Monday, 8 December 2008

What a busy week!

It is sometimes hard to know where to begin to describe a hectic past week, therefor I will start simply by showing a few photos and then maybe inspiration will strike for the rest. So here is a photo of a felt bag I finally embellished with a few 'dangly' bits last week after having made the initial bag at our felt making day last June, when Marilyn Hughes gave a superb workshop at Threlkeld.

The reason I am including it is because part two of felt making will be in February (again at Threlkeld where water slopping onto the floor is not a problem) when Marilyn will show us how to make NUNO felt. More information will appear on this blog soon, so keep a look out. I promise you it will be an exciting day, so if you missed the last workshop do try and come to this one as Marilyn is a very talented and inspirational teacher and an expert at making all kinds of beautiful felt. You can see how good she is by this bag which was made by me, a complete novice.

Marilyn like myself and several other ladies in the Keswick branch are also members of Cumbria Patchworkers and last Wednesday we gathered in Kirkby Stephen for a Christmas Party. We all made some food and took it along to share out. This is my pavlova in the oven.

And these are the chocolate coated strawberries waiting to go on the top as decoration later, along with whipped cream and Greek yoghurt + redcurrants and chocolate with an icing sugar dusting, phew!

The final putting together was done on the morning of the feast, so I don't have a photo; sorry. But you must use your imagination for the party food itself which was delicious. All of us took along home baking and it was dainty and tasty too.

I did manage to take a photo of the present we left for our hostess, the idea was to each make a felt heart and decorate it and then put them all together to form a wreath which was given to the lady of the house.

Here it is on the tablecloth which was pretty Christmas fabric.

Speaking of Christmas I have been busy making presents for people and here is a small pouch for jewellery I made using some silk paper which again we made at an Embroiderers' Guild workshop in June 2003 with Pat Lewington from Newton Rigg college. I always keep all scraps just in case I need them and silk paper is so versatile so I usually have some if I have a rummage about. Gosh it looks so beautiful in the photo that I would love to make some more. I made a simple envelope with the paper and stitched the sides together with 'machine buttonhole' then embellished the top with French knots and some Swarovski crystals and lastly a Dorset button I had made when I was a student doing City & Guilds Stage 1 Embroidery.

This next photo shows some lovely flowers we made after our AGM in September. Gloria had given me a present last year at our Christmas Luncheon decorated with one and I fell in love with it..

So of course I asked her if she would kindly show us all how it was done and she did us proud. Well done Gloria and thank you so much. These by the way are my effort as I did not have my camera with me that day, a real pity as our ladies did some wonderful work.

My last project (Union Jack pillow cases) was more ambitious and involved an element of shabby chic! An idea I had picked up whilst on holiday kept nagging at me until I had a go. Here are the finished presents on my bed but what is that terrier doing there? You know you can always trust a pet to steal the scene... Merry Christmas everyone as this may be my last posting until after the festivities.

Monday, 24 November 2008

Food Glorious Food

This morning I was up bright and early as some friends who have a guest house just round the corner have me booked in as breakfast chef for a couple of days whilst the ladies take off for a jolly at Aachen Christmas Market. I just looked the place up and came up with the following 'In the Middle Ages Aachen was the seat of emperors and kings, and the scene of many coronations and imperial diets. Its hot springs made this city, at the foot of the Eifel hills, the favourite residence of Charlemagne, who built a palace here.' It was the capital of the Holy Roman Empire under Charlemagne and it has a famous cathedral and Gothic town hall. Sounds like they will have a wonderful time, meanwhile they have left the male of the house to wait on and me to cook.

Speaking of cooking, I thought it might be a good idea to post the Christmas Lunch here for those of you who are interested in food. So this is the lunch which we shall be enjoying at Dalemain on the 11th December.

Parsnip & apple soup with wholewheat roll
Mushroom pate with baguette or biscuit
Fruit juice

Locally reared roast turkey with stuffing, sausage & Yorkshire pudding
Roast Cumberland beef & Yorkshire pudding
Rainbow nut roast, layers of nuts, cheese & tomatoes with a tomato & basil sauce

Selection of vegetables & roast potatoes

Traditional Christmas pudding with brandy sauce
Sticky apple & ginger pudding with ice cream
Tarte au citron with cream

Freshly brewed coffee or Tea & mints

So 3 courses, I don't know how I shall get through it all, but after having come back from California this month I do know not to be ashamed to ask for a doggie bag, they all do it even in the poshest places. So it could be an extra treat for Bella. Here she is the little darling on the bus about to depart from Booths Carpark to go up to Borrowdale for a guided walk with me in the summer. This lovely photo was taken by a German lady called kira who was a good companion on the walks and who kindly sent me the picture.

Anyway, the next item of news is a reminder about our 15th January meeting which is a workshop/demonstration for those of you fed up with just workshops this year. So hopefully you won't be disappointed and its with Janice Nott who will have a kit available at £6 but you will also need to bring your regular sewing bits which may or may not go with the making of Fabric Jewellery.

Now then I know that I have already included a recipe this month but as the subject of this post is food, I thought I would give you another cake recipe and the lady who supplied this one says it is good although it is unusual. I asked about the lack of eggs and was told the mayonnaise made up for it. So here it is

10 oz Self raising flour
8 oz Caster sugar
1½ tsp Baking powder
7 oz Mayonnaise (Hellmans is best)
4 tbsp Cocoa
8 fluid oz Boiling water
1 tsp Vanilla essence
Pinch salt


Mix flour, baking powder, salt & sugar, add mayonnaise (mixture should look like breadcrumbs).
Mix cocoa into boiling water then add to the mix with the vanilla.
Put into 8" cake tin and cook for 1 hour 180ยบ Reg 4.
Leave in tin to cool.

