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How John Smedley knitwear is made

John Smedley factory tour A few weeks ago I was lucky enough to be able to look around the John Smedley knitwear factory. I left Lukas with Nanny and took Tomas with me on the tour all the way to the beautiful Peak District. It felt like my fashion years are back again!!John Smedley factory tour For those who don't know John Smedley knitwear I really recommend to visit their website where you will find more detailed info (the whole history if you want). John Smedley is a family business that is owned by many generations of the same family. They still handcraft finish their garments and still maintain many traditional craftsmanship methods. So buying their knitwear is really worth the money if you want to add some staple jumpers and cardigans to your wardrobe as they are made to last ;-).John Smedley factory tour John Smedley factory tour John Smedley factory tour John Smedley factory tour John Smedley factory tour John Smedley knitwear starts with a good quality yarn, mostly made with sheep hair (or cotton for summer) which I was quite surprised by. My memories of sheep wool is not great and I remember it being rough and stingy on the skin. But wait, this yarn comes from special sheep that come from New Zealand (called merino sheep). Their hair is softer because of better weather conditions. John Smedley factory tour The yarn then gets washed and conditioned to achieve maximum softness.John Smedley factory tour As I was visiting John Smedley factory it was obvious that the quality is the top priority here. The knitting is checked and checked again at many different stages and gets rejected when it does not meet these high standards. But it does not go to waste. These clever machines unravel the knitwear so this beautiful yarn have another chance to become a piece of knitwear again. Pfew! Thats good to know ;-).John Smedley factory tour John Smedley factory tour I especially loved some of the older machinery that although it is vintage is still very well maintained and making quality garments(however these are a little louder than modern ones). John Smedley factory tour John Smedley factory tour Every piece of knitwear is kept on needles as you would expect (If you are knitter yourself you would understand what I mean here). There is special compartment for trims as you can see here that get later attached to the main body.John Smedley factory tour John Smedley factory tour John Smedley factory tour This is where the garment gets its handcraft finish. The neck hole is cut by hand and then a special machine knit stitches the body and the trim together.John Smedley factory tour John Smedley factory tour John Smedley factory tour Finally each garment gets a final steam press.Smedley garments are beeing pressedThe factory building has it's old charms as well. The original water mill is still here, although it is no longer used to power the machinery it still makes a very pretty feature.  John Smedley factory tour John Smedley factory tourHope you found this post interesting as much as I did when visiting this fine knitwear factory ;-).

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Butternut squash & jam roly-poly

butternut squash & jam roly poly recipeWell... I have not posted here for a while! Motherhood turned out to be the hardest job I have ever done...

Only a month ago I imagined being a mother is going to be hard, but I thought I will still manage and blog while baby sleeps. Little did I know that when my baby sleeps I will want to sleep too! I also realised that decoding baby cues is a learned thing, not something that comes as an instinct (or at least it did not come as an instinct to me like I thought it would). I sometimes spend hours to figure what baby Lukas wants and sometimes I have a breakthrough and sometimes I just want to cry out of desperation :(.

Anyways during the weekend I had some luck and I managed to bake while my baby boy is sleeping. It may have taken me to do it in few baby sleeps, but I am totally proud of myself and the outcome! I wanted to bake this for quite a while, the idea of butternut squash and jam combination have been lingering in my mind for few months at least. So why butternut squash? Because I use butternut squash to replace the pumpkin (like here in the cupcakes)... because in England this is a rare vegetable to find... Hope you like this recipe I created :). Btw this is not a swiss roll, jam roly-poly is a British pudding that has a similar to shortbread consistency. So don't expect a cakey spongy roll here!butternut squash & jam roly poly recipe BUTTERNUT SQUASH & JAM ROLY-POLY

  • 300g plain flour
  • 1tsp baking powder
  • 1tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1tsp ground nutmeg
  • 70g butternut squash puree (boil around 1/3 butternut squash and puree it)
  • 70g butter, grated
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 40ml-70ml whole milk

1. First prepare the oven. We want to steam this pudding therefore put a deep roasting tin half filled with boiling water onto the bottom shelf of the oven, and make sure that there’s another shelf directly above it. Heat the oven to 170C.

