Monday, 29 March 2010

Another needle felting set

If you have arrived here from the GP site, this is the set of Mother Earth and her root children.

Thanks for looking.

Sunday, 28 March 2010

Earth hour ...

Earth Hour in our home

Earth Hour was last night from 8.30pm, a time where the whole World can come together to raise awareness of climate change. So in the spirit of this we switched all our lights off, and all other electrical items and had a peaceful candlelit evening until heading to bed. Imogen was in bed and asleep already and Alex fell asleep on the sofa beside me.

So by candlelight, I did some more of this

Needle felting by candle light was lovely and restful, and I didn't end up stabbing my fingers any more than normal.

I thought our season corner looked lovely in the candlelight too so took a picture to share with you.

Friday, 26 March 2010

Knitting sheep and lambs

So what else have I been doing on top of spinning the linen pictured in my previous post?

Well, what else would you do with your own handspun wool but to knit it into yet another sheep and a little lamb (probably be multiples of these soon) for a certain little girl to play with. I knitted the loopy while a little while ago but only recently got is sewn up and stuffed, I use the washed carded fleece for stuffing too. The little lamb I knitted at lunchtime on Monday.

Ever since I knitted her the sheep she named Patatutu from my very first skein of white wool (I did a scarf for myself with my very first skein of wool that was a Jacobs fleece), she has asked for a lamb, and then more recently said that there would need to be a mommy sheep too.

I've a few patterns for different sheep now, gained from various places, so Mommy sheep is knit in a loopy style, and little lamb is just a simple one piece pattern (plus two little ears and a tail).

Loopy knitted mama and little lamb

sheep family

The sheep family are complete for now.

Spinning Linen

My attempts to catch up on here haven't been going well, there are just so many things taking up my time at the moment and I'm in need of rest time too at the moment, perhaps need to boost the old system to get going a bit more.

Anyway, on the spinning wheel recently I have spun flax - short flax and line flax from a distaff, both dry and wet and it's been fun. My spinning tutor offered me the opportunity to do some flax spinning after we were talking about it recently. So here is my spun flax ... well now I could call it Linen yarn, it spins quite fine or at least that was my experience with it

Linen yarn

There isn't a lot here, so not sure what I shall do with it yet. Linen is much easier woven than knit but I fancied having a go at knitting some anyway. Maybe a little linen purse that I could embellish. I would like to do some more so maybe that could be a weaving project in the future.

Thursday, 25 March 2010

Watching things growing ...

It's been a while since I wrote about things we've been doing. Lots of things going on, lots of things to share so hopefully I will try and catch up a little over the next few days.

First, I'm going to share a lovely poem I like

The Little Plant
In the heart of a seed
Buried deep, so deep
A tiny plant
Lay fast asleep.

"Wake", said the sunshine,
"And creep to the light".
"Wake" said the voice
Of the rainbows bright.

The little plant heard
And it rose to see,
What the wonderful.
Outside World might be.

Just reading that myself, warms my heart and puts a smile on my face. The sun is shining outside and it's going to be a nice day today.

Lots of time is needed now tending the seedlings and planting more seeds, it doesn't stop really from now until harvesting time. Even then it doesn't stop as there are plants to overwinter and things to still grow and crop as we live in a mild area.

So for now, here are just a few of the things growing here

The almond tree blossom

The chili plant on the windowsill

Melon seedlings

Tomato seedlings
(these really need planting on now)

Monday, 22 March 2010

Edible Garden

This post is a reminder for me as much as it is a sharing of information on a new TV programme starting soon. Allys Fowler who is on Gardeners World is the presenter of the new programme The Edible Garden. She is the head gardener at the GW garden and one of the presenters on the show. The Edible Garden follows her growing year and she visits other gardens including the permaculture forest garden of Maddy Harland (Permaculture Magazine editor).The show is also going to cover preserving your produce which is great as many people don't know what to do with what they have grown if they can't use it fresh.

I’ve been looking forward to this since I first heard about it through the permaculture network, thought others might be interested. Wednesday 7th April 8pm BBC2 for your calendar, it’s on mine no. The book is already out.

