My Soul is fed with needle and thread
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December 2013
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Finally a Christmas walk

December 29, 2013   

I’ve been waiting since Christmas day for the weather to be fit for a walk, we have had gale force winds and driving rain, but today the sun shone, the temperature was mild and the wind has dropped.

where has all the Elder gone?

where has all the Elder gone?

We took the footpath along the estuary, someone has layed the hedge where last October we picked Elderberries, the Elder bushes have been cut to the ground, disaster, we’ll have to find somewhere else to pick next year.

hiding in the bushes

hiding in the bushes

As we were walking and chatting, I heard a rustling in the bushes, and saw a Robin, my Dearest kept talking and whenever I moved to get a better view, he moved to stand in the way, typical man!

that's better

that’s better

I waited to get a picture , after a little shyness the Robin must have guessed I wanted a picture because he hopped out of the undergrowth and literally posed for me, getting closer and closer with every shutter click.

did you get my good side?

did you get my good side?

There wasn’t much else to photograph but I had vowed not to go home till I had at least one shot I was happy with. I even waited till the sun came out from behind a cloud to get this shot.

sunshine on Ivy

sunshine on Ivy

44 Days Later : Coffee Orange Liqueur

December 29, 2013   

Christmas Eve and I needed to decant my macerating liqueurs in time to give them as gifts and enjoy them myself. The first task was to prepare the bottles. I’d put aside some half and quarter litre bottles, which I’d bought specially for the task, they were full of wine at the time, but I soon put paid to that, I needed the bottles, but they come free when you buy the wine and it would be a shame to waste it.

presto, clean bottles

presto, clean bottles

Getting the labels off is easy, soak in hot water till the label is soaked and the glue underneath it warmed, so it peels off easily or at least scrapes off easily with a thumb nail, if there is residue left I have a great trick which I got from Pinterest. Rather than use Sticky Stuff Remover which is petroleum based and toxic , so not a good thing to use on bottles for consumables, I use plain old cooking oil made into a paste with bicarbonate of soda. Rub on… rub off, wash it with liquid soap, Presto, crystal clean bottles.

44 days later

44 days later

First I strained the Coffee Orange Liqueur through muslin, the smell was incredible, and very conveniently when I had bottled it there was just enough to fill a glass to taste it before I made it into stocking fillers.
The glass was a bargain, another charity shop find, 4 little Victorian sherry glasses, £2, and another 2 crystal liqueur glasses, a pound each, they will be going in stockings along with the liqueurs, just in case the recipients don’t have a suitable glass to serve it in.

little Victorian Glass

little Victorian Glass

Then I strained the Damson gin off the damsons (which I then heated in a pan, to burn off the alcohol, they look like mini prunes, and will be going on my morning porridge ) and strange to say when I had bottled the Damson gin, there was again just enough to fill a glass to quality check the produce, how lucky is that?

Damson Gin

Damson Gin

The Coffee Orange Liqueur is lovely, but the Damson Gin is DIVINE, like liquid Damson, not too sweet, doesn’t taste of alcohol it just tastes of the most wonderful, concentrated damson flavour, which is pretty hard to beat, particularly in something “homemade”.

Stocking fillers, ready to go

Stocking fillers, ready to go

Return to sender, for refill

December 16, 2013   
Christmas Sparkle

Christmas Sparkle

The Angels have all been outlined in gold thread to give them some shape and depth. Some of the stars stitched to hold the layers together, and the continents outlined too. Then the two sides stitched together, a ribbon tucked into the back edge to allow the stocking to be hung up; the excess wadding trimmed off and the seam allowance snipped where needed on the curves to allow the stocking seams to lie flat. I hand rolled and stitched the raw edges of the seam allowance to neaten the inside.

return to sender

return to sender

This stocking needed two gift tags one to identify the planned recipient and wish her a Happy Christmas, and the other with very specific instructions, to return the stocking to sender for an annual refill. Each panel had a medallion printed on it, a sun and a moon, which I wanted to use to make the gift tags. Problematically they were largely but not accurately round, I initially planned to force the medallions onto a circular shape but realized that I would lose the integrity of the design, so they finished up with all of the design intact but a rather wobbly, not quite round tag. I cut a circle of wadding first, applied it to the back of each medallion, and stitched it down with a little gold thread, then took a plain piece of the panel and wrote my messages on with a laundry marker, sadly the marker did not enhance my hand writing, it kept running dry and had to be retraced, but it’s the sentiment which matters, not the wobbly hand in which it is written. The two sides were stitched together with a gap at the top and turned out, a ribbon attached and the small gap closed with hand stitching. A line of gold top stitching holds the edge flat and secures the ribbon.

coins and an orange

coins and an orange

What to put in the stocking? Traditionally it should be a few coins and an orange, or in this case chocolate gold coins, and a Terry’s Chocolate Orange. I won’t tell you what else is in the stocking, the recipient should be the first to know and I’d hate to spoil the surprise. I had planned to deliver the stocking today but yesterday my car decided to make ominous noises, bump, thud, bang, metal screeching on metal so I had to stay off the road today until I could get it fixed.