2. In a bowl combine the flour together with baking powder, spices, butternut squash puree, butter and sugar. Kneed it roughly into dry mixture. Gradually add milk until the mixture turns into pastry like dough. butternut squash & jam roly poly recipe2. 3. Roll the dough on the floured surface into the square. Spread the jam all over, leaving a gap along one edge, then roll up from the opposite edge.butternut squash & jam roly poly recipe4. Carefully lift the roll onto the piece of foil lined with baking paper.  butternut squash & jam roly poly recipe5. Loosely bring up the paper and foil around it, then scrunch together along the edges and ends to seal. The roly-poly will puff quite a bit during cooking so don’t wrap it tightly. Lift the parcel directly onto the rack above the tin and cook for 1 hr.butternut squash & jam roly poly recipe6. When baked, carefully open the foil and paper, and thickly slice to serve.butternut squash & jam roly poly recipeTraditional jam roly-poly is served with custard, but I always prefer the ice-cream. Luckily I got some ;-)butternut squash & jam roly poly recipe butternut squash & jam roly poly recipeEnjoy!

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Green tomato chutney

Green tomato chutney recipeI wanted to make green tomato chutney since I heard about it from my mum-in-law. What a great idea! I often failed to get my tomatoes ripe enough before autumn and they used to rot instead of being eaten. I so wish I knew I could use them!

Now my mum-in-law was staying over this week as Joni went away to Dublin. It was a great opportunity to make some green tomato chutney (especially when we had some green tomatoes in hand!). Joni's mum pretty much made the chutney while i took few pics in between. She followed this recipe that she swears by (apparently the chutney using this recipe always turns out perfect). I forgot the title of that book, but will let you know once I get it.Green tomato chutney recipeGREEN TOMATO CHUTNEY

  • 1.8kg green tomatoes, roughly chopped
  • 700g onions, pealed and chopped
  • 450g cooking apples such as bramley, peeled, cored and chopped
  • 600ml vinegar (we used malt vinegar)
  • 8 red chillies (we used green chillies)
  • 25g root ginger
  • 225g raisins
  • 2tsp salt
  • 450g sugar (we used soft brown sugar)

Green tomato chutney recipe Green tomato chutney recipe1. Put the chopped tomatoes, onions and the apples in a large pan with half the vinegar. Bring to boil, then simmer for about 30min.

2. Add the chillies and root ginger into the pan, make sure you count them as you will need to fish them out later.

3. Add the raisins and cook, stirring from time to time until the mixture thickens, after about 1 hour.

4. Add the salt, sugar and the rest of the vinegar, stirring well till sugar dissolves. Continue cooking until the chutney thickens again.

5. Remove the chillies and ginger from the pot before potting and sealing (see how by clicking here). Leave to mature for 6 weeks. Green tomato chutney recipeHappy weekend everyone!

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Piccalilli

My piccalilli recipeHey! It's Autumn here and what is Autumn without canning? I do like to make preserves and when Joni suggested to make piccalilli I got excited as I thought it would be really cool to make it.  Piccalilli is a great condiment that is tasty in sandwiches and pairs well with cheddar cheese. Yum!My piccalilli recipePICCALILLI

Makes about 2-2.5kg

  • 1 small cauliflower, chopped
  • 1/2 head broccoli, chopped
  • 2 courgettes, chopped
  • 5 green chillies, finely chopped
  • 200g green beans, chopped into smaller bits
  • 200g cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
  • 2 medium onions, pealed and roughly chopped
  • 50g salt
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp mustard powder
  • 2 tbsp mustard seeds
  • 2 tbsp ground cumin
  • 2 tbsp turmeric
  • 1/2 whole nutmeg, grated
  • 4 tbsp flour
  • 600ml cider vinegar
  • 2 cox apples, grated
  • 1 mango, pealed and chopped
  • 6 tbsp runny honey
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed and finely chopped

1. Place all the vegetables in a large bowl, sprinkle with the salt and cover it with water. Leave it in a cool place for 2 hours, then drain thoroughly.My piccalilli recipe2. Heat a large saucepan. Add the oil to the pan, then fry the mustard seeds, mustard powder, cumin, turmeric and nutmeg for few seconds. Lower the heat, add the flour and a splash of vinegar and stir to make a thick paste.

