Monday, 29 March 2010

Sunshine and Mud

Its pouring down. The kitchen floor is piled high with bags of laundry which need sorting and bags of food which need re-putting away in the indoor fridge.

We've just come back from a week-end away to the favourite destination of our 16 year old - Delamere Forest. It's not a long journey for us and there is a wonderful camp site right on the edge of the forest which we  all enjoy visiting. Originally a very wet area, there is a central lake with many wild birds, a hill-top view point and miles of footpaths and bridle ways. It has all that the forest school tradition has to offer and more - reasonable safety and freedom outdoors, a huge variety of wildlife - lots of it noisy!, plenty of opportunities to whittle sticks, build dens, and, in the autumn harvest pine cones and sweet chestnuts. Now both of our children are teenagers. They do both enjoy camping and life in the countryside and, despite being hard to extract from sleeping bags, they do still enjoy all these natural attractions.

So have I got model children, easy to entertain with a few walks in the countryside, pretty views and an open space for ball games? They are pretty good, but Delamere Forest hosts other attractions. My 13 year old is a keen climber - indoors mainly at present, and there is a tree-top 'Go-Ape' centre at Delamere. She has been before but was unlucky this time despite many attempts at brainwashing me. I don't have a head for heights and she is too young to be un-supervised and needs an older cousin or similar. The 16 year old  is not particularly interested in climbing. His passion is mountain biking - specifically down-hill, free-ride, four-cross jumping type of biking. He does not yet have a bike which would enable him to tackle a big downhill track but is building his skills over jumps and other obstacles. Delamere has a large cycle-skills area. To find it follow the full-face helmets, shin guards, elbow pads and body armour - and MUD!! Even when it has not been raining there is almost always MUD! Stand clear when you find the bike track - proficient cyclists easily achieve heights of a couple of metres and jumps many metres long - even over this sort of track. I have to close my eyes. Obviously a 16 year old can't do this sort of sport alone, so when there is no cycle buddy available I have to be there mobile phone in hand - just in case. Then over to the bike jet wash - for the bike and the 16 year old!

Saturday and Sunday were beautiful. I didn't have much time for relaxing but managed to almost finish a floral corsage for my own use. I like the one below, which I have for sale in my shop. Since there is always some slight variation in hand-knitted items, and I have photographed this original one for sale, I thought I'd better make myself a new one, rather than use my stock and replace it. The sun was beautiful and we all got a little burnt - didn't think to use sun-protection in  March!

Wearing a full-face helmet renders one fairly anonymous so I though I could risk this photo of my son. When he was little one of his pet-names was Sunshine - hence the Sunshine and Mud theme for the week-end.




Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Imaginary Villages

When I was a child, there were a number of little lands in our imaginations, or at least partially, they were also partially sketched out by authors and, sometimes television. There was, obviously, Toytown, with Noddy; Narnia; Littletown (Beatrix Potter's home for Mrs Tiggiwinkle); Chigley and Trumpton on TV. There was also a more obscure one in a woman's magazine, I can't remember the name of the village, but Rowena and Rowly robin lived there!

My children loved the Brambly Hedge series - the detail in the stories and illustrations was superb. I have some soft toy patterns christened 'Blackberry Hollow' - I'm not sure if that originated from a narrative.

I am, gradually,  formulating an identity for my series of whimsical buildings and places brooches. I don't plan to populate the 'village' with characters, much better that your own imagination does that, nor do I intend to say where it is exactly. However, I do have some village events and celebrations in mind, and possibly a map or 'street' plan.

As my grandmother used to say 'Little things please little minds'. I have always been interested in miniature items and models and, together with my tiny landscapes on brooches and my small knitted flower brooches, these are starting to form a theme for my shop. Strange how things evolve.


My bluebell wood brooch has decided to leave me for a new home today! Its place on the shelf has been taken by this tiny watering can and rosebush:



Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Mistle or Song?

As I raised the bedroom blinds this morning two flashes of gold flew across the garden. On closer inspection, they turned out to be two goldfinches collecting moss for nest building. I knew they had gold bars on their heads, but I'm now assuming from the amount of gold which caught my eye that they must also have flashes under their wings. Haven't had time to look up the bird handbook yet. They flew into a garden three houses up - so it doesn't look as though we're going to have the pleasure of their nest.

