Wednesday, 28 November 2012


Good Morning to you,

Do you remember, in October, I shared with you some of the contents of this Knitting Book.

This book belonged to Pansy Greenacre who had received  it as a Christmas present in 1938.  If you missed the first part of the post, you will be able to find it here

Behind the plain exterior of this book, you will find,  the most fascinating information about the history of knitting.

At the beginning of the book Mary writes,

"If all the looms in the world
ceased to produce cloth,
and the art of spinning and knitting alone remained,
we could be clothed,
both warmly and fashionably."

By courtesy of Mrs M. Herrman-Tragy
The photo above shows a collection of 18th century, Circular Knitting Frames,  made of ivory and wood.  The tubular knitting which you can see at the bottom of the photo, has been made using  silk.
This is an interesting collection of luxury, 18th century knitting frames.  There are five different shapes, the larger circular model being 3" in height, and made of ivory, mounted on horn. This has 54 pegs. The smaller is made of wood and contains 44 pegs. The three smallest frames, are long which makes them easier to hold. The largest, is made of wood and has 8 pegs; the next, also wood, has 5 steel pegs, while the smallest, with 4 pegs is cut out of horn. Each frame is open both ends so that the increasing knitting can fall through.  The larger frames would be used for stocking making. Can you see the long knitted silk cord, this  was worked on the 8 peg frame and dates from 1804.  In medieval days the soft woollen or flax girdles worn by  monks were also knitted upon frames of this type.

Goodness me, when I first saw this picture, the memories came flooding back. Do you remember Cotton Reel Knitting, or as we called it French Knitting.  I remember learning this form of knitting from Phyllis and I couldn't get enough of it.  I was about 8 or 9 years of age, when I received a sewing box for Christmas. Inside  held small balls of pretty coloured wool, a crochet hook and a wooden object that looked like a wooden peg which had 4 small nails protruding from the top. Later I learnt the wooden peg was known as a French Knitting Doll.  Before the excitement could begin, I had to learn.... this did not take very long as I was so eager, especially when I had seen the small book of instructions which showed the long coils I could produce.  The wool was in my hand  and with the aid of a crochet hook,  I was off and running.
Both Natasha and Danielle are very creative women.  I remember when they were little girls, I made them knitting dolls  from empty wooden sewing spools. I added the tiny tacks to the top and both the girls had great fun with this form of knitting.

I have a friend who knits Fair Isle jumpers and it is fascinating watching her, as it takes so much concentration. Traditional Fair Isle designs rarely contain more than two different colours in any one line of knitting, both being usually varied in the next line or round, but designs from Europe often carry three or four different colours in any one line. 
Fair Isle knitting was very popular when I was a child.  I remember Gramps often wore Fair Isle jumpers which Ivy had knitted for him.

Brocade Knitting
This is the most beautiful piece of  17th century knitting. This sleeved waistcoat is Italian and has been  knitted in silk and gold threads.
This is a 17th century example of Brocade knitting.  A change of fabric, with a change of colour and introducing a purl stitch created the high relief pattern.
This was knitting in the grand manner. High born males of this period, wore their waistcoats and capes, knitted in silk and metal threads and patterned in the most marvellous and intricate floral designs.

This fragment is an example of colour knitting from the 7th to 9th centuries. Mary writes, "This is as astonishing in technique as it is beautiful in design. This piece was found in Egypt at Fostat (an ancient city on the site of Cairo) and the fabric which was used is silk, with 36 stitches to the inch. The pattern being in a deep red maroon on a ground of gold silk and is knitted in crossed stocking stitch."
What a treat this would be if I could have shown you this piece of work in colour, but alas the photos are black and white, but look at the piece, close your eyes and imagine the colours of deep maroon on a background of gold silk. Just beautiful.
....and finally, I thought I would show you some more of the illustrations, which are peppered throughout the book. These humorous caricatures were drawn by Miss Margaret Agutter.

Winding wool
I hope the sheep didn't mind!

This illustration is fun,
I can certainly identify with this!

Too Tight!
When I first married, I remember I washed one
of George's jumpers which shrunk.
He looked like this. 
I had not realised that jumpers were washed at a lower temperature!

I don't think he had much hope of growing
 as tall as a hollyhock!

This week I will be joining,

I will see you later in the week, until then, take care.


