Category Archives: Sewing

Let’s Try Again! The Rocking Dog Huddle This Wednesday.

Oh You Pretty Things,Rocking Dog

Oh You Pretty Things

For many reasons including heavy snow (sorry, ANY excuse for that link!) the Rocking Dog creative Huddle has not managed to well…. huddle this year. This Wednesday come hail, blizzards and tornado’s the doors of the kennel will be open. Gentle chat, creative bimbling, cake eating and a glass of bubbly awaits huddlers old and new to celebrate the new, now old year! Arrive at 7pm and head out into the snow drifts at 9pm. As ever donations go into the jolly tea pot for “Fine Cell Work” a great charity who teach and support prison inmates to embroider and sew.

Knitting, crocheting, sewing, just bring what you fancy. How about letting out, taking in (I wish!), hemming, pinning and patching. Make do and mend by keeping the skill of darning from disappearing. How much i’d covet a piece of Celia Pym’s darned loveliness! If you come empty handed don’t despair. If you are amenable, I have a quilt in need of about 100 vintage buttons to be securely anchored to it.

I do hope you will come, I can’t promise we won’t talk politics, sex or religion, but whatever the conversation it will be fun.

Love the everso friendly Rocking Dog x

I'm Quite Friendly!,Rocking Dog

I’m Quite Friendly!

There's Always Cake,Rocking Dog

There’s Always Cake

Knit....Rocking Dog

Knit….

....Sew.....,Rocking Dog

….Sew…..

Make Do & Mend!, Rocking Dog

Make Do & Mend!

Button Volunteers Needed!,Rocking Dog

Button Volunteers Needed!

Gosh! It’s Been A While.

Setting The Scene,Rocking Dog

Setting The Scene

Gosh! It REALLY has been a while since Rocking Dog blogged. We have been fortunate in having the opportunity to spend an extended break in Umbria. The beauty of having super quick wifi is that work things can be dealt with across the miles.

We started our trip with visiting more cemeteries for The Remember Me Project. By the end of our break a total of 38 poppies had been laid in near enough the same amount of cemeteries across France and Belgium. This figure includes the cemeteries visited in October last year. A dedicated post regarding my latest poppy laying trip will pop up on the Rocking Dog site in the next few days.

Eventually we left the Somme and headed close to the Swiss border for an overnight stop. The spectacular trip through Switzerland followed and finally after a bit of white knuckle driving through northern Italy we reached Umbria. The sun doesn’t always shine in Italy. We had rain, we had wind, there was the cold and the odd luxurious sunny day. Most nights we were grateful for the newly installed wood burning stove. With temperatures hitting in excess of 40 degrees in the summer affecting grape and olive harvests the Umbrian folk have now had to endure an uncharacteristically cold winter. Thick snow and temperatures dropping well into the minus’s, they have needed their famous down filled puffa jackets!

In November we had grass seed sown but unfortunately it has shown no desire to germinate and grow. The sowing will be repeated next week and hopefully with the warmth of an Italian spring we will soon have verdant green pasture. Fingers crossed! It is too early to tell whether there will be a good harvest of olives late October, but we are ever hopeful. We love the whole process of producing olive oil from our trees. There were weather weary shrubs to replace and new herbs to dig in, there were 15 barrow loads of pruning to put on the bonfire and jolly geraniums to pot up. Constructive time spent outside.

I was sad to have lost a very lovely friend somewhat unexpectedly and did lots of contemplative walking and lots of contemplative sewing. It’s taken so much of my life to realise that sewing really does soothe my sad soul. Beloved Bernina really is truly therapeutic. Can I ask what soothes your soul?

Flying back to Bristol for my friends Celebration of Life service, Andy was left to host ancestors of the farmhouse we now own a tiny part of. From New York, they were apparently lovely and really enthusiastic about the area and their kinfolks former home. We hope they’ll return and stop for longer next time. I’m sure they are going to be pretty busy as they have sold their home and are converting an old yellow school bus for a unique mobile home.

