happy halloween!

magic finger

here's a pattern for a simple crochet finger puppet to adapt as you wish; witches, wizards, zombies, devils, rats and bats... or as my youngest suggests - a rabbit!     Quite.

the following instructions are for uk crochet
using dk (light-worsted) yarn and size 3.25mm (d3) hook, begin with body end and make 12 chain.
taking care not to twist the chain join into a ring with sl st in 1st chain of the round.
rnd 1. 1ch, 1dc in each ch around. (12 dc)
Place a marker at beg of each round to mark start of the round
rnd 2. 1dc in each 12dc around.
rep last rnd until body measures 4cm (1.5in)
 - if you want the head to be a different colour, break yarn and join in the new colour.
next rnd. 1dc in each dc around.
rep last rnd until entire puppet measures 6cm (2.5in)
complete head as follows or skip next 2 instructions and follow instructions for 'hat'
head only: miss next dc, 1dc in each next 2dc, rep from * around. (8 dc)
Break yarn and thread end through rem 8 sts. Pull up to close top of head and fasten off.
hat: break yarn from head colour and change to hat colour.
next rnd.  miss next dc, 1dc in each next 3dc, rep from * around. (9 dc)
next rnd.  miss next dc, 1dc in each next 2dc, rep from * around. (6 dc)
next rnd.  miss next dc, 1dc in next dc, rep from * around. (3 dc)
Break yarn and thread end through rem 3 sts. Pull up to close top of hat and fasten off.
hat brim
make 12 ch. Turn. make 1ch, skip next ch, 1dc in each rem ch. fasten off.
use the brim to coil around, in a flat twist, at the top of the head/ bottom of the hat. sew in place to secure.
sew on round bits of felt with a black french knot for the eyes -  or snap toy eyes in place as i did, sew a line for a mouth using black yarn or thread.
if you want arms ( or legs) work a long chain (20 ch in my case) and fasten off, sew in place at the back of the puppet.
i also tied a strand of yarn around the neck as a cloak fastening.
cut strands for hair and sew under the hat or onto the top of the head

make no bones...

these effectively frightening fellows were made by my children - their names - the models not my children(!) - are bill bone, bella bone and bertie bone and they were made from polymer clay (fimo or sculpey for eg.) allow one pack per sculpture. see below for the simple instructions...

break off bits of the clay and soften. work the lumps into a head, body, 2 feet and 2 hands. using skewers or sharpish points 'draw' lines onto the parts to illustrate bones; teeth, ribs, finger bones etc, the eyes were created by pushing a bead onto the head then removing the bead leaving an indent looking rather like an eye socket. push a knitting needle into the top and down through to the bottom of each shape (best to get an adult to do this) thus making each body part into a sort of bead. thread up a long darning needle with a length of cotton or linen or similar string - not plastic string (i used baker's string), and thread the length of string through the 'bead'. knot each end then mould the clay a little around the string to keep the string in place. bake in a preheated oven according to the manufacturer's guidelines. our skeletons took 20 mins in a 130˚ oven. leave to cool and hang in a strategic place ready to spook your mates!
which one's your favourite?

half term treat (not trick): green jelly brains...

oozy, sticky green jelly fill these orange jack'o'lanterns and children find great pleasure in scooping out the 'jelly brains'! apologies to the squeamish! Simple to make, here's how...

make the jelly following the manufacturer's guidelines - i used two jelly packs for three oranges which was a perfect amount. allow for about 2 or 3 hours to set. cut the top off the orange and scoop out the flesh and tip out the juice - eat and drink this. wipe the inside with absorbent kitchen paper. cut out a face or design into the orange skin. drag a fork through the jelly to mash it up. spoon the mashed up jelly into the orange heads - pop back into the fridge or eat straight away. spookilicious!

(spooky) images of the week #3

and over to my three children for their ghoulishly creepy creations... thanks harry (bat), may (skeletons) & james (pumpkins)! - look out this week too for pumpkin jellies, hanging skeletons and crocheted witchy finger puppets!

Halloween make week starts right here...

#1yummy chocolate spooky bat biscuits

This dark as night biscuit dough is perfect for children. it really behaves itself no matter how many times it is scrunched and rolled - plus it makes loads of yummy of bats and it keeps well for up to week when stored in an airtight box! what are you waiting for...
you will need:
140g/ 5oz plain (all purpose) flour
45g/ 1 1/2oz cocoa powder
60g/ 2oz icing (confectioner's) sugar
125g/ 4oz cold butter, cut into small pieces
1 egg yolk
teaspoon vanilla essence
bat shaped cutter or cut the dough free-style using a knife

for the icing
50g dark chocolate
small knob of butter

to decorate
chocolate vermicelli
white vermicelli for the fangs!

