So it was meant to fit a tea pot……

asleep in Autumn sunshine

I think I’ve already mentioned a brilliant kal over on the Caithness Craft Collective Podcast Ravelry page…it’s split up into 3 divisions and you can take part in as many of those as you like….I’m already knitting a blue shawl using a very soft yarn from Artesano (it’s a more colourful version of my Natural shades Moonraker) for division two, and I’ve nominated my “grannies paperweight” blanket for division one where basically you just leave your ufo until the 1st of June…then if you want you can pick up your needles and try get it finished by 1st September….now I love my grannies paperweight blanket (and obviously so does someone else!) but sewing all the woolly tails in has been a proper drag…..the blanket isn’t even hid away, it’s on our bed so every night I’m aware of all those ends and sigh……having it be okay to just leave them until June the 1st is actually quite nice and it’s now quite hard to leave them and not starting sewing them in….

tea cosy front with 14 inch needles

But the blanket isn’t the only ufo/wip that has been a bit forgotten about….there’s also my teacosy….

I probably first ever learn to knit at primary school, I was always bottom of the class and my dishclothes would end up full of holes and be rather wonky shaped… in the years since I’ve had a few rather half hearted attempts at re-learning adn have been very goldfish brained, struggling to remember how to make simple stitches and just getting all frustrated…. I had another dabble about 5 years ago which is when I met my awesome friend Anne, she’s a wonderful knitter and has no end of patience….when I first went to her house I saw her tea cosy which was just the nicest little tea cosy cottage I think I’ve ever seen and she let me borrow the pattern and have a try at knitting my own…..

moss stitch box stitch and stocking stitch

I think I did everything wrong that I possibly could…first up the yarn….the pattern said 4 ply…I didn’t have any and all I could find in the charity shops was a larger weight so I bought that (a big old bag full of mixed creamy pure wool, mostly Aran but also some dk)…obviously I needed to use a larger needle than in the pattern and ended up knitting it on these 14 inchers (not the most sociable knitting to do on the bus…I was all elbows and knitting needles)….I felt quite pleased as I sort of mastered purl stitch but I had to count my stitches all the time as I found it really hard to tell if it was a purl or a knit on my needle…..I didn’t know about circular needles so my knitting was nearly always squished up while I was counting….

house cosy back with 14 inch needles

And then no matter how hard I tried, I kept making mistakes which I couldn’t correct, so lots of ripping out….finally between us we twigged that there was a mistake somewhere in the pattern so Ann kindly fixed one of the sections for me…..

At some point the Aran run out and I doubled up my dk…..so this is totally not the most consistently gauged item that’s been on a pair of knitting needles.

Knitting the side sections was a bit easier as I could do those on a pair of 12 inch needles, around this time I began calling it a cushion cover as when I’d told people it was a tea cosy they all burst out laughing and made comments about “like to see the size of that tea pot”…..looking back I sort of wonder what i was thinking…I really didn’t realize using Aran instead of 4ply and knitting it on 6mm needles was going to make a huge difference.

house cosy sides

I was sort of losing heart with it at this point but attempting the roof was the straw that broke this camels back….the original one in the pattern says it’s knitted in a dk so I cobbled together as much brown yarn as I could to make mine fat enough, then it’s ribbed and there are decreases or increases  (in pattern) and it just all got too much………finally it was all bundled up and pushed into a dark corner of my wardrobe…honestly it put me right off knitting for ages…apart from the odd dishcloth and coat-hanger.  I decided I was not a knitter……..

I’m so happy my knitting journey didn’t end there, falling in love with the “Open Sky” shawl helped so much, reading great knitty blogs and listening to podcasts has slowly helped me gain my knitting confidence and have been wonderful sources of inspiration and creativity…anyway, I found the tea cosy parts and think they deserve a second chance….not sure what I’m going to do regarding the roof but I’ve got a couple of months where I can practice my ribbing or try out something different.

Louise talks about this kal/unkal in the latest episode of her podcast which is number 147, when she says “leave it” it’s so funny….it made me laugh so much that it scared poor Bernard who jumped off my lap, trailing my knitting and yarn across the room with him, which put paid to my laughing pretty quickly…..

Even if you don’t want to join in the kal/unkal, then I’d still recommend listening to the Caithness Craft Collective podcasts, they’re very funny and Louise talks about all sorts of crafting, not just knitting and there is even whiskey tasting in some episodes.

(if you want an idea of size for my tea cosy, those sides just need buttons and I’d have the start of a cardigan or at least a risque Summer top for the beach.)

baking bread, a colourful laksa, woolly tails and some gentle knitting….

Bernard and a selection of my china dogs

After a week of busy-ness and knitting we’re having a quiet couple of days, mostly it’s tidying my work room, getting things ready for next Saturday’s craft fair at Glory Days in Holt, making notes of any last minute sewing that needs to be finished…..obviously some of us always seem to be taking it easy.

For best part of the last week himself has been taking up residence in his cat basket which we’ve had to move up onto the coffee table….he’s not one for sleeping low down and likes high places where he has a bit of a view, right by the window is perfect as he can peer out while loud chatty people wait for the bus, (generally giving them a proper Paddington Bear stare) it’s also a good spot to pounce on balls of wool if they roll onto the floor…I’m always amazed at how nimble he can be when he wants.

milk and silver

I’m about half way through my Moonraker shawl, I’m now just taking it slow and steady, knitting this has been really nice.  I had a lovely chat with the lady who owns my local yarn shop yesterday about how therapeutic knitting is, she said just watching someone knit apparently releases lots of endorphins which help you to feel calm, grounded……I know Bernard loves watching me knit, he gets a bit excited sometimes if the wool is wobbling around near to his face (yeah sometimes I do dangle it about to tease him so if he gets a bit swipey I only have myself to blame)…a couple of times I’ve draped this around him and it blends right in against his fur…all soft and moody, shades and sulks of grey with little “pips” in milk and creamy gold…..the above two rows are Blue Faced Leicester by Woolyknits from my local yarn shop and some good old Seely Suffolk from June Onigbanjo…I’ve also used a little Wensleydale from Serena Plenderleith in some earlier rows which is such a golden glossy wool…like the top of clotted cream.

woolly tails

As I mentioned on Thursday I’ve just found out about a brilliant kal over on the Caithness Craft Collective Ravelry group…it’s split up into 3 divisions…division 1..old wips…things you’ve put aside and have forgotten about  but which you still love and need to finish, division 2…knit a “unicorn”, basically knitting something to please yourself, a project you’ve been wanting to knit but hadn’t got round to it for whatever reason, and finally division 3, more of an unkal really as it’s about unfrogging something you know you’ve fell out of love with.  It’s such a great idea and just opening the doors of my cupboard where my clothes and “truck” get kept I’m always half in fear of my life with things tumbling down on top of me….most of my wips tend to be sewing related (so many half started patchworks)…but my main woolly wip would have to be my grannies paperweight blanket…..the main part of the blanket is all done and dusted, but turn it over and there are all those tails….my heart sinks every time I see them….and I also need to finish off the sides, I’ve thought a lot about making a border using all browns and greys to pick up the colours of the boy and since knitting with the undyed natural shades I’m definitely thinking those are the colours to use…

sesame and spelt overnight sourdough

It would be a rum old week if there wasn’t some bread being made at some point….after leaving the sponge for the bread out overnight and making the dough the next morning I’ve experimented this week a bit more (I’ll say experimented but if truth be told I forgot all about the left out sponge til nearly two in the afternoon)..the sponge had about 17 hours to bubble and get all activated, I made the dough, let it rise for about 3 and a bit hours, gently knocked it back, let it prove for just over an hour and a half in a proving basket before popping it into a hot oven….I’d added a handful or so of sesame seeds to the dough before kneading it and the smell of them was so tummy growlingly good when the bread came out…..the boyfriend said this was one of my best loaves yet, the taste of the sourdough starter was much stronger, it also had a firm, chewy crust which he likes for his sandwiches…it smelt so nice the next morning for toast with some salty butter slowly melting in little golden pools…..

pumpkin and tomato thai style soup

It was pretty chilly at the start of the week, we woke on Monday to a proper snowfall (which sadly had all but melted away by mid morning) so I felt a spicy soup was needed for tea….I love Thai food but it’s really difficult for us to buy ready made pastes as we don’t eat fish and most Thai dishes seem to have fish sauce in there somewhere…I’ve bought some Thai curry paste before from a health food/vegetarian grocers but it was really heavy on the garlic (which I really do not like and have never actually used when I cook…the boyfriend uses it and that’s how much I love him..I’ll eat garlic for him but if I’m the one cooking then the garlic isn’t anywhere to be seen)…..so now I tend to make my own paste, and make up enough for several meals, putting extra servings in the freezer so the paste is good to go as and when I need it….my paste is made up of fresh ginger, red chillies, lemongrass and coriander, all pounded up with a big fat mortar and pestle before blitzing in a food choppy whizzer thing with lime juice, fresh mint, lots of salt…each time I make it it’s a little different.

The soup is based on Nigel Slater’s Pumpkin and Tomato Laksa which uses steamed squash or pumpkin and cherry tomatoes (this time of the year we use tinned ones).  Changes I’ve made to his recipe include adding mushrooms and using a can of coconut milk along with a third of a block of coconut cream (I find the coconut block has a more intense coconutty taste, but the the milk gives it a nice smooth texture).

We like the soup with spring rolls and a fiery sweet chilli dipping sauce, then any laksa left over I have the next day for lunch.  I never mind how dreary and dismal it looks outside when I have this to eat, it’s so bright and orangey, all tingles to my taste buds….it just makes me so happy to cook it and then eat it.

