Archive for category Crochet Projects

‘One Day I Will Get Organised’ Maybe – Probably Not and ‘No More Rescue Dogs’ Maybe – Probably Not

Occasionally I am inspired by my blogging friends who set themselves challenges and goals for the day, the week or even the whole year ahead.

But not for long.

This ‘to do’ list scrawled on a bit of torn out paper is about as organised as I get.

However, I have managed to work through some of those (although it is Thursday and I wrote it on Monday).  I’ve phoned my Mum and my friend Maureen although she isn’t crossed out yet.

I’ve booked a restaurant for lunch tomorrow with some friends.

The ‘Box’ entry is because the customer who ordered a little etui box like this ……..

…..liked it so much she wanted a sewing box in the same fabric.

I didn’t have enough blue bunnies so she settle on pink which I hope she will like.

I wanted to practise some freehand machine embroidery so I made her this card using a piece of the fabric from the interior of the sewing box.

The ‘crochet’ entry is because I’m running out of time to complete my two identical sections of Jane Crow’s ‘Sunshine and Showers’ crochet along before the next section is released.

So I’ve managed one and now have to do an identical one.

The lurid greenish colour in the background is a yoga mat.  Obviously!

I’m worried about wavy edges because there are so many different stitches and colour changes and I’m thinking I’m no expert yet so my tension may well wander so I’m blocking it as I go along – hence the yoga mat.

I  don’t think it’s too bad but I need to have a clean slate before next month’s section is released as some Ravelry users who did this last year say they almost gave up at that point.  Even the designer confesses it to being difficult but rewarding.  Ooer.  Stand by for a row of individual flowers on top of what I’ve already done.  Maybe.

I’ve crossed out ‘Collars’ but really I should leave them on there because, since tagging my Scottie Dog collars as Westies I have been inundated with orders from a French Westie fan club on Facebook.  I know they are a little square jawed for Westies but then most Scotties are black so I consider it to be a generic design.

Talking of dogs, mine are driving me to distraction at the moment.  As happened last year, they graze like cattle on the fallen plums and figs in the garden and, also like cattle, deposit the results in great pancakes.  Then they scent our evenings with their gaseous offerings.  I’ve tried clearing up the fruit as it falls but we have so many trees that it’s a virtually impossible task and the slightest breeze (or dog nudging at the lower branches) releases another load.

It’s just as well really because, knowing my love of German Shepherd type dogs my friend sent me this photo of a pup that has recently arrived at the dog rescue.

Then, when I foolishly investigated further, I saw this handsome fella

I’ve also heard, separately, of two young Pyreneen Mountain dogs who need a new home.  Mr. T says it must be a sign but he’s not here all the time so I’m just going to go out in the garden and shovel up some more fallen fruit – both undigested and digested – to remind me that three dogs is already plenty.

I haven’t forgotten the  ‘hatboxes’ entry and must do something with the hatbox quilt blocks before the end of the month as that is supposed to be a monthly ‘challenge’.  See, I do try.

The ‘Conservatory’ entry is sort of housework related so we won’t worry about that –  ‘after all, tomorrow is another day’

 

 

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Crochet Along and Crochet Alone

 

Remember I told you I was joining in with a CAL (crochet along), where a new section is added each month for twelve months?

 Or perhaps you have a life?

Nevertheless, I promised you puff stitch and here it is in the section for June which has been crocheted directly on top of  the section for May which is the way of these things I believe.

This is the ‘Sunshine and Showers’ CAL from Jane Crow –  first issued monthly in a magazine last year and now available for free on Jane’s blog.

I am still a beginner really so I thought this would teach me some new skills.

This month I learnt how to do flower stems, puff stitch,  crochet into front of loop, crochet into back of loop to name just a few thrills and spills.  Nobody can say I don’t know how to live.

See the turquoise row? Well that had me foxed because it comes out as a sort of separate strand on the wrong side of the work at first and I didn’t think that was right so I undid it all and tried it a different way which, of course, was wrong.  Eventually I found a photograph of the back of the work on somebody’s Ravelry project and realised I had done it correctly the first time.  So, it would have been useful to have been given a ‘rear view’ for this particular row in the otherwise very detailed tutorial.  Still, I got there in the end and am almost finished the second, identical piece ready to add on the next bit when it is issued next month.

