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Making felt hats – a course at Craft in the Bay. June 16, 2012

Filed under: art — fionathomasict @ 10:01 pm
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I had a fantastic day at Craft in the Bay, which is situated in an old D shed in Cardiff Bay, making felt hats! I went with a friend Janet and we had fun taking photos as we went along. Craft in the Bay is a building exhibiting and selling various art work from members of The Makers Guild in Wales with a shop attached and cafe, as well as rooms for courses. Craft in the Bay
I have made a few attempts at felt making, mostly self taught from reading books so knew the fundamentals only, while Janet had not made any before so was feeling a bit nervous at the start. It turned out that she was the only one not to have done any felting previously and I was the second least knowledgeable as the other people on the course were taking art at college or school or had attended other courses. However we were made to feel at ease quickly.
Mandy Nash was a great teacher and the session moved quickly into looking at hats that Mandy had made and were for sale in the shop area. We chose the styles we liked and Mandy had a few templates which we could copy or adapt. I wanted a taller shape on the top of my hat for example, which I would be able to twist or bend and attach tassels of some sort later.
We drew around the initial newspaper template and made adaptions as necessary. We cut out our template to use on plastic and make our own plastic template.




Next we chose our wool colours and were shown how to pull the wool gently make fluffy tufts! We had two colours, I chose a dark midnight blue and a brighter, lighter blue. The lighter colour was going inside so I started laying that colour over the plastic template.


We patted that down gently, turned the whole plastic and wool over and repeated the laying down on the second side, tucking in the edges tidily. This was repeated and then we began covering the first colour with our second choice.



This colour was rubbed in gently with a couple of layers on both sides and we could begin to feel the final thickness of the felt. We then added any detail, in varying colours, that we fancied. I selected a few different colours to add on the top of the hat which was beginning to take shape, albeit in 2D at the moment.


Next came the rolling in the bubble wrap. It was suggested that we began gently, but we found out that I was far more heavy handed than Janet and her rolling went on for far longer than mine. The hats were now quite heavy and solid and still flat. We tested the shrinkage by trying the hats on. I wish I had a photo as that was one of the funniest moments of the day!
Now we had to mould our hats to the shape that we desired. Folds, ridges and twists, symmetrical or not. All at once the hats began to change shapes and become rather interesting.





We had a wonderful day and are thrilled with the results. I would certainly recommend the courses here based on this one day. In fact, Janet and I are booked into a silver jewellery course later this year and this time we won’t be alone. Our college friend Liz will be joining us as well as some teacher friends from school and my lovely step daughter. I hope it is as good a day as the felt making and I am definitely looking forward to the fantastically exotic salad lunch from Kemi’s Cafe or shall I have a wrap or baguette this time? And don’t let me start on the cake stand! In fact if you live near Cardiff and haven’t yet been, please try it for yourself. Kemi’s Cafe


Jubilee party food June 6, 2012

Filed under: cooking — fionathomasict @ 8:17 am
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We are off to a friend’s jubilee party this afternoon and have been asked to bring a plate towards the buffet. Jan particularly asked me to do a dessert and as there a few of us, I thought we’d better do a few! Richard fancied a sponge with fruit so I did a flat sponge with whipped cream and strawberries, raspberries and blueberries inspired by the union jack!
Will wanted to take an Eton Mess style pudding so I crumbled meringues, marshmallow and whipped cream into a bowl, added strawberries, raspberries and blueberries and then added another layer on top.
Zoe decided she’d like to decorate the fairy cakes and made a butter icing which she swirled on top with a piping tube. She then added a rice paper union jack.
So hope we’ve made a good contribution to the party table!





Elderflower cordial and elderflower champagne June 4, 2012

Filed under: gardening — fionathomasict @ 4:38 pm
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The elderflower is out and I caught the smell as I walked under the trees to the top of my garden. I’ve made elderflower cordial for several years but last year made elderflower champagne for the first time. It was a great success as everybody who tried it loved it so I’m having another go this year. I use the following recipes and have found them easy to follow.

Elderflower cordial
30 elderflower heads
3 litres of boiling water (about 6 pints)
900g (2lb) of caster sugar
1 packet of citric acid (bought at the chemist)
2 oranges unwaxed-sliced
3 lemons unwaxed-sliced

Gently rinse the elderflowers to remove blackfly and dirt. Pour the boiling water over the sugar in a bucket and stir until dissolved. Leave to cool. Add citric acid, oranges, lemons and flowers.
Leave in a cool place for 24 hours, stirring occasionally. Strain through muslin into a sterilised bottle.

Elderflower champagne

15 elderflower heads
4 litres of hot water
700g sugar
Juice and zest of 4 lemons
2 tablespoons of white wine vinegar

Pour hot water over sugar and stir until dissolved. Add cold water until you have 6 litres in total. Wash flower heads to remove blackfly and dirt. Add to water with lemon juice, zest and vinegar. Stir gently.
Cover with a tea towel and leave to ferment in a cool airy place for a couple of days. Check the brew and if it’s not fermenting ( a little foamy looking) add some yeast. I didn’t need to do this last year.
Strain the liquid through a sieve lined with muslin and put into sterilised strong glass bottles with champagne stoppers. I’ve used recycled lemonade bottles and bought some more from Lakeland with the flip corks. Seal and leave to ferment for at least a week before serving, chilled. It will keep for several months, but all mine didn’t last the summer!





Cooking welsh cakes on the BBQ

Filed under: cooking — fionathomasict @ 3:45 pm
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The BBQ was still hot after the meat had been cooked and eaten and Richard suggested that I make a cake or that Zoe cooked bread. We decided that welsh cakes would work as we could start heating the bake stone as the mix was being prepared. We weren’t sure if it work, but the bake stone got hot and held the heat for the whole batch to cook and even though everyone was full after the BBQ, they found room for fresh welsh cakes. Although we regularly cook outside on the BBQ, that was the first outside baking I’ve done and it was fun!