Christmas cooking and some bread

I thought since I had gone to the trouble of taking the photographs, I would show you my Christmas cooking for this year.

I made my normal twelve mince pies for the freezer. mince piesAnd as there was pastry and mincemeat over I made a mincemeat tart to be cooked and eaten straight away. mince tartI also made a Stollen, just one of a moderate size this year, but as I was feeling ill by the time I cooked it, I took it out of the oven and left it on the side without brushing it with melted butted and sprinkling it with icing sugar.

I left that for my son to do later. He sent me a photograph in hospital and said “I might have used too much sugar, blame bbc good food.” Stollen

However it was declared to be “Yummy” when he got round to eating some, so I was relieved as I wasn’t sure if it would be okay, having struggled with making it.

And today I made some bread.

Recently on “The Chase” there was a question about the “Chorleywood Process”. Being interested since it is a station on the way to Aylesbury, where my daughter lives, if you come from London. I looked up the details and found a description of the change in the breadmaking process that started in 1961 and is now the method used for most commercially prepared bread. I decided that accounted for the fact that I really find it hard to stomach shop bread.

Hence I decided not to buy some bread but make a loaf of wholemeal ‘Artisan’ bread, as I had before, though this time I just left the shaped loaf for thirty minutes while the pot heated up and it came out fine.  bread

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Happy Christmas

Wishing you all the blessings of Christmas. 0540-christmas-blessingsAnd an especial thank you for all your comments and interest over this past year.

Happy Christmas to all my readers!

This is just to wish you all

Happy ChristmasCrib

Unfortunately I can’t send you all a piece but these are the Stollen I made this year. I was quite pleased that they didn’t split open showing the marzipan!
Stollen

My son who has tried a piece says it is even better than last year!

The only other Christmas baking I have done this year is to make some well-filled mince pies Well-filled mince pieswhich is how my son likes them.

And here they are finished, all ready for freezing. Mince pies ready to freezeI had just enough mincemeat left to make a little mince pasty for me. Mince pasty for meJust to check, you know!

Origami angel cards

Finished card

You would think with my lack of dexterity that I would steer clear of Origami but in spite of the problems I have folding the paper accurately, I just love it.

When my first child was born I made her a mobile out of origami which had a green frog, a purple fish and two different birds in yellow and red. The frog is one of my favourites.

Here is one I made when I was trying to get my granddaughter interested.Origami including frog

I realise that it is quite a long time since I have done any origami as I tend to make things when I see a need for them. Well now I saw a need for some angels for my Christmas cards that could be made in less time than the crochet ones.

I have two lots of origami paper. This my original pack. Original origami paper And a fancier set I bought later. Newer origami paper This has three sizes of paper and the orange and red angels were made in the largest size to make it easier but I made the angels for the cards with the smallest size.

I went on the internet and found many angels including this site http://www.origami-resource-center.com/angel.html which had very many different ones. I decided to try the eighth on the list by M Bright. Which you can see here made in orange. Orange angel The instructions say to use half a square – a right- angled equilateral triangle sort of half – but I simply folded the paper in half for speed.

I also liked the angel I found here –http://www.lastufka.net/lab/misc/angel.htm I made this one in red with another large sheet and although it was too big I decided that was the one I would choose,Red angel both because it was easier to make and also because I prefered the way it looked.

These were both made late in the evening as quickly as I could.

And here are the finished angels that I made the next day. Four angels As you can see I did have difficulty with the head and I still haven’t got my head! round the right way to do it.

If you look at the link above you will also see that I chose to fold down the point at the top.

Here are the four cards completed.Four cardsI expect that you can see in the top photograph if not these that I forgot to remove the dot that told me where to make the hole for the other cards. I put this down to the sense of time pressure I am under but it would have seemed wasteful to reprint for so small a mistake.

Angel Christmas cards

I really feel that I could do with some way of lighting the items I want to photograph in a more even way and even if it is dull outside. However I have packed up all my Christmas cards now so this will have to do.

I shared with you the pattern for the angels I was making for my Christmas cards and now I will share with you the making of the final cards. Finished card Here is the final card and this is how I put them together.

First an aside. Several years ago I got a pair of folding scissors in a Christmas cracker and ever since then I had it on my key ring and it was very useful when I was out, especially when crocheting on the bus or Friday ‘Crafty Coffee’ mornings.

BUT then I lost my keys and thus the scissors!

Now for years I had wanted a Swiss Army knife but had never got around to it, partly because of the cost and partly because I could never decide which one I would buy. Now I decided that I would finally buy myself one with a scissors. The choice was really between the Climber and the Compact, as although I liked the idea of the magnifying glass on the Explorer it was a bit too chunky. In the end I bought the Climber because on Black Friday it was available locally at a good price and it is always good to see something before you buy it.