I could have looked them up on Google, but I've been a bit horrified by the wildlife photos that I've found on-line recently. Nothing illegal or indecent but just very inappropriate, to my way of thinking. Wild animals do not belong in human clothes, and shouldn't be using human-like furniture etc. I expected the odd archive shot of tea-selling chimps (I must confess I liked those as a child), but I hadn't expected the number of recent photos in this vein. I was expecting Simon-King-like wildlife shots. I'm not sure the internet is very good for me. That's the second time I've been shocked by photos this week. I hasten to add that I am still not referring to anything illegal or really indecent. Goodness knows how I'd feel if anything of that sort appeared on my screen.

Anyway, that is only part of the reason why I prefer to refer to my bird hand-book. A lot of the on-line info refers to American species. They often have the same names as ours and that confuses me. A US robin is nothing much like ours!

The other pair of birds which have caught our attention recently, also collecting moss from the area where our lawn used to be, are two very large and very beautiful thrushes. I know one species is smaller and more common than the other, but I can't remember which is which. So if anyone reading this knows - which is the Mistle thrush and which is the song thrush please?


The reason for looking at on-line bird photos this morning was to find some inspiration for a robin nest site.They often choose unusual places but the ones I recall seeing didn't suit my purposes. In the end I gave up and posed this one by a nest box. Yes I know that this is the wrong sort of nest box for a robin, but I tried the correct version and decided that my felt representation was not easily recognizable. So I've gone for the generic blue tit box.


Monday, 22 March 2010

Planning Consent Needed?

There have been a number of posts on Folksy recently about where makers get inspiration, which are their favourite makes, which makes are they most proud of and similar. I was chatting with my husband about the impression we build up of fellow craftworkers from their answers. It was interesting that he didn't see things in exactly the same way as me - but then what's new in that?

I was also saying that I would avoid using family photos on my blog or shop. My children have certainly not asked to be featured and I'm sure my stuff is not 'cool'. People who know me well would recognise me from my blog but I'm afraid the rest of you are left guessing. I have also found it a bit unnerving recently to find pics of people whom I have 'met' on-line and formed a mental picture of. As you can tell I am a not a big fan of facebook - something which I might have to overcome.

So how do we form these images of other Folksters? Quality of work, general good manners and helpfulness on the forum, price (of work I mean!), attitude to promotion ( we all need to do it - I hope I don't over do it), number of favourited items, number of people 'favouriting' shop, followers and comments on blogs etc, content of blogs, feedback from transactions, profile..... I am OK with myself about most of these - some I would like to improve or maybe update as my shop evolves. The one criteria which does tend to bother me, and goodness only knows where I stand, is the 'whatever possessed her to make that?' query.

In my defense, I would say that I have always been interested in 'miniature' items and the observations that give detail to scenes or models, beyond that I think I just have a strange imagination. My husband is a bit bemused by my latest offerings. They are certainly different and seem to be generating interest. Now I am registered with HMRC and keep necessary paperwork - the planning office might be my next hurdle. I have an entire community planned!


I thought I'd like to see the first four together.


Sunday, 21 March 2010

A mile in Pyjamas

My daughter managed it! After all, four circuits of the track isn't far for a fit and active (well apart from a headache and a snuffle) 13 year old. Now if I was expected to do it.....

Why whenever we need our daughter to leave the house - for school, music lesson, to play in a concert, to go away for the weekend, do we have to prise her away from the mirror? If she's going to climbing club or Scouts she doesn't bother. Now if we asked her to parade in front of a crowd in her Winnie the Pooh pyjamas we would have no chance. Her scout leader asks her to do it and she can't think why we're surprised.

Thank goodness for Scouts, climbing club and any other activities which allow 13 year olds to be 13!

Sport Relief should hopefully see some benefit as well.


I intended to supervise rather than bowl yesterday. Unfortunately, it didn't quite work out like that. I have quite large finger joints - I'm sure athritis is brewing - prefer not to think about it. Anyway, I've always found that I get my fingers stuck in the comfortably-light bowls. Whereas those with the large enough holes .....! So today I have a sore right hand and a stiff shoulder - but the Brownies enjoyed it!

