Sunday, 31 October 2010

I love Halloween

It's the time of year the air cools and stays chilly, the leaves change and fall, giving me plenty of opportunities to kick and crunch through them like a child while my partner Sam pretends he doesn't know me. Pomegranates are in season and provide a whole evening's entertainment trying to extract the juicy sticky seeds in front of the tv. Pumpkins are everywhere, but most important of all it's Halloween season! I've always loved Halloween, it's my favourite holiday, much more exciting than xmas. I was due to be born on Halloween but ended up 5 days late, so I almost had the chance to have creepy parties every year.

For Wiccans October 31st is Samhain. It's a pagan equivalent of new year, celebrating the end of the harvest season and the start of the dark time of the year. This is the night when the divide between the living and the dead is thinnest. It's a time to remember loved ones who've passed on, and some people may set an extra place at the dining table or leave food out for the dead. It's also a time to look into the future with divination tools like scrying, tarot or runes. 

How are you celebrating this year?

The Halloween collage above was created using images from Flickr:

Friday, 29 October 2010

First finished crochet

This post is part of Tami's Finished Object Friday blog party. Thanks for hosting Tami!

I've finally mastered crochet enough to create things! I've finished the two baby blankets bar the final blocking and wash:

I've also made some purple wrist warmers/fingerless gloves for myself using this pattern from Ravelry. You may need to register there to view the pattern, I'm not sure. This is my first real crochet made from an actual pattern. I didn't follow it exactly. I added and subtracted a few stitches here and there so they fit my hands exactly and no one can steal them. Mwah ha ha ha.... 

This is the kind of dodgy photography you get when you have to switch on the timer and run across the room to wave your arms in front of the lens. I think I'll let someone else take the pic next time I make something involving both arms...

I'm now wondering what to make next. I'm considering the lion brand yarn best bunny, a peace sign granny square throw, or an ugly bunny pin cushion....

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

WIP Wednesday already?

Wednesday again? Already? Ok, well since last week I've  been plodding along making the granny squares for my blankets. I've got one almost done, it's all sewn together now. I'm thinking of putting an edging on it to make it look tidier, and then I'll attempt to block it.

The second blanket still requires one last green square, and most importantly of all your kindness in not mentioning that one green and one white square are larger than the others. 

Be gentle please, it was a gauge issue that I sorted by dropping down a hook size, but I don't have enough yarn to do extra squares and I can't face frogging it and re-doing them. I'm hoping since there are exactly the same number of stitches that it won't be too noticeable once it's all sewn up and edged. My baby nieces won't notice anyway.

Thanks again to Tami for hosting the WIP Wednesday posts.

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

WIP Wednesday

Here's a Work-In-Progress Wednesday post inspired by Tami's weekly party. I have three WIPs to share this week:

I've become quite addicted to something over the past week or so. Crochet! Remember my first attempt way back at the start of this blog? Well I hadn't done any since then and I suddenly had the urge to try it again. Luckily this time I was spotted by a helpful auntie who has showed me how to hold the hook and yarn properly and taught me the dreaded granny square! I can't stop making them! 

I've done 6 so far since Friday and have started on a 7th. I've come up with a vague plan of sewing them together to make baby blankets for my nieces who are due any time now. I'm not sure whether I'm just trying to use this plan as a cover for my crazy granny square obsession. 

Remember my wall hanging WIP? Well I'm still working on it. Hand sewing it is taking soooo long, and I admit to abandoning it for days at a time, but it will be done before xmas! 
I need to sew eyes on the tortoise (top left) and eyes/nose/tongue on the dog (bottom right) and then back it and it will be finished. Everyone's favourite square so far seems to be the fish:

After that the plan is to dig the sewing machine out and figure out how it works (with the aid of aforementioned helpful aunt) and get cracking on two more wall hangings for my nieces!

Not so much a crafty one but still a WIP. My laptop is showing it's age now and the windows operating system it came with was never great, so it's all gone terribly slow and frustrating. I'm trialling a Linux operating system on it at the moment (from inside windows so nothing has really changed permanently yet). I've chosen Linux Mint as it seems the most user friendly. It's going well so far, it's working with my ipod and my camera, there's just the printer left to test now. If it all goes well I'll wipe the laptop and do a proper install.

Now, back to the crochet...

Sunday, 3 October 2010




How many of you have heard of NaNoWriMo?  It stands for National Novel Writing Month and was a crazy idea dreamed up by a group of friends in America in 1999. The main idea is to write a novel of at least 50,000 words over the 30 days of November. Here's NaNo in a nutshell (taken from the website):

"NaNo in a Nutshell

What: Writing one 50,000-word novel from scratch in a month's time.
Who: You! We can't do this unless we have some other people trying it as well. Let's write laughably awful yet lengthy prose together.
Why: The reasons are endless! To actively participate in one of our era's most enchanting art forms! To write without having to obsess over quality. To be able to make obscure references to passages from our novels at parties. To be able to mock real novelists who dawdle on and on, taking far longer than 30 days to produce their work.
When: You can sign up anytime to add your name to the roster and browse the forums. Writing begins November 1. To be added to the official list of winners, you must reach the 50,000-word mark by November 30 at midnight. Once your novel has been verified by our web-based team of robotic word counters, the partying begins.
Where: You write wherever you’d like. On your computer, on your iPad, on a typewriter---anywhere is fine, just as long as you’re writing! For a more in-depth NaNoWriMo overview, visit the devilishly handsome "What is NaNoWriMo?"and "How NaNoWriMo Works" pages."

The website and forum have just finished their annual reset. From now to the kick-off on 1st November the forum will be getting busier and more excited. Each year the number of people joining in increases massively, and a few of the participants have gone on to get their NaNos published as real books. I've hung around in their forums for the past 2 NaNos but not actually written anything. I may actually start something this year! 

How about you? Throw me a comment below if you'll be NaNoing this year. I am giving you almost a months notice ;)

Friday, 1 October 2010

Rosehip Syrup

I've finally made some rosehip syrup from the hips I gathered on my first foraging attempt. They weren't quite ripe enough so I had them in the freezer for a while and then thawed them out in the fridge before starting the syrup recipe. I didn't write down exactly what I was doing at the time but I'll give you a rough guide.

First I roughly chopped 250g of hips (you could possibly chuck them in a blender, or through a juicer to do it more quickly). Then I added them to a pan with 500ml of boiling water and let it simmer for 20 minutes. I strained this mixture through muslin, kept the rosehip water to one side, and put the solids from the muslin back in the pan with another 200ml of boiling water. I simmered this for another 20 minutes then strained it again into the first bowl of hip water.

I added 50g of sugar to the rose hip water and brought it up to the boil for 15 minutes. The only suitable bottles I could find were some empty Jack Daniels miniatures, so I boiled these in a pan of water to sterilise them. I poured the syrup straight into the hot bottles. Apparently they should keep unopened for quite a while. Each bottle should be good for a week once it's open. 

This was just a trial run. You'd need to scale the recipe up to get a good amount if you wanted it to last all year.

Meanwhile the turbo cider has been bottled. I'm not sure if I left it too long in the demijohn to get fizzy cider, I've bottled it with a teaspoon of sugar each to see what happens. It's not quite drinkable yet but it smells like cider.