Category Archives: Craft

First of the Christmas bakes; Chocolate peppermint snowballs

Chocolate peppermint crackle biscuits

With Christmas approaching, smashing a bunch of super strong mints into a dust to make peppermint ‘snow’ seemed like a pretty festive thing to do. Crushing an entire packet on mints in a pestle and mortar will see off any winter gloom you may have too; you end up enveloped in a cloud of mint that fairly whistles down into your lungs.

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Continue reading First of the Christmas bakes; Chocolate peppermint snowballs

Make a mid-century style chair from a conker, dress pins and yarn

Walking through the park the other day I saw my first conkers of the year…

I love them; how they feel so smooth and shiny in your hand…

I have fond memories of my granny teaching me to make ‘fairy’ furniture from the fallen conkers in her back garden…

See below for how to make one using a conker, dress pins and some yarn!

Continue reading Make a mid-century style chair from a conker, dress pins and yarn

Artists, crafters and makers talk business

Makerhood held a free event called a ‘local makers forum‘ in Brixon’s Living Bar the other day.

Makerhood is an initiative to promote local making, creativity and skills – and build connections between local makers, the community and local businesses


Billed as an evening to ‘discuss opportunities, learn from market experts and meet other makers and local businesses’. I was there to illustrate the points made as the panel discussed various aspects of making, including the tricky business of promoting, selling and networking…

Continue reading Artists, crafters and makers talk business

Knitting toe-up socks two at once

Tern, originally uploaded by Goldtop.

Got up crazy early last Saturday to take a class at KnitNation. It was with Chrissy Gardiner and it was my last go at learning to knit socks; if this didn’t get me on the road, nothing would!

Fortunately Chrissy is a great teacher – and gets extra points for being a great teacher, even whilst being jet-lagged – and so we learnt Judy’s Magic Cast On, how to knit two socks at once on a single cable needle, to do a short row heel and a super stretchy cast off.

I was all inspired about knitting again and saw in the latest issue of Twist Collective this fabulous – free! – pattern by Pam Allen, Tern. It looks great, is interesting enough to keep your attention, but not too complex that you end up with a scrunched up face trying to concentrate – all win.

Wood Resin Buttons from Loop

Wood Resin Buttons – dark side, originally uploaded by Goldtop.

Went to the opening of loop’s new location in Camden Passage yesterday. It’s a fabulous place for it, with 3 floors of space with tons of natural light. Sounds like they’d had a busy morning too; with over 150 people queueing as they opened the doors!

I’d been after these buttons since the second Juju sent over the photos!. Even if I had nothing to sew them to, they are so pretty to look at and satisfyingly tactile to hold in your hand in their own right, I could imagine myself just having them in my pocket to play with…

In any case they have been bought to go on the February lady Cardi. What I didn’t realise was that on one side is dark wood, the other is light so you can flip them over and use them whichever way looks better. Susan said they reminded her of American artist Rex Ray, but I reckon they also have a touch of the – swoons – Charlie Harper about them :)

Twist Collective & Knit Nation

How come Twist Collective has so many great patterns each issue?? I already want to cast on two sweaters (Ormolu for me, Tanit’s Jacket for my mum… if anyone with nothing better to do, needed to knit me Sabbatical or Kirigami, I’d be a grateful recipient!*) and I’ve only just skimmed through the Winter issue…

I’m also giving myself (another) last chance at learning how to knit two socks at once; have just signed up for Chrissy’s class at KnitNation in July…  I really want to knit socks, I just can’t bear the thought of doing one at a time – I even get second sleeve syndrome!

*just trying my luck…

If you go down to the woods today…

You’ll be in for a big surprise…Treehouses! in Regent’s Park! With loads of artsy / crafty / bonkers stuff going on… for OO.OOp! Have booked myself in to do some woodcut-ing and monoprinting…yay!

The TreeHouse Gallery has set up camp  – some in actual trees! – by the boating lake, and is running workshops, talks and activities all summer… It may actually be aimed at children, but I don’t care :).

Go check it out; it’s there until 6th September, when there’s ‘A rambunktious cornucopia of song, dance, games, tree climbing, feasting, sloshing and swilling to celebrate the culmination of 8 weeks of TreeHouse dwelling and activity in Regent’s Park’

Knit a dinosaur; have it star in a film on the Southbank!

