Season’s Greetings

I’m not going to pretend that I’ve been great at blogging recently. If you follow me on Instagram you will know I have not been idle when it comes to making ‘stuff’ but I am still struggling to find the time to write full blog posts and not happy with my photography at all. In the whole scheme of things neither are particularly important just slightly irritating!

So we are about to spend our first Christmas here in Canada. It’s cold, there is snow everywhere and it’s more beautiful than I could ever have imagined. The lakes and creeks are frozen and everything is quiet (if you listen very carefully). 

Apart from gift making, I’ve been busy baking and making ornaments with my boys. We came here with just 4 suitcases, so no room for decorations. Every day since the 1st we have made a new ornament and the tree is looking great already, I think you’ll agree.

That just leaves me to say, I’ll see you after Christmas. Have a good one.

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The issue of light

When we were in England I had worked out the perfect places to take pictures for my blog posts so that I was happy with the light and back drop. I’m yet to find these places here and it’s frustrating as I really do want my pictures to reflect my projects and me in a positive light.

Maybe this has become more important to me since I joined Instagram (I’m buttercupandbee). The standard on there is so high.

In the meantime, here are some of my current projects.

Hoping this is finished soon so that I can wear it.

Trying to add pattern to my socks.

And you don’t want to know about these yet!

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Happy New Year

Wishing you all a very Happy New Year. It has been a busy old time here over the holidays and I’m only just getting my head back on straight so please excuse the rambling. Actually this post is going to be mostly photographs as I am still not 100% better after an attack of the lurgy just before New Year.

Before Christmas I couldn’t share my most recently completed projects as they were gifts but I can now.

The first two gifts were crochet shawls based on a fantastic pattern by Vicky Brehm of Cera Boutique. Vicky is an amazing crocheter and I always look forward to her posts in my blog feed. As it happens, I was searching through Ravelry for crochet shawls and came across one of her patterns called Brambleberry shawl. It is an easy project and works up really quickly. I based my first gift on one of the completed projects and used 2 balls of King Cole Riot (Funky) on a 4mm hook.

crochet shawl king cole riot funky bramblenerry

crochet shawl king cole riot funky brambleberry

I was so pleased with how this turned out that I decided to make another one! This time smaller, using just one ball of King Cole Riot (Juniper). There were fewer colour changes in this yarn. This was made Christmas Eve so I didn’t even have time to photograph it after I had blocked it.

king cole riot crochet shawl juniper brambleberry

crochet flower

As it was a smaller shawl, more a scarf, I added a crochet flower with a button behind it so that it would stay in place when worn. As the pattern was all treble crochets (UK) and the pattern repeated every 3 rows these shawls worked up so quickly. Vicky asked me if I had put my shawls on Ravelry and one of my goals for this year is to work out how to!

Another crochet gift was this pair of hand warmers, made to match the scarf and hat that I showed you here. The Brooklyn Fingerless Mitts pattern was one I had used for a gift last year and it was just as easy to follow as I had remembered.

crochet mitt fingerless hand warmers wrist aran

I also crocheted a hat for my brother loosely following the Retro Stripes Hat pattern by Linda Permann. I used Drops Nepal and a 5.5mm hook.

crochet hat retro stripes drops nepal man

Lastly, I sewed together a few of these lavender pouches using vintage doilies and fabric I had stashed away. I had wanted to make some flaxseed/lavender heating pads in a similar vein but never did get around to it despite buying the flaxseeds, oops.

upcycled crochet doily lavender pouch

I love crafting to make gifts for friends and family. I also really appreciate it when I receive handmade gifts so you can imagine how delighted I was to hear just before Christmas that I was being gifted one of Ericka Eckles beautiful stockings. You can read about it here. Ericka’s blog is a warm mix of story telling and crafting and her ‘waffle’ as she calls it is heartfelt, humourous, moving and inspirational. Just look at how gorgeous my stocking is.

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Here it is alongside our other stockings on Christmas eve.

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This Christmas was quite special as it was the first Christmas that my brother and I have spent with our parents in 15 years! I love the traditions that I remember from my childhood being continued with my own children. One of my favourites is reading  ‘The Night Before Christmas’ on Christmas Eve. Each of my boys has received a copy on their first Christmas and I still have mine.

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We don’t celebrate New Years much here but who doesn’t enjoy a sparkler?

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It would be safe to say this holiday has been quite an emotional one. Just before the holiday we received some news which I will share over the next few weeks. It’s not bad news, it’s actually quite exciting but it will mean a lot of changes for us as a family (no, it’s not another baby!) and to be honest, I am all in a dither about it still.

I am keeping myself busy (avoiding doing everything I should be) with a new crochet project.

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It looks like 2016 will be eventful for us but all I hope for is that it is a healthy, happy year for everyone.

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Tasty Christmas treats

As much of the crochet I have done since my last post has been made for other people and I would prefer that they be surprised when they open their gifts, I can’t show you what I have been hooking. I can however share my edible Christmas makes.