One of the things that the knife came with I wasn’t sure I would use but in fact it was the ideal tool to help with assembling my Christma cards.

And that was the ‘reamer’. Reamer I used it to make a hole and pull the loop at the end of the cord through the hole.

Here you can see an angel and a card, Angel on card the dot is to guide me as to where to make the hole.

And here is the reamer all ready to be used to pull the loop through the card. Pulling through cord Here is the inside when I had fixed the angel in place with a piece of cord securing the bottom of the robe to the loop. Inside of card These pictures were taken the other day when I was in a hurry to make a couple of cards to send abroad. On Sunday I finished the other twelve cards and here you can see all twelve angels. Twelve angels And the twelve finished cards. Twelve cardsOriginally I was intending to make more angels but pains in my wrists and lots of problems to sort out meant that I only made seventeen (including the three for the Giveaway). So for a few people that I wanted to give home-made cards to I have folded some origami angels to go on the same cards. I will share these with you next week when I have made the cards and taken some photographs.

 

 

December Montage

The makes for this month seem to be all about Christmas though I did also write a post about how I thought some photographs were better in black and white and some in colour.

I showed you my home made Christmas cards for this year and included a tutorial so you could make some yourselves, as the design would also be useful for Valentine’s day.

I shared the snowflake bookmark I had made for a bookmark swop and the one I had received in return.

I explained how sometimes life got in the way so some tasks, like decorating the Christmas tree, could be acomplished at the expense of others, like a planned Christmas decoration.

Finally I revealed some Christmas Coasters I had made as a present, with a few details of how I made them.

Tomorrow I will be publishing another montage post on all the knitting and crochet I have completed in 2014.

December montage

Christmas Coasters

I hope you all had a Happy Christmas and are now looking forward to the New Year.

So while we wait here is something I couldn’t show you before.

These I days I give my children money for Christmas and birthdays with maybe a little something to open. Last year I made my daughters and their husbands crochet key rings. This year however I only made one Christmas present: a joint one for my eldest and her husband.

Some Christmas coasters.

Finished coasters

The gold shape in the centre was not part of the present I just put it there to add to the picture.

I took the patterns out of my 100 snowflake book.

Snowflake book

I started my making no. 100 in silver because it seemed a good size and shape for a coaster. I then made no. 98 in gold, didn’t like it very much because the holes were to big and made no. 97 instead. The snowflakes at the end of the book are larger than those at the beginning.

I chose no.97 because it looked as much like a star as a snowflake. So I saw the present as comprising six stars and six snowflakes.

Finished snowflakes

[Having experimented with stiffening this sort if thread with PVA glue and spray starch. I decided the glue made them just too stiff and used the starch.]

So now I had my coasters but I realised that as they were they were neither very heat proof or drip proof I had to do something to remedy this.

In the end my solution was to buy some felt and embroidery thread and make a hexagonal pad to attach them to.

Scraps from making hexagons

Here you can see the scraps that were left from two pieces of felt 9″ x 12″ in red and green plus the template I cut from an old birthday card.

I found some lovely shiny rayon embroidery thread in matching colours.

Red and green thread

I cut out two hexagons for each coaster, sewed the snowflake shape on one with invisible thread (Just to be sure it wouldn’t show) and then joined a second hexagon to the first with blanket stitch round the edge.

As you may have realised I am not very good at sewing but I was pleasantly surprised that the sewing wasn’t too bad.

Stitching on coaster

here is a closer view of the two designs.

A pair of coasters

My daughter was delighted with them.

 

“The best laid schemes o’ Mice an’ Men,

Gang aft agley,” as the poet said.

Yesterday afternoon about 3.30 as I was beginning to assemble the Christmas decoration I was intending to show you today and moaning to myself about the low light levels for taking photographs, my son arrived unexpectedly.

Of course I was glad to see him and we did lots of things including putting up the Christmas tree.

0316-tree

But he didn’t leave till 9pm at which point I decided the decoration would have to wait till another day, maybe even another year!

Here is a bit of a peak at some of the component parts.

0316-baubles

Yes! my table is a mess.

0316-snowflakes

And now I better go and have lunch and then do some housework.

Christmas cards + tutorial

3 cards

This year I have got organised enough to make my own Christmas cards.

I think it is a rather fun idea that would work as well for Valentine’s day so I have also produced a tutorial.

The day I took most of the photographs the light was awful but I decided not to retake them even though the light is much better today as I have the problem of needing to decide on a new TV so life is getting a bit stressful.

