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Knitting event calendar – February to April 2017

We’ve got some exciting events for you over the next three months, both in terms of three new workshop dates and also three of our most favourite knitting shows! We’re visiting Scotland for the Edinburgh Yarn Festival, Wales for Wonderwool and we’re attending Unravel a little closer to home.

The three workshops we have lined up for you will be the three last workshops of this set up for this year as Kari-Helene will be taking maternity leave from the end of April.  They will take place at Bourn Village Hall which is a short drive from where the alpacas now live.  Bourn is a lovely village, about nine miles west of Cambridge and even mentioned in the Doomsday Book!

So without further ado; this is what we’re up to for the next three months!

1. Knitting Workshop 4th February

We’re preparing a lovely day at Bourn Village Hall located in the cute and picturesque village of Bourn. The alpacas are thriving here and they look forward to welcoming you all to their new home. Choose your project at the workshop after trying everything on and we will give you individual tuition on any questions you may have regarding the pattern. Book your place here by paying a £25 deposit.

Small Purl Alpaca Designs - teaching knitting

2. Unravel

We’re back in Farnham for this 2 and a half day long show on the 17th to 19th of February. The show is held at the Farnham Maltings, a wonderful maze of small rooms making this an intimate and charming show. The town itself has a lovely atmosphere and makes this a perfect knitting destination!

Final Unravel 2016 poster to print A4

3. Edinburgh Yarn Festival

EYF takes place on the 10th and 11th of March this year. This fabulous yarn show, now in its fourth year, has gained an excellent, international reputation and attracts visitors, exhibitors and workshop holders from all over the world. We think it’s a must for any serious knitter to visit and hope to see lots of you there this year! You can buy advance tickets on the website as this is likely a sell out event.

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4. Knitting Workshop 26th March

At our workshops we serve home cooked lunch and treats. Kari-Helene loves cooking and takes great pride in serving a delicious, nutritious and maybe ever so slightly naughty lunch. There are treats served throughout the day as well as the two course lunch, so we sure hope nobody will leave hungry. We also supply constant tea and coffee. Come give it a try at the March workshop!

Small Purl Alpaca Designs - food served at workshop

5. Wonderwool

This charming wool show takes place on the 22nd and 23rd of April in a sheep auction mart in rural Wales and we love it here! The drive to Builth Wells is always charming and takes us through some stunning scenery. The show is one of the larger knitting shows we attend but they still manage to keep an intimate atmosphere and they always provide excellent food stalls. Kari-Helene highly recommends the amazing sweet tarts!

6. Knitting Workshop 29th April

If you are unsure if there will be anything for you to learn at one of our knitting workshops why not have a look at this blog post Kari-Helene wrote on just this topic.
This will be our last date for 2017 in this format as after this date Kari-Helene will be taking maternity leave, so make sure to book onto this one as we are expecting spaces to fill quickly!

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So that takes us to the end of April. We look forward to seeing you at one of these events!

Tracy and Kari-Helene xxx

5 cosy knitting kits to make and wear in winter

Watching the weather forecast this morning we realise that although the days are getting every so little brighter and longer winter is still very much upon us! Snow has fallen in Scotland and the forecast is threatening to bring us some of the white stuff down south too! But fear not, if you haven’t already knitted and wrapped yourself up in some of our wonderfully warm alpaca knitwear we ave made a list of our top 5 cosy knits for winter!

Cyrene Jacket

Cyrene Jacket by Purl Alpaca Designs (front view)

First up we’ve got our popular Cyrene Jacket! Knitted on 4.5 mm needles, our Medium yarn creates a thick and warm fabric perfect for this jacket imitating a classic tweed hunting jacket. The shaping at the back waist and under the bust creates a beautifully fitted shape and the clever construction makes this a fabulous garment to make and wear! The body is knitted in one piece and the added benefit of this is that you have an automatic blanket on your lap whilst knitting!

