November Store Cupboard Challenge: Lentil Door Stops

I was inspired by The Yarn Yard’s post yesterday, where Natalie mentioned the Store Cupboard Challenge. You know how you open the cupboard at 6:30pm, look into it. It’s reasonably full, yet “there’s nothing to eat”?

The challenge is to focus on using up what’s in the cupboard over November. Sure, throw out (or use up, see below) things that are truly out of date, donate tins and cans to charitable Christmas food banks if they’re still well within date, or use them and make something a bit more creative than usual.

Over November, I’ll try to document a few times what I end up making out of the stuff that’s in the cupboard that is still edible. But for today, I’ll start with a crafty tip for those dry lentils, chickpeas and pulses that you bought during your last health kick and are now out of date. And no, I won’t make you eat them. We’ll make them into a door stop!

It’s so nice to open the windows and let fresh air in, but it can cause bedroom doors to slam shut in the breeze! We also have cheeky cats who’ve been known for locking themselves in the bedroom, so we tend to put doorstops in every room. Yet, the rubbery wedges are horrible and don’t slide easily on the carpet.

These weighted door stops are easy to pick up or move with your foot, and can look quite funky! They’re also super-quick to make. I used the tutorial on the Bake & Sew site to guide me, but did wing it quite a bit! It’s great for using scraps; the brown pyramid was made with a shirt I didn’t wear anymore, and the bottom was made of old jeans for both.

These are both filled with red lentils, but use whatever you have at hand, so long as it’s dry and doesn’t spoil!

Later this week, I’ll tackle the cupboard and work out some tasty recipes out of what’s in there.

Spinning: Blink handspun yarn & Finest Polwarth

While the weather’s been a bit grim and grey, I’ve been enjoying spinning some new fibre. This latest one is a Bluefaced Leicester, about 60 grams, 120 yards, DK weight two-ply yarn. The fibre was called Time Lord, but I’ve named the finished yarn Blink, since that’s the episode we were watching as I finished plying and the greys and woodsy greens remind me of the Weeping Angels, alongside the Tardis-blue.

When the sun decides to shine, I’ll take a few more pictures to show off the colours better but this was a pleasant spin.

The photo above is my fibre bag, which I keep by the wheel; The green is superwash BFL from Hilltop Cloud, which I’ve spun but still needs plying. The pink fluff is the “Sugar Almond” Polwarth I’ll be spinning as lightweight as possible, then ply with another Polwarth in a “Decadent” pale purple. Let’s see how far that can stretch. All I know is that I don’t expect this to be a quick-finish project AT ALL!

It’s not particularly even but should give me a light fingering weight when I ply two together, and it’s fun to see how I can get it finer, more even while enjoying working with Polwarth from The Fibre Fairy for the first time.

Today might be the day I take my Ashford Traditional wheel Maya apart (well, not completely, I won’t pretend I know what I’m doing!) and give her a bit of maintenance, since she’s about my age and has seen better days. Hopefully swapping a few bits and oiling a few key spots will make her work smoother.

I’ve also been having lots of fun dyeing my own yarn and fibre. I haven’t had the opportunity to do much dyeing yet, as I need a lot of time and space (wibbly wobbly, timey wimey) when I do this. Before my Landscape professional dyes arrived, I tried overdyeing some pale boring yarn with Kool Aid, which was fun and made the house smell rather fruity but was nowhere near as satisfying as the eye-searingly-pink fibre I dyed with the pro dyes:

The photo doesn’t even do the colour justice; it’s a really bright and hot pink with some darker burgundy patches and still just enough white to introduce a little lightness once I spin it. It was a blast to dye, even though the microwaving process (which sets the colour) had my heart pounding in fear that it would all go BOOM all of a sudden!

So there you go, that’s what I’ve been up to lately, spinning and dyeing-wise. Want to learn how I did any of this? Just shout and I’ll either point you to tutorials or write up my own. Looking for techy stuff? Sorry, my brain’s taken a break from tech on the weekend lately, and it’s been rather pleasant.

Revival? Perhaps!

It’s mad how time flies, isn’t it? After nearly 10 years of blogging regularly, it was like an overnight switch where I no longer felt the need to publish my thoughts online constantly.

That’s not to say I’ve been idle. Andrew and I are now both full time on Running with Crayons and our own software, cookin’ up some interesting things (and no, I’m not telling yet.) and I’ve spent every spare moment either knitting, spinning or spending time with friends and family. It’s been a good 2012 so far.

That being said, I’ve decided to start posting again, ad hoc as it may be. I don’t know what shape or form my writing will take, it may be less work focused and more crafty, or it may a false start. We’ll just have to see!

For now, these are some of the things that have taken my attention this year. Many more to come 🙂

Top row: My new Ashford Traditional wheel, which I picked up yesterday, and a box of hexipuffs for my future Beekeeper’s Quilt.

Middle row: Drop spindle with my second spindle-spun attempt.

Bottom row: My Wine Berry Heaven shawl (like the 198 yds of Heaven but in sock weight so more like 350 yds), and a little Tama top for my sister’s new baby.

Orange things

Last night, I started reading “The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making”

She smoothed the lap of her now-wrinkled and rumpled orange dress. She liked anything orange: leaves; some moons; marigolds; chrysanthemums; cheese; pumpkin, both in pie and out; orange juice; marmalade.

