flying crow

 

Here are the latest of the hand-pieced mini blocks for “dear ethel”….. this block is called Flying Crow, it’s come out a bit pinker than I had originally planned, in my head I saw it as more purple and dark…however these fabrics seemed to work a lot better together and also when I laid them out around some other blocks I’d pieced, the dark colours just looked all gloomy and wrong…..the pink polka dot fabric started out as a rather odd shaped top from the car boot (I probably only paid pence for it)…I washed it and then cut off all the seams so I could use the fabric as it was a nice quality.  I’ve used it a few times in the “dear ethel” patchwork top as it’s a fabric I’m very fond of.

 

king's crown

 

This block is called King’s Crown and I’ve used a mix of green, sea greeny turquoisey (definitely it’s official name!) and a tiny little purple print (which was a tatty old dolls dress from the car boot…it was a bit of a shame to cut it up as it had all been hand stitched but it was torn so didn’t truly feel terrible)….I started out just using blues and green for this block but they weren’t really working (actually I’m sure they looked fine as I’ve used that combination lots already…I probably just wasn’t in a “bluey green” mood) but then when I played around with adding a little (royal?) purple then the block seemed to look much better.

 

newest selection

 

And this is the latest round up of the blocks pieced for “dear ethel“…. I’ve now sewn 105 little 6 inch blocks……I’m trying to sort out some wall space out so I can tape them up to photograph (my “design board” such as it is, really only sits 12 comfortably)

I feel a bit sad that I’ve made so many blocks already as this has been such a lovely project for me to make (re-reading that makes me laugh because it sounds like I’ve almost finished…you’d think all I had left to do was sew down that last side of binding to hear me talk)….but sorting out through my favourite fabrics, emptying out scrap boxes trying to find last tiny precious scraps to use in something I know I’m going to treasure for the rest of my life (if our house ever catches fire, Bernard will be tucked under one arm, and this will be under the other, with the granny’s paperweight blanket wrapped around my shoulders like a big old shawl….), and carefully looking through hundreds and hundreds (actually thousands) of blocks has been all part of my quilt making…sort of like “the making of, or behind the scenes, how did they do that kind of thing which you get on “collector edition” dvds….once the last block has been pieced, I’ve still got plain coloured fabrics to chose for the binding, and also a border (I’m thinking Flying Geese) so the patchwork piecing still has a way to go….

granny scare

 

I want to do a little trumpety trump trump fanfare……I’ve finally finished sewing in all the tiny woolly tails on the back of my “granny scare crochet scarf”….. actually they didn’t take all that long, I’d just rather not be doing woolly things in the summer when it’s lovely and warm…however we had such a wet and miserable (weather wise…indoors I actually had a rather lovely long weekend with the Arpette..watching favourite films, sewing in woolly tails and having no end of pots of tea and cuddles with the cat…the sun even got out for a few hours Sunday afternoon and we went for a gorgeous long walk over the Marshes, along the back of the train track.  We investigated and explored some woody parts we’d not been before, so it felt like a proper expedition…picked a basket full of blackberries and in all had a rather nice afternoon…we even met a new doggy friend called Abby…her dad  had a dog treat in his pocket and she took it from me so carefully….I’m sure dog walkers are the friendliest of folk)…….anyway, because the weather had turned and was wild wet and windy (oh my, talking of windy…the cat was terrible….he had terrible wind, and because he was indoors because of the rain we were very aware of how whiffy it was…he’s like a little trumpety old man)….I thought it wise to find up the “granny scare” scarf and sew in the ends…I also added a few more squares as it wasn’t quite long enough to wrap around my neck as comfortably as I like.

 

finished scarf

 

I’m really pleased with how it’s turned out…I half played with crocheting an edge and doing a fancy little picot stitch on the ends but I decided I preferred it as it was, so any embellishments quickly were un-ravelled and I gave those sections a little pull so the squares neatened up again.

I suppose I could block it but I don’t think it really needs it, by the time it’s been wrapped around me a few times it will be impossible to see if it’s been blocked or not (also I know either The Arpette or the cat will stand on any pins while it is blocking so it’s as easy in the long run not to bother)

 

finished granny scare

 

All of the wool is tapestry wool, most of which I bought in a huge bundle from a charity shop back at the end of April…I’ve bought a couple of new skeins where I wanted to use a particular colour and didn’t have it, but for the most part this was all charity shop and car booty tapestry wool….