Just managed enough dexterity to make this one ( can't seem to type straight though!):


Saturday, 20 March 2010

Ten pin and rabbits

Very short blog today - I'll try to add to it later.

Taken 16 year old to scout campsite for voluntary work, supposed to collect at 1pm take him home then go to Tenpin with Brownies. Husband to take daughter to music festival while I'm out. Daughter is ill so husband is collecting 16 year old and I've literally got a few minutes. I've sorted the Brownies paperwork - consents, food allergies, risk assessment etc. but not yet had lunch. They will eat at Tenpin, but my need for gluten and wheat free won't allow me to!

Tomorrow should be both children doing sport relief mile with scouts. Daughter is supposed to run in pyjamas. Looking at her now I can imagine she will be in pyjamas, but whether she'll manage to run a mile... Am I just particularly chaotic or do other people have week-ends like this. They were both out last night - one to Scouts the other to help with Cubs. I'm worn out! Anway - must go. My Guide unifrom is navy and husband left tissue in pocket in dark wash. Uniform needs ironing and 'snowstrom' needs brushing off somehow. Apologies for any typos - no time to check.


Just managed to list one of these this morning the other last night:


PS forgot to mention 'rabbits' - need to visit market for white rabbit buttons - bit of an emergency!


Friday, 19 March 2010

Chickens and Tryfan - Folksy Friday 3

We spent last Saturday night, with our daughter, on a small campsite, near Llandudno Junction, with beautiful views of Snowdonia.

The pitches were in a small paddock area with a duck pond, populated by a variety of ducks and two geese. Their partners in crime, and by far the most adventurous, were a mixed lot of about twenty chickens.  I had never really studied hens closely before. These were of many different breeds and colours. One tiny bantam but many of them almost alarmingly large. They were very friendly, or greedy, and ran at us en masse as soon as we appeared from the van. When we disappeared inside, they summoned us back out, if only to say 'shoo', by pecking vigorously at the step. They were really beautiful in colour, surprisingly vibrant mixtures and lovely, really glossy feathers. They lead a pretty much ideal existence and looked wonderful, not a scrawny or straggly one among them.

And so to Folksy Friday. Not motivated, as you might expect by the approach of Easter, but with thoughts of our campsite chickens with the wonderful views of Tryfan in the background.


Sophie Martin Illustration


Northfield Primitives


Bliss Knits




Pants and Paper


Thursday, 18 March 2010

Russian Giants and Sunshine Blog Awards

When my children were small they each had a plot in our garden, something I remember when I was a child. My daughter now shows little interest in the plants but still cares for and about the wildlife. My son is now expected to do his share to help. He's very strong and nippy with a full wheelbarrow - doesn't believe that anything with wheels is meant to move slowly.

When my son was younger - and up to a couple of years ago, he always insisted on growing sunflowers. I think it might have started from an item on Blue Peter. Sunflowers come in many forms, from quite short bushes with multiple heads to much taller specimens. They are certainly not all yellow, and we had some wonderful shades of red and russets a couple of years ago.

They make lovely cut flowers but we try to leave most of them in the garden in order to harvest the seeds. We have always included sunflower seeds in our diet. My son originally had the thought that he could harvest his seeds for our consumption. Unfortunately, it is pretty near impossible to extract them from their hard outer casing in a domestic setting. I once heard Bob Flowerdew commenting on his various attempts, I think a coffee grinder may have been mentioned. If it defeated Bob, I'm sure we don't stand a chance. So why our interest in allowing the flower heads to mature? They make wonderful natural bird feeders. We tend to dry them off in the greenhouse - safely suspended from the ceiling as we have both voles and field mice. One by one we fasten them outside in the winter. As the birds peck, loose seeds tend to fall and I've watched a little mouse carrying those away. I try to make sure that the foodchain stops there! Mice can be a pest but next door's cat is already well fed!

My son's favourite type of sunflower, one of the types which grows very tall (3m or so), and has large, yellow, often single, flower heads - 'Russian Giants'.


