Friday, 27 September 2013

The Big Knit

I am sure that I am not the only one who doesn't want to get old. I am not talking about getting a few wrinkles, stiff in the morning and becoming forgetful, that's just life. I mean that old where you are isolated and cut off from society. The time when you seriously can't afford to put the heating on and you survive on the tiniest portions of lunch. I like old people, they just know so much and I think that it is very important to teach my children to respect them. I always to talk to my elderly neighbour and it is a joy although there is a real sadness in his eyes when he talks about the wife he has lost and how his ability to keep on top of the house and garden is dwindling.

Last year I knitted two hats for this Innocent Smoothie's Big Knit so it hasn't been too hard to improve on that. Just in case you have never seen them, Innocent Smoothies wear little hats during the month of November and for each one that is bought, Innocent Drinks donate 25p to Age UK. Age UK do a lot of lovely and very helpful things for old people. They really are fab, just check out what they do here.

On Wednesday at our Jubilee WI knit and stitch meeting I managed to enlist some helpers and although we only made a modest amount of hats, I certainly did better than last year. I did take a few photos at the meeting but the light didn't really do the hats justice so yesterday I entertained myself doing a mini photo shoot. After all who wouldn't rather take photos of cute little hats instead of doing the housework and it is for the old people after all.

Here are all the ones that were finished by yesterday but a few more were added to the envelop before it was posted earlier.

 I based this hat on the simple pattern from the Big Knit website although I did only read the first line and made the rest up myself so it is not a true representation. I hadn't really given pompoms a huge amount of thought in the past but I have a feeling that I might be a fan of the over-sized version and that I could end up making myself a hat just like this.

Influenced by the Scottish Bonnet, this one is totally made up but works ok. It does actually match my bike and the children have suggested that I make one for myself / for them / even for Daddy.

Finally here is a family portrait of the four little hats I made. Please look out for them in the shops in November and buy one if you see it or just buy any of the Innocent Smoothies wearing little hats, the old folk need your help.

Saturday, 21 September 2013

Crochet for bikes

Crochet and my bike are two features of my daily life, so it's only natural that I should try to combine the two. I've recently got a new bike. I loved my old one so much but the brakes didn't work, the back tyre was cracking and the gears were all but destroyed a couple of years ago in a fight with a carrier bag.

This would be my dream bike, possible a little darker on the mint but certainly the combination with the tan leather. When it came to choices for a new bike, I was hugely disappointed. Of course budget is always a limitation even for the most well-healed and despite there being such a thing as a hybrid (traditional and mountain bike combined), there was nothing I fell in love with. Although I do like the image of myself floating around on a beautiful vintage bike looking pretty, I do actually need a bike that works well, with gears as I often have to get from a to b at a speed of knots laden down with my life.

(This is the decal sticker on the back of my phone, throw in a few random kids and it is pretty much a true reflection of what I cram onto my bike)

So I found myself settling for the Halfords bike that I certainly didn't want but would have to grin and bear as a last resort. The internal angst caused by the choice was crippling and left me in tears, especially when it appeared to my husband that I was totally ungrateful for the road worthy bike he had bought me. And then I remembered my bike makeover and more importantly the crochet skirt guard that wouldn't fit on my old bike because it had a kiddie seat on the back instead of mud guards and a bike rack.


For the longest time, the image above was the screen saver on my computer at work. I have loved this skirt guard so much for so long and at last I finally have a bike on which it would fit. So I've set about making one and yes there is rather a lot of crocheting involved and it is taking me much longer than I imagined. I got the pattern here.

This is what I've done so far, I'll keep you posted.




Friday, 13 September 2013

Allotment Crumble

It's that time of year where all the digging, weeding and watering finally pay off. Each trip I make to the allotment,  results with my bike being so laden with goodies that I have to cycle home at a snail's pace.

I love the idea that the majority of ingredients for a recipe have been homegrown and have a huge amount of fun inventing new recipes to match my supplies. It's like the opposite of buying the ingredients for a recipe.


 This year has been totally fab for tomatoes, despite being a little later than usually I now have a bumper crop. The simplest way to make a tomato sauce is to roast them in the oven, with a little chopped onion, garlic, olive oil, salt and pepper.

 If you are fussy about tomato skins, let them cool and peel them first but I just give them a blast with my hand blender, straight from the oven.


Next thinly slice a courgette (once again it has been an excellent season).

Chop and wilt some rainbow chard. Then finally layer it all up together in an oven proof dish. I always make my crumble by eye with butter, plain flour and oats but I would estimate it's probably about 50g butter and 100g each of flour and oats. My home economics teacher would be appalled..."Cooking is a science, everything should be measured carefully to get the best result." I can still here her saying it, every time I shake flour straight into the mixing bowl. The finishing touch is a spot of Parmesan and cheddar on the top.

Serve with runner beans - delicious 

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Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Routines, schedules and habits

The summer holidays can be a riot of chaos, with breaks in routine, habits disrupted and a whole host of excitement throwing any schedules into disarray. Sometimes I like it, the "anything could happen" feeling but it does seem that the children need that security of knowing what we are doing. In previous school holidays, the question "what are we doing today?" has wrangled my nerves almost as much as "what's for lunch / tea?"

I've been back at work for over a week, although the students have only been in for tge last couple of days. In some ways I am looking forward to there being a little more structure to our lives but I do so wish the summer could really be endless.


At the start of the holidays I introduced the "half an hour reading after lunch" rule. It took a bit of work for the children to accept it as a habit but it has worked well. It's the enforcement of a rule that's tougher than the rule itself. The children went back to school yesterday and Josie was straight into the harsh reality of the run up to the Kent Test.