If I’d had the money I’d have just gone wild and bought one of every colour in Jamiesons of Shetland wool as I really love their wool, and their colours are amazing…however the funds wouldn’t stretch that far (maybe one day) so I happily settled for tapestry wool…. actually tapestry wool comes in such a vast array of shade and hue that it didn’t particularly feel like settling in the slightest.

And while I appreciate this scarf might not be for the most faint of heart as it’s so bright and colourful, I think it’ll help to banish the winter blues on even the most down cast and dreary of days……

 

scarf

 

On average I found one skein (measuring 8 metres) makes one centre, one middle and one outside round…..so a combination of three skeins makes for three alternate coloured squares (though I mixed mine up a lot more than that)

You can make up a whole load of the tiny squares using just two rounds and then set them aside before joining them together for the third and final round.  I think it’s important to have good light to work by, partly because if not you’ll get achy eyes (yay…and now I’ve got this in my head, many apologies if I spread it to you too….) but also it’s quite hard to see how some of the colours look when the light is poor.

I used a 3mm crochet hook to work the squares (it makes for quite a chunky square but that is how I prefer my crochet to be) though you could use a 4mm…I tried that size to begin with and it was fine (I just prefer my crochet to be tighter)

The scarf is made up of ninety nine squares in all…..33 rows with 3 squares in a row….

It’s crocheted together as you make it….and the stages of the scarf and how you “join as you go” can be seen in the links below to previous posts.

crocheting a scarf whiles on a day trip to Holt

inspired by Nanny Mcphee

join as you go granny squares….

join as you go granny squares part two….

joining together granny squares as you go part one….

joining together granny squares as you go part two….

 

 

 

 

winter rose tea pot

 

A few weeks ago I read this lovely post by Milla and though I don’t really have a favourite cup anymore (due to the fact that at times I can be incredibly clumsy and have managed to break or chip beyond safe use all my most beloved mugs) I do have a few favourite tea pots which I like to use when I’m making tea….

This beautiful little Winter rose teapot is the one I use everyday, it’s just the right size to make one mug of tea.

I am a bit of a tea fiend, I start the day with a latte and then for the rest of the tea I drink tea….probably about 5 cups a day…sometimes a few cups more.  I used to drink lots of coffee but then I found it wasn’t really suiting my tummy, and also I would get really grumpy if I didn’t get my caffeine fix.  So now one cup of coffee a day is just right (every so often I’ll have two if I am in the city ….but if I have three I have to walk home rather than catch the bus as I get a bit hyper and have far too much energy!)

I think my favourite tea nowadays is the Earl Grey tea from James Gourmet Coffee….it’s delicately perfumed without tasting yucky.  It’s a loose tea and it smells amazing, and tastes delicious.  I’m not all posh and fancy, so I like my Earl Grey with milk rather than with lemon…..

 

small cosy

 

A couple of years ago I bought this tiny little tea cosy..It’s hand knitted and was about 50p from a car-boot….it’s not particularly pretty but it’s a perfect fit and keeps my pot of tea lovely and hot.

 

white and yellow roses

 

If we’ve got guests then I often use this tea pot, I love the shape and colour of it so much….it’s a good size for making two or more cups of tea.

A couple of years ago I discovered paper tea filters, until then I’d just put loose tea in a pot and used a tea strainer (inevitably dripping tea all over the kitchen)….the tea filters are really easy to use and when the tea has brewed you can whip them out of the tea pot and stick them in to the compost, and as long as you have a cosy on your tea pot keeping the tea warm, then you’ll have two hot cups of tea without it tasting stewed….. (stewed tea makes me shiver…and not with pleasure)

I love the ritual of making tea, boiling the kettle, warming the pot then opening the tea tin, spooning the loose tea into the paper filter, putting that into the pot, pouring on water, putting the lid on, dressing the tea pot with it’s cosy…allowing the tea to steep before poring it into a cup (tea first then milk)….it’s nice and relaxing, and it’s something I wouldn’t dream of not doing when I have friends round, (along with cake and biscuits on a plate) so it’s equally nice to make this effort for myself…..however sometimes I’ll just stick a tea bag into a mug and pour on the boiled water and make the tea that way, it’s quick but doesn’t taste the same.  (if I’m using tea bags then I like Twinings tea, my favourite being their Lady Grey tea)

 

crocheted cosy

 

This was another car booty tea cosy find…. I can’t remember exactly how much I paid for it but it wouldn’t have been more than a pound at the very most…..it’s crocheted and ribbed which I think is very smart indeed.