3. Gradually add the remaining vinegar while whisking all the time to make a smooth paste with no clumps.

4. Add the apples, mangoes, garlic and honey and cook for 2–3 minutes. 

5. Drain the salted vegetables and add them to the pan, stirring well to coat with the spice paste. Cook for 15 minutes until the vegetables have just softened and released juice.

6. Spoon Piccalilli into sterilised jars and close the lids tightly.My piccalilli recipe My piccalilli recipeHappy autumn canning ;-)

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Making clotted cream from scratch

Making clotted cream from scratchHad a very tiring week (maybe it's a baby thing). Really glad that it's a bank holiday weekend!

Few months ago or so my mum was asking for the recipe for the "butter" that she tasted once with the "fruit cake" during her visit in England. It took me a while to figure out what she meant (could that be brandy butter?). Anyways it turns out it was the fruit scones with clotted cream. We obviously don't have clotted cream in Lithuania so I said there is no recipe for it... until my mum in law told me it's quite easy to make. So there we go, I finally decided to try it out and make it from scratch. I researched a little bit and it seemed that Nigella Lawson clotted cream recipe is most genuine, however it needed milk so I decided to go with the simpler ones such as this or this. I was hoping for thick gooey texture with the yellow "crust" on top. So I definitely did not like this or this.  At the end of my loooong experiment I got something like mascarpone, which is alright, but not perfect :(. Could that be because I used pasteurised cream? It did not say if it was ultra pasteurised I swear!Making clotted cream from scratchSo what I did was I got a pot of double cream from Tesco (300ml pot) and poured it into shallow casserole dish. I covered it and placed it into 90C preheated oven for about 8hours (I wonder how much energy did that use!). Making clotted cream from scratchAfter "baking" the cream looked like soft cheese, a little bit like mascarpone without any liquid or milk behind it. Making clotted cream from scratchBut it tasted wonderful with the scones! Will have to try making the clotted cream (hopefully from unpasteurised cream) in Lithuania. But I would never make it again in UK when clotted cream is so easily available in shops. Making clotted cream from scratchHave a lovely weekend!

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Our weekend at Grannies (in Cley-next-the-Sea)

Cley next to the sea (visiting our granny)Just came back from long and wonderful weekend in Cley-next-the-Sea. As promised I brought back more pics from this beautiful countryside (more pics than I could handle in fact!).

Breakfast did not always look like this. I had a hearty fried breakfast Saturday & Sunday but tried this overnight porridge on my last morning there and I absolutely loved it! Granny cooks this porridge in a low temperature oven, which makes the porridge taste heavenly. I will be experimenting with this in my slow cooker as I have bought myself steel cut (pinhead) oats to try this out!Cley next to the sea (visiting our granny)Going for a walk, beyond the Cley Windmill this time :-)Cley next to the sea (visiting our granny)Although Clay Windmill is no longer used for milling, we also visited Leatheringsett Watermill where I was able to get some flour. How exciting! So looking forward to baking with traditionally milled flour!Cley next to the sea (visiting our granny)Walking through the Marshes is a must do in Cley-next-the-Sea!Cley next to the sea (visiting our granny) Cley next to the sea (visiting our granny) Cley next to the sea (visiting our granny) Cley next to the sea (visiting our granny) Cley next to the sea (visiting our granny) Cley next to the sea (visiting our granny)We  walked  till Blakeley village this time!Cley next to the sea (visiting our granny)Loved the outdoor reclamation yard! Bath tap anyone?Cley next to the sea (visiting our granny) Cley next to the sea (visiting our granny)And vintage & antique shops/fairs....Cley next to the sea (visiting our granny)Got inspired by this crochet edge antique table cloth. I so could make this myself!Cley next to the sea (visiting our granny)

I could not help myself but buy some buttons (they just looked too cute!!!).

