Sunday, 29 September 2013

Nature's Larder

The past two weeks have seen me exercising my inner hedge women. I am priveledged to live in the countryside of the Garden of England, and so when it comes to autumn there is always a lot to harvest, and while my mother has been diligently getting it from our kitchen garden, I've been scouring the hedges.

The last year has been an excellent one for fruit, apart from blackberries as far as I can tell, they've been very wet, and so I've had tons of things to find uses for. Obviously it has been a week of many crumbles and fruity tea bread and traybakes.

But of course I've also been preserving. Last weekend it was crab apple Jelly time. Jelly is always a wee bit more effort to make than jam as there is the whole straining the fruit element, and the trying not to squeese the cloth to speed it along element. But at the end you get left with lovely jewel like clear beautiful jelly, which makes it worth it.

Look how pretty and rosy they are, I also used a few regular apples that I found in a tree on my dog walk, to bump up the quantity.

The other advantage of Jelly over Jam in this case is that you don't need to peel, and core the crab apples, which would be a complete faff, as they are so tiny. You just stew and then strain them. No one needs to see how inelegant that process was for me.

Then you add the sugar, and start boiling it. This is where my Jam pan comes really in handy as it is massive, and sugar loves to boil high and over.

Then it was just a matter of waiting until the sugar thermometer reach the Jam temp.

Then pouring them into jars. Crab apples (or apples in general) are great to make jam with as they are so high in pectin that they set beautifully.
 I also found a ton of greengages, which I wanted to make into a plum tea bread. But I had nothing to make it for this week, and it would just end up being half wasted. So I decided that preserving them was in order, so I could use them at my leisure.

It's way too early to make mincemeat, I don't do that until about late Oct/ early Nov, but the preserving process was inspired by mincemeat. 

I added sloe gin, and a ton of sugar. I also added some dried fruit, and left it to soak over night. I have now dubbed it my tea bread mix.

Then I put it in sterilised jars, and that is all I had to do. Now it will be ready for when I want to make my tea bread. I'll let you know how it works out.

Next I've got to do something with my elderberries and rose hips.

Love Eggs xxx

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Third block - C is for Cupcake - ABC BOW

I've been rather busy this week as I have moved house over the weekend, but have almost finished the letter C. I am moderately pleased with this one. I just used a stem stitch for the icing, and back stitch for the paper case, so that is all fine, I'm not a hundred percent sure about my hundreds and thousands though. I used caterpillar knots and they are only ok. 

I don't like D for dress for my next block so I have to think of something else instead. Any ideas for me?

Love Eggs xxx

Thursday, 19 September 2013

B is for Ballerina - Second block for the ABC BOW

Here is my B embroidery. I'm a little unhappy with this one, as it is probs my favourite letter in the book, and I don't feel I did it justice, the skirt is uneven. I used satin for the leotard, split stitch for the upper petals of the skirt, and stem stitch for the lower. 

I forgot to say last week that I use pencil to mark my fabric, and I just draw/copy it free hand, as I find tracing a bit fiddly, and far too complicated if you are scaling up.


 Love Eggs xxx

Friday, 13 September 2013

A small confession

I love the 3 Sisters, if I had a favourite fabric designer(s), I would without hesitation say that was it. I first realised my love with the line Paris Flea market, who doesn't love it, to quote Kristyne of Pretty by Hand,

 "I remember the first time I saw it in a local quilt shop.  It's hard for me to explain how I felt.  Goosebumps.  Accelerated heart rate.  Love at first sight sort of thing.  You know - like when time slows down and everything else in the room disappears.  Like that.  It was the most incredible fabric I'd ever seen. 
As in like EVER ever."
I absolutely loved the line, and so became aware of the designers. Two realisations have happened subsequently. 
i) As I use up odd pieces of fabric that I have randomly bought over the years, it is ridiculous the proportion I have now noticed are designed by the 3 Sisters, so clearly you can see where my taste lies.
ii) As I look over peoples blogs and projects over the years I notice all the lines that I have missed out on, being rather late to the party, and I want them desperately.
Which brings me to my confession.
Despite saying not so long ago saying that I wasn't going to buy any fabric for a while. The 3 sisters seems to be my weakness. I have made several purchases over the last couple of days. One of my favourite places to get bargain fabric is this lovely lady, on ebay. She has such good taste, and I want to buy nearly all her fabric when she sells it. But today I managed to buy two charm packs, and some yardage of Astor Manor, from her.

