Friday, 23 December 2016

Last minute gifts: Too cool for a Christmas hat hat.

I designed this hat thinking about my crazy nephews who range in age between toddler and teenager, all are completely crazy and unique, I wanted to make hats for them that would be comfortable, festive (but not too festive) and most importantly that they might actually wear (even if its just for a quick family photo!)

Yarn : Drops Andes or any yarn with an approximate gauge of 10 sts and 14 rows to 10 cm
Needles : 9mm double pointed needles
Extras: pom pom ( or make one using a pom pom maker or some card)
Time: 1-2 hours
Skills: basic - knit in the round and long tail tubular cast on 
long tail tubular cast on by Ysolda Teague (this is also a super quick cast on method as well as making for a great stretchy edge)
Sizes: Toddler ( kid , Teen)

Using tubular cast on method, cast on 36 (40, 46)
Join in the round
work K1 P1 rib for 6 rows
Work in stocking stitch (knit) till hat measures
6" (7" 9")  ( 15cm, 18cm, 23cm)
on Toddler and teen sizes k2 tog at end of last row

next round: K3 K2tog, repeat to end
Work 3 rows stocking stitch (knit)
Next round: K2 K2tog, repeat to end
Work 2 rounds stocking stitch
Next round: K1 K2tog, repeat to end
Work 1 row
Next round: K2tog repeat to end
Break yarn and thread through remaining stitches secure tightly and sew in loose ends
Make a pom pom using either a pom pom maker or some card to make a pom pom and sew securely on the top

Enjoy! You should have time to make at least one of these whilst watching a Christmas movie, this year our favourite movie is Arthur Christmas or as Ruby calls it the man with the googly eye slippers and the little elf.  

Tuesday, 20 December 2016

Last minute gifts - Quick Little legs warmers

So this year I had a request for more leg warmers, short on time I luckily have some chunky wool but couldn't find a free ready-made pattern on Ravelry. So I have written my own to share with you. I know a lot of little girls who like to wear tutus and still be princesses even when the weather is not suitable so these little leg warmers will keep them warm while they are dancing and running around

Size: 0-2 years and 3-6 years
Materials:  50-100 grams of super chunky yarn (I used Sirdar Kiko which I had left over from another project, you can just double up thinner yarn to get the right gauge)
Gauge : 9 sts and 12 rows to 10cm square
Needles: uk 7mm double pointed needles
Extras: Cable needle
Project time : 1-2 hours (make these while watching a Christmas movie or on your lunch breaks)
(you can work these leg warmers flat just reverse the knits and purls on the alternate rows, however this will mean you get a chunky seam which may not be as comfortable on little legs)


Cast on 17 (23) sts
Row 1: (K2 P1) 2x (3x) K4 (P1 K2) 2x (3x)
repeat row 1 three more times
Row 5: (K2 P1) 2x (3x) C4F (slip next 2 sts onto cable needle hold at front of work knit next 2 sts then knit 2 from cable needle)

Repeat rows 1-5: 3(5) times
Work rows 1-4 once more then cast off loosely

I hope you enjoyed this pattern I also have a selection of my own knitting Patterns available in my fibre arts supply shop wildforestwool 

Sunday, 18 December 2016

Last minute hand made Christmas Gifts - Roving Fairies tutorial

I have been meaning to share some craft tutorials for a while now, unfortunately Christmas the opening of a second shop and a Toddler who requires constant entertainment has meant that this project has been on the back burner for a while. Maybe next year Ill manage to get everything done.... Anyway the same reasons that have led me to neglect this blog have also lead me to end up with not enough time to make all the handmade Christmas gifts traditionally required by my family. So as I make my last minute gifts this year I will share them so you can enjoy a bit of Christmas crafting.

My First Tutorial will be for roving Christmas fairies.