 

I’m a bit prone to snuffles and colds in the winter, so rather than make a pot of tea, I’ll often make a pot of honey and lemon juice, sometimes adding a little fresh ginger juice if I have a bad throat as well…..with a tea cosy the pot keeps beautifully warm and I can drink several cups before the pot is empty.

 

house cosy

 

This is another cosy that fits the white and yellow rose teapot….I bought it a few months ago in a charity shop in Bungay…. I love it, it’s such a simple shape….I had thought about blinging it up a bit, adding some extra flowers but I quite like it how it is….

 

blue and white tea post

 

This is my poshest tea pot, it comes from a dinner set that was my Nanny’s….the set was divided up between me and my sisters, and over time this is all that I have left (in part because as I mentioned earlier I am somewhat clumsy, but also a box of crockery ended up at a charity shop by mistake when I moved house….and by the time I had realised what had happened it was too late….anyway, I love the big fat tummy of this tea pot…it’s so round, it’s perfect.

 

flouncy

 

My friend Beth bought me this tea cosy, it’s incredibly flouncy, and makes me think of crinoline lady embroideries…..it’s a bit of  a squeeze on this tea cosy (it’s such a fatty) but it just about fits.  The cosy is hand knitted and the ruffles look like tiny fox glove petals…..

If I need to make more than three cups of tea then this is the tea pot I’ll use as it’s nice and big, meaning everyone will get a decent sized drink rather than just a tiny sip.

The Arpette cycles to work and in the winter comes home rosy cheeked and pink nosed….I’ll often make us hot chocolate (again from James Gourmet…the container size of chocolate is incredible, it’s hilariously huge, and makes me think of those giant sized mock foods that shops used to have up on the highest shelves)…..

I’d really like a proper old timey enamelled chocolate pot (in my dreams it would be orangey red or a beautiful soft blue) but the ones in my imagination are far nicer than the ones I’ve seen for sale.  If it is particularly cold I’ll add in a splash of Pomona or brandy to the hot chocolate….purely medicinal of course, to ward off chest colds and the like.

 

Bernard and his quilt

 

A sure sign that the weather is cooling and Summer is slowly coming to an end is that someone is quite happy to be all cosified and cuddled up in a quilt and blanket…..he was like this all afternoon at the weekend.  He snores really loudly, every-so often there is a yawn, a stretch, a smacking of the lips then he cuddles back down under the covers

mirabelle jam

 

As well as making various jams and jellies and crumbles with this years hedgerow blackberries, I’ve also made a few batches of Mirabelle (or wild plum) jam….it’s a beautifully tasting Autumnal jam, and I think suits a wholemeal bread better than white…it’s also a good jam to use in little pastry bottomed tarts

Mirabelle jam

Ingredients

Mirabelle plums

Granulated sugar

Lemon juice

(I use a ratio of 5 fruit to 4 sugar…so 500 g of plums to 400 g of sugar… and the juice of one lemon per every kilo of fruit)

 

Method

Give the fruit a quick rinse in cold water and dry them. Cut them in half to remove the plum stones.

Put the split fruit into a glass or ceramic bowl, squeeze over the lemon juice and then add the sugar.  Cover with a clean tea towel and leave to one side for about an hour.

Transfer the fruit and sugar to a preserving pan, and bring to a simmer.  Put back into a ceramic or glass bowl, cover with some baking parchment and allow to cool before putting in the fridge overnight.

The next day, strain the fruit from the syrup.  Bring the syrup to a boil, and cook for around 5 minutes.

Add the strained plums and return to a boil for about 3 minutes.  Check the jam sets and then pour into sterilised jars and seal with waxed paper discs.

