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Tuesday, 31 December 2019

Bing bong ...

Ladies and gentlemen, your attention please.  Thank you for flying with Winwick Mum on flight 2019; we shall shortly be beginning our descent into the end of the year and hope that you have had a pleasant flight.

As promised, our flight has taken us past socks, no-nylon yarns, the vegetable patch, overgrown flower borders that are slowly starting to be tamed, free patterns which I love to share on the blog, more socks, some other knitting projects, more socks, walks with the dog and some unexpected detours, because that's the fun of the journey.  

It has been particularly thrilling to fly through a brand new range ... of sock yarn ... and your welcome of the Winwick Mum Collection of West Yorkshire Spinners yarn has been so very much appreciated.  I hope to have this route included in the Winwick Mum flight schedule for many years to come!  

No flight is without turbulence and I hope that any you have experienced has been short-lived and that you have not required the use of the oxygen masks.  Passengers may keep hold of any blankets or other projects that have provided joy, calm, security and well-being during the year as more projects will be made by the passengers of the next flight.

Friday, 27 December 2019

No-nylon sock yarn review: West Yorkshire Spinners Colour Lab DK

As we're fast approaching the end of the year, I wanted to tell you about one last pair of no-nylon socks that I knitted to try out.

The yarn is West Yorkshire Spinners Colour Lab DK which was launched earlier this year to offer a 100% wool alternative to their nylon-containing Aire Valley DK which has now been discontinued.  

A photo of a pair of feet wearing hand knitted socks taken from above with the sides of the feet showing.  The sock yarn is stripes of yellow, maroon, dark blue, light blue and green.  The background is a wooden floor

Before I start the review, there are a couple of things that you need to know:
  • I used to be really tough on my no-nylon socks because I felt that they should be able to stand up to the rigours of being worn as well as socks containing nylon.  My view on this has changed - my belief now is that no-nylon yarns have their own qualities which make them different from commercially-produced yarns and to try to compare them as the same thing doesn't work.  I have learnt that no-nylon socks just don't last as long as ones with nylon in (on my feet anyway - I have pokey toes!) but the pleasure of knitting and wearing them is different to other yarns and they should be appreciated for that.  
  • I still expect no-nylon sock yarns to be good value for money - after all, it's no good saying a yarn is suitable for socks if it wears through after one outing! 
  • Being tough with my socks means that they'll get worn for a few days at a time; there's less need to wash natural fibre socks anyway even though we're in the habit of wearing our socks once and then washing them - you don't see sheep showering all the time, do you? πŸ˜€It also means they'll be worn in boots on long dog walks whatever the weather and will probably go into the washing machine because that's how most people choose to wash their socks - although painful experience has taught me that the dial goes no higher than a 30 degree hand wash!  (No point in experimenting unless you learn something, eh? πŸ˜€ )
  • I've got pokey toes so unless I reinforce the toes of my socks, there's a good chance that I'm going to go through them faster than many other people - this isn't always helpful in a yarn trial but on the plus side, I can test that aspect out more quickly! πŸ˜€ 

Tuesday, 24 December 2019

Christmas Eve


Wishing you a wonderful Christmas full of joy, peace, love and happiness.  And if you don't celebrate Christmas, there's still no reason not to wish you joy, peace, love and happiness.  It makes the world go round, you know :)

Be safe, wherever you are xx

Saturday, 21 December 2019

A woolly wonderland - Visit to Yarn Etc, Harrogate

A couple of Saturdays ago, I got up early and headed to the train station - destination Harrogate.  I haven't been to Harrogate for a long long time, so when I met up with Fiona who owns Yarn Etc earlier this year and she invited me to visit, I was keen to go - not least because I've heard such good things about her yarn shop!


I love this photo, I think the shop looks so cosy and welcoming - and it really is!

Thursday, 19 December 2019

Exciting things!