Buy the knitting kit by clicking here. Price from £106 – £152.25

Glacier Cardigan

Glacier Cardigan by Purl Alpaca Designs (front view)

The Glacier Cardigan is knitted in our luxurious Chunky yarn and it is so incredibly warm! Due to the Chunky yarn and the big needles it knits up very quickly and you’ll be able to wear it in no time, a big bonus now that the cold weather is very much upon us. Treat yourself to a wearable, warm hug!

Buy knitting kit by clicking here. Price from £127.50 – £190

Alfie Hat

Alfie Hat ivory knitting kit

When leaving the house (although it’s tempting not to these days) a warm and soft hat is the best friend you can ask for and the Alfie Hat ticks all the boxes! Knitted in the round, there are no seams and only two yarn ends to fasten to finish the project. It’s knitted in an easy 1 by 1 rib and is a perfect pattern for someone starting out with circular knitting. It’s equally perfect for men and women and it is one of Kari-Helene’s favourites for those cold days when we exhibit in animal auction marts!

Buy the knitting kit by clicking here. Price £17

Geronimo Jumper

geronimo jumper for women purl alpaca

Originally designed as a man’s jumper, the Geronimo Jumper has proved equally popular for ladies! The beautiful cable details inspired by traditional Aran jumper designs are complimented by the modern touch of contrast collar and cuffs. Should you prefer a more traditional look, opt for the same colour for both the body and trims. The collar is nice and cosy around the neck and the texture creates a thick and warm fabric, perfect for winter!

Buy the knitting kit by clicking here. Price from £115.25 – £143

Miko Dress

Miko Dress - Purl Alpaca Designs

From our latest collection come this beauty, the Miko Dress; a knitted dress complete with long sleeves, pockets and lots of interesting cable details. The shaping through the cable detail creates a very flattering line without being too fitted and clingy. The pockets can easily be omitted should you want a more streamlined look, but we’re totally obsessed with pockets on dresses and love the warm feeling of these knitted ones!

Buy knitting kit by clicking here. Price from £133.75 – £198.50

We’re hoping you have found some inspiration in these warm and stylish knitting kits and will be cosy and comfortable for the rest of winter!

Happy knitting,

Tracy and Kari-Helene xxx

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Design Focus – Venus Coat Knitting Pattern and Kit

Happy New Year, everyone! We hope you have had a fabulous holiday and are springing into the new year feeling refreshed and energised.

Did you get any yarn related gifts this year? Any Purl Alpaca Designs’ products under the tree? We hope you have a long list of knits lined up and that at least some of them are for you to wear and love!

One of our most indulgent knits is the Venus Coat knitting kit. Since its launch it has become one of our most favourite designs, it always does well at shows and workshop were knitters can try the coat on and see the beautiful fit and flare for themselves. The design might look daunting, but in this blog post I will go through the pattern in detail and provide you with some handy tips to make it more manageable.

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The cast on for Venus Coat ranges from 353 sts for X-Small to 543 sts for X-Large. We recommend using very long circular needles of at least 100 cm, and potentially two lengths put together if you are working on an interchangeable set such as the Addi Click Bamboo. to deal with the amount of stitches and ultimately as you knit, the weight of the work. Using stitch markers for your cast on is a great idea. Inserting a marker every 50 sts prevents the need for going right back to the start every time you lose count.

Once you have started working on your edging it can also be a good idea to go back and check your stitches on the first row every once in a while to prevent having to go right back to the start again once you realise the stitches don’t add up!

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When you have completed the border you go onto setting up the stitches for the lace pattern. At this point it can be helpful to move your stitch markers to the points in between the pattern repeats. This way you can easily spot if you have gone wrong somewhere and hopefully not have to go back a row or two. Ripping out your knitting can be heart breaking, especially when we are talking hundreds of stitches!

