Sunday, August 27, 2006

One-Yard-Fabric-Swap Update

A bit later than I had planned, but I was delayed by friends who stayed over last week...

Here is a list of the people who have shown interest in the fabric swap so far:

Sherrill at BaaBonnyBelle
Jess at Scarf-o-Matic
Jess's mum in Holland (I don't know if she has a website - Jess?)
Elizabeth at Lazy Life
Caro at Splityarn
Joni at Union Center Knits
Kate at Apples and Oranges
Zonda at Z Knits... and Sews
Amanda at Clothesknit
Katie at Knits and Grits
Leah at Stress Reaction
Jill at Just Another Creative Thing to Do
Lynne at I Was Knit Together In My Mother's Womb
Penny at Random Thoughts From Another Dilettante
Diane from Lincoln, US (no blog)
Erin at Opportunity Knits
Bekka at Bekka
Caitlyn at Knot Without my Knitting
Joyce at Slateblu
Kaye at Bliss Out
Beth at Felt Like Knitting
Teri at Knitting, With Beads
and of course myself at Once Upon a Time...

That should be everybody, but please let me know if you are on the list but don't want to be or alternatively, if I somehow managed to miss your name off! Also, if I don't already have it, could you please let me have a contact email - I will need it for further communication (there will be a short questionnaire for everyone, and I obviously also need to send you the information about your swap partner). You can email me at

So far, we are 14 people participating. I'm quite pleased with that number - not too small a group, but still small enough to be easily manageable. Which means that my problem of if I should post on Swap Bot has solved itself - I don't think it's necessary, and quite honestly, control freak that I am, I feel more comfortable just keeping it on my blog. ;-). Joni has created the button above, so feel free to post it on your blog, and Amanda has offered to help out if necessary (thanks again to both of you for all your help!!), so if I am not contactable for a few days due to the arrival of the bean, she may be able to help.

As I have said before, I think I will leave the swap open for a few more days. So the deadline is Sunday 17th September 2006. I will then send the matches out in the week following the 17th September, and the deadline for sending the parcels will be Tuesday 31st October 2006.

Here are the rules again:

1) The idea is to send no less than 1 yard of continuous fabric, enough for a little sewing project, and, to make sure that nobody ends up with, as Alex put it, 'some nasty nylon' - cotton only!

2) Only send what you would also love to receive. So no palming off of unloved bits of fabric that you would otherwise stick in the bin! ;-)

3) Include other little presents - sweets, yarn, other crafty things, something you think the other person would like.

4) Suggested spending: around $25 (or around £15) max.

Edited to add:

5) You can use fabric from stash if you want, but see rule no. 2!

6) Please notify me asap when you receive your parcel and post about it on your blog so we can all be nosy and have a look! If you don't have a blog, please send me a picture of what you have received when you notify me so I can post it for you.

Please let me know if you have any questions and if you still want to join, just leave a comment or email me at

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Got Fruit?

Recently, I sometimes I feel like Barbara from The Good Life. Moving out of the city has definitely changed our life - in some ways it has slowed down, but in other ways it has made us very busy indeed. There always seems to be something to do, and I'm not talking the never-ending DIY either!

Last week, we came back from our trip to the old nest, and thought we'd take a look at our little orchard. We'd been watching the fruit grow and change colour for quite some time, and in particular the plums had started to gain in size. As they were still green, though, we thought that they weren't quite ripe, a mistake on our part, as when D picked one he discovered that our yet-to-turn-red non-ripe plums were in fact Greengages, and more than just a little bit ripe!

That evening we picked 5 buckets full of Greengages, all deliciously sweet, and I am not even trying to reconstruct how many we ate there and then. Not that it even made a dent in the amount of fruit piled up on our kitchen counter.

Obviously, we had to come up with a quick solution to that much fruit or we'd have a fruit fly invasion on our hands, and we spontaneously decided to make Greengage jam. I wasn't able to find a recipe for this online (most plum jam seems to be made from Damsons, which we also have but which are not quite ripe yet), so I decided to just make it up. I used several kilos of Greengages (as much as would fit in the pot), some jam-making sugar (about 600g), cloves, a stick of cinnamon, and some ginger. I really wanted to add a bit of Rum, but we didn't have any (still in the old house), so I made do without it. The resulting jam did not quite thicken, at least not through the Pectin, but to make up for it I cooked it for long enough to get rid of excess liquid and removed the foamy residue at the top. This is what we got:

We ran out of jam jars, so had to use one pint glass and a bowl. I have no idea how long the jam will last, so we are trying to work out way though the open glasses as quickly as we can. The taste is delicious - sweet, but not too sweet, with a hint of acidity and just the merest hint of cinnamon and clove.