As ever there was gorgeous food to eat, starry skies to be amazed by and the odd Aperol Spritz to partake in by the lake. It is often the most simple things that give the most pleasure. I love the ancient olive tree just outside one of our bedroom windows. As dawn arrives, the tree fills with chirpy and busy little birds. They enjoy the olives which escaped the rakes of the late autumn harvesting. Such a perfect view and I absolutely know that we are truly lucky.

Back in UK there are sewing projects to finish, ongoing research for The Remember Me Project and a job to apply for. The garden of the damp woodland variety needs to be tackled and the dusty, crumbly house needs to be dealt with. Friends need to be loved and cared for, and the nest got ready for another little grandchild. Volunteering for Young Carer’s will restart and yes, there are really lovely things to come home for … just not the dusting!

Hope you have a good week. Love Rocking Dog x

PS Many thanks to Cliff at the British Legion, Frampton Cotterell for the box of poppy crosses. The box is sadly empty- each cross represented one young local soldier who fell or who died of wounds during the Great War.

Roman Rugby,Rocking Dog

Roman Rugby

Letting In The Sun,Rocking Dog

Letting In The Sun

Contemplative Walking,Rocking Dog

Contemplative Walking

Choppy Lake,Rocking Dog

Choppy Lake

Calm Lake,Rocking Dog

Calm Lake

Social Lake,Rocking Dog

Social Lake

Cake,Rocking Dog

Cake

Pasta....,Rocking Dog

Pasta….

& Projects,Rocking Dog

& Projects

 

Come In From The Cold! Rocking Dog Creative Huddle,Thursday.

Rocking Dog Haberdashery,Rocking Dog

Rocking Dog Haberdashery

It’s time to come in from the cold and join Rocking Dog at the kennel for February’s creative huddle. Well that’s not strictly true because we’ll have landed in March! I am cooking with some lovely Young Carer’s on Wednesday so instead we’re meeting on Thursday 7-9pm. Please come along to talk gentle talk and eat delicious Rocking Dog cake. Get those fingers busy sewing, knitting, crocheting- whatever you fancy.

Donations into the big jolly teapot for Fine Cell Work, encouraging and supporting prison inmates to sew and embroider.

Rocking Dog would love to see you on Thursday and hope that the snow drifts aren’t so big that huddlers can’t get to the creative hub!

Have a great week and stay cosy.

Love Rocking Dog x

First Rocking Dog Creative Huddle 2018

Sewing Kit,Rocking Dog

Sewing Kit

Yes, the first Rocking Dog creative huddle for 2018 reconvenes at the kennel tomorrow night ( Wednesday 31st January). Come for homemade cake, warming drinks and creative loveliness. Escape from the grey damp winter outside and perhaps complete any unfinished project. My Kaffe Fassett needlepoint which has been on its frame for the best part of 20 years still awaits me! All welcome, 7pm-9pm.

Donations into the jolly teapot for Fine Cell Work, supporting and encouraging prison inmates to sew and embroider. Please check out their fabulous website.

Rocking Dog is pretty good tempered (most of the time), is eager to please and does not bite!

Look forward to seeing you. Love Liz aka Rocking Dog x

Food For Friends – Ottolenghi Style.

Ottolenghi's Sweet Offering, Rocking Dog

Ottolenghi’s Sweet Offering

After cooking for 160 Haggis eating folk last weekend it was lovely cook for friends this weekend. How very wonderful it was to have my lovely friend sitting at our table, at last able to eat and enjoy food. Her journey is truly remarkable.

On Saturday evening there were decisions to be made as to just what to cook for our guests. I’m afraid dear old Ottolenghi’s tomes came out…. but I did try some new recipes as well as some old favourites.

There was hummus from “Jerusalem” together with Saffron rice with barberries, pistachio’s & mixed herbs. I substituted currants and goji berries for the barberries and totally forgot to put the pistachio’s in! I also did a Spicy beetroot, leek and walnut salad from “Jerusalem”. Very delicious.

Ottolenghi’s first recipe book (“The Cookbook”) supplied me with the main event, Harissa-marinated chicken with red grapefruit salad. There was also a citrus’y sauce to go with the chicken. Time didn’t allow me to make flatbreads, so shop bought versions were given a flash in the oven.

Dessert was Pistachio roulade with raspberries and white chocolate and this recipe came from Ottolenghi’s latest book “Sweet” which he co-wrote with Helen Goh.

