Sunday, 30 August 2009

Make jam whilst you can

Sometimes I make other than bake, and jam is no exception with the autumn imminent it seemed a good idea to invest in a new preserving pan and to get started.  This is strawberry jam in progress last night. I would have bought a few more and made double this amount but sent DH to market who came back with 2 punnets of strawberries and some plums, so I decided to just make small quantities to see how the pan behaved.  It was superb and at £33 from a local Keswick shop a bargain compared to Lakeland who advertise the same pan for £39.
This shot shows the busy scene in my farmhouse style kitchen whilst I wait for the jam to cook. I also bought a new jam funnel which you can see on the left. As it turned out I did not use it this time because of the small quantity of jam I was making, but I will definately need it in the future. I need to make some more jam ready for the Thornthwaite , Braithwaite and Newlands Home and Garden Show which I mentioned about earlier.  I also told you to check out Linton Tweeds in Carlisle which prompted me to send for some samples and this is some of them.

I love the red one in the middle of the first piccie. I am not so sure that I could ever wear something made from fabric like this 2nd shot.  I would feel like a walking tea cosy.... But some  of the fabrics are superb and I may make a patchwork cushion from them, anyway I need a new challenge. Speaking of which I bought some fabric before the summer and I took a closer look at it yesterday, to spark ideas for another quilt.
It is made by Moda and the pack is called Portugal by April Cornell and of course its 100% cotton, so I need to start playing with it and see what comes to mind. It always seems such a shame to cut it up but that is where the challenge really begins, wish me luck...

Sunday, 23 August 2009

Favourite things

Sometimes the weather in Cumbria is depressing, so I thought it might cheer the day up a bit to post some of my favourite things. Anything handmade by someone who cares about their work is usually my preference, but sometimes I have others like for instance the collection here.

The pretty shelf unit was made by my DH many years ago and I love it still. It housed a few collections before being resited in the kitchen and then I found it set off my small collection of whimsical egg cups quite well. I used to keep my own hens and at the time was given various presents relating to them so that's how I ended up with the egg cups and then the salt and pepper pots and also on my dresser in the kitchen (it is farmhouse eclectic style) I have some wonderful chicken jugs. Not all of the items are chickens mind as over the years mice etc crept in. Speaking of which I think I there have been some real ones plaguing the neighbours recently but I had better say no more because it does not do to broadcast such things, but one over hears conversations behind the garden hedge.....ha ha

The cupcake china thingy was picked up quite recently at Friars of Keswick which is the local chocolate shop par excellence. Everyone that comes to Keswick goes inside and indulges. It is an Aladdins cave of scrumptiousness, and also has many pretty one off items like the cupcake, which had 3 home made shortbread biscuits inside and only cost about £2.50. I always keep an eye on the shop windows (2 of them) because they are changed seasonally and are a wonderful display. The 2 top left and right chickens were found in a small shop in Palm Springs, California when I was over visiting my daughter who lives, there in the Autumn, so they remind me of wall to wall sunshine and Starbucks coffee and of course my lovely daughter.

This next piccy is an embroidery I did which was based on a card she designed and gave to me one Christmas long ago. I thought is was so pretty a card, so I had to have a go at making an embroidery of it. It's basically a few stars and a gold padded heart with a bit of doodling in shiny thread from Linton Tweed offcuts. Then a few beads and all done on a simple orange muslin ground. Incidentally, if you have never visited Linton Tweeds in Carlisle, then all I can say is do it, do it soon. The cafe alone is worth the visit but the shop is to drool over and then their are the magical fabrics, think Chanel, Chanel, Chanel....oh its mouthwatering stuff. Everytime I go I come back with fabric and bits and bobs and I want to buy the shopfull usually. If you are stuck for cash though, they usually have a bargain bin where you can find smaller pieces for about £5, so don't let money worries put you off your visit, I guarantee you will enjoy it. Whilst you are there go check out Carlisle Cathedral too, it has a magnificent ceiling, think blue and gold.