My latest flower corsage is of mixed sunflowers:


I am now dashing off to make a cuppa and will then settle down to enjoy selecting the remaining nominees to whom to hand on the blog awards. (See earlier post - 'Sunshine Awards'). I have tried to do this a few times but always end up engrossed in reading!


Two cups of tea, a stiff shoulder ( I must be more aware of posture at the computer) and lots of fun later - I've chosen my next 13 nominees. With the 5 previously listed, I still have another 6 to choose. More fun another day. For information about the award please see my earlier post - Sunshine Awards. Today's choices are:


Wednesday, 17 March 2010


I arrived at Durham, many years ago with most of the things I needed. I was the first of my family to go to university and it was all a bit of a mystery to us. For me it was about 6 hours of travelling, on my own for the first time, it seemed worlds away from home. Why didn't I think of taking mugs with me? I think mainly because, despite receiving a full grant, Mum was worried about the expense and had dug some horrible old cup-things out of the back of a cupboard, and they were supposed to 'do'.

My first grant check took a few weeks to arrive. The bursar was quite sniffy about it. Most people at my college did not receive a full grant. Naturally he stood over me while I wrote a cheque for my hall fees before he parted with my grant. Then off down to the town mug shopping!

I still have my first purchase, and use it almost daily. Brown with the outline of an owl - more than 20 years   before I even thought of being a Brownie leader. It came from a little shop with a narrow frontage and a semi-basement - the faint damp smell nearly hidden by the incense sticks and smelly candles. I took my children to Durham some years ago to see where mum went to college - we bought some postcards from the shop.

My next mug purchases were a set of four, which were not as well designed, or as well made - all have since lost their handles. They were really quite twee - not what I would choose now perhaps. They represented the seasons. Each had the name of a season painted from 'tree-trunk'- letters. In and around the trees, and in glimpses in the backgound, were very detailed representations of the seasons. I still have these at the back of a cupboard. Each one instantly evoked the real feeling of the season and I was impressed with the imagination of the designs and the large number of seasonal images which each mug displayed.

Primroses have always been a favourite wild flower of mine, and much loved by 'the Snowdrop Lady' ( see earlier post). Naturally, they featured prominently in the 'spring' mug.


With memories of Durham, and spring walks with my grandmother, I have designed my latest embroidered landscape brooch.


Tuesday, 16 March 2010

Basic ingredients

I follow a wheat free, gluten free diet. This means avoiding wheat, barley and rye in all their forms and all derivatives thereof.

If, inadvertently I consume these grains I suffer almost immediate bloating, burning acid indigestion and, from the next day, joint pain and fatigue. I have tested negative for Coeliacs disease. There are several schools of thought about this. Some say a gluten free diet prior to the test will cause it to be negative, others say it should still give a positive if the condition is present. I guess I could have re-introduced wheat for a month or so before the test to see, but quite honestly, a possible positive test would not be worth the misery of all the symptoms. It would take several months to calm things down again afterwards.

It is often obvious if something contains wheat - bread etc. However, I still get caught out by forgetting to check. The stuff is cheap and easily available and it gets everywhere. I accepted a 'jelly-bear' sweet from a child - bad mistake! Not listed in the ingredients as wheat but I have since found that some sugars or syrups are wheat-derived. Malt is usually barley. This affects many confectionery items but also many pickles and table sauces in the form of malt vinegar. Often these do not apparently contain barley but would be listed as spirit vinegar. A recent bad experience, which has annoyed me intensely, was the purchase of some sliced ROAST BEEF! Not roast chicken or pork with stuffing, or roast ham with breadcrumbs, but apparently 'pure' roast beef. It was not a 'luxury' product. It admitted to containing water. I didn't check the ingredients but it looked like basic roast beef! All the usual symptoms, rifle through fridge checking and yes 'contains wheat'. Apparently something about the introduction of the water. If I buy roast beef I want roast beef!!!