With all these different stitches, colour changes and my inexperience, I am worrying about the edges of the blanket becoming wavy – a problem some other people have mentioned on Ravelry.  I know this yarn is acrylic but I’m sort of blocking it as I finish each section – i.e. spraying it with some water and pinning it to size – hoping it will limit the waviness somewhat.

It was my birthday a couple of weeks ago and I had put two crochet books on my list which my daughter obliged me with so look out for amigurumi monsters and faux taxidermy which might, or might not, be flying off my hook some time in the future – although it will probably not be the near future.  I am finding the zebra’s head a little intimidating so I might start with the mouse’s head as, with all the cats around here,  it shouldn’t be too difficult to find a life model should I need one – although there probably wouldn’t be much life left in it by the time I got to it 😦   Still, they haven’t dragged a zebra through the cat flap yet so I’ll have to make do.

 

You might remember that I started a ‘fusion’ blanket a while ago which is a sort of fabric/crochet hybrid.  Squares of fabric with wadding in between and each square surrounded by a border of crochet.  I thought it would be a good portable project to do with my sewing buddy on Wednesday afternoons.  I haven’t been doing any of it at home – apart from sewing the fabric ‘sandwiches’ together –  saving it for Wednesdays.  She however forged ahead without me which is why my work still looks more or less like this……

…..and hers looks like this

This is a proposed layout, just needs whip stitching together then an outer crochet border added.  Still, it’s so pretty that it has encouraged me to get on with mine and stop moaning about the splitty cotton yarn I’m using and the 2.5mm crochet hook which both come as a shock after using a 4mm hook and DK yarn on the two other blankets I’m working on.

As a bit of a diversion from all things crochet I had a commission for one of my étui cartonnage boxes but not a hexagonal one this time.  A previous client asked me for one of the small boxes I make which was quite a relief as I’ve lost my box making mojo at the moment – I’m sure you know the feeling 😉 .  Anyway, her brief was brief but rabbits were mentioned.

So, here be rabbits

with some floral goings on inside

 

Off to the hairdressers in a minute to ‘have my roots done’ and when you see the photos of me in my next post you will understand why.

 

 

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Just a Couple of Little Projects

While my Mum was visiting I abandoned sewing and my workroom for the much more sociable and garden friendly crochet.

I was prepared.  Having made a fairly simple blanket as a beginner project I thought I’d tackle something a little more complicated and was tempted by the Sunshine and Showers blanket by Janie Crow which is running as a CAL (crochet along) on her blog  here.

You make two identical sections per month for twelve months and then join some sections together and you should end up with the above which looks hideously complicated to me.   Look! there are flowers and little hearts and bobbles and things – but I’m hoping to learn as I go along.  There are two versions – one in a merino mix yarn and the one I’m doing which is in Stylecraft Special DK which comes in some splendiferous colours.  I decided to go with the same colours used in the CAL because there will be less room for confusion and I like them anyway.

I have completed one of the sections for the month of May – the wave pattern is intentional and not due to wine consumption –

Now I have to make a second,  identical one and wait for June’s section to be released when, apparently,  I will learn ‘puff’ stitches – I can hardly wait and, although I know that sounds sarcastic, there is a an element of truth in it.  Simple pleasures……..

I had forgotten how much I hate doing long foundation chains  😦

A glutton for punishment, however, and wanting something easier to do in between waiting for the sections to be released, I bought the yarn to make Lucy at Attic 24’s Hydrangea Blanket for which the pattern is on her blog here

At first glance I wondered why these colours were anything to do with hydrangeas but Lucy explains that she watched how the blooms changed colour over time and has some great photos on her blog (one of which below) showing how right she is.

Wool Warehouse stocks the kits for Attic 24 patterns so I went ahead and sent for them here and began the repetitive, yet addictive, stitch which forms a really nice dense texture.