From The Londonist:
Matthew Robins makes animated stories and will be presenting his ‘Shadow Operas’ featuring Flyboy.
New episodes from the series will be shown on Fridays, performed in front of and projected onto the National Theatre Flytower, followed by a double-bill of Robins’ work on Saturdays. For the double-bill on Saturday 15 August, he needs knitted dinosaurs for a new show scheduled for that night – because the show is about dinosaurs and knitting.
More information about the shows; PDF of Mathew Robins’ reques for Dinos.

As seen in the Londonist:

Matthew Robins makes animated stories and will be presenting his ‘Shadow Operas’ featuring Flyboy.
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
New episodes from the series will be shown on Fridays, performed in front of and projected onto the National Theatre Flytower, followed by a double-bill of Robins’ work on Saturdays.

For the double-bill on Saturday 15 August, he needs knitted dinosaurs for a new show scheduled for that night – because the show is about dinosaurs and knitting.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

More information about the shows;  Mathew Robins’ request for Dinos (you might even win a prize!).

Magnolia finished; but trouble with ‘keeping rib correct’


Finished, but I cocked up the ribbed collar.

Think it must be my misunderstanding the instructions, as no-one else seems to had the same problem from what I can see.

What do other people understand by ‘keeping rib correct’?

My increases came in the middle of a knit bit of rib, so I made the increased stitch a knit stitch too ie; pp k(k increase)k pp…

Anyhow, not so fussed that I’d re-knit it, and love the jumper anyhow; v soft and perfect size – all slouchy and cuddly :)

Catherine André in The Knitter magazine


I don’t even know if she does knitting patterns, but… On pg 20 of this issue there are some gorgeous knit pieces by Catherine André… They were just part of the the Martin Storey ‘mood board’ thing about fairisle, and I think
I was supposed to be paying more attention to The Knitter patterns as
part of it, but I got so distracted by Catherine’s colours and patterns

Does anyone know anything / heard about her? I'd like to wear virtually every single item on the page in the above link! I wonder if she just designs knitwear, or if you she does patterns too [crosses fingers]

Bake leftover clementines!

If you have a surplus of over-enthusiastically bought clementines that aren’t quite as juicy as they once were, here’s an idea for a zesty, caramelised treat;

  • Light the oven and set to gas mark 5
  • Top and tail the clementines. Place top and tail slices into a pan with some sugar, cinnamon and water. Boil.
  • Meanwhile cut the top and tailed clems into 5mm slices and lay out onto a baking sheet.
  • Sprinkle a bit of sugar all over the clems and blob some butter around and about on the top too.
  • After about 10 mins of boiling, drain the cooked peel, sugar and cinnamon mixture and pour the liquid over the butter and sugared clems on your baking sheet
  • Whack in the oven until they are looking a golden brown; even a bit crispy.
  • Use as they are to nibble on, make a dessert with (chop up and add to plain yogurt), add to muesli or whizz up roughly for some quick marmalade!

Paperchain Party – Combining house decoration and Christmas Cards in one!


The annual Southwyck Christmas party went well yesterday; caught up with a lot of friends I haven’t seen in a while, ate and drank in a festive fashion, and even had an unprompted singalong!.

This year’s theme was to make a paperchain to be strung in the living room; each person contributing a link decorated and made however they wanted out of whatever they wanted. If people couldn’t be there yesterday, the link acted as Christmas card and they sent them along in the post. There were some fabulous ones made including the prerequisite one with cotton-ball snow, a sewn fabric one containing dried lavender, a möbius loop one from a scientific uncle (heh) and lovely crocheted link with a dangly snowball pompom! This one I confiscated from the chain and wore..

A very homemade Christmas; Mints, Fudge & Scrub

Peppermint / Rose sweets

So this years gifts have been mostly handmade, including;

  • Peppermint & Rose kind-of-creams*
  • Frankincense / Clementine bath salts** (a bit fail, as most people have showers I found…)
  • Fudge*** – supremo hit (if I may say so myself!) as it worked first time, is v tasty and easy to adapt. A tiny bit of fail was cutting it into star shapes for gifts, which meant that were lots of trimmings of peculiar sizes that – oh dear – had to stay here to be eaten by us!

* recipe hastily scribbled down from a cafe’s copy of Fresh magazine.
** Martha – Body Scrub; adapted scents and changed it from a scrub to salts using Dead Sea Salt.
*** Martha again – Foolproof Holiday Fudge; adapted to use veggie marshmallows (US import, try Sweet & Sara or Sweet Vegan in the UK) and G&B’s Maya Gold choc; seriously tempted to try another batch using their white chocolate. I’m guessing both these projects will be available on her site after the next issue is published?