Isn't it pretty?

These two are lovely and delicate.

Which is necessary to balance out some of the stronger patterns. I love that they always include a paisley of some sort in all their lines.

I'm thrilled. I hovered over the ebay page in fear for the last ten mins of the auction  I'm always amassed at peoples ability to "snipe".

I can even out by good price by my other recent splurge. I a Papillon Honey bun, and some other 3 sisters fat quarters from this Etsy shop, Melody of the heart, again I can't fault her taste, most of the stuff in her shop is 3 Sisters and French General, and although the prices are reasonable, she is based in the US, so I have to pay a lot for postage. 
As I said though 3 Sisters is my fabric weakness, now I need to find some Aviary, and Seaside Rose, which I really want. What are you fabric weaknesses. 

Love Eggs xxx

Saturday, 7 September 2013

First Letter - ABC Quilt Along

Here is my first letter for my ABC quilt, obvs the letter A. I should warn you that I've decided to go off piste rather on some of these letters and do my own thing. So who knows what will turn up each week. In true letter land spirit, (any one use these books when you started to write? Naughty Nick and Golden Girl anyone?) I decided to go with A for Annie Apple.

I used mainly back stitch for the apple and the letters, but also some stem stitch for the leaf, and satin stitch for the stem (ironic?). I've tried to tone my threads in with my fabric choices, listed in a previous post, but they aren't exact, and obvs there is no green.

Love Eggs xxx

Friday, 6 September 2013

New Fabric

I popped into my local today, Puddle Duck Quilts to choose some fabric to use for the sashing of my ABC quilt. Armed with my padstow charm pack, so that the colours would go beautifully, I'm so boring, I was determined to chose something  different and exciting, maybe from another fabric manufacturer. This is what I  got.

Lets play a game, it's called spot which two fabrics are the same.
Between this and ....


Yes I ended up with the purple one from the Padstow range, but it's such a pretty colour, and of course it matches and tones in, they're the same fabric. I ended up giving up like this, because often when I try to pick fabrics interdependently I end up inadvertently choosing from the same fabric line anyway.

I also bought these two fat quarters, one is from the Athill range, also Cabbages and Roses, and the other is a pretty floral by Joanna Figaro.

I also bought these lovely Lecien prints, mainly from this lovely shop, Sew and Sos. A lot of them are various Durham Anews, but a couple are Antique Flower. In my head a lovely very low volume, softly coloured quilt is forming, and I think most of these fabrics are in it.

But this means no more fabric for a while. I'll try.

Love Eggs xxx

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

ABC quit along.

I've been itching to do a wee quilt for a while now, and have been greatly admiring those with embroidery all over them, so when I saw this ABC quilt along, organised by this lovely blog shush I'm quilting, I thought it was perfect, particularly as it is based upon a book written by the lady behind one of my favourite blogs, Pretty by Hand.

I've never taken part in a quilt along so I'm rather excited.
This is also giving me the occasion to use a charm pack from one of my favourite fabric designers, Cabbages and Roses, it's the padstow range, and isn't it gorgeous.

I love the love soft purple colours

And the dusky deep reds.

Then there are all the lovely floral prints, both larger and the dainty smaller flower sprays.

There are also colours that I wouldn't list if asked, but when you see them you realise how much you love them, like the oaty cream.

And the soft dove greys.

I've found some threads that pick out all those colours, so I suppose that I shall try and focus on these as often as possible.

So watch this space, I'm actually really excited. I think I've allready said that. I have vague thoughts of a potential recipient at the other end, who is even more cabbages and roses then I am even, we'll see if I'll be able to bear to part with it.
Love Eggs xxx