Custom yarn from scrap

I decided to let my next sock recipient nominate her preferred colours. “Reds and Blues” she said. The sock wool stash had no red, but there was a variagated pink/orange. I had dark navy and some pale blues, but no nice bright blues.


Woo hoo, an excuse to do some dyeing! the pinks are now red, which my camera is refusing to capture properly. The blues are now deeper, brighter and much more fun. I plan to use the navy for the toes, and maybe cuffs? I’ll use the newly dyed yarn in broad stripes with spiral joins I think. I reckon I’ll enjoy knitting these.



Peach Chilli Chutney

Long time no post! I’ve been away but now I’m back and there is a backlog of posts to get through. I had three lots of free fruit arrive in my life this week. I’ve been working hard and having fun preserving them.

A friend of mine is an enthusiastic picker of neglected fruit trees. Someone he knows had peach trees with spare fruit, he kindly sent a big bag of them to me. They took a few days to get to me so there was a lot of heavily bruised fruit. The ~4.5 kg of peaches yielded half a kilo of good eating fruit plus 2kg of usable peach flesh.  Processing fruit takes time. It took me an hour to get from bag-o-fruit to that 2kg of chopped flesh ready for cooking.

I used a tweaked and multiplied version of this recipe. I made a slightly different version of it last year and it turned out brilliantly, aromatic and lively. Really nice either with curry or cheese sandwiches. That first batch has all been eaten, so I was glad for the chance to make more.


2kg peeled and diced peaches (prepared weight)
10 tiny red chillis, deseeded and chopped
2.5 heaped dessert spoon chopped ginger
2.5T cumin seed
seeds from 40 green cardamom pods
500g brown sugar
650ml cider vinegar

Put all of that into a wide pan, bring to boil. Cook uncovered on medium heat until it thickens. Bottle.

When I say tiny chillis, I mean tiny. These are from a plant in my garden. I’m a bit astonished at how small they are. I’ve used them as if they each have the heat of a more regular sized Thai chilli.


Lacy Handbag Resurrection

A few months ago, a friend invited me over to go through her remaining fabric stash and take what I wanted. Very generous. Amongst the bag of bits I took home was this old hand crocheted bag that had seen better days. I wanted to have a go at making it both useful and pretty again and give it back to the lady.


You can see above that the outer section of the lacy edge was quite badly damaged. My first thought was to fix that by sewing it together, using beads to enliven it. I started doing that but the fibres were just falling apart as I worked. So instead, I decided to snip off the worst of the damage. Thankfully the crochet was worked in rounds so taking off the outer section was easy.


Here it is sans damaged section.


I was sad about having to lose that lovely depth of lace trim. So to both replace the fancy and give back some weight and drape, I decided to sew the beads all around the edge. Besides, doing that was fun. The beads are a mix of ones I had in my stash.


Beginning the bead trim:


It needed a strap. I was a bit stumped for what to use until I thought of plaiting one from a mix of almost right colours. Thread from my stash. I think it looks quite good.


Then I built a liner for it. The blue silk I hand dyed. I had hoped for a more purple colour, but this is what I got and it’s pretty as is. The green is lightweight cotton drill from another friend’s stash rejects.


It has a pretty zippered pocket in a mix of colours


Then I stitched the liner to the lace outer around the opening edge. I forgot to get pictures of that. Here is the whole thing finished though:


and a good detail of the beading with the liner in place


She should have it by now. I very much hope she likes it.

Cornflower Hot Water Bottle Cover

Now this has been given as the birthday present it was intended to be, I can show you why I made that embroidered cornflower. Today’s birthday princess is fond of cornflowers and I prefer to make bed warming things from cotton velvet or similar, so nice to the touch. I had promised to make her a hot water bottle cover, and was thinking on what to do, when a lovely piece of blue velvet arrived in my life- yet again from a friend’s rejected stash. “Aha” thought I, perfect!

I made a simple drawstring bag of the right dimensions. The striped ribbon is vintage rayon. The velvet put up a fight as usual but we managed to get a neat rectangle even if some of the seam allowances ended up a bit random.


Of course I had to fit a label in there somewhere


Here it is all drawn up and ready to go. After sitting wrapped for 2 months it has finally been given.


Tartan Satchel

Hurrah. After days of gardening, travel and huswifery, I got to sit down and make a thing.

I bought some offcuts of tartan from a fancy kilt shop on the Royal Mile in Edinburgh about 8 years ago. I think what they do is make up a bunch of kilts and then shorten them as needed for whoever buys them. Maybe? Anyway, they were selling long narrow rolls of high quality pure wool tartan, woven in the mill at the top of the Royal Mile. How could I resist?


