A panoply of (sometimes) lovingly handmade crud.

A time to sow and a time to reap 

I finally got something other than courgettes out of my garden since I pulled my carrots and beetroot. It’s weird growing root vegetables as you basically have no idea what’s lurking under the ground.

For some reason only one of my beetroot grew to a decent size. I’m not too upset because I’m not that crazy about beetroot anyway. Turns out that I grew a lot of vegetables that I’m not too fond of. The fact is, I used to eat vegetables because they were good for me and not for pleasure. I have to say, though, growing my own has given me a new appreciation for veg.

Anyway, the small yield scuppered my plan of making chutney so I just roasted the beetroot in the oven. This was my first experience with raw beetroot. I followed Jamie Oliver’s recommendation of eating it warm on toast with horseradish. It was okay, but not sure I would make it again.

I was very pleased with my purple carrots because my dad’s girlfriend, who is a gardener, said that carrots are notoriously difficult to grow. I wanted to enjoy them in their raw form so I made some red pepper hummus with which to eat them. I followed this recipe, which produced by far the best hummus I’ve ever made, rivalling store bought. Hummus is one of the few things that I’ve found very difficult to improve by making from scratch.

I increased all of the amounts by 50% due to the ingredients I had on hand, so I now have an enormous quantity of hummus to consume. Fortunately it’s really good with the carrots.

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FO Friday: Blue the Whale Calf

I went to a peculiar crochet event at the Natural History Museum recently. In order to celebrate replacing the famous dinosaur skeleton in their great hall with the bones of a blue whale named Hope, Toft designed a special kit to make a crocheted version. Here’s what we were emulating.

And here I am hooking underneath her.

In terms of amigurumi, I’ve only ever trial crocheted some simple spheres before, so the whale was quite a step up. I made a few mistakes, especially with the decreases, but I remembered my friend Anna’s advice that crochet is very forgiving and ploughed on. I don’t think the errors notice too much.

This is actually the bonus pattern, Blue the whale calf. I’m pretty pleased with it as my my first crocheted toy. I’ll probably have a go at the full size whale one day.

Kits exclusive to the Natural History Museum in London.

Pattern not currently featured on Ravelry.

Get stuffed

The courgette glut continues. Here I am having harvested my biggest marrow yet, which weighed in at over two kilos.

Do you see the symbolism?

I’m hoping to get something other than courgettes out of the garden soon. I have a lot of fruit on my tomato plants, but it’s all still green. I think my carrots and beetroot are nearly ready too.


I made another traybake thing, this time based on this recipe from the BBC Food website. I used a whole pack of my favourite caramelised onion sausages for the stuffing and it was awesome. I think this might be my favourite courgette recipe so far.

I feel like this is a pretty flexible recipe. For the filling I used

  • 6 caramelised onion sausages
  • 2 onions
  • 2 cloves garlic 
  • Breadcrumbs made from two slices of bread
  • 50g extra mature cheddar

Doesn’t look too bad once it’s tarted up on a salad, does it?

WiP Wednesday: Flora and Fauna Dress

I cut this dress out soon after finishing my denim day dress, but didn’t do anything else in over a year. I intended to take the pieces to a sewing cafe to overlock them, but never quite got round to it until a couple of months ago.

Weirdly, I had to re-cut a lot of my pattern pieces. No idea why, but a lot of them were too big. This also gave me a chance to take some length out of the back bodice.

The dress seems to be going together okay so far. I found the viscose more difficult to gather neatly than the denim of my previous version. I think next time, I would sew the elastic even closer to the tops of the skirt pieces.

I also found the invisible zip installation instructions a bit confusing- they state to sew using a normal zipper foot, but at no point seem to instruct you to go over it again with an invisible zip foot. I’ll just add this step in as I see fit.


I was just hitting my stride in constructing this dress when I realised that somehow I managed to cut out two left sleeves. Nightmare.

You can see the offending sleeve at the top of this pic. On a more positive note, adding a row of gathering stitches made it a lot easier to pin in the sleeve.

Fortunately re-cutting the sleeve didn’t cause me too much of a roadblock even though I couldn’t find the pattern piece and so had to trace a new one off the second left sleeve. Hope the other piece turns up. The construction goes really quickly once the sleeves are in, so now it’s just the hems and neck facing to go.


I think that the bodice is a teensy bit too long, but hard to tell how much of that is the pattern, and how much is due to the fabric I’m using. However, I’m pretty happy with the fit overall.


