Dark raspberry truffles inspired by fragrant yarn….


knitting goddess bfl dyed over dark

A couple of months ago I bought two skeins of the most beautiful deep raspberry plum and soft chocolate brown tinged yarn from my favourite of favorites The Knitting Goddess….The yarn was 100% Blue Faced Leicester and looked good enough to eat, like a pudding that slowly melts in the mouth and leaves you with that mmmm feeling….they smelt incredible and the colour was gorgeous, all red wine and after dinner chocolates… at the time I told Joy (The Knitting Goddess herself) that they reminded me of some truffles that I’d made and promised to share the recipe next time I made them….

So my dear Joy, I’m sharing my truffle recipe just for you, to say thank you a thousand times over for creating the most deliciously coloured and blended yarns, and for inspiring me to keep my yarn pantry well stocked…..

dark raspberry truffles

Raspberry on Dark truffles

I’ll be the first to admit that these aren’t the poshest, fanciest looking truffles, but they taste lovely and keep very well in the freezer… in the past I’ve tempered chocolate to coat them to make them look a bit swishier (but it’s a bit pfaffy to do and takes up valuable knitting time so instead I’m suggesting to roll them in a good quality cocoa…also the gleam of tempered chocolate quickly fades in the  freezer which is another reason to just dust them in cocoa instead).. to be honest, I think the whole point of them is that they aren’t dead posh or swishy, more that they just taste nice and if you gift some, people will just be thrilled that you’ve made chocolates for them…..


200 g chocolate….I go for something around 75 %…lindt is very good and I made these with a mix of Waitrose chocolate….but a bar of Galaxy will not cut it I’m afraid as it melts all goopy.

200 ml of double cream (I have made them with Jersey cream…and thought I’d died and gone to heaven…..but regular runny double cream is also fine)

15g butter….salted or unsalted…doesn’t really matter

Home made raspberry or plum jam….. I have tried these with a shop bought jam, they were eatable but not all heart breathy and mmmm….they really are the best with a homemade jam.

Good quality unsweetened cocoa powder…I like Okakao

rapberry jam and chocoalte


First you need to make a thick chocolate ganache for the truffle centre, so break the chocolate into pieces.

Heat some water in a pan, put a large pyrex bowl overtop (you do not want the bowl to touch the water) … pop the chocolate pieces into the bowl and allow to slowly melt….. (a silicon spatula helps wipe all the chocolate from the sides)….. add the butter and melt…

You’ll need a couple of teaspoons of the home made jam…sometimes I sieve it so there are no pips, other times I forget…if you are using a mix of raspberry and plum then you really do need to make sure there are no plum stones in the jam mix…. Stir the jam in and allow it to melt into the chocolate as well….

Turn off the heat….add the cream and whisk the ingredients together so that the ganache thickens up nicely….

Cover with clingfilm and place in the fridge for a couple of hours so that the ganache firms up.

Once the ganache has stiffened, it’s time to make the truffles….(you might want to taste the ganache at this point…cook’s treat xx)

Finely sieve the cocoa powder, you’ll probably need about a couple of tablespoons sieved onto a large plate…..

rolled in cooca powder

With a teaspoon (not a measuring one just a normal one you use to stir tea, coffee etc) scoop out cherry sized amounts of the ganache/truffle mix and pop them onto the cocoa powder…once you have a dozen, gently roll them into balls across the tips of your fingers…(this does get a bit messy so it’s probably best if you have a bowl of soapy warm water ready to wash your hands all waiting rather than cover the taps in sticky chocolate paste)….then roll the truffles around in the cocoa powder and place them on a piece of baking parchment….once a dozen are made, then make a dozen more until the mixture is all used up….this makes a good couple of dozen so keep some in the fridge but you can also freeze them.

Freezing them is super easy…line a baking tin or tray with clingfilm or baking parchment, lay the truffles on there, avoid them touching or they will freeze together, then put them in the freezer overnight…..next day transfer them into a freezer bag or container, it’s fine now if they touch…..and you might treat yourself with a taste of one as they are very nice cold, you’ll get more of a sharp fruity hit of the raspberry/plum taste…..

These are quite rich so probably won’t be popular with children, but adults like them very much indeed….perfect with a nice cup of tea, or glass of a velvety red wine and some woolsome, sheepy scented knitting yarn from Joy….














Seasonal smells and simmering spiced fruits…..


Last year I wrote a lengthy old post about marvellous mincemeat and how I like to use it in the kitchen and also included one of my various recipes for it but a few weeks ago I found up this recipe which I used to use all the time, it’s a little bit different in that it uses vegetable suet and doesn’t use cider which, at the time I was using this recipe didn’t use to drink…well even now, I’m not like a real cider quoffing Worzel but am just happy to have a small glass (anymore then that and I’m sound asleep on the sofa)…. generally  when it comes to making mincemeat you’re just mixing some chopped fruit with something sweet to preserve it so there is a lot of scope for having a tinker with it….It’s really easy to make as it’s just a big pan stir of chopped apples and fruits, plenty of spice and a few generous glogs of something warming to add festive spirit and Yuletide cheer….

I always think this makes for a really nice and fairly easy on the pocket gift if you have friends who like homemade jams and chutneys, it makes a change from those and apart from using it to fill little pastry tarts it also comes in handy with other Wintery bakes…..a generous dollop or so in an apple crumble or plum crumble right lifts those up and I’ll often add a couple of heaped spoonfuls to a bread sponge for a spicy loaf (so good for toasting when it’s chilly out) and have used it to make mini panettone style breads…

I say Wintery bakes but even in Summer I can smear this over puff pastry and quickly make pain aux raisins for breakfast.

homemade mincepies

This will make a generous amount of jars (it depends how large they are but you should get at least 6 x 450g/ 1 Ib jars)…the ingredients list does look rather colossal so you might want to buy them over a couple of days if you have to carry them home…and if you make this in the Autumn (something to try and remember to do next year) then it is a very good recipe for using up windfalls or wildlings that are foraged……

