Crochet Poppy | Ready to Remember

frothy poppy

… crochet vs. paper poppy …

Remembrance Day is not far off the horizon and it got me thinking about the number of paper poppies that I always seem to lose within minutes of receiving them.  No matter how carefully I pin them on, after a while of busying about, I look down to find the red petals missing and just a pin sitting there, not really looking supportive of Remembrance Day at all.

I thought it might be better, for this year, to crochet a happy-looking poppy that will stay on through thick and thin. I will of course still donate but will leave the paper poppies in their tray for someone else to come to terms with!

I found a beautifully simple but effective flower pattern on the lovely blog Very Berry Handmade.  I have kindly been given permission to feature it here on The Dorset Finca, but I have translated into the UK version. So if you are into US crochet terms, pop on over to Very Berry using the link above. If you are happy with UK terms, please read on…

To make the poppy above, I used Stylecraft Special DK in Lipstick with a 4 mm hook.

Start with a Magic Circle and make 4 double crochet (dc) in the circle and close the circle by pulling the tail end (4 stitches).

R1: 2 dc in each dc round, join last dc to top of 1st dc with a slip stitch (ss) (8 stitches)

R2: 2 ch then 1 ss in next dc, 2 ch. Repeat all round then join round with ss (8 chain spaces)

R3: In each chain space make 1 ss, 1 chain (ch), 2 treble crochet (tc), 1 ch, 1 ss. Complete the round with ss into 1st ss. (8 petals created)

R4: Holding the flower facing you, take your hook to the back of the work and insert it round the 1st chain made in R2. Make ss round the chain, ch3, ss round the 1st chain underneath the next petal then repeat 7 times & complete the round with ss into 1st ss (8 chain spaces).

R5: Into each ch sp make 1 dc, 1 ch, 3 tc, 1 ch, 1 dc. Complete round with ss into 1st dc. (8 petals created).

R6: As in R4 take your hook to the back of the work and make ss round the 1st post of the 1st petal created in R5, ch 4, ss round next post then repeat 7 times & complete the round with ss into 1st ss (8 ch sp).

R7: In each ch sp created in R6 make 1 dc, 1 ch, 5 tc, 1 ch, 1 dc. Complete the round with ss into 1st dc.

Fasten off & weave in ends, except for the tail end.  I then used the tail end yarn to sew on my button to create the centre of the flower.  By adding a safety pin onto the back, the poppy should stay in place for good!

 

crochet poppy 1

 … there are lots of alternative flower patterns on Pinterest if you feel like mixing it up …

After making one poppy, you will have no doubt mastered this pattern! Once Remembrance Day is over, you can change up the colours to create corsages for your coat or bag to brighten up the winter season.

alternative poppy

… crochet flower made with 3 acrylic yarn colours …

Dorset’s Delicious Bits | An Organic Gem

veg1

Gold Hill Organic Farm, Child Okeford

It was about a year ago when I discovered this organic farm, nestled just under Hambledon Hill in Child Okeford. Despite my lack of realisation of its existence, the plot has been growing organic vegetables for 25 years and it is clear that the Gold Hill farmers know their onions (sorry, couldn’t resist).  The first time I visited, after asking permission, I was allowed to roam around the rows of growth and poke my head into the various poly-tunnels.  I was so staggered at the enormous range of produce that can actually be grown, in England, throughout the year completely organically.

Just walking into the shop (open from Thursdays – Sundays) will make you gasp, as brightly coloured, healthy-looking veg is heaped into wicker baskets, having only been harvested moments before. It really is something to see.  The lovely people here are also very honest about the one or two things that they can’t grow, such as potatoes. These come from another local farm, as for some reason the plot here didn’t agree with potatoes and they had a terrible time with blight.

 A recently new venture for the farm (and already a huge local success) is their veg box delivery service. Priced very reasonably and delivered throughout Dorset to people’s doors, the veg is picked the very same morning that it is delivered to you.  A feat of genius in my opinion!

Now for the really secret and delicious bit… In amongst all this organic loveliness, is a…  cafe! Yes, yippee! My complete favourite thing in the world. (Many of you are now exclaiming… ‘but I thought you said your favourite thing was…’) so please forgive me for having so many favourite things.  Food and a cup of tea is really up there in the top three.

lemon and polenta cake

… homemade lemon and polenta cake …

There are homemade cakes (baked that day, of course), a range of things to eat for lunch with delicious salads… all organic and fresh.  We sat outside in the warm September sunshine with an incredible piece of lemon and polenta cake each, a pot of tea and watched the gentle goings on at the farm, framed by Hambledon Hill in the background.  It really was a lovely afternoon!

