This and that

Hellooo!  I’m just dipping in to say a quick hello before I rush off again – I don’t know about you but at this time of year, it feels as if everything is suddenly gaining speed and hurtling towards Christmas at a great rate of knots – and it’s not even December!  It’s been a full moon this week and some people do think that makes the world (and it’s inhabitants) a little crazy – what do you think?

Whether it’s the moon or not, I think it must also be something to do with the shorter nights – by the time it reaches 4.30pm and it’s pretty much dark, I’m wanting to snuggle up by the fire with my knitting, never mind make dinner and get on with jobs!  It’s been wet and miserable here over the last couple of days, too, which hasn’t helped, and my Instagram feed is full of the snow over in Canada which looks so lovely even though I know that such early snow is making life difficult.  It just looks so much prettier than the rain battering against the windows!

I’ve started feeding the birds again – I don’t bother so much over the summer as I find that they don’t come for the food as much but once it starts to get past the growing season then the birds are back.  We had an unexpected visitor at the end of the summer …

I watched the wood pigeon land in the garden and noticed that it’s wing didn’t look right, but there were so many wood pigeons and crows around over the summer having Battle of Britain-type flypasts and swooping and swinging around each other that I didn’t think too much about it.  I presumed it was a bit ruffled from getting a bit too close to another bird and it would fly off in a bit.

Several hours later, it was still hiding under the garden table and the dog was not impressed at having what looked like a permanent feathery visitor in his garden.  I wasn’t that impressed either – we get a lot of wood pigeons in our garden and they are not very tidy visitors, stomping about on the vegetables, pooping on the cars, bashing at the bird feeders so that the smaller birds can’t get near and generally being a birdy nuisance – and my first instinct was to leave it to take it’s chances in the garden … until I thought about the cats, and the local fox … and I couldn’t do it.

I did an internet search on “broken bird wings” in case that’s what it was and there was lots of technical stuff that seemed to involve wrapping the bird up in bandages and keeping it in a box.  This pigeon was having none of it.  As soon as I went outside, it headed off up the garden – and then nipped neatly into the greenhouse where it hid under some compost bags.  I decided that I would leave it alone until I could work out how bad it’s injury was and instead barricaded the door to stop cats and foxes getting in but not stopping pigeons getting out if they felt better.

The pigeon stayed with us for about two weeks.  I put food, water and a bath in the greenhouse and it got braver every day, coming out from under the compost bags and sitting on boxes and planters, getting closer and closer to the door.  I’m not sure if the wing was actually broken rather than maybe sprained, but the internet searches said it would be better after a couple of weeks and as the pigeon wasn’t moving it much, I figured that it was probably healing as well as it would if I’d tried to wrap it up.  After about two weeks, when it had started to move it’s wing again, I removed the barricade from the door and the pigeon came out into the garden for a short while before heading back to the greenhouse again.  It was always called “the pigeon” – I didn’t know if it was going to live at first, and I didn’t know if something was going to eat it later, so I didn’t want it to have a name.  There had been an unfortunate incident a few years ago with “Dave Spikey” the hedgehog, who came to live briefly in our garden before attempting to cross the main road, and I didn’t want to go through that again.

The pigeon has gone now; one day it walked out of the greenhouse and it didn’t come back.  We saw it sitting on the greenhouse roof and then it was gone.  I’m hoping that it’s having a nice life somewhere (I did keep a cautious eye out of the pigeon remains but haven’t seen any), and I’m also hoping that it doesn’t feel the need to come back and poop on the car!

Our poor garden is looking very drab at the moment – it always happens at this time of year, doesn’t it?  I have started to cut everything back but I didn’t finish and now it will have to wait until after Christmas.  I didn’t get the shed renovation finished either so that will have to be a job for the New Year as well.  I’m trying not to beat myself up about all the things that I haven’t done as there is so much that I have – it always so easy to see what’s left on your list, isn’t it?


What I did do, which I have been considering for a while, is that I bought one of these …

It’s called a Cora Ball (in case you couldn’t guess from the label! 😀) and the idea is that it goes into the washing machine and collects the invisible microfibres from your clothes to prevent them being washed away down the drains, into the rivers and eventually into the ocean.