In my last house I used to make a big pan of this, while it was gently simmering and filling the house with it’s spicy aroma, I’d sit on the kitchen step (I had steps leading down to it…no room in there for a chair so a cushion on a step sufficed) and would start making my Christmas present/Christmas card list…..it’s a nice way to ease into the festive season…..admittedly I’ve left it a bit late this year but just taking a few minutes away from a long list of things that need doing to make this always helps me catch my breath and feel calmer…..

cinnamon and fruit sourdough loaf


2  1/2 to 3 lbs of sharp apples (cooking or wildlings or windfalls) peeled, cored  and chopped into tiny cubes

12 oz currants

12 oz raisins

12 0z sultanas

6 oz almonds, blanched and finely chopped (note you might need to check no-one who eats these has a nut allergy…though you could just leave out the almonds if you want)

3 oz mixed peel

3 oz glace cherries

14 oz dark muscovado sugar

6 oz vegetarian suet

grated zest of a large un-waxed orange

grated zest and juice of a large un-waxed lemon (or 2 small ones)

1 heaped tablespoon of mixed spice

4 or 5 tablespoons of a good dark rum (I like Lamb’s Navy Rum)

4 fl oz Brandy


In a very large pan, throw in the chopped apples and cover them in the sugar, spices and a splash of brandy to stop them from sticking….on a gentle heat gently warm through and allow the apples to simmer…add all the dry fruit, suet and nuts (if you are using them) also add the zest and lemon juice and simmer for about half an hour …

The fruit becomes rather mushy….allow to cool and add the alcohol, I like to use Lamb’s Navy Rum as that is what my dad liked at Christmas, me and my sisters would always have a sip and shudder and go “ugh”…so a few sploshes of that go into remember Dad…..the resulting mincemeat is burnished and beautiful, all in a sticky and spicy dark syrup….

Spoon into sterilized jars and cover…store in a cool and dark cupboard..if you can remember to turn the jars over every few days then so much the better, it will allow the liquidy mixture to permeate better.

If you don’t use the vegetable suet then I would suggest using about 9 fl oz of a medium dry cider……the fruit needs a little lubrication and the suet melts into the sugar to form the dark sticky syrup….

This stores well for a year, however once the jar is opened it needs to be kept in the fridge and used within 4 weeks.

A calming bake of Christmas spices…..

gingerbread man 003

One of my most favourite smells in the whole wide world is gingerbread….a big pan of bunn and golden syrup melting on the stove, pouring in a fat swirl of treacle and then slowly stirring in freshly grated gingerbread……even when I’m feeling all fraught and anxious, wondering how what’s in my purse will stretch to gifts or how I can make the hands on the clock slow down so I have enough time to check everything off, taking a few minutes out o potter about in the kitchen seems to restore better than you can imagine….

I love making gingerbread men, or little houses and for those I use the recipe I wrote about a couple of years ago….but our main stove is currently not working so I’m making do with a little one and for  that a tray bake will suit much better……

This was originally a recipe from an old Marguerite Pattern book I received when I left Primary school but over the years I’ve tinkered and added to it and have now perfected a really moist and richly spiced Winter cake……

I whole heartedly advise buying a Japanese ginger grater, I bought mine from a local health food shop but you can pick them up quite easily at Asian food stores and they are about a fiver….they grate up the ginger so well, actually they sort of mush it and allow the juice to be extracted so well, the fibrery part I just squeeze out and then pop into the compost…..

I also make up a batch of spice mix at the start of December and then it’s all there ready to use over the holiday season, I like to grind my own spices so they are more intense flavoured but if you use pre-ground you might want to add a little more to what you are making…..

My gingerbread spice mix (good for sticky cake as well as the biscuits)

4 parts Cinnamon……3 parts Ginger……1 part Clove….I part Mace…1 part Star Anise…..

(I also quite often add a handful of dried edible rose petals in the spice grinder and add that scant powder to the spice blend as well…..)


4 oz butter (doesn’t really matter if it is unsalted but it does need to be butter and not a “I can’t believe…” style spread…trust me, you will taste the difference)

40z dark muscovado sugar

4oz golden syryp

40z black treacle or black strap molasses

8 oz plain flour

pinch of salt

1 teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda dissolvedin a tablespoon of warm water

1 1/2 tablespoon of mixed spice mix (or 1 really heaped one…sometimes I just do 2 of these)

2 medium eggs beaten

6 tablespoons milk (full fat or semi skimmed or half cream/half semi skimmed…I’ve tried them all and a little fat does make this taste nicer and lighter…)

an adult thumb size piece of fresh ginger that is freshly grated

A well lined 8 inch square baking tin (I use baking parchment)



preheat the oven to gas mark 3, 325 f, 170 c…..tin wants ot bee placed in the middle so arrange your shelf height before hand……

in a heavy bottomed pan put in the butter and dollop in the golden syryp and treacle (wiping the spoon over with a little vegetable oil will mean the sticky syrups slide off easy peasy)…slowly lelt over a low heat…..while this is melting add the sugar, spice mix and grate in the ginger (squeeze the fibres that cling to the grater….)….stir well and just breathe in that wonderful aroma…….

take the pan off the heat and stir in the tablespoons of milk, beat the two eggs and gently stir those in two and finally add in the dissolved bicarbonate of soda……

measure out the flour, sift into a large bowl and then pour in the spicy scented thick and sticky liquid, beat until nicley mixed through….this is quite runny, but fear not……

por the batter into the lined tin and bake for between 45-60 minutes……until the bake is risen and just firm when you gently press down on the top.

place the tin on a cooling rack and allow to cool for a good 15 minutes before removing and allowing to further cool on the rack…..

once the cake is cold you can either eat it (yum) or cover it in a lemon icing  (yum yum) or wrap it in tin foil and leave for a few days………hard work knowing it is there but the flavours mingle and the cake gets stickier…once it is unwrapped you can also ice it, the lemony icing seems to cut through the sweet perfectly.

Lemon Icing

Sift 200g of icing sugar and slowly add the juice of a lemon, you don’t want the icing over runny, drizzle on top of the gingerbread and allow to dry before cutting……enjoy a fat slice with a nice pot of tea.

If you want to substiture 4oz of flour for 4oz of fine oatmeal to make a more traditional parkin (which will want to be kept foil wrapped for a week before cutting) then go ahead…….