All food for this lunch was easy to prepare and cook…. and tasted yummy! If you haven’t tried the hummus, it really is the best i’ve ever tasted and can be tweaked with addition of fresh herbs, a topping of crisply fried onions or toasted pine-nuts.

We drank a lovely red and delighted in the warmth of the wood-burner. However more than anything it was so lovely to share food with amazing friends.

Hallelujah Burn’s Night is over for another year! Andyman has been busy piping and being vocal with the Selkirk Grace over a number of evenings this week. I haven’t done my usual little bit of silliness with the Toby jug folk, so I hope you’ll allow me now to be just a little bit nutty to bring Burn’s celebrations to a close. If you haven’t already met my Toby jug folk there’s tankard swigging Toby who’s just a little bit grumpy and gouty. Then there is Mrs Mac who REALLY is a present from Fleetwood. Toby and Mrs Mac were bought on the same day in different charity shops. Their joining was simply meant to be. Living a peaceful and happy life with no doubt some shenanigan’s when the lights went out there was a fateful day when Wee Tam’ came to join them on THEIR mantlepiece. Mrs Mac is really superciliously fickle and shamelessly has a soft spot for a man in a wee kilt… a menage a trois has developed. What goes on after dark is anybodies guess, but we need to remember Real Live Rocking Dog slumbers there as does Luminous Mary! Enough of this super-silly twaddle, all that 36 kg haggis has gone to my brain!

Have a lovely week.

Love Rocking Dog x

The Rocking Dog Creative Huddle reconvenes this Wednesday 7pm-9pm, all welcome. Over £100 was raised last year for Fine Cell Work, teaching and supporting prison inmates to sew and embroider. Thank you. Donations into the teapot to carry on the work of this amazing charity. Homemade cake, warming drinks, gentle chat and maybe a bit of sewing etc… going on!

The Best Hummus,Rocking Dog

The Best Hummus

Gift Wrap Beetroot,Rocking Dog

Gift Wrap Beetroot

Unwrapped Beetroot,Rocking Dog

Unwrapped Beetroot

Pomegranate Garnish, Rocking Dog

Pomegranate Garnish

Gorgeous Grains,Rocking Dog

Gorgeous Grains

The Main Event,Rocking Dog

The Main Event

Something Sweet On The Lips!,Rocking Dog

Something Sweet On The Lips!

Nuts For Dessert,Rocking Dog

Nuts For Dessert

Goodbye Burn's Night!,Rocking Dog

Goodbye Burn’s Night!

Do Not Disturb! Baking All Day.

Trying To Make Sense Of It All!,Rocking Dog

Trying To Make Sense Of It All!

Yes indeedy, Rocking Dog is cooking all day and possibly into the night baking loveliness for tomorrows Festive Pop Up at the kennel.

Billionaires shortbread (absolutely zilch for Mr blooming Trump), Sloe gin rocky road and chocolate brownie feature on my baking list as do some Lemon & poppy seed loaves. I’m not going to tell you all my baking secrets but there will be the somewhat legendary mince pies straight out of the oven tomorrow morning.

Lovely Rocking Dog preserves have been labelled and will make divine Christmas presents for foodie friends. Make up a breakfast bag with box of granola, croissants and a jar of the Dog’s marmalade. An assortment of cheeses can be embellished with a jar of Citrus Thyme Jelly, whilst Punjab Limes can be gifted with Indian spices and airline tickets for an exotic destination! Yum, Christmas sorted!

Well folks the kitchen awaits me. Vibrant cranberry juice is dripping through a jelly bag to be made into Cranberry & Claret jelly… and there is ALL that baking. Just hope some good humoured elves turn up!

11am -1pm tomorrow. Lovely Rocking Dog edible and non edible things to buy. Mulled drinks and Rocking Dog cake to gobble around the kitchen table, and beyond. Profits from refreshments for Young Carer’s “Christmas in A Box”. I need to buy ten turkeys urgently! You will be warmly welcomed and let’s get Christmas off to a sparkling un-grinchy start.

Much love from Rocking Dog x

PS I apologise in advance if I smell like a mince pie tomorrow!