ETA: Tried another batch of fudge using white chocolate and it failed miserably; it just stayed melty-marhmallowy and didn’t set.

Favourite jumper shrunk? repurpose its sleeves!


Loved, loved this Noa Noa jumper given to me by a far away flatmate. It was constructed by two jumpers, one inside the other. Made of quite fine, but toasty warm mohair.


Mohair felts, however gently you (hand) wash it, and eventually the two layers pretty much became one; plus it shrank quite a bit. I thought I could re-use the sleeves as handwarmers, just blanket stitching the cuffs over and a titchy couple of running stitches to separate fingers from thumb.

Took all of about 15 mins, and I get to keep (a remnant!) of the fab yarn, construction and colours

The joy of knitting top-down!


After some initial colour doubts that meant it languished for almost a yeear and half (!) at collar stage, this jumper was a breeze to knit; so much quicker and more satisfying trying on as you go – and no seaming!.

I have a feeling that I may never need to buy another jumper pattern; just do this in different colours with varying length sleeves! It was also my fist jumper with bust / waist shaping so it’s pretty snug!

This photo is the jumper hot off the needles. after a day’s wear – I’ll let you know if the shape changes after its first wash :)

Stirring Jam – Craft Club Jam 2008


So this year we found pick-you-own heaven in the form of Garsons… At the last minute we discovered our intended PYO was closed due to *no strawberries at all* and so Garsons was picked at random… oh happy day :)

Between us we picked not only the raspberries and strawberries that went into the jam, but also beetroot, mange tout, asparagus, spinach, cauliflower and gooseberries.

The farm is set in 100 acres by the river Mole and there is even a picnic field, horses, and ice cream van, scarecrows, garden centre and farm shop… we will be back for plums, apples and pumpkins in the autumn!

Recycled cardi hottie

photo from flickr

Finally got around to recycling a fave cardi (has beautiful glitterly bits in it – never found yarn like it…). It had felted a little too much, moths had got at it, and the arms had gone too long. And yet I couldn’t sling it. The British summer was forgotten this weekend, so whilst it was raining outside, I was sewing inside :)

Easy Brioche Stitch!

photo from flickr

I’d been tempted to try this waffley, tweedish stitch for a while but could never make sense of the way the pattern was written.
Example patterns include exhaustive, but v. complicated abbreviations, and overly descriptive ones from an ancient ‘mon tricot’ (although this is let off, as it has an extremely helpful picture of double stitch / knit 1 below / K1B, and *900* stitches to peruse!).
Yesterday however, I found a Finnish website explaining how an Italian pattern made sense of it all, in a much easier fashion.. hooray for international knitting blogs! :)

Red Wagon & Lime

photo from flickr

Previously I couldn’t get this yarn to knit up without pooling in horrible puddles… Garter stitch however, has solved it and I now have a project to use the remaining ball after the 1 sock incident*…. :)

Have been tagged by Sareth to do the 7 facts about you meme… Never been tagged before, so here goes!

The rules are:
1. Link to your tagger and post these rules on your blog.
2. Share 7 facts about yourself on your blog, some random, some weird.
3. Tag 7 people at the end of your post by leaving their names as well as links to their blogs.
4. Let them know they are tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.

  • I’m an Actionette
  • I love knitting but worry that it takes away drawing time
  • I’m an only child – there you go Sareth! :)
  • I have dreams that go back to, sometimes years later, and can travel from one to another whilst dreaming.
  • I’m a terrible procrastinator for no particular reason.
  • I *need* 9 hours sleep a night and prefer mornings to evenings. M can go on about 5 hours only and is a night owl… go figure
  • I’ve recently tried out Morris Dancing (!!). It’s great fun :)

The 7 people I’m tagging are: Acechick, Flibbertygibbet, tutti fruiti, Annarella, Xtreme-Knitting, Picperfics and Orata

Right Bun, Wrong Day

photo from flickr

Happy Easter! I am a bit of a heathen so these Hot Cross Buns were baked today – oops… Anyhow, I’m super pleased with them; they are light as a feather and nice and spicy – I link above to the recipe I used, with the only alteration being I used honey to sweeten them as had run out of sugar… They take a while to do as you let them rise *3* times, but if you’re pootling about at home anyway it doesn’t make much difference. The lemon zest makes them good and fruity too… yum!