(my gingerbread man was made by my friend Sasha)

I love making this so much, like I say, it allows me to switch off, put verything else to one side and just lose myslef in the smells and memories this conjurs up….those all so familiar Tate and Lyle tins which never change and the nose tingling scent of  ginger and spices slowly simmering away on the stove….






A stocking to raise a smile…..

pure wool fabric Christmas stockings

Just a very short little post….I’ve picked a name out for a personalized stocking….JanieB…..Janey, I’ll be getting in touch regarding a stocking for your dad….and as it’s nice to share out a little kindness especialy with all the horribleness going on in the world I’ll also be sending out stockings to Lumpywells and Sallysimonsartycrafty too…..ladies, can you both contact me via hello@erickaeckles with your addresses.


Wooo hoo for wool and Wo-vember

single breed Jacob wool

I’m all for naked knitting….no, not naked like that but naked and natural, beautiful un-dyed yarn….last year on the excellent Knit British site Louise started a knit a long in the Knit British group on Ravelry which focused on all the different Britsh Breeds of sheep…there are over 60 in the UK alone and they range from tiny almost goat like primitive breeds to ones with elaborate horns and others that have permanent expressions of thoughtfulness on their long elegant faces……the yarn obtained from the diffrent breeds really varies and Louise was encouraging people (and still is) to try knititng up a swatch using a single breed yarn and writing down your observations…..she felt that too often just give a ball a squishy grab and make their mind up about it form that alone rather than with any long term conseiderations, how will it wear, does it soften up in time, will it grow after it’s been blocked, how soon will it pill…….

I loved the idea of this, and it all tied in with last year’s Wovember which is truly such an amazing celebraton of the wonders of wool, and by wool, team Wovember mean WOOL, the gorgeous nothing else like it stuff that comes from sheep, not squeeky acryllic (so many times the shops on the high street refer to anything having been knitted as wool, rather than it being the actual yarn the item has been knitted from) or cotton or alpaca or angora…but beautiful warm and fragrant smelling wool.

blue faced leicester swatch

I hadn’t had any experience of working with a single breed yarn before and the first one I tried was a Blue Faced Leicester for no other reason than that is what my local knitting shop had…it didn’t mean anything much to me but knitters all over know it to be a soft, not tickly yarn…..it really was beautiful to handle (and we’re talking tiny little kitten soft) and if you want to knit something for a friend who finds wool scratchy then let them have a feel of some Blue Face Leicester….it’s really beautiful and is very soft and gentle.

blocked Norfolk Horn

I was really keen to try out some local to me breeds and was able to buy some Norfolk Horn from Kentwell Hall which is just across the border in my home county of Suffolk……the yarn was very different to the Blue Faced Leicester, more porridgey coloured and slightly crisp…when I knitted with it there was a light shuffle like dry autumn leaves…..the stitch definition was nice but it didn’t feel initially like something I’d want right next to my skin….however, after washing it and pinning it out to shape it up nicely, the yarn had taken on a less crunchy feel…I pinned the swatch under my clothing and after a few minutes of light tickle I pretty much forgot it was even there…. I washed the swatch a few more times and with each wash noticed the fabric getting softer and more comfy to wear…..unlike cheap (and more often than not even rather pricey high street knits) this doesn’t all pill up after a few days wear….and it’s certainly a yarn I plan to use at some point in a garment.

flecks of darker grey and wispy fibres

The other breed I was interested in trying out was the Suffolk…growing up in a small rather rural Suffolk village, these black faced beauties were a regular sight in the surrounding fields, I think it’s because the Suffolk was used as a meat breed rather than kept for it’s fleece…anyway it was a bit of a devil to track down a single breed yarn, most of what I was finding seemed to have just a pinch of seely Suffolk in the blend rather being being wholly the single breed…but finally (and thank you to the lovely knitters of Instagram who passed on the details of this supplier) I was able to find some…..I had to contact her directly as there wasn’t any listed on her site but she was very helpful and quick to answer all my very excited and newbie questions.

blocked Suffolk swatch

The skein of Suffolk was really beautiful, and it smelt lovely…however when I gave it a hand squeeze it felt like it was going to squeeze me right back, definitely a bit of a briuser…it’s a right sturdy old yarn and is the only one I’ve found so far that was too rustic to have against my skin for more than a few seconds…pinned under my thermals it felt like a hedgehog was trying to do the tango…however pinned overtop just one layer of clothes it was lovely, all warm and cosiness, no pilling and the colour…the softest grey like early morning fog, or the silvery muzzles of elderly donkeys…..this would be smashing for a low necked tank top all worked in fat cables…..

wensleydale wool

Another local to me skein I was able to buy was this golden and glossy Wensleydale…it’s from The Ilketshal Wensleydales and they now have an on-line shop where you can buy it……I’ve not yet knitted it up as a swatch but when I made my Tamar shawls in the Summer, Wensleydale is one of the breeds that the Tamar blend is made up of so I know it’s a yarn that is going to be really drapey, a little bit tickley for the first few wears, but floaty and warm….undyed and naked the Wensleydale is just glorious and while I’m not normally one for wearing cream or white (I’m like a small child and can get ridiculously grubby just sitting by myself doing nothing) I’d certainly consider knitting a shawl or wrap made from this…it’s so much like dandelion seed or thistle down…..

To properly test and see what the yarns were like takes me a good few weeks and by the time I’d happily tested these breeds out and bought more yarn it was then a bit warm to wear any new swatches, however I knitted up a few more swatches on warm days and just put them away for when the weather would get chilly and will be reporting back on some of those over the next couple of days/or weeks……

I’ve found Blacker Yarns to be an excellent source for single breed yarns, they don’t have them all but they have created a brilliant range and have thoughtfully spun the wool in a way that allows the qualities of that particular breed to shine…. and another on-line site I’ve used for buying single breeds is Brit Yarn, Isla’s customer service is great and she has suggested and recommended no end of different yarns for me to consider using.

Wovember has already started and there is a photo competition running over on Instagram, I learnt so much about the wonders of wool last year and hope you’ll sign up and follow along too.

Mister Podgy Paws grand day out…..