Rocking Dog Frou'd!,Rocking Dog

Rocking Dog Frou’d!

Labels For Limes,Rocking Dog

Labels For Limes

Jolly Jelly!,Rocking Dog

Jolly Jelly!

Legendary Rocking Dog Mince Pies,Rocking Dog

Legendary Rocking Dog Mince Pies

Our Friends Up North Cushions!,Rocking Dog

Our Friends Up North Cushions!

Don't Be Glum Chum!,Rocking Dog

Don’t Be Glum Chum!

Christmas Has Entered The Building!

Snow Time!,Rocking Dog

Snow Time!

The Kennel has had its festive magic wand waved over it. There is snow, there are carrots, doughnuts and gherkins. There are Putz houses, concertina paper trees that incidentally have seen much better days, a legless half century old fairy and baubles a plenty.

It seems such a short time ago that Christmas last tumbled down from the attic, and then I vaguely remember we did a second Christmas in February! No wonder my enthusiasm for ornamentation, embellishing and frou’ing is slightly lack lustre this Christmastime. I need a magic wand waved over me to get topped up on Christmas spirit ( and not of the yummy G & T variety that I quaffed whilst making my second batch of mince pies ). Maybe I need to just overdose on YOU KNOW WHO for a while!

There are few “new” decorations to report and just a rejigging of the “old”. There are hundreds and thousands sprinkled doughnuts and glittery glass gherkins suspended above the dining table and THOSE carrots have arrived back in the kitchen. There is my £5 Ikea plastic tree, unusually for me a themed affair with animals. Charity shop zoo and farm animals were put through the dishwasher before finding hiding places amongst the branches. There are animal baubles and felt Wire Fox Terriers. A tree for little Doug’. Meanwhile there is an old French bottle dryer which has been hung with a plethora of brightly coloured vintage baubles and a string of fairy lights. Voila indeed!

The real tree was bought from Frenchay Forestry (the small Hambrook out-post) who know I love a lame duck! I like to save a tree that was destined for a bonfire (a rogue branch, no show branch, a lack of symmetry etc..). This years is a beaut’, thank you to the lovely Mancunian father and son team who spend long cold nights for three weeks or so in a rather basic caravan. Hot mince Pies winging their way to you this morning to warm your cockles!

In between frou’ing I have been making preserves for my Pop Up on Sunday. I have also been making some rather strange cushions. Inspired by Andyman’s sporran I have made some tartan cushions with leather sporrans … strange but true! They are my “Our Friends From The North” range.

Cards posted tick, house decorated tick, presents bought & wrapped partial tick. As for the food that’s a completely different matter! How are your preparations going?

Festive greetings to one and all x

PS Message for Gina my mince pie count currently stands at 11 dozen and i’m not fed up just yet, though I do smell like a mince pie!

 

Bauble Boxes,Rocking Dog

Bauble Boxes

Bottle Drier Dec's,Rocking Dog

Bottle Drier Dec’s

Old Bulbs,Rocking Dog

Old Bulbs

Tree Frou,Rocking Dog

Tree Frou

Legless Fairy,Rocking Dog

Legless Fairy

Doug's Tree,Rocking Dog

Doug’s Tree

The Carrots Are Back!,Rocking Dog

The Carrots Are Back!

Sewing &....,Rocking Dog

Sewing &….

...Mince Pie Making!,Rocking Dog

…Mince Pie Making!

By Popular Request Rocking Dog Is Opening The Oven Door

Rocking Dog Loves To Bake,Rocking Dog

Rocking Dog Loves To Bake

Earlier this week I had such a beautifully written request for a Rocking Dog foodie fest. It came with a painterly robin and I was magically lured into saying yes to opening the Rocking Dog oven door. I am so easily persuaded! I am a creature of habit and have decided the kennel is the only place I feel happy selling my wares. So…. Rocking Dog will be doing a short but sweet “Pop Up” on Sunday 17th December from 11am -1pm (if people want to linger after this time that will be great, we’ll see how the party is going!)