An Encouraging Thunder award and a right old waffle…….

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Last week I had a lovely comment in my email box from one of my regular comentators Sharon (you can find her over at Creativity and Family) ….. she’s nominated me for an Encouraging Trumpet award which recognizes blogs that encourage and inspire. I was quite amazed as I know I talk a lot of old piffle at times, so to think at least someone thinks I’m inspirational has chuffed me to bits no end….thank you so much Sharon….often when I’m writng my posts about ambling over the marshes or de-tangling myself from hedgerows (all in search of crab apples or the glint of some ripe blackberries) I do think of you, your thoughtful comments to my misadventures in hedgesrows or coping with my cats windy bottom (he can empty a room pretty quickly) have often made me laugh in return x

Ideally the award is then passsed on to other blogs but as I’ve mentioned before the main blogs that I follow all seem to have been going for a fair while and are pretty busy people and I’d be….shrugging shouldrers as I’m trying to think of the right word….a bit nervous I think about approaching them….so instead, and I’m hoping this is okay to do, I thought I’d just write a piece about some of the blogs that I do love reading and then if you’ve not heard of them you can go and have a look for yourself and see why I like them so much….over the years my tastes have changed rather… sometimes blogs I love stop (yes I’m looking at you miss dottie angel…the instagram glimpse of what you are pottering about with isn’t enough..)…..sometimes my interests just change…I think my blog list at the side is a pretty small one and I like reading them all but these are my favourites of who I’ve been enjoying reading over the past year really…..

knitsonik book

First up is twins really….The Domestic Soundscape and Knitsonik are both written by the amazing Felicity (Felix) Ford….this woman has so much energy…she’s completely and utterly awesome.  The Domestic Soundscape covers a whole range of subjects, sometimes it’s something happy and nice for your tummy, sometimes her writing is poignant and makes me feel sad but always it’s wonderful to just stop with a cup of tea, and read what she’s posted…like making the perfect salted caramel tart, and what sounded to me like the best children’s birthday party of all time, and the wonderful and heartbreaking to read “the love“…..one of my favourite posts she wrote was about her relationship with her partner Mark ……and while I don’t care about celebrity ons and offs, reading about what are just lovely relationships just between people like you and me never fails to make me smile…..Mark often makes the sweetest comments on Felicity’s blogs and they never fail to either make me smile or laugh out loud…..(Shetland 0 Mark 1 a possible favourite)……Felicity’s Knitsonik is a slightly different read but is no less wonderful as it’s mostly about knitting and colour stranded knitting (or what I used to just call “Fair-isle” til I knew better)….if you’ve not been there please head over and listen to her sing a brilliant song about Shetland Wool ….or she’s writing about sound and textiles the history of textiles and wool… she’s totally one of my knitting heroines and her book Stranded Colourwork Sourcebook is such an inspirational treat…..When she really gets going then reading her posts can be so exciting, her enthusiasm comes across like some sort of exciting non stop page turner adventure story….at the end I often want to fan myself and go “phew”…..I’m still only beginning with my knitting but when one day I reach the lofty heights of attempting a fancy piece of coloured knitwear it will be with her book in my hand to guide and steer me true with my colour choices and combinations. Woooh, You Rock Felix.

soporific blues

One of my favourite artists is Ann Wood…she lives in America and I’ve been reading her blog now for some years…it’s always a nice touch down and among pictures of what she’s working on (often including the didn’t work out quite rights) there’ll be pictures of bundles of beautiful old and worn textiles and walks in the woods…she’s also written some lovely tutorials and her print outs for paper horses and big tea cups are put together so nicely……the creatures that Annn creates don’t just happen, hours upon hours of work are involved, tweeaking patterns, making up testers, tinkering some more until what she creates is exactly what she was wanting….no giving up at the first attempt if something goes wrong….

A blog which I do always enjoy reading (but often I have to try and find it as it’s had a few name changes in the past) is Hetty Brown…..(up til very recently it was called The Woven Nest)….now this isn’t going to sound very complimentary but whatever “name” Sophie writes under reminds me somewhat of the smell of my cats tummy…warm, comfy, safe…a waft or too of weetabix in Bernard’s case, lavender and beeswax and Autumn apples in Sophie’s…whether she’s knitting socks or sewing frocks, making cake (her recipe for her grandad’s fruit cake one is so good, nice and simple and perfect with a mug of tea…..) it’s a nice quiet little oasis…a calm in a big sea of crazy…..a place where ideas have the peace and still time to develop.

eyelet twigs sampler

The other blog which I really like is the one from Kate Davies…..I like the way she writes so much, generally it’s about wool or knitting (I love her designs and am lucky enough to have a very kind friend who knitted me one of her pieces the other year…)…this shouldn’t define her blog but I think this is interesting to know, some years ago Kate had a stroke, she’s no age so this came completely out of the blue, at a time when I would think she’d be feeling completely wretched she kept pretty positve…rather than let it stop her from doing things she loved…knitting and plaiting her hair she learnt how to do these things again….the pictures of her riding her bike in a jumper she’s just finished knitting , beaming from ear to eat were so uplifting and positve…along with the knititng she writes about other textiles, and her dog Bruce, walks, planting things in her garden….just recently her and her partner Tom got married…the pictures were so full of warmth and happiness…no fake “Hello” magazine bling and forced smiles…even Bruce was there…..if you read my blog you’ll know I’ve pretty much just learnt to knit and Kate’s gorgeous and beautiful designs are part of the reason I’ve kept persevering because one day I want to cast off one of her yoke detailed tops, slip it over my head and think…I did this….

embroidery silk strands

The second part of the award is to write a piece about why I blog….if you had the time and patience to read my Liebster award post then I’m afraid you may be in for more waffle and such like though I’ll try hard to keep it as short as I can…..

Why I blog…..actually it’s not something I’ve really thought very much about.  Although I’ve been reading other people’s blogs for years I’ve only began writing my own over the past 2 and a bit years.  I didn’t start before because I didn’t know how to and always thought I might break the whole internet or something if I did something wrong.  I didn’t have a lot of computer access growing up and while I learnt to shop and look at cute cat videos on-line (cutest one being just here….and is the reason I’m not allowed kittens) I wasn’t able to do a whole lot more…., I’ve always been a bit frightened of them (the woman who turned into a computer in the Superman film is never that far away in my thoughts and I’m still rather wary of them….I always think I’m going to break something)…..I’m not very good with technical things (this makes my boyfriend despair as he writes computer programmes or does something like that and sighs when I ask how to do, what to him seems, something so easy….however in case you’re thinking “well he sounds like an absolute bounder, he isn’t he’s very lovely and has been so encouraging with my new found knitting prowess…and recommends my quilts and other work to friends all the while…once he even took in a selection of Valentine cards I’d made  when he worked in an office of all guys….he came home with just a couple of cards left and lots of money so lets give him a little cheer…horrah!!!)

river view

Another cheer should go to my youngest sister because if it wasn’t for her patience and ability to count up to ten and then some when I ask her dumb computer questions I still wouldn’t have a blog…….this is an example of how I don’t “get it”…a few years ago I rang her up as I was trying to download pictures from my camera onto my computer (it was the first time I’d tried to do this by myself)…and she slowly talked me through each step of the way..but then something went wrong…there were too many pictures to download….my sister asked “Well how many are there”……”One thousand, six hundred and eighty four* I replied…..you could almost hear her cup of tea get sprayed around her kitchen…..there was a pause and then she said, “Oh. WelI I think that’s a few too many for your computer to cope with at once, you’ll need to go through and delete some off the camera manually first I’m afraid”….. no exclamation of “seriously, are you a complete thicky” or “ughhhh uggghhh ughhhh” noises made at me down the phone…..she also helped me set up my website and edited loads of photos for my folksy shop as I didn’t know how to do that either……the day I sent her an email showing a variety of photos of some things that I’d made and had edited all by myself….brightening,cropping, bringing down the saturation (I was tending to go for the setting my Nanny used to have her television at where everyone is so orange they all look like an Oompa Loompa) and bringing up the temperature to a nice soft and warm hue, she rang me up and said how proud of me she was, it was the phone call equivalent of a big warm hug……so a huge huge Horrah for Becky.

bluebell bliss

Sorry for waffling……anyway so really my blog came about because I was already selling various things I had made (tea cosies, and notebook covers, baby blankets,hot water bottle cosies, brooches….cat toys*….things that were fabric based with hand worked embroidery and applique on them….I started selling them at local craft fairs and then in some shops around Norfolk and Suffolk and people used to ask if I had a website…then I did a business course and I was told “you must have a website and you need to get your name registered” so I registered my name (well my boyfriend did it for me) I still didn’t have a website…then my sister very patiently helped me get the website working (it’s held with a different company than one she was used to working with so it wasn’t the easiest of things for her to do but she never once got grumpy with me…instead I’d get asked if perhaps I thought it was time for a cup of tea …) …while she was working on the website she did say “look, you know next you’re going to have to do a blog…..” and I was rather hesitant because I didn’t know how to do it or what would I write……but we agreed to meet up again and patiently she went though helping me set up my blog….looking at themes and layouts and stuff that I was really rather overwhelmed by…. (you can understand now why she deserves that cheer).

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So the blog was set up and then what to write……it’s like an essay at school, being told to write about whatever you like….your mind suddenly goes all of a blank…where to begin or what to write….to start with I wrote about making Christmas Stockings and baby quilts as that is what I was doing at the time……it always seems very daft to be sitting out in the garden on a hot scorchy Summer day embroidering snowflakes or hand sewing tiny currants on Christmas pudding motifs…and it’s hard to feel Christmassy when the sun is all sun-shiney…at least come November I can play some Christmas music but in July or August I suspect that my neighbours would think I was off my trolley……and then I wrote about favourite things I like to use when I’m sewing as I often get asked about stuff like that when I do fairs…but pretty soon I started writing about other things…trying to get fit and working out to a Mister Motivator DVD and doing myself a bit of a mischief in the process, then our cat Bernard was poorly and he refused to wee in his tray so I stood out in my garden at something like 3 in the morning, with him on a little harness and lead, feeling every part a crazy cat lady…….