Next up is a clock DH made for me and I love it. In fact I have 2 which are similar, this one is hanging in the hall at the moment. I collected the sea shells on a holiday we took to Western Ireland many years ago. We camped just behind a ridge of a large sand dune and every morning left the tent and went down past the ridge to the shore and it was long and wide and full of shells. My two Jack Russell Terriers loved it, they would bolt along the beach and into the foamy sea. I remember sitting outside the tent well into the twilight sipping red wine, super.

Wednesday, 19 August 2009

We have a mention in despatches.....

Well blow me down, as they say in the movies, we have been mentioned in Contact Magazine. That is wonderful, I am really chuffed, thank you for that nice editor (I know how to crawl). I have no idea what I have done to deserve it but all the same it has inspired me to add a Fan club list as you will see from the newly changed layout. I know, I know, I must not get carried away as I only have one fan so far sob.... But you never get anywhere if you don't think big. So if YOU like this blog and you want to express your addiction, love, fascination etc to others; do by all means become a fan. You do not need to put a piccie in of yourself if you prefer to remain anonymous as you just get a greyed out image, but it would be hugely prestigious for little ol Keswick if we had a fan club with more than one in it.

Alternatively, you can leave comments whenever you feel the urge.....there is a real person here not an answer machine or an Indian call centre and bloggers I believe are sooo friendly.
So - Contact me like the magazine says - I read them all and I reply too and sometimes I can even post what you want.
As an example, this is for Melanie who is the Secretary of the Thornthwaite , Braithwaite and Newlands Home and Garden Show, phew what a long title Melanie, you probably need a cold shower after saying that lot.
But seriously, it is held on Saturday September 12th at the Victory Memorial Hall, Braithwaite.
The doors open at 2pm and the admission is only £1 that is sooo cheap. Refreshments are served from 2pm to 4pm by the local WI ladies so they will be scrumptious too. If you wish to enter anything in the show let me know and I will give you Melanie's email or address.

Saturday, 15 August 2009

A day off

I stood outside the Moot Hall in Keswick this morning, dutifully kitted out ready to take a guided walk up Bleaberry Fell in the pouring rain and do you know only 1 lady turned up. So she and I agreed that we could postpone it and think again. She headed back to her B & B and I headed home to reflect on what to do with my day off.

So the beneficiaries are you, because I am now blogging away like a good un. I have updated the Keswick Rambles blog and now I am doing my other one. So its on to the second instalment of the Wainwright Quilt which came 2ND in the Rheged North West Regional Day Rosebowl Competition. Of course you all know that this is judged by you... so its very special to be awarded a prize, (I still have not spent the book token), so on with the details.

First up is one of my favourite bits on the little quilt, its the bit which started me off on the road to discovery because it pointed me in the right direction. So here is AW sitting on a sort of stile gazing over the quilt towards the centre piece which is a view of Angle Tarn Pikes with Brotherswater in the foreground.

I had great fun with this scene because I clipped around the piccie I had printed of him and just pushed him into place on a little calico creation I had made with Shirley McKeand which I had daubed with some green silk paint to blend in with the rest of the ink jet printed cloth I had produced. Then I added a few more colours to the cairn with Berol fabric pens and embroidered more french knots on his socks.

This next feature is self explanatory I think, I just loved the way he drew his doggie friends and had to include as many as I could.So 'Barmaid 'of the Melbreak foxhounds is shown with just a simple organza bushy plant behind her and some simple whip stitch grassy looking fronds ahead of her. To keep the continuity going I made sure she too was pointing in towards the centre of the quilt.