After not using them in 8 years, I nearly got rid of them. Then I had the thought that I could perhaps make something for my sister in law, who is proud of her Scottish heritage. So I’ve put together a satchel, almost identical to the pilgrim bag I made a few years back. Maybe with that double pleat it is more just a handbag, but in fabric, the pleat makes the bag sit better. Here it is with the flap open before I put the leather closure strap on:


I put a neat little pocket on the inside, with silver pull on the zipper to match the beltlets on the outside.


The whole thing is from stash, including other people’s rejected stash. The red cotton drill lining was from one friend and the zipper from another. Here it is on a body for scale. Not the outfit I’d wear it with, just what I had on.


And here is a closer shot of the whole thing. The beltlets are more for looks than anything. They are sold for kilt fastenings (also bought in Edinburgh, though one can get them locally now). I know I’d not bother to buckle the one on the flap very often.


I’m really pleased with it. Must make something similar for myself one day. I do hope SIL likes it.

Pearl Hair Stick

I’ve been wanting an elegant hair stick in nearly white. I’d still like one in mother of pearl or bone. I’m pretty pleased with this transformation though and it gives me a usable thing in time to wear with the ivory silk frock.

I started with a broken bamboo knitting needle. I’m really not sure why this was still living in my needle stash and hadn’t been thrown out, but I’m glad it was. I cut below the split with a fine hacksaw, took the edges off with a file, then drilled a hole in the end with my tiniest drill bit. The drilling was the bit I was most doubtful about and in hindsight, I should have waited the filing until after the drilling, but it worked more easily than I feared.



Then I took a hatpin blank, being the strongest headpin like thing I had. I drilled out a large pearl in stages with my tiny finger drill until the hat pin fit. Cut the hat pin to length so it went as far into the stick as possible with the pearl just resting on the end. I had meant to glue the pin in, but I used another piece of soft wire to stop it wobbling and the resulting interference fit was pretty tight, so I’ve left it like that rather than risk messy glue residue.


Voila, a pearl tipped, fairly elegant, pale hair stick.


It is really a few cm too long, but it works and is pleasingly shiny.


Ally socks, now plural

And the ally socks are done. I’m so pleased with these. I love the yarn, it was a friend’s cast off stash, I overdyed part of it to improve coordination of the two colourways, I used up all of the bright yarn and about half the dark. I like the diamond lace pattern and it works with the yarn.


Comfy, bright, thrifty, creative. All good. Now I get to start another pair.


A small but pleasing transformation

This is a post from March 2016 that I wanted to bring over. I wonder, do I have any new readers?

This was an opshop find that I pounced on to replace my old favourite gardening jumper*. Same colour, a little larger, far fewer moth holes, but with a stiff scratchy zip. I cut the zip out, stitched up the resulting two layer edge and put two buttons with loops as the new closure. I’m so pleased with the transformation. From a harsh, cold, modern look to a soft, warm, old fashioned one. Much more appealing to me anyway.

The end result:

reconstructed “before” shot with the zip just placed in position.

*a lovely soft Burberry one found in a charity shop in Edinburgh, dahlink.



My latest beer has just gone into bottles. Hurrah. The fermenter and other kit is clean and now I’m thinking about the next one.

I took up brewing 6 years ago and have been enjoying slowly learning a new craft. I like all sorts of things about it. I love knowing how things are made from scratch. In the case of food, from actual plant/animal ingredients, not pre prepared industrial food-like products. Even better if I can make from scratch myself in a way that fits in my lifestyle. The beer making is fun and has almost infinite combinations of recipe and method options to experiment with. It also reminds me of laboratory work, the good side of that, all the measuring and being careful with temperature, cleanliness, process, record keeping. Extra bonus points for being a money saver too. I make beer for around a third to a fifth the cost of commercial beer. Plus a bunch of my time of course. I only buy beer these days either in a pub where I can’t byo, or to taste test, the latter is often while considering recipe options.



Strawberry Meringues

Success! Strawberry meringues. A version of my magic meringue recipe served to use up the sugar left over from the Strawberry Syrup of a few days ago. The sugar didn’t all dissolve but the resulting treats were definitely worth the effort. They have a delicate pale pink chewy center and do in fact taste of strawberry. Sweet! both literally and figuratively. I’ve already eaten three :-).


200ml white sugar wetted with strawberry juice- take 2T of this and heat in the microwave to hot but not stupid*
1 egg white
2t cornflour
1t white wine vinegar

beat for ~15min, spoon to baking paper**, bake 150C fan forced for 50min

(bah, how do I reduce line spacings? answer: pressing shift+enter gives single line spacing, yay)



*original recipe calls for 2T of boiling water
**or reusable alternative as I prefer