Guess who has pinched my shawl

I know there are a few ladies wondering how Bernard’s been of late (hello Beks, and also Daffodil Angel down there in Tasmania)… well we had a trip into town earlier in the week for coffee and to see the vet for a check up.  (and in case you’re wondering….yep, that’s my Shetland wool shawl I spent all that time a knitting he’s curled up on…..)

Bernard is really good about travelling into town, but he doesn’t like being in a carrier where he can’t see what’s going on…there’s lots of mewing and he gets all fretful so a few years ago I thought if I had him on a harness and lead I could take him out and have him sit on my lap and he much prefers that.  I still take him out of the house and on the bus in the carrier but once I’m sitting down, he comes out of that and sits on my lap where he’s happy as Larry.  He likes to have a look out of the window, he stares around at anyone else on the bus, glares at anyone getting on until they stop and coo over him, then he’ll blink and start being all silly (even laying on his back and wiggling those podgy paws for tummy rubs off total strangers)…..

podgy paws

It’s the same in town when we go for a coffee, we tend to visit the coffee stall on the market and then it’s out of the carrier and up on to my lap where he sprawls out and gently kneeds my lap with those velvety toes.  Sometimes he has a nap but mostly he just likes it when people stop and fuss him, coaxing and coasing while he revs up the purr motor to 11…and generally there is quite a lot of that.

Sadly he didn’t see his friend Celine (or Frenchy as I cheekily call her) but he met a new young lady who he took a proper shine to….. then my boyfriend met us and then he was happy to see “pappy” but was a bit miffed as he didn’t get fed any treats…..he’s quite safe when I take him out, he’s not going anywhere as he’s on the harness and we’re aware all the time of anyone with a dog as hes not over fond of them… I know my cat and he’s so chilled out, he’s a very relaxed chap and just likes to see what’s happening and to meet new people.

sun wriggling

Then to the vets where he sprawled out on my lap in the waiting room and half fell asleep while I did some knitting just like when we’re at home.  As soon as he’s in the case he mews and gets frightfully fretty but on my lap he’s so quiet, apart from some loud purring and the occasional snore when he’s particulary chilled out.

Our vet is called Chantelle and we love her, she’s nice and  friendly and you can tell she really loves animals.  Along with the check up we needed some booster jabs which Bernard did not care for at all and there may have been a few swears and air swipes with those paws when he had the first of the injections.  But before he’d gotten all grouchy Chantelle had checked his paws and gave me a real beam of a smile……she doesn’t expect the cancer to return so the Bernard has (fingers crossed, the all clear)….I’d sort of been holding my breath as we do paw check everyday, heart in mouth in case a little lump appears over night.  But he’s all looking good.  He’s lost a bit of weight but that might be the weather so we’re keeping an eye on that (weekly weigh ins at home to track what’s happening and we half suspect the cat next door may be sneaking in and sharing Bernard’s breakfast)…..

asleep in Autumn sunshine

By the time we got home we were both really tired and worn out (carrying the travelling case does really wear me out as it’s pretty heavy with him inside) and a handfull of snacks and a stretch out on the kitchen floor were required (that was for Bernard , I needed a nap on the sofa)…and of course as soon as the back door was opened, Ivy the cat from next door came trotting in, mewed at Bernard and then proceeded to give him lots of little kisses (she’s rather like Pepe le Pew in her attentions towards him) which made him look up at me and then with a loud sigh of resignation flop his head back down and just put up with her attentions.

Anyway, I wanted to share our good news and say how much everyone’s kind thoughts and Bernard love has meant to us.






time softened and sun faded roly poly needle wraps

wool for autumn scarf

I love old fabric, all time softened and a bit sun faded, it always conjures up memories and stories when it’s hand me downed or even found in a dusty box in a charity shop or car boot when I then get to wondering who did this belong to, what did they do…..some of the most treasured fabric I own is pieces of a pink and white sheet that belonged to our Nanny C, and some fantastic red and white fabric that originally was a chair cover belonging to my dear Joyce’s mum……I’ve bought familiar looking curtains not quite being able to place them, to be told later by my mum they are the same as the ones that hung in my bedroom when I was little…..everytime I look at these fabrics I can’t but help remember moments and times spent with people I’ve loved…

Other special fabric has been gifted by friends old and new, and while I could keep this all stored away and kept for best or fancy, I much prefer to use it, to be able to see and handle it day to day when I’m sewing or knitting….looking up from a sewing a tricksy hem or sighing when I’m having to un-knit a row (or two or three) when I’ve not followed  a pattern properly, my eyes can rest on these familar fabrics and a little wave of reassurance and comfort helps to make me feel calm again.

A few years ago I made some knitting needle rolls for some beautiful wooden Brittany needles from my boyfriend’s mum and dad, the needles are really special and every time I use them I think of Kathy and Phil, and wanted the fabric in the roll to be equally dear to my heart.

inside floral needle wrap

Now I’m knitting with different styles of needle, double pointed ones which look like you could have someone’s eye out with if you’re not careful and ones where you can change the tip size to the length of cable,  I thought it was about time I made some rolls and wraps to keep all these new types of needle safe and in one place.

While I was making the rolls and wraps for myself I was thinking about some of the podcasts I’ve been listening to this year, namely the Shiny bees one…often when Jo aks the people that she interviews who it was taught them to knit they reply it was a granny, nanny, elderly relative or their mum and I began thinking how I love seeing the fabric that is special to me when I’m working….. while Nanny C could knit (she’d knit brightly coloured little squares that a neighbour would sew together into blankets for the local old people’s home….Nanny C was still doing this in her early eighties) I don’t remember her ever showing me how to, or if she did I was pretty bad at it….a great aunt did try to teach me but my hands were always hot and sticky, and the stitches would get tighter and tighter, painfully squeeking as they pulled over the needles and dear Joyce was always out in her garden to bother about knitting or sewing …..so while when I knit and am quiet I’m not quite remembering them teaching me to knit and purl and pass one over, the fabric wraps are familar prints and textures and helps recall the laughter and chat, cups of tea and tins of biscuuits I associate with them.

textured floral needle roll

As well as making wraps for my own ever increasing collection of needles, I’ve also made a few for my Folksy shop….at the moment there are two styles….the first one is designed for those pointy and pokey double tipped needles….they have two rows of pockets inside and are long enough so they’ll fit needles up to 20 cm.  They also have a wide space in front where you can tuck in a needle gauge and the pockets at the other end are sewn shallower so you can store your cable needles in them and they won’t slip all the way down.  These will also fit skinny types of crochet hook such as the Brittany ones.