Sunday, 21 March 2010

Spring Season Swap

So, it's officially Spring now we have reached the Vernal Equinox, so Happy Spring everyone. It has been feeling Spring-like for a little while now, although later this year than previous years especially last year - so much difference in the growth of trees and hedgerows and seedlings.

With Spring arriving there was another season swap, here is the lovely gift I received from Becky, thank you for the lovely crocheted egg and cross-stitch card - both lovely and brightening up the Season Corner here.

Spring seasonal swap gifts
This is what I made for the swap, a Spring cloth for decoration or practical use and some knitted Daffodils.

Great fun again, and lovely to catch up on all the lovely things people have made and received.

Friday, 19 March 2010

For Linda - muffins recipe

Just in case the link in the comments doesn't work, here is the recipe for the Butternut Squash muffins from a recent post that Linda asked for. We don't make the frosting, prefer them on their own. This recipe is so lovely, sometimes we omit the nuts, and I'm going to do some soon with carrots instead of the squash.

Makes 12 muffins


  • 400g butternut squash, skin on, de-seeded and roughly chopped
  • 350g light soft brown sugar
  • 4 large free-range or organic eggs
  • Sea salt
  • 300g plain flour, unsifted
  • 2 heaped teaspoons of baking powder
  • A handful of walnuts
  • 1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
  • 175ml of extra virgin olive oil

For the frosted cream topping

  • Zest of 1 clementine
  • Zest of 1 lemon and juice of ½ a lemon
  • 140ml of soured cream
  • 2 heaped tablespoons of icing sugar, sifted
  • 1 vanilla pod, split lengthways and seeds scraped out
  • Optional: lavender flowers or rose petals

1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/gas 4. Line your muffin tins with paper cases.

2. Whiz the squash in a food processor until finely chopped. Add the sugar, and crack in the eggs. Add a pinch of salt, the flour, baking powder, walnuts, cinnamon and olive oil and whiz together until well beaten. You may need to pause the machine at some point to scrape the mix down the sides with a rubber spatula. Try not to overdo it with the mixing - you want to just combine everything and no more.

3. Fill the paper cases with the cake mixture. Bake in the preheated oven for 20 to 25 minutes. Check to see whether they are cooked properly by sticking a wooden skewer or a knife right into one of the cakes - if it comes out clean, they’re done. If it's a bit sticky, pop them back into the oven for a little longer. Remove from the oven and leave the cakes to cool on a wire rack.

4. As soon as the muffins are in the oven, make your runny frosted topping. Place most of the clementine zest, all the lemon zest and the lemon juice in a bowl. Add the soured cream, icing sugar and vanilla seeds and mix well. Taste and have a think about it - adjust the amount of lemon juice or icing sugar to balance the sweet and sour. Put into the fridge until your cakes have cooled down, then spoon the topping on to the cakes. Serve on a lovely plate (on a cake stand if you're feeling elegant, or on a rustic slab if you're more of a hunter-gatherer type!), with the rest of the clementine zest sprinkled over. For an interesting flavour and look, a few dried lavender flowers or rose petals are fantastic.

Recipe from Jamie Oliver website.

Absolutely lovely, may be making some more this weekend, although Imogen requested we make some chocolate ones next so we'll see.

Monday, 15 March 2010

Root Children and Mothers Day

Mother Earth now has some root children.

Mother Earth and Root Children

"The root children sleep underground all winter until Mother Earth awakens them,
and they get to work sewing pretty new clothes for Spring. The tiny flower children parade
and frolic above earth as the seasons pass until Mother Earth beckons them
back below ground for winter

Saturday, Imogen baked some lovely Butternut Squash muffins (one of our favourites) and they are yummy (Mommy helped a little, especially with the oven). The afternoon was spent at the allotment, and we came home with a lovely harvest basket.