Hellooo!  How are you doing?  Thank you for all your comments on my last post about the Yarndale Sock Line socks - all the socks are in their new homes now and are being very much appreciated!

Well, it's exactly a week to go until Christmas if you celebrate it, and you're either very organised and enjoying the run up, or you're (like me) very glad that it's not Christmas Day tomorrow!  I am nearly ready, though, and I'm very pleased to tell you after this month's Monthly Musing that all my Christmas cards are sent and I've been feeling very festive this week!  πŸ˜€

This is such a busy time of year for us all (and especially if you're in the US and you've had Thanksgiving to organise recently as well!) and I am quite sure that you'll be hoping for a few quiet days to put your feet up once the festivities are over!  

So ... I've got a couple of exciting things to tell you about both for now and to look forward to in January (in the new decade, doesn't that sound like a whole new adventure?!) when we have all got our breath back.

Here's the first of them ...


A photo of a small oak occasional table.  On the table to the left and in the foreground is a booklet of sock patterns called Socks Made Simple.  To the right is a small saucer decorated with circles of green, blue, red and turquoise with two shortbread fingers sitting on it.  At the top of the picture is an orange Herdy mug of tea

Well, would you look at that!  

I'm really thrilled to have more patterns published in a magazine this month.  These ones come in an exclusive booklet with issue 111 of Knit Now which is out in the shops today.  There are four patterns which use my WYS Signature 4ply Brightside and Seascape yarns, along with Bubblegum, which I think contrasts beautifully well!   

Saturday, 14 December 2019

Yarndale Sock Line Roundup 2019

With just a week or so to go before Christmas, now feels like the perfect time to tell you what happened to the Yarndale Sock Line socks that were donated this year.  I've been delaying sending them out over the last couple of years because the organisations I've sent them to have told me that they'll be given as Christmas gifts, or when the weather is particularly bad, so it has seemed easier to keep them here in one bag rather than have them cluttering up cupboards or offices before they're needed.

So, back to the beginning of the story ...

At the end of June this year, I sent out the Yarndale Sock Line request - this is the 5th year that I've done that, isn't that incredible?  If you're new to the blog and the Yarndale Sock Line, you might want to take a quick look at the post which is here, and tells you what it's all about.

Every year I say this (and every year it's true) - that I wonder whether people will have the time, the energy, the spare cash to find to buy yarn to make a pair of socks to give away, and every year I am blown away by the generosity of you all.

"I've got a few pairs of socks for you to pick up," said Lucy, when I was on my way up to Skipton to see her.  That's fair enough, I thought.  Things are tough for lots of people this year and even a few pairs is a generous gift.

This is what I collected ...


Two grey Royal Mail bags full of sock parcels sitting on a wooden floor next to grey carpeted stairs and leaning against a decorative brick internal wall

Those "few pairs" turned out to be more than just a few!  Wow!  So many socks were coming in, with more arriving every day.  Small daughter (she's my Yarndale Sock Line buddy!) and I made a start on unpacking them, and just as in every year before, it's an absolute joy to see the socks come out of the parcels - big socks, small socks, bright socks, dark socks, patterned socks, plain socks ... each one of them has been knitted with the intention of sending a gift of woolly love to someone and you can tell.

Friday, 13 December 2019

Monthly Musing - December 2019 - Counting Christmases

It’s a rainy Friday afternoon not long before Christmas and I’m feeling quite grumpy about the whole thing.  There are cards to write, presents to wrap, presents to buy, food to organise … and that’s on top of everything else that doesn’t stop just because it’s Christmas.  I look at small daughter, bursting with the agony of waiting another couple of weeks until Christmas Day and wonder where my sense of excitement and anticipation has gone.

I know that I didn’t always feel like this.  I know that Christmas never used to feel like something else to squeeze into an already hectic calendar.  I also know that Christmas always happens on the same day every year and if I was just a bit more organised, I could have done everything earlier.  After all, it’s not a surprise that Christmas is coming!