When you want to store your needle roll away, it rolls up like a jam roly poly and is kept secure with either a length of velvet ribbon or a piece of vintage leather thonging.

long needlewrap b inside detail

The other design is a longer needle wrap and these are made with a front pocket that has been divided into lots of sections where there is room to store your different needle tips as well as a needle gauge. The three far right spaces are a bit shallower and are designed to store your cable needles.  The wrap is deep enough that there is also room for short needles (for lace shawl edgings) or the odd crochet hook.

The two pocket lengths behind are divided into three so there is plenty of room to store loose cables.

long needle wrap b closed

The wraps fold over on themselves and keep all tucked up and secure with either a length of velvet ribbon or a piece of vintage leather thonging.

Both designs of wrap have long flaps inside that cover all the needles so stop anything from flying out or getting lost in your bag.

I’ve really enjoyed making the needle wraps as sewing is very much my first love and it’s been nice to incorporate my interest in knitting with fabric and thread.

long needle wrap a detail

As well as the ones listed in my Folksy shop I’m more than happy to work on bespoke wraps and rolls to fit your own particular needle requirements and with your own fabric if you have some that holds a special place in your heart.

In the past I’ve made memory quilts which were pretty special to sew and I guess these are a bit like that…..

I’m currently working on a few more styles which I hope will be ready to appear in the shop over the next week or so along with a couple of designs for project/workshop bags and pockets.

Waking my sleeping beauty skein…..

casting on the Ishbel

What can I say….I think I’m becoming a bit addicted to this knitting malarky……along with casting on another  Karise for myself I’ve finally felt confident to knit another shawl, one that has owned more than just a little piece of my heart for some 5 years or so…as a right beginner knitter who could only just mange garter stitch if no-one was talking to her this was one of those heart stoppingly beautiful pieces that I looked at, lost my head over, sighed and thought I’d just never be able to knit it…..however over the almost a whole year now, I’ve been improving, stitch by stitch…..slowly and surely….and while following the charted lace knitting of the Karise I began to think about what had up to now been a fantasy dream shawl….Ishbel by Ysolda Teague.

section B worked for Ishbel

I bought the skein not long after I first saw Ishbel, and had it wrapped in tissue and lavender, ferreted away where it lay rather like sleeping beauty…just waiting to be kissed/knitted awake…..it’s a blend of alpacca and silk with some cashmere….it feels a lot softer and luxurious than the Artesano yarn I used for Rachel’s Karise….I’m not sure if it’s my tension becoming more even but my stitches look nice and “all peas in a pod” similar…..I’ve not used any hand dyed yarn before and love the watery qualities of this colourway….I really do like to wear lots of colour but at the same time I prefer smears and smudges to speckles, one colour rather than gradients of many, however the dappled qualities of this yarn have completley bowled me over.

On the whole I have had to concentrate rather while knitting this, the increases are worked on both sides however on one of Ysolda’s technique pages it explains how different yarn over’s change size depending which stitch is in front and in back……it just took me a few goes to understand what it was I having to do with the yarn….the lace repeat is worked over 8 stitches and I knew I was going to need my stitch markers as I still find reading knitting rather hard and wouldn’t really know where to begin with this…..it’s been lovely using the stitch markers I made with some of my beads from Joyce’s necklace, memories of her come flooding back with each touch and glass tingle….the topazy amber colour looks great with the green and it’s making me think about which colours I could wear with this shawl…I’ve got some old vintage velvet (it was probably a church hall curtain) which is a very similar shade ……..

ishbel lace with life line

I really wanted to be able to use up as much of this yarn as I possibly could, in part because it’s no longer available so I’d rather use as much of it as the pattern would allow  in one fantastic piece….. the 100 gram skein has a length of 400 metres, and the Ishbel pattern notes said the shawl used 302 metres, there is also a larger size where part of the pattern is repeated (although this is for lace weight) so I put in a lifeline just before the repeat to create a larger shawl….. (I haven’t used a lifeline before but I really really do not want to try and pick up any stitches if I’d need to rip the knitting back)….the lace pattern is broken down into 5 charts and each time I’ve worked a chart I weigh the remaining yarn…so I’ve been pretty confident I had enough to work the repeat to make the shawl a bit bigger…….rather than thread the lifeline yarn (vintage crochet thread) through the hole in the base of my needle, I just threaded it through the stitches once the row had been knitted (making sure not to thread the yarn though the stitch markers)……..I hope that all makes sense.

cute pandas knttng socks

I decided to use HiyaHiya needles for this project, along with the regular tips you can also buy ones that are called “sharps”…and I love their pokey prickiness ….I think it’s because I’m a hand patchworker/quilter and so am used to pointy, pricky old needles.  I know they aren’t for everyone and if you’ve not tried them then I’d certainly suggest giving them a go…..though my friend Anne said they’d be far too pointy for her.  I’m also still a bit of a tight knitter (though am gradually getting looser) and find these great for when you have to knit or purl 2 together….however I’m not so head over heels for the cable, I find it a bit skinny and lightweight.  But the needles are great (they also come in two lengths, personally I prefer the shorter length because of how I hold my needles)…….

The HiyaHiya range also have these way too cute cable stoppers…yep, they’re pandas knitting teensy wee socks….I’m not normally one for super cutesy coo but I do really like these.

