March 30, 2006

I got a great package from my recipe swap.
Joanne had created a gorgeous journal with recipes for all kinds of things she though I'd like, not just food. I'm thinking the first I try will probably be Margueritas... :)

She also made me knitting needles - how cool is that?

My package took 10 days to cross the Atlantic, so I hope the flapjacks inside haven't poisoned Nanette.


5 oz butter or margarine
3 oz brown sugar
3 oz golden syrup, treacle or molasses
8 oz porridge oats

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
Melt sugar, butter and syrup in pan, do not let boil.
Remove from heat, add oats and mix thoroughly.
Press into greased 8 inch square tin and smooth surface.
Bake for 25 minutes.
Mark into squares while still warm, then remove from tray and break apart when cooled.

March 28, 2006

Yesterday's post made me think a bit more about the appeal of Grace Kelly.

Conspiracy theories abound about Princesses and Grace is no exception: did she not realise she would have to give up acting when she married Prince Rainier? did her family pay a $2 million dowry? who was driving when she had the fatal car accident?

She was much loved, though: closeknit newly rich family; paired with many of her leading men (not James Stewart, though); long marriage and close times with her family in both Monaco and America.

I'm not sure she was really in enough movies to be able to say if she simply acted how she was herself.

In Rear Window she's stylish and beautiful, a glamourous foil to Stewart's doldrums. But she's also open and loving, in one scene she is comfortably in Stewart's arms, curled up on his broken leg and wheelchair; in another she produces a gorgeous nightgown from the tiniest case, clear that she is going to stay the night. She also places herself in the most dangerous situations, not a woman that NEEDS Stewart, but who chooses to be with him.

I love this dress Kelly wears in the climactic scene - rich and sunny, poised and delicate. I think I'm going to get out my pearls again...

March 27, 2006

Bryony tagged me (it was last week, but I had to finish my felted bag first :)). I've done a bit of it before here, but here are the rest:

4 films I can watch over and over
I think I'm going to have to do this in categories...
- Classic movies: Rear Window, mostly because Grace Kelly is just so stylish and sophisticated - the sort of woman I want to be when I grow up :). Honourable mentions to Some Like it Hot and Roman Holiday (my Dad looked a bit like Gregory Peck).
- Adaptations of Jane Austen: Clueless, I love the colours especially. I also love Emma that had Gwyneth Paltrow in, because it captures the summery feel of Emma so well.
- John Hughes-era teen movies: I grew up in the 1980s, they were seminal. I think Breakfast Club is the best, but I also can't resist Say Anything (Cameron Crowe almost gets a category of his own, and John Cusack too - High Fidelity is probably the successor to good teen movies) and Pretty in Pink.
- Disney Princesses: I don't get much choice about watching these now but repeated (and I mean repeated) viewings has convinced me that Cinderella is the best, although Sleeping Beauty looks the nicest and Beauty and the Beast has the best characters.

4 tv shows I love to watch
- The Apprentice, get all my manangement skills from watching that
- Project Runway/Project Catwalk, admittedly the same format as above, but I really like the creative-ness of what they produce.
- Location Location Location, even after all these years, Phil & Kirstie keep me amused, although half the appeal is other people's house problems, obviously (finding myself irrestistably drawn to the very terrible Anthea Turner: The Perfect Housewife at the minute for the same reason).
- I also get very involved in big sporting events, the Olympics, Commonwealth Games etc despite being very un-sporty.

4 websites I visit daily
- Bloglines, and thus all the lovely people listed in my sidebar
- BBC News
- My email (I've got 4 in total including work, all online)
- Google, barely a day goes past when I don't need to look something up

4 fave yarns
Now here you have me... I haven't been knitting long enough to answer this conclusively. Generally love the one I'm with.
Mother's Day [grin].

Inside are chocolate-covered apricots, but you really had to be here for the story of making them (big pointy sticks and candles were involved, her teacher is brave...).

March 25, 2006

It was worth the wait...

My felted bag has turned out wonderfully. A really great size, shape and colour. Thank you, Secret Pal, for the tools and advice to do it.

It was interesting how it changed shape - before felting it was long and thin. Having read about Di's experience of getting mangled lumps where the edges roll up, I was really worried about the gape of the handle.

I ironed it over and over again and it refused to flattern properly, but in the end it turns out it's part of the design and the cast off bit stays straight, while the newly cast on stitches over roll up to form the handle better.