Materials Needed:
Wool roving
Large wooden bead
Craft wire
sewing needle
wire pliers

Thread wire through the bead twist a loop at each end tie a ribbon to the top loop then take a second piece of wire add a loop at each end and twist around the body for the arms
wrap arms and body in yarn to secure arms in place (you can also run the yarn through the centre of the bead and secure to the top loop to stop the arms dropping down)
Start building the fairies dress by taking strips of roving stretching them out and wrapping over her shoulders and around her waist (tying the first layer or two can help add volume and shape. Use a needle to carefully felt the dress a little around the waist (little gentle stabbing action, watch your fingers!) then take some yarn and wrap and sew around her waist (again you can anchor this through the head and into the top loop)

To make the hair start by attaching a long length of yarn to the wire loop at the top of the head, wind the yarn round you hand several times to make a big loop, wind the yarn around the top of the loop and attach again to the top of the head. Position the hair loop and tie and at the back into a pony tailthen take another length of yarn and loosely run it between the pony tie and the top of the head to fill in the fairies bald spot, trim the end off of the hair plait and tie at the bottom with another piece of yarn

Trim and tidy your fairies skirt and add embellishments, enjoy experimenting with different hairstyles and details to create lots of unique fairy decorations to hang in the tree or you could make lots of little fairies and use a hoop decorated with Ribbons to make a Waldorf style fairy mobile.

I hope you enjoyed this tutorial!

Tuesday, 5 July 2016

Washing your woolies

"Washing instructions are quite as important as knitting instructions" (Patons and Balwins 15th edition Woolcraft)

 Recently I have started to learn the tips I was taught as a child and take for granted are not common knowledge! I recently took on a few hours at my local pub and my comments have been met with suprise. I had thought it common knowledge if something was slow to ripen to put it in a fruit bowl with some ripe bananas, or to check if an egg is okay to eat pop it in a glass of water, if it sinks its good.

Practical knitting (1940s copy)

 I was in my garden preparing a raw sheep fleece for spinning and chatting to the neighbor over the garden fence, he had a lot of questions about washing wool. Wool washing does need to be done carefully as you can ruin a hand knit very quickly with improper care. This also applies to acrylic yarns as well as real wool! 

 Acrylic; Acrylic fibers can be machine washed (although I do recommend a gentle wool cycle) and can be tumble dried, but if you want them to last and keep their shape you should avoid the tumble drier and dry them flat, the stitches can become elongated when hung on the line and the fibers can get stretched. Some yarns especially soft and fuzzy acrylics can shed fibers quite heavily making them become brittle and stringy. You need to use a mild laundry detergent as some chemicals such as nail polish remover (acetone) will dissolve acrylic fibers (this is also a great way to test if a ball of wool is real wool or not!)

 Woolens; some woolens can be machine washed but they should never be tumble dried! Pure wool or 100% wool and wool blends are best hand washed to avoid shrinking and felting.

 How to wash your woolens step by step

Step 1: Fill an empty washing up bowl with warm water not too hot it needs to be comfortable on your hands.

Step 2: Add some laundry powder suitable for hand washing (wear gloves to protect your hands) and mix it up into a thick lather, if you're on a budget you can use just a small amount and really whisk it up. Always use a bleach free laundry powder for wool!

Step 3: Add in your woolens (wash dark colors separately) immerse them in the water and lather and gently squish the lather into the woolens. NEVER RUB the woolens friction causes felting. you can leave them to soak for 5- 10 minutes if you wish

Step 4: Remove the clothes and rinse the bowl fill with clean warm water the same as before and immerse woolens again removing the soap, repeat this step a few times more till the water runs clear

Step 5: Gently squish excess water from the woolens, you can lay them on a towel, roll it up and squish to remove more water. Then lay flat to dry in its original shape on a rack or a flat topped clothes horse in the garden. 

From Vogue knitting 23rd edition (produced in the 1940s)

Some extra wooly facts!

The sun helps kill bacteria but can bleach and fade colors (to keep 
whites white dry them outside!). Wool does not need washing as regularly as other clothing, you can just air them in the garden between wearing, trust me they wont smell. You are less likely to sweat in wool and it is thermo regulating, it will keep you warm or cool. Camel wool is the warmest and coolest of all wools keeping camels warm in freezing temperatures at night and cool in baking temperatures during the day, sheeps wool is also pretty good at this. Wool has amazing wicking properties and the natural lanolin helps keep it clean and bacteria free (its the bacteria that make sweat smell), wearing wool socks can help prevent some foot proplems caused by sweaty feet or for those that have smelly feet you need to change the type of sock you are wearing, if cottons not working for you try wool especially merino!

