also planning bird wings like these for Sweet Pea and various others, and a couple of other bits and bobs if I get time. A couple of days ago I finished one crocheted wristwarmer. I’m very happy with it; the pattern is wonderful and the yarn – Rowan Pure Wool 4-ply – has made them feel very substantial. They are a great fit for me too. Well, I say ‘they’. ‘It’ is more apt at this stage… The pattern is Hot Little Hands by Eclat du Soleil – here it is on Ravelry.

Seeing as I’ve been woefully neglectful of the Treehouse lately, here’s a quick update of the bits and bobs I’ve been up to in the past couple of months. I got that butterfly quilt finished on time, although I was disappointed with the awful, rushed machine binding job I did on it. The recipients were delighted though! I was stitching on the label in the car park, five minutes before boarding the boat for the party. Nothing like cutting it fine!

Also finished but not yet paraded here is my beaded Alpaca shawl. I made this with the yarn I bought in Norway, and I am thrilled with the result. The yarn is soft and squidgy as only alpaca can be. The beading, done with the thinnest of crochet hooks, was time consuming at first, but I soon got into the swing of it and it was soooo worth the effort. The yarn is Tynn Alpakka, and the pattern is Charlotte Burton’s Thistle & Beads shawl. My Ravelry entry is here.

I hope you enjoyed this round up of Treehouse activity!

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Puffed up and deflated

Yesterday I had SUCH a good day. A real treat of a day. I did a quilting class with the wonderful Philippa Naylor, organised by my fabulous local quilting shop Creative Quilting. The class was on Trapunto, the art of creating raised elements in a quilt, giving it an extra, sculptural dimension. We also learnt so much more, about freemotion, thread choice, needles, all sorts….. Philippa is one of those amazingly generous teachers who gives so much more than she needs to. It was such a priviledge to learn from someone with so much expertise and creativity.

Other treats of the day included lunch cooked for me (the class was in a lovely pub), a constant supply of tea, and no one demanding anything from me all day, ahhhhhhhh :) So I am very grateful to Creative Quilting, Philippa and Grandma for enabling me!

Now, I will show you what I made, IF you promise to ignore the ends which need tying off. I only learnt how to do that in the last 5 minutes….

 

The raggy looking thread is water soluble – it will disappear when I have finished. I think I’ll turn this into a cushion, it is rather cute :)

Now, onto the butterflies…. I came home last night and did another couple of hours of sewing, freemotion quilting my butterflies. I only got about a tenth of the quilt done so am resigned to the fact that it’s not going to be finished in time for the party on Saturday. I did another two and a half hours on it tonight, and I have almost quilted half of it now, but I still think there’s too much to do to hope to get it done in time :( Unless I let Sweet Pea watch Pink Panther and eat chocolate from now until Friday night….

 

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Butterfly Basting!

The last week was soooo frustrating. My white Kona fabric didn’t come because the vendor was on holiday. Luckily I managed to snag the last two metres of a bolt at the Great Northern Quilt Show and so had enough to finish the butterfly blocks while we were at my mum’s house. I then had to wait until Friday for the package to arrive before I could add the borders round the butterfly blocks.

Anyway, I finally got the borders on last night – whilst dipping in and out of Last Night of the Proms… Chinese pianist Lang Lang was playing – and was mesmorising as always – so my sewing had to take place around his solo spots! What an amazing guy he is. Technically brilliant, to a staggering degree, and I think what draws the audience in so completely is that he looks as though every single note fills him with utter joy. Enjoyment and wonder shines from his face with each phrase he plays. What’s more, he’s a lovely chap, great fun and a good sport to boot. I had the pleasure of working with him a few times  back in the days of my TV career and really, you couldn’t wish for a nicer or more amenable chap.

Back to the butterflies… I basted it all this morning, that was quite an exhausting job. Done now though, and ready to quilt. I’ll have to do a bit of practice though, I haven’t done any freemotion for a couple of months…

Do you think I can finish this by end of play Friday? I reeeeally hope so. I had a dream last night that I had finished it, and that we were in the car on the way to the party and I had left the quilt at home. Was rather relieved to wake up from that one…! Quilt nightmares, whatever next…?

 

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