For a bit more information and directions, you will find Gold Hill Farm’s website here.

baskets of goodness

… baskets bursting with delicious things …

Red Velvet Hedgerow Cake | Recipe

berries and frosting

… perfect after a long walk picking blackberries …

I have to start by saying a massive thank you to the creative lovelies at CakeNess for helping me out with this recipe. Their cakes are always so incredibly delicious and provide much cake wow factor! If you don’t fancy making this yourself, you can find CakeNess, here. They would be more than happy to whip you up a batch!

This recipe is so useful to adapt to the different seasons; blackberries in the autumn, strawberries in the summer… and will always be a winner as hostess gifts or for housewarmings.

cake close up

For the cake: 200g unsalted butter, 175g light brown sugar, 2 large eggs, 175g self-raising flour, 2 tbsp red food colouring, 150ml Greek yoghurt, 1 tsp vanilla essence, 30g cocoa powder

For the frosting: 150g icing sugar, 75g cream cheese, 250g blackberries (or other berries of your choice)

Method:

1. Pre-heat your oven to 180 degrees C. Grease a 2 pound loaf tin and line with greaseproof paper.

2. Use 100g of the butter and beat it with the brown sugar until it is light and fluffy. Beat in one egg at a time with 1tbsp of flour. Using a wooden spoon, stir in the food colouring, Greek yoghurt and vanilla. Fold in the remaining flour and cocoa powder until smooth.

3. Spoon the mixture into the tin and bake for approximately 50 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean.  Leave in the tin for a few minutes, before turning out onto a wire rack to cool thoroughly.

Frosting:

Use the leftover butter and whisk until smooth. Add the icing sugar, beating again before adding the cream cheese. Beat the mixture until thick and pale in colour.

Spread the frosting over the top of the cake and top with the berries.

top view cake

 … et voila …

Dorset’s Delicious Bits | On Top of the World

compton abbas

Compton Abbas Airfield, near Shaftesbury

… and this is just the car park …

We had a little jaunt last Sunday, to one of my favourite places to sit and ponder.  Not only are the views on the way up to the airfield quite incredible, but once you are there, you feel as if you are perching on top of the world, sharing a secret with only a select few.  Sitting outside on one of the benches, practically on the airstrip itself, with a hot mug of tea and an almond slice, you can forget about almost everything and immerse yourself into the world of sheepskin jackets and propellors.  It never ceases to amaze me that such a tiny, grassy airstrip can be such a buzzing place of people, planes, microlights and helicopters.  In just an hour, we must have watched at least 10 take offs and landings, with the requisite whoops and gasps and ‘crikey that was close’!

Although we had a little mishap with the little old car (something seized and she refused to start, even after a kind aeroplane engineer leant us some WD40), we left feeling windswept but invigorated, and on the whole, had had a fantastic afternoon!

See you there next Sunday?

chocks away

Be Brutal | Pruning

be brutal

… these plants benefit from harsh treatment …

I have never been one to be afraid of going a little cutting crazy in the garden. It was surely all going to grow back wasn’t it? Well, I was partially right and I must apologise to the plants that this mentality disagreed with, but also reassure them that they have made great compost.

An Autumnal hard prune is usually necessary for most plants and shrubs to avoid them getting rangy and to minimise frost damage during the winter. However, a mid-growing-season prune can also be like a ‘refresh button’ for varieties such as scabiosa, rose species, most herbs and geraniums.  I was amazed to see plants, that I had given an end of summer haircut, sporting a new mass of growth which had also encouraged re-flowering even in late September.

So take heart if you are worried about some drastic snipping. It’s time to brave it up and make friends with the secateurs (or in my case, garden shears)!

snip snip2

Dorset’s Delicious Bits | An Introduction

Gold Hill

I am one-hundred percent, head-over-heels, in love with this county…

…it is firmly attached to my heart with lots of little Dorsety strings of happiness!

If Dorset was represented at the Olympic Games, in the opening ceremony; I would want to be the person at the front, with the perma-grin, waving the swishy flag in one of those matchy outfits.

So much so, that I wanted to start a series of posts on the blog, documenting some of the many delicious, little morsels that make this place so beautiful, welcoming and just, well, brilliant!

The things that get featured might not always be the obvious stunning coastlines, rolling fields or sleepy villages (although they may get a cheeky look in), but more of the unsuspecting joyous bits, which make you want to sit and relax with a hot chocolate and get that lovely contented feeling…

To start the series off, I wanted to show you an iconic Dorset sight…

…Gold Hill in Shaftesbury.