I like to look at the balls of yarn in their basket.  Such a range of colours is hard to resist and, although I avoid 100% acrylic in knitting projects that I am going to wear, in my house a blanket needs to be put in a washing machine.  Also, after struggling with a cotton yarn that splits as soon as you look at it in my fusion quilt (squares of fabric with a crochet border) this is an absolute pleasure to crochet with.  I’m hooked!  Sorry, not sorry.

This is where I am with it so far but progress might slow down a little now Mum has gone back to the U.K. and I am drawn back to the sewing room.

Just in case I wasn’t already knee deep in crochet, I made a hat.  For an egg.  Well, why wouldn’t you?

Actually, it’s not really for an egg, although it could be,  it’s for a bottle.  I can’t remember where I saw it mentioned first but Innocent Drinks are, once again, asking for little knitted (or crochet) hats to put on the top of their smoothie bottles in the supermarket and, for each hat-wearing bottle sold, they donate 25pence to Age UK.  Since 2003 ,  6 million hats have been knitted which has helped raise over £1.9m and increase awareness of the great work done by charities like Age UK.

On a selfish note, it helps me improve my crochet ‘in the round’.

You can read about it here if you fancy putting your needles (or hook) to good use  – the deadline this year is 31st July.

The fabric haul from my Walthamstow Market visit has arrived with Mr. T. from the U.K.  He has got a ‘pulled’ shoulder muscle from the weight.  I blame it on the black flecked jersey on the bottom there which is heavy and there is 3m of it.

I’ve given him some Ibuprofen, treated the affected shoulder with a cursory massage and told him to buy a cabin bag with wheels.

Close ups and potential uses for the precious cargo to follow .

 

 

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Call the (Quilt) Police There’s A Mad (Wo)Man Around

With apologies to the Pet Shop Boys for sort of ripping off their lyrics for my title, I hope you’re all enjoying a lovely long Easter/Spring break and doing whatever it is you like to do at such times.

Last time we had a chat I asked you for help in deciding on a border for the Friendship Braids quilt and then mostly ignored what everybody said anyway.  The Quilt Police will not be happy but I decided to dig out a vintage sheet I had actually bought a couple of years ago with the backing for this quilt in mind and use it for the border.

Tell me I was wrong.

I’m not normally a ‘green’ lover but I think it makes it look very fresh.

It is quite a low thread count I believe but, just to be sure, I washed it, made a sandwich with a square of quilting cotton, wadding and sheet and had a go on the machine.  I didn’t have any problems with tension or thread knotting or snapping or anything and I certainly won’t be doing any quilting this close together so I’m going to go ahead and if I’m arrested and given a long sentence it will just give me the opportunity to sew mini hexies together, learn to love cross stitch, do a degree in psychology and concentrate on trying to make an orange jumpsuit work with my complexion – although that would only be if I got arrested by the United States Quilt Police which is a possibility as I think they are the most rigorous.

As I’m in confession mode, I must offer as evidence to be taken into consideration M’lud that, even worse than it being a sheet, there might be a touch of ‘poly’ in with the cotton as there’s a vague chemical smell when I iron it.

With this in mind, I decided not to go the whole hog and use it for the backing as well.  As luck would have it, I had just dug a duvet cover out of the clean laundry basket that has been subjected to numerous treatments and washes in an attempt to remove some oil (I think it was some sort of body oil) that Mlle Tialys the elder had managed to spill on it some time ago.  There was a patch of oil that refused to come out and, if anything, appeared to increase in oiliness as time went by.  I cut out the patch, harvested the top Cath Kidston like floral fabric for future projects and pondered using the checkered side for the back as it is serendipitously the right colours and size.  (Woohoo, I got to use ‘serendipitously’ – and again!)

I did make another sandwich, it worked fine, it is now cut to size for assembly so it’s too late to tell me if you don’t think it’s a good idea and, anyway, you know I don’t always listen don’t you.  It is, at least, 100% cotton.

I rest my case.

I did have a vague idea about giving this to my Mum when I’d finished it but I think it might have too much green in it now for her liking.  She has a thing about green and, as with most of her superstitions, has passed them on to me.   Even though I don’t really count myself as a particularly superstitious person, I like to err on the side of caution.  I don’t put new shoes on the kitchen table, I don’t bring lilacs into the house, I don’t tell Friday’s dreams on a Saturday in case they come true, and other such tosh.  However, for years I believed the colour green to be unlucky until it turned out that her basis for believing that was that her own mother had once lost a purse while wearing a green coat.  Sometimes I worry.

