Monthly Archives: April 2010

Flower Pot Pincushions

I’ve started another sewing project. Truth be told, I probably could have finished it this afternoon, but I was at that eager rushing point where I could easily begin to make mistakes so I decided to back off. Instead, I made myself a few pincushions. (The one I’ve been using is old and beginning to fall apart.) So here are my Flower Pot Pincushions.

This is how you can make your own:

1. Cut a circle of fabric a fair bit larger than the circumference of your pot.

2. Using a thread and needle, stitch a running stitch around the perimeter of the circle. You’ll notice that if you pull it tight it bunches, like a little sack of money. Leave it loose enough that you can stuff it with some stuffing, and then tighten and secure with a knot. This part doesn’t need to look pretty.

3. Use a glue gun to put glue around the inside edge of the pot. Quickly sit the cushion on/in the pot.

Ta-Da!

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Forsythia: Anticipation in the Garden

Yesterday I took the plunge and decided to plant my little leeks out in the allotment. Spring does seem to have come early this year, and while I’m wary that we may still get some cold nights I figure if I just keep an eye on things I can cover them up if need be. (you may remember I had planned to build a cold frame, but that hasn’t happened and it may not even be necessary)  So I packed the leek seedlings into my bike basket and road carefully over to the allotment. It is not a very interesting picture, but here they are in their new home.

I also planted a few rows of Swiss Chard. And while I had the camera out I took as snap of the cheerful Forsythia, the meaning of which, I have just learned, is anticipation. Some of the first bright flowers in spring, looking very  cheery and hopeful. And that’s pretty much how I feel as I anticipate the growing season!

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Homemade Pasta

On Saturday I pulled out the hand-cranked pasta machine and made some pasta. This was not my first attempt, but I think it was the most successful. Though the homemade pasta was always delicious in the end, I have had varying degrees of success with the rolling and cutting process, and at times it was rather labour intensive, which stopped me from doing it very often. But Saturday’s pasta worked quite well and things seemed to work the way they were meant to work.

I attribute some of the success to the fact that I used semolina flour to make the dough. The whole process of putting it through the various rollers seemed much smoother. I set up the drying rack in the kitchen and carefully hung my finished pasta there to dry. I did find, however, that it was a little tricky to remove the pasta from the rack without having them break, so the drying step needs some work. I’m curious to see if I can dry the pasta in little nests without having all the pieces stick together.

Here is the recipe I used:

Semolina Pasta

2 cups semolina flour

1 1/2 cups unbleached white flour

1 cup water

Mix all the ingredients together in a food processor or by hand. If it is too dry add a little more water. (I added a fair bit more water, but the stone-ground white flour I used always seems to use more water) Knead the dough on the countertop for 2 minutes, or until it is smooth. Let it rest in a covered bowl for 5 minutes. At this point you use the machine to roll out the pasta, but if you don’t have a machine you can see how to cut pasta by hand here. I read that pasta is best left to dry for at least an hour before cooking. Cooking time is very short, but of course depends on the thickness and shape.

We had a delicious meal of fresh pasta and I’ve now got a box full of hand-made dry pasta for later this week. I’m hoping pasta can be yet another thing, like bread and yogurt, that I can stop buying and make myself!

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Spring Snack Bag

Much excited by my last sewing project, I sought out something else to do. I had leafed through Linen, Wool, Cotton in a book store and admired the style of projects but told myself I needed to do more sewing before I could justify buying another book. Fortunately I found a free PDF of one of the patterns. So I made a little Spring Snack Bag. “Spring” because of the flowery patters. I’m not totally in love with them, but that was the fabric I had on hand. And “snack” because, though it is meant to be a lunch bag, I plan to use it more for packing a snack to throw in my bag, basket or purse.

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I Made a Dress!

I made a dress! Ok, so it isn’t perfect, but I cut it, and tweaked it, and sewed it all by myself! And while I won’t be wearing it to a fancy tea-party, I think I may just be able to wear it around the house.

The pattern is from Heather Ross’s Weekend Sewing. I found it relatively straight forward and the directions were easy to understand. I’m especially fond of the pockets. This dress is made of some fabric my mother gave me, and as I had not quite enough the facing on the bodice and straps and the pockets are made out of cloth repurposed from a pillow case in a contrasting pattern. I may still make a little belt out of the contrasting fabric. My one cause of trouble with the dress was realizing, part way through, that I shouldn’t have just made the smallest size and assumed it would work for me. I am pretty small around the chest, and shoulders, and I knew, once I stopped to think about it, that I should have done something about that. (well….something about the pattern!) So I set about cutting off an inch or two here and there on the different pieces. This worked ok but needless to say, caused a little chain issues to be fixed, and in the end it is still pretty spacious! But, for my first dress it is not hideous. I may be looking at it through the tinted glasses of pride but please don’t tell me! Anyway, it sewed up pretty quickly and I think, with some more careful alterations pre cutting out, that this could be a pattern I’ll try again.

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100% Whole Wheat Bread

What with one thing and another I fell out of my bread making rhythm sometime during the past few weeks. This morning I set out to correct this but then realized I probably needed to wash my bread bowl. Now, this may startle you, but I have not washed my bread bowl since January! This is not, I hasten to add, neglect: the idea is that once you finish with one batch, you leave a little dough behind and mix your new batch right in the bowl. It’s a lazy way of adding a little sour-dough flavour to the loaf, and it works perfectly. The bowl of dough lives in the fridge and I use and replenish regularly, so all was fine. But after a few weeks of no baking I thought I should probably start with a clean bowl. The perfect time to try a new loaf from Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day. Where bread making is concerned, I love the idea of habit and rhythm and I’m likely to always make the same kind of bread unless an occasion just such as this comes along! I’m making a %100 whole wheat loaf. I’m generally drawn to bread with few ingredients (water, yeast, salt and flour) but though this requires some milk, honey and oil, I do like the idea of a good whole wheat loaf. It’s rising as a type, so we shall see how it turns out!

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Discovering Spoonflower

I don’t have anything hand-made to share with you today, but thought I’d share something I am quite excited about. And that thing is SPOONFLOWER!

This seems fantastic! You can design your own repeat patterns or illustrations or designs and have them printed on to a variety of cloth and mailed to you. Oh, the possibilities! I don’t have the equipment/space to get back into screen printing, so I love the idea of being able to send of my designs and have them printed.  I’ve also got an idea to print a pattern/illustration for a stuffed toy directly on cloth, so that all that needs doing is to cut out and sew. This may be premature, but I’m imagining making up little kits….

Now of course, the nature of the website requires a good design relationship between the computer and myself – something I’m going to have to work on a bit I think. Still, it is all inspiring and I’m excited to get going!

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