In case you’re wondering these are the things people seem to look at the most on my blog….

finished baby bibs 007

I wrote a tutorial for making baby bibs…..this is something that gets heaps of people looking at, I used to make the bibs to sell but they were a bit timey to make if you are selling them, but I love making them as gifts for friends who have babies….it may seem a bit of a waste of time hand sewing the bibs but it doesn’t really take all that long over using a machine, I think hand sewing looks neater and the bibs do feel ever so soft…also the new mum and dad are like “really, you sewed this by hand”…and then they are so full of smiles that you’d go to “that much bother” for their baby….

churn dash mini quilt block 009

About this time I started making a quilt for myself…I’ve only made quilts in the past for other people even both my cats have had hand quilted quilts made from old shirts and a pair of my sister’s pyjama bottoms….and I’ve wrote about that quite a bit, share pictures of each of the hundred and some different tiny 6 inch blocks…I’ve still got a fair way to go with what I call my “dear ethel” quilt but just writing about it has really helped me see it better in my head. It also gave me the space to write down why I like handsewing patchwork and using up scraps….I know “slow sewing/lifestyles/whatever” seems to be all the range nowadays but myself I find it very hard to go fast….I’m okay for a few days, maybe a couple of weeks pre-Christmas fairs when I’m sewing almost every hour of the day, but even then most of the stitching is done by hand, and by that I mean with a needle and thread in my hand not using a sewing machine …(of which I do have two, I used to have three but in the Summer one bang pop whizzed and produced a smell and then lots of smoke began to waft out of it’s bottom.)…

nine patch star patchwork block

I like my fabrics to have a bit of a story behind them, a bit of meaning to them, even if it’s just  “I saw this in a shop and lost my heart to it” but more heart felt is the fabric I have that was left over from when my Nanny was too old/too frail to go up her stairs to bed anymore. All her bedlinen had been for a double bed so when she had a single bed moved into what had been her little front parlour, I took up the sewing machine from home and made her sheets smaller.

Some of the fabric was used to make her new pillowcases but the small offcuts and I took home, kept in a sewing basket…..it’s almost twenty years now since she died and I haven’t got much of it left, but I love using little pieces of it in things I make, each time I see just a scrap I’m filled with memories of her (bah…I’m getting all daft and teary now..)….fabric brought in unlimited quantities without a care in the world can’t make my heart ache the same way….and other scraps, brightly coloured pieces gifted from friends and family, left over snippets of fabric used in my first “proper” quilt, purple stars for a little girl who wanted so much to go to Hogwarts., blue floral prints from Alison who taught me to quilt……blogging has allowed me to give a voice to how I feel about all these….I get quite emotional about my quilts, they take me a fair while to sew as each stitch is sewn by hand, sometimes it’s hard to talk about them without getting a bit sentimental which if I’m just talking face to face makes me get all embarassed..it’s lovely having a space where I can stop typing (go blow my nose) and return a little better composed. I hope that makes sense.

dresden plates 006

During one of my studio/work room tidy ups I found a whole load of Dresden plate patches I’d begun sewing over papers, and during a little stop for a quick cup of tea, I found myself sewing together some of the plate sections…before I knew it, piles of fabric were all over the floor and I’d started cutting out more sections (tidying up had pretty much gone out the window at this point)….I then went on to write up a few “how to do’s” or tutorials on how Imade my plates and sections….I really do like hand sewing, and yeah it is a bit more fiddly but I think the results can look so nice and it’s what gives me pleasure….I’ve probably gone a bit overboard with the amount of pictures explaining how I sew the fabric round the plate sections but sometimes if you don’t know how to do something then it’s nice to have every stage shown…..and different people do things differently…

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My favourite “quilting” pattern is the baptist fan pattern, it looks a lot more comlicated than what it is to do and I wrote a series of tutorials on how to do it the other year….this was probably my favourite tutorial I made…..I love the feel of hand quilting and I made a quilt a few years back for my boyfriends birthday….it was only a year late (which is very good going for me)…and at the end of each day when my quilting was done, I’d stroke my hands over the quilting ridges, the soft curves feeling like cordaroy ….textile pleasure for my fingertips…..it does take longer than the standard straight lines or diamonds and squares but the results are always worth it.

it looks like he is flying

Just before I started blogging I began making myself a crochet blanket ….like “dear ethel” I’ve written about it loads, from where I was inspired (oh Andamento I love your blanket so much), and where I found the nicest tutorial I found on making that particular pattern…..while the blanket isn’t quite finished (too many woolly tails still to sew in) we’re able to use it and generally it’s where we can find Bernard.

flower brooch 21

So where at first I thought I was just going to write about pieces I was sewing or embroidering to sell,, I very soon started writing about things I was making for myself and then things I was baking or cooking in the kitchen…and then my camera started coming along on my walks and jaunts over the marshes and meadows behind our house…..I’m incrediby lucky to live on the very edge of a city but within a matter of minutes I’m in a field, on a good day there are cows….or blackberries waiting to be picked, chittering squirrels or sqwaking crows hop skip jumping along, Spring and Summer sees the meadows transformed in a yellow then pink coloured pastured, with a haze of meadowsweet and soft blue tufted vetch around the edges….Autumn and Winter are rather more bleak, but just being out of doors, well wrapped up in scarves and mittens, the cobwebs and mopes get blown away…..I enjoy writing and talking about where I live so much and I know that there are some people who read my blog who aren’t as able as they once were to get out and about so it’s nice to share what I am able to do and see…this includes picking wild fruits and berries from the hedgerows (where I’ve looked something like Catweazel as I come clambering out of a hedge, with twigs and tangles in my hair and clothes) and making jams and jellies and syrups…..

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(this is me made by my friend Beth Morrison..)

I’ve gone so far off subject….so why do I blog….to share, to have a place where I can write and record what I’m doing or making, whether it’s baking or stitching…or learning to knit…..once again a very big thank you to Sharon for the award….

*I can’t remember the exact figure but it was just under 2,000 pictures on my little camera…I’d just never deleated any.

Orange you glad to see me*

crab apples

While the hedgerows are bursting full of fruit (and lovely vitamin C) I’m trying to harvest what I can into jellies and syrups.

In a way I’m almost pleased the blackberries didn’t seem to do so well this year because if not I think I’d have over looked the rosy jeweled bounty that’s even closer to home.  Long hedges of hawthorn all intermingled with wild rose bushes, then small wildings appearing from all the prickles, branches full of apples in what seem to be 101 different varieties.  Although there are a few “true” crab or scrub apple trees near by (Malus pumila …very mean and grouchy looking little apples) I prefer to use these glorious almost oval shaped ones in the picture, all rosy and coral coloured though I’m not sure their full genus.

I’m very lucky in that when I’m foraging I’m completely away from any traffic, it’s all pedestrian areas so when I’m clambering around through a hedge looking somewhat like Catweazle, I often get stopped by dog walkers and people with children asking me what I’m picking, what I’m going to make.  I never mind telling anyone who asks and will happily offer plums and cherries to taste and advise good places to go.  I really love it when children look interested as I have lovely memories of going blackberry picking with my sisters and feel sad if children miss out on that.

Anyway, I seemed to spend most of yesterday chopping and prepping and cooking apples, rosehips (including hips from lovely fat and round apple roses), rowan berries and haws to make the most fantastic and bright amber coloured jellies and syrups, and while I was chopping and listening to the radio I began thinking just how much I like the colour orange.

tree in our neighbours garden

Last years Autumn leaf change was spectaular, persimmon and flame, marigold and tangerine, pumpkin patch orange and deep amber…..each morning’s walk either down to the post box, popping into the shops or just stretching my legs for half an hour or so over the marshes was a real treat….on a morning filled with sunshine, Autumn leaves come ablaze and those lovely bright orangey colours seem to be everywhere you look.

At the time it inspired me somewhat with my wardrobe and made me covet a pair of orange shoes after spotting a pair in a local shop.

orange floral print dress

And while I haven’t bought a pair of orange shoes quite yet (thought I still want a pair to wear with the brightest blue tights so I think it’s only a matter of time) over the past year or so there’s been some orangey additions in my wardrobe, the latest being a “dottie angel” style dress I made in the Summer with fabric from John Lewis (it was in the sale and with the alterations I made to the pattern I only needed a metre and a half so felt very happy).

I like wearing it with either an orange cardigan or a pale blue one as orange and blue has become one of my favourite colour combinations.

more nine square patches

Generally when I’m crocheting it’s never long before little bursts of orange begin to creep in amongst the other colours, though I’m quite fussy about the particular orange I like….the orange in the picture above was on a cone in a charity shop and was about a pound if that, I have to double up the yarn when I use it as it’s a bit skinny, but I don’t like the other acryllic oranges that I’ve seen and find this is bright without making my eyes hurt.

orange tapestry wool

But mostly when I’m crocheting I now prefer to use tapestry wool, although I really only tend to buy it second hand ( a bag here, a bag there from junk shops and charity shops, jumbles and car boots, I’m often spoilt for choice when I tumble all the wool out together on the table…) the wool makes those tangerine and marigold tones somewhat softer, warmer, colours that seem at first a bit on the bright side, blend quite happily.

oh Bernard what big paws you have

Probably the best example of colours working together, blending in and not taking over is my Grannie’s Paerweight blanket (and yes I’m still sewing in the woolly tails on the tail…) bright golds and salmon tones, pumpkins and carrot oranges are all there but seem to mingle in quite nicely amongst warmer browns and fawns.  Along with the orange and browns I’ve also used orange and blue together, and orange and grey, using a few different shades of both to add plenty of depth and interest.There’s even a few fiery orange and vermillion and scarlet hexagons.