So she will be getting my first ever crocheted blanket instead which, as far as I know, has no bad luck associated with it and will go very nicely on her sofa and across her knees if she gets a bit chilly

Flushed with success after harvesting 450g of gorgeous tasting brown mushrooms from the pot on the right and watching the new babies grow (you can just see them if you squint) – I spotted a pot for white mushrooms (or champignons de Paris as they are called here) and thought I’d give them a go too.  It’s quite amazing how much better they taste when plucked from their very own compost just before you cook them.  I’m a convert and our earth floor wine cellar – which never gets used to store wine as we drink it too quickly – may well be put into use as a mushroom growing room in the near future.

I found this little stool in the junk shop last week and, as with much vintage French furniture, it was covered in a very dark brown thick varnish. Yuk.  I forgot to take a ‘before’ photo but it was a flat, uninteresting, no grain showing, almost black, dark brown. Mr. T. had a go with the varnish remover and the sander and got it down to this.

I’m going to treat it with some woodworm killer – just in case – and, if all of the varnish has gone I want to use a white wax on it but, if not, I will probably use a chalk paint and then distress and wax it.

Off to baste a quilt before somebody stops me.

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Fusion

Regular readers may remember that I have started  to wave a crochet hook about in what I hope will be a productive fashion.  I’ve made a few practice squares, hearts and circles and am halfway up a multicoloured ‘v’ stitch blanket but I’m also juggling two knitting projects and, like most of us, I can’t remember how many patchwork/dressmaking/commissioned thingies and various other craft projects I have on the go.  When something catches my eye, however, I am very easily persuaded from my path and, when that something involves two of my favourite things – fabric and yarn – patchwork and crochet – that particular bull has to be taken by the horns and run with (or is that against the law now?)

So, in the manner of a fancy restaurant with a mélange of dishes gleaned from various parts of the world and calling it ‘fusion cuisine’, I am combining some double sided fabric squares with a border of crochet and making a fusion quilt – or, if I find it too difficult,  a fusion handkerchief.

Here is a photograph from Fanny Lu Designs showing a corner of her High Tea Fusion Quilt which is where I got the inspiration (and the instructions!)

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Detail of High Tea Fusion Quilt from Fanny Lu Designs – more photos and tutorial here

I went through a phase of buying charm packs (42 x 5 inch squares of coordinating fabrics for those not of the patchwork/quilting persuasion)  and then never really knowing what to do with them so, although Tiffany uses 6 inch squares in her tutorial, I had two matching Moda charm packs in my stash all dressed up with no place to go so I decided to adapt, save some money and make some room in my stash at the same time – it can always be replenished later after all.

Fabric for Fusion Quilt

I also found a pack of 12 x 50g balls of Rowan organic cotton yarn that I had pounced upon like a woman possessed when it was laid on the floor along with numerous other packs of bargain yarns for  knitters, crocheters and random passers by to rummage amongst  in some sort of woolly rugby scrum.  This was at some forgotten knitting/stitching show I attended at some forgotten time – I am more dignified these days 😉  Anyway, so much did I need that pack of 12 x 50g balls that I still have it, untouched, to this day.  I thought, as it’s a quite nice ‘tea-stained’ colour, it would make a vintage looking border for my vintage looking fabrics and result in a pretty, vintage looking blanket (or hanky).  Plus, as with the fabric charm squares, it would use up some stash and I would end up with a free quilt.   ‘Free’ is a relative term when you are somebody who stockpiles yarn and fabric as you probably know if you have been interested enough to read this far.

Test Sqaure for Fusion Quilt

Here is my first attempt.  I quite like the colour but the yarn is a double knit and the Fanny Lu design uses a fingering weight (4-ply?) baby wool so it looks a little ‘thick’ and not as delicate as I might have liked.  Also, that Rowan cotton is a mare for splitting and I didn’t fancy doing the whole blanket faffing about with split yarn, not at my novice stage.