Apart from a warm welcome you can expect freshly baked cakes, mince pies and other goodies to give as presents or to stash away. There’ll also be freshly made organic Seville Orange Marmalade (thank you to Abel & Cole for their 6kg box of citrusy sunshine). More will follow in a future post about my marmalade making.. all 44lbs of it! On a non edible theme pick up lovingly sewn items from Rocking Dog, including Christmas stockings and i’m hoping to bash out some fab’ cushions over the next few days.

Mulled drinks and refreshments await you in the Rocking Dog kitchen, bring friends, meet friends, make friends. Profits from refreshments are going to Young Carer’s “Christmas In A Box”. We are getting ready to make up boxes for identified families in particular need. Boxes will be filled with everything for Christmas breakfast, Turkey lunch and TV supper. A last financial push to really make these boxes special would be great. Of course if there is a poultryman (why yes…. I know plenty of those!) out there willing to donate ten turkeys ….that would be simply amazing!

Folk who have come to a Christmas event at the kennel before know just how much I love Christmas decorations and of course you can come and witness winter wonderland for yourself. It’s a pretty kitsch affair i’m afraid. I was going to go cold turkey this year and not go decoration silly, but I simply can’t do it… I’m just not ready to be a Grinch! Poor long suffering Andyman will be passing box after box through the attic hatch..in the next few days and then the frou’ing will begin!

We really hope you can come on Sunday 17th, we’d love to see you. Don’t be shy.

Rocking Dog wishes you a really happy weekend and be sure to stay cosy. x

PS. Unlike many bloggers Rocking Dog receives no payment for endorsing products, she just likes to give praise for a product or service where it is deserved. Amen.

Painterly Plea Mail,Rocking Dog

Painterly Plea Mail

There'll Be Pies!,Rocking Dog

There’ll Be Pies!

...Mulled Drinks,Rocking Dog

…Mulled Drinks

Organic Marmalade..,Rocking Dog

Organic Marmalade..

Cake To Buy,Rocking Dog

Cake To Buy

Rocking Dog Makes,Rocking Dog

Rocking Dog Makes

Come In From The Cold,Rocking Dog

Come In From The Cold

....To Winter Wonderland,Rocking Dog

….To Winter Wonderland

& Christmas Kitsch!,Rocking Dog

& Christmas Kitsch!

Rocking Dog Despises Dusting!

Life Really Is Too Short!,Rocking Dog

Life Really Is Too Short!

Despicable dusting! Rocking Dog thought it was time to have a little bit of a winter clean before Christmas tumbled down from the attic! Snow will blow onto surfaces, there will be bowls of vintage baubles, childhood treasures, garlands, mistletoe, holly, ivy, spruce and bling….hmmm! and I told everyone I was going to simplify everything this year!

I did clean, but didn’t get very far. It was too tempting to reacquaint myself with favourite precious things, re-appreciating glazes, patina, rust, script, and imperfection. I did draw the line at dusting the old postal shelves with their eclectic mix of found and given flotsam and jetsam. Life really is too short!

Logs were lugged to their hole in the inglenook, and the old castle was adorned with a string of sparkly lights. Material Mountain was given a little bit of a sort, and plans were made for Rocking Dog creations as linens and ginghams, velvets and silks were bundled and folded.

Bronze head man will change his Russian sailors hat for something a little more festive very soon and the window seat antlers will make way for a tree. All is calm and all is white, but in a few days festive mayhem will descend!

Stay cosy. Love bad tempered Rocking Dog and her duster x

Precious Things,Rocking Dog

Precious Things

Prickly Seat,Rocking Dog

Prickly Seat

Lugging The Logs,Rocking Dog

Lugging The Logs

Calm & White,Rocking Dog

Calm & White

Sparkly Castle,Rocking Dog

Sparkly Castle

Where's Your Christmas Hat?,Rocking Dog

Where’s Your Christmas Hat?

December Comes In With A Flurry

Celebrating The 2017 Oil, Rocking Dog

Celebrating The 2017 Oil

With the advent of frosty mornings it’s hard to think that we were harvesting the olives in sub-tropical (well almost) temperatures a month ago. November saw us making the trip home with our precious olive oil cargo. Snow had fallen on some of the Swiss mountain peaks and there was a misty late autumnal stillness hanging heavily over the slate grey lakes. Travelling through Switzerland always makes me feel as if I am part of some spectacular railway set. Truly beautiful.