There is a lesson in all of this COOK FROM BASIC INGREDIENTS! Fortunately, apart from the occasional lapse of laziness we have tended to do this anyway since we are committed to supporting organic production at every opportunity. Here is a second lesson - as a general rule, organic foodstuffs contain far fewer additives and I hardly ever find 'hidden wheat' in organic products. They often have a shorter shelf life, but we like to eat fresh anyway. I am often told that organic stuff is 'OK if you can afford it'. Yes, certainly more expensive than the bargain lines - but if you buy basic ingredients and cook yourself its not too bad. I won't embarrass you by mentioning our income, but I recently checked out a website that enables a comparison of household incomes (takes into account 1 income supporting 4 people etc) I think we were about 20% of the way up. So, basically, if we can afford it 80% of UK households can certainly afford it - its all about life choices - and in our case a very detailed spreadsheet keeping checks on all expenditure!

I also like to use 'basic ingredients' in my craftwork. OK I don't have a sheep farm, or a cotton plantation. I admit that I have never processed a raw fleece - I have trouble with the lanolin. However, I have tried spinning, have done a small amount of painting and printing on fabric etc. Some 'crafts' are to my way of thinking more a finishing of a process. I like to think that my stuff goes back to the design stage at least.

And so to craft. My latest brooch is an appliqueed and embroidered design featuring a heathery hillside. The second picture is a small clump of heather in our garden. I think we'll need some annuals to help fill the spot .

Monday, 15 March 2010


Most of our time and money are spent on supporting the activities of our children. Climbing, down-hill cycling, flute/saxophone/clarinet/drum kit, guides and scouts. All are very worth while, and all can, at times be very expensive. Both children are good at managing money. Pocket money and birthday and Christmas gifts are contributed to the pot when necessary. They both understand the value of things rather than the price - I hope this attitude travels with them both to university!

We seldom spend money on ourselves, and tend to feel guilty at the thought - until last September.

My father always worked long hours, and, when we were young, 7 days/week. He didn't have a large income and money was always carefully saved for a rainy day or retirement. We lived on a busy road next to his business property and he knew he would need to move when he retired.

His pride and joy was a 1936 Morris 14 ( or at least that's what I remember it to have been called). It was black, very large, very heavy, had red leather upholstery, long running boards, doors that opened the 'wrong' way and 'pokey-out' indicators. The gear box required 'double- de-clutching'. It was quite good in the snow but otherwise a nightmare. It had been my grandfather's car. It was not our main family vehicle, but kept for sentimental reasons and intended as Dad's retirement project.

The elderly car was parked outside our house, more or less on the road side. I remember a squeal of brakes and a lorry skidded to a stop and 'jack-knifed' into the old car. There were two good points about this incident. The offending HGV managed to stop before hitting the customer who was turning onto Dad's forecourt. Our parked car was squashed between the trailer and our house. It absorbed the impact well and preserved our sitting room wall.

Dad was close to the long-awaited retirement. Unfortunately, the front axle of the car was very bent and Dad decided that restoring the car would now be too expensive. He sold it to a local enthusiast (it later re-visited in pristine condition). Dad's health gradually worsened. He enjoyed his garden but didn't really do anything major in retirement. Mum was a lot younger than Dad, and still quite young when he retired. Unfortunately, Mum developed Alzheimers at a relatively early age.

The message I have drawn from all this is that it is important to realise some dreams throughout our lives.  Waiting for retirement might prove to be a mistake.

Lizzie? When my parents first married, Dad's old Morris was their only car. Mum hated it. It was too heavy, a nightmare to park and very old-fashioned. Mum christened it Lizzie, after World War 2 tanks- known as 'Tin-Lizzies' ( or so she told me). Having learnt the lesson of Lizzie, we now have our 'Morris'. Something for ourselves for once - and years before retirement. The children were almost shocked! 'You're spending all that money on that?'- and similar comments. We are now back in normal mode. Saving for World Jamboree for one child and a school trip to France for the other. My husband has only a modest income and, at the moment, I do not have a 'proper job'. A modest life style is essential   - I haven't abandoned all the lessons my parents taught me, but, thanks to Lizzie, we have our luxury.

Morris? - more about this in a later post.


I have just finished this bluebell brooch, inspired by the woods a short distance from my college at Durham.


Friday, 12 March 2010

Notebook or computer (Folksy Friday 2)

We all do it. Notepad or new mail file open on the screen, just peeping out past the open Folksy page, endless other files open, but tucked away from view ready to spring back up at the click of a mouse. A 'jotter' file open with my url's and image addresses ready to insert in Folksy Friday. Thank goodness for wide screens.