So, I faced the fear and ordered a huge cone of ivory cotton 4-ply from eBay.  I had it delivered to Mr. T’s office in London.  When I spoke to him on the phone he asked me why I’d ordered a large spool of string.  The fear returned.

4 PLY YARN CONE

I had a go with another pair of squares and the ‘string’ and I think this looks a bit more like the original idea of a delicate blanket with a vintage look.

FUSION QUILT TEST SQUARE 2

I think the thicker yarn would also work – though not the splitty stuff unless you are a complete whizz with the hook and that stuff doesn’t bother you – but, obviously, it would give the finished blanket a different look.

Fusion Quilt Test Squares 1 & 2

Which do you prefer?

So, I’m going to make this a project I do with my sewing buddy on a Wednesday as we have ‘finished’ our Friendship Braid quilts we were making together.   I say ‘finished’ but only the tops are done though we will complete the rest of it as individuals.  Maybe.   By contrast, this blanket can be made in small pieces and we can crochet the borders while having a chat and complaining about things in France and in general – at least I think that’s what we’re doing, my French isn’t perfect.  My crochet skills aren’t perfect either – far from it – so I will probably get carried away from time to time moaning about French drivers (they don’t indicate – you’d think there was a tax on using the indicators or something), the lack of any decent restaurants round here (we’re in France for God’s sake!), the amount of dog poo on the pavements and anything else that takes us on the day and then I’ll have to undo what I’ve done and start again which, I must say, seems to be a lot easier with crochet than with knitting.  Just as well as it’s not easy, putting the world to rights.

Time will tell whether I end up with a blanket, a table mat or a handkerchief or just lots of fabric squares with crochet borders waiting, at the bottom of a basket in a corner of my workroom, to be joined together which of course is yet another possibility.

 

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Knitting Needles, Crochet hooks and Dodgy Cakes

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A friend of mine has just started to learn to knit and it was her birthday last week so I knew just what to make her.

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I went back to the pattern in ‘Stitch and Bitch’ that I’d shrunk down to make a roll for my new crochet hooks and made a full size one for her.

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I didn’t leave my gorgeous knitting needles in though – I bought her some plain ones.  I’m not that good a friend.

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Possibly becoming adventurous beyond my burgeoning crochet ability I bought a kit from Black Sheep Wools who kindly deliver to France at a reasonable cost.  I was tempted by those lovely colours.  The yarn is James C. Brett DK Merino.  It’s actually mostly acrylic  – well, it is for a blanket that will need washing – but there is a 10% merino content so it feels lovely and soft and is great to work with.

I was daunted by the 162 chains as I’ve never yet managed to make even a small  one without twisting it and then, getting my U.S. and U.K. terms mixed up, I did the foundation row in double treble crochet instead of treble but that is how it’s staying as I’m not re-doing that chain!   It’s a nice easy pattern and perfect for me to get used to the whole technique of crochet.

This is it so far…..

Crochet Blanket Start

….. and this is how I’m hoping it will end up.

Highland Heathers Blanket

Sara’s Highland Heather Blanket Kit – available from Black Sheep Wools here

Just in case you are thinking I’ve gone all ‘perfect’ over the weekend – think again.

It was Mlle. Tialys the Younger’s birthday on Friday and, flushed with success after making Nigella’s Madeira cake (feast your eyes here – no calories!), I had a go at her Dense Chocolate Loaf Cake (also from ‘How To Be A Domestic Goddess’).

Salvaged Cake

If you think this looks a little like a pig’s breakfast, then you should see how it looked half an hour after it came out of the oven.

And you shall –

Nigella says the cake is so dense and damp it will sink a little when it comes out of the oven.

Burnt Cake

 I don’t think she meant quite this much  😦

Some days I’m more of a domestic goddess than others.

I broke a few pieces off around the outside and it actually tasted good so I chopped it up into brownie sized damp, dense pieces and arranged them on a plate, sprinkled them with icing sugar and, because I couldn’t find the birthday candles, stuck a fancy straw in the top.  Luckily my daughter is easily pleased especially when chocolate is involved.  How fortunate was my friend who got a hand made knitting needle roll instead of a cake.

I Googled the recipe expecting to find loads of other, similar disasters but I didn’t.  So, it’s just me then.

