Fabric, yarn and stitchy goodies

Support the work of very berry

I am really excited to do a quick intro to my newest sponsors – Prinfab. Prinfab offers you the opportunity to get your own designs onto fabric (there are 10 options of fabric, including cotton, cotton percale, poplin, linen and bamboo available) or buy fabric created by other artists/indie designers. It’s also a place where you can sell your own fabric designs for commission payments. Think a UK-based version of Spoonflower. The prices for custom printed fabric start at £12.99 per metre, which is very competitive. If all this is intriguing to you – I recommend you check out the Prinfab Facebook page to see some examples of the fabrics which are being created.

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I was going to tell you about the fab Sirdar Harrap Tweed Chunky yarn new in at Black Sheep Wools (it’s gorgeous, great value, and comes in a lovely range of colours, what’s not to love?) but then I got distracted by this beautiful crochet blanket pattern using Harrap Tweed DK:

Isn’t it great?! Made me think that I really need an autumn/winter crochet project to take with me on holiday in September (can you tell I’m not leaving England?!).

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There’s a summer sale on at Dragonfly Fabrics with some lovely fabrics at up to 50% off. I love a bargain of course, but what really caught my eye were some fabulous new cotton jersey fabrics from Art Gallery, including this fantabulous ice-cream themed print:

 

Great for leggings or jersey PJs, don’t you think?

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Over at Duck Egg Threads, a delivery of new fabrics means that they have one of the biggest ranges of Pure Elements by Art Gallery in the UK (if not *the* biggest).

These solid colour fabrics are new to me, but Sarah (who owns Duck Egg Threads) was kind enough to send me some pieces, and I am hugely impressed. Such clean bright colours and a fabulous tight weave, these are really quality solid fabrics.

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Cross-stitch nirvana has been reached at Cloud Craft, which is the first UK shop to stock the gorgeous range of Satsuma Street patterns by Jody Rice. I have found it almost impossible to choose a pic to feature, they area all so blooming lovely… but I *think* this one is my favourite (maybe):Satsuma Street printed pattern - Sweet Spring

If you’d like to be in with a chance of winning a set of Christmas patterns from the Satsuma Street range then do pop over to the Cloud Craft Instagram feed, where you can win the patterns, and linen and threads you need too!

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Flowers - spring floral orange & red cotton fabric bundle

Last, but by absolutely no means least, I am in love with this gorgeous bundle from My Fabric House, amongst their collection of ‘Back by Popular Demand‘ restock goodies. That flower fabric on the top is one of my Favourites of All Time… I made a really cute wallet out of it a few years back (2012 – oh my word!), and eked out the left-over scraps into very many later projects. I’m also a very big fan of this super sophisticated grey linen fabric with its delicate tree design – just lovely.

enjoy logo

Sewing tools of note 7- the lint roller

So, here’s a lovely cheap tool that you can pick up at the supermarket for my latest sewing tool of note – the quotidien lint roller (mine is from the Korbond range – and is refillable, which appeals to my sense of thrift).  It’s not glamorous,  not complicated,  just indispensable.

First up, and close to its standard purpose, it’s great for picking up errant threads from finished sewing projects, especially quilt tops. And a few pet hairs too if your house is anything like ours.

But it has got other uses too. You know when you are using the rotary cutter on a cutting board and you get lots if tiny threads caught up in cuts on the mat when you are trimming fabric and patchwork blocks (especially when your mat is as beaten up as mine)?

Removing threads with a lint roller
What a mess!

Well the lint roller cleans up that problem in a trice, and it’s so satisfyingly quick and easy:

Using a lint roller to clean a cutting mat
Before!
Gradually removing threads from a cutting mat with a lint roller
After one roll – we are getting there!

It’s so nice to start a new morning with a nice lint-free cutting mat (if only I could roll the inside of my sewing machine too!).

The other time when it really comes into its own is when you are unpicking stitches (never!).  After you’ve finished unpicking, a quick swish of the roller, and all the half stitches still stuck in your fabric will be gone in no time – just don’t use it on fabric that frays easily, or you could end up with a rather frazzled seam allowance!

This is the seventh in my series: Sewing tools of note. Hope you are enjoying them.