(The yarn is by Juno Fibre Arts and is called Alice sock…it’s a blend of alpaca/silk and cashmere…the colourway is canopy.  I bought this from Loop in London about 5 years ago and as far as I’m aware the lady that dyed it no longer does dye-ing…..if I’m wrong please please please get in touch and tell me otherwise)

A most marvellous year with a somewhat crappy ending….

homemade mincepies

I hope you all had lovely Christmases, most festive Yuletides, Winter celebrations warm and merry, in the company of loved ones be they family,friends or furry and fluffy ones (and by that I mean animals rather than anyone particularly beardy)…

I can’t quite believe it’s the end of another year, this year more than any other I shake my head and wonder where on earth the time has gone….and I think that is one of the really nice things about keeping a blog, you have the chance to look back, not just skimming over notes,scribbles  or entries in a written diary (mine always end up looking like they’ve been written by Prince Charles with his spidery old scrawl), but you also have the picture prompts and straight away I’m remembering how cold we were that day going for a walk, the smell of the horses in the field, the taste of that elderflower cordial….

I always enjoy looking back at what I’ve been up to, not in a maudlin old way but remembering the high points, the happy times, the taste of jam made from hedgerow fruits and finding the kitchen invaded by the kittens from next door…….

So I’ve put the kettle on, made a pot of tea and am happily looking back and remembering the past 12 months……

January was all cold mornings, we had some pretty heavy frosts where the broccoli and herbs looked quite other worldy covered with a delicate silvery frost, and the marshes down the road flooded which was quite exciting when we went out for our Boxing Day walk…..I was determined to sort out the sides of my granny’s paperweight crochet blanket and made umpteen half hexagons to fit in the gaps on the top and bottom, actually I got right carried away making them and had enough to fill all the sides for a scarf I’d also been working on….another walk saw three graceful swans which were making no end of row as they were eating and snuffling about in the river, then bottoms tipped up, one, two then all three at once…

I got into my head to make a couple of cushions using the same crochet pattern and made two fronts….a year later they’re still waiting to be finished so that’s somethng on the New Year’s to do list….I also had a good tidy up in my work room and found some old floral embroidery testers I’d made a couple of years back.

I spent some Christmas money and bought Felicity Ford’s excellent Stranded Colourwork Sourcebook which is a wonderful and inspirational resource, it’s really to help you plan and design stranded colourwork but I found it a great read for patchwork planning too…

The first part of Februarysaw me still tidying up my work room, it never seems to take long to get all pickly and this time tidying I tried to make sure all the tins and boxes were opened to see what treasures were hidden away…and I found more embroidered samplers, some inspired more by beautiful fairisle jumpsers and tank tops than traditional embroidery samplers….the weather was still cold, we had some proper heavy frosts and the marshes seemed constantly half hidden under a low laying mist…baking cakes for Sunday afternoon tea and pack up is always part of my routine of a weekend, and never more so than in the Winter where a fat slice of cup seems much more appreciated with a cup of tea.

I bought a huge bundle of beautiful coloured tapestry wool, the little skeins were 10 pence each and the happiness a huge pile of them turned out on my worktable gives me is priceless., and some new to me vintage sewing needles, these what I prefer to use when I’m hand sewing, they seem to bend less and the points keep sharper……I also un-ravelled a whole load of crochet squares, I’d trimmed them with white originally but I decided I’d rather a blanket to match my granny square crochet scarf….

My boyfriend’s birthday is in February and one of the presents I made him was a tweed cycling hat, the pattern is by The Little Package company and both styles of hat are so nice to make….

For me the most exciting part of February was being asked to design a pair of baby quilts for one of my friends….lovely Darren who has The Little  Red Roaster (Norwich’s best coffee shop) is having twins and he wanted two quilts made for the new arrivals….


At the start of March new neighbours moved in next door and within a few days we met their two little cats, Bob and Izzy soon became regular visitors in our garden and although at first Bernard was a bit wary of them, he soon became great chums with Bob…most mornings start with a nose rub greeting, quick bottom sniff then Bernard and Bob wash each other….Izzy gets the odd look in.

The weather is getting nicer, blossoms and catkins seem to be out earlier that usual, and on days when it’s not too cold we head up to Little Tinkers, a small horse and donkey sanctuary which is just up the road, we tend to go the long route which is over the marshes so we’re generally quite out of puff and rather muddy when we get there.  I love the donkey’s and would one day dearly love one of mine own, but for now I’m happy to cuddle this gorgeous one, so friendly and loved being scritched behind the ears.

I found an old copy of Cold Comfort Farm in a local charity shop, it’s been on my must read lists for the longest time…..it’s so funny and very good reading.

Bread gets baked a couple of times a week and I use a natural starter that my friend Daisy gave me, it makes for a good, robust loaf which isn’t heavy and which smells so nice and homey.  I even used the natural starter to make hot cross buns which came out perfectly….the kitchen always smells wonderful on baking day.

Most of the month has been spent working on the quilts, designing the patchwork tops and choosing fabrics…sometimes having free rein is a bit overwhelming so Auntie Ally said Kate (Mrs Darren) liked stars…after that the designing was much easier.  To help me with the patchwork I painted up a series of patterened papers so I was able to make little paper patchworks…..playing really with moving the papers around, but I was able to see the designs much clearer than with just plain coloured shapes.

Spring has most definitely sprung, everywhere in the garden there are bursts and pops of bright colours….the cherry tree is a riot of gaudy pink, the raised beds are edged in soft blue smudges of forget-me-nots and cats eye speedwell….golden dandelions grow up alongside alpine strawberries through the cracks on the the patio paving and garden path….sitting out on the back door step often seems the nicest place to be.

Early morning sunshine is streaming in through my work room window and I pin up some patchwork as I prefer the softer, muted light this gives…I also like the shadows that some crocheted garlands cast.  Work on the quilts is progressing nicely, all the patchwork piecing and quilting is sewn by hand, so these were never going to be weekend makes…..holding the quilted tops up in the sunlight and the pieced fronts show through, all ghostly and reminding me of stained glass.

The bread proves and rises outside now, covered with a tea towel and placed in a warm spot, a few loaves get the odd poke from a curious paw but then cats are curious…..Izzy likes to hide up under our sprouting broccoli, she runs and sits there as soon as I open the back door, some days she lets me tickle her, stroke her face and ears, other days she’s back over the fence in a flash or peeps at me from around flower pots and watering cans.

