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One of my favourite free baby or toddler cardigan patterns is the Rowan Hazel pattern by Sarah Hatton. I often leave the hoodie off and knit in a neck band instead and do my own stitch pattern. What I like about it is that the raglan sleeves are more snug fitting without the bulkiness under their arms. The booties are Baby Hug Boots by Marianna Mel. IMG-4430

Grey Wolf Howling Cake

It is always fun to hear what kind of cake the grandkids want for their birthday. Lydia’s was fun to plan out when she said she wanted a grey wolf, it wasn’t a big step of imagination to deliver one howling at the moon. Yay for the internet where others put up their awesome ideas, found the ideas from searching: night sky cake, howling at the moon cake, how to model a wolf head in sugar paste. The best wolf body was from this site: https://www.renshawbaking.com/gb/how-to-make-a-fondant-dog-model/

Grey wolf fondant cake topperWolf howling at the moon cakeLydia with cake

Knitted Girl Doll

It was fun making this little girl doll, I actually adapted Jean Greenhowe’s ‘Maid Marion’ pattern and then made the hair using bramble or blackberry stitch. Knitted dollKnitted doll bramble stitch hair

Having more time than usual after work and weekends it’s been great to have something fun to concentrate on during this lockdown time. A family who also work for Trinity Lands had a baby boy just before the lockdown started, I feel for all the new mums out there who don’t have the support around them that they would normally have. I’ve been thinking of this little family lots, as I looked for animals from India that might fit each colour band. I’m almost sad that this tummy time floor quilt is finished cos it was so much fun to make!

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Rainbow quilt with animals from India

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Red Panda

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Tiger

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Male Indian bullfrog (Hoplobatrachus tigerinus)

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Chameleon (Chamaeleo zeylanicus)

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Peacock

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Elephant

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Indian giant squirrel

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Robin Hood

It’s always great fun to do something new, especially when it’s for an exceptionally cute little grandson! Here is ‘Jean Greenhowe’s’ Robin Hood knitted up with slightly different colours. I liked the mustard colour for Robin’s hat instead of all green. Now I can’t wait for travel restrictions to finish to deliver Mr. Hood in person and get a granny cuddle at the same time.

Robin Hood Doll

Dragon Cake

Our little Leapling grandson had his first but really his fourth birthday yesterday. Since one of his favoured books at the moment is ‘The Dragon Hunters’ by James Russell, it seemed like a good idea to recreate ‘Big Red’ as a birthday cake. With a few hiccups along the way and looking a bit battered by the time he spent in transit, here is… Big Red, the dragon!

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Big Red still has the broken rope around his tail!

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3 cakes to be stacked, crumb coated and ready

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Marshmallow and rice bubble head and tail

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Pebble and fondant eyes

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Wings hardened for two days

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Crushed boiled lollies melted in the oven

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It’s such a committment to grow your own gherkins and then pick every day to maximise the crop. Last year the wind at our new home on top of the hill wrecked the vines and hardly made it worth the effort. This year I decided to grow them in my little greenhouse, making a zig-zag trellis back and forth across with chicken wire and had bamboo stakes holding it up. I tied the vines up, planted tomatoes around the edges, then watered every day and watched them grow… and grow and grow. They loved the sheltered environment. It took the bees a while to find them so for a while I used a little paint brush and transferred pollen from male to female flowers to make the most of the early flowers. Eventually the bees and bumblebees found them and the main crop came on. They’ve nearly finished now, thank goodness, from one packet of twenty seeds I have about 60 jars of different sizes. That’s plenty, tomorrow I’m pulling the plants out so the tomatoes can ripen, they’ve been smothered in gherkins long enough! Recipe at the end.

Gherkins in greenhouse

Chicken wire and bamboo were strong enough to hold them up.

Gherkins pollinated

At the start it was disappointing when some didn’t pollinate but didn’t care by the end!

Gherkins vine

Were easy to miss so had to really hunt them down.

Gherkins picked

A couple of handfuls every day soon added up

Gherkins brine

Soaking in brine overnight

Gherkins pickled

Jar by jay they added up

Gherkins stored

Nearly finished doing this year’s crop.

Pickled Gherkins

This method only does a small amount at a time.

With a scratchy pad or rough cloth clean off the sharp little prickles and soak overnight in a plastic bucket in a brine of 3 tablespoons of plain salt to a litre of water. Make as much as you need to cover. Next morning tip them into the sink and wash brine off.

To pickle, have a mixture of 2 cups of white vinegar, 1 cup water, 1 cup sugar boiling on the stove. Drop enough gherkins for one jar into this for 2 minutes only. Have hot jar ready, put a few whole spices into the bottom of the jar (I use 2 coriander seeds, 2 whole cloves and a black peppercorn). Put gherkins into jar and cover to the top with the mixture they’ve just boiled in. Screw on hot lid.

Hint: if your gherkins have grown a bit too big, soak in brine then peel and slice before cooking for a minute.

Leave for a month before trying, get better with time!

Tiger Cake

For Eli’s eighth birthday cake, this year he chose to have a tiger which was a very cool challenge! To give the face shape I used crushed rice bubbles and melted marshmallows to sculpt the ears, brow and nose area. I had to put them back in the microwave a few seconds to soften and resculpt several times. Everything was then covered in a thin coat of buttercream and the orange, white and black fondant gave the detailing. Fortunately the stripes and tail covered up most of the folds and creases I made in the orange fondant when trying to handle such a huge piece of fondant. Anyhoo, Eli was happy on the day and that’s the main thing 🙂

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Good Old Kombiknit!

I haven’t used this pattern for over 30 years! I still remember going to those stretch knit classes at the Tokoroa sewing centre, where over successive weeks we mastered teeshirts, sweatshirts, placket openings and how not to get your undies in a twist. Making clothes helped make ends meet way back then, and the satisfaction was huge. Fun to have one pattern remaining, just for old times sake, made a singlet for the new wee grandson 🙂

Kombiknit singlet

Variegated Iris Flower

Funny the things you never notice. I’ve carted around a clump of varigated iris bulbs from house to house and always admired their attractive foliage. Out in the garden after work and for the first time noticed these very small and nondescript iris flowers. Nothing to get excited about and I still love the foliage, but nice to finally notice the flowers after all these years!

varigated iris flower