Practical knitting illustrated
Don't be afraid of the care involved with woolens its not as labour intensive as some people believe! I often see vintage lifestyle programs, you know the type, where families are sent to live in 'the past'. Inevitably the women spend hours washing clothing and complaining about the labour intensive process of all the washing they have to do. The problem is no one told them that 1940s women did not spend their entire days washing, many had jobs and families to take care of along with other social responsibilities. Woolens require less washing they would be washed once a week if needed, and these women took their looks seriously trust me they wouldn't leave the house stinky. If they spent their time washing in their free time they would not have had the time to craft those elaborate hairstyles and do all that knitting!

From Practical knitting illustrated

Thursday, 23 June 2016

How to Knit a Soap Envelope

I have decided to devote a page on my blog to practical craft tutorials, I will be doing some of these myself but have also been in touch with some lovely local crafters who have kindly offered to contribute too! That way I can recover a range of skills and crafts for you to try at home!

My first craft tutorial is for a knitted soap envelope face cloth

Soap bags are very simple and quick to make (especially if you choose a double knit or thicker yarn), you can either pop your soap scraps in or just pop in a whole new bar of soap to use, soap bags are great they will make your soap go further (especially if like me you love natural hand made soaps), you can wash your face with them, no more dropping the soap and they can easily be hung from a hook (no scummy soap marks to worry about) and great for hanging in the shower

Equipment you will need:
Yarn - For face and body use you will want to choose a nice soft cotton yarn. depending on your skin type, I used Three bears cotton, or you could try King cole bamboo cotton (50% bamboo 50% cotton). or any cotton yarn oddments you can get your hands on, you will need around 25-50g depending on the thickness of the wool

A pair of knitting needles - I used 4mm. Now size isn't really important here a bigger needle will give a looser stitch and a smaller needle a tighter knit, the size of the bag will vary a little but you can easily adjust this by casting on more or less stitches. I recommend trying charity shops for a great bargain on knitting needles! (Start with a pair of 4mm needles to see you through most double knit projects)

I have included both written instructions and a video for beginners

Written instructions
Cast on 20 sts
work in Garter stitch (knit every row) till work measures approximately 20cm
cast off
Fold in half so cast on edge sits about a cm below the cast off edge fold cast off edge over to create the flap and sew up each side securing the flap in place, Sewing technique isn't particularly important with this project a simple running stitch works well. secure in loose ends then to make a loop take a long strand of yarn and fold in half 4 times then twist it till is folds back on itself sew tie a knot at the end and sew into place as a loop at the top or in the corner of the bag, sew in all loose ends. you could of course make a braid or crochet a chain for the loop or even cast on a few stitches, knit a short ribbon and attach it for the loop.

I also have pdf knitting patterns on sale in my etsy shop Knitted by Aunty Emma

Wednesday, 22 June 2016

Home grown lunch

I imagine people passing my garden from the road would look at it and assume it was untended left to grow out of control and unkempt 
We live in a small rented house with a concrete driveway. The Mr built us some planters out of old pallets, we then built a fence using more slats from the pallets and attached it to the planters, he even added a gate, so we now have a garden and a smaller driveway. It also means we have a safety zone around the house for the dog and the toddler preventing anyone from escaping out onto the road.
Its not much but we are making do with what we have
I have slowly filled the planters with vegetables, turnips, radishes (so quick and easy to grow) Loganberries and raspberries. More planters were required and I added 2 dwarf apple trees, a cherry tree, a blueberry bush (these are great for toddlers to forage from and do so well in containers just make sure you use ericaceous soil) and a tonne of strawberry plants (I bought 2 at a local carboot and they have multiplied!). I now use the solid planters for fruit trees and bushes and use poly-bags and tubs for my seasonal veg, we are growing squash, peas, broccoli, carrots and potatoes!

I do have one patch of soil in the garden which got churned up recently when we had our own water supply put in. I have left this to grow as a wildflower patch with a bird table and the birds and the bees love it. The bees are important for pollinating my fruit trees and with such a small garden I need to offer some encouragement, it also gives the insects a nicer alternative to feed on instead of my veggies! This is my own simplified version of companion planting and I'm pleased to say the slugs have done little damage so far this year even with all this wet weather!

