A Bustle & Sew Publication
Copyright © Bustle & Sew Limited 2022
The right of Helen Grimes to be identified as the author of this work has been asserted in accordance with the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988.
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form, or by any means, without the prior written permission of the author, nor be otherwise circulated in any form of binding or cover other than that in which it is published and without a similar condition being imposed on the subsequent purchaser.
Every effort has been made to ensure that all the information in this book is accurate. However, due to differing conditions, tools and individual skills, the publisher cannot be responsible for any injuries, losses and other damages that may result from the use of the information in this book.
First published 2022 by: Bustle & Sew Station House West Cranmore Shepton Mallet BA4 4QP www.bustleandsew.com
And so here we are again, not only at the end of another month, but at the end of another year too. Such an eventful year it has been, here at home and across the globe too, with events both joyful and sad. Of course Christmas is a time when we put sorrow to one side in favour of the joyous celebrations that mark the birth of the baby Jesus, and offer us the chance to spend time with friends and family, so this issue is filled with ideas which I hope will form a part of your own fun and festivities.
I think one of my favourite projects this month is the simple fabric gift bags, easy to make and much better for the environment than purchasing rolls of sparkly wrapping paper. Of course you could always fill a stocking instead, and we learn a little about the tradition of filling stockings at Christmas as well as taking a wider look at Christmas through the ages. We wonder whatever happened to the Christmas goose, and alert proud scissor-owners to the dangers awaiting them from present wrappers with sticky tape to sever or possibly even our printable gift tags to cut out over the festive season! There are some of our favourite recipes to enjoy as well as a look at the countryside around us and much more besides.
I hope you enjoy this issue and the January Magazine will be published on Thursday 29 December. Until then I hope you have a lovely month, and a fantastic Christmas with lots of time for stitching!
Very best wishes
December Almanac Page 5
A Woodland Christmas Hoop Page 7
A (very) Little History of the Christmas Page 12 Stocking
Handmade Giving Page 15
Lovely Idea: Embroidery Hoop Decorations Page 17
Fine Feathered Friends Hoops Page 18
Christmas through the Ages Page 21
Jewelled Hedgerows Page 26
Party Bird Cushion Cover Page 30
In the Kitchen: Starlight and Sparkle Page 33
Christmas Gnomes Tea Cosy Page 46
Rudolph and Friends Page 49
A Stitcher’s Alphabet: The Letter T Page 50
Nature Notes: The Red Squirrel Page 55
Christmas Embroidered Napkins Page 56
The Twelve Days of Christmas Page 59
Your Scissors at Christmas Page 60
A (very) Little Look at Fair Isle Knitting Page 62
Lovely Idea: Christmas Stockings Page 64
Simple Fabric Gift Bags Page 65
Printable Gift Tags Page 69
Christmas Printable Poster Page 70
Embroidery Stitch Guide Page 71
In the Kitchen: Conversion Tables Page 72 Templates Page 73
Those of us who love to create also (almost universally) love to give handmade presents at Christmas, with love and care sewn into every stitch. And whilst it’s true that “it’s the thought that counts”, nonetheless we hope that the lucky recipients will appreciate our gifts, and understand the hard work that goes into making them.
One of the loveliest things about making gifts for others is that they’re individual, unique and personalised just for the recipient. I remember a very young Rosie asking me once for a cardigan featuring dancing mice and sparkly buttons. No such garment was available in any shops, but I was able to knit and embroider her the cardigan of her dreams! This was a highly personalised gift, but something as simple as adding the recipient’s initials or using their favourite colours shows them how much you careand hopefully will ensure they love their handmade gift.
It’s a nice idea to try to make your handmade gifts seasonal - anything warm, fuzzy or fluffy is sure to
be a hit at this most chilly time of year! Think mittens, scarves, pillows and cosies or even quilts and blankets if you’re thinking big!
If you have a lot of gifts to make then you’ll need to get organised! It’s a great idea to make a list of the projects you have in mind and their intended recipients. Then take a deep breath and consider carefully whether or not you’ll have enough time to make all these projects and whether you’ll enjoy making them . If you’re running short of time and feeling a bit stressed about it all, then now is the time to prune your list - and promise yourself you’ll begin a bit earlier next time!
A word of warning though when you’re planning your gifting - you do need to choose your recipients carefully if you want your handmade Christmas gifts to be a success. Some people will totally understand the time, effort and love that goes into making an item, but others almost certainly won’t. Steer clear of those who may say “but you could buy this for a couple of pounds” about your homemade item.
They just don’t get it! But your grandma or auntie who’s been knitting or quilting herself for years will definitely give your handmade item a loving home. Your time is precious - be selective and gift accordingly!
Once you’ve decided on your definitive handmade gifting list then it’s time to get organised. Make sure you have all the supplies you need for each project in advance of beginning - there’s nothing worse than getting half way through and having to stop because you’ve run out of something - at best you’ll lose the flow and at worst the item you need may be out of stock meaning your project won’t be finished in time. But don’t rush out and buy everything new - check your stash first, and your notions supplies, you may well find that you already have most of what you need.