I’m not sure if Bernard is a fan of orange himself but once it starts getting chilly, he’s never far away from the blanket.

wool

I bought this wool last year, in part to make a scarf inspired by Autumn leaves, but must confess it was the colour more than anythng else that made the wool choice although the wool is so soft and is one of those ones where it is very hard not to just stand in the shop and keep squidging or rubbbing it against your face….I’m still working out the best pattern for it and although I’ve got 3 skeins am thinking perhaps I will need to buy more.  I like a nice big scarf, one that can be flung around my shoulders so I’m all bundled up nicely (and will happily sit like this on the sofa and not turn the heating on)…but I love this particular colour so much that I feel it’s almost going to be the colour itself I’m all bundled and wrapped in.

new album

Although I haven’t worked very much on the patchwork for my “dear ethel” quilt this year, it’s never very far from my thoughts, odd patches are pinned up on a board above my work table (in part because the little blocks make me smile, and also if they were tucked away until the quilt gets completed I’d be going a long old while without seeing them…and also having them there makes me think I need to crack on and get more sewn )….

When I look back at them I see certain colour combinations turning up again and again, although each block is different and each combination of print is different, certain colours  just make me happy so much more than others and although I think pink and yellow is possibly the most used combination, there are also a lot of pairings with orange.

swamp angel

I know that some of my print and colour choices aren’t everyone’s cup of tea, and if it was an all over quilt then I’d be right there with you, but in a six inch block I think you can get away with what looks like picking things from “the dressing up box”.

I don’t know why but I’m always drawn to orange prints in my local quilt shop or if I’m looking on-line…when I was chosing fabrics for the quilts for Peggy and Pearl in the Spring I really had to rein my love of orange in, knowing that it’s not for eveyone.

selection of mini blocks 005

I love the opportunities for mixing colour in patchwork…small and tiny flecks of colour in one print (the little orange flowers on the floral print) can be picked out and used on a larger scale. This is also how I get dressed in the morning, picking out a colour from a dress print no matter how small to then wear as the accompanying cardigan.

mrs bryan and others 025

The same colour combination of orange and blue but in different fabrics.  I find the use of orange stops some patches looking a bit cold and pale.

hexagons and ethel 002

Orange and brown just makes me think of my tummy…chocolate and orange cake, toffee apples, orange creams, Jaffa Cakes and Terry’s chocolate oranges (which I only seem to see in the shops at Christmas for which my waistline should be thankful)…..

piecing a dresden plate 032

Even when I was making my dresden plate patchwork I couldn’t help myself and there’s barely a “plate” sewn together that didn’t have at least one orange section.  Whenever I up-turn and empty out a scrap box there’s always pieces of orange fabric that seem to be at the front of the queue waiting to be used in whatever patchwork I’m sewing.

beth 003

A few years ago my friend Beth (who is the most incredible artist and who I’ve mentioned before on my blog) made this little doll of me, she sits on one of our bookselves.  At the time Beth made it she said she knew I didn’t have an orange scarf but that was the colour wool she just had to hand….and now I’m thinking…it’s just the same orange as the wool I’m waiting to knit up into a scarf.   There have been days when I’ve left the house and my makeup has looked just like this (my excuse is that I was in a rush).

Now I’m back to the kitchen to bubble up and boil amber coloured juices with sugar for syrups (we’re both a bit sniffly so hope it’s not the start of a cold)…downstairs smells lovely, soft fruity aromas from apples and roses with the faintest spicey hint of star anise and clove.

*possibly the best Knock knock joke becaue it’s so rubbish.

A Liebster award and some awfully long answers……

liebster2

This week I had a nice surprise as I was very kindly nominated for a Liebster award so a huge thank you to Zeens and Roger for that.  Now according the “rules” as they are, I’m supposed to nominate a selection of other blogs to now pass it on to, however as I explained to the lovely Rosina, I think all the blogs that I follow are more likely to have some thousands rather than the 200 followers a nominee is supposed to have and they’re all pretty busy people who may not have the time to answer my questions so I thought I’d just break the rules and open my nomination to anyone who reads my blog and would like to answer my questions which you’ll find at the bottom.

If you don’t want to answer then that’s fine too, or if you only want to answer one question then that’s fine too…all I will say is some of my answers to Zeens and Rogers’ questions are rather long, if you regularly read my blog then you’ll know I’m a chatterer and can happily talk the back legs off a donkey, so go pop the kettle on for a pot of tea and grab the biscuits as I think by the end of this you’ll be needing them……

The rules can be found here on Zeens and Rogers’ blog.

As well as answering the questions she asks I’ve also included a couple of the ones she was asked by Buttercup and Bee as I thought that they tied in rather nicely and also I figure, hey, if I’m going to break the rules then lets break them.

spelt and seed sourdough

What did you have for tea last night?

What are you having tonight?

(and she was asked What is your favourite meal to cook?)

Okay, well last night the boyfriend cooked (he does weekends and I cook during the week) we had a selection of steamed green vegetables and a fat wadge of Spanish omelette made with roast peppers and goats cheese.  Being a Friday (which counts as the weekend) we also had cider, half a glass of a Somerset cider, no more than that though or I’d be sliding off my chair under the table (seriously I am the world’s cheapest date)…what was pudding..oh yes, super sweet and juicily ripe nectarines from a vegetable stall on Norwich Market (we’re so spoilt, there are two fantastic stalls where we buy most of our fruit and veg from, Mike and Debs which is on the front (stalls 46 and 47), and then there is an organic stall called Folland Organics (stalls 40 and 41) owned by the lovely Robb who wears nice jumpers. The beloved one also had a pastry from…The Norwich Providore (stalls 44 and 45 on the market)…their pastries are really good and it makes me super grumpy that I can’t really eat things like that anymore.

Tonight he’s cooking again, and it’s Quorn veggie burgers with a couple of fat slices of halloumi cheese on top..I love these so much. It used to be a bit worrying as Bernard also liked them and he’d jump up on the table to try grab a bit (nothing worse than eating something that the cat is trying to pinch as it goes to your mouth…but luckily he’s stopped doing that.)..I’ve also got half an avocado and a handful of tomatoes from the garden….as it’s a weekend there may well be wine, but just the one glass.  We’re as bad as each other, and a bottle lasts us two nights if not we’d just be asleep on the sofa by nine.  Will there be pudding, yes, don’t ask a silly question. (Basically there’s pudding every night)…tonight it’s raspberries from the garden which will be hiding under an avalanche of thick cream.

While I’m happy to cook a meal, more than anything I love to bake bread.  For the past year or so I’ve been baking bread using a sourdough starter my friend Daisy gave me (she’s a wonderful cook and is off to Leith’s School of Cookery in a week or so…she made the most amazing chocolate truffles flavoured with masala spices and when we’d finished them I felt very sad.) and I’ve found it’s helped my bread making skills no end.  Mostly I like to tinker about and add different things, last loaf I made had spelt flour, oats, grated apple, sunflower and sesame seeds and honey in it and I think there’s barely enough left for his morning toast.  Even though I can’t really eat bread anymore (well I can but it leaves me feeling utterly wretched) the pleasure I get from making it for my boyfriend is immense.

pasture

What are you doing at the weekend?

(she was asked What do you do to relax and un-wind?)

Very little.  The weather has been nice today so we went for a gentle stroll across the pastures on the marshes that are just across from where we live.  We’d been hoping to forage for blackberries for the freezer (the rain has made them a bit squishy for jam) but we didn’t get as many as we’d hoped, so some are currently drowning themselves in brandy and the others will make a crumble for tomorrow night alongside a dollop of cream.

Probably the best way I can clear my head if I’m feeling all fraught and fed up or I’m feeling achy and shoulder crampy from sitting sewing to long is to get out, and head across the meadows, an hour outside and I’m back feeling brand new.  Even if it’s nippy I’ll happily wrap up and go for perhaps a shorter walk but just getting out of doors always does me the world of good.

Recently the pastures were so full of wild flowers, it was just like the old flake advert, and the flowers I see on my walks go on to inspire me so much with my work.

We came out here in the winter just after Christmas and a lot of it was all flooded so some parts weren’t cross able, however it felt like a proper adventure walking where the water allowed.  When the frosts came and the floods froze it was so beautiful, especially where the weight of the ice in the river pulled away from the bank.

inspired by flowering herbs in my garden

As a child, what did you want to be when you were a grown up?

Honestly, I have no idea…probably because I’m still deciding that.

I grew up in a lovely little village, it was quite rural being surrounded by fields and farms.  But it wasn’t a dead village, there were 4 or 5 little grocery shops including a post office and two busy village pubs. We had an excellent bus service there, buses on the hour which would bring us all the way to Norwich. If we missed one bus then our mum would just put the kettle on, and we’d have a cup of tea while we waited for the next one to come along….very different to when I then later lived in London and would get all grumpy if I missed a tube train and had to wait a whole 5 minutes for the next one.

My primary school in the village was really nice, and it makes me incredibly sentimental to think how 4 generations of my family have gone there…my dad’s dad, my dad, me and my 3 sisters and even one of my nieces have all been taught there.  My teachers there were always really encouraging so I can’t think they’d have been dismissive if I had some rum career choice ideas, but in all honesty, I really can’t remember what I wanted to be.

if you listen carefully you can hear him snoring

Mastermind Subject?