Pattern: Day Dress by the Avid Seamstress- size 10/12 mashup

Fabric: Around 2m of rayon purchased on holiday in Indonesia

More-gettes

I’ve had two more absolutely enormous courgettes from the garden since my last post.

I made a couple of courgette-based traybake things that weren’t glamorous enough to be photographed- but I do tend to put pics on my Instagram story (@craftycrusader) if you’re interested. I made a courgette stuffed with a sort of Middle Eastern turkey chilli and a kind of lasagne, where I used ricotta rather than making béchamel sauce.

Parts of the courgettes were also grated and frozen for future cakes. I was throwing some of the middle parts away, but I felt badly about that so I am now freezing them in anticipation of trying out this courgette jam recipe.

Something I did make that was as beautiful as it was tasty was this courgette waffle recipe. The waffles are pretty tasty. I get six waffles out of the amounts stated, and they are  around 95 calories each. Most of the calories are from the cheese. I’m planning to make a few and freeze them for future brunches.

WiP Wednesday: Wonder Woman Shawl

I lost steam on my knitting again after getting near the end of my Wowligan. That  project is on my summer to-do list, so hopefully I’ll get around to finishing off the button bands in the next couple of weeks.


Copyright Carissa Browning via Ravelry

I’ve got a couple of summer trips coming up where it will be nice to have a fairly straightforward project along with me. Something that caught my eye immediately was this beautiful Wonder Woman shawl. I’m not especially into comic books but I am into bold, graphic designs and getting more red into my wardrobe. I picked up some yarn on the Love Knitting website but the red was completely the wrong colour. I decided to finally head to I Knit London, which is currently my LYS, to pick up a suitably cartoonish shade.

I’ve been aware of IKL since my days as a fledgling knitter, when I accompanied them to Camp Bestival to volunteer in their tent one summer. It was good to finally get a chance to visit the store just eight short years later (seriously where does the time go?). I’ve got to say that I liked IKL. Gerard dyes his own yarns and I will definitely have to go back as his speckled wool would make a great jumper. I still have a speckled Humboldt sweater in mind.

Anyway, I picked up some red- a bit more cherry than I would have liked, but I couldn’t be bothered to trek to another yarn store. I had some fun using the swift and ball-winder to wind the yarn, helped by the ladies in the knitting group that was running when I visited. I hate hand-winding so much, it was great to be able to skip that step and be left with a professional-looking yarn cake.

So far the knitting on this pattern has been going well. I’m really enjoying the fact that this project is mindless enough for me to work on while I finally catch up on Game of Thrones. I didn’t get a chance to watch series 5 or 6 (though I did read the books a few years ago) and I’ve been loving bingeing them. The other advantage of knitting is that it stops me from checking my phone and therefore missing bits of the action.

It’s not that easy to get a decent picture because of how the shawl is constructed, but here’s how it’s looking so far. You can see that the W shape is starting to emerge.

Pattern: Wonder Woman Wrap (FREE on Ravelry)

Yarn: 1 skein each Ella Rae Lace Merino (Pineapple Soda) and Fyberspates Scrumptious 4-ply (Kiss)

Ravelry project page

Forgive and courgette

In the past couple of weeks, my garden has started to produce a lot of courgettes. I got the seeds as part of a ‘funky veg’ kit and kind of just planted for the hell of it- I’m not the biggest fan of courgettes. However, I sense that my glut of yellow beauties may make me learn to love this humble vegetable. We’ll see how I do at the challenging task of not embarrassing myself with phallic references in this post. I am a follower of Freud, after all.

I turned my first fistful of small courgettes into a tasty salad. Adapted from this recipe.

I knew that my staff summer picnic would be a good excuse to use up some more courgettes. As you can see, these ones were much larger.

I made another salad for the party- this was actually my first time cooking and eating fennel. I selected a vegan recipe, but when the vegan in the team wasn’t at the picnic, I did add some cheeky feta. Cheese makes everything better.

I also made a courgette cake. Since I’ve blogged previously about chocolate courgette cake, I used this recipe as a jumping-off point.

The cake was lovely- light, moist and tasty. Would probably omit raisins next time. My favourite bit was the frosting, but then I am dangerously addicted to cream cheese frosting. I have a LOT more courgettes coming, so I need to stay ahead of the game with ways to use them.