Sunday, 25 November 2012


Good Morning to you,

On Wednesday, I shared with you my recipe for Chickpea Soup, see here for the recipe. So today, I thought it would be a good idea to show you a recipe for  soda bread.
Soda bread reminds me of the rustic Cypriot  bread which we used to buy at our local village bakery. I find this soda bread,   is the perfect accompaniment to any winter soup. It can be cut into neat slices or it can be pulled apart, ready to "dunk" into your soup.

Recipe adapted from 500 Fabulous Cakes and Bakes
from The Book People

I thought I would share this "warts and all" photo and   explain why the bread looks a little mis-shapen.

I had finished mixing the bread and was ready to start the  kneading process, when George returned from having a sauna.  We were chatting away and he was telling me about his morning, who he had met, family he had bumped into and finished by saying how hungry he was.

I said he would not have to wait long for his lunch as the bread was almost ready to go into the oven. As I was kneading the bread, I  started telling him about my morning. 
I continued kneading and was almost ready to cut a cross in the dough, when George started telling me another story. I was so busy listening to what George had to say, that when it came  to cutting the cross in the dough,  I did not notice that I had inserted the knife far too deeply.   It wasn't until I took the bread  out of the oven that I realised what I had done... hence the look of the bread.  Please don't let this put you off as it is a delicious bread! That will teach me to concentrate, but then, I was having fun listening to George. The bread tastes delicious, no matter how it looks, so I thought it really didn't matter, after all it is home baking! As a  home baker, I think it is important to highlight  what can go wrong. By doing this, you can avoid the same pitfalls.

Makes one loaf
275g/10oz/2 1/2 cups plain flour
150g/5oz/1 cup wholemeal flour
(I used Country Grain flour)
5ml/1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
5ml/1 tsp salt
25g/1oz/2 tbsp butter at room temperature
300ml/1/2 pint/1 1/4 cups buttermilk
Pre-heat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas 6
Butter a baking sheet

Sift together the flours, bicarbonate of soda
and salt.
Make a well in the centre and add the
butter and buttermilk.

Working from the centre, stir to combine
the ingredients until a soft dough is formed.

 With floured hands, gather the dough into a ball.
Knead for 3 minutes.
Shape the dough into a round.

Place on a baking sheet.
Cut a cross in the top with a sharp knife.
(Notice how far I cut my cross,
remember I made the cross too big,
so cut yours smaller)

Bake until brown, about 40-50 minutes
I found my bread took 50 minutes to bake.

Now this is the naughty bit.
Remember earlier, I said the soda bread was a perfect accompaniment to soup, well, that still stands true, but, do you ever have a "sweet" moment, where nothing but something sweet will satisfy you. I'm afraid to say that happened to me. We cut the bread. I was supposed to sit down with George and eat Chicken and Vegetable soup see here for the recipe, but instead, I sat down, sliced the soda bread,                    

......and I ate a slice, slathered in butter and with a lovely layer of homemade  jam.....oops!

....and I was a very happy lady!

Don't worry, I ate the soup for my supper!

This week I will be joining,

Have a lovely day and I will see you later in the week.

Wednesday, 21 November 2012


Good Morning to you,
I am sure you have seen many recipes for Chickpea soup in cookery books and magazines, but I would like to share with  you my version. Chickpea soup is a healthy soup and now we are approaching the season where we all tend to over indulge, this soup is a perfect counter balance.
It can be pulsed to create a smooth texture, or if you are like me, and prefer your soup with a bit of substance, you can leave it as it is, which I always find more satisfying.
 My version has a little "kick" to it, so if you are not a lover of heat, then I would suggest you add half a teaspoon of cayenne pepper, rather than one teaspoon. It is a relatively quick and easy soup to make and takes about 40 minutes from start to finish.

Also, if you are a vegetarian, this is a perfectly delicious soup for you.
You will see that I have used frozen spinach.  When I decided to make this soup I only had frozen spinach to hand. If you have fresh spinach, so much the better, but if I am honest, I always have frozen spinach in the freezer for moments like this.