  1. measure flour, cocoa and icing sugar into a bowl. mix together briefly.
  2. rub in the butter (or process) until you have fine breadcrumbs.
  3. add the egg yolk and vanilla essence. process or mix with a spoon until the dough comes together - it may seem quite dry but stick with it and, if mixing by hand, get your hands in to bring the dough together.
  4. roll the dough into a ball and wrap in cling then place in the fridge for about 30 minutes to rest.
  5. preheat the oven to 160°C/ 325°F/ gas 3
  6. roll the dough between 2 sheets of greaseproof paper until it is 5mm/ 1/4in thick. Cut out the shapes and place onto a lined baking tray.
  7. use the point of a knitting needle, or similar, to make holes for the eyes.
  8. bake for 15 to 18 minutes.
  9. transfer the biscuits to a wire rack to cool.
  10. in the meantime melt the chocolate with the butter. leave to cool down a little before decorating the bats.

the colour of...

this quince jelly! - of which I am extremely proud - curiously is nothing at all like the colour of its fruit, nor its flesh!  it is gloriously, christmas red and jewel like though, I have the jars strategically balancing on the sash window in the kitchen, the light shining through as stained glass - far too good to eat.
so, if you fancy making a window ornament like this, simply boil up a couple of pounds of quince then strain through a jelly bag. add the strained juice to sugar (300ml juice to 300gm granulated sugar) boil to setting point and can up. then put them against the light of the window and admire the glowing colour!

a spoonful of something good... image of the week #2

These spoons are delightful, the colours, the order and the pattern - my definitive choice for image of the week. the picture came from a little hamster's blog which, in itself, is a pleasure to behold.

for the weekend: nature nest and bird make

have you any plans for the weekend? well hows about a spot of nesting and nature gathering? - this was something we did last weekend and I wanted to share it with you.  a while ago i had knitted some birds for patterns for my pets book and thought a nest would be a lovely thing for the children to make for the little birds. so if you too like the idea, weather permitting i guess! here is a free pdf pattern for you to knit a bird or two and make the simple card frame for a nest building experience!
p.s. image of the week will now be on mondays as i thought it would be fun to have a weekend idea every week - i'd like to hear your ideas too, if possible, and maybe i could link some in to this blog?
hope you have a good one...

Holding on...

i have been holding on, holding on to summer, even though i love autumn equally the summer still lingers a bit, especially during the last few days, we even had a busy bumble bee buzzing and gathering in and amongst the remaining lupins yesterday. but today it's suddenly gone much colder, the sun, much paler and this morning the surrounding fields lay heavy with dew, almost a frost. time to get the jumpers out, t shirts away...

my images of the week...

i am constantly browsing books, other blogs and websites and really revel being inspired by wonderfully glowing and evocative images and art, so every friday i'm going to post my personal favourite pictures from the week - be it from a book, magazine, blog - whatever has inspired me, i hope you too enjoy them. here's the first week's selection
i've been in an autumnal mood all week, also a kind of harvest mood, i guess - the weather has been quite sublime for this time of year allowing wonderful light to touch the changing hues of the leaves and lighting the strings of redder than red and indian pink berries like mini fairy lights, also it was the childrens' harvest festival on wednesday, anually held inside our ancient church... (that in itself was an inspiration). so that said, this weeks images, for me, are reflective of nature, autumn and colour. firstly, an atmospheric photograph of autumn cooking ingredients from one of my all time favourite cookery books delicious home cooking by caroline conranbeing a creature of habit, i take this book from the shelf around this time every year and plan my future weeks cooking from it - it's just so homely, warm and comforting, for example the recipe that precedes the photo is mrs. beeton's apple snow - quite! the next image is taken from a favourite page from toast's latest catalogue - the garments and the photos within the catalogue always evoke homliness and warmth both in their colours and content. and finally, a striking painting by my friend alice mumford, i went to her private view last night - still reeling with delight. this particular painting entitled saffron cloth and hawthorn... say no more except have a lovely weekend!

hibernation time!

it's almost time for this sprightly fellow to hibernate. his name is tortellini and he's from my book (available here or here)
      hibernation... actually, i rather like the thought of that...

figgy pudding time!

according to delia, now is the time to make your christmas pudding, so choose a quiet, rainy afternoon, you know one of those days when you simply have absolutely nothing to do?!! - i might make a traditional figgy pudding this year for a change, though not now - it's a sunny day and i've loads to do.

you know, fresh figs have such a beautifully soft, delicate and fragile nature, i just had to knit a couple