Blank face….pass…….seriously I really don’t have any specialist subjects and don’t think I particularly know much about anything.  I really love Jane Austen’s Novels (Northanger Abbey and Mansfield Park not so much but the other 4 never seem to stray that far from my bedside table) so I think I’d be okay on those.

Failing that it would have to be the shenanigans of my cat Bernard, I can happily tell you all about his little adventures and what he gets up to…mostly this involves stuffing his face with chicken which he seems to flick all over the kitchen floor, playing with Bob from next door (a cheeky little black and white cat who has a pink nose,) napping in various different locations around the house and having wind.  For a little cat there is a lot of smell.

In the picture above he’s having forty winks on the quilt I made for my boyfriend’s birthday, the fabric is quite loosely woven so every so often I have to repair when he’s been plucking, and also on the crochet blanket which is taking me forever to make.

Buttercup and Bee herself was asked What is your favourite crafting project to date? and I’d have to say that mine would be this blanket…even if at times it feels like an albatross around my neck, sewing in the woolly tails on the back is never ending but it looks nice when a hexagon is completed. Each hexagon took around an hour to make, choosing the wool, crocheting the hexagon, joining it in and then sewing in the tails, there’s about 400 hexagons so it’s not a weekend make and I’m probably daft letting Bernard sleep on it but I never have the heart to move him.  The blanket has been made form tapestry wool that has been mostly sourced form antique/junk shops, car boots, jumbles, gifted by very kind friends, and some I’d kept from my Nanny’s work basket.  It weighs an absolute ton and is so wonderfully warm and cosy that the wildest winds can blow and bluster outside, if I’m snuggled under this then I just don’t care.

vintage threads

What do you collect?

I love vintage haberdasheries and am as happy as Larry when I find some tucked away in a forgotten box in a dusty corner of a junk shop….I love buying vintage sewing threads and my favourite brand is Dewhurst Sylko, I’m not fussed if they are on the wooden reels or the plastic ones, the colours are the same and are just gorgeous.  What I particularly like is when thy have the paper circles on the ends with the name and number of the thread, who can resist a purchase of Fiesta Pink,Jasmine Yellow, Cambridge Blue…..I try not to hoard them and use them a lot in my hand sewing, mostly when I’m sewing patchwork as I tend to sew most of that by hand, but recently when  made one of the dottie angel frocks I ended up using a vintage thread in my machine as it was the perfect match to the vintage fabric I was using.

I really try not to be precious about any of the haberdashery items I have, I’ll happily use turn of the century sewing needles (they were made so strong and sharp back then that they really do the job much better than modern needles) and my work box is half full of vintage pieces that I love to use (and which I’ve seen behind glass in more than one museum).

little bear and wee stocking assortment

Other things I can’t resist buying are bags of tapestry wool if I see them at car boots, junk shops, charity shops and jumble sales.  I ‘m not buying them for hoarding so much as for my work as i prefer to use them when I’m embroidering my Christmas stockings, the soft palette of colours the wools often are seem to suit my work and give the stockings that hint of yesterday I’m trying to create.  Vintage tapestry wool is often slightly fuzzy (Lady Penelope is my absolute favourite, it’s perfect for embroidering) and just blends into the wool fabric so perfectly.

button tin

And I can’t forget buttons, I just can’t help myself when I see a tin full of them (I have to sink my fingers in amongst them like Amelie and the sacks of beans and lentils…)

I’m incredibly lucky to have a wonderfully kind friend called Sylvia (eighty years young) and a couple of years ago she gave me a hoard of haberdashery and fabrics that I couldn’t believe…one tin was full of smaller tins, each filled with incredibly old sequins and beads, hooks and eyes…opening each tiny tin to see what was inside I knew exactly how Howard Carter felt with Tutankhamun’s tomb…”Can you see anything?”….”Yes,wonderful things”…

Amongst the treasure from Sylvia was a huge collection of beautiful vintage buttons, many of them glass ones which sparkle and catch the light, along with plastic and resin ones, bakelite and wooden toggles from children’s duffle-coats.

Holt 006

Along with collecting haberdashery pieces, I also love little china dogs.  It started off with some sulky faced Staffordshire singles in a wide variety of sizes but now my collection has grown to include small terriers, dachsunds and a chalk spaniel whose face has almost worn away but I love him all the same.

As much as I love cats I’m really not a lover of cat things (though I own the most awesome cat umbrella), most of the cat figurines I’ve seen are frightful but I think there’s something so lovely and friendly about china dogs.  I’ve never owned a dog (growing up we always had a house full of cats, rabbits and a very shrill squealed guinea pig) but I’d love to have silver and black cocker spaniel, I can just imagine us heading out for a walk on a windy day, all bundled up in a tweed skirt and headscarf (me not the dog)…however I’m all too aware the reality of a wet, muddy pawed dog jumping up onto one of my nice crochet blankets shatters that illusion pretty damn quickly…so the china dogs fill the gap of my dream dog.*

*I even have a name all ready in case the day comes I own one (having been a girl guide I know the importance of being prepared!)

house cosy

Adventure Time Yes or No?

Hmm…I’m probably have to say no as I’m pretty boring and am rather a stick in the mud and like to stay at home.  Me and my boyfriend couldn’t help laughing as I was recently stopped and asked by some teenagers doing a suvey if I liked Extreme Sports……if you know me this will also make you laugh, extreme for me is going out without a hankie or a bag of Werther’s Originals tucked into my handbag.

I guess I was a bit wilder when I was younger though, when I was nineteen I traveled by myself to Italy and when there took a night train from Pisa (a friend’s mum suggested I pin my passport and money to my knickers in case my bag got pinched so I by doing that  felt quite safe, not a care in the world…) which traveled all the way down the left hand side of the country, the train then came apart at the “toe” and went onto a ferry then it all joined together again before journeying on to Palermo. This was all in the day before mobile phones nor did I speak particularly good Italian, just the very very basics, please, thank you…enough to buy the most amazing tasting cheese and ham roll and a coffee on the ferry for breakfast….When I think about it now I can’t believe I did it, what was I thinking…probably not much….but I had such an amazing journey, the people on the train were just wonderful and incredibly kind to the silly English girl with her little dictionary and very bad sunburn….inquiring minds may be asking why I went, well I was all smitten with a boy so really all I was thinking about was going to see him. (the romance didn’t last but I had a beautiful holiday.)

charles de lint

Name a book that you read again and again?

My absolute favourite of all time book is The Ballad of Dr Richardson, it’s a graphic novel by Paul Pope and sadly it’s been out of print for a while.  I love pretty much everything that Paul Pope does (he writes and draws) and this was pretty early in his career.  It’s a romance about daring to disturb the universe and I love it…sadly I’ve now read my copy so many times the pages are one read away from falling on the carpet like Autumn leaves so I just keep it on the book shelf and touch it from time to time.  Paul Pope’s artwork is always so inky and black, like that oily sheen on top of espresso coffee and this book is his inkiest.

Other books (or graphic novels/collected comic books) he’s written include Batman Year One Hundred.  It’s set in the future (a lot of his books are set some years ahead of now) and in it Batman wears a ribbed jersey and leather gloves, there’s one scene where you see the gap between the jersey and the glove, a brief glimpse of Batman’s wrist and all of a sudden the “mythology”, and “mystery” of Batman seems to disappear and you are left with just a man, his human-ness is on show and I love that. (being a bit of a geek I even bought the little statue that came out to coincide with Paul Pope’s interpretation of Batman…and no, it doesn’t sit alongside my dogs.)

He also wrote a book (see above as yes, it’s a book with pictures!) called 100%.  Again it’s set in the future and is a collection of stories about a group of people who’s lives all connect.  My favourite part is where this girl is just laying on her bed, one leg bent over the other and wiggling her foot.  The way her foot wiggles is so perfect and beautifully drawn.

He’s possibly most well known for creating a series called THB which he began to self publish back in 1994.  It’s set in the future and is about a teenage girl called HR Watson, she lives on Mars, her dad is a robot designer and the Mars government is after him.  He’s made HR a bodyguard which is THB, it’s a small rubber ball but if placed in water explosively expands to become a huge purple (rather pointy headed and eared) naked man..with no genitals because he’s not a real man and ugh ..this isn’t Watchman with Dr Manhatten flapping his wing wang doodle about everywhere), they have to race across Mars to one of the safe cities where her step brother and his friends are, including The Jiggler (sigh) who is a Martian that HR has a huge crush on….along the way there’s coffee drinking, code rings, getting kidnapped by comic book publishers, letters home to her friend Lottie whose dad is an opera singer and who has  a little…pet? Pet isn’t the right word, anyway she has a thing called Mister Pig Dog, he’s got a moustach any hipster would go green with envy for, he likes chocolate milkshakes, oh yeah, the girls also get to have  bumble hip-shakes at a local gansgter’s night club when they fix a gangster car….phew….there’s about 15 issues of this in various sizes and it’s completely and utterly brilliant.

I’ve even bought a Spiderman comic (Tangled Web of Spider-man number 15) that he drew (I love comics but I just don’t like Spiderman) which happily didn’t involve too much of the old webslinger but focused more upon the teenage daughter of a crook who’s planning a big robbery.  When he goes into her bedroom (which captures perfectly all the mess and clothes strewn everywhere-ness of my own teenage room and makes me want to apologize to my younger sister for having to put up with my slumicky teenage ways) and she’s all bouncing up and down on her bed with a huge poster of Spiderman on the wall he gets all cross because he’s a robber and doesn’t like Spiderman, so he tears it down and she gets all sad, then he goes out and she listens to the radio after re-taping up the poster (it’s sort of funny because it’s all torn and she’s mended it so badly) and while she’s painting her toes in a chaos of pots and jar and mess on the carpet, hears about a robbery that has just taken place and Spiderman has been spotted nearby, so she sneaks out and actually see the robber (though he’s masked so she doesn’t know who it is) then Spiderman turns up and can’t find the robber but she points him to where the robber went and then sitting there all huddled up she realizes she’s seen the huge bag full of cash the robber was lugging along somewhere before…..didn’t her dad have one the very same…the expression on her face is so heartbreaking.