400g tin of chickpeas
400g tin of tomatoes, chopped
1 heaped tsp cayenne pepper
1 onion, sliced
2 cloves of garlic
100g Bulgar wheat
1 1/2 litres of vegetable stock
2tblsp of olive oil
Salt and pepper
5 portions of frozen spinach
1/2 bag of fresh if you prefer
Juice and rind of a lemon
 Place 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a wide pan
 and place over a medium heat.
 Add the sliced onions and saute until
golden brown.
Do not allow the heat to be too high as
this will burn the onions. 
We want a nice golden colour.
This is important as the onions add a depth of flavour to the soup. 
 Add chopped garlic and cook for a
further 2 minutes.
Add 1 heaped teaspoon of  Cayenne Pepper 

 Add Bulgar wheat and stir until the grains are coated with the mixture.
Add Bouillon granules to 1 1/2 pints
of hot water.
If you have vegetable stock which you
 have made yourself, even better. 
Add the tomatoes, spinach and vegetable stock. 
Place the lid on the pan and bring to the boil.
Reduce the heat and simmer for 20 minutes.
Add the chickpeas and simmer for a further 5 minutes.
Add the grated rind of a lemon
and half of the lemon's juice,
remember to add a little at a time and taste, if the soup needs more lemon then add more until you are happy with the taste.
Check for seasoning and add  salt and pepper
Simmer for a few minutes

 I prefer to leave this soup to cool for 10-15 minutes, by doing this you will find the Bulgar wheat swells even more.  Plus the flavours are enhanced.  If a soup is piping hot, there is too much heat and the flavours are lost.
You could replace the chickpeas with butter beans, or beans of your choice.  The reason I have used tin chick peas in this recipe is for speed. Other wise I would use dried chickpeas.
I hope you enjoy making my version of Chickpea Soup..... it really is delicious and with a slice of crusty bread, what more could you ask for. 
Tomorrow is Thanksgiving in America, so to all my American friends, I would like to wish you a "Happy Thanksgiving".
Take care and I will see you later in the week.
This week I shall be joining the following parties,

Sunday, 18 November 2012


Good Morning to you,

Take a look around your home and tell me, are you a collector?

If you are, can you remember how your collection started?

Did it start with an item you bought?

Or, did it start with a gift?

Do you think the word collector is correct. I'm not so sure, as I do not see myself as a collector,  I see myself , more of an enthusiast. I know collector and enthusiast mean the same thing  but personally I prefer the word enthusiast.

Which leads me nicely to my enthusiasm for hearts. 

Thinking back, my love of hearts, began when I became engaged to George. The   engagement ring I chose had a heart in the centre.  Then for my 21st birthday, George bought me a beautiful heart shaped bracelet.

.... and so, slowly, and it was slowly, my love affair with hearts began.

George bought this heart for me in 1975. We were visiting the most wonderful Christmas Fayre in Dortmund, Germany. The Fayre had a whole range of Christmas items ready for eager consumers to buy. Dotted around the Fayre were people selling  Gluhwein. We enjoyed the odd glass or two, as it was freezing outside and it certainly  warmed the "cockles of our hearts".  As we walked around taking in all the wonderful sights, we  spotted a stall selling handmade wooden hearts.   George chose this little heart for me, which was so romantic. This heart has always hung  in my kitchen,  as that is where I spend most of my time, but at Christmas time, it finds it's way onto our Christmas tree, to remind us of wonderful times spent as a family in Germany.

This is the reverse side, "Ich liebe Dich" which translates .... "I love you".  It always reminds me of the film, GI Blues with Elvis Presley. Do you remember the song Wooden Heart?

This heart is made of star anise and  hangs in my kitchen. Don't you think star anise looks like an eight pointed star.  The seeds have an aniseed flavour and is one of the spices in Chinese five spice. This  star anise heart perfumes the air with a delicate spicy aroma.

This heart was given to me by Natasha, as a Mother's Day gift and I absolutely adore it. This is a Southern Indian, hand carved, wooden block. This block  is used as a technique to create designs on material.  Next year I will be sharing with you some more hand carved blocks, photographs of the artisans who use them and patterned material they create using these blocks. 

This little lovely also lives in my kitchen and "tings" when  the central heart is moved.

This heart was bought for me by Danielle, again as a Mother's Day gift.  My daughters know how to spoil me and make me smile.  I  love this heart as it always makes me think of Danielle.

This is a more rustic heart. There a three hearts, one large, one medium and one small.

Now for a complete change... my beautiful heart cushion.  This cushion has been machine embroidered with shiny white silks. I have two of these heart cushions and they are perfect for Christmas.

I know what you are thinking.....what has Audrey Hepburn got to do with hearts.....well to start with I love this cushion, so I think with the current thinking of " I heart you", alright I will use straight forward English, " I love you" it qualifies and secondly, but most importantly,

do you see the little heart motif....yes, the motif is small, but I love the cushion and the heart motif gives it enough reason to be included... don't you agree.

It has been lovely to think back to when some of my favourite things were bought and I hope you enjoyed them aswell.

I will see you later in the week, so until then, take care.


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