Please post a comment if it turns out nice.

Sunday, 23 November 2008

Blocking out Crewel embroidery

One of the small embroideries for the 'item' was given to me to 'block out' and I thought those of you who do not dabble in Crewel would like to know how this is done. It is simple really, I use a large piece of blockboard which has been covered in cork tiles (basically an old kitchen noticeboard my husband made years ago). I covered the cork with a double layer of plastic and it was ready to go. You then pin the piece of work firmly down so that its flat with the pins angled towards the embroidery so they keep up an even tension and then you spray with cold water to drench the embroidery, and I do mean drench. Actually, I nipped upstairs and turned the shower on it then I left the board flat across the bath to drain for a few hours. The board needs to be kept flat so I moved it into the spare bedroom and left it for 3 days. Don't be tempted to remove the embroidery before it is completely dry.

We not only worked on the 'item' last Wednesday but also were supposed to bring along a star for swapping. The idea had been published in Stitch magazine and so we all made one, mine took me 3 hours and then I forgot to photograph it. So I have taken a photo of the one I chose from the swaps. Here she is, a red plush background with a gold lame star, red sequins and beading, rather jolly I thought and it will go on the tree a treat later. I did not take any photos of the other stars on the day but believe me they were all gorgeous and showed the diversity and talent of our ladies admirably.

Friday, 21 November 2008

Cumbrian Hospitality & a little bit of history

Lets kick off this blog with a recipe which I tried this week at a friends house. She is a marvellous cook and runs a Guest House in Rosthwaite which is a cut above your average, with its own sitting room for guests, complete with open fire and their very own kitchen.

She cooks on an old AGA and her kitchen is a large roomy place where she has a table for her Bernina sewing machine and of course she is still sewing all sorts of things on it.

When I first went to the place I was shown all of the guest rooms and each one had a lovingly made quilt on it, all completely hand quilted by the 'lap quilting method'. After the tour of the house I was shown her latest 'block' for her next quilt and of course had to know how it was all done. That was fatal, as I became bitten with the bug. I made my first quilt with the lap method when I was still lecturing full time and remember stitching the blocks on my sewing machine and then spending many evenings by the lamp carefully hand quilting each square.

But let me not digress, I promised a recipe and this one is very good, but I don't have a photo as I have not had a chance to make it myself yet, but rest assured my husband was with me at the tasting and he liked it, so it will have to be made soon....

So here it is


4oz Margarine or butter
1 tbsp Golden Syrup

Melt in a saucepan


5 oz SR Flour
5 oz coconut
4oz chopped dates
2½oz sugar
1 tsp Baking powder

Mix and pour into a lightly greased tin size 11" x 7" and smooth the top.
Bake 300F 25 - 30 mins

When cool, heat juice of a lemon with 4oz icing sugar and pour over the top.
Cut into bars when cold.

Lastly enjoy with good friends and have a natter.

The reason I went out to Borrowdale in the first place was because I had bumped into my friend in Booths Supermarket and she told me she would like to donate some material to our stash as she had been given more than she could use by another contact. Well, we never demure when it comes to material because the rules are YOU NEVER HAVE ENOUGH...Even if your shelves are bulging it is still the same rule..

Well this material looks perfect for making bags. Carpet bags actually. So I trotted off to our meeting on Wednesday with a large cardboard box of the stuff expecting to have to cart half of it back home again after the meeting. Well I needn't have worried, because once I mentioned fabric suitable for bags and finished talking there was nearly a stampede.... But they were told to make the bags and bring them along to show the rest of us so that we could pick out the best ones and then we could set up a workshop to show how it was done.

It always seems to me that no sooner is one item made than they all want to set off and make another....Which is handy really because I had asked them all to contribute some embroidery to a 'banner' to be displayed at our Regional Day next April. We are co - hosting with Cumbria Branch in Carlisle and I wanted something to put behind the Keswick Stall so came up with the idea of a banner. I have since been told to change the name to 'wallhanging' so that I don't attribute the wrong words to the item. Anyway, if you are confused so was I.

I am still not sure what to call IT but IT has started to materialise at last and here are some piccies of work in progress on the ah humm item....

This is Sally placing the copper text at the top of the item. We decided to use actual copper for the letters as it represents the copper mining industry in the area.

You see the sheep left, what a lovely example of a Herdwick, that's the local sheep which is seen on most of the fells around here and in Borrowdale. It was the breed most favoured by Beatrix Potter and she and her farm manager at Hill Top Farm, Tom Storey used to show them at Keswick Show. They had a series of prize winning ewes spanning two decades at the agricultural shows when Tom joined Beatrix in 1927 after leaving Troutbeck Park. Beatrix used to impress her shepherds with her skill at drawing her sheep. Baa

This is one of the smaller squares which have been contributed towards the finished item by each member of our guild. We were all asked to make either a small square or a rectangle to go down both sides of the item which represent the white stones on the side of the Moot Hall in the market square in Keswick. These are acorns which are plentiful around here and they are done in crewel work to remind us of the wonderful day we had Phillipa Turnbull here last year to give us a workshop in beginners crewel work. It was a revelation to many of us and do you know that we all still do it thanks to Phillipa's inspiration. There were so many who volunteered to do a crewel work piece that I thought there might be a problem but happily we don't mind some duplication as all the subject matter is different.

Here is the embroidery of the Moot Hall showing the lovely placement of stone down the sides alternating between squares and rectangles. It has been worked with great skill by Sally who spent hours experimenting with fabric and threads to create just the right image. She used white felt in the end to represent the stones which are so distinctive a feature of the Moot Hall. It was built by German Miners in Queen Elizabeth I's reign to look like their meeting halls back in Germany.