A panoply of (sometimes) lovingly handmade crud.

How to: Gingerbread homies

I don’t often make gingerbread. I tend to be more likely to succumb to a rich chocolate or salted caramel kind of recipe, rather than sticking to the classics. I can’t remember what prompted me to give it a go, probably a quantum of Christmas spirit penetrating my Grinchiness.

I used an American recipe but I weighed the ingredients so people without cup measures can try them more easily. I substituted black treacle for the molasses stated. To my taste, the treacle flavour is a bit strong so I recommend half golden syrup and half treacle. I will test these out on the people at work and see if they agree. Update: the test was inconclusive as they were all rated by parties unknown.


Note: This makes a LOT of cookies. Like, at least 60. Or enough for a gingerbread house.

Second note: Add whatever spices you like. Leave out the zest if you want. Don’t go out and buy any spices especially for this recipe.

  • 5 cups (725g) plain flour
  • 2tsp ground ginger
  • 1tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2tsp ground cloves
  • 1/4tsp ground allspice
  • 1/4tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/2tsp bicarbonate of soda (leave this out if you’re building anything with the gingerbread)
  • 1/4tsp salt (add 1/2 tsp if you use unsalted butter)
  • Zest of one orange
  • 1 cup (250g) butter
  • 1 cup (250g) sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup (125ml) black treacle
  • 1/2 cup (125ml) golden syrup



1. Sift together the dry ingredients and spices. Add the orange zest.

2. In a separate bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the egg, golden syrup and treacle and stir until completely blended.

3. Gradually add the flour mixture until it is all combined.



4. Divide dough into three portions. If you want to freeze some, do so at this stage, wrapping in a double layer of cling film, or a single layer of wrapping inside a freezer safe container.

5. Roll out one portion of dough between two layers of baking parchment until 1/4in (5mm) thick, using cookie slats if you have them. Leave to chill in the fridge.

6. Preheat oven to 180C (350F)

7. Cut shapes out of chilled dough. Leave about 1cm between each cookie to account for any rising in the oven. Top tip: a gingerbread man upside-down makes an acceptable substitute for a bunny rabbit

8. Bake for 12-16 minutes, until firm and just beginning to darken at the edges. Keep a close eye after 12 minutes as these cookies can burn very quickly.

9. Remove from oven and leave to cool on a wire rack.

10. If desired, decorate your cookies. As you can see in the pics, I used a wide variety of sprinkles and writing icing as I was too lazy to make royal icing.

Wtf Wednesday: YET ANOTHER post about the still-unfinished Paper Totoros sweater

This weekend I finished knitting my Totoros!


Very happy with the fit.

About eight rows in, I frogged back because I received an Instagram message from Kate Davies herself (!!) and I decided to leave my floats super long.

I included one pic from when I was carrying the floats and one where I wasn’t, and I think the latter looks much better. The fabric is a little uneven but I’m hoping it’ll block out.

Here’s the chart I made, adapted from KonaSF on Ravelry. I kept the stitch counts from size 8 in the pattern so I had 15 24-stitch repeats.

Now I just need to do the peeries above the Totoros, work the neckline and then do the finishing. I’m so excited about wearing this!

Previous posts here and here.

Lemon magic cake

I stumbled across this recipe on Pinterest when I was looking for a good lemon bar recipe. This week I was after a simple cake to make, so I decided to give it a go. The recipe promises three distinct layers from a single batter, which intrigued me. Here’s what I ended up with. Definitely two layers I’d say.

The cake definitely has two distinct textures, a pleasantly squidgy bottom with a light and airy sponge on the top, pleasantly frangranced with lemon zest.

I’m not going to post the full recipe as I probably wouldn’t make this again in its current incarnation. The cake wasn’t lemony enough for my taste, and I think I would prefer the dense squidgy bit without the sponge on top. Basically, I wish I had made lemon bars! My quest for a good recipe continues…

For anyone who does make the recipe via the link, here are a few pics to show how the batter looked. Mine was definitely done in 40 minutes. The bottom was very puddingy, but if I’d left it any longer, the top would have dried out. 

God knows we could do with a little more sweetness in the world.

How to: Create a patchwork quilt guestbook for a wedding 3

Part 3: After the wedding

This is where most of the work and creativity in this project lies, as well as a lot of the fun.

Create your centrepiece

Wedding quilt central embroidery

See this post for further information.