November has been busy. There have been some good things and some pretty rotten things. I’m always thinking of friends and family who have had very difficult situations to withstand. Some corners have been turned, whilst for others, corners still need turning. I hope the roads straighten out very soon for all those travelling somewhat perilous journeys. X

The good bits in November were a lovely trip to London to see Future Islands at the Brixton Academy. LOVED! I also managed to squeeze in lots of Biddy (as in old) cuddles with little Douglas, because put simply grandchildren are for cuddling! Sorrel, Doug’ and I also managed to squeeze a visit to the V&A. I wanted to see the Woman’s Hour Craft Prize exhibition. The prize was brought about to celebrate the 70th anniversary of Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour in collaboration with the V&A and The Craft Council. I was particularly keen to see the winning exhibit by Phoebe Cummings who had made a botanical fountain from raw clay. As the exhibit has not been glazed or fired the water will gradually dissolve the clay, the fountain will therefore be ever-changing. Anyone expecting the water spout at Chatsworth or the fountains at Versailles may be slightly disappointed. On this visit I was fortunate enough to witness the once daily 2 minute water feature. Hmmmmm! it’s a watery dribble, however the clay work is truly exquisite.

There were 1,500 applicants for the £10,000 prize, and the exhibition showcases the twelve finalists. I particularly loved Celia Pym’s darning exhibit. Over the last ten years she has darned other peoples clothing and feels a real compulsion to try a jumper on that has been placed on the back of a chair! On January 6th you can go to the V&A for a free workshop with Celia to discuss how to tackle a hole in a favourite garment.

Romilly Saumarez Smiths work also caught my attention. I loved the cabinet of her treasures. The artist is fascinated by stories contained within found objects. Suffering from a neurological disease, she is unable to use her own hands and works alongside a trio of jewellers to translate her ideas. Smith uses precious metals and other materials to sensitively work in with items such as Roman pins, medieval thimbles and coral. Her exhibit was like being in a rather good sweet shop and being unable to choose one piece, you wanted the lot!

November saw Rocking Dog sew a batch of 2017 “Cabin in the Wood” advent calendars and stockings utilising vintage hand embroidered festive table linen. Beloved Bernina has been busy with other sewing projects and has been joined on the workbench by a snazzy overlocker. I will sit down and embrace its neat and clever functions.

There was a sale at Court House Farm, Portishead. What a beautiful event but just why oh why do I get so anxious selling?  On the buying front I desperately tried to resist buying more vintage baubles but alas my decoration addiction got the better of me!

There has been a Rocking Dog huddle, lots of chat, a little crochet and the first batch of Rocking Dog mince pies. Thank you to all those who came and dropped money into the jolly tea pot for Fine Cell Work.

The last day of November saw us sharing a special deal lunch at The Pig at Bath with friends. The food was lovely and I was particularly intrigued by some pickled Chinese artichokes. They looked alarmingly like caterpillar chrysalis’s, but were delicious. A walk around the walled kitchen garden with the sun fading was quiet and inspirational.

So December has indeed come in with a flurry, and SO the festive madness begins!

Hoping you all have a wonderful weekend. Wrap up warmly and stay cosy! Love Rocking Dog x

PS Alright Michael it is time!

Umbrian November,Rocking Dog

Umbrian November

Umbrian Moon..,Rocking Dog

Umbrian Moon..

Hambrook Moon,Rocking Dog

Hambrook Moon

Making Calendars,Rocking Dog

Making Calendars

& Stockings,Rocking Dog

& Stockings

Court House Farm,Rocking Dog

Court House Farm

Delightful Darn,Rocking Dog

Delightful Darn

Dissolving Clay,Rocking Dog

Dissolving Clay

Little Boxes,Rocking Dog

Little Boxes

The V&A Cafe,Rocking Dog

The V&A Cafe

Biddy's Boy!,Rocking Dog

Biddy’s Boy!

Go Girl!,Rocking Dog

Go Girl!

Pigging Out,Rocking Dog

Pigging Out

Legendary Mince Pie, Rocking Dog

Legendary Mince Pie

Let The Madness Begin!,Rocking Dog

Let The Madness Begin!