Saturday, 29 October 2011

Gothic Shawl by Jane Sowerby

This is name of the shawl designed by Jane Sowerby, featured on the front cover of The Knitter Issue 37.  Coming back home with my pancheon, I had in my mind my offer to knit my aunt a shawl.  I am ready to tackle some complex lace knitting again, and when my latest magazine offered this beautiful design, I felt driven to accept the challenge.

One of the substitute yarns suggested was one by Old Maiden Aunt.  After looking at her site, I emailed my aunt, and she was able to view the yarn I had in mind.  On Thursday I ordered it and it arrived Friday morning. 

Hand painted in shades of brown and chestnut, with the wonderful feel of baby suri alpaca, fine merino and silk, this will knit up into a beautiful lightweight and warm shawl.

  It took me just over half an hour to wind the yarn, using my wooden swift.

I found a size of needle suggested and knitted up a trial swatch.  I need to buy more needles: two 100 cm needles, and for hours I was wondering whether I should get the addi turbo or lace needles.  I tried the knitting shop in Warwick, but no luck there.  As I knitted the swatch on bamboo, and I know that with my hands as they are, wooden or bamboo needles are much kinder, I decided to stick with my hunch.  It was like looking for needles in a haystack, finding the right top quality ones, right length etc...and now two Addi Bamboo Circular needles  are on order from English Yarns.  Next week when they arrive, I shall start in earnest.

The Pancheon

A couple of weeks ago, my Uncle Noel and I ventured north to the land of our forefathers and mothers!  We stopped en route at his son and his wife, my cousins. 

Before we got there he and I had a great lunch and a visit to Hardwick Hall....what no photos!  I had left my camera behind...but perhaps this meant I took more in....

At my cousins, where we were made most welcome, I got to taste some wonderful jellies, chutneys and preserves.  We visited sisters/aunts and brothers/uncles with uncle Noel sharing some wonderful vintage family photographs.

On this visit I was given my Grand Mother's pancheon.  I found out later that my grand-mother had this handed down from her mother.  Therefore to my knowledge this was my great-grandmother's.  Who knows it is was new then or if came down from even earlier in the family. I feel honoured to be the current user, and so very grateful to receive it.  It is on account of this blog, and the fact that my aunt reads this, and her generosity, that it is now here. 

When he saw first saw it, Uncle Noel said he could remember it standing besides the hearth when he was young, covered with two tea towels.  My aunt has a very roomy and superb kitchen, so it was not until I got it home that I realised how big it was and why it would have needed two tea towels to cover it! 

Mr S approves of the place on the work surface where it is on display.  It is just above the under the counter freezer, where I used to keep the fruit basket.  I only realised this year the reason that our fruit ripened so quickly was that it was a warm corner.  Dough using 1.5Kg of flour looks really small but there is plenty of room to rise.  I guess with a very large family, a big pancheon would be needed.  Today Mr S and I went into Warwick, and I found a lovely hardly used vintage Huckaback towel with pretty pansies, at Oops-a-daisy at the antiques galleries.  It is large enough to cover the pancheon nicely.

With this dough, I made two walnut free form, two small and one large tin loaves.  Two loaves went to friends.


As I left my aunt, I thought it would be nice to ask her if she would like something, and she said that next time I went up, she would like some bread.  I also felt a nice knitting project coming on, and she was delighted when I suggested that I knit her a shawl.  More about this later!

Monday, 17 October 2011

Warm blanket for cooler evenings

Its a few weeks now since a blanket left here.....I think it was started over a year ago. 
A gentleman arrived at our Knit and Natter group, with a huge amount of knitting yarn.  His mother had recently passed away, and she had been a stasher too.  The main part was distributed, but amongst the bags, I spied a couple of packets of Irish tweed knitting yarn, each had the same dark tones, one with orange and the other green.  With these, I thought a nice blanket could be made for someone.  I had only just learnt to crochet squares, and asked if anyone would like to join with me.  Janice, Nicki, and Jacki volunteered, and over the months we croched our way through most of the two packets.

As a result of all of this, and several get togethers here with tea, coffee and cakes, and much nattering,  with several others turning up to encourage and cheer us on, we completed the 'lap rug'. Thanks so much to each and every one of you.

The pattern I thought was inspired  by a simple mosaic in the bottom of a water pool in Pompeii.  I've looked through all my photos, but cannot find it....maybe in my dreams, squares of dark green and red marble with a simple geometric pattern shining through water....

It took me a couple of weeks to come up with the best pattern and to sew up all the 99 squares...then I hand washed and also machine washed, the piece of sleeve which this lady had knitted up, and knew that it would be safe to machine wash the blanket on the wool wash.  After it was blocked...well not tightly but spread over towels in the conservatory, it was time to think of whom we would give the blanket to.

Here Janice and Nicki pose with the completed blanket.  It is now its new owner.  May they feel the warmth, laughter and companionship which went into making this.