Preserve it: Rumtopf, Hodgkin, Confiture de Vieux Garçon, Bachelor’s Jam…

Whatever you want to call it… Rumtopf, Romkrukke, Confiture de Vieux Garçon, Hodgkin, Hodgepodge, Bachelor’s Jam or Officer’s Jam (just a few of the different names I’ve found) this has got to be the best of all summer preserves. As you can tell by all its names – this method of preserving fruit in alcohol and sugar is a common tradition across Europe and the USA – and no wonder, it’s so delicious!

The idea is to layer fruits, as they come into season, with alcohol and sugar in a big crock or glass jar – then when late autumn comes around, and there is no more fruit to add, you leave the mix undisturbed for a few weeks, and come Christmas-time, you have a wonderful concoction of alcohol-soaked fruits to enjoy with cream, in cake fillings, with waffles, in trifles or with ice cream. AND you also get an amazing fruity liqueur to enjoy and to share – lots of our friends get our ‘Summer Fruit Liqueur’ as part of their Christmas gift.

A few years ago, Sandy found this retro-in-a-bad-way Rumtopf pot in a local charity shop, and he just couldn’t resist buying it for us to use: Rumtopf hodgkin bachelors jam

Previously we used a great big 3 litre Kilner jar – although this was slightly more inconvenient, because it is see-through, it had to be kept in the dark in order to keep the colour of the fruit nice and fresh. It’s so simple to make and you can get started any time over the summer – here are some rules to have to hand if you’d like to give it a go.

Rumtopf Rules

You can use any alcohol – we choose to use brandy so that we can give gifts of the liqueur to gluten-free friends, but rum, vodka, gin and eau de vie (if you can get hold of it) are all good too  – although obviously the flavour will be slightly different in each case. The alcohol must be at least 40% ABV in order to properly preserve the fruit – and if you are lucky enough to find overproof alcohol (50-55% ABV) at a decent price, then your Rumtopf will be even more authentic.

Lots of different fruits are suitable for the pot. We use strawberries (wild and cultivated), cherries (all kinds), raspberries, tayberries, loganberries, plums, damsons, nectarines, peaches, apricots and blackberries. Pears are also a popular addition – but I don’t add these because I’m not keen on the texture. We also take Pam Corbin’s advice from the River Cottage Preserves book and don’t add currants or gooseberries (because apparently the skin goes rather tough).  The fruit needs to be ripe, but not overripe, because of the risk of it fermenting. Soft fruit like raspberries and strawberries should be wiped clean rather than washed, stone fruits should have their stones removed, and larger fruit should be cut to bite-sized chunks.

Fruits preserved in alcohol
One of the great things about making Rumtopf is that if you find a couple of errant late strawberries, or a few early blackberries, you can just pop them into the pot.

Most recipes suggest that you use half the quantity of sugar to fruit – so, if you are adding 200g of fruit to the pot, add 100g of sugar. If you are using a stronger alcohol (50-55% ABV) – you could reduce the amount of sugar, if you prefer a less sweet result, because the alcohol will do all the preserving for you. I always give the pot a very gentle little stir after I have added the sugar to help it dissolve.

Once you have put the fruit and sugar into your pot, add the alcohol so that the fruit is covered by at least an inch of liquid. Many recipes suggest that you should place a small saucer or non-reactive weight in the pot to hold the fruit under the liquid, so that it can’t come into contact with the air and start to ferment. I have never had a problem with this, in spite of not following this advice. It’s your call!

As you fill it, keep your Rumtopf in a cool place, and out of the light if you are using a glass jar.

If you have left your Rumtopf making a bit late, don’t worry, you can put all the fruit in at once if you like – given that supermarkets don’t have seasons!

Once the pot is full, leave undisturbed for at least 2 months, and then you can start to enjoy it’s deliciousness. We usually remove all the fruit in one go, and pour the soaking liqueur through a sieve lined with a clean muslin cloth and bottle it in these small 250ml clip-top bottles, ready to give as gifts. We keep the fruit, in a little of the soaking liqueur, stored in a plastic container in the fridge, to use over the Christmas season. Can’t wait!

Tilda winners

Just time to let you know the winners of my Tilda giveaway – the winning numbers have got to be proof it is very random!

Tilda Autumn 2016 winner 2

Comment 21 was left by Gail T. Congrats –  I will be in touch shortly.

Tilda Autumn 2016 winner 1

Comment 22 was left by Annie in France – congratulations to you too – I will be emailing very soon.

Thanks all for taking part!