I hadn't made jam for at least 10 years, so I seriously need to brush up on my jam-making skills. There are still 2 more plum trees, so there is definitely more to come. Also, what do you do with 4 different varieties of apples (there is some kind of bug in them, so I don't think they will store for very long), and 2 varieties of pears?! Any ideas?

This whole self-sufficiency episode has spurred me on to finally do some sewing, and what better way to start than with an apron? Sherrill at BaaBonnyBelle was sewing aprons a while back and is also hosting an Apron KAL. The apron I made is inspired by her basic design, although I changed it a little:

I look huge in this picture! Not having any floor-length mirrors in this house (all this is still in the old house) means that I haven't seen the size of my belly in quite some time - it's enormous!!

But anyway, the apron - it's made from Amy Butler fabric and the design is quite basic. I added a big double pocket at the front, two long bits of fabric to tie the apron, and the tie around the neck is construced with one piece of fabric that is threaded through a button-hole on the other side and then knotted.

I have also started sewing some bags - an Amy Butler Nappy Bag, which is still not quite finished because I ran out of fabric and had to order some more, and a Swing Bag, which I finished last Saturday and which I have already been using all week. Here it is, photographed in our dusty hall:

I love the design. It's simple, neat, and very sturdy, and it can even be turned inside out if I get tired of the blue patterned fabric and want a plain brown bag.

And that is it for today. In case anyone is wondering, I have been knitting, but right now there I don't have much to show for. Maybe in a few days time!

Update on the Fabric Swap tomorrow!

Wednesday, August 16, 2006


Well, some news re. the One-Yard-Fabric-Swap. We have a button! The lovely and talented Joni of Union Center Knits volunteered to design it, and hasn't she done a fantastic job?

I have already outlined the basic rules in one of the last posts, but here they are again:

1) The idea is to send no less than 1 yard of continuous fabric, enough for a little sewing project, and, to make sure that nobody ends up with, as Alex put it, 'some nasty nylon' - cotton only!

2) Only send what you would also love to receive. So no palming off of unloved bits of fabric that you would otherwise stick in the bin! ;-)

3) Include other little presents - sweets, yarn, other crafty things, something you think the other person would like.

4) Suggested spending: around $25 (or around £15) max.

The sign-up deadline I am aiming for is mid- to end of September, with about a month to get parcels ready, so the deadline for the sending of fabrics would be the end of October. I admit that part of my timing has to do with the predicted arrival of the bean at the end of September, but I think the timeframe is quite convenient anyway. Let me know what you think, though - I'm open to suggestions!

Also, I am still unsure if I should use Swap Bot. I imagine that you would have to sign up there, if you are not already registered with them. If I go ahead, I will do so after the weekend - possibly on Monday or Tuesday.

Anyway, that is all for today - but go ahead and take the button to publicise the swap a bit if you want! :-)

Monday, August 07, 2006

Flooding, holidays, and fibre...

If you can't tell from the heading, this is going to be a photo-heavy, long and slightly disconnected entry. Never mind - who needs coherent and non-rambling posts that load quickly anyway!? ;-)

First of all, I had said I was going to post a picture or two of the flooding that turned our poor house into a slightly leaking Noah's arc. Well, here they are:

Clockwise from upper left: 1) the water level just before the cottage started flooding. 2-4) The rising water level in the yard.

But enough of that! ;-)

Much more fun to think about our holiday. Oh, how lovely it was. As I have probably mentioned, the first two days it was raining quite a bit, but it didn't matter - the lovely room, the yummy food, the beautiful landscape, the complete lack of DIY, ... it was great!

Our hotel was the Newby Bridge Hotel. You can have a look at it HERE. We arrived on Monday afternoon, so that first day we didn't do much apart from enjoy the lovely food in the evening. We had been lucky enough to get a special deal for our stay, which meant that we had room, breakfast, and dinner included for a price that was lower than just room and breakfast. I was so glad it worked out that way, because not only did it save us venturing out in the evening (we were always exhausted from all the driving around during the day), but the food turned out to be a fantastic 3-course meal!

Anyway, on the Tuesday we went on a steamboat cruise around Lake Windermere. A very tourist-y thing to do, but that's what we were after all - tourists! ;-)

I loved the landscape around the lake, but of course I hadn't seen anything of the 'real' lake district yet. That changed the next day, when we decided to drive up to Stainton / Penrith to visit the Alpaca Centre there (can't go on a holiday without some kind of fibre content!). This is the scenery we drove through:

It was breathtaking, even with the rather miserable and cold weather. Even the Alpaca's looked a bit soaked, although, as befitting for members of the camel family, they seemed supremely disinterested in their surroundings. What is it about this type of animal and the staring fixedly at some spot on the horizon?!

