Tuesday 22 October 2013

Amigurumi Pattern Writing

I haven't blogged for a few weeks because it has been school holiday time. The boys had two weeks off school and we did a mix of everything from pyjama days, friends round to play, swimming and crafts to family days out. They went back to school yesterday and the dog and I are thoroughly enjoying the quiet house once again!

I began to write my first crochet pattern at the end of term but found the noisy background of the holidays too distracting for what was proving to be a far more technical challenge than I had anticipated. I decided to put it aside, enjoy time with the boys and carry on once the holidays were over.

I began to crochet amigurumi (amigurumi is a japanese word for a small knitted or crocheted stuffed toy with anthropomorphic features) about 5 or 6 years ago. After following patterns in books for 6 months or so I began to design my own amigurumis, which usually took the form of cute monsters, making the designs up as I went along.

One of my early monsters

Recently I decided it would be good to write the pattern down to enable other crafters to make my designs. I took one of my favourite amigurumis and began to make a duplicate, writing down the pattern in row by row form. I ended up with a page of scribbles that I understood and could follow again if necessary but it would be hard for anyone else to follow! I powered up the computer and began to type it up in the traditional format. An hour later and I had only managed to write up instructions for the head ...  I knew then that it was going to take a while ...

The amigurumi pattern I'm developing

So, the holidays are over and it's time to return to pattern writing!

Thursday 3 October 2013

Bramble Jelly

I made strawberry jam for the first time in July this year and although it didn't quite set properly the smell and taste was enough to have me hooked on jam making! I tried making raspberry jam next and bought the berries directly from East Scryne Farm, just outside our town. This time the jam set perfectly and I decided to enter it into the local Flower Show. I was very surprised to find it came 2nd place and this really encouraged me to carry on preserving!

Over the next few weeks I made redcurrant jelly and another batch of raspberry jam. Some were given away to friends, others I have kept aside to remind me of the warmth of late summer when it's cold and dark in the winter months. The young plum tree in our garden produced an abundance of juicy plums for the first time this year. As soon as they were ready they went straight into the pot!

At the moment I am regularly out foraging for brambles (in Scotland we call blackberries brambles). I pick brambles from many different locations which gives a bigger range in taste and sweetness levels and also ensures I leave plenty for nature to enjoy. When I get home they go straight in the freezer and when there are about 4-5kg I will turn them into bramble jelly.

I have been making bramble jelly for about 10 years and it's something I anticipate with excitement every year. Throughout the summer I check on all my usual patches to see how they are developing and look forward to that first taste of bramble jelly. I made redcurrant and bramble jelly last week which was a good combination of flavours, producing a sweeter jelly than brambles on their own. I think I have about one more  week to go out foraging before the brambles are left for the birds to finish off and it will be bramble jelly time again!

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