Cley next to the sea (visiting our granny)On the way back found some interesting bugs (that's unlike me to look for them, but this one might be useful someday :D). Cley next to the sea (visiting our granny) Cley next to the sea (visiting our granny)And some blackberries!Cley next to the sea (visiting our granny)Some work done around Grannies house...

Cley next to the sea (visiting our granny) Cley next to the sea (visiting our granny)After all this, I am ready to face a week :)Cley next to the sea (visiting our granny)Have a wonderful week everyone!!!

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Our weekend in Norfolk

Seaside in YarmouthLast weekend we were really lucky to visit Norfolk! We stayed in Yarmouth (a seaside town) and the next morning we had an amazing time at Claire and Jason wedding (our first wedding after me and Joni got married!!). But' lets's stop there at the seaside. I am big fan of seaside, especially the ones that have white sand and are plain like canvas. Plenty of space for your thoughts!Seaside in YarmouthSeaside in YarmouthNext, on our last day, we visited our granny in Cley. Here we celebrated aunt Diana's birthday. I was quite amazed by the countryside and a local town. most of the houses made out of flint stones (ha ha, almost like the Flinstones!)countryside in Cley countryside in Cley local shops in Cley local shops in Cley local shops in CleyHave a lovely week ;-)

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Life in UK

London in dimmed lightLove the pic above taken by my friend Jacolien from Stuff to Love! It reminds me of what a great multicultural city I used to live. This is where I lived most of my time while in UK!

Yesterday I passed my life in UK test!!!!! I just thought that I might as well become a british citizen after living here for 14 years and after getting married to my most wonderful english husband. Here are few fundamentals I learned while living in UK.

1. BEEING PART OF COMMUNITY, and this what we are trying to create at Friendly Nettle, a craft community that inspires you to craft :).

Online Cafe Community2. COOKING. Now, I know Britain is not famous for it's cuisine, but you would be surprised there are many english dishes you can enjoy! Here are few I have tried: Steak and Ale PiesSteak and ale piesEnglish BreakfastBaked English Breakfastand Plum Steam Puddinga healthier plum steamed pudding3. GARDENING. I know that not many of us can enjoy this, but there are plenty of allotments available to rent! Here is how I grew tomatoes this year...tomatoes 101Enjoy your weekend!

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A healthier plum steamed pudding

a healthier plum steamed puddingAfter living with an englishman for over a month, I realised that a pudding is an important part of the meal. Joni's favourites are figgy dowdy, plum duff and spotted dick (yes, that's right, thats how they call their puddings). All of these puddings are steamed puddings and that's what I am going to talk about today. Although steamed puddings are meant to be for winter, it is good to make them now to reflect on current weather! I replaced suet (pure animal fat, similar to shortening in america) with coconut oil and caster sugar with molasses sugar so this can be a healthier option. And you don't need to have all the equipment! Here I demonstrated how to steam your pudding in a regular steamer using cereal bowl. Go on, try it ;-). a healthier plum steamed puddingPLUM STEAMED PUDDING

  • 55g self raising flour
  • 110 mixed dried fruit
  • 2 slices of bread with no crust, soaked in milk and drained
  • 55 molasses sugar
  • 50g coconut oil
  • 1/2tsp mixed spice
  • 115g plums, cored and chopped
  • half of an apple, pealed, cored and shredded
  • 2 tbsp orange marmalade
  • 2 tbsp vanilla rum (can be any you have, preferably dark rum)
  • 1 egg
  • 60ml milk
  • custard to serve

1. mix all the ingredients (except the curd) until all well combined.

2. to steam the pudding place the pudding mixture into the greased bowl (1.) and cover it with baking paper (2.). Place the bowl upside down in the steamer (3.). Steam the pudding for three hours (4.), replenish the water level if necessary. how to steam the pudding3. Place the pudding bowl upside down in the plate and slowly lift it up to release the pudding.a healthier plum steamed pudding a healthier plum steamed pudding4. Enjoy it while still warm with custard.a healthier plum steamed pudding a healthier plum steamed pudding a healthier plum steamed puddingIt's comforting food all over, so indulge ;-)

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