Since having my two little boys, I have been rubbish in the kitchen and have only just recently started to make some of my old favourites. Christmas makes me prioritise taking time in the kitchen, something I should do all year long but fail miserably at. Who can resist the spicy aromas associated with Christmas and the sweet treats that feel truly indulgent?

I used to make my own Christmas cake using Delia Smith’s fruit cake recipe but when I discovered that no one else in my house actually likes Christmas cake it did feel a bit excessive making it just for myself. Also I really only ate Christmas cake with cheese so I felt even more guilty.

Then a couple of years ago whilst my parents were living in Trinidad, I heard about black cake (rum cake) and looked for a recipe to try. I was lucky enough to visit Trinidad on two occasions, but never actually tried black cake when I was there so had no idea what was an authentic recipe or not. So I just chose the one I liked the look of and the one my mum tells me is nothing like any black cake she ever had (that’s a compliment, right?).

What appealed about the recipe, which you can find here on TriniGormet.com, was the amount of alcohol the fruit is soaked in prior to baking the cake. For 3lbs of fruit it recommends 1 bottle of cherry brandy and 1 bottle of rum and/or 1 bottle of Bailey’s. Yes, 3 bottles! What also drew me to this recipe was the use of Angostura bitters (made in Trinidad and a childhood favourite of mine, I always felt so sophisticated drinking lemonade with a few drops of Angostura) and nutmeg. Whilst in Trinidad I had walked through the cathedral like nutmeg groves and collected nutmeg that had fallen. If you’ve never seen what nutmeg looks like whilst growing, look it up. The nutmeg is encased in a hard shell which has a lacy covering of mace, all enclosed by a protective fruit. I still have a jar of nutmeg, a spice once considered as valuable as gold, sadly not anymore.

It is fair to say that the soaking fruit doesn’t look anything special.

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The baked result is much more appealing.

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This is being fed with rum on a daily basis. It won’t be iced as it has a dense, pudding-like texture and we eat it with copious amounts of clotted cream (not very traditional in Trinidad apparently). I can’t wait for Christmas Day evening when we eat this.

Something I haven’t been able to stop eating is another Christmas treat that I was introduced to through my  parents’ travels. My mum and dad used to live in Iran (so did I but I was too young to remember any of it) and one of the foods they always speak about from there is chocolate covered orange peel. My mum used to make this when I was little and when I had a kitchen of my own I asked her for the recipe, which I never wrote down and started to make up myself each year.

There are recipes on the net and the one that is similar to my method is the River Cottage Candied Orange Sticks one. I don’t use glycerine and it turns out just fine. I love laying the sticky pieces of peel out to dry.

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They look better when they have been given their dark chocolate coating.

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They also make a lovely gift or nibble to take to a party.

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I am just about to dip my second batch of these and I imagine I will need to make more before Christmas day as they disappear quickly.

If you can’t indulge at Christmas, when can you? Enjoy.

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Christmas Crochet

I have to say that I am not enjoying November and its dreary, damp days very much at all. No time for my moaning though, the time is flying by and I still haven’t done a Christmas post. The reason being that I haven’t made a single thing for the festive season yet. Despite my best intentions it hasn’t happened and now my priority is to make the gifts I want to. Still all is not lost and I have lots to things to share with you that I have made previously. That’s not cheating, is it?

In 2013 I did a couple of craft fairs selling crochet items so I thought I would share some of the bits and bobs I made and who knows? there might be something here you fancy making.

Who doesn’t love a bit of festive bunting?

Here are The Royal Sisters crochet stars in Christmas colours chained together.

This pattern is so easy and makes lovely baby bunting.

crochet garland star bunting baby blue boy

I also made trees using a pattern from the same website.

crochet granny christmas tree

These green trees  were the same pattern but only two rounds. I sold these as bunting with rainbow coloured buttons (no pics, sorry) and individual decorations. They looked good on the from of a card too for the recipient to remove and use.

crochet granny christmas tree decoration

The angels are so easy to make and people bought them to tuck inside their Christmas cards that they were sending.

crochet christmas decoration angel easy

I made bauble decorations from circles and a detail I found here.

crochet bauble decoration mandala

I have only ever made two of these robins following Attic24’s birdie pattern, one for a friend in 2013 and the one I sent to Meredithe of Pomegranate and Chintz this year.

crochet robin christmas decoration

It has been great fun looking back at these photos and the blogs that the patterns came from. Lucky I kept a photographic record of what I made, guess even then I was blogging in my head!

Everything you see here is made from Drops Muskat cotton and probably a 3.5mm hook if my memory serves me correctly. I did block and starch all of the decorations to make them a bit more robust. I hope the links work. Let me know if there are any problems.

That just leaves me to thank Lynda, rather belatedly, at Sultanabun for nominating me for a Liebster award. So kind. Please hop over and take a look at her amazing blog if you haven’t already.

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