Despite all this I STILL LOVE BOOKS! I like the feel of them, I love the relaxation of turning the pages - my bookshelves are over-full. When it comes to keeping records - ideas for blogs or Folksy Fridays, a journal of aims and objectives for Lynwoodcrafts, sketches of things I might find time to make one day - do  I curl up on the sofa with my laptop. My husband would. My son would - if he could ever imagine that keeping notes and records, or even doing homework, would be a good idea. My daughter and I are different. We both like to use distinctive and beautiful notebooks.

There are some lovely examples on Folksy. I have selected a few. For those of you who cannot be persuaded, or for those of us that accept computers are here to stay but would like a hand-crafted element to them, how about this beautiful wooden design to conceal a flash drive.


Wootten Books

Notes from the Underground

Art by Adora

Nant Designs

Tree Gems


On a totally different theme, I've just finished this sunflower corsage:


Thursday, 11 March 2010

Sunshine Awards

I have been really pleased to be given TWO of these awards.

The 'Sunshine Award' is to be awarded for inspiring positivity and creativity within the blogging world, and also to spread the love by having the nominee list their own choices for an award.

Sunshine Award Rules

To accept the award:

Place this award on your blog or in a post.

Pass the award onto 12 bloggers.

Link the nominees within the post.

Let the nominees know that they have received the award by commenting on their blog.

Share the love and link to the person from whom you received the award.

Many thanks to Marice's World and Cakes Knits and Cosies for giving me the award.

It has taken me quite a while to get round to nominating people to whom I can pass the award on. My apologies - I've had a bit of a busy spell. I think I may have to do the 24 in 4 blocks. So the first five are:

Jude Alman - Potsandpaint

Granny Ruth's

Created and Felted

Charlotte Hupfield Ceramics

Petal Textiles.


It has taken me quite a while to sort out the awards - crafting time seems to shrink daily! I've just had time to complete this notebook cover:

Tuesday, 9 March 2010

The house that Jack built

It seems that my window for 'getting things done' has closed, and, unfortunately, we didn't really make any progress this year. We are all spring and summer people. We camp, cycle and walk and do 'outdoors' stuff  for as much of the year as we can. When the diary is empty, the garden takes over. This is likely to be even more true this year since the front garden now needs 're-modelling'.

The winter, when it's cold, dark and gloomy is the only chance I have of in-door jobs getting attention. The problem is that we don't usually feel like making much effort in horrible weather. This winter has been worse than most. 'Outdoors' has continued for both children, with Scouts and Explorer Scouts continuing to camp and do other outdoor activities. The snow has been both an added distraction, obviously we had to do some sledging etc, and an inconvenience. In addition, my husband has been unexpectedly busier at work - due to some staffing changes. Consequently, progress (and even normal maintenance) in the house has been pretty much nil - we'll just have to make-do until next winter!

It really feels as though spring is here now. The sun is shining, the days are longer, consent forms are in hand for spring and summer camps and GCSE's are just round the corner.

My father worked very long hours for most of his life. However, he had about 12-15 years of active retirement, before ill-health over-took him. It was only in retirement that he had time for gardening. Mum had always had to do everything at their previous home and boundaries had to be re-negotiated, with a few minor disagreements, and at least one patch of 'no-man's land' persisting for many years. A vegetable plot the size of many an allotment was his pride and joy. Tucked away behind their garage was his greenhouse. Definitely his - although mum was allowed to start some bedding plants in a corner!

Dad died just before my 13 year old was born and Mum now lives in a nursing home. When we cleared their house we relocated Dad's greenhouse - to the bottom of our garden. It replaced a smaller one which we had and sits next to another small greenhouse which we decided to keep. These two will now be the focus of much attention. Pottering, planting out, watering etc. All chance of work in the house is over for the year! At present, the propagator is on and some onions are being started in trays of sand. Progress reports will be posted!

My husband is trying out an irrigation system which we saw at the Eden Project last year. Without some such arrangement, time away becomes limited to a few days or we have to ask my aunt to come and water for us. I'll let you know how it goes on.