My front-loading washing machine won't let you stop it part way through, but it seems to be quite accurate as to the temperature you set it to (which I can do independently of the programme). I put this through a quickwash and set it to 50 degrees C.

I had worries about it felting the front to the back so put one of DD's t-shirts inside. Watching it through the window, I saw it fall out almost immediately and there's no sign of any sticking. I also washed it with a couple of towels to bash it around properly.

I'm kind of sad to have lost the really soft texture of the knitted wool (that wool is really lovely), but the felt is really strong - I can use this as a proper bag with no worries of holes appearing.

My only problem was I ran out of the lighter coloured wool, so one side is different to the other at the handle. But because of the quirky texture of the felt, it actually looks pretty good like that.

The colour didn't fade or change at all (just the light changing in these photos).

March 21, 2006

Felted bag BEFORE its trip into the washing machine.

Knitted in Eskimo 100% wool by garnstudio. It's very nice to look at, isn't it? (and underneath is some rather nice Orla Keily rip-off fabric I bought to make another bag with (they'll look good together :))

March 17, 2006

F is for... fear of failure

Will my front-loading washing machine mangle my first felting attempt?

The street in front of DD's school is always full of parked cars at morning drop-off time. Most mornings I see DD's friend P zipping past as her mum finds a tiny spot right by the gates. We always park a long way back because I don't want to risk not finding a space and being late for class.

I do like to plan risky things at work, but the difference is that element of planning: I like to know where I stand if I'm likely to fail.

(thanks to my wonderful secret pal's instructions I'm feeling quite confident about the felting...)

March 16, 2006

Much fun was had this afternoon photographing everything in our house that is pink or red for Zeneedle's Project Spectrum meme.

DD gets a bit enthusiastic with the digital camera... so I've edited out a LOT of barbies...

March 13, 2006

There's an arctic wind blowing today and I wish I lived in catalogue-world. Come on spring, hurry up!
Norfolk Lavender
Sweet peas from Bloom
Emma Bridgewater pots
Cath Kidson's picnics

March 10, 2006

E is for Eggs...

2 egg whites
4 oz caster sugar
coloured sprinkles to decorate

Preheat the oven to gas mark 1 (250 degrees F).
Line 2 baking sheets with greaseproof paper but not any oil.
Whisk egg whites with an electric whisk until stiff.
Add the sugar, 1 teaspoon at a time, whisking well after each addition, still on high speed, until all the sugar has been added.
Using two teaspoons, place small mounds of mixture (about 24) onto sheet. Dribble sprinkles on top.
Bake for about 1-1.5 hours, or until they can be lifted easily from the paper without sticking.
Turn off the oven, leave the door ajar and leave the meringues until cold.

March 08, 2006

For Project Spectrum's month of red and pink crafting, I've made a snuggly red moebius wrap using GGH Aspen.

I was trying to echo the depth of colour in Holbein's portrait by using the deep texture of garter stitch against the flat brocade of my coat and the 'jewels' of the Victorian brooch (from eBay!). It sort of works, and it's warm, but I'm not completely sure it's 'me' :).

March 04, 2006

An inspiring picture for the red/pink month of Project Spectrum. Anne of Cleves by Hans Holbein, it's in the Louvre.

Holbein was obviously really involved in painting this dress - look at the depth of colour in the red velvet, the detail in the embroidery.

This portrait was painted for Henry VIII, when he was looking for his fourth wife. The story goes that Holbein painted her straight on to disguise her plain-ness, that by the time Henry saw Anne it was too late to cancel the wedding, that he was so repulsed he couldn't consummate the marriage and that she was so simple she didn't realise until he forced an annulment on her so he could marry Catherine Howard.

But I think there was probably a lot more to Anne. She and Henry were obviously not compatible, not attracted to each other. But she came out of it better than any of Henry's other wives - one of the richest women in England, with a fine independent domestic life and lived to be friends with Elizabeth as she rose to the throne. And just look at the size of that waist!

March 02, 2006

'Tweedies' hat, from a 1950s? Patons pattern.

Made with Artesano Alpaca Inca Cloud in Dusky Black. It took exactly one 50g ball (including the tassel) on 4mm needles. I elongated the pattern a little to make it into a slightly more modern shape.

Download the pattern in a pdf file here.