Squash plant

Organically grown food has been found to be nutritionally better for you its considerably higher in antioxidants and lower in chemicals and pesticides. This is to with the soil quality and less intensive farming. Which makes perfect sense as a large portion of what goes into growing vegetables comes from the soil. Unfortunately our concrete garden makes a compost bin very difficult so I use an alternative. I use a Bokashi bin, which is a sort of indoor anaerobic fermentation tub a bit like making home brew beer but for the garden, they are cheap, not smelly (they smell a little sour and pickled when you open the lid). You drain off the garden beer and dilute it for watering your plants and when its full dig into the garden or use it to mulch the plants. I also plant Phacelia which the bees love and when you dig it back into the garden it puts in more than it takes out and the seeds are very cheap which is where it gets its name green manure. We also have pet goldfish and the weekly water changes also go onto the garden.


I get a lot of help planting seeds with my toddler so we always get a few surprises! She also enjoys helping harvest any ripe fruit and veg and although we don't get particularly large volumes of anything we do get a little bit of lots of things. Which we use to bulk up meals and as tasty snacks.

So even if you have a small concrete garden or just a windowsill its worth growing some of your own superfood!

Thursday, 16 June 2016

Shopping for clothes the old fashioned way

Like most women I love shopping for clothes, there's just something so rewarding about finding a new outfit that fits just right or has the right style. Shopping is now considered a national past time for women in the uk, Barnardo's recently released research suggesting we wear clothes an average of 6 times before discarding them or loosing interest. I admit I have clothes in my wardrobe which I have only worn a handful of times, and the same few outfits which I choose to wear regularly perhaps just changed up a little! Films such as 'the true cost' have started highlighting the effects of our shopping habits on the third world and the environment and its pretty clear that mass production and disposal in this way is just not sustainable. We still need to wear clothes and we still love shopping so there must be a compromise somewhere right?

 Well it seems the answer could be to spend more, yes I know that sounds pretty counter-intuitive, but if you increase the amount you would consider paying for a sweater from say £20.00 to £80.00 you are more likely to choose that sweater very carefully, even dare I say spend more time shopping for it, choosing higher quality materials will help ensure the sweater lasts longer, doesn't go bobbly, develop holes and loose its shape, the key here is to pay for the higher quality materials not the label. Spend time thinking about how the sweater goes with the other items in your wardrobe, having a capsule wardrobe is also another key in this, carefully choosing items that can be worn together and are easily accessorised and most importantly that you feel comfortable wearing. 1940s war time women are well known for their sense of style and love of fashion, many saw it as their national duty to look good and keep spirits up! However with rationing on clothing and waste reduction campaigns, women had to choose their clothing very carefully or risk using up all their rations on a poorly chosen outfit that they would have no choice but to wear.

   So perhaps by being careful about our clothing choices and spending more and buying less our shopping experiences can be just as rewarding and our wardrobes lighter but more beautiful for it.

I would love to hear your hints and tips for creating a beautiful and sustainable wardrobe, please feel free share them in the comments!

Some great shops to check out for quality British made clothing - if you have any others you feel should be added to the list please let me know!

The 30 year sweatshirt (guaranteed for 30 years!)
Hotsquash British ladies clothing with advanced thermo regulating fabrics
Libby london Style and substance hardworking british ladies wear
Paper London Modernized classics

Come in and have a cuppa

Welcome to Aunty Emma's Tea break!

 As this is my first post I'll start by introducing myself. I've been called Aunty Emma since I was little, I come from a big family in a small town and the name kinda stuck. I chose the Title 'a modern land girl' as I feel this best explains who I am, I love vintage fashion, knitting, home crafting and growing my own food but I live in the modern world. My partner, myself and our daughter live in a modern 2 bed house, with a patio garden and a shed. I plant my fruit and veg in containers made by the Mr out of old pallets and we do the best with what we have. I decided to create this blog to connect with people like you (since you are still reading hopefully you are in the right place!), so sit down have a cuppa and take a break. I'll talk about my craft projects, my garden, my successes and failures and my little Etsy shop (you may have already spotted the link at the side). I would love to hear back from you, and hope to you see you again soon when I post my first real blog post.