The prettiest hat that never was

This was going to be a lovely slouchy beanie. I made the brim/headband bit of it first by making a short row of foundation double crochet. Just eight stitches of two strands of double knit held together. Then I made it up to the right length to go round my head using double crochet but only in the back loop to give a ribbed effect. Sixty four rows in total. It looked lovely!

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As I worked up I realised it was going to take more yarn than I had and it was a bit too tight because I was determined to use cabling! The yarn had been hoked out of my stash with labels long forgotten so I had no idea of what to buy to finish the hat with.

Oh well. It was good practice! I’ve never done ribbing like that before but I will do it again as it gave a much nicer effect than using front/back post treble stitches. The cables came together nicely but my edges always seem to be a bit holey so I definitely need to practice those. Onwards & upwards! It’s bedtime now so I’ll sleep on it and try again tomorrow.

Wish me luck for the next attempt!!

I am so slow but I’m not giving up!

Wow! I really am rubbish at scheduling the time to post regularly. Things have all been a bit hectic here and I’m still getting to grips with managing my time properly now the Boy is at nursery. I’m naturally extremely disorganised so it’s challenging to try to run a family so that everyone is clean, happy, well fed and out for the things we need to be out for. I’m so lucky to be a stay at home mum, I don’t think I could cope with going out to work AND doing everything I do too!

Today we got out to enjoy a beautiful Autumn day. The weather has definitely taken a turn for the worse recently so it was surprising, to say the least, to discover that the usual coats and scarves weren’t needed! I love cool, crisp Autumn days and getting wrapped up against the cold so I was a little disappointed to discover it was so warm out but it was lovely.

Me and the Babby had a little walk down the promenade and a wee adventure on the beach. Despite the deafening roar of the big waves she was definitely more interested in escaping into the sea than her big brother ever was. Thank goodness she was easily distracted by interesting shells and apparently delicious sand. Says a lot for my cooking when she’s happy to stick a handful a sand in her mouth!

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There will be more crafty posts soon, I promise! It seems like the pox may be upon our house so I might be stuck at home with plenty of crafting time soon (depending on how sickly the littlers are!). I’ve never had chicken pox so I’m a little worried about catching it. I hear it can be worse for adults than kiddies and I’m itchy just thinking about it!

Time

Only a quick post to keep my hand in!  I need to remember to schedule time to blog or I’ll forget to do it which will lead to this becoming yet another unfinished project!

It’s easy to waste time, to fill your life with meaningless junk rather than engaging your brain. I should know, I’m the biggest culprit. My evenings are usually spent in front of Netflix because it’s easier to switch off than to engage in an activity that requires concentration. For example, blogging at this late is nearly beyond me. I’ve written and deleted more than I should have. A lot of it didn’t make sense because I’m too tired. Too much wasted time this evening. I should really have stopped watching Doctor Who after one episode, not two.

I’m going to make a commitment to watch less, do more and go to sleep earlier. Maybe if I’m less tired I’ll manage to get more done with the time I have.

Maybe I’ll expand on this train of thought when I’m a bit more compus mentus. Anyone out there got any time saving or energy giving ideas? I reckon getting my babby to sleep through the night would maybe be a start but I’d love to hear from you!

Saturday Treats – chocolate banana buns

So it’s Saturday and the weather is lovely. It’s dry and sunny and crisp, a perfect autumn day. I love Autumn so I feel like I should be out enjoying it, exploring with the kids and kicking leaves but maybe later… Babby has a bad cold and has been asleep for hours now (and she’ll hopefully stay that way!). The Boy is not quite used to the exertions of nursery yet so he’s in the living room making the most of my Netflix account. A little Wallace & Gromit is perfect Saturday viewing! The Mister is out doing manly things so I’ve been left, mostly, to my own devices.

I thought I would have a play with my new toy, a mini cupcake maker! It is pretty and blue and it means that I can have buns whenever I want! I love baking but my cooker consists of a big oil fired Rayburn. We can’t run it in summer because it makes the place to hot and even when we have it on the cost of running it is prohibitive so I don’t get to bake a lot, even though I love it. When I saw this beauty in Lidl the other week I couldn’t resist!

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With the end of the Great British Bake Off last week I’ve been in the mood for something tasty. There is an amazing recipe for chocolate banana bread in The Great British Book Of Baking (the companion book for the first series of Bake Off) so u thought I’d see if it would work scaled down into wee buns. I do mean wee buns by the way, my machine only does mini cupcake size buns. Tiny bites, perfect size treats for my little people!