You’re much more likely to make good progress on your project list if everything you need is right at your fingertips, so it’s time to get organised. Make
one bag per project, including all the yarn (or fabric!), your hooks or needles, and any extra notions. If you printed your pattern, include it; otherwise, write yourself a note with the pattern name and where to download it and include that in your project bag.
Prioritise projects that need to be done first (like gifts that must be shipped, especially if they’re going abroad or decorations you want to put up). Next priority goes to projects that you absolutely, definitely want to complete this year. Remember to build a little breathing room into your calendar in case things take longer than expected. (And if they don't, you can feel very pleased with yourself for being ahead of schedule!)
And finally, a handmade gift is great, but don't forget about the packaging. Why not consider wrapping your gift in fabric scraps, bundling up the package with pompoms or sewing reusable gift bag? This is sure to be appreciated in our increasingly ecoconscious society too!
Averylittle(incrediblytiny infact!)lookatChristmas throughtheAges
Itisbelievedthatin1800QueenCharlotte,wifeofKingGeorgeIII,putupaChristmas treeatQueen’sLodgeinWindsor,butitwasayewandnotafirtree.Thetraditional sprucebecamepopularinthiscountrythankstoQueenVictoriaandPrinceAlbertwho camefromSaxe-Coburg,oneoftheGermanstates,whereitwascustomarytodecoratea treeatChristmas.Theprincesentdecoratedtreestoschoolsandarmybarracksaround Windsor,butitwaslikelythatanengravingpublishedin1848featuringtheQueen,the Prince,andtheirchildrendecoratingatreeencouragedordinaryfolktointroducethis traditionintotheirownhomes.
It is an ancient tradition, with its origin lost in the mists of time, that we bring greenery indoors at Christmas. Holly, ivy, spruce and of course mistletoe, beloved of lovers for centuries. I only recently read the Norse legend of the mistletoe, which goes as follows…
When Baldur, the son of Odin and god of beauty was slain by his blind brother Hodur, with an arrow fashioned by the malicious Loki, all of creation was overcome by grief, and a great cry of weeping arose from the earth. Then the tears were collected and placed in pearly drops upon the plant from which the arrow was cut. These turned to the pearly, tear-like berries that we see upon mistletoe today. Then it was decreed that the plant should forever hang suspended, never to touch the earth, which was Loki’s realm; and from this we are told, came the Christmas custom of
hanging a mistletoe bough in our homes so that kisses may be given and taken beneath it.
And now, as I walk down the lane towards home, the early December dusk is descending. Soft violet marsh mists envelop the woods and hills, the stormy red of the sunset dies in a smouldering haze in the west, lights twinkle out one by one from the cottage homes upon the heath and already the whereabouts of the nearest town is marked by the faint glow of its lights upon the horizon. A deep peace broods over the earth, and a silence only broken by the far, faint sound of church bells as the village ringers practise their Christmas chimes.
It is time to return home, to the warmth of the kitchen and lay out my baking trays - sausage rolls, mince pies and more ready for family feasting (and kisses under the mistletoe) in a few days time.
Stilton is a traditional Christmas cheese, but if you find yourself with rather too much and wondering what to do with it you might enjoy this flavoursome soup. This soup is also very good chilled as a starter for a summer party.
Method ● Soften the onions in the butter over a gentle heat being careful they do not brown. ● Add the cornflour and stir for a minute or two. ● Gradually pour in the milk, stirring all the time and bring to the boil. ● Add the stock and simmer for 5 minutes ● Remove the pan from the heat and immediately add the cheese, allowing it to melt without boiling. ● Liquidise the soup until it is smooth. ● Season to taste and serve hot with crusty bread.
Ingredients ● 2
chopped ● 50g
level tblspn cornflour
crumbled Stilton cheese
Salt & pepper
Whatever becameofthe Christmas Goose?
Will you be having goose or turkey this Christmas? Today most people enjoy roast turkey for their Christmas lunch, but this hasn’t always been the case. Both birds have featured on our festive menu for hundreds of years, but the goose was most definitely around first! Anglo Saxonfarmerswereraisinggeese long before the new-fangled turkeys arrived from America in the early 1500s. Once it had arrived on our shores however, the turkey quickly became popular and by 1573 the poet Thomas Tusser was recommending it as entirely suitable as an addition to the Englishhusbandman’sChristmas dinner, though it remained an expensive luxury until Victorian times.
“Thereneverwassuchagoose. Bobsaidhedidn'tbelievethere everwassuchagoosecooked. Itstendernessandflavour,size andcheapness,werethethemes ofuniversaladmiration.Eked outbyapple-sauceandmashed potatoes,itwasasufficient dinnerforthewholefamily; indeed,asMrsCratchitsaid withgreatdelight(surveying onesmallatomofaboneupon thedish),theyhadn'tateitallat last!Yeteveryonehadhad enough,andtheyoungest Cratchitsinparticular,were steepedinsageandoniontothe eyebrows!”
every English village would have had its pond, often stocked with geese that provided meat for the table, grease for medicine and valuablefeathersusedformaking both arrows and quills.