 

raspberry jam

 

And as well as making regular raspberry jam I’ve also made some using a couple of peaches that were a bit on the wooly side…

Raspberry and Peach Jam

Ingredients

1 kilo of raspberries

800 g of granulated sugar

lemon juice (one lemon per every kilo of fruit)

peaches

granulated sugar

(I use the 5 to 4 fruit,sugar ratio…… so 250 g of peaches will need 200 g of sugar)

 

Method

Peel the peaches, remove the stones and weigh.  Put into a preserving pan and add the calculated amount of sugar and a squirt of lemon juice (if you are just using a couple of peaches then a tablespoon of lemon juice will be enough)

Gently mash the fruit with a potato masher and then bring to a simmer for a couple of minutes.

Now add the raspberries and the rest of the sugar and the juice of a lemon.  Bring to a boil, gently stirring all the while.  Allow to cook for at least 5 minutes, check the set by dribbling a little onto a cold saucer, if it doesn’t wrinkle bring up to the boil again and keep checking the set.  (it may take up to ten minutes before the jam sets)

Put the jam into clean,sterilised jam jars, and seal with waxed paper discs.

 

Both the Mirabelle and Raspberry/Peach jams are the most beautifully coloured jams you can imagine, shades of coral, salmon, apricot, bubbling up in the preserving pan…the soft, intense hues of a glorious sunset…..they’re worth making just to see how incredible they look (and your tummy will be most happy too!)

berries in the pan

 

For Christmas the Arpette bought me a French copper preserving pan, it’s possibly the best present I’ve ever had, it’s huge (I’m pretty sure if we had a baby we could bathe them in it) incredibly heavy and is just the most beautiful colour.  I love how the blackberries look when they tumble into it…when they start to bubble up in a sugary syrup then the colour combination of deep purple berry and glistening copper are stunning….but most importantly I’m finding my jam making has improved no end by using it.

So far this summer I’ve made blackberry jam, mirabelle jam, blackberry and licorice jam (which is the most deepest darkest jam I’ve ever made…I liken it to a passionate embrace on the moors with Heathcliffe but without the thick ear), various blackberry treacles, an incredibly red raspberry jam with the raspberries from the garden and a raspberry and peach jam that looked so beautiful as the syrup was bubbling (all salmon pink, coral and apricot while it was bubbling up).

 

blackberry jam

 

This is the blackberry jam recipe I use, it’s my favourite jam in the whole wide world, and I think it’s best eaten in the Autumn…especially on toasted spiced breads and bagels, it’s also good spread between layers of chocolate cake, and lovely stirred into yoghurt.

 

Blackberry jam

Ingredients

1 kilo of blackbrries

800 g of granulated sugar

juice of one lemon

Method

Pick over the blackberries, and give them a very quick rinse in cold water.

Tip the berries into your preserving pan, cover with sugar and the lemon juice.

Bring to a steady simmer then transfer to a glass or ceramic bowl.  Cover with baking parchment, allow to cool before leaving overnight in the fridge.

Next day pour the fruit and syrup into the preserving pan (you may want to be wearing a pinny as it is a bit splashy) and bring to a rolling boil.

Cook for between 5 and 10 minutes, checking for a set on a cold saucer (I tend to keep a couple in the freezer while I’m making jam so that each time I check the set the saucer is really cold)

When the jam makes a good set (it will wrinkle when you push your finger into it, and it’s also tacky between finger and thumb), pour into sterilised jars, and seal the tops with little waxed circles.

 

blackberry and licorice treacle

 

A couple of years ago we were both rather addicted to the very delicious Giu desserts, they came in sweet little glass jars and I saved umpteen of them for using for jams and marmalade…they’re a really good size for the blackberry treacle  (I’ve used them for a lot of the other jams too) as their size allows you to store lots of small quantities in the cupboard.  Once you open a jar of the treacle it needs to be kept in the fridge but it tends to thicken up (you can add a little boiled water to a couple of spoonfuls of the treacle in a separate bowl before using if it thickens up too much…it’s a bit of a pfaff but gives a good result if you are using the treacle poured into yoghurt or over ice cream.)

 

Because of the glut of blackberries this year I’ve been trying out different recipes and ways to use them, as it’s been a bit on the pippy side in the evenings we’ve already been eating blackberries crumbles but for a warm evening one of my favourite recipes  is the humble but divine tasting Blackberry Junket…surely one of the easiest blackberry recipes and one of the tastiest.