It’s a bit bigger than I expected!

It’s made from 100% recycled and recyclable plastic – when I posted this picture on Instagram there were a couple of people who weren’t impressed by that, but I think that something that gives a new use to the plastic that we’re overwhelmed with is a good thing.  If I ever want to recycle the ball, I can send it back to Cora Ball and they will recycle it for me as it probably wouldn’t go through our council scheme.

The idea is that microfibres and hairs (dog hairs, cat hairs, teenage girl hairs) get caught in the octopus-like arms and then you collect it up and put it in the bin.  Someone else on Instagram thought that was no better than it going into the ocean as what’s in landfill gets washed into the ocean eventually, but I disagree.  I think we have to do what we can when we can – and I am always delighted by anything that deals with hair in my washing machine!

Cora Ball is an American invention and I bought my Cora Ball from a UK store; it wasn’t cheap but I thought it would be more useful for me than the Guppy bags which you pack your washing into – this one collects the fibres from all the washing as it goes straight into the washing machine.  It wasn’t cheap, but as much as I’m hoping it collects microfibres, I’m also hoping that it prolongs the life of my washing machine by stopping it getting clogged up with hair.

It takes a while to collect up enough to be able to see, apparently, and this is certainly the case with mine – how you wash, the temperature, the detergent, the types of clothes all make a difference and I wouldn’t be being truthful if I didn’t say that I’m a little bit disappointed not to find it full of fluff already, but I’m going to be washing the pet bedding very soon and I am quite sure there’ll be plenty of fluff after that!  I will let you know … 😀

I’ve got two lovely things to tell you about before I go:  the first is that I’ve been nominated as an Online Innovator in the Knit Nowmagazine Knitter of the Year Awards.  I am really thrilled about this and want to say a huge thank you to everyone who nominated me – not least because the very first award that Winwick Mum won was the Knit Now Knitter of the Year award, so it holds a special place in my heart.  There are so many wonderful bloggers, vloggers and podcasters around that it really does make me feel like I’ve won just to be on the list of nominees, and I am also delighted to know that I’m obviously writing about stuff you want to read about!

If you’d like to vote, you can do so here (it’s a short voting form, you’ll be pleased to know! 😀).  Thank you! xx

And finally, if you’re in the Warrington area on Saturday, I’m going to be at Black Sheep Wools from 10am – 2pm to talk socks, admire socks, answer sock questions and sign copies of Super Socks and More Super Socks, so do come and say hello!  It’s going to be a sock-filled day!

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20 Responses

  1. selina says:

    yeh, i can't see how that Coraball would work either? please do keep us updated on it though.
    so glad that your new book is doing well, would love to come to a signing but alas it's a bit far to swim!
    thanx for sharing

    • Winwick Mum says:

      It works by catching the fibres in the octopus legs and as many of them are too small for us to see, I'm assuming that they're just in there along with all the hair! 🙂 xx

  2. Unknown says:

    Hi Christine, I wonder if you can tell me how to block my completed socks please? I love making your socks, but have never been sure about that final step x

    • Winwick Mum says:

      Blocking socks is an optional process which stretches the sock out and shows it off to its best advantage – great if you're taking photos of them or if you're giving them as a gift, especially if there's a lace pattern. It will only last until the socks are washed and then they'll go back to their unblocked shape, so If the socks are going straight onto your feet then there's no need to block them at all (you can block them on your feet! 🙂 ). Otherwise, you can buy sock blockers which are sock-shaped wooden, metal or plastic pieces and once you have soaked or washed your socks, you dry them on the blocker shapes. They can be quite expensive unless you have a go at making your own (try YouTube for videos) and they are usually only one size and for one pair at a time. What I used to do before I bought mine (mine are an adjustable pair from Doodlestop) is press the socks lightly under a damp towel and that does the same job. Hope that helps! xx

  3. Anonymous says:

    Congratulations on nomination. I have clicked the link and bought Cora balls for myself and as Xmas presents, hope you get commission. As you say not cheap but we are responsible for our future.

