potato print geometric pattern

potato printing

Sometimes, like last weekend, when it’s wet and windy and everybody else is sitting in front of the television watching the rugby, I sneak away to play with paper or fabric and dabble with paints and ink.

I recently rediscovered an old book called Fun with Art that my parents gave me for Christmas when I was twelve, which brought back memories of trying lots of the projects in it, including one that involved making patterns from wax crayon shavings ironed between paper and another of painting with bleach. In those pre Health & Safety obsessed days there was no warning about hot irons or the dangers of bleach, other than “Do be careful when using bleach; it could ruin the carpet or any chair you dropped it on. Keep it out of the reach of little children.

By-passing the bleach painting and polystyrene cutting projects, I thought I’d try a little potato printing.

 

potato print circles

 

Potato printing is a wonderfully simple process that can be undertaken by any age but which we seem to do with great enthusiasm in primary school and never try again. I had visions of creating some fantastic pattern that I could use for printing on fabric but ended up playing around with patterns and making a few cards. Here’s a few things I learnt:

If you want a square then it’s best to measure it instead of trying to do it by eye.

To make a circle, use a biscuit cutter.

Apply the paint to the potato with a brush or sponge. Acrylic paint works well.

Before you print, place the paper onto something with a little give, like a towel or yoga mat, rather than on a hard surface, especially if the cut surface of your potato isn’t completely flat.

Other vegetables are available.

potato print flowers

Perhaps next time I’ll come up with something fantastic to print onto fabric. Enough for a set of curtains perhaps. Or maybe just a cushion. Or an egg cosy. Does anyone use egg cosies these days?

Unravelling

Last week …

unravelling woollen sweater
Unravelling

sweaters

A couple of years ago, I knitted two sweaters using the Warriston pattern by Kate Davies but because I ran short of wool  they both ended up with sleeves too short. I hate three quarter length sleeves (almost as much as I detest clothes without pockets) so I’m unravelling the sweaters and rewinding the wool so that I can knit one good sweater with proper sleeves.

Have you read how you should soak and then dry your yarn before rewinding it to get rid of the bouncy kinks? Heed that advice. I tried knitting kinky wool and it looked awful. Which meant yet more unravelling.

hand written recipe book
Unravelling

recipes

Mum gave me her mother’s recipe books and I’ve been trying to follow some of the recipes. Or aides-memoires as I prefer to call them as many of them are just a list of ingredients with scant instructions.

Some of the recipes are cut from the newspaper with the news on the reverse “a great force of heavy RAF bombers crossed the East Coast early last night heading for the continent” and “Blackout (London) 10.26 – 5.45”. From scribbled notes, I know that Gran “planted bulbs in bowls on 10th October 1938″ and that “rubbing paraffin wax on the heels of your stockings makes them last longer”.

Yesterday I followed a recipe for Adelaide cakes. Tell me, do you know how Adelaide cakes should look? There was no mention of tin size or shape. Fairy cake or muffin sized? Round? Oblong?

marmalade
Unravelled

My brain

The Seville oranges are in the shops so, as usual I set about making enough marmalade to last us for the year. The kitchen filled with a glorious smell as I juiced and chopped, stirred and boiled. Then, as I ladled the marmalade into the jars, I noticed pips floating around and realised that I’d tipped the juice into the pan without straining out the pips. Doh!

The marmalade tastes fine but every spoonful has to be inspected for pesky pips and believe me, Seville oranges have loads of pips.

crab apples in frost

on the farm in January

frosted rosehips

At last we’ve had a spell of cold weather. We’ve haven’t had any snow here, but a couple of hard frosts have made everywhere look pretty first thing in the morning.

newly planted hedge Barn Field

With the ground frozen, Bill and Jack have spent the first two hours of the day hand planting new hedges, before the ground warms up and turns to a muddy slush. Here, a mixed hedge of hawthorn, dog rose, blackthorn, maple, hazel and dogwood tops an earth bund that forms a barrier between the yard and the road. Guards on the young plants not only protect them from rabbits and deer but also from a farmer with a strimmer or knapsack sprayer.

pruning raspberries

In the fruit field, the raspberries are pruned; a back-breaking job on any day but even worse when it’s cold and knees get wet and dirty from kneeling in mud. Luckily, not my job any more.

apples under the trees

I’ve been picking up Bramley apples since they fell to the ground in the autumn. In a normal year, they would have rotted by now but it’s been so mild that until this week they’ve been okay to cook with. I suspect this cold spell will finish them off but at least I have enough inside to make one last apple crumble.

At last we seem to have shaken off the dull, grey days and the days are getting longer. Hurrah.