 

Blackberry Junket

Ingredients

Really ripe freshly picked blackberries (best picked on a nice warm day so the berries feel warm from the sun)

Method

Pick the blackberries over.  Put them into a large bowl and give them a good mash with a potato masher (an apron is pretty much essential to wear as it’s a bit messy so you don’t get covered in juice).

Once you have a good pile of what looks like blackberry mush, strain it through a fine sieve (or lay a couple of squares of muslin in a not so fine sieve.) over a clean bowl.

Allow the liquid to collect, then cover with a tea towel and place to one side in a warmish spot for a few hours.  Don’t put it in the fridge.

After 3 or so hours it sets to become a delicious fruity jelly*

Have with freshly baked scones and clotted cream, or on delicate boudoir biscuits served topped with whipped cream as a sort of trifle.  Or if you are feeling all healthy then it’s just as delicious with yoghurt or creme fraiche.

 

*if it doesn’t set, don’t fret, just add a few desert spoons of sugar to the juice and bring to a steady boil…allow to cook for about 5 minutes then pour into a bowl (or a couple of smaller shallow bowls), leave to cool….it’s not really now a junket, but is still a very nice blackberry syrup which is nice over ice-cream or yoghurt.

 

Blackberry Brandy

We’ve also made some blackberry brandy which we hope to start drinking in a few months….it’s really simple to make and the best bit is you can eat the brandy sozzled berries as a dessert.

Ingredients

500 g blackberries (picked over)

175 g castor sugar

1 litre of brandy

sterilised mason jar

Method

Put the blackberries in to the mason jar.  Cover with the sugar.

Pour over the brandy and seal the jar.  Store away form direct light.

Shake the jar a little every day.

After 2 months, strain the brandy.  Reserve the berries.  Pour the brandy into a bottle.

 

The berries can be used in a pudding, they are incredibly nice on pudding biscuits (allow them to soak in for an hour or so) with mascarpone cream on top or used as a boozy cheesecake topping.

 

 

mill wheel

 

More finished blocks for “dear ethel”….. this one is called Mill Wheel, and I’ve sewn it using similar toned blues and greens which sort of blend into one another in the picture, but in “real life” there is more contrast amongst the fabrics.

The colours are very watery and I’m sure the walks over the marshes along the river are influencing some of my colour choices.  I went for a walk there this week and the river was really high and so clear, stupidly I forgot to take my camera, but you could see all the little pebbles along the river bed in the the water….and then deeper were the billowing green plants that grow in the main body of the river…..skimming over the surface were damselflies and dragonflies.

 

love in a mist

 

This block is called Love in a Mist….initially I was planning on using a darker purple (perhaps a blackberry hue) but I didn’t see anything suitable in my basket of fabrics, so ended up choosing this lighter purple and lavender floral print.   At the moment I’m making batches of raspberry and blackberry jams, the bright raspberry red and the deep purple blackberries seem to have combined together in this patchwork block.

The red fabric is the same as the blue floral print in the top block and is an “Old Town” fabric print.

Both blocks were pieced on the diagonal rather than in horizontal rows.

quarterfoils

 

A few more blocks for “dear ethel”…..I found this fantastic spotty blue fabric in the bottom of a bag of scraps from Sylvia which I found in the back of my wardrobe, it’s a Tana Lawn cotton so is lovely and light to sew.  I thought it looked great with the turquoise blue fabric and then played around with other colours before settling for the grey rose print…. I thought the pink in the floral fabric works really well and compliments the blues.

The block itself is called Quarterfoils and was a proper treat to piece together…..it’s probably in my top ten of favourite fabric combinations and I’d certainly make this block up again (I’m thinking to make some patchwork cushions for the sofa to brighten it up for the Winter)

 

Arizona

 

And this bright and cheerful little block is called Arizona.  I’ve used the mustardy gold Lecien floral print with a orangey red print both from The Eternal Maker, with a tiny piece of red fabric I had which I’d bought at a car boot…..wish so much I had bought more of it when I had the chance, however when I had a sort out of fabric that had been squirrelled away in the wardrobe I found a huge piece (over 2 meters long) of the same print but in a dark blue, almost a navy which isn’t normally a colour I’d wear but I do like the little pattern) that I’d bought a few years ago from a charity shop for a pound…so am currently drafting a couple of dress blocks as I think it would work nice as a frock and it’s just heavy enough to have a good drape.