Buy batting and fabric for the trim and backing, if you haven’t already

I spent a long time looking for flannel or brushed cotton for softness and settled on this baby-friendly bunny print. I had to improvise slightly and use some binding fabric either side as the fabric wasn’t as wide as the quilt.

Prepare squares

Check and double-check the instructions on the fabric pens. You may need to iron the design onto the fabric in order to make it colourfast.

I had to iron mine for five minutes. 50 squares. For five minutes each. Yep.

Decide on final design

Lay your squares out so you can see what your finished quilt will look like. I decided that I didn’t want any matching prints to touch each other. I wanted an even balance of colour too.

Here’s an early draft.

Here the balance is off, with more light patterns at top left and more dark bottom right. I later realised I had enough white squares to make an alternating pattern, which helped with balance.

If you can’t keep your squares laid out like this for the duration of the project, pick them up in order, row by row so that you can sew them together in your chosen pattern.

Sew squares together

Mum convinced me that we should overlock the squares together. While this gives a strong seam, I would recommend using the sewing machine. It’s easier to stretch the fabric in undesirable ways when overlocking, and I think simple machine stitching would have given a more uniform result.

Also watch your seam allowance and try to keep it uniform even if this means cutting people’s messages. Unevenness will come to bite you in the arse later, mark my words.

I sewed each column together first, marking their order with post-its.

Then carefully pin or baste the column together.

And stitch the columns together.


Iron your patchwork thoroughly. Do not iron seams open as this can allow the batting to come out. Instead, iron towards the darker fabric.

Also iron your backing fabric.

Assemble quilt

On a large, flat surface, lay your backing out RS down.

Lay your batting on top.

Finally, lay out the quilt on top, RS up.

Carefully pin and/or baste all three layers of quilt sandwich together, starting in the centre and working out. This step is essential for a neat final result.

Topstitching time

It’s time to stitch the quilt together. You must use a walking foot on your machine. Seriously. Again, use the start in the centre and work out rule-of-thumb. Don’t sew top to bottom or left to right. Instead, start in the middle and sew to the edge.

Roll the quilt up like a scroll to make it easier to fit into the crook of your machine.

This will also help with not sewing multiple quilt layers together, which happened to me and was infuriating.

Also stitch or overlock around the edge of the quilt to aid with the binding.

I’m in a bind

Make your own if you’re a masochist like I am. Follow an online tutorial. I was going to write one but I don’t think I used the best method.

Start by stitching the binding to the back of the quilt. I followed this tutorial for mitered corners, which I think looks pretty good and was nice and clear. This is how my corners turned out.

Mitered corner

Here’s what the back looked like at this stage. Apologies for blurred pic, it was raining.

Flip the binding over and top stitch.


Snip off all of your loose threads and basting stitches. Neaten the corners with hand-stitching if you need to. Rejoice, for you are done!

Here I am presenting the blanket to the bride, who by this point had been married for nearly six months. Oops.

WiP Wednesday 2: Paper Totoros sweater

This sweater has taken over my crafting life. I’m attempting it as an OWL for the Harry Potter Knitting and Crochet House Cup because I work much better to a deadline (even a fairly arbitrary one). Knitting 15 inches of stocking stitch, broken up only by waist shaping, was a challenge in itself. I wouldn’t say it was mind-numbingly boring exactly… some knitters absolutely loathe this kind of knitting. I wouldn’t say I enjoyed it exactly, but it did keep me company through Breaking Bad (and the subsequent destruction of my emotions), Better Call Saul, BoJack Horseman and all of Buffy. Apparently I’m working through boxsets on Netflix in alphabetical order.

A couple of weeks ago I finally finished the body section. I decided to go with the stated length in the pattern even though I have quite a short body. I have a bad habit of making my sweaters too short (I think I stretch them out too much when measuring) so hopefully this will circumvent that problem.

I’m pretty happy with it. When I first started, I was terrified that the sweater was going to be too small, but if anything there will actually be some positive ease. I’m likely to layer this jumper over a long-sleeved tee. The wool is soft-ish (soft given that it’s mostly wool) but I don’t think I want it against my bare skin.

I am currently working on the sleeve caps. I’ve been a bit uncertain about whether to make this sweater short-sleeved as in the pattern, or slightly longer. Unfortunately, due to the construction of this sweater, I can’t decide at the end and just knit until I run out of yarn. Well… I could if I started knitting the sleeves in a different place, but that’s a headache that I’d rather avoid. Might be something I thought about if I decided to make this sweater again.