    • Winwick Mum says:

      I'm not on commission for the Cora balls (I do mark affiliate links) but I always like to share information so I'm glad you found them, and I hope you collect lots of fluff! 🙂 xx

  4. Lilly's Mom says:

    Hi Christine, it's a joy to read your blog post this morning. What a heartfelt story you shared about the little pigeon. Sorry I haven't commented lately but life sometimes gets in the way! Congrats on your nomination; I'm so happy for you. I hope you are having a great week and I'll look forward to checking in again to see all the fun things you share. Hugs, Pat

    • Winwick Mum says:

      Oh life does get in the way sometimes – I haven't commented on your blog for ages either! I hope you're doing OK, it's lovely to hear from you 🙂 xx

  5. Lenore says:

    Lovely post, voting complete. X

  6. Elizabeth says:

    I nearly bought a cora ball, but noticed that you can't use them with lace, and since there is a bra or pair of knickers with lace trim in every wash here, it won't work for me. I'm looking for an alternative…

    • Winwick Mum says:

      Guppy bags might be an option for you if you've got delicate clothing, but I'm sure that there will be lots more inventions like this coming onto the market over the next few years so it will become more more "the norm" to have some version of this in your washing machine 🙂 xx

  7. TheAwakenedSoul says:

    Congratulations! I am planning to watch your video again to help me with the heel of my Christmas sock. I love your work.

  8. Sharon says:

    Nice to hear someone is trying to do something about waterborne microfibres. May get a Cornball myself – to go with the pink 'water softening' ball and the three blue and green 'instead of detergent' balls.

    BTW – to my eye that 'wood pigeon' of yours looks like either a Rock Dove (wild pigeon) or a plain ordinary common-or-city-garden feral pigeon. Think the kind you're not supposed to feed in Trafalgar Square.

    • Winwick Mum says:

      You know, I think you could be right about the pigeon! I'm so used to seeing the wood pigeons around here that I just assumed this one was a young one but I've gone back and looked at more pictures to compare the two and it's not the same. Ah well, it still would have made a big mess on the grass if the cats had got it, so I'm glad it was able to fly away 🙂 xx

  9. Anonymous says:

    I feed my birds all year round – they don't seem that hungry this time of year – so I'm hoping that's a sign that the winter will not be so cold. I feed some squirrels too. 🙂
    Just found your blog and downloaded your Basic Sock pattern – thanks so much!

    • Winwick Mum says:

      You're very welcome, I hope you enjoy the pattern! I used to feed the squirrels – I found that giving them their own food source kept them off the bird food – but I haven't seen many around recently. They must have found somewhere else to get fed! 🙂 xx

  10. Ruth says:

    Hi Christine, a while since you posted so I do hope that things are okay with you and your family. I am very interested as to how you get on with the Cora Ball as I’ve looked at all sorts of things. I’ve bought some much cheaper lint catchers for the wash and I assume that’ll include catching the microfibres. I haven’t tried them out yet – don’t wash very often! The plastic problem has been around such a long time and I feel for Prince Charles in his endeavours over the years to raise awareness. It seems to take major television programmes to make people understand that we are facing an ecological disaster. I remember Claire Morsman posting pictures more than ten years ago to show the problems of plastic and what was being found in the stomachs of sea life. Her drive to get people to get rid of plastic shopping bags by giving out free fabric Morsbags that they have made is ongoing. My most recent change is a new water bottle. I looked at lots of lovely replacements – at very lovely prices – and settled on a £4 flask from my local supermarket. I can choose to carry a hot or cold drink and could buy seven more for the price of one stylish flask. I must get off my soapbox. I hope we hear from you soon.

    • Winwick Mum says:

      Thanks for your message, Ruth, and your concern! I'm absolutely fine, just caught up in trying to get loose ends tied up before Christmas – I've actually just sat down now to write a blog post and saw your comment! I've seen the Morsbag website, they've given an incredible number of bags away now, haven't they? I suppose we have to appreciate the "better late than never" of it all, but we do have to hope that it's not too late! xx

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