A little more apple cookery today- only one product, but after finely chopping 1.5kg of apples can you blame me?! The product in question is Apple, Cinnamon and Raisin Compote from The Women’s Institute Book of Preserves and although it doesn’t look terribly tempting, it tastes yummy. Yesterday’s Blackberry and Apple jam set fine, by the way.
Little bit more work done on the ‘High Tea’ collection of teacosies for my Folksy shop- finished one and begun another, but I’m going to keep them more or less under wraps for now. I also took a deep breath today and braved putting one of my teacosy designs up as a free download on Ravelry. The Union Jack cosy was one of the first ones I did for the Folksy shop and was the first one I sold- it led to a couple more on commission and I got very sick of intarsia as a result! It’s scary to think that other people will be trying to follow the instructions I wrote, even though its a pretty simple pattern. Last time I looked it had been added as a favourite by quite a few people, with a few also downloading it or adding it to their queue- eep! If you’re interested, you can find it here.
We asked if we might have a few apples the next time grandparents were visiting from the farm…we got a sackload! Apple processing has therefore been on my to-do list for at least a week and today I got around to some, at least. Blackberry and Apple jam gave me my perennial problem of not seeming to achieve a set (I wonder whether I ought to just shell out on a jam thermometer and do it that way, rather than the cold plate test) but looks yummy and I think it will be an okay consistency in the end. I also par-cooked some apples for future pies/crumbles etc to put in our new spare freezer- this was a bonus find, left behind in the utility room by the previous owner of our house. Why ‘Apple Day 1′? Because we still have a half a sackload left, so apple processing remains on the to-do list for another occasion!
>Moving house is costly, in both time and money, so we’ve been trying to preserve both recently. Most of our belongings seemed to survive the move unscathed, thank goodness, but somehow a box containing the jam P and I made recently travelled here upside-down. As they only had wax discs and cellophane discs on them, I was worried that this upending could cause them to go mouldy. I’m no preserves expert but I decided to invest in some screw-on jam jar lids from Lakeland. Hopefully this means we’ll be kept in jam for a few months yet.
Meanwhile, with work on my Manu cardigan halted due to running out of yarn, I was itching to get knitting again, but not eager to spend on yarn. Then, while sorting through clothes ready to pack for the move, I came across a couple of knits that have never quite worked on me. One, made in a gorgeous orange/red shade of Rowan Big Wool, was a lovely cabled cardigan. I loved it in theory, but in practise it never hung right, was too bulky to wear under a coat and didn’t do me any favours. So, while we were taking refuge with my folks I frogged it. Big Wool tends to pill quite easily I’ve found, but in this case it seemed to have formed big, felty tufts which were easy enough to pluck off as I went, leaving me with pretty clean yarn. I confess, I didn’t wash it and hang it in skeins as I should have done- slapped wrist!
Then I dithered over a pattern, but finally decided on ‘Emma’ from Rowan’s Big Just Got Bigger. I doubt it will go under a coat but I’m planning for it to be an extra layer to wear indoors when it gets chilly. Now, whenever I have a ‘quiet’ moment, which aren’t easy to come by at the moment, I’m working away.
On 10mm and 12mm needles, it grows pretty quickly, it has to be said. I’ve completed the back and I’m already halfway up the front. However, progress has been interrupted today with exciting new developments on the Manu front- more on that soon.
The day began wet and dismal yet again, we didn’t have use of the car, P still has a cold and to top it off it was Wednesday. Should have been a recipe for disaster but actually, just as the afternoon brought some sunshine, so the day turned out better than it promised. Inspiration struck on a trip out to the greengrocers for grapes when we saw punnets of English strawberries on sale. Yes, we wanted- still want- to go to a PYO but realistically it’s not going to happen at the moment. I reasoned that it was feasible for a two year old to cut up strawberries with a dinner knife and therefore take part in at least some of the jam-making process. He duly proved me right for at least ten minutes before realising that eating the ingredients was even more fun than preparing them.
As ever, I enjoyed the alchemy of the jam-making, but I must admit that it didn’t set very well. Apparently this is often a problem with strawberries, particularly when they are ripe. I did add lemon juice, which is meant to help with the lack of pectin, but to little effect. Still, jam is for spreading, isn’t it?
Note the label on the jar of Rhubarb and Ginger jam we were given today. How did my sister know it had 55 airmiles on it? Because she actually flew those 55 miles across the county to give it to us. Okay, not just to give us jam, but because her other half has learned to fly small planes as a hobby. And he’s already a train driver- what a ‘Boys Own’ dream eh? I think a certain little man who seems intent on fulfilling the cliche that boys love all types of transport will be a bit of a fan when he’s older!
Speaking of that little man, I am revelling in being a proud mummy today. We knew he was very dextrous, but given that he loves to be on the move all the time, it can be surprising how he can be still, concentrate and persevere. At a bit of a loss this afternoon, after our trip to the airfield, I grabbed these beads, sat with him on the sofa and showed him how to thread them. He watched, he attempted to copy but kept pulling the cord back out, tried a few more times and boom! after about ten minutes he had it! Lots of cheers and kisses followed, and soon he was threading up bead after bead, demanding a kiss for each one. Even when he struggled, he kept trying, working out which hand was best to use, adjusting his grip on the cord or the bead. Sorry to gush- I’ve no idea whether this is impressive or not for his age, but I’m very proud all the same!
Okay, this is turning into a very trying day, with everything from nearly lost expensive shoes to no-show Fed-Ex guys. When it comes to writing here, I can’t show what I’m knitting because it’s all presents for birthdays yet to come and various other factors have conspired to keep us away from the Great Outdoors these last few days.
It was all getting a bit ‘aargh!’ so I decided, inspired by this lovely blog entry by Soule Mama amongst other things to make like Maria and think of a few of my favourite things. So in no particular order:
Babies still love to play in boxes
Having wanted a pincushion for ages, mum has now given me this very old one which belonged to my grandmother. I think it was once a velvet tomato. Now it is very soft and saggy but rather lovely, don’t you think?
My Jam store. The eagle-eyed among you will notice that the Apple and Date Chutney will be ready to eat in a week or two.
My recipe file. It’s getting scruffy but it’s full of treasures that may one day be the Holy Eye cookbook. We wouldn’t eat as well without it.
All I need now is a mountain to prance about on and all will be well.