Thursday, April 26, 2012

Embroidered brooches


Can you tell Autumn inspires me?


Now that we've had a bit of rain everything looks washed and vibrant once again.


I loved making this brooch with beautiful crewel wool. The gorgeous mahogany brooch bezel is also handcrafted by a talented pair of Etsians. You can visit them here.

You can visit my shop too, while you're there! This brooch is available for sale right now :)

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Warm colours

The weather has turned wintery in Melbourne today and what a perfect time for the postman to bring good tidings with warm colours!








 All of these beautiful things were sent to me by Baukje as I was lucky enough to win her blog giveaway recently. There are some truly beautiful and very useful treasures in that parcel, thank you so much Baukje!
And another timely arrival on a day where I've largely been shut inside - my favourite embroidery magazine :)

I spent some time warming my fingers by rolling a hank of Nell's lovely wool into a ball in preparation for a little something.

I hope you find a happy craft to warm your fingers and your heart today. Until next time!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Working on....


Another Ottobre 301 finished as the cooler weather continues to approach. Aren't Crafty Mamas fabrics just so gorgeous?! (And for those of you who tell me you can't sew with knits I say "Oh yes you can!!"


I'm loving the embroidery that I've been working on at night. It's a printed vintage piece that my Mum in Law gave me years ago. The reason I didn't start it earlier is because it was partially worked already (with very beautiful but old threads). I couldn't decide what to do.


Initially I tried matching the existing threads, but being of vintage era there was no hope of an accurate match. So I regretfully made the decision to remove the old threads, which came out easily.


I have no regrets now, as the vibrant colours I'm now using are looking so gorgeous and the piece is a joy to stitch.

Today I've been working in the laundry (it's not what you think!!) dyeing some fabrics which I'll share when they're ready.

I'm really excited to have ordered some rolls (yes, rolls!) of silk ribbon from the U.S. as well as some new silk paints, so I eagerly await that parcel, I have lots and lots of plans.

I hope you have had a wonderfully blessed week!

Friday, April 20, 2012

Knitting is not my forte!

Wow, did I ever step outside my comfort zone when I decided to knit the Oriental Lily from Tikki.
My knitting capabilities have previously extended to dish cloths and a basic beanie and anything requiring a basic square! But I was determined I could do it.


I had multiple, multiple issues in knitting this - mistakes requiring me to start over, gaping holes, dropped stitches, my insufficient dye job that sticks out like a sore thumb......



But it's finished, and my darling daughter "LOVES IT!" and finds the cotton so comfortable and doesn't want to take it off. That part is good. Now I just have to get over the fact that it didn't turn out perfect and be grateful for the massive learning experience it's been. I also really enjoyed the process and am looking forward to knitting another Tikki pattern very soon.

I must say a great big thanks to all my Crafty Mamas friends who encouraged me to have a go and helped me sort out my various stuff ups. Also, thank you to the countless ladies who have taken the time to post videos on Youtube - without their help this project would be  shoved away somewhere, never to be completed!

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Kefir

                                                                                  My first kefir smoothies


Have you heard of kefir? I've read a lot about it over the years and wanted to try it so I ordered some freeze dried grains from Cheeselinks.  You heat your milk (unless it's UHT) to 90 degrees, cool it to 25 and then add a tiny smidgeon of the grain. I poured it into my Easiyo container and left it in the Easiyo thermos thingy with a bit of warm water. Then refrigerate and presto, you have kefir ready.

The verdict :
Undecided. I didn't expect the kefir to set so much (like homemade yogurt) and I didn't like the taste on it's own. I made a smoothie with 500ml of kefir, a handful of mixed berries from the freezer, some tinned peach and some honey. I added some low fat milk to thin it out too. To me it tasted ok but not great. None of the kids liked it. Husband liked it.

Next time I will :
Not leave it to ferment for so long to try and achieve a milder taste.
Use low fat milk, as I prefer the taste to full cream.
Make a smoothie with banana, which I think would suit better.
Check out other ways I can use kefir so I can incorporate it into our diet in a way that suits everyone.

