Sunday, September 6, 2009

Stars and Stripes

The lovely Isobel from my workplace is moving on to pastures new soon. I shall be very sad to see her go so I decided to make her something special as a leaving gift.

She is a big girl with an outgoing personality and she loves bright colours such as reds and purples which she offsets against black clothes. Also she has jet black hair so these colours really work for her. The other thing I know is that she loves anything sparkly/glittery and she adores stars.

So I had a rummage round and found all the bits of yarn I had in these colours and then popped off to Kemps who always have a useful supply of discounted 'novelty' yarns - the fluffy, glittery, multi-coloured types to bulk up my stash. I sourced some sparkly stars in red and black from eBay and so the idea developed into a simple garter stitch scarf, with random colour/yarn changes to build up a pleasing fabric.

I cast on 200 stitches on a 5mm circular needle then simply knit back and forth, breaking off the yarn at each end to make tassles. Then I gathered the tassles, adding some stars as I went along, then sewed a few stars in a random pattern on each end and on each side so that it is reversible (I hate it when you have to wear a scarf a certain way round). I used a total of 12 different yarns.

I'm very pleased with the way it's turned out - even though the reds clash horribly with my hair.

Just as well it isn't for me then!

Yesterday was the Autumn Show for our local Horticultural Society so Mike and I had to enter some bits and pieces. He entered a wonderful painting he did of a garden landscape and won first prize in that category - his first ever entry and he's only just started painting. He's too modest to let me show it on here but I can still mention it!

My own offerings yielded 3 x first prizes so quite a satisfactory result:

Here's my beautiful Streptocarpus "Crystal Ice". I absolutely adore Streptocarpus flowers and this is one of my favourites.

Next we have Seville Orange Marmalade and Raspberry Jam. I won a 1st for both of these categories last year but only managed to get 1st prize for the marmalade this time. Never mind, there's always next year!

Finally we have my onions.

I have never entered any vegetables in a show before and had no idea how to display them. I searched the internet for advice and found some photos showing them stripped of their brown outer skins, with their roots trimmed off and their necks tied.

I duly trimmed their roots but they wouldn't stand upright and kept rolling over so I sliced and sliced at the base until they stood firm. I peeled off the outer layers but it was hard to know quite when to stop and I did feel that I'd gone too far. I looked at how the experts had tied the necks of their onions and abandoned all hope of doing it so just left them bare.

When we arrived there a lady was placing her gigantic onions on the bench, beautifully presented with their necks tied with raffia and sitting on what looked like cut up bits of toilet roll (aha, no slicing involved there then!). Having seen them I really didn't think my poor onions would have a chance - but they did and I beat her. Amazing!

I was chatting to one of the Committee members afterwards and she told me that I'd stripped too many outer layers off, trimmed the roots back too far (oops on both counts) and went on to explain how to tie their tops. Despite my errors, the reason my onions had won was because their necks were beautifully small which demonstrated that they had been dried correctly. Phew, I did something right then!

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