I noticed that a few people on Ravelry commented that the sleeves are very tight. I started making the first one as specified in the pattern and it was indeed tight, so I went up a needle size to a 3mm. The fit is better now. I would probably even go up to a 3.25 if making again but I don’t have a needle tip that size.
People have also commented on the underarms being tight, so I decided to put a couple of extra stitches on hold for the underarms (10 instead of 8) rather than decreasing them at the yoke.

The sleeve caps are going quite quickly so I spent yesterday doing some knitting maths in preparation for the yoke. I need to decide whether to make it with 16 Totoros very close together or with 15 about 4mm further apart. The dilemmas in the life of a knitter…

Pattern: Paper Dolls by Kate Davies

Yarn: Titus by Baa Ram Ewe

Ravelry project page

Recipe: Pumpkin snickerdoodles with cream cheese filling

This week I managed to squeeze in some kitchen time. I rediscovered my love of Nigella’s teriyaki chicken recipe, learnt of wonders of panko, and also made these tasty cookies. I don’t think I’ve had a snickerdoodle before. These are light and cakey in texture, and the cream cheese surprise in the middle makes them really special.



  • 1 cup/225g butter
  • 1 cup/225g sugar
  • 1/2cup/80g light brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup/200g pumpkin purée
  • 1 large egg
  • 2tsp vanilla
  • 3 3/4 cup/540g plain flour
  • 1 1/2tsp baking powder
  • 1/2tsp salt (halve this if using salted butter)
  • 1/2tsp ground cinnamon 
  • 1/4tsp freshly grated nutmeg

For the filling

  • 7oz/200g cream cheese
  • 50g sugar
  • 2tsp vanilla

And just because there’s not quite enough sugar

  • 1/2 cup/100g granulated sugar (you won’t use all of it)
  • 1tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2tsp ground ginger
  • I also added a little black pepper 


1. Beat the butter and sugars until light, around 2-3mins

2. Blend in pumpkin and egg, then add vanilla 

3. Mix together the dry ingredients, then add to the wet. Mix by hand until just combined. The dough will be very wet. 

4. Cover and refrigerate for an hour. 

5. Mix together the cream cheese, sugar and vanilla for the filling and leave to chill for an hour. 

6. Preheat oven to 350F/180C and line baking sheet(s) with baking parchment. 

7. Combine sugar and spices in a small bowl and set aside

8. To form the cookies, take a tablespoon of batter and flatten it.


 Place a teaspoon of filling in the centre

Make a second pancake of batter and place on top. 

Tightly pinch the edges to seal in the cream cheese. 

Roll into a ball 

Coat in the cinnamon sugar.
I actually found it easier to make the second pancake first and set it aside while messing with the filling. 

Place on the baking sheet 2 inches apart. Flatten slightly before baking. 


Bake for 10-15mins, until tops have cracked. 

This is how many cookies I got. 


They didn’t last long. 


    FO Friday: Feather print midi skirt 

    Thanks to my day off, this skirt ended up being a pretty quick make.  It also represents a first (thanks to Craft Blog Club on Twitter for the prompt). This is the first sewn garment I have ever made totally independently and I must say that I am absolutely thrilled with the way that it turned out. What I like best is the shape from the side.

    I’m not ashamed to say that inserting the zip was one of the  greatest feelings of pride I’ve had all year. I had hoped to do an exposed zip with metal teeth, but Sew Over It didn’t have any, so instead I went for this golden yellow standard zip. I think it looks pretty cute.


    Getting it neatly exposed involved some finagling. Luckily I had read a tutorial on inserting an exposed zip, so I was able to follow those instructions on the left hand side of the zip opening. It’s not perfect, but I’m still very happy. Here’s how it looks on the inside.

    The asymmetry is where I stay-stitched and clipped the right hand side to enable the fabric to lie flat. Just realised that you can also see the interfacing I used. Oops.

    Something I need to remember next time is to save some extra fabric for pocket facings, as in seam pockets have a tendency to gape open. I salvaged some awesome fabric from the scraps bin at SOI for my pockets.

    …which does have an unfortunate tendency to peek out. I can definitely live with this flaw, but I will try to avoid it in future.

    I haven’t yet managed to get any great pictures of the skirt when I’ve worn it, but I did fulfil one of my more minor ambitions in it.


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