I guess you can tell i really like Paul Pope.

A book without pictures that I love about as much is called Memory and Dream by Charles de Lint.  I’ve wrote about this before here and it gets re-read very regularly.

I also listen to two audio books time and time and time again…Jonathan Strange and Mister Norrell, and His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman.  Both are un-abridged (I really hate books that get chopped about, they always take out my favourite pieces and would much rather listen to a book in it’s entirety).

Jonathan Strange is all read by Simon Prebble and as far as I’m concerned he is the best book reader for voices in the whole wide world…I keep hoping he’ll read the Jane Austen novels as his ladies voices are lovely without sounding like David Walliams (who is being utterly wonderful in Partner’s in Crime on BBC.)

(she was asked Name the last book that you read?)

Well I’ve literally just finished “101 Dalmations” by Dodie Smith.  I’d read it years ago but hadn’t re-read it for over a decade…completely lovely and the bit with Sir Charles reminiscing about his dogs made me cry..I’ve just ordered a copy of “The Starlight Barking” which I guess I haven’t re-read for 20 some years.  I read “I capture The Castle” by Dodie Smith at Christmas and had just been waiting to find a second hand copy of “Dalmations.”  I recently finished reading “Cold Comfort Farm” by Stella Gibbons.  In between that and the “101 Dalmations” was “The Dark is Rising” sequence by Susan Cooper which I hadn’t re-read for ages but which I’ve loved for the longest time.

crocheted cosy

What was your first job?

I was 14 and it was as a waitress in a little seaside restaurant about 6 or so miles up the road from our village.  I used to work weekends in school time and then I worked during the week as well that Summer, with some evenings thrown in too.

When the weather was nice I’d cycle there and back but if it was very wet I’d get the bus, though on a Sunday when the service wasn’t running I’d often just have to cycle in a cagoule and hope I wouldn’t see anyone I knew.  My boss had an eye for the ladies and would spend most mornings sunning himself down on the beach, but not before drenching himself in vegetable oil and vinegar as he insisted this helped him tan and not burn and indeed he was the shade of a beautiful teak veneer but to my mind always smelt somewhat of a bag of chips.

I’ve got a scar on my right calf where he flung a broken coffee percolator into a rubbish bag I was holding, it smashed and a shard of glass slashed up through the bag and my leg…being the eighties health and safety wasn’t much of an issue and so my leg wasn’t stitched just some cheap sticking plaster that was about 10p from the chemists.

Apart from that, and oh the swearing, the air would very often turn an intense shade of blue, he was actually an incredibly fair boss, he always made sure I’d have my lunch and if he felt someone hadn’t tipped me properly he’d make me run up the high street after them and return their 10 or 20 pence and to say with my best Oliver Twist face “sorry sir, I think you left your change behind” and then he’d slip a couple of pounds himself into the tip jar.

I used to like it as we had canned squirty cream and I’d carefully squirt out the tallest wobbliest towers of cream on my coffee that you could possibly imagine.  To my 14 year self this was the very height of sophistication (and could never understand why my customers looked so horrified.)

After that I then went to work in a little fruit and veg shop, it was a lot closer and I’d mostly work there on a Saturday with the odd half term holiday thrown in .  I stayed there 3 maybe 4 years and it helped me loads with my maths as we didn’t have a proper till and I had to add everything up on a piece of paper .  We had a couple of “characterful” customers including a lady who would come in and want to weigh all the lettuces.  My boss was quite a serious chap but there were a few ladies who’d come in and give him what I think of as “Carry On film” sauce…”ohhh Christopher, can I feel your plums” …or “do these look like a nice pear Christopher”… when another lady came to work there called Sadie who herself was very cheeky, if she heard this being said she’d look at me and I’d have to just nip out the back as she’d make me laugh too much.

a day trip to bungay 004

And these are my questions if you’d like to answer them yourself then feel free…I’ve ended up answering them myself as well.

If you could have a fantasy date with anyone who would it be?

Peter Ustinov, ideally when he was in Spartacus but I think he was still lovely when he was old so I wouldn’t mind (duh…it’s a date with Peter Ustinov, I’m not going to get all fussy)…it would involve browsing the book markets of Vienna followed by coffee and an obscene amount of little Viennese pastries at some pavement cafe with Anton Karos serenading us in the background.  I think he was so wonderful and funny and love listening to his voice that I can’t think of a more delightful date.

IMG_3073

What pieces connected with what you love to do, do you really treasure….

A red strawberry needle sharper made by the Royal School f Needlework. (it was bought with birthday money from a dear friend who sadly now is lost in a maze of dementia but when I use it I remember her very dearly)

A pair of Sajou embroidery scissors that my boyfriend bought me for valentines a few years ago.

A piece of cardboard that has been embroidered with bright woolly stitches which was in a gorgeous case of haberdasheries my beloved bought me some Christmas’s ago…it’s beyond precious.

quilts and crochet outside 019

What do you wish you were better at/could do?

I’d love to be better at languages, I can’t roll “r’s” and my pronunciation of anything in French and Italian is terrible…for anyone who can remember “ello ello” I end up sounding like the English Policeman that no-one could understand.

Possibly more achievable would be improving my knitting skills, I’m a very basic knitter, I can do dishcloths but only if everyone is quiet, and even the I need to be writing down what line I’m on, and often forget if I’m knitting or purling, but it’s something I truly wish I was better at as I’d love to knit myself a Prince of Wales jumper. (it’s what I’m wearing with my tweed skirt when I imagine myself out walking with my dog!)

I hope you’ve enjoyed what has become way more lengthy than even I’d intended.

Many thanks again to Zeens and Roger for the nomination.

A slow weekend and getting mugged by a neighbour’s cat…..

ever expanding forget me nots

 

We’ve had a very restful weekend, nothing too strenuous, a little pottering around in the garden, making bread, a walk to the woods to see the bluebells and some scribbles and jotting downs for new embroidery ideas and workshops (I’m doing a fair on the 23rd of May in Holt organized by Ruth of Glory Days and want to take some spring inspired pieces along to that…I’ve also been asked if I’d like to teach some workshops there and am thinking about some botanical embroideries inspired by tiny flowers in my garden and that I see when I’m out walking…..)

 

bruschetta with sheeps cheese and rosemary flowers

 

Saturday lunch was a very simple affair using up leftovers from the past day or so…I made some bruschetta using an easy peasy homemade tomato sauce* then topped it with some local sheep’s cheese from Norwich Market… (I wasn’t sure about sheep’s cheese until I tried it but it’s gorgeous. Soft and creamy, not so robust flavoured as goat’s cheese, it’s easily become my new favourite food.)  Then a drizzle of olive oil and it’s under the grill until the cheese slightly bubbles.  I noticed the rosemary bush in the garden is adorned with pretty blue flowers so scattered some of those on top for aesthetic purposes (although the flower also has a nice herby taste……I’ve used the flowers before as a last minute addition to sauteed leeks and lemon and also in risottos.

 

the blanket inspector strikes again

 

It wasn’t just us having an easy weekend, the blanket inspector decided he was going to sleep his weekend away….he jumped up on the bed early Saturday morning just before I got up, and then spent the next 8 hours or so sound asleep.  To begin with he was all snuggled up alongside my boyfriend,but even when he got up and covers were pushed back, Bernard decided to keep napping….to be fair he’d been up at 3 then 5 then 6 so was probably quite tired (I know I was…..)

 

blankets and quilts are regularly tested for comfort by Bernard

 

Every so often I went in to check on him and he’d barely moved….I’m sure if you listen carefully you will hear him snore…he never used to but now he’s getting on a bit, we’ve found snoring and trumpety fanfares from his bottom are all part and parcel of life with Bernard.  I love watching him sleep, all snuggled down amongst blankets and quilts, when it’s too bright and sunny, a fat paw comes up and squishes down and covers his eyes…..I love the smell of his tummy, it’s all warm and weetabix-y…his snoring trembles and vibrates along through his body and tickles my face.

You can just see some of the tails still to be sewn in peeking out underneath the blanket….

 

if you listen carefully you can hear him snoring

 

Hopefully you’ll click on this picture (it should come up really nice and big…) his face is so content and happy….anyone who is crocheting or who has already made one knows how long these grannies paperweights takes to make, so I quite understand if you think I’m daft to let him sleep on it….but I can’t resist this little face

I wasn’t really feeling the cat love last week…I got mugged by a cat on my way home.  There’s this lovely tabby that runs up to me and rubs round my legs and purrs and chirps and likes a bit of a fuss.  I had a basket full of shopping with me and didn’t really want to stop so just spoke to it instead, obviously that wasn’t good enough because it then flung itself in front of my feet (almost tripping me up) so I crouched down and coased it, then it stretched out and I still was stroking it with the cat really rubbing it’s head into my hand……then the next thing I knew the damn thing had hold of me and was really sinking it’s claws into my thumb and fingers.  Finally got my hand away (and yes there was blood thank you very much) and the cat looked really put out at me *what did you take your hand away for”  expression on it’s face….but it didn’t stop there, while I was trying to get away it kept laying down in front of my feet, I’d step over it and then it would run along side me and then fling itself down again, finally grabbing hold of my laces and trying to undo them…..bah, bad cat.  Anyway, I’ve had a really sore hand since.  My boyfriend says he hopes I’ve learn my lesson regarding touching strange cats but I had to admit to him this is now the third time I’ve had a run in with this cat so I guess I’m a very slow learner.