Mmmmm ... muffins

digging with DaddyHarvesting

Sunday, being Mothers Day was welcomed with a lovely handmade card from Imogen and then a day spent at Weald and Downland Open Air Museum near Chichester, with reduced entry for Mothers Day. A lovely Sunny day I got to catch up with the lovely lady that taught me to spin wool, and we had a lovely day at the Museum, through the many different buildings, the woodland and farmland.

fun in the forest

We met some lovely South Down sheep and their lambs, fed the ducks and the enormous fish in the lake, and had a thoroughly lovely day.


There were some lovely new sculptures around since our last visit, many detailing the varieties of trees in the forests.

one of the sculptures

Friday, 12 March 2010

Mother Earth - my needle felted figure

Season Corner March 2010
Mother Earth added

Okay, so refreshed and with camera in hand, here is my needle felted creation from last night. I had so much fun doing this, I don't know why it's taken m so long to have a go at it. I think I felt daunted at the prospect of needle felting a figure, but it actually came together quite easily.

I have made her with some lovely natural coloured wool with a little dyed green merino that I had. I used these colours intentionally, thinking that my first figure should really be Mother Earth and she is now gracing the Season Corner.

In progress - head and body created

arms and hands added

Hair and colour added
and she's finished

The white is the Dorset Poll wool I am usually spinning, the brown is an unknown wool that I am spinning, I think from the staple and feel of it, it is a Shetland, and the hair is natural Black Lincoln curly fleece.

side view

I think I shall be doing more needle felting in the near future, the possibilities really are endless. Would love to hear what you think of her, and what next? Maybe some root children to go with her?

Thursday, 11 March 2010

A little needle felting

This evening after Imogen had gone to bed and with the house to myself as Alex is away tonight, I gathered some wools, a thick piece of foam and my needle-felting needles (xmas present from 2008) and set to creating a needle felted figure.

I haven't done much needle felting, always something else to do, but wanted to venture away from felt balls and some felt acorns I've made before and create a figure. There are some fantastically talented people out there who create them, I have looked at this flickr group and been inspired, and looked at many individuals websites at their fantastic work.

The work of these mama's is particularly inspiring, - Annette Mac and Beneath The Rowan Tree. Annette's figures are just awesome. I remember bookmarking at least one other site some time back with some fantastic figures, I must try and find them again.

So within a couple of hours, minus coffee breaks and a little time on the computer, I have tonight made my first felt figure. But you'll have to wait until tomorrow to see what it is. I'm tired and need my bed, so will take pictures and share them with you tomorrow. I have to say I am really pleased with it for a first attempt, and can see me doing this more often in the future.

Goodnight all, back tomorrow with pictures.

Monday, 8 March 2010

Magic Loop and knitted animals (although not connected)

Today I have mastered knitting by the magic loop method. Well, I say mastered, what I mean is I understand now how to do it. I don't really like using dpn's when knitting as I find they leave a gap at the joins - that's my experience of knitting with them anyway - I just can't seem to close those gaps. So I decided to try and do it with a circular needle as I have seen this done and it looks a lot neater.

I found this tutorial worked for me so can now knit in the round on just a few stitches rather than having to switch to dpn's.

Other than this on the knitting front, today I have sewn up a couple of little baby rabbits I knitted squares yesterday for, over the weekend I knitted and sewed a couple of chicks and a hen. A cockerel was been requested too.

knitted bunnies,
chicks and hen

I'm off to my Spinning evening tonight to learn to spin flax into lovely linen yarn. On the drive there we go through a lot of nice countryside and over one island that has been named by Imogen as "rabbit island" - in the Summer months last year we saw many rabbits there so it is a landmark on the journey. We shall be looking out for them tonight as we sighted a couple last time I went for my spinning lesson a fortnight ago. Hence the bunnies being knitted for today.

Sunday, 7 March 2010

Mama in a spin

I've been doing a lot more spinning lately - yay. It kind of got forgotten for a while, other things to do or just tiredness and various members of the family recovering from colds, etc.

Some Dorset Horn (otherwise known as Poll Dorset) skeins washed and ready to use, wind into balls or maybe a bit of dyeing?

2 washed skeins of Dorset Horn
and below with one to be washed
An Alpaca skein ready to be washed.