One of the most common mistakes made in the lace pattern of the Venus Coat is forgetting a yarn over. Don’t worry, this is actually very easy to fix without having to undo any stitches at all! Check out this really useful video from Knit Purl Hunter on You Tube.

The skirt of the Venus Coat is knitted in three main sections. After each section you work a row of decreases to reduce the flare of the skirt. Should you wish to shorten the coat, the ideal way to do it would be by removing one or more repeats from each of the three sections. This way you would still keep the beautiful flare of the skirt and not disturb the balance between them.

After the lace section of the coat is finished you move on to the 3 x 1 rib making up the top section of the coat. The waist line on this design sits just under the bust to create an A-line shape. Should you wish to have a more fitted waist on your coat, the easiest way to do this would be to work a longer rib section before splitting for the armholes. This way you would move the waistline lower and because of the rib it would naturally pull in to fit. Remember that this would make the coat longer overall, so it may be an idea to do this in addition to shortening the skirt slightly. Isn’t it marvelous how you can alter the design to make it just right for you when you knit it yourself?

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From here on the design is pretty straight forward. The sleeves are knitted in the same 3×1 rib and have a slight gathering at the top to create a puff sleeve. The front bands are knitted in one with the rest of the coat so there is minimal finishing.

One popular design hack with the Venus Coat is to make it sleeveless. You can take 3 balls of yarn of the total amount needed for a coat with sleeves and to finish off the armholes, add a row of single crochet. This creates a lighter garment, ideal for wearing in summer or spring. Check out Karen’s version on Ravelry!

Knitting the Venus Coat using our luxurious alpaca yarn creates a warm yet lightweight garment. Our alpaca yarn is woollen spun which makes a lighter and loftier yarn ideal for big garments. The coat will have drape, yet it will not be so heavy you will end up with it draping on the floor behind you after a few wears! You can buy the complete kit with yarn by clicking here.

If you have a different yarn in mind for knitting the coat, you can buy the pattern only by clicking here. You can also buy the pattern over on Ravelry. I have also written a handy blog post on substituting yarn. There are a few things to take into consideration but I do not see why it wouldn’t turn out just as lovely if you make the right choices! You can also check out which yarns other people have knitted the coat in by clicking here.

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If you are not a knitter, fear not, there is an option for you too. We have a team of experienced knitters ready to create your perfect garment. If you would like to go for this option, click here to place your order.

I hope you have found this post informative and maybe through reading this you have found the confidence to cast on your own big project, whether it is our Venus Coat or another daunting design, and do remember; you are not alone, we are only an email or a phone call away and are always happy to help you back on the right track!

Do make sure to tag any photos on social media using #purlalpacadesigns. We love to see what you are up to!

Happy knitting!

Kari-Helene xxx

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Last post dates for Christmas!

December is disappearing fast and some of the last recommended postal dates for parts of the world has already past!

Here are some of the important ones to keep in mind! Please also place your order in some time before the actual date so we can make sure it is packaged and in the post for the right dates!

Last day for post to most of Europe and USA – 15th of December

Last day for post to the UK – 21st of December

Get your orders in soon to make sure they arrive in time!

Tracy & Kari-Helene xxx

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Small Business Saturday came to Cambridge!

As a small business it can sometimes be tough to find your place in the vast sea of chain stores and big brands. This is why it is so important and so wonderful that there are brilliant initiatives such as Small Business Saturday! The program pledges to help independent businesses in the UK to gain publicity through social media and other happenings around the country. It all culminates in Small Business Saturday on the 3rd of December where we all join in the request for more people to shop small and local this Christmas.

Last week the Small Business Saturday bus tour came to Cambridge and Tracy went along with needles and yarn to help teach some knitting. It was a wet and grey day but this didn’t dampen the mood on the bus. Alongside other small Cambridge based businesses we got the chance to chat and share experiences as well as making useful business links and meet the mayor!