Oh Dear, parking brake spring disintegrated into rear nearside brake disc, much damage done, big bill, but back on the road, thankfully.

ready to go

ready to go

Hurry up, Christmas is coming

December 5, 2013   

For months now I have been searching without success for a stash of fabric I had put aside to make a quilt for a friend for Christmas, I had planned to make it last year but ran out of time and energy, so put the fabric aside in a safe place till I was ready to begin….but where? I can’t find it anywhere, and I guess even if I did now, I would not have time to make even the simplest quilt. I even pulled out one of my UFO’s and considered finishing it for her but decided not, I love her dearly, she deserves her own quilt conceived and made specifically for her, in her colours. It doesn’t have to be now and it shouldn’t be rushed or ill conceived, besides I am still having ideas about it, so clearly it is not yet a done deal.

£2.99 Oxfam, Kendal

£2.99 Oxfam, Kendal

However I am making something for her, her own stocking. I found in a charity shop some weeks ago a printed panel for a Christmas stocking, and bought it for £2.99, I guess it would have been £5 to £10 pounds or more to buy in a quilt shop.
I cut the two sides apart and cut out the shapes with a centimetre seam allowance, it needs to be greater than a quarter inch because I will use the seam allowance turned in on itself to neaten the seam. I will sew it at 5/8ths and this will ensure no white will show at the edge.

press before you sew

press before you sew

I cut a lining from a plain white fabric I had to hand and a piece of wadding for each side, and sewed all three together along the top edge the front and the lining right sides together, with the wadding on the back.

not a wadding sandwich

not a wadding sandwich

 

 

Then the wadding was trimmed back as close to the seam as possible , and the printed panel flipped over so that the wadding is now in the middle. I neatly pinned the top edge then tacked it to ensure the lining did not roll out and show above the printed panel. I will top stitch when it has been tacked together to keep the top edge stable.

stabilise the top edge

stabilise the top edge

 

Having tacked all three layers together I am now in the process of quilting the layers together with a gold machine embroidery thread to add a little Christmas sparkle.

a little sparkle to be added

a little sparkle to be added

Just 44 days required

December 3, 2013   

I have always enjoyed making things for Christmas, either to offer guests or maybe as presents, this year I have a number of liqueurs macerating in jars in the downstairs powder room, it’s cool and north facing.
This is one that really intrigued me, I found it on a website http://www.instructables.com and just had to try it.

Vodka an Orange and some expresso coffee beans

Vodka an Orange and some expresso coffee beans

It is a traditional European aperitif made using an orange, coffee beans, sugar, and grain alcohol (vodka can also be used if you can’t get grain alcohol)

shake everyday till the sugar is dissolved

shake everyday till the sugar is dissolved

Wash your Orange first. Make 44 holes in the orange and poke a coffee bean in each opening. Then put the orange in a jar.(I’m using a jar I picked up in my local charity shop for 50p) Fill the jar with 4 cups of grain alcohol/vodka. Then add your sugar over the top of the alcohol. The original recipe called for 44 sugar cubes but 6 tablespoons of sugar is enough.

 22 days to go

22 days to go

You will need to store it for 44 days in a dark, cool place before removing the orange/coffeebeans. Be sure to shake it up every once in awhile to ensure the sugar dissolves. Do remember to make a note of the date you started, or make a note on your calendar of when it will be finished.
After 44 days, strain the liquid off the orange, decant into bottles, and enjoy chilled.

a completed task

December 3, 2013   

finished cushion:front

finished cushion:front


The two sides were quilted in circles using a CD and a circle cut from card as my quilting guide, and the zip carefully set into one side.the wadding cut back and the lining turned under and slip stitched to the zip fabric, to allow the zip to run. The whole thing then stitched round and turned out through the zip opening. Had the cover turned out to be too big, I would have top stitched around the edge to adjust the size, but it worked out just right.
So I finally finished the cushion, and proudly presented it to the 13 year old to be met with an unimpressed grunt, such is to be expected from a teenager.
The next day I noticed he wasn’t using it, “its scratchy” he tells me… it is so soft to the touch because it’s made from recycled, well washed fabrics!
Finally he asked could it be made smaller, could I “cut a bit off all round” so it will fit on the chair better? I admit I made it to fit the cushion I had, rather than the chair. Back to the drawing board then, what does a girl have to do to get some appreciation around here?

finished cushion: back

finished cushion: back