Monday, September 1, 2014

Make Do And Mend

I had such big plans for the weekend.  I had scrounged three big bags of coffee grounds from the coffee shop at work and I had been fantasising all week about spreading them around the garden and making the worms squirm with delight.  (Tragic what a gardener is reduced to in the pathetic desire to be in the garden, I know.)  But alas, it was not to be.  Ever the optimist I had ignored the weather forecast and it did indeed come to pass that there was a howling wind blowing all weekend and it wasn't worth poking a nose outdoors for more than a moment.

There was nothing for it but to hunker down indoors and in trying to make a virtue out of necessity I resolved to tackle some of the less than enticing jobs which I am so good at putting to one side.  I had bought a sweater from an op shop ages ago because I liked the colours in it and it was a pretty pattern with almost a fair isle feel to it, woolen and very warm.

The down side was that its last owner must have enthusiastically tossed it into the washing machine and it was virtually felted.  I always intended to convert it into a cardigan style by cutting down the centre and putting a curve onto the bottom edge, so this I did.  It was surprisingly forgiving - after cutting ruthlessly (heart in throat) the edges just needed to be turned under and hand sewn into place.
Never one to underplay a theme, I think I will wear it with this cosy soft old woolen jacket and possibly add some medal type brooches and maybe my "For King and Country" medal also.
The next job which needed tackling (and had been deferred for years too) was the remaking of two needlepoint cushions.  I was never completely happy with them.  At the time I made them I couldn't find any suitable cording to go round the edges, so had to be content with fashioning some out of skeins of embroidery cotton.  The resultant cord was very thin and skimpy looking and over time had become snagged and was coming off in places.  

Luckily at Aaron's Emporium last time we were in Napier I finally found the perfect trim after years of forays into haberdashery departments, and so reasonably priced.  (If you are ever in Napier make sure not to pass up a visit to this heaven on earth for thrifty crafters.)  After deconstructing the cushions and replacing the worn velvet backing with some moss green cotton velvet (old curtains from an op shop, a great find) the cushions looked better than they had in their first incarnation and will be set to sit in the newly pretty sewing room for a very long time.  

Of course the most tiresome job of all was the never ending "finishing" of the quilt which will not be completed.  This weekend I at last finished all the quilting.  (Every time I thought it was done I would find another area which still needed to be quilted.)  
 I don't know what I was thinking when I decided to try a new technique for the edge, whereby extra hexagons are put on right sides together all the way around the outside, then turned under

 like so, and stitched into place.  It looks rather pretty but involves making a whole lot more hexies just when you are heartily sick of the whole project and desperate to press on with the next thing.

I am happy to report though that there are only about 16 more needed to be stitched into place before I can begin the arduous task of taking out their papers, turning them under and finishing off the edges.  I will hopefully be done before I die.

Outside there are signs of spring and it is a bumper season for the magnolias which were only babies last year.
Even indoors the plants are showing willing to come to the party and get ready for the warmer weather.

The birds were all looking very sorry for themselves but fortunately for them my mum had had a baking disaster and she gave me a rock hard "panforte" which had turned into toffee after a bit of a problem with the mixing and cooking.  Bobby has always been a good cook and enthusiastic creator of new dishes, but baking has never been her thing.  (She explains it in this way.  If you do baking people will only devour it all immediately, and then you are back to where you started.  I can see where she is coming from with that, I have to say.)  But now that she has joined a gardening circle she tells me she couldn't bear the shameful stigma (only imagined I feel sure) of having to take her offerings along on a plastic plate so as not to have to collect it and take her baking home again, in fact seeming to have more on the plate than when she arrived.  So she is trying to master baking sweet delights and not with entirely perfect results.  It broke her heart to see the panforte (or birdforte as Mr Shoestring insisted on calling it) come out rock hard and she assured me that her (superior) birds would not eat it, because they were spoilt with all the other bird delicacies she lavishes upon them.  The birds at Shoestring are an altogether more rough and ready flock and were only too happy to feast on burnt offerings.  Though it did seem as though they could only persevere for a short time before they had to fly off and let their beaks recover.  

And on the culinary front I have to also admit that I have a great admiration for Pierre La Poste's crabapple jelly.  In his job he gets out and about and being a great forager his hawk eye is always peeled for likely wild crops to harvest.  He saw a laden crabapple and made his first ever crabapple jelly and treated us to a jar - it was heavenly!  It looked like a jewel and tasted like sunshine.  I had to admit to him that the only time I ever attempted to make crabapple jelly it came out like rubber, and I never had the heart to attempt it again so I was mightily impressed at this natural talent he displays.  I think I must take after my mum in the sweet delights department, sadly.  How lucky that there are others in the world who have a light hand and a natural talent and are prepared to share the fruits of their labours.