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Tracy met the lovely people behind Cambridge based gift shop Podarok, the tempting Cambridge Cake Boutique and the fabulous Dance Matters.

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Picture from @SmallBizSatUK Twitter profile.

With Small Business Saturday coming up on the 3rd of December we hope you will all take the opportunity to support the small business around you; be it the local butchers, the independent pub on the corner, or your favourite small alpaca yarn provider!

Shop small this December!

Tracy & Kari-Helene xxx

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Knitting Event Calendar November & December 2016

Autumn is always a busy time for us with lots of different knitting events, and October flew by with the new collection launch, the Knitting and Stitching Show and a fully booked knitting workshop! We have had so much fun with it all and loved every minute.  Today has definitely felt a bit colder, but we don’t mind, out comes the knitwear and we curl up on the sofa with our choice of hot drinks. Kari-Helene is all about the coffee whilst Tracy can’t be without her favourite cup of tea!

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This image is from the lovely site Unsplash – a free image downloading site!

Coming up over the next two months we have a few very exciting knitting events and we are looking forward to seeing you at one of these!

1. Yarnporium – 5th and 6th of November

This brand new knitting show takes place at King’s College on the Strand in London. We are very excited to be included in a stunning looking line up of vendors.  The venue is small and Alison and Rachel from Yarn in the City have chosen a lovely group of makers and designers to display their goods at the show. You can still get tickets online by clicking here!

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2. Harrogate Knitting and Stitching Show – 24th – 27th of November

This is one of our favourite knitting events of the year. It is starting to feel festive with fairy lights in the streets and possibly some snow in the air. The lovely people of Harrogate are coming to do their Christmas shopping at the Knitting and Stitching Show. Get your tickets online here! We will be in the Textile Gallery again which is just in from the main entrance to hall A on stand TG628. We will be bringing our new collection to the stand. Take a look here to preview which one you will be knitting this winter!

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3. Our online advent calendar!

Every day in December we will be sending out an email to our newsletter subscribers. The email will provide you with a small surprise for that specific day. We hope you will take part in our Christmas count down by making sure you are signed up to and receiving our newsletters. You can sign up by entering your email right here in the middle of the home page or via Facebook by clicking here.

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4. Christmas market, Manor Farm – 10th of December

The fabulous Manor Farm in Bourn has become our new workshop venue. We love the look and feel of this place. With their newly opened cafe serving delicious grub and great coffee and their old, charming barn this place is definitely worth a visit. The Christmas market takes place on Saturday the 10th of December and we hope to see you there!

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5. Knitting Workshop – 11th of December

Our last workshop of 2016 takes place on Sunday the 11th of December. Kari-Helene will be bringing some Scandinavian Christmas cookies, and the menu might be a touch more festive than normal. Tracy might even entertain us with some carol singing!? One thing is certain, there will be lots of time for knitting! The alpacas will be looking forward to seeing you too. Book your place by clicking here.

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We are both very excited about everything happening over the next few months and look forward to catching up with you at one of these events! Let us know which one you will be attending!

Tracy & Kari-Helene xxx

 

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Foraging in September – Elderberry vinegar for salads!

I know it is not September anymore, and I miss the warming sunshine already, although wrapping up in warm knitwear, cosy cups of tea and coffee and knitting on the sofa wrapped up in blankets has its charm too! I have been rather busy in September and October with the launch of our Terrarium Collection and the annual Knitting and Stitching Show at Alexandra Palace, but I did manage to squeeze in a tiny bit of foraging too. The time when the hedgerows are abundant with berries is so precious and I aim to make the most of it every year, but sometimes have to admit defeat.

One of the staples I serve at our popular knitting workshops is a tomato and pomegranate salad drenched in a home made elderberry vinegar, and since I ran out of this luscious liquid at the workshop we held in August I needed to make more! The elderberry season has been rather rubbish in my neck of the woods this year and I rummaged high and low in all my usual spots with not much luck. I suspect some eager hedgerow trimming by the council is to blame…

Hedgerow foraging for blackberries and elderberries

I did manage to find some though, and with the addition of the late seasons blackberries I got enough to make a batch! I use this recipe I found on Galloway Wild Food blog who in turn quite Miles Irving’s Forager’s Handbook as their source.