I know I have a follower who happens to be a baker and, if he’s managed to get past the knitting and crochet, perhaps he will have an idea of what went wrong.  I think it was because I’m a lazy cow and, instead of creaming butter and sugar together by hand and adding the rest of the ingredients gradually, I did the whole thing in a stand mixer – although stage by stage and fairly gradually – so I might have beat too much air in.

Anyway, Sunday night we heated it up and had it with cream and it made a really nice dense, damp, chocolate pudding 🙂

 

 

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Am I Hooked Or Just Vaguely Interested?

About five years ago I spent a whole Summer teaching myself – with the aid of a book called The Happy Hooker how to crochet.  By the end of the Summer, I could turn out something like this little top.

Crochet Top

Then I stopped.

A few weeks ago, I was milling about after lunch with a friend in our local medieval town – as you do – when I spotted this lovely yarn shop, a rare beast in these parts as I think they probably are in most parts lately.

LYS

There was a sign in the window saying that the owner did one on one courses for knitting and crochet and although I know there are tutorials galore on YouTube for free it is in my nature to knuckle down and do something if I’ve actually paid good money for it and so I did.  Also good for my French.

These were my first efforts as I’d obviously forgotten everything I’d taught myself before – even how to do a decent chain to start off.

First steps with crochet

Don’t laugh at the banana shaped ones.

Anyway, newly inspired, I went home and sat in front of the computer, got hooking and progressed to these.

crochet hearts and circles

I had to go back to the shop for another session because she had (cunningly?) kept hold of my Happy Hooker  so I thought I might as well learn, first hand,  how to do another couple of stitches and amaze her all over again with the way I can’t seem to hold the yarn like she does and manage to turn the foundation chain mid-way every single time.

The reason she had kept hold of my book was to look at the conversion chart inside between U.S. crochet terms and English crochet terms which are different as, of course, are the French ones so for the first time ever I have found it easier to read a chart than written instructions because at least the symbols are the same in all languages.

Of course, I didn’t leave the shop empty handed and these will eventually become a pair of socks, though knitted ones as I am not so far along the crochet path even to consider anything other than a square, heart or doily shaped thingy.

Plassard Aventure

As with any new (or renewed) hobby, it’s  fun to start stocking up on what you need.  I have a yarn stash that nearly equals my fabric stash (who am I kidding?) so I’m O.K. for that but I bought a couple of books and a set of hooks to get going with.

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Of course I couldn’t leave those pretty hooks in the plastic box so that was an excuse to get my sheep fabric out and make a holder.  Fabric with sheep on it!  – surely it was meant to be.

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I’ve been looking for the perfect project to use that little embroidered sheep button for ages.

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I could almost join Kate’s Scraphappy Day with this hook roll because the flap and inner fabrics were leftovers from other projects but I confess the sheep weren’t scraps but entire 😉

Crochet Hook Holder

So what with my lessons, my books, my hooks and my favourite crochet teacher on YouTube (Bella Coco) – watch this space for future creations.  I don’t know what they will be as one of my problems with crochet in the past was what to make.  I have enough of a hard time wearing the things I’ve knitted so I don’t envisage wearing any crocheted creations and I don’t like making toys (adorable as they are) because of the stuffing process and because my daughters won’t appreciate them any more.  Any suggestions welcome.

Nothing to do with crochet but I made a madeira cake yesterday – I used the recipe from Nigella Lawson’s ‘How To Be A Domestic Goddess’  because I was in that sort of frame of mind – and it was blooming gorgeous with the requisite crevice across the top and all.

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I’m not one for ‘gooey’ cakes so this sort is right up my street with a subtle lemony flavour and quite a moist texture.  I did tremble a bit when I put all the sugar in but something’s got to kill you and I apologise if you’re doing ‘sugar free February’ or whatever it’s called but I actually consume very little sugar in the normal course of events and I didn’t have any sugar of the fermented kind all through January so I feel vindicated.  Anyway, I only had one slice as the rest was consumed by Monsieur and Madamoiselle Tialys the Younger who needed a bit of a sugar rush to get over the shock of me emerging from my sewing room and baking something .

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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