Dad was known to everyone as Jack. My husband hung this somewhat 'wonky' sign in the greenhouse, in his memory.


With spring in the air I have just finished these two brooches - I hope you like them!


Monday, 8 March 2010

Clawdd Newydd

Just a short blog today. I was given a 'Sunshine Award' last week. I haven't put it on my blog yet 'cos I haven't had chance to compile the list of folks to whom I'd like to pass it on. I've just been doing some reading but I've got a lot more to do and time is short.

Sorry about the 2-day gap. 16 year-old went to D. of E.  training for the week-end, and after her music lesson, we took 13 year old, with us for a night away. For some reason its easier to have week-ends away with only one of them. They have different interests, climbing v. mountain biking, and although both involve mountains its hard to combine the two.

On Saturday afternoon we pottered round Ruthin. We haven't been there for a while. I used to be involved in a cooperative craft venture there and I've got quite a soft spot for the place. Lots of local, not chain, shops and friendly people. Bit sad this time to see that Tesco has invaded, and the new store is on the edge of the town - I hope it doesn't draw people out of the centre. I bought some quilting fabric from a little shop I wanted to re-visit.

Then on to our campsite for the night. A row of hook-ups and stand pipes on the open hillside behind a community shop and hall. I don't speak much Welsh (I can understand a little spoken and written Welsh) and really felt like a stranger here - until we collected the toilet key from the shop. The people in this lovely little village couldn't have been more friendly. The community shop is in a corner of the community centre, with campsite! It hosts weddings, Church services and Sunday school, whist drives, football matches on the adjacent field, there is a small children's play area and it is largely run by volunteers. 'Clawdd Newydd' means 'new dyke'. That remains a bit of a puzzle. We didn't see evidence of a dyke and forgot to ask.

Our stand pipe was completely frozen on Sunday morning. I was, momentarily, concerned about 16 year old in tent doing D of E training. But then thats the whole point of the training and he has done an expedition in snow once before - even though it was April! How mad are we to  spend a night on an exposed hillside in March at something like - 4.

Hopefully one or two of our photos are OK. I'll download them later and stick them on the end of this. Then you can judge for yourselves whether the spectacular view of the frosted Clwydians in the morning mist was worth it!


Friday, 5 March 2010

Folksy Friday - No. 1.

Welcome to my first FOLKSY FRIDAY! In common with others who have a Folksy shop, I intend to post a mini-treasury, a selection of items available for sale on Folksy, organised on a theme, every Friday. I love colour and texture in textile work - hope you enjoy looking at my choices.


Thursday, 4 March 2010


Not an occupation this time - more of a pastime.

My time management needs to improve. I have always 'multi-tasked' - knitting, whilst 'watching' TV, and looking over son's homework - for example. However, even this three-layer approach to getting things done seems inadequate at present. I sleep, by intention for about seven and a half hours a night. Yesterday evening, at about 11 ish, I was still knitting, TV on in the background. I was attempting another miniature poppy. Quite why I thought I needed a button-hole part way along the row, I really have no idea. My husband gave me a nudge thinking I'd fallen asleep. I think, at the point at which I made the decision to form a button-hole, I must have been asleep. Sadly, I think I was more or less awake as I constructed it - it really was very neat. I would prefer to think that it was entirely possible to knit during the hours of sleep, to a pre-determined plan - formed whilst awake. Just think how many more items I could pack into each week!

Exactly how anyone finds the time for 'geyser-gazing' defeats me. A one-off, tourist-type excursion maybe, but some of these folks were regulars! Admittedly the stream of water droplets cascading through the hot sunshine is spectacular - but what if you are mid-button-hole and miss it. I really can't imagine sitting there for hours at a time without something productive to do. Apparently, the actual occupation that goes hand-in-hand with this pastime, or at least one task in the ranger's job description, is that of geyser un-blocking. It seems the preferred activity for mindless hooligans in that environment, is to throw rocks into the geyser . This has dangerous consequences when it does spout!

Geyser-blocking hooligans, geyser un-blocking rangers and geyser gazers - it could only be Yellowstone Park! ( BBC 2 -I think! about 7pm - missed the beginning - Wednesday)

Meanwhile - back to the miniature poppies - minus button-holes!