*it’s just a very finely chopped onion sauteed in butter and a can of cherry tomatoes allowed to simmer and gently bubble for 15 minutes or so… a pinch of salt and it’s good to go.

Shetland knitters, embroidery stitches and a slow and sleepy Sunday……..

sound asleep

 

Sunday is nearly over and I’m not sure where the weekend has gone…..though one of us has spent the time sleeping and recovering from a trip at the start of the week to the cat dentist!  (4 teeth removed and a de-scale and polish….sadly no “look at my smile” sticker on the side of his basket when I went to collect him)….he’s still somewhat drowsy and a bit slow moving, but his appetite is back and he’s making fast work of emptying his food bowl.

 

lavender embroidery up close

 

I seem to have spent a lot of the weekend un-picking embroidery that wasn’t really working out as well as it looked in my head…sadly the reality didn’t match up to my glorious imaginings …to begin with I tried to be all frugal and un-pick what I’d sewn but then I just got all fed up, so out came the embroidery scissors and snipped out the stitches…..I’m embroidering a cafetiere cover for a commission and the design has been left up to me which you’d think would make it easier but not so.  A lot of tea has been drunk in trying to get the design to work, so far to no avail.

While I’ve been sewing and un-picking, I’ve had the chance to listen to a lovely series that was on Radio Scotland, it’s called Our Story, part six is all about Shetland knitting.  I read about it on Ella Gordon’s blog (she’s one of the knitters interviewed for the program).  It was great to listen to, learning a little about the history of knitting in that region and the importance it had for people’s livelihoods….but also how important it still is today…one of the nicest parts for me was to just listen to the actual voices….the love and joy of knitting and wool came through so much on the the program. Everyone was so enthusiastic, I couldn’t help smiling listening to it.

One of the ladies on the program was knitting using a leather knitting belt, and it made me think back to the start of last year when me and a friend went to The Time and Tide Museum in Gt Yarmouth…..it’s a local museum which really centres on the fishing community of Gt Yarmouth.  One of the exhibitions had a case in it with items relating to whale fishing and near to that there was a small piece about the women and girls who used to gut and sort the herrings.  In their case was a selection of old knitting needles and some of these knitting belts, it may be my memory playing tricks on me but I’m pretty sure it said that many of the women used to travel down from Scotland to do the herrings.  Anyway, the radio program is available to listen to for another 29 days and it really is well worth it, even if you aren’t a knitter it’s still very interesting…..I ended up listening to a couple of other episodes and the one about the draper’s van was so heartfelt and sad, it reminded me so much of growing up in my village, when we had a bread van and the fish man, the coal man and the Corona man….

 

nine joined blocks

 

I’ve also been trying out new combinations for “dear ethel”……. one of my friends came round for a catch up on Friday and she hadn’t seen the patchwork blocks, so out they all came and they were then spread out over the carpet as well as they could be (they kind of take up a lot of space when they are all laid out)….I was explaining that I didn’t really know what to do with regards to sashing or not, I sort of want to sew the blocks all together but at the same time I think that might not work so well, not because the colour combinations might be too much (hmmm it would look rather colourful and then some besides) but more because the blocks themselves might not look so defined…..

 

mrs miller

 

One of my initial ideas for sashing was to sew 1/2 an inch of different coloured fabric round each block but I now think that might be too messy and that perhaps sashing of one colour would be best (with tiny inch squares using the different fabrics in the patchwork where the sashing meets at the corners)…but then which colour to use….

I don’t really care for anything like white or cream (knowing Bernard he’d soon make it all puggy and mucky) and am thinking about a pale grey….hmmmmm I know I’ll just have to bundle up the blocks and take them with me to my local quilt shop next time I go to Bungay and test them out.

I still want to make a border of flying geese to edge the patchwork with.  I can’t believe I actually thought I was a good halfway through the quilt, but with sashing to sew and a border to make, and then the quilting, I can see it will still be a good while before this goes on our bed.

 

mrs bryan and others 015

 

I don’t ever begrudge the time spent sewing patchwork though, I’m all for slow sewing…..whether it’s the constant repetition of small stitches in quilting, or the movements in wrapping the thread round the needle for fancy embroidery stitches, there is something so relaxing and satisfying in these small details that form most of my work.  I don’t mind if something takes a while to make, though obviously if it’s being made to sell it’s difficult to cost accordingly…… but inevitable the way I prefer or which I find gives the nicest result is the way that takes up a lot of time….slow is the way I tend to do most things, even the way I make bread now takes the best part of the day (though I can use the proving and rising time to do other things).

 

stretchy kitty

 

This brings me in part a little to my grannies paperweight blanket…it’s now coming up to it’s second birthday and it’s not finished yet……there are still umpteen woolly tails to sew in, even more than before now I’ve made and joined in the half hexagons along the top and bottom……but even though it’s not finished we are able to have it on the bed (the tails being on the back so they don’t show)…

This isn’t a blanket that you make in a weekend and whenever I’ve read about anyone else making one they also mention the time factor with this pattern…but rather than seeing the time involved as a bad thing, as a negative, maybe it should be celebrated……..”slow crochet” could become it’s own movement like “slow sewing”.

Making this slowly I’ve been able to buy and add wool as and when I was able to afford it (using tapestry wool bought from jumble sales, charity shops, car boots etc made this much more affordable….the wool for the blanket top is well under £100, and yes that is more than if I had used acrylic but I really don’t like using that, and I like the softer feel of wool).  But I’m also happy to put it away when it’s too warm to work on and pick up patchwork for “dear ethel” instead…….

 

second segment

 

I know the thought of sewing in the woolly tails of some thousand (4200 and counting thank you for asking…) ends of coloured wool is a bit of a turn off to any right minded thinking person, but please don’t let that put you off making one of these beauties…..if you join clusters of 7 hexagons flowers together as you make them, and then sew the tails in when each cluster is made you’ll find it a lot less daunting…..and I know there are a few ways where you work the tails in as you crochet so you don’t have tails to sew in at the end (though whenever I’ve tried doing this I end up with a big fat sausage side to my work…however it may just be me doing something very wrong)

 

dresden plates 014

 

It used to be, when trying to finish something, all the reasons of why I was making it seemed to go out the window, all in the idea of getting it made as quickly as possible, and then on to the next thing…….and before I knew it I had a pile of half finished things that I really didn’t have a lot of enthusiasm to ever finish.  Over the past few years I’ve tried harder to not start new things just to do new things, to appreciate more the making and why I’m making rather than buying…..half finished things that were just making me feel miserable that the enthusiasm for had died (and which I knew I’d never get round to completing) have gone to the charity shop and I’ve left myself maybe half a dozen smaller projects along with the blanket and some patchwork pieces that I really love and know will see the light of day.

To finish our slow Sunday, we’ve got a butter bean and squash casserole for supper, the squash was slowly roasted in the oven yesterday and the rest of the casserole has slowly been cooking this afternoon o the top of the stove…the kitchen smells lovely, warm and comforting, bread is baking in the oven.  So even though I’ve not ticked off half the chores and want to do’s on my list I feel quite content.

Half hexagons for my blanket or how I spent a colourful crochet Christmas………

 

 

half hexagons around blankety edge

 

Firstly may I wish you a most marvellous and magnificent, peaceful and happy 2015…………..it seems ages since I wrote anything on my blog but every year Christmas takes me by surprise, and even though it’s just the two of us (well three including Bernard) getting the house decorated, food prepared, presents sewn and wrapped takes over and everything else goes out the window……it didn’t help that mid month I had a tickley throat which rapidly turned into laryngitis (anyone who knows me knows I can happily talk the back legs of a donkey…I grew up in a house of chatty women and am sure the reason my dad had 3 sheds was to hide up and get a few minutes quiet away from me and my sisters) and whether this is for real or was just in my head (The Arpette rolled his eyes and sighed deeply and put in a request for a cup of tea when I ran the theory by him) while I had laryngitis and a sore throat, I found I didn’t have the words when I went to write my blog…I’d sit down and everything would be a blank.  Anyway my throat is now all better though I have a runny nose, we both look like Rudolph the Red nose Reindeer impersonators and our coughing makes the cat jump when he’s cuddled down on our laps (I suspect he thinks we’re about to cough up a fur ball)…………..