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I thought because the buns are so small I would leave out the chocolate pieces in the banana bread recipe. I used some cocoa powder instead for the chocolate hit I wanted. I am a total chocoholic so leaving it out completely was out of the question!

My modified recipe made about 19 little buns, not quite three full batches as the machine does seven at a time. They are delicious little morsels, the perfect accompaniment for my afternoon cuppa!

Here’s the recipe for anyone that wants to try it for themselves :

INGREDIENTS

100g Self Raising Flour
25g Cocoa Powder
75g Golden Caster Sugar
50g Butter, melted & cooled
1 medium egg, beaten
1 large banana, finely mashed (approx 100g peeled banana)

METHOD

Sift the flour & cocoa power together into a bowl & add the sugar. Mix these together and make a well in the centre. Pour in the beaten egg, melted butter and mashed banana and using a wooden spoon mix well.

For my machine I put in silicone bun papers and filled them nearly to the top. A single batch takes about 15 minutes. Amazingly subsequent batches come out just as good as the first batch. I always thought leaving a mix to sit would have an adverse effect on it but it seems to work ok for three batches at least!

If you’re using a regular oven mini cupcakes should bake in about 15mins at 170°C

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Cosy Heads

I love cosy hats for winter. I have a small, but growing, collection of cosy wooly hats to keep my head warm in winter but it’s Autumn now and it’s not quite cold enough for hats yet so I’m on a mission to make some equally lovely crocheted headbands so my ears and head will be cosy but I won’t overheat.

I love searching Pinterest for ideas and inspiration and I’ve been seeing loads of pictures of pretty braided headband and thought I would give one a go. I don’t mind following patterns but thought I would much rather try to work this one out myself according to the yarn I had.

I hoked through my yarn stash and pulled out some lovely Stylecraft Special DK in raspberry.  It’s a beautiful soft acrylic yarn in a nice muted pink colour. Perfect for bringing a bit of cheer to my autumn outfits!

I measured my head and made a long strip of foundation half treble crochet until it seemed to be about the right length.  (Moogly has some great tutorials on how to do make a foundation row rather than making a long chain and trying to crochet into it!) I used a 4.5mm hook and it took me 70 stitches to get the right length.  I continued until I had 5 rows done.  I then made 3 of these strips so I could braid them together.

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I sewed them together along the short edges and fiddled about until the braid seemed right then I sewed the ends together to secure it.  The strands crossed over about ten times so it wasn’t very tight.  I like having a bit of width to my headband so it covers my ears nicely!  I joined the two ends and sewed again and thought TAH-DAH!  It looked perfect until I tried to put it on and all the strands separated and it took a lot of fiddling about to get out to sit right and it keep leaving my ears uncovered.  I was a bit disappointed to say the least!

Anyway after a lot of fiddling and having a bit of a tantrum that my beautiful headband wasn’t going to work it occurred to me that maybe if I sewed the strands together in the back it might hold its shape a bit better so that’s what I did!  I pinned the strands in place and used a whip stitch to join them. Amazingly it worked and now I have a lovely pink braided headband to keep me warm this Autumn!  I’ve caught the bug now and think I’ll be making a lot more of these so I have one for every outfit.  It’s pretty cute, don’t ye think?

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Can I really finish what I’ve started … or maybe that should be hello?

Well, I think the title of this blog may be a bit self explanatory but maybe not so I’ll say hello. I’m Jools. I love to craft and create. I sew and crochet; sometimes I make jewellery.  I write letters and doodle and colour things in. I bake and I cook and I eat and I’m forever making new plans and thinking about what new thing I can do next.

Unfortunately my plans are constantly being thwarted by my two lovely (but incredibly time consuming) little people and my not so little (but just as messy!) husband.

Me and my little people!

Me and my little people!

Our son is three and has just started nursery and our daughter is one and is now learning how to run, climb and create untold devastation all around her. Together they are like a tornado that swirls at my feet. They are wonderful and exhausting all at the same time so the ideas that I have and the projects that I have started lie forgotten in the detritus of everyday life.

The babby is a year old now and is she is finally starting to sleep for longer than two hours at a time so I’m hoping that my life can regain some semblance of normality but we’ll see! In the mean time I’ll write things down and hope that it might help me remember what I’ve been doing. Of the many things I have not yet finished off the top of my head I can think of two crochet blankets, a (now too small) fleecy baby wrap, many tiny crochet turtles, a garden of flowers to finish a tea cosy, a bag for my sister, a chalkboard roll, some refashioned tshirts and some skirts that are in a pile to be taken in.

Some day…