Hope you like them!


Wednesday, 3 March 2010

Buried Treasure

Just a short note today.My fingers are twitching to do some craftwork - way too much typing over the last few days.

Does anyone else have trouble with the storage and retrieval of materials. I was playing aruound with some miniature versions of my knitted flowers last night. Fine 2 ply yarn size 14 ( in old money) needles etc. My anemonies are crocheted. Should use cotton thread for these. Found bag, some colours that might do but I'd really like... Back nooks and crannies of memory start to recall some very small balls, bought at an exhibition, with shades of purple. Frantic rummage through all visible tins. Conservatory floor strewn with contents. No threads! I am desperately trying to hang on to the image of the thread, trying to associate it with previous work in order to get a clue to its whereabouts. Tidying up would break the train of thought!

Vague impressions start to surface of a small, brightly coloured tin. Suddenly clarity! I can picture the tin on its shelf. Picture of the shelf comes into focus - wrong room, rush upstairs. Hurl stuff off shelves onto spare bed. Found it! It does contain treasure. The missing threads, together with some coordinating lace trimmings and beads and two crochet hooks. Why that collection was stored together, what project I had in mind, what occasion they had accompanied me on (trip to doctor's waiting room, holiday?)- I have no idea.

One thing I do know those miniature flowers are beckoning me. I don't want to be writing, in a year or so's time about the strange collection of threads and yarns found in another bag - with no tangible evidence of a completed project. Unfortunately, I also have rather a lot of tidying up to do! (Pictorial evidence of finished flowers will be posted - if they turn out as I hope)


Finished! Hope you like them. Got to go - house a mess!

Tuesday, 2 March 2010

The Snowdrop Lady

We don't have a very large garden. The plot at the front has undergone several changes and is, yet again, work in progress - more about that in a later post. The back garden is far more established and now just evolves with the seasons and our growing children.

We have two greenhouses, a small fruit cage and some raised beds, accessed through a rose-covered arch in a picket fence, which screens the veg plot from the pretty bit nearer to the house. Although small this outdoor space has three seating areas - lovely views if you choose the right seat, some shade and a small paved area backing onto a south-facing garage wall. A bit too hot for me in the height of summer but a lovely crafting space in spring and autumn, as long as I take care to cover my work when making a cup of tea. The crows were using me for target practice all last year and by the end of the season their aim was faultless!

Our garden is very like our house in that it is a collection of plants and artifacts from family, friends and our previous homes. A laurustinus bush is a descendant from one I grew up with (I think that was the great-great-grandfather of ours). A house move has always been the result of careful planning and a period of striking cuttings and establishing a nursery bed. A spiky dragon tree is the descendant of one given as a house-warming present to my husband in his first home. A winter-flowering jasmine was a cutting from an elderly neighbour, now no longer with us, and so on.  The items which mean most to me (in this part of the garden) are the daffodils, snow drops, some white daisies, japanese anemonies and the lovely Victorian rope edging tiles which surround our herb bed outside the back door.

There is an old cottage in the centre of  the village where I grew up. It was rendered and whitewashed when I was a child but is now stripped back to its lovely old brickwork. Unfortunately the garden at the side of the house has now been re-developed. The front garden is that which a child would draw. A straight path leading to the front door with rose beds on either side. At this time of year the garden was a carpet of snowdrops. A passer-by once stopped to talk to the occupant and said that her grandson had been referring to the 'snowdrop lady'. His grandmother had been puzzled until he indicated the garden and said this was where the snowdrop lady lived.

Our rope edgings, and the ancestors of our daffodils, anemonies, daisies and snowdrops came from this garden. The Snowdrop Lady was my Grandmother and March 2nd was her birthday!

( For some reason, as a child I always gave her a primrose in a pot for Mothers Day. This slightly battered one has ventured out in our garden)


Some of the items in my shop were inspired by my grandmother. The first choice needs no explanation. On most Sundays my Aunt would take Gran out for a drive. The destinations were dictated by the seasons. A bluebell wood always had to be included each year. Gran's garden had some huge lavender bushes. We used to hide behind one of them, watching the bees. She loved the scent and the colour of lavender and would have liked the colours in this patchwork.