Just before the final squares were sewn on, my little Izabelle visited, and grabbed the blanket to put over our laps at story time...I think she also enjoyed playing peek a boo, and being able to see out through the now I am using up some ends of sock yarn balls, and making a small lap rug for her.

Saturday, 8 October 2011

Apple Cake

Mr S was wondering if he was going to get cake this week, and just when I was doing something completely different, the idea of apple cake came into my mind.  I searched for a recipe, weighing up in my mind which I would use, when I remembered a recipe that I wrote down years ago.  I looked through my well worn book, and found the recipe dated 1993! 

I adapted it a little as I was using desert apples, and felt there was too much sugar.  As I was using a larger 23 cm spring cake tin, I got into a little bit of a dilemma after putting in the sliced apples and felt I did not have enough mixture, so mixed up a further 1 eggs worth to cover the fruit properly.  I really like this size of cake as it gives more and better sized slices.  This is a really easy cake to make.  Since a couple of friends who received slices have left messages on the answer machine saying how much they enjoyed it, I am posting the recipe for them to have a try....

1 lb or so prepared eating apples
1 lb self raising flour
2 tsp baking powder
10 oz caster sugar
5 eggs
1.5 tsp almond essence
10 oz (goats butter) or ordinary butter melted
Flaked almonds
Caster Sugar

I decided to leave on the peel on the apples, but sliced the apples neatly.  To prevent them browning, some lemon juice was squeezed over them

Sift the flour, baking powder into a large bowl, and then add the sugar.
Melt the butter gently.
Whisk the eggs to blend, together with the almond essence.
Add the eggs and butter to the flour and sugar, and mix.
Cover the bottom of the cake tin with half the mixture.  Layer the apples.


Then top with the remainder of the cake mixture, and sprinkle on a liberal layer of flaked almonds.

Bake at Gas Mark 4 for about 1.5 Hours.  Remove from oven, after about 10 minutes, remove from tin, and allow to cool slowly on a cake rack.  When cold, dust with icing sugar.  Three days later the cake is still fresh and there are two slices left for Sunday too!

Doyenne du Comice Harvest

In preparation for 'the harvest', I went to the market early and picked up some empty boxes. As soon as we had dinner on Thursday, I went out and started to pick the pears from our tree, which I planted just three years ago.
The tree had a total of 46 fruits, total yield 13 Kg, the largest fruit being 409 grams, which was just over twice the weight of the smallest 195g. I been trying to find out what weights the fruit grow to.
Earlier in the year Julian came over to look at my fruit trees and it seemed then that I had been doing all the right things regarding pruning, mulching and feeding. Even though we have a small garden its great to have a few trees both for the flowers and the fruit.
In a couple of weeks, the espalier Concorde Pear will be ready to harvest, but with not quite the same quantity or size. I shall be bottling some fruit for Mr S to enjoy, rather than his usual tinned pears! Also I shall be looking out for some pear chutney recipes.

Saturday, 1 October 2011

Opening of Pedestrian and Cycle Bridge in Kenilworth

A note was pushed through my door, which I was very pleased with, as it reminded me that the new foot and cycle bridge was being opened on Thursday.

I arranged things such that I arrived in time. I used the cycle path through the common, but I came to a part which was still being worked on. There was a very good asphalt smooth base, but for a reason I just cannot fathom, this was being topped with bitumen and fine golden gravel. I had to squeeze past the lorry and workmen....and it was only when I got home that I found that I had got tar on the bottom of my sandals and on my new white trousers!!!! I have cleaned off the sandals but I am still working on the trousers.

What a hot day, and what long speeches....I had to retreat to the back to the shadier part of the path, but by climbing the mounting block, got a good view and picture. I had a nice chat with a couple of handsome officers, who obligingly posed for their photos. Our officer in the high vis jacket had come on his bike too. I was pleased to hear that soon they will be back in Kenilworth, albeit with a smaller office in the same building which is being refurbished.

There was a good turn out of walkers and cyclists, including children cycling from a nearby school, and here is the first tandem to cross the bridge peddled by my neighbours Mark and Bethany.

Day out to Kelmscott

Last week, I joined ladies from around Warwickshire on a trip to Kelmscott Manor. It was a glorious day, and enjoyed myself. From high up in the coach, we had a wonderful view of the rolling Cotswold landscape on the way there. I was really familiar with the area, as it is not far from where we used to live, but I had only been to Kelmscott once and many years ago.
There were two coaches, and I was in the party to enjoy a walk to the Village Hall and Church first. The church is a gem, and thanks to William Morris insisting on minimal intervention, there are wonderful original features to enjoy...More recent were the kneelers, and this is one of Morris's designs.

After a relaxing and delicious lunch, we toured the house and gardens. No photographs are allowed in the house....but there was so much to see, and we were able to get up really close to furniture, hangings, embroideries etc.

The gardens were relaxing, and quinces hung huge and golden from the many trees. The willows which so much inspired Morris were still in the summer garb.