And that’s it, isn’t it?  Christmas comes every year.  Just one day in a short holiday period and then it’s gone.  Once the wrapping paper is recycled and the decorations are down, that’s it for another year.  Less than 365 days to wait before the next Christmas Day – and who knows what will happen in that time?  

Saturday, 30 November 2019

The Woolist talk

"Where did you say you were going tonight?" my husband asked.  "You're going to the theatre without me?"

"I'm going to Theatr Clwyd in Wales to listen to a talk about sheep," I told him, for the umpteenth time.   I knew he hadn't been listening on any of the occasions that I'd told him about it - it really wouldn't be his idea of a fun evening!  Oh, but it certainly was mine! πŸ˜€

It was mid-September and Anne of the Yarn O'Clock yarn shop in Mold had arranged an evening's talk and workshop with Zoe Fletcher.  Known as The Woolist, Zoe has recently been awarded a Doctorate for a practical, research-based project which involved collecting information on the 72 - yes, you read that right - 72! - pure breeds of British sheep.  Or, as Zoe says, she's now a Doctor of Wool!

Herdwick sheep
Herdwick sheep - my favourites!  Source: www.fginsight.com

Friday, 29 November 2019

Monthly Musing - November 2019 - Being thankful

Thanksgiving isn’t something that we celebrate here in the UK, although there is a part of me that wonders if we should - the sentiment, that is, not the logistics of a practice run for Christmas just four weeks before the day itself – that sounds like a lot of work!

We always have much to be grateful for, and it’s not lost on me that the event of being thankful hasn’t made its way across the pond to us whereas the day after – Black Friday – has.  I wonder what that says about us that we choose to take on a tradition of shopping rather than gratitude?  Of course, there are some people who will be very grateful for the discounts that they’ll get over the weekend and there are some big savings to be had, but I’m trying to appreciate what I already have more:

Friday, 22 November 2019

Autumn days

It's Friday again ... time trots on, doesn't it?  I'm really glad that you enjoyed reading my last post (the TAAT tutorial); thanks for all your comments on the blog and social media.  I'll look forward to hearing how you get on with knitting them!

Small daughter is delighting in telling me how many weeks it is until Christmas (not enough), and I am blasted with a medley of Christmas hits in the kitchen every morning until she goes to school.  No, I am not currently hanging my stocking on the wall, snow is not falling all round me and I am not driving home for Christmas.  It's only November!  I am trying not to be too bah humbug about it as she is beyond excited already (oh dear!), but I don't want my life to be rushed towards the end of the year any faster than it's managing to do quite successfully on it's own! πŸ˜€

Instead, I am trying to appreciate the Autumn colours when I'm out with the dog.  I keep admiring how marvellous they are this year, and can't quite remember if I thought the same thing last year or not - I should really go back and read some of my blog posts!

We're not seeing much in the way of late Autumn sunshine and the leaves are quite soggy underfoot, especially on this path, but it is lovely to walk through a carpet of them, even if they are a bit of a soggy carpet!

Sunday, 10 November 2019

Two at a Time (TAAT) socks - free tutorial

I've been asked many times about knitting "two at a time" socks - that is, both socks of a pair knitted on one needle at the same time - and I've finally put together a tutorial and an accompanying video to show you how I do it with the cuff-down Sockalong sock pattern.  This tutorial is long and picture heavy, so do be warned!



Is there a reason why you'd want to knit both socks at once?

Well, if you're matching the yarns then it's a good way to make sure that both socks are the same, and for that matter it also means that you don't need to count rounds in quite the same way as both socks will be the same size.  You turn both heels at the same time and you work the foot to the same length, and whatever your views about the Kitchener stitch, you've got two socks to work on and then - ta dah! - your pair is ready to wear.  It's the ideal solution to Second Sock Syndrome (that "ugh" feeling when you've knitted one and you really don't want to cast on the second which afflicts some people) and apart from the fact that you can't actually knit two socks in the same time that you can knit one (oh believe me, I've tried! πŸ˜€), there's nothing bad to say about it.  If nothing else, it's another technique to try and for that reason alone, I'd recommend that you give it a go.  It never hurts to add another string to your sock-knitting bow!