I was still sewing Christmas eve, making a little coat from Harris tweed for my doggy friend Daisy who lives just round the corner, and then after that was delivered and I was covered in doggy kisses, I finished off a cycling cap for The Arpette using a brown vintage tweed (we’d decided to try and keep things simple this year and rather than buy him things he didn’t really need I’d thought to make him a selection of new hats….I ended up making one but am hoping to finish the others over the next couple of weeks) and then collapsed on the sofa with a Christmas movie and a plate of mince pies (of which I intend to sing the virtues of later)………

I’d already made a list (I’m pretty sure I have lists for every occasion) of things I’d wanted to make over the holidays….the first list is more a wish list and even while writing it I know I’ll never get everything done on it, the next list is more about the main thing I want to make and breaking it down in stages……a couple of Winters ago (we’re talking early 2013) I began making my Grannies Paperweight Crochet Blanket, (the pattern is also known as African Flower but I much prefer the other name)…..I’ve wrote about this blanket several times before so will try to keep this as brief as possible……..making and joining the hexagons was fine, it took over everything else, and often The Arpette would come home from work to find the drawing room carpet covered with tapestry wool and me in the middle furiously crocheting little hexagon shaped flowers (oh, I decided to make it out of tapestry wool for a couple of reasons….partly I tried a few hexagons in acrylic yarn and wasn’t so keen on how the colours sat together, they just jarred rather than blended…and then I am convinced that when I use acrylic yarn my hair frizzes due to static…..this may be my imagination but I’m sticking to it….also I seemed to have hoarded a rather impressive stash of tapestry wool….some was from my Nanny’s sewing box when she died but others have been from jumbles, car boots, charity shops….I use tapestry wool for when I am embroidering on wool blanket fabric, but some colours weren’t getting used, just hoarded)………anyway, I made and joined as many hexagons as I thought made a reasonable sized blanket and then I had the daunting task of sewing in the woolly tails……

 

 

blankety edging

 

If you ever choose to make one of these blankets for yourself (and seriously, they are so beautiful it’s worth the effort of learning to crochet just to make one) then my one piece of advice would be to say “keep on top of the tail sewing in”…if not, man, it is a never ending task……my blanket has over 400 hexagons flowers, and each one has 10 tails….that’s over 4 thousand woolly tails to sew in, and while it isn’t the worse thing in the world to do, it’s just boring (and normally I love hand sewing)…….if I ever made a blanket again then I think I’d make up flowers of seven joined hexagons, sew in all their tails, and then join those together…..it’s just difficult to stop making the hexagon flowers as they are lovely, but 4 thousand tails is enough to make anyone’s heart sink.

Anyway, I’ve tried my hardest to sew in as many tails before I died of boredom and figured I’d sort out the edging as if that looked better I’d be more motivated with those woolly tails…….in the early Autumn I’d made a shawl using the Grannies Paperweight pattern, and for that I needed to make some half hexagons, they are a bit more fiddly as you aren’t working in a circle but more right to left each time, and then stopping halfway.  (there is a link at the bottom to a tutorial I made to show how I made mine) I’d already got some extras left over from the shawl so the first few days post Christmas was to make more tiny centres.

 

a basket of woolly centres

 

The central little section really doesn’t use very much wool at all, so I un-ravelled one of them and then measured against it all the shorter lengths of wool I’d bundled up and knotted (I’d intended to use them for embroidery but actually a lot of them were a good length for the hexagon flower centre)…and I’m sure it won’t surprise anyone that I made way more of these then I actually needed for the blanket….however, I’d already began planning and starting on a couple of other things (my work room is full of piles of works in progress and I’m sure there are more UFO’s* in my wardrobe than are supposed to be at Roswell and Area 51) so these are no bad thing and have already been put to good use.

 

crocheted half middles

 

I’ve written before how to make up the half hexagons and how to join them in the gaps that form when working with hexagons, and include links to all parts of the blanket at the bottom of this post.

Something that I found which makes the construction easier is to work the first three rounds using a 4 mm hook (I use a stubby little Clover soft touch) and then for round 4 and 5 I switch to a 3.25 mm hook, the one I use is a Brittany wooden hook ((partly as I don’t have a Clover one but also the wooden tip is nice and poky and you can jab it in the stitch space more easily).

 

a selection of crocheted half hexagons

 

I don’t have a particular colour scheme in mind, at the start of the blanket I painted up some combinations to help as sometimes when you have all the colours imaginable in front of you it can be a bit over whelming (another reason I love using tapestry wool is there are so many shades and hues, delicate  and subtle changes in colour across companies…….one day I’d love to make one of these using Jamieson and Smith or Jamieson’s of Shetland wool…..hmmmm actually if you are in a knitting or crotchety crochet group then I’m thinking if you each bought what, maybe 10 balls of wool in different colours (it depends how many of you there are) then if you share the wool you’d be able to create some fantastic blankets.

Mostly I try to blend the colours together, using colours in combinations that I really like…..and then every so often I use a variety of colours to add a little more interest in the hexagon flowers.

 

oooh my aching eyes....

 

However, working in the evening can be a bit of an eye opener next morning…I ended up un-picking this one as it was a tad on the garish side.  Eco light bulbs are all very well but even with what seems like every lamp in the drawing room lit, the light given can be mis-leading…..this one was way too bright, but it’s not hard to un-ravell any that are a bit much and work them with softer subtler shades……I find grey, green and blue all look the same at night, orange becomes brown, and pale yellow looks white.

 

hexagon blanket edge

 

Joining these half hexagons into the missing gaps was so much fun, I had a little play about laying the halves in the gaps and seeing which ones worked best, I like a mix of gentle blends and a few “oooh” combinations……the best part was having pretty much the whole blanket draped over my knees while I was working, it was so warm and cosy…..I ended up having to sit on the floor with my back against the sofa so my bent knees could support the blanket (it’s rather on the heavy side).  So I happily spent a couple of days making half hexagons and joining them in with a pot of tea close to hand while watching all the Harry Potter films.

 

hexagon blanket edging

 

Closer scrutiny of the finished halves is making me think a few will need to be un-ravelled a smidge….the bottom edge works best with about 16 – 18 chained stitches, and on a couple I’ve made over 20 which makes the halves rather on the bulgy side (if you click on the two above pictures it’s easier to see what I mean)…certainly that pale green one is going to need re-working but it’s not difficult to put right (more concentrating on crochet and less Hogwarts distractions I think).

 

Bernard checks the edging

 

And where there is a crochet blanket you know you’ll find the crochet blanket inspector…..just about every time I got up to put the kettle on for more tea, I’d return to find “someone” sprawled out inspecting the blanket, often with a little soft kneading and paddy pawing and chewing of the woolly tails.   I’m sure he thinks this is in fact his blanket, and if he could talk it would be “crochet faster”…

 

the blanket inspector strikes again

 

Previous blanket and crochet links

grannies paperweight in stages

(with links to Heidi Bears totally excellent tutorials on how to make the whole hexagons and how to join them together)

colour planning the hexagons

making half hexagons

joining in the half hexagons

blanket inspecting

blanket testing

 

 

*UFO’s…un-finished objects…..

Flying in a sea of colour…..or Bernard and his blanket.

stretchy kitty

 

While the last few weeks have been somewhat fraught for me with sewing and embroidering, making things for Christmas fairs, stocking up my Folksy shop and sending stockings overseas, someone else (who has been incredibly trumpety and windy of late) has managed to find time to take more than just a forty wink nap……now it’s colder he spends most of the day asleep indoors (in the Summer he’s outside all day and where I’ve thought he’s off having adventures I’m thinking he’s probably snoring his head off in a sunny spot in the little park behind our house)…..he’s a proper stretchy kitty………..

 

sleepy faced

 

Even though this blanket is my pride and joy (my winter challenge for myself is to get the rest of the woolly tails sewn in on the back, and crochet the edges with half hexagons) I don’t have the heart to move him off,  how could I deny Bernard the comfort of it’s warm and woolly goodness…….I love these pictures of him so sprawled out, he’s all soft and sleepy faced…his purr was most definitely turned to eleven.

 

oh Bernard what big paws you have

 

ahh Bernard what big paws you have……when he’s all sleepy he wiggles his paws so they open up, he gently kneads the air as he dreams…..when he’s in a good mood he lets me play “round and round the garden”, flexing his furry little toes as I tickle him under his chin……when he’s grumpy I get a clout round the ear so this is played at my own risk!

 

hmm something caught his attention

 

He’s generally quite a heavy sleeper but sometimes a car makes a loud noise outside and it makes him start……when it’s pippy and he is feeling cold, he snuggles round like a sleeping fox, and covers his face in under his tail….when he’s feeling all cosy he begins to stretch, and stretch and stretch….when I took these he’d been having a Sunday morning lay in with The Arpette*, Bernard had snuggled up along side him, when the beloved one finally got up Bernard decided to keep in bed….he was obviously all warm and comfy and didn’t see the point in coming downstairs.  I thought he looked so beautiful all stretched out against the grannies paperweight blanket,  he looks like he’s flying through a sea of colour…..

 

what what what

 

Then he looks up because I’ve stood there too long with out fussing him, a tummy rub is required and plenty of coasing** and stroking round his face…he closes his eyes, wiggles his toes and the deep rumble of his purr starts up again……

 

it looks like he is flying

 

When he’s all stretched out and “flying” across the blanket, it reminds me of the stories about Freyja …. she was a Norse goddess who rode in a chariot across the sky which was pulled by cats….I used to think “cats, really, they aren’t big enough for that” but then I saw some Norwegian Forest cats and suddenly it made sense (in case you don’t know, they are really massive cats, super super fluffy, they really are beautiful cats and are the sort of cat that daft people see and telephone the police to report seeing a Lion or Huge Wild Cat or Bizarre Wild Beast out in the countryside)…seeing Bernard like this, I couldn’t help but think of the goddess paintings by Susan Seddon Boulet and of Freyja’s cats pulling her chariot across a star lit sky…..

 

or swimming in a sea of colour

 

Is he flying or perhaps he’s swimming….he kept wiggling his paws, kneading (and softly paddy pawing the blanket…and plucking it too no doubt)….anyway thought he looked particularly beautiful this Sunday morning…….

* I call my sweetie The Arpette, in the fancy schmancy sewing houses at the turn of the century, the girl who’s job it was to pick up pins was called an Arpette….even if I use a magnet, the beloved one always manages to find a stray pin or needle (generally by standing on it) so this name seems most suited.

** In Suffolk we call stroking round an animals face and head coasing (in a Suffolk accent the pronunciation of the g is almost silent so it sounds more like” coas-en”, this is not the same as “coaxing” as that involves making a squeeky, or tkking noise with the tongue…..coasing is quiet and is similar to the Norwegian term kossen which means cosiness.