The vinegar is easy to make; leave your fruit to steep for a few days, strain and boil the liquid with added sugar and bottle! I use mine as a delicious salad dressing on most types of salads, but it is indeed delicious on Yottam Ottoleghi’s tomato and pomegranate salad!

I’m loving this time of year, I just wish I had more time to do both all the knitting and make the most of the hedgerows! I’ve made a nice Pin-able image for you below so you can make sure you remember the elderberries come next September!

Enjoy autumn, I sure do!

Kari-Helene xxx

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Office is closed! 4th – 10th of October

Just thought we would let you know that the office is closed until Tuesday 11th October as we are at The Knitting & Stitching Show, Alexandra Palace for the rest of this week. All orders placed this week will be packed and shipped once we are back next week (after maybe having a day off). Thank you for understanding!

Hope to see you there, if not, maybe we can catch up at Harrogate next month?

Lots of love, Kari-Helene, Tracy and the alpacas

Introducing The Terrarium Collection – a capsule knitwear collection

Yes it’s that time of year again when we introduce you to our new collection.

With the Terrarium collection our in house designer, Kari-Helene Rane is moving in a new and fresh direction. We know that a hand knitting a garment is a labour of love and believe it deserves a prominent place in the modern capsule wardrobe.
The current trends are moving towards a minimalist approach to fashion with consumers making considered choices both when purchasing finished garments and when they decide what to knit themselves.

Going for a more streamlined look, Kari-Helene has created an imagined capsule wardrobe where the knitted pieces form important garments to combine with jeans, party dresses or office looks. We chose a stunning indoor setting with white fixtures and green plants as the backdrop for The Terrarium Collection in Clapton Tram, a gorgeous East London oasis. Our photographer Tiffany Mumford has as always captured the look perfectly, and the fabulous Tahira did a wonderful job with hair and make up. We hope you love the new look as much as we do!

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Malachi, the gorgeous vest top with fairisle detail, made in our medium yarn and named after our first cria born this year. Malachi is the same beautiful deep brown colour as the waistcoat is knitted in.

malachi

Mayan is next, this beautiful cable knit jumper is made in our fine yarn and named after our smallest alpaca baby born this year.

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mayan

We think the Miko Dress is one of the show stoppers for this season.  A stunning cable knit dress with exquisite detail including cabling down the sleeves, side panels, swirly skirt and pockets.  Now Miko, the alpaca is terribly shy, but we think she’ll love her namesake.

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miko

We just love the casual practicality of the Muna Fisherman’s Rib Jumper; it just seems to exude an effortless chic and Muna the alpaca is such a friendly little soul

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muna

Then we have the L’Automne Cowl, our only accessory in this collection, but what a great way to use up all those left over pieces of yarn!  Not only a fun garment to knit, but you’ll wish for a cold windy day so you can wear it.  L’Automne the alpaca was a surprise autumn birth last year, she’s adorable.

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lautomne

Our penultimate piece is the Masika Skirt, this fabulous skirt utilises the cable designs to such great effect and the bedraggled little fella was born in a thunderstorm.

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masika

Finally, we introduce you to the other show stopper, Mdina Cardigan, originally designed by Kari-Helene as part of her wedding outfit, we just love the shape and sophistication of this stylish box cardigan.  Mdina the alpaca is a honey, in every sense of the word.

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mdina

This collection is being launched at The Knitting & Stitching Show next week and will be available for purchase from the 5th of October with all parcels going out the week following Alexandra Palace. We hop eyou have enjoyed this little preview and introduction, more images and details will follow over the next few weeks!