I'm going to use this technique to knit a pair of child's socks; it's exactly the same pattern as I'd use for an adult pair but smaller (obviously), and it's really easy to adapt the Sockalong pattern to any size so you can knit for anyone you choose to.  I've added the notes for the socks that I've made to the bottom of this tutorial.

If you haven't already got a copy of my basic 4ply Sockalong sock pattern, you'll need that for this tutorial and you can download it here.  The video to go along with this tutorial is on YouTube here and you can use both the photos and the video to help you if you need to.

Right, are you ready to get started?  Here we go! πŸ˜€

Saturday, 9 November 2019

Saturday

Well, we survived the first week back at school!  It seems like ages ago since Monday when small daughter started back after the school holidays; she and my husband have had bad colds, big daughter has been mulling over the idea of a Master's Degree (Wednesday saw the pair of us at the University of Manchester open day to check out the options), and I have been reaping the rewards of my procrastination skills ... or not!

Our green waste collection is every other week and I've known all week that our bins needed to be full.  So what have I done?  Everything except get out into the garden!  In fairness, the weather has been against me and it was particularly bad on Thursday when the dog and I ventured out in the wet to the Lyme and Wood Pits Country Park.

I should have known it was going to be a wet walk from the moment we drove into the car park ...

Monday, 4 November 2019

After half term

This year's October half term school holiday seems to have passed us by in a flash!  It's Monday again and small daughter is back at school (much to her disgust).  We've gone past the age now where she wants to go for days out over the school holidays, preferring instead to have long lie ins, chat to her friends in endless video calls and then chat some more on sleepover nights (ha!  Why are they called "sleepovers"?  There's never any sleeping going on in our house!).  

I did manage to get her out and about a bit, though.  We went for a couple of walks with the dog which always followed the same pattern: grumbling about having to go out, grumbling on the way to wherever we were going, dragging her feet for the first ten minutes, and finally having a good time being outside.  Luckily, I've been here before and I know that (hopefully) it's just a phase!

We've seen plenty of conkers this year, but I've also seen plenty of squirrels hoarding them too, so I've persuaded small daughter that we should leave them for the squirrels and not bring them home as a spider deterrent.  We have loads of spiders in our house - the downside of living near the fields, I suppose - and they don't seem to be deterred in the least by the bucketloads of conkers we've had decorating the windowsills for what feels like forever, so it's better that they are a food supply.  I do love conkers, though; those shiny brown nuts that fit so perfectly inside their spiky casings.  There's something very tactile about them, isn't there (the conkers, that is, not the cases!), and I may have had just one in my pocket for the last couple of weeks.

Saturday, 2 November 2019

A Woolly Community - Visit to Wool N Stuff, Wakefield

Thank you so much for all your comments and conversations after my last Monthly Musing post about communication and loneliness.  I never expected that it would touch such a chord with so many people, but I'm glad that it has started conversations and, by chance, it fits perfectly with today's blog post.

Back at the beginning of October, I travelled up to Wakefield to spend the day at Wool N Stuff.  It's always great to see the spaces that yarn shops occupy and this one is a little different from the usual as it used to be a nightclub!  This explains why there's no shop window, although you certainly can't miss the pink exterior ... or the yarn ball Christmas tree!


Yes, that really is a Christmas tree made from lots and lots of balls of yarn - now that's something that lots of us would like to see on Christmas morning!  πŸ˜€  And can you see something else in the back of the picture that looks interesting?  Come and have a look!

