What the heck is Wings of Goose?

Sunday, 13 November 2011

The Selfish Crafter

I can't deny it. I love making things for myself, or for my home. I know why it is; it's because I'm slow. I'm a slow knitter. Consistent but slow. I'm less slow at sewing, actually a reasonable pace, and I suppose if I was going to make something for someone, it would be better for them if it was sewn rather than knitted, if they ever hoped to get it. But the thing with this speed problem is that more and more things I want to knit, or design and sew, build up, and by the time I've finished (finally) the thing I'm working on, I have to choose out of that multitude of things. I do often run knitting and sewing projects alongside, but I never knit more than one item at a time. I think I need to change that actually.

So it may come as a surprise after reading the above, that I have actually made some things for other people! The other week I finished a beautiful pair of curtains I'd been making for some dear friends to go in their beautiful, Laura Ashley adorned, living room. The fabric was duck egg blue dupion silk. They were my second ever pair of curtains, and I must say, I am incredibly pleased with them. Unfortunately I'm less pleased with the photos I took of them so bear with me.


Ignore the cheeky chappies in the foreground.

I did take a couple with the curtains closed but becaue it was daytime, they didn't come out too well. I didn't interline the curtains as we didn't want them to look too grand. I love the more raw look of silk; so although they do look quite posh, they don't look over the top. They finished the room off really well, so I was really glad to have been able to use I skill that I have to help someone else.

This post started off being about how I never make things for anyone else. Well here's another thing I made for the same friend.

A lovely knitted heart from a sweet book called Vintage Hearts and Flowers by Kate Haxell.

This was actually the first "thing" I knitted. Not that one though, but this one...

... nestled in amongst our collection of ceramics, prints and cards on the living room mantelpiece.

The tall buildings on the far left we bought in Halkidiki in Greece many years ago. Marno loves ceramics and collects small pots with beautiful glazes. My mum writes the calligraphy Bible verses which we have a few of around the house.

I got these lovely prints from the makers gallery in Painswick. They're actually cards which I framed, but they look perfect (the hare print in the first and second photos of the mantelpiece is also one of them).

So, after that digression, my conclusion is that I need to speed up, with knitting at least. But I'm sure the reason for my lack of speed is my poor technique. My knitting is very neat but could be so much faster. The thing is, I don't want to spend time on knitting practise when I could be knitting an actual thing. Maybe if I knit something thats masses of stocking stitch I can practise as I go, but would that mess up my gauge? I'm just vocalising my thoughts here, so if anybody has any helpful advice, please let me know.

xxx Sam

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Baking stuff

I've been doing some baking experimentation recently. I love cooking, and have no problem working from different recipies and am confident that they will work and be tasty. Baking however, is another story. Last year at my baby shower, my friend Ruth and I tried to bake. I made muffins which were supposed to to contain half fresh blueberries and half dried fruit. I thought how much nicer it would be to have fresh raspberries with the blueberries rather than the dried fruit. Being such an inexperienced baker (though perhaps common sense should have told me), I ended up with a batch of muffins that were so soggy they would not come out of the cases, and were co collapsed that they were inedible! As a joke, my friend bought me a book entitled Easy Muffins. Surely I could not go wrong... Well I didn't actually get round to baking anything from Easy Muffins until a couple of weeks ago, when I had a sudden desire to bake, and bake, and bake. I decided on muffins which contained apple (we have a huge Bramley apple tree in the garden, and a huge surplus of apples), and something else, I forget what. Anyway, I didn't have the right type of sugar, so I did a little substitution... and once again ended up with a batch of inedible muffins which would not come out of their cases and had to be binned. How ironic!

I have had a few successes though. I baked a Cinnamon Nutella cake for Noah's birthday...

... and an Apple and Walnut cake for Marno's birthday...

... making good use of those apples again! I have bags of them in the freezer, all chopped up and waiting to go in a crumble. Here is a fabulous crumble as it happens (I don't usually have a problem with puddings!) As you can see, I'm not one of those mums who can make a space rocket or a beautiful princess cake.

I also decided it was time to bake bread. I've wanted to for ages, and I have a loaf tin sitting folornly in the cupboard. I was excited to give the dough a good knead, like a buxom cook from a period drama, but with less of the buxomness! Goodness, does kneading give your arms a workout. I think I only gave it three minutes for the first knead, for the first loaf, but on the second (yes, I have baked bread twice now!), I followed what someone suggested in the comments from the brilliant BBCGoodFood website from which I got the recipe, and kneaded it once, left to rise for half an hour, then kneaded it again and left for another hour. I found the second loaf was slightly less thick, and rose a little higher.

Mmmm... freshly baked granary bread straight from the oven, buttered and served with slightly spicy butternut squash and chilli soup, the nicest soup I've ever made.

I think I should be some kind of agent for BBCGoodFood. I use the website nearly every evening and am constantly recommending it to people. 

I made these Mocha Muffins the other day...

...which did actually work, but they weren't the best muffins I've ever tasted. They included raisins, which I wasn't really sure about when I read the recipe, but added them anyway, and I don't think rainins and mocha are the best pairing. 

Anyway, I was going to write about curtains before I was overtaken by cakes, so that will be for next time. Now its time for the little boy to have his milk,

Byeee xxx