Love from Kari-Helene, Tracy and the alpacas

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The Alpacas Have Moved – new grazing and knitting workshop location

There’s been a big change for the alpacas recently! If you have made the journey to Burwash Manor lately you may have noticed that the fields where the alpacas used to be are now empty. This is because they have moved! We have found new grazing in the lovely and picturesque village of Bourn only a short drive away. The grass is green and long and lush and the fences are wooden and permanent, saving me a lot of work moving the electric fence around!

The moving day started bright and early as we hoped to be finished by 1.00 p.m.  As I was out of action with broken ribs, Kari-Helene, my friend, Jane and her daughter Sophie, completed the set of Fabulous Four.

I called the alpacas into their enclosure with the promise of apples.

Once all were shut in (munching happily), Jane carefully maneuvered  the trailer into position by the gate.  We separated the ten mums and babies to go first and took them to their new home. Then we came back for the rest.  All went really well and although Havana pulled her leg and was limping for a couple of hours, she soon recovered enough to charge around the new fields. The alpacas are all loving the space and the green, green grass.

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There are 26 acres to choose from here and over the past two weeks, a new tack room and feed store has been created next to the alpaca feeding area, all of which is under cover with lights for those darker evenings.

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Because of the change of location, our next workshops are being held in the Malthouse at Manor Farm which is only a short drive from these lovely fields. We had our first workshop there on the 10th of September and it was a huge success. Some of our participants were returning for their second workshop and agreed the new location was really, really lovely!

The picture below was taken by Addy, one of the participants on the day and she has also written this wonderful post on her visit!

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If you would like to come visit us and the alpacas in our new location we still have spaces left on our workshop on Sunday the 11th of December! We’d love to see you there!

Love from Tracy and the alpacas xxx

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Customer Gallery – Duchess Cardigan

Huge thank you to everyone who entered the last customer gallery competition! Our focus this time was on the Duchess Cardigan, a popular and versatile knitting pattern. This design was a part of our Seashore collection in 2009 and has been a best seller every year since! It might help it is one of Kari-Helene’s favourites and she wears it a lot!

So, drum roll please! The winner of this months customer gallery competition is Norma! She knitted the Duchess cardigan for her daughter Sarah and took this atmospheric photo. Congratulations, Norma, you win two tickets to the Knitting and Stitching Show and a pdf of your choice!

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Please keep an eye out for next months competition, we will be running these on a regular basis from now on and hope to get lots of you involved!

Tracy & Kari-Helene xxx

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Foraging in August – Blackberry picking!

Life has been getting a little bit hectic this summer with collection work, ultimate frisbee tournaments, lots of workshops and events as well as deciding to add a new member to my family. My husband and I (we got married in May!) decided it was a good time to get a puppy and Frank the Spanish Water Dog moved in around two weeks ago. He’s a fluffy bundle of joy, but I do not think we were quite prepared for just how much work is involved in entertaining, feeding and looking after a 9 week old puppy!

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To escape the madness occasionally I indulge in one of my favourite hobbies; a spot of hedgerow foraging. I have been in my new house for just over two years and this is my third summer rummaging in the bushes of Portslade. I have started to work out where the best spots are and this year the blackberry harvest has been absolutely amazing! So far I have only managed one trip, but I have high hopes for another one this week to top up my jam jars before it is too late!

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At last months workshop I tried out a new twist on my favourite desert. Over the winter I have used frozen blackberries to create a lovely boozy sauce, but in August Nigella’s famous chocolate cake got a side order of blackberry cream. I whipped cream until it formed soft peaks and then carefully blended in a jar of my home made jam. It tasted absolutely delicious and I will most certainly be doing it again for the next workshop. Our October date is now fully booked but we do still have spaces left for our December date! Come join in!

Let me know if you are doing any foraging and what you are making! I would love to hear!

Kari-Helene (and the little helper, Frank) xxx

 

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