Saturday, 12 May 2012

Cross-stitch sampler update

This is a long-running project of mine, which is actually progressing faster in some ways than I thought it would.  Having stopped at about here after running out of thread, and getting on with other projects like this, I've come back to my cross-stitch like an old friend for doing on lonely evenings in front of the telly.

The top two rows of leaves and deer are now finished, so I know exactly how wide my piece is going to be.  Unfortunately, it looks like becoming just a little too wide  - if I have to stitch right up to the edge of my cross-stitch material, I might have to put the edge of the fabric across the centre of my embroidery hoop, which makes for awkward loose stitches and fraying problems.  Thankfully I have a little ordinary fabric put by with which to make a broad 'working border'. 

This border probably won't make it to the final cut as it were; I intend to hem the work off, but either with more elegant fabric than this or invisibly.  Then it can be hung on poles or framed as an attractive (hopefully) bit of Art.  This is just to give me that little extra legroom as it were to work at the very edge of my cross-stitch fabric.

I know where the corners of my pattern will go; I also know where the centre should be now, at least vertically.  This means that I can start placing the names of my relatives accurately in the border and really making this project into a proper family tree.  I'm starting with my mother's parents, as I know Granny likes a bit of tapestry work herself and is very proud of her projects. 

A Top Tip:
Cross-stitches can be done half at a time all in a long row, like this: ////////// and back again \\\\\\\\;
Or you can do them one at a time, like this: X X X X X to get the same result.
The difference between these two methods is that with the first, you end up in the pattern where you started, and with the second, you progress across the pattern stitch by stitch.  The second also means that you may start each X in a different corner each time, as you cannot re-enter where you just finished. 
If your pattern is complex, involving a lot of spaces and jumps across other colours, you may wish to combine these two techniques judiciously in order to 'jump' between adjacent 'blocks' of the same colour.  I have found the brown border responds particularly well to the XXXX treatment when trying to count to the beginning of the next repeat.

Sunday, 6 May 2012

Raspberry Lamingtons

A posh twist on an old Aussie favourite, these were created for the father and stepmother to enjoy after a rich Sunday lunch.  Little and light, they're a moreish teatime thing.  There aren't many ingredients, but there are two stages of creation; if you're too bored to bother individually coating little cubes, then melt some jam over the whole cake when cool and scatter with coconut for a twinkly icing substitute.

Raspberry Lamingtons
You Will Need:  Large bowl, wooden spoon, scales, fork, small dish, small shallow rectangular baking tray, greaseproof paper, cooling rack, knife, chopping board, saucepan, teaspoon, small plate, serving plate

2 eggs
4 1/2 oz butter
4 1/2 oz sugar
4 1/2 oz self-raising flour
150g fresh raspberries
half a jar of raspberry jam
75g dessicated coconut

1) Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C.  Cream the butter and sugar in the large bowl; beat the eggs in the small bowl with the fork and incorporate very slowly.
2) Fold in the flour a little at a time.  Line the tin with a wide strip of greaseproof paper, greasing the sides if not non-stick with a little butter.  Pour the cakemix into the tin and spread to the edges.
3) Stud the cake with raspberries, 1/2 cm apart.  Reserve any remaining fruits for making a 'serving suggestion' style flourish.
4) Bake for 15-20 minutes to clean skewer stage.  Turn out onto a cooling rack.  When cool, cut the cake into small cubular pieces.
5) Melt 1-2 teaspoons of jam at a time in the small saucepan until runny and steaming; pour into a small dish.  Scatter coconut on a small plate.  Dip each lamington in jam on all sides and then roll them in the coconut to cover.  Pile on the serving plate.  If your jam gets too jammy for dipping, pour it back into the pan to re-heat.
Serve scattered with any remaining raspberries and a big mug of tea each.