AllthegreatEnglishclassicnovels would have been written with goose feather quills for at least a thousandyears-fromBeowolfto Jane Austin, via Shakespeare’s sonnets and Dr Johnson’s dictionary - all owed a great deal to the humble farmyard goose. By the early nineteenth century about nine million geese were pluckedeveryyearforpensalone!
In contrast, geese were relatively cheap and in plentiful supply. From the middle ages onwards,
Traditionally the most important occasion for serving goose had beenMichaelmasorStMichael’s Day on 29 September. As soon astheharvesthadbeengathered thevillagegeesewereturnedinto the fields to glean any grain
behind in the stubble. As a result they grew to perfection in late September and early October. A number would have been held back however and fattened further for the Christmas table.
Unlike the free gleaningsavailable to the geese in September, they wouldhavebeenfedbran,barley, oats and potatoes during the intervening months - all of which had to be paid for - as a result of which fresh goose at Christmas was an expensive luxury. As a result goose clubs were established for the benefit of poorer folk who would put a few pence away each week to ensure that the family could afford their goose at Christmas, and this is probably how the Cratchits could afford their goose in Charles’ Dickens “A Christmas Carol”.
The age-old method of cooking your goose was to roast it upon an iron spit before a blazing fire in the kitchen inglenook. By
Victorian times clockwork mechanisms known as bottlejacksmeantthatlesswelloff country people could roast their
“Christmasiscoming,the gooseisgettingfat, Pleaseputapennyintheold man’shat.
Ifyouhaven’tgotapenny,a ha’pennywilldo, Ifyouhaven’tgota ha’penny,afarthingwilldo,
recommends filling your goose with a mixture of quinces, pears, grapes, garlic, sage and hyssop to make a fruity “sawce madam”, By Georgian times, a stuffing of chestnuts or breadcrumbs, sage and onion - very similar to today’s stuffing - had become the norm whilst potatoes were roasted before the fire in the dripping pan.
geese in front of their cottage fires, whilst the urban poor sent their birds to be cooked by the baker in his bread oven. Roast geese were usually stuffed and the forcemeat served as a sauce. In a recipe from 1490, the writer
Perhaps the most spectacular festive dish of all was the ornamental Christmas pie, filled with boned turkey, goose and a variety of other fowl and game birds. This was a great way of improving the texture and flavour of the turkey - which as we are only too well aware today can be dry and tasteless if not well cooked. The fat from the goose moistened the naturally dry flesh of the turkey making this dish the ideal combination of our two favourite Christmas birds!
This actually has nothing to do with cats, but who can resist this gorgeous tabby feline? Tabby weave is the most basic and simple of all weaves, sometimes called plain weave. It consists of warp threads interlaced with weft threads in a regular over and under sequence, with the return row being under and over.
Its name also has nothing to do with cats… According to the twelth century geographer alIdrisi, the city of Almería in Andalusia manufactured imitations of Iraqi and Persian silks called “attabi, a taffeta fabric made of silk and cotton originally produced in Attabiya, a district of Baghdad." The word was adopted into Medieval Latin as attabi, then French as tabis and English as tabby, as in "tabby weave"
“Usuallytheredsquirrelwakedmeinthedawn,coursingovertheroof andupanddownthesidesofthehouse,asifsentoutofthewoodsforthis purpose. InthecourseofthewinterIthrewouthalfabushelofearsof sweetcornwhichhadnotgotripe,ontothesnowcrustbymydoor,and wasamusedbywatchingthemotionsofthevariousanimalswhichwere baitedbyit. Inthetwilightandthenighttherabbitscameregularlyand madeaheartymeal. Alldaylongtheredsquirrelscameandwent,and affordedmemuchamusementbytheirmanoeuvres. Onewouldapproach atfirstwarilythroughtheshruboaks,runningoverthesnowcrustbyfits andstartslikealeafblownbythewind,nowafewpacesthisway,with wonderfulspeedandwasteofenergy,makinginconceivablehastewithhis “trotters”asifitwereforawager,andnowasmanypacesthatway,but nevergettingonmorethanhalfarodatatime;andthensuddenlypausing withaludicrousexpressionandagratuitoussomersault,asifalltheeyesin theuniversewerefixedonhim,-forallthemotionsofasquirrel,evenin themostsolitaryrecessesoftheforest,implyspectatorasmuchasthoseof adancinggirl.”
Christmascanbeaverystressfultimeofyearfortheproudpossessor ofapairoflargesharpfabricshears,asthewholefamilyare competingforpaper,tapeandtwine-andscissorstocutthemallwith -whentheannualpresentwrappingfrenzygetsunderway. Here’sour toptipsforcaringforyourscissorsthisChristmasandallyearlong….