One of my favourite walks each year is up the road to our local university, the woods that edge it’s grounds are a fair treat for the eye when the bluebells are in flower…the air becomes heavy and fragrant, and the scent of the bluebells soon has me all heavy eyes and sleepy…..I never fail to gasp as we turn the corner and our eyes are just flooded, overwhelmed with the most intense blue…….truly breath taking.

The forget-me-nots fill every spare bit of ground in the garden, huge swaithes of blue cover path and step edges.  Occaisonally a cat darts out from under it’s floral bower, disturbing any bees that may be taking their breakfast.  Flowers in the garden inspire me to embroider  lavender bags, made from an old linen shirt from Anne that I’ve tea dyed and weathered.

The quilts are finished, as the binding is carefully stitched into place, I say my goodbyes, wish good things and so much happiness for the twins…and I can’t help but wonder about how these quilts will journey, become snuggle blankets and sleeping comforts, toy beds for their favourite dolls, maybe be taken away to university, and one day get tucked around their own sleeping babes…….I’m a daft old thing and get very sentimental about my quilts.

I finally find some skinny coat hangers in a “tat” box at a charity shop so I can make dottie angels happy hanger tutorial….it’s nice for my fingers to work now with yarn and a hook rather than a needle and thread…..

Bernard is enjoyng the sunshine and warmer weather, he tends to nap upstairs, snuggling then stretching out on the quilt and blanket we have on our bed…..often you can hear him snoring while he sleeps, from time to tie his paws twitch….what do you dream of little trumpster.

Sadly this month I lost one of my oldest friends, my dear Rupert who was in his eighties and who I’ve known for some thirty odd years…him and his wife have been like grand-parents to me and my sisters and he had the best sense of humour of anyone I’ve ever met….their kitchen all pipe smoke and warm, a place of comfort with the kettle on for tea and a plate full of biscuits produced before your coat is barely off……

June sees the first of the hedgerow harvesting, baskets filled to the brim with billowy white clouds of elderflower blossom to make the sweetest cordial…even Bernard is half intoxicated by the sweet scent (picked while the blossom is all powdery and pollen rich, and before it begins to smell like tom cat pee)…the cordial it makes is so refreshing, and the bottles I make don’t last us 5 minutes.

The sourdough bread swells and grows enormous in the Summer, often looking more like neolithic fertility figurines than a loaf of bread….

The tiny wild strawberries in the garden are growing up everywhere, tiny berries which seem to taste different from plant to plant are scattered over yoghurts or are tumbled over puddings in the evening.

A plate of sausage rolls are made for my pastry fiend with tiny little leaves on top…

The meadows and pastures over the marsh are so abundant and full with flowers, and the colours seem to change from week to week…..one morning the fields are all golden with marsh buttercups and yellow rattle, a few days later a fine spread of ragged robin and rose bay willow herb….the wild flowers I’m seeing continue to inspire me with my botanical embroideries, generally I use vintage silks sourced from a local antique shop which sells all sorts of truck…most days see me head out for a slow amble over the marshes which are now sucha feast for the senses, the colours are glorious, the smell of the blossom is lovely and the sound of bird song and buzzing bees very soft and lulling …..

I also become somewhat obsessed with paper piecing hexagons…no piece of scrap fabric is safe and some thousand odd of tiny fabric wrapped papers are made and are sewn together with a series of small stitches… numerous cushions begin to appear on the sofa.

July was hot, a proper scorcher….. by mid-morning I felt all drowsy and and slow, cold drinks and sitting somewhere shady with Bernard seemed to fill my days.

The chives in the garden all flowered at once, huge purple pompoms of blossom which I used to flavour sandwiches or sprinkle on top of goats cheese pizzas.

Just down the road there are huge marchmallow plants, each year they get taller and talle and this year they were taller than me, huge blossoms of the softest lavender.

I bought a bag of the most brilliant blue threads, shiny silks that sew through linen like butter.

Last month I made hexagons, this month I can’t stop making ice-creams, slowly stiring egg rich custards and mixing in cherries from the wild trees just down the lane, or gooseberries from Jan’s allotment…..I made a lovely raspberry sorbet with last years berries I found lurking in the back of the freezer and even a small handful of the wild strawberries make an ice-cream so good I close my eyes and remember Summers spent down at the beach in Southwold.

We bought some little panibois “tins” to bake smaller loaves of bread in….oh my goodness, these are so nice to use and I felt all “artisan” and proper bakery when I opened the oven door and saw such pretty loaves baking in them.

Everything in the garden is green and growing, the beans almost grow while you watch them, and the lettuces are coming up as fast as I can eat them.

August too was hot and humid, nights were spent feeling all frazzled under a sheet and hoping that Bernard wouldn’t jump and cuddle leaving me feeling all sticky and sweaty when I woke in the mornings…..

The headgerows are fair heaving already with ripening harvests, most saunters out see me return with a basket filled with something to cook with….mirabelle plums and blackberries are picked and slowly covered with sugar and vodka to make warming Winter tipples…..

This was also the year I tried my hand at pickling walnuts …..I picked the walnuts too late so they weren’t a great success but I’ll have another go in 2016…..the Autumn Bliss raspberries in the garden are coming on a treat, already they are swollen and deep red, delicious picked all warm and popped straight into my mouth.

August also saw the start of my dress making obsession…I think I made about 7 dresses in around 3 maybe 4 weeks, I used the dottie angel pattern by Simplicity…..I tinkered a bit with the pattern so it fit me better, I guess I’m a bit of an odd shape as I have quite wide shoulders and a broad back but I’m a bit hollowed chested and the original pattern wasn’t doing me any favours…however post tinker and I’m very happy and every time I wear one of these dresses it gets a compliment.  Where possible I’ve tried to use vintage threads and notions when I’ve made the dresses (my darling boy bought me some vintage dressmaking tools for Christmas 2014 so I got to use those while drafting the pattern) and two dresses have been made from silky feeling sixties prints.

I also was nominated in August for a Liebster award, this was my first blog award and I really was quite chuffed….Zeens and Roger who nominated me probably didn’t expect quite the lengthy old answers that I gave but while writing them I unknowingly planted a seed that would soon come to fruition……

It seemed the sunshine was never going to end, September had some really glorious days, and often I’d start the day with a cup of tea sitting on the back door step with Bernard and Bob from next door keeping me company.