But the most exciting thing about the Alpaca Centre was not the Alpacas (although I liked them), but their fleece! We splashed out on 1200g of lovely off-white yearling fleece which had just come in. The yearling, Mistral, whose fleece it was, had just been shorn the day before! No picture yet, but I can't wait to spin this stuff up - the owner assured me that it should be enough for two jumpers / cardigans. Maybe if I try some Navajo plying? It would be a new technique for me and I've been meaning to try it for some time now...

D also had fun. He quite likes the whole process of spinning, but he was most excited to see that there was a wood-turning workshop on the premises. We spent a good 40 minutes hearing all about lathes and wood-turning. Quite interesting, and if D continues being interested in it I wouldn't mind giving it a go at some point.

From there we went on to Keswick for a leisurely lunch and afternoon tea (the whole holiday was VERY food-focussed. I have become quite obsessed with food recently...), and that was day two!

Day three was the probably most fun day of the holiday, not least because we awoke to a beautiful blue sky. We decided to spend the day exploring the lake district hills a bit more, so we headed off into the heart of the lake district, always following the tiniest roads that were marked on the map. The scenery was absolutely amazing, and we took it slowly, enjoying the sunshine, and stopping frequently.

We stopped by a quirky little pub we discovered, which had porch with wicker chairs and overlooked a valley. We basked in the warm sun and enjoyed a simple lunch. This is how the food arrived at our table - isn't that cute?

That's a simple cheese and ham sandwich and a Ploughman's Lunch (in the towel).

After that, we went exploring and ended up driving through a few beautiful valleys and through a mountain pass - the roads were tiny, barely wide enough for one car, and it was high enough to make your ears pop:

It was so beautiful! We arrived back home that day completely exhausted but happy. I'm so glad we had that day, because the next day was already the last and we didn't have time to do much else but pack our bags and set off home.

I shall leave you with one last set of images - what I have been spinning before we went on holiday:

This is the fibre that Sherrill at BaaBonnyBelle sent me a while back as part of the Knitty board Holiday SP Exchange. Not quite sure what it is, but it was wonderful to spin. For quite some time I wasn't sure how to spin it, because I wanted to make it enough for a little knitting project. Eventually I plied it with some grey Romney roving that I still had - it had been part of the first ever batch of fibre I bought, back on honeymoon in New England last year, and there was not that much left. I was glad to have found a way to use both. The end result is a soft and slightly shimmering yarn with muted colours. Initially I was a bit regretful that I would loose the vibrant colours of the dyed fibre, but now I am very happy with the end result. And there might even be enough for a hat or some fingerless gloves!

Saturday, August 05, 2006

First things first!

We are back from our little holiday - thanks for all your well-wishes, we had a fabulous time! For two days it was raining quite a bit, but even with that draw-back, it was a wonderful holiday and we both got some much-needed rest. Now it's back to reality, though. D is already upstairs, tinkering with our bathroom suite, and it looks as if by tonight we might have a functioning sink and toilet. Yay! ;-)

I have lots of pictures of the lake district, and I know I also said that I would post about the flooding and about my recent spinning efforts, but before I start with that, first things first: Before we went away I finally got my socks from the Sockapaloooza sock exchange. I had thought they had got lost in the mail and had already almost given up hope, but when I went to the PO Box last weekend they were there! I have no idea what happened, because it was apparent that they had been there for quite some time (how lucky they hadn't been sent back!) - I had rung up a few times and had been to check, but apparently, before last weekend nobody had been able to spot the parcel.

Sometimes I am glad that we have moved and I won't be able to use the PO Box anymore from now on!

Anyway, here are the fabulous contents of the parcel:

My Sockapaloooza pal was Sabine (her blog is here: Stricky) and she sent me some lovely blue sock yarn, some Italian soap (which smells wonderful), three themed postcards of Berlin, where she lives, picturing the city at different points in time), and of course the socks. They are the Madder Ribbed Socks from Nancy Bush's Vintage Socks book. There were also some very cute stitch markers, but somehow I managed to miss them out when I took the photograph, and now everything is stashed in the big box I packed to take up North that weekend... Here is another picture of the socks, though, this time modelled by me (please ignore the slightly swollen ankles and the rather pasty-looking skin on my calf, OK?):

Don't they fit perfectly? I'm so thrilled with them. Thank you Sabine, I couldn't be more delighted with the parcel you sent me! :-)