Orange is bright and demanding. You can’t ignore orange things.

No, you certainly can’t ignore orange things. 🙂

Gingerbread house competition vote

Today, we did a gingerbread house competition. In teams, we had to create the most traditional or wildest gingerbread houses.

The only rule was that the gingerbread had to remain edible. Everything else was down to each team’s creativity, and we had since last week to think about the theme. Have a look at the houses below then vote for your favourite to help us pick a winner! (votes closed – find out the winners at the bottom!)

Scrooge Home Makeover


The Candy Farm (with working train)

Dawn of the Gingerdead

Beware of the Dog

Competition results

We’ve counted your votes and… we have a tie!

  • Dawn of the Gingerdead and The Candy Farm: tied with 22 each
  • Scrooge Home Makeover: 13
  • Beware of the Dog: 8

Easy handmade gift: Baby bibs

Chickpea bibs

Earlier this year, my new little nice Florence was born. Now, I don’t know an awful lot about babies, but I do know that when they’re little, they drool and dribble all over the place. With that knowledge in hand, these adorable bibs seemed to be the perfect gift.

The pattern is from Chickpea Studio who generously shares patterns for free. The focus fabric was bought a long time ago, and thick jersey is used for the backing, so that it can absorb food and drool quite happily!

Making these three bibs only took a couple of hours and was a fun and straightforward project. If you’ve got a baby in the family, or even a messy toddler, a few of these rolled up and tied with a ribbon makes a lovely handmade gift.

Fallen in love with knitting

Over the past year, I’ve been so busy working my butt off; either working with clients or on Alfred stuff alongside Andrew. It’s left me little time to read non-work books or do as much crafty stuff as I like. However, since last year, I’ve fallen in love head over heels with knitting.

Back in September 2010, in a flight of fancy, I drove out to a village half an hour away to visit a local yarn shop called Yarnsmith. Its owner, a nice lady called Becky, invited me in, past her kids’  weekend soapbox car racing game, and into her garden studio, which was like Aladdin’s cave for knitters tucked away in the Suffolk countryside.

Patiently, she talked me through yarn weights, needle types and all of the things that had never crossed my mind before. Wanting a break from the complicated craft that was sewing, I thought “hey, how complicated can knitting be? It’s two sticks, a piece of string and a bunch of knots, right?” Of course, I couldn’t have been more wrong. As with any craft, the rabbit hole goes deep. Very, very deep. I left with a bag of colourful yarn, some circular needles and a couple of patterns Becky kindly gave me to start off.

It was handy that I chose to visit Yarnsmith that Saturday. Two days later, I had a car accident which, while not life threatening in the least, caused me to have to stay at home, mostly laying on my back, for nearly three weeks while recovering from a painful whiplash which still taunts me to this day every morning. It was incredibly frustrating but I found some solace in the Stitch n Bitch book and some extra chunky wool, making my first few scarves; boring garter stitch and basic ribbed stitch patterns. They’re like training wheels for knitters, it’s where you start, but you’re not Evil Knievel just yet.

Since then, thankfully, projects have gotten more exciting.

I’ve made a winter headband for my mom out of llama & silk yarn (yes, llama!), held together with a button from my grandmother’s stash.

I’ve nearly finished a small but very time-consuming Citron shawl, reminiscent of the citrus fruit segments, probably my proudest achievement to date.

I’ve taken part in a mad, mad project called the Beekeeper’s quilt, which involves knitting tons and tons of little hexagons, then attaching them together to form a quilt. I’ve got around 40 of these little hexipuffs, and hundreds more to go. Andrew thinks I’m a complete nutter – and when I start counting the puffs it’ll take to make a blanket, I question my own sanity too – but I’m having such fun in the process, that’s what matters.

(As an aside, over the next few days, I’ll post a mini interview I did with the Beekeeper’s quilt designer, Stephanie Dosen. Wooh!)

The biggest upside to knitting, as opposed to sewing, which I also love very much, is that I can knit while in a social setting. I can watch TV, chat with Andrew, even stand in the queue for my latest Apple purchase and knit at the same time. I’ve even been to pub meetups with fellow knitters, which was great fun and I should do more often!

Sewing was all about shackling myself to the sewing machine, but as it resides in my home office, when evenings and weekend roll around, I’m not that keen to be up in that room by myself more often that necessary. So I knit.

It’s a great stress-buster and something where I feel that, with every project, I can improve at. It can either be an automatic no-brainer project, or an incredibly involving complex pattern where I can’t talk at the same time.

As a result, expect to see a lot of pictures of knitted things in the coming months. And hopefully some more blogging too.

Best usage of QR codes I've seen to date!

Over the past few years, QR codes have been used in various places as replacements for website URLs or to promote products. It’s always felt a little bit naff or unnecessary.

Watching TV tonight, BBC Food promoted a specific recipe by using a QR code on screen. A quick scan takes you directly to the recipe you’re looking for with a full list of ingredients. Now that’s good use of a QR code to replace what would otherwise have been a very long-form URL.

Smart move BBC!

QR code on BBC food advert

Oh hello there!

I'm Véro - a crafty, knitty, spinny gal who enjoys making (and drinking) a cocktail or three. If you've stumbled here, you might enjoy browsing some of my older posts with the tags over to the right or finding out more about me.

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