The little crab apple trees just up the road seemed their fullest ever, and I made several trips with my shopping basket in hand to pick the beautiful coral and salmon coloured fruits….where as last year there was such a bounty here of blackberries I wasin danger of turning into one myself, this year hasn’t been no where near as good, but the silver lining has meant I’ve looked elsewhere for fruits to make jam…..the hedgerows round abouts where i live are so laden with wild fruits, rosehips, and haws, rowans, elder berries and wildling apples and crabby ones……all delicious in jams and jellies and syryps.

One of the first jellies I’ve made was an apple one flavoured with vinegar and herbs from the garden…this was used to make the nicest vegetarian gravies I’ve ever tasted…..the jellies using just hedgerow fruit are very citrussy and are ideal as breakfast preserves.

I finally finished two projects which had taken a little while to complete….first up a knititng bag made form no end of hand pieced hexagons….it’s nice and roomy and has pockets inside…..second was a grannnies paperweight crochet scarf which I’ve been working on for ,oh I don’t know how many years…a good few at any rate…..it reminds me of richly embroidered velvet coat collars by Paul Poiret and I love it…..I spent so much of this month secretly wishing for the weather to turn so I could start wearing it.


Oh October….you are my most favourite month…partly because my birthday is in October (yep, I’m that shallow) but even when it’s all wet wild and windy I love the changes this month brings…..the man with the roast nuts barrow sets up stall on London Street, the smell wafts all the way down to Jarrolds where you turn the corner and know Autumni s well and truly here…..

More jellies were made, this time using some foraged japonica quinces which I left in a bowl in the parlour to ripen up…opening the door each morning and the sherbety aroma was so uplifting and smile inducing…..I also made some soothing syrups as I always end up with a crocky old throat come Christmas….some of the foraged finds bought home possibly the teeniest weeniest little old snail I think I’ve ever seen…I know he’s just going to eat all our veg but I didn’t have the heart to squish him…but instead allowed him to “run” or slide free behind the compost bin.

Izzy from next door had babies in the Summer and her four kittens have been running amok in the garden…carefully planted seedlings have been upturned, chewed, covered with earth while the kittens themselves have been making most merry…poor old Bernard hasn’t known what to make of them, and often comes running down the path as the tiny tots are in full pursuit.

A little more tinkering with the dottie frock pattern, this time splitting the bodice from the skirt and inserting side pockets…. I’m so happy with this pattern and am finding a pocket to be perfect for my hankies.

The little seed planted back in August began to grow, and I picked up my knitting needles…I’ve been able to knit for a few years but only simple scarves, and dishclothes…nothing more fancy than that….but I kept thinking about wishing I could knit better and decided I didn’t need a fairy godmother ot wave a magic wand.  This was something I could do myself….so I began to practise, small samples/swatches with stitches chosen from an old Harmony guide…suddenly I was knitting, slipping stitches, passing them over, knitting two together…I even dabbled with cables…..and then I fell in love, completely hook line and sinker…I saw this gorgeous gorgeous shawl on Instagram and wanted it so bad…I was on the verge of asking a friend to knit it for me then thought no, I would do it myself……mistakes have been made, stitches un-knitted, full rows un-ravelled but oh how proud I have felt, watching the stitches slowly grow……thank you so much Zeens and Roger and Buttercup and Bee for those original Liebster questions.

Oh, and I got nominated for another blog award, this time by Sharon over at Creativity and Family.


November is suddenly upon me and all I can think of is my knitting….at the same time I find out about Wovember and a British Breed KAL over on Ravelry by Louise of Knit British … I’m setting my alarm earlier and earlier to enjoy my quiet time knitting on the sofa with Bernard all snuggled up next to me, often with his head on the wool. I’ve become a wool convert and love the warm scent of my sheepy Shetland wool.

I finished the shawl and when I attempt to fling it around my shoulders half near strangle myself to death…..I re-check the pattern and realize my gauge or tension is way off so if I want to wear the shawl without doing myself a permanent mischief I’ll need to unknit it and start again ……oddly this doesn’t make me sob my heart out, but instead I know I can do it…the feeling of knowing I can do it is just wonderful.

Then it’s a mad flourry as the Christmas fairs are now starting, work days start while the lark is still sleeping and commssions for stockings are posted off…..I start to make a toy for on eof my little nieces birthdays but realize it won’t be ready so will have to be a Chrtstmas gift instead…..

Just down the road there is a beautiful rowan tree with pale pink berries, even when I’m super stressed and have 101 things to do, stopping and looking at it never fails to make me smile and feel a little calmer.

And so the year is nearly over……December started with two busy craft fairs and then a series of commissions, family came to visit, a cat toy needed to be made (complete with teeny dottie angle frock and a green cardigan)and slowly burning the candle both ends began to take it’s toll…a prickly throat soon became a nasty cold and laryngitis but then worse of all our beloved Bernard (the trumpiest and sleepiest cat ever) had a nasty lump come up under his paw……an overnight stay at the vets and an operation has meant it’s all been a very fraught here.  Everyone’s kind comments when I wrote about him being ill has meant so much to me….the kindness of strangers and internet friends never fails to amaze.

Finding time to knit has been my escape from all the worry and fears*….the shawl has been un-ravelled, I did that Christmas Day afternoon, and it’s slowly being re-knitted on rather larger needles….(plenty of swatching for the correct tension was done before hand) the wool smells so sheepy and comforting, and where as in the past Bernard has pinched yarn or tapesty wool, he’s been very respectful of my shawl wool…I think he’s enjoying the scent as much as me and will happily rest the tip of his nose against the ball of wool….I’ve also started making plans for a second shawl, thinking about how I can change the cloverleaf pattern so I don’t have two shawls quite the same….

So I’m wishing you all a very peaceful 2016, with lots of good times and laughter and health and happiness….

*We got the results of the biopsy late Christmas Eve, and I’m afraid to say it wasn’t good news, the lump they removed proved positive and the cancer is the sort that will return…We have to go back to the vets next Thursday to talk over the options on future treatments so for now he’s being spoilt rotten like you wouldn’t believe.