In the future :
I'd love to try fresh grains, which seem quite different in preparation and perhaps would also differ in taste.

I'd love to hear from anyone who has tried or uses kefir (perhaps some of my U.S. friends, it seems to be popular there?)

Friday, April 13, 2012

My honey and oat bread

I'm a bread nut. I'll admit it. I've had this fascination with hand made bread for years and as such have had quite a bit of practice at using, tweaking and producing my own recipes. It's an ongoing process and one that I enjoy, I feel I'll never know enough about breadmaking and there is always more to learn. It's also something I would love to teach to others.

I hope you enjoy my latest loaf, it's a little sweet but not overly, so can be eaten with savoury foods also.


This recipe makes 2 good sized loaves.

Ingredients

100g wholemeal flour
900g white flour
1/4 cup rolled oats
2.5 teaspoons dried yeast
2.5 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon honey (I use a gorgeous local honey)
2 tablespoons sunflower oil
625ml warm water

Method

I use the dough mixer on my mixmaster then finish off the kneading by hand. It can be kneaded just by hand.
Mix all ingredients in a large bowl. Mix on low for 5 - 10 minutes or if kneading by hand, do so for 10 minutes. Your dough should be fairly sticky and moist.
Tip out onto an oiled bench and with oiled hands knead for a couple of minutes (I find this step important to get a feel for the dough and ensure that all is well).
Oil the bottom of your bowl, place the dough in and oil the top. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside to rise. 
When doubled in size tip the dough onto the bench again and either knead or press into the shape you would like. For example, the bread pictured was pressed into a rectangle, the sides rolled in and then the whole thing rolled up and placed in the bread tin. You can just knead it into a round if you wish and place it on a tray.
Cover and set aside for about 45 minutes.

Preheat your oven to 240 degrees (C).  If you want to, slash your loaf with a sharp blade. Place in the oven for 10 minutes. This makes a lovely crunch crust. After this time, reduce the temperature to 190 degrees for another 20 minutes or until the loaf is well browned.

Turn out onto a baking rack to cool or get stuck into it while it's still warm!

If you try it please let me know what you think :)

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

A start on winter sewing


I'm right into the winter sewing now that my latest Crafty Mamas order is here and the biting cold weather is a great motivator.  For the littlest one I used my trusty Ottobre 301 top pattern. Don't you love that mushroom print?


I also did a new pair of leggings (Burda pattern) which my girls love to live in. Usually I'd put a skirt over the top, it looks so cute.
I'm a little excited about the cooler weather because I'm right into knitting this year and my skills are improving really fast. The hardest part is waiting on materials purchased online to arrive as sadly there are no wonderful knitting stores near me.

Is the cool weather motivating you to make certain things? A warm quilt or blanket perhaps? Knitted cardies or hats? Do tell!

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Happy Easter!


Last year we dyed our eggs with regular kitchen food dye, but this year husband got his hands on some Greek easter egg dye (basically food dye but much stronger colour). Aren't the colours amazing?!
The trick to the shine is to rub olive oil all over the eggs after dyeing and drying.

Wishing you all a very happy and holy Easter!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

A sewist in the making


My 6 year old wanted to give her Grandmother an Easter gift, so I (naturally) suggested a fabric item :) After some discussion we decided she could use my sewing machine for the first time. Great excitement, mixed with some anxiety on my part, followed.


We transferred this beautiful image of Our Lord onto some homespun, sewed on some borders, along with some ribbon for hanging, some wadding and backing. I was surprised how quickly she got a feel for the machine. I was pleased too.

Having completed the wallhanging ready to gift to her Gran on the Easter weekend, we received a card from the dear lady herself and were amused to see she had chosen this very same image for our card! We think she'll like it!



Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Mushroom house key fobs


New in my Etsy shop today!


The first is bold colours in 100% wool felt with a little Euro ribbon to match.


The second is hand dyed wool felt, which is just totally gorgeous!


Which one do you like? Red or rainbow?

Cute, no?