Thursday, 29 July 2010


July has been the most fun of times. there were birthdays and a festival and a holiday for me. This means not so much time for making things, but there was one small triumph in this grand month.... i learned to crochet flowers and made this delightful garland for Latitude Festival...

All of the patterns came from the book i bought a while ago called 100 Flowers to Knit and Crochet, by Lesley Stanfield. It is a really great book and has so many flowers as well as a few fruits and vegetables. 

I have not done much crochet before and the small bits i have done have never had me hooked (haha) However, the flowers were more successful than the knitted ones and although knitting is the one and only when it comes to cardigans, i have recognised a place for crochet in the small projects. It is very satisfying, and great to pass the time while the football was on.

Here is the final line up...

clockwise from the green ends the flowers are Helenium, Hellebore, Peony, Auricula, Field Poppy, Mecanopsis, four Borages, Apple Blossom, Buttercup, Daisy and Forget-me-not.

This has also improved my awareness of flower names. they are a nice thing to learn. Yumi as well has been making some beauties and sported a garland of Hellebores at my birthday picnic.

Here i am at Latitude in the woods. Viva la garland!

Yours florally,
Botany. xxx

ps. here are some pictures from the Krakow Botanical Gardens which we visited on our holiday. That was a lovely place for a sunny day. i enjoyed taking pictures of the flowers. especially roses.

Tuesday, 13 July 2010

Birthday Cakes

This weekend was the birthdays weekend. one was mine, and one was for Rich. This meant there was a lot of cake. this was no bad thing.

The first cake was the one my mum made for me. it was a small cherry cake. this is my favourite type of cake. She used to send it to me through the post when i was at university. not anymore though - so it was a really grand treat for my birthday. i'm not sharing.
The cake from my mum

But i do believe cake is a good food to share and I was so lucky to also have another cake made for me from my good friend Eleanor. Very good friend indeed. This is the cake - it said on it EMILY HELLO. i liked that finishing touch. it was exciting because the cake meant everyone sang to me. i forgot what that felt like from last year.

the cake that eleanor made 

This was a sponge sandwich with raisins in the sponge and honey in the sandwich. it was such a delicious combination. also there were chocolate fingers around the edge - it looked so wonderful. She is a clever one that eleanor. Also in the background you can see the jam sandwich biscuits Debbie and Yumi made. they said they were too buttery, but i thought they were just grand! i liked all the baked goods. i hear there may be more of these for Latitude.

For Rich's birthday i made a marzipan ring cake. it was from the nigella lawson how to be a domestic goddess book. i like to be a good woman so that was a good place for me to find a recipe. this was called Easy Almond Cake, and looked quite sophisticated so i thought it was a winner - recently i have got myself into trouble with too much icing and sweets.

the cake from me to Rich (recycled candles!)

This was unlike most cakes as was very moist. the recipe is quite light on the dry ingredients. it was an all round success, except maybe i baked it a little too long so it was a bit dark in colour (the top was golden, but this became the bottom!) that didn't affect the taste though, and it looked a delight once dusted (coated) in icing sugar. i filled the ring with strawberries which was a perfect accompaniment.

This is the recipe for that cake... i would recommend it.

250g Butter (unsalted)
250g Marzipan
150g Caster Sugar
1/4 teaspoon Almond Essence
1/4 teaspoon of either Vanilla or Orange extract (Nigella says the zest of an orange, but this worked out nicely with the orange extract from a little bottle)
6 large eggs
150g Self raising flour

preheat your oven to 170 degrees.

First you will need to cream together the butter, marzipan and sugar until it is blended and smooth. this took me a lot of effort so is probably better if you have a machine to do it, but if you don't - have faith - it gets there in the end. And I had a few lumps of marzipan at the end, but it didn't matter in the end.

next add the almond essence and either vanilla or orange extract. (i used orange - you could tell in the finished cake and i think it was a good choice for a summer one) then stir in the eggs and flour. (do not worry that there doesn't seem to be much flour - i was worried i had written the recipe down wrong but it all worked out deliciously)

grease up a ring tin (they are quite expensive, but i think it was a good investment and it makes small fat wedges when you cut it - if you don't have one though, maybe a loaf tin would be a good alternative - and if you don't have one of those, maybe it doesn't matter all so much) and pour in the mixture.

Bake in the oven for 50 minutes, checking it from 40 (mine was probably done then but i left it for full time after some under baked mishaps in the past) let it cool for a bit in the tin before turning out. because of the butter to flour ration though, this slipped out no trouble.

then i just decorated with a dusting of icing sugar and filled the ring with fruit. you could try other alternatives - maybe some sugared almonds. nigella recommends apple sauce.