The message inside the card is

Card insideOf course the love I am thinking of is not romantic love or even family love but God’s love shown in the life of Jesus. So I have included a little picture of the Christ child in the manger.

And here is a tutorial on making the heart design

It is based on a mathematical way of creating the impression of a curve with straight lines but here aesthetic considerations have been uppermost not mathematical ones.

You could make your own template but I found some on http://www.donteatthepaste.com/2011/03/curve-stitching-templates.html.

I experimented and chose what I thought was the best number of holes for my purpose (48) and made an A4 template in Corel Draw.

TemplateThe grey dots come from the original template but I added the black dots because I thought they would help me not to make mistakes as I will explain.

I had bought some red card, as it seemed suitable for hearts.

Red card

I printed on the card then cut it in four pieces.

I had chosen to use white cotton. This is your normal sewing cotton.

The first thing you need to do is to make the holes in the card. I pushed a thicker ordinary sewing needle through the grey dots.

Template on card with and without holes
After on left, before on right.

Then threaded a finer needle with a length of sewing cotton.

I found that 60 ins (150 cm) was the right length for the first two parts and 36 ins (90cm) for the second two but you can choose a comfortable length and just start and finish as you need to if you prefer a shorter length. 60 ins does make quite a long piece.

I decided to start in the top hole. (obviously the side with the black dots is the back of the card). You need a good size knot so the cotton does not pull through the holes.

Starting the stitchingHere you can see I went in at the top where the arrow is, out at the bottom (hole 1), in again at hole 2, out hole 3, in at hole 4, and out at hole 5.

Here is how it looks on the right side. Can you see how we are progressing in a clockwise direction, using every hole at the top and every other hole on the lower half.

Stitching on the right sideThis is where the black dots come in. They help to check that you are using the correct hole for the lower ends.

I say upper and lower but actually we will progress round the circle. So keep going as above.

Half way (1st quarter)

Here you are halfway through the first part. From now on at one end you will be going into holes that have been used before. Can you see?

Continue going one at a time into new holes and missing a hole each time at the other end.

Half a cardioid

This is half of a shape that Mathematicians call a cardiod.

Finish the cotton and secure by making a couple of knots as in the picture below.

Finishing cotton

You now repeat the procedure in the other direction.

Aesthetic note! I do not repeat the top to bottom thread, nor do I duplicate the thread that lies horizontally, because I think it looks better.

Threads not to repeatI just miss them out.

So I start the second half thus………….

Starting second half of cardioid

It doesn’t matter if you start from the top as I do or from the bottom (hole 2) to be more like the other half. It will end up looking the same.

This is where I found the the black dots really came into their own to keep me on track.

Just do a mirror image of what you did before and you will end up with the full cardiod.

Cardiod finishedCardiod means ‘heart’ but to create a conventional ‘heart’ we can do better.

This is where you need the shorter piece of cotton.

Starting right side of heart

You start at the bottom go across to the hole halfway up (It is a black dot hole) then come out at the hole above that one coming back into the hole next to the one at the bottom. You then proceed, moving one hole anti-clockwise each time till you connect the hole at the top to the one half way up. (This is where you already have a thread taking this path but I was happy to repeat it this time.)

Right side of heart completed

Secure the end of the cotton and repeat on the other side, working up from thebottom as before.

Now you have your heart.

Finished heart

Photograph taken in a different light so the red came out differently (closer to the reality actually).

Here is what I think will make a printable A4 template. (Copy of one I used). Right click and choose “Save image as”

Printable template

What I’m working on

Apart from my waistcoat and socks I am working on a couple of Christmassy ideas which involve making snowflakes.

I showed you this book I had bought last ChristmasSnowflake bookWell originally I had thought that I might work my way through the book and I had certainly started.

But this year, having made a couple more out of the book and not having liked them especially.

More snowflakes from book

I decided that maybe I shouldn’t try to make all of them but just make the ones I liked best. YES! I now understand why the second one wouldn’t lie flat! It is not a snowflake at all! It has seven points! Woops!

So that is what I have done.

I have made them in some of my rainbow colours crochet cotton and also silver and gold.

Snowflakes

They haven’t been ironed or stiffened, except the smaller silver and gold ones. I stiffened the smaller silver one with PVA glue and it is stiff as a board. For the smaller gold one I used spray starch and I preferred the feel of that one.

I have also been crochetting some more baubles.

Bauble shells

Now all I have to do is finish them off and work them into my special Christmas projects.

My aim is to pin out the snowflakes when I stiffen them. Like I did using the template below.

Template

But I want to make more templates and I have still to find my geometry set!

There was frost on the roofs this morning so maybe I should change to my winter background.