Next up has to be my favourite piece of the quilt, the Christmas scene. I had a wonderful time with this as you can see. I added a little torn patch to AW's bottom as if the little terrier busy shredding his trouser bottom had previously attacked his derriere ha ha. I made AW puff angrily on his pipe with a whiff of curly smoke going into the air simply with curly straight stitches. The Christmas tree was added because my own little terrier Bella had run across the quilt at that point a few days before and left a little muddy paw print. So I covered it up with organza and just machined in the branches of the tree with straight stitch and a zigzag trunk with the final touch, a metallic star on the top which I hoped would look very 1950's. That gave me the idea for the paper chain (whip stitch) and the lantern and I finished these with beads.

Next I went wild with whip and feather stitch and added as many effects to represent water and fells and stones as I could. I tried to make the raw edges of all the separate components come together rather like a medieval manuscript page. I doodled and dashed about and had a look at a medieval manuscript too whilst I was at it to make sure I was creating the right effect.The edge of the Great Gable page in the right centre of the finished piece shows this best.

The final stage came when I actually sandwiched the quilt with its wadding and backing fabric and just quilted it together in a very restrained manner, after all it was covered in machine embroidery and did not need to have too much quilting, just enough. You can see this best in the final piccie which shows AW staring across at Blencathra with some quilted gusts of wind in a much paler colour than the embroidered pieces. The little grasses at the bottom were done before I quilted in whip stitch.

Finally I added a couple of tabs for hanging which I made from fabric printed with his book covers. I had tried to put a book into the quilt but it did not work, so they were perfect hangars, you see the idea for the quilt all came from the books so it was only right that they were included. All said, this project was one of my most productive and creative times and I enjoyed every minute of it. I want to thank all of you who voted for me it was such a surprise and very kind of you.

Monday, 10 August 2009

2nd Prize at Rheged April 09

I have been away to Scotland, I wish I could say that I had been enjoying myself but in fact I bagged another Munro (Scottish 3000 foot Hill) and managed to be a good meal for a few midges as we camped in Glen Coe. Silly to camp in August I know but Bella came with us and she enjoyed her first real camp. For instance at night she was first into the tent and usually settled down into my sleeping bag with her little head on my pillow and always seemed to be peacefully asleep immediately. So I had to make the best of it. If you want to read the full report it is on my other blog which is here Or you can look at it from my bloglist below. (I know some of you ladies like to read about my adventures in the hills.)

You may remember I said I would put some piccies on the blog of my little quilt which won 2ND prize at Rheged in April at the North West Regional Day. I have shown the complete quilt before but no close ups, so this is the reason I am really blogging tonight. And I was up another 4 Wainwright fells today with a couple of clients and it seemed to be a good idea to give Wainwright his due because you know the subject of the competition was called 'Myths and Legends'. I chose Alfred Wainwright because he is a legend in the Lake District for writing his very famous guide books to the fells and they are in my opinion still as relevant today as when he wrote them starting way back in the 50's.

So the piccie above is Wainwright sitting with his back against a lichen covered cairn staring out over the landscape he loved so well, with his little terrier at his feet and puffing away on his trusty pipe. I made the quilt by scanning in some of the lovely little pen and ink drawings which he made for his books and then printed them on cotton fabric which I had treated with Bubble Jet 2000. Then after I played around with the design a bit I found the idea of grouping little vignettes around a central piccie of a Lake District scene gave the best way of showing off his amusing drawings. I tried to place him around the edges looking in as it were.

This next piccie shows him striking a pose against another cairn in his summer gear, note the braces....I could not resist putting beads on them for the buttons and then adding some chain stitch and a few more beads to the cairn with some French knots and also some special fluffy ones for the top of his socks.

Of course the one thing you notice around here are the sheep and AW rather tongue in cheek knew how to make fun of himself in his drawings. These two sheep are standing on the rough fellside which I embellished with some slanting whip stitch, a bit of zig zag and some odd bits of wool underneath to give the appearance of bracken.

Sometimes his images speak for themselves. So I just did some random straight stitch here and added a bit of colour to the man with Berol fabric marker pens.

I will show you more next time, until then, happy sewing.