Tuesday, 29 October 2019

Monthly Musing - October 2019 - Only the lonely

A recent train journey to London coincided with World Mental Health Day, which I knew nothing about until the train manager announced that every drink bought at the buffet car would be matched by a second free drink to give to someone sitting nearby so that you could start a conversation.

“How would you know that someone would want to speak to you?” asked a friend, when I told them about it later.  

“How would you know they didn’t,” I countered, “unless you made the effort to speak to them in the first place?”

I don’t usually need much excuse to talk to someone and even without the assistance of a free drink, I was soon interrogating chatting to the young lady next to me who reminded me very much of big daughter; a university student of a similar age studying the same subject, and on her way home to spend the weekend with her family.  Students really have got it together these days, I thought as, confident and articulate, she told me about her course and her plans for the weekend.  Soon after our conversation, we were both plugged into our headphones (I love to spend train journeys catching up with episodes of Radio 4's In Our Time) but would catch each other’s eye and smile from time to time.  

Saturday, 26 October 2019

No-nylon sock yarn review: Freehold Yarn Co Autumn 4ply

It's been such a long time since my last no-nylon sock yarn review that you might have forgotten that I write these at all! πŸ˜€

These socks - which feature in my Easy Colourwork Socks tutorial and also in More Super Socks - are knitted in Freehold Yarn Co Autumn 4ply and an update on how they have worn is long overdue!



Before I start the review, there are a couple of things that you need to know:
  • I used to be really tough on my no-nylon socks because I felt that they should be able to stand up to the rigours of being worn as well as socks containing nylon.  My view on this has changed - my belief now is that no-nylon yarns have their own qualities which make them different from commercially-produced yarns and to try to compare them as the same thing doesn't work.  I have learnt that no-nylon socks just don't last as long as ones with nylon in (on my feet anyway - I have pokey toes, see below) but the pleasure of knitting and wearing them is different to other yarns and they should be appreciated for that.  
  • I still expect no-nylon sock yarns to be good value for money - after all, it's no good saying a yarn is suitable for socks if it wears through after one outing! 
  • Being tough with my socks means that they'll get worn for a few days at a time; there's less need to wash natural fibre socks anyway even though we're in the habit of wearing our socks once and then washing them - you don't see sheep showering all the time, do you? πŸ˜€It also means they'll be worn in boots on long dog walks whatever the weather and will probably go into the washing machine because that's how most people choose to wash their socks - although painful experience has taught me that the dial goes no higher than a 30 degree hand wash!  (No point in experimenting unless you learn something, eh? πŸ˜€ )
  • I've got pokey toes so unless I reinforce the toes of my socks, there's a good chance that I'm going to go through them faster than many other people - this isn't always helpful in a yarn trial but on the plus side, I can test that aspect out more quickly! πŸ˜€ 

Sunday, 20 October 2019

A-B-C Cowl - free pattern

Imagine that you've got a ball of rather lovely sock yarn that you want to knit up into something to wear around your neck rather than your feet.  You've not got much time to spend on it so a new shawl is out of the question, and anyway, you could do with something that's easier to wear than a shawl as you might be doing a lot of moving about and it can get annoying to keep flipping the ends back over your shoulders (or is that just when I wear them?!).

What you really need is something that you can pull over your head, that arranges itself without the need for faffing in front of mirrors and trying to position a shawl pin using your reflection, and also knits up really quickly.  Oh, and something that you can adapt for any type of yarn that you might have in your stash, and something that's not complicated to knit - as easy as A-B-C, in fact ...  

What you need is the ...

A-B-C Cowl!



Well, would you look at that!  Quick to knit and faff-free to wear.  Perfect!

Saturday, 19 October 2019

Awards and more

Hello hello, how are you doing?  It's another weekend and I'm finally starting to get myself straight again after Yarndale ... all the excitement, the preparation beforehand and then afterwards I'm in a disorganised heap for a few weeks.  You'd think by now I'd be better at this, wouldn't you? πŸ˜€

Right