Be my Valentine

I’ve been making a few Valentine’s Day themed bracelets to go on the Ramsey Crafters’ stall at Potato Day on Saturday.  Potato Day is an event organised by the Cambridgeshire Self Sufficiency Group, it’s a chance to buy seed potatoes to grow at home.  They have over 60 different varieties and you can buy just one or two of the ones you fancy.

There are some nice simple memory wire bangles, they fit pretty much anyone and are really easy to make, you literally just thread beads.

The black stars are hematite which is supposed to be good for grounding and helping people cope with stress and depression.

I also made some seed bead bracelets  with words included. Aren’t they cute!

Hopefully someone will like them as much as I do and they’ll all be sold!

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Christmas Chocolate

This is one of those recipes I end up making most years around this time, it usually starts out as a chocolate fondue with the left overs turned into chocolate truffles.  We’ve never managed to eat all of the fondue as it’s just so rich so I don’t even both making extra unless I want a lot of truffles.

truffles

Muti purpose chocolate ganache recipe

250g dark chocolate
125ml double cream
Slug of brandy/rum/whisky or other spirit

In a saucepan, gently heat the chocolate and cream together until the chocolate has just melted – do not boil. Add the booze and stir thoroughly.

You can use it still warm as a chocolate fondue or sauce, cool for a while and use as cake filling or covering or cool thoroughly and shape into truffles. A little goes a long way.

For the truffles you need to keep the mixture cold and work quickly, I use a melon baller but you can roll it with spoons if you’re less clumsy than I am.  Roll the finished balls in cocoa powder, chopped nuts or sprinkles and plonk into petit four cases so they look fancy.  Or just scoff them as you make them and then buy a box of chocs for whoever you were making them for 🙂

Salt dough decorations

Such fun at Ramsey Crafters this morning. We made salt dough decorations, and it was just like being back at nursery school playing with the play doh.  Very therapeutic. I may make some more at home later

I made a Santa-thulhu and a tentacle and a skelly and a few more traditional shapes. Just need them to dry nicely so they can be painted.

    
  

Festive Fascinators

This morning was interesting. I have a rotten cold so am finding things like breathing and talking a lot harder than usual – however I was down to run the Ramsey Crafters session so I had to haul my sorry self out of bed and go be sociable.

The plan was Christmas fascinators for the craft fair. I’d intended to pick up some baubles and tree decorations which would then just be attached to headbands with bits of wire; however I have yet to find anywhere selling tree decorations so I had to come up with something different.

I spent ages looking at Christmassy crafts online and eventually decided that I liked the look of felt poinsettias and that they would make a suitable hair piece which could be blinged up or left quite simple depending on what people fancied.

I sort of cobbled together several online tutorials into one and that’s what we did. Unfortunately I forgot to take my camera with me so the only photo I have is this one of the one I made as a demo model. The others were glammed up with feathers and ribbons and beads to make them really party ready but this one is very plain.

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Snowflake

Last week’s craft group was a lesson in beading from Dawn.  The idea was to make festive snowflakes that we can sell at the craft fair.

I’m not a big fan of beading.  The results are lovely but I find it really painful working with anything that fiddly.  After doing this little bit of beading in the craft group my hand was absolutely throbbing.  It’s taken until today for it have calmed down enough that I could go back and finish it off.  I really can’t see me making many of these.

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It is very pretty though 🙂  I do like the way the beads sparkle.  It still needs to be dipped in varnish and left to harden so it can be hung from a christmas tree or in a window.

Feeling autumnal

I love this time of year.  There is something so satisfying about picking fruit from the hedgerows.  Free is always my favourite price.

We just stopped the car on the way home from work as I spotted some sloe bushes – these beauties will soon be turning into sloe gin.  There were loads of sloe bushes and all of them had oodles of berries.  I might have to go back for more!

sloes

We’ve already picked a load of apples from the garden.  I had the idea of putting them through the juicer which meant we had loads of pulp which was turned into apple sauce, (add sugar and water, boil and sieve) and the juice is busy turning into apple mead. (I used this apple wine recipe but substituted honey for sugar).

mead

I’m planning on making a load of jams and chutneys over the next few days, I have a huge amount of ginger since we were lucky enough to pick up a small mountain of it from the reduced bin at the supermarket so I’m going to try making crystalised ginger, ginger honey, ginger curd and possibly ginger wine

Some of the jams/chutneys are destined for the Ramsey Crafters Christmas craft fair which is being held on my birthday.  It feels a bit early to be thinking about Christmas but it makes sense to take advantage of all the free food in the hedgerows, we had a busy morning yesterday harvesting willow from Sue’s garden and twisting it into wreath forms, we’ll be having a wreath making and decorating session at one of the Crafters sessions soon , hopefully these will have time to dry out nicely first.

wreaths

We’ve already had one craft session on christmas makes – we made some festive tea light holders from old glasses and jars.  They are really simple – just cover the glass in white pva glue, layer on tissue paper (the white ones are just tissues like you would use for blowing your nose the coloured one is cut up bits of coloured tissue paper) cover in more glue and decorate with sequins and/or glitter.  They don’t look like much until you put a lit tealight inside, but they are really effective when they are lit.

tealights

I have loads of ideas for Christmas makes, the next few months should be fun.

Buttons

Today I learned to make Dorset buttons. I was quite pleased with the results. I’m not sure I’ll ever want to use them as buttons, but I can see them working as earrings or pendants. I have a few curtain rings spare so I might have a play with some rainbow embroidery threads and see how that works.

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They are quite simple really, blanket stitch around the ring until it’s completely covered, then wrap threads across to form spokes and weave more thread over them to fill the circle or make patterns.  The trailing thread is kept so you can use it to sew the button on.

The craft dates back to the 17th century.  Buttons had been made throughout England ever since they were first thought of ( – ) but there was no organised trade until around 1600 when the doublet when out of fashion and coats started to be worn. Buttons became larger, more prominent and became a specialist item made by button-makers, rather than tailors.

Dorset buttons used the same threads as was used to weave the fabric with rams horn for the rim.  They could be dyed to perfectly match the clothes they were attached to.

Button making became a thriving cottage industry with some full time button makers and some farm workers working farmland during daylight hours, and button making in the evenings or in Winter.

A good buttoner could make around six dozen (72) buttons a day which would earn them up to 3 shillings depending on how good their work was. Buttons sold  for between eight pence and three shillings a dozen.  At that time most farm workers would earn around 9 pence a day.

By the end of the 17th century, Buttony was a very important industry, By 1720 new forms of button began to appear including wire frames for the Dorset buttons – with these new rings the more decorative and colourful versions of Dorset buttons started to appear. At one time ‘Buttony’ employed 4,000 people with a turnover of £14,000.

Over time Dorset Button were slowly replaced with machine made buttons. The first cloth and thread button machine was invented in 1825.  This was followed in 1841 by the button press which could cut buttons from thin metal.  The mechanised processes were faster and cheaper and soon the cottage industry was completely replaced by factories.

The collapse of button-making in rural Dorset resulted in terrible hardship for the button makers, many became destitute and were either forced to emigrate to Australia, Canada or the USA or driven into the workhouse.

Today very few Dorset buttons are made, but they are still a very pretty and practical way of making sure that buttons perfectly match hand knitted garments.