I love how colourful this block looks, the fantastic sunshine (which I know I was grumbling about because it was a bit too hot) seems to have disappeared, and it’s now overcast and really pippy in the mornings and evenings (I’m sitting here wearing a cardigan and a jaunty little scarf….in August….it just doesn’t seem right at all) anyway this combination of colours is my way of hanging onto as much Summer as I can before it is well and truly Autumn.

 

1941 9 patch

 

And in case you think you are suffering from an attack of deja vu and this block looks familiar…it’s not you it’s me being a right old fussy pants…I originally made this block back in June  …. but on reflection I’m not so pleased with it (it doesn’t really work so well with the other prints) so, I decided to re-sew it using some different fabrics…I think it works much better now, and I can use the original pink and green block in a cushion or something….maybe make it in to a pot holder in the kitchen.

Anyway, the block is called 1941 9 Patch.  I like the corally apricot print with the greeny blue, it’s a good combination of colours and different prints.

amish shoofly

 

Two new patchwork blocks for my “dear ethel” quilt…I’m starting to feel a bit sad that I’ve  only got about  25 more blocks to piece…I’m still pfaffing about how I’m going to join them together, I know I’ll use sashing but I’m a bit un-sure exactly which colours I’ll use.  Anyway that is still a little way off.

In the meantime, in case you’d like to know, this block is called Amish Shoofly, the red fabric was some from my sister’s stash, and the pink lamby fabric (one of my favourite fabrics) is a Lecien print.

 

capital T

 

This patchwork block is called Capital T.  I really like using orange and red together, it’s fantastically bright and colour clashing, and reminds me so much of sticky sweet rocket lollies from the seventies.  I had to un-pick some of the pieces as I’d managed to sew some upside down and on the side (I’d carefully fussy cut the fabric so the pattern all ran in one direction and then wasn’t concentrating while I was sewing it)

It actually makes my eyes go a bit funny when I stare at it.

I’m very aware the light in the evening is changing….it’s getting tricksier and tricksier sewing in the evening (I seem to wind up sitting on the other end of the sofa to where the light actually falls….) and am in the process of sorting out un-finished woolly projects from last year (hmmm thinking about it most of them seem to come from the year before that), thinking to see if I can finish them so they’ll be all ready for when it becomes properly chilly (though there was such a definite nip in the air this morning when I was out in the garden picking caterpillars off our sprouting broccoli, so am thinking it won’t be long and I’ll be wrapping my self up in scarves and shawls…..

We had blackberry crumble for pudding last night, I’d picked blackberries in the morning and had some left over from making jam……it seems a bit strange eating a crumble in the summer (to me it’s very much an autumn or winter pudding, to be eaten after a hearty casserole or something with lots of mushrooms and fat vegetarian sausages) but it was so chilly I really needed something warm.  I just put the fruit into a shallow baking dish, sprinkling them with brown sugar and then covering them with crumble mix from the freezer…25 minutes later the fruit was bubbling up through a crisp and crumbly topping…..perfect.

 

Blackberry Crumble

blackberries (allow a good handful per person…more if you are like me and are a bit greedy for puddings)

soft brown sugar, a desert spoon per person

crumble topping

 

Crumble Topping

8 oz of plain flour

4 oz unslated butter

2 oz castor sugar

 

Tip the flour into a large bowl.  Cut the butter into small cubes and using the tips of your fingers, rub the fat and flour together until the mixture becomes dry and sandy breadcrumbs.  Add the sugar and mix in well.

This is enough for several crumbles.  Store in a sealed bag in the freezer and just sprinkle over fruit when you want a delicious and hot fruity pudding.

(you can also add a desert spoon or so of chopped hazelnuts and of rolled oats before using the crumble topping in the oven)

 

Method

Turn the oven on to gas 6

If you like you can use a small knob of butter to lightly grease the baking dish first, I do this for fruit I have frozen, but not if I am using fruit I’ve picked that day.