Alpaca skein

Some Jacobs brown/black fleece separated and spun, a few more rolags to spin and then this will be ready to ply. I haven't separated the colours before as I like how they blend together, but just thought I'd a bobbin or two like this.

Jacobs bobbins singles ready to ply

At my evening lesson I go to, I have recently been experimenting with blending colours (just hand plied) and fibres and have spun some synthetics which are quite different to spin - need to put more spin in them as they have little or no crimp.

Colour blending - spun on wheel, plied by hand

Synthetics - some mixed, some mixed with wool (to left of the bobbin)

I much prefer working with natural fibres though. Speaking of which, next week at my next lesson I shall be having a go at spinning some flax. I recently watched another member of the Guild spinning flax and was talking to Alex (my spinning teacher) about it and she offered to do that next time, so can't wait for Monday evening to have a go - hmmm what to make with some lovely handspun linen? I think some weaving project is forming in my head.

Friday, 5 March 2010

Friday's assortment of Nature, libraries and plans

We've had a lovely Sunny walk to the library today, noticing changes in things growing, and listening to birdsong and naming them from their sounds today. We have various nature books including a few on birds with details of their birdsong which has really interested Imogen again lately, perhaps because she is hearing so many at the moment. A great resource for listening to and recognising bird song is the RSPB website where you can find out about the bird and click the play button to hear their sound. I also like this one for quick access to British Bird song on the BBC Radio 4 site.

Every day this week I have been in our back garden and can hear the woodpecker that regularly visits, but not once this week have I located where he is - the sound just echoes and it's hard to pinpoint him at the moment.

fallen Alder catkins and cones

We picked up a few fallen Alder tree catkins and fruit cones, and Imogen was asking if they were flowers prompting a discussion about the different parts of the Alder tree - the male catkins and the female flowers, which ripen to fruits and become a dried cone in the Autumn holding the seed. We went on to spot other parts of other trees and Imogen was thrilled to see some lovely blossoms on the trees.

The library was good, as we arrived there was a school group just getting ready to leave. Quite a nice little group, reading and enjoying the library. Imogen did come and tell me "those 2 boys are throwing their coats at each other ... silly boys".

A few books to take home and a walk through the woods to ride the mossy concrete horse and climb a tree, and then homeward bound for lunch.

mossy horse to ridetree to climb - long way up there

We are hoping to have a busy time in the garden and maybe some time at the allotment this weekend. For now we are enjoying the lovely sunshine, the warmer air, more time outdoors and washing on the line all week. Lovely.

Drawing, Crayons and a lovely Gardenmama giveaway

Our little girl is always drawing, she always has done. Admittedly we have always let her have access to drawing materials so she was scribbling as soon as she could hold a crayon. Her drawings have really developed over time. She has a few books on how to draw animals or insects, etc - would probably be deemed a little old for her to follow but she has a go and really has fun trying. She loves to copy pictures from books she's reading too, this picture is from the book "Fox on a box", this picture is of the trees and the bunting around the forest, fox and other animals and the box is the prize.

Fox on a box

After a recent day watching Madagascar (the film) she wanted some pictures to colour in so I printed a few colouring pages off the internet. As well as colouring them in she traced the lines of one picture from the other side and it was perfect - I hadn't realised what she'd done and didn't realise she knew about "tracing". She also copied all of the pictures into her drawing pad and I just love this one of Melman the Giraffe - complete with boxes on his feet as in the film.

Melman the Giraffe

On the subject of drawing, there is another lovely giveaway on Gardenmama's blog. Something a little girl in this house would love as she is always drawing and regularly asking "where are my crayons?". With an apron like this which is such a fantastic idea, she wouldn't lose them again. The apron could also double up as a crayon roll when not being worn. Genius.

Gardenmama blog

Oh and here's a potato craft she did recently at a fabulous library storytelling - she decided she would make a chicken with lots of feathers and a yellow beak and his name would be Licken. This is Licken the chicken, not to be confused with the story Chicken Licken - it isn't that chicken!

Licken, the chicken

However, here is a picture she drew of Chicken Licken and wrote his name.

Chicken Licken