Tuesday, 30 December 2014

Mutton stew

fry 1 onion and 2 cloves garlic
add chunks of mutton
season with salt, pepper
add crumbled stock cube
"enough" hot water (I've never measured -- I guess about a pint? A lot gets absorbed by the lentils)
~8 carrots chopped
3 tbsps green lentils

I really like the lentils as thickener. I've never had much success with using cornflour, and the flavour of the lentils works really well with the mutton. I've also added leftover chicken to this and it was great. 

eta: d'oh, forgot to say how long to cook it for. I start about 2 hours before I want to eat, and simmer with a lid on once everything's in

Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Advent calendar

I've wanted to make an advent calendar for years. I seem to follow this pattern where every now and again through the year I think about making one, but it seems too soon to start, then I start making halloween costumes, and suddenly advent has started and it's "too late". Well this year I didn't let "too late" stop me:

There are 24 pockets, 15 in the tree, 2 in the trunk, 6 in the base and 1 big one in the star. Each pocket is made of standard English paper piecework shapes, drawn on squared paper. The "hexagons" are actually a close approximation*; they're slightly taller than a real hexagon, which ended up working better for the form of the tree -- the base is shorter than the sides.

Each pocket is lined with the same shape, so it requires 34 hexes, 6 truncated hexes (that's what I'm going to call the top pockets of the base), 6 rectangles, and 12 small diamonds as well as the background fabric (which I cut to shape after having attached all the pockets).

I used English paper piecework to sew each row of pockets together, the linings together, the pockets to the linings, and then the whole lot to the backing fabric:

I love the handmade look of the stitching.

I only bought a metre of bias tape (I needed 1.75m), so I cut the bias tape in half along its length. It worked really well, and in fact the original would have been too broad. Normally I'm quite lazy about these things, but I was so glad I took the time to sew the back of the tape down to the fabric

 before trying to sew down the top:

I would have absolutely wrecked my head trying to sew that sucker down and catch the fabric between. Too many curves!

It's hanging from a plastic hook I saved from some kind of packaging

The final detail is the embroidery around the star:

I'm not usually one for repeating a project like this, but I really enjoyed it, and I'm delighted with how it turned out. Maybe the kids will have one each by the beginning of advent next year!

* You can't make a real hexagon the right size from the squares I was using (1cm). After some trial and error I came up with a shape I'm happy with.

I'm finding it very hard to describe in words, but it's made of a rectangle of 10x6 squares with two triangles 10 squares wide and 3 squares high. Still not very clear, but if you'd like me to have another go at describing it leave a comment.