Especially since the delicious bit is not only the view but the fact that you can sit at the top, in one of the loveliest tea shops/ restaurants around and take it all in, while eating millionaire’s shortbread or a grilled panini with chutney.

I would advise booking a table at The Salt Cellar restaurant, in advance, if you are planning on lunch and definitely want a window with arguably one of the best views in the county.

Late Season Lavender

lavender 1

This September warm weather is causing some of the plants in the garden to have funny turns…

…this is the first time that my lavender borders have had a second flowering.

It’s very lovely, but quite unexpected!

The chickens sit around dust bathing and dreaming in the afternoon sun, while I recline and have a late-in-the-day cup of tea and watch their happenings. I’m sure last year, I was already piling on the scarves and thinking about knitting more gloves and welly socks.

I hope everyone is enjoying the summery Autumn so far… Hopefully in the next few days, I’ll be introducing a new weekly post, which I am very excited about. Eeeeek!

See you soon…

lavender 2

Zingy Crochet Door Stop | The Finished Product

crochet doorstop

This little, cute cone of a door stop happened completely by accident…

…I was set on making something completely different and then a whim just took hold of me.

(I’m a sucker for a good whim)

It was such a joy to make. Endless spirals of smooth and shiny cotton acrylic. There was far too much over-excitement when it was time for a colour change!

doorstop close up

The tricky bit was hooking the top once the weighty insides had been put in, but I managed even though there were some sighs of frustration!

Stanley now has some company… I hope he doesn’t think he’s being replaced!

Have a great day!

Heavenly Houseplants | Mimosa

mimosa 1

Over the last few months I have been growing some mimosa plants from seeds. I had no growing instructions, so tried as best I could to mimic their preferred tropical habitat. 

…and boy did they grow fast?! 

They remind me of the scenery you would find on deserted islands, all frondy and green. Until night-time, when they resolutely fold up their leaves as if to say ‘excuse me, I’m done for the day.’

Now these little seedlings are now mini-trees with long water-seeking roots. They love a quick draining soil, watering every few days while allowing the soil to dry out completely in-between and a good level of humidity. 

I think I have repotted (since sowing in March) about 4 times! 

They make the most perfect conservatory plants – eek – and I have about eight! Jungle decor here we come!

mimosa 2

Crochet Bobble Headband | Free Pattern

crochet headband

The weather has taken a strange turn from sunshine and heatwaves to squally winds and downpours.

Although the garden is breathing a huge sigh of relief, early morning and late evening walks have a slight chill to them and it got me thinking about hats…

… yes I know it’s crazy to even contemplate woolly headwear when it’s still 22 degrees in the daytime…

…but you know me, I like to be prepared!

So, on the most blustery and thundery of days, I decided to crochet a headband. One that would keep my ears toasty warm when Autumn starts approaching, but wouldn’t be as sweltering as wearing a fully-headed-hat!

I don’t know if this is your thing, but I will include a rudimentary pattern, if anyone fancies a try…

(Please be kind, this is my very first attempt at writing anything like a crochet pattern… eek…)

________

Crochet Bobble Headband – using UK terms…

Made with Stylecraft Special DK (Colour 1: Plum, Colour 2: Aster, Colour 3: Grape) and a 4mm hook.

I started with a foundation chain of 86 using colour 1. It took a while to get the correct size (snug but not so tight I would start seeing stars)! I joined with a slip stitch to the first ch, taking care not to twist the chain.

Round 1: ch1 (mark this with a stitch holder) dc.

Round 2: Moss stitch (dc, ch1, skip a stitch, dc, ch1, skip a stitch..etc).

Round 3-5: Continue with the moss stitch, ensuring that each dc goes into the ch space that you have made on the previous row. Fasten off at the end of round 5 and switch to colour 2.

Round 6 – 8: Continue with the moss stitch. Fasten off at the end of round 8 and switch to colour 3.

Round 9: Continue with the moss stitch. Fasten off at the end of round 9 and switch back to colour 1.

Round 10 & 11: Continue with the moss stitch. Fasten off at the end of round 1 and switch back to colour 2.

Round 12 – 16: Continue with moss stitch. At the end of round 16, I made a slip stitch into the first stitch of the previous row before fastening off.

Tidy in all of the ends before you start your bobbles!

______

For the bobbles, choose one of the colours that you like best and continue to use the same hook:

Start with a magic loop.

Round 1: 8 htr into the loop, join the ring with a ss and pull the loop tight.

Round 2: ss into every other stitch (to close the bobble).

Tidy in one of the ends of each bobble, leaving the other for sewing in and fastening to your headband.

I hope I did ok with the instruction-writing! 

Enjoy!