Pick the blackberries over and give them the quickest of rinses in a bowl of cold water.

Put the berries into a shallow ceramic baking dish, sprinkle over the sugar and toss together.

Scatter over as much of the crumble topping as you like…the berries needs to be well covered so try to hide all the fruit.

Bake in the top third of the oven for about 25 minutes, the crumble topping turns a lovely golden brown.

Allow to cool for a few minutes before serving.  Very good with cold thick cream, creme fraiche or vanilla custard.

 

For some crumbles I add a little cinnamon to the topping, this is just gilding the lily for a blackberry crumble, as far as I’m concerned, the simpler the better…though it is very nice with the hazelnuts and rolled oats mixed into the crumble top.

 

If I have made a big fruit crumble and there is some left for the next day, when I re-heat it, I’ll put some of the crumble mix from the freezer on to a lined baking tray and let that toast for a few minutes so that there is still a  crumbly topping.

 

 

 

 

 

bee

 

Last Saturday afternoon before the weather turned and it became all wet and most un-August like, I went out for a walk over the Marshes near our home…it’s nice sometimes to get out of the house and really stretch, swinging my arms as I walk along…sitting hunched over small pieces of patchwork doesn’t do a lot for ones posture (it certainly doesn’t do anything for a rapidly increasing bottom)….but maybe because I’ve been sewing very small things I find myself concentrating on small things when I am out of doors….I noticed this little hoverfly on some Lesser Knapweed.  At first I thought it was a type of bee….. anyway I was really struck by the lovely caramel and mustard colours of it’s body.

 

golden vetch

 

The pasture now is full of golden vetch, a couple of weeks ago there was barely any, guess the sunshine and the rain combined have helped it burst into growth….it looked amazing in the grass, such bright yellow flowers.  It’s such a delicate bloom, and one of my favourite wild flowers.

 

blue tufted vetch

 

And the blue tufted vetch was also growing with wild abandon…it reminded me of the walk back in the Spring when we went looking for bluebells.  It’s a very similar blue hue, it’s an amazing colour.  Sadly it doesn’t have the scent of the bluebells but I love the delicate little fronds, and the shape of it’s leaves…..it’s given me a few new ideas for some embroidery….

 

 

first sloes

 

On the way back (after a sit down on the bench with a little snack, and some blackberry picking…I now take a few little bags with me each time I set out, just in case)….I spotted some big fat purple sloes…it’s a bit too early to pick them yet but it’s good to know they are about.  It looks like it’s been another good year for them…I’ve still got some of the Sloe Vodka I made last year left, but would like to try making some sloe and blackberry jelly as I found an old recipe for that and thought it sounded interesting.

 

bullaces

 

Best of all….a glimpse of purple in the hedgerow intrigued me enough to move back a branch to reveal a small harvest of bullaces… a rich and deep purple amidst the dark green leaves… I moved a branch to one side and found this lovely cluster of bullaces…they weren’t ready to pick yet, they need another week at least to ripen up first.  Made a note to myself where they were growing (they were quite well hidden) and will return in a week or so to check their progress……in the meantime I loved the combination of deep dark purple and the green so am thinking perhaps a block for “dear ethel” in those colours….or maybe a scarf (deep green with small glimpses of purple )

small triangle quilt

 

I’m still in the mood for ices and cold drinks, any fabric choices for patchwork blocks for “dear ethel” are being influenced by the hot and sticky weather, and my desire to feel a little cooler.  I love this strawberry ice cream pink print by Lecien, for me it really captures the days I spent at the sea side when me and my sisters were all small…. building sand castles, making moats and cooling off with brightly coloured buckets of sea water, getting sand in your sandwiches, being rubbed dry with rough towels at the end of the day and the best treat of all, an ice cream while we waited for the bus home……

This block is called Small Triangle Quilt, it’s a little fiddly getting the points of the triangles to meet up properly (there was some un-picking and a few swears).

 

large star

 

This block uses a couple of Lecien floral prints, the red and black one is from a few years ago.

In some books this block is called Large Star but it’s also known as Crow’s Foot.  I actually found it easier to piece together than the block above, the tinier triangles being simpler to join around the four central squares.

The pale blue print reminds me a little of watery Slush Puppies that I really liked when I was small….

 

 

 

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