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.