All in all this cake was very grand. i will definitely give it 10/10 because i liked the taste and the way it looked. I would give the other cakes here mentioned 10/10 as well. This was the grandest cake weekend ever!

That just reminded me - i have the leftover marzipan in the cupboard - ready for a sweet treat!

Yours older and fatter,

here is the official nigella recipe online in case i have missed some important information:

Friday, 2 July 2010

Daisy Stitched

I am triumphant - what joy. the daisy stitch scarf is complete. and a wonderful thing to behold.
i am so pleased with it. The texture is lovely, and although it was a worry to me, i think i have achieved the perfect length. That was a problem, as it is such a heavy weight one, it needed to be longer than i first thought to be able to tie and wrap. I really like how it looks tied in a knot like this. I think i would like one of these for winter.

Here is the pattern so you can try to make one yourself if you like (i am sorry if the pattern is difficult to understand. i didn't realise they were so hard to write. i have new respect for knitting pattern authors and will never again criticise when i get confused)

Daisy Stitch Scarf an original pattern by EmiliaBird

I used 6mm needles and Wendy Mode Chunky wool (on my scarf i used navy, and then doubled up some lilac DK for the border using a separate ball for each edge)

Abbreviations I have used:
  • Daisy st. = daisy stitch (Daisy stitch: Purl 3 together, but do not let the 3 stitches fall from Left Hand needle, wind yarn around Right Hand needle over top and back to front again, then purl the same 3 stitches together again and let fall from needle) - taken from - or there is this tutorial in case it helps...
  • K1fb = make a stitch by knitting into the front and then again into the back of one stitch
  • k2tog = knit 2 together (to decrease)
  • BC and MC – border colour and main colour
  • k = knit
  • p = purl (of course)
  • sts = stitches

Cast on 3 with BC
1st row: k1, k1fb, k1
2nd row: k1fb x 2, k1, k1fb (7 sts)
3rd row: k2, daisy st, k2
4th row: k1fb x 2, k 3, k1fb x2 (11sts)
5th row: k2, daisy st, k1, daisy st, k2
6th row: k1fb x 2, k2 in BC; k3 in MC; k2 , k1fb x 2 in BC (picking up the second ball)(15sts)
7th row: k2, daisy st, k1 in BC; daisy st in MC ; k1, daisy st,k2 in BC
8th row: k1fb x 2, k2 in BC; k to last 4 in MC; k2, k1fb x 2 in BC (19sts)
9th row: k2, daisy, k1 in BC; daisy *k1, daisy* (repeat between *s to last six) in MC; k1, daisy, k2 in BC
10th row: As 8th (23sts)
11th row: As 9th

12th – 24th rows – continue to repeat rows 8 and 9 (51sts)

25th row: k1, daisy, k2 in BC; daisy, *k1, daisy* (repeat between * to last 6) in MC; k2, daisy, k1 in BC
26th row: k6 in BC; K39 in MC; k6 in BC
27th row: k1, p1, k1, daisy in BC; k2, *daisy, k1* (repeat between * to last 7) k1 in MC; daisy, k1, p1, k1 in BC
28th row: as 26th

Repeat rows 25 – 28 until approximately 220 straight rows have been completed

To decrease, work backwards from row 24, changing k1fb, to k2tog.

(my scarf was 50" long, including the shaped ends)

I have drawn out the chart in case this is easier to understand all the increasing! (click to enlarge)

Then for finishing touches all you need to do is add the pom poms.

I wish you luck if you endeavour to make this scarf. not only luck for understanding the pattern, but also because daisy stitch is quite hard work i found. But i also found it is a gem and definitely all worth it in the end.

Delightedly yours,
Emilia. xxxx

Thursday, 1 July 2010

Stitch Yourself - Little One's adventures

Last night was the Stitch Yourself night at the museum. There was an update from Stitch London earlier in the week and  it was so great to see what was going on behind the scenes. There were so many little people! I looked hard for Little One so i could know that she had arrived safely, but i couldn't see her yet. i was encouraged that the faces were all friendly though.

Last night was the night of the event. I wasn't able to go there but  i was eager to see what was going on  and was lucky that I was able to follow the evening on the Stitch London Twitter page.

There were lots of pictures there. Here is the exhibition all set up. It looks so grand!
They said there were over 250 little people there. i saw a naked one.

It was fun to look through the gallery, and i was really happy when i was able to see Emilia there. She looks like she is having a wonderful adventure...
On the train with her identity tag and new friends.
can you spot her hanging out with all the friends. that's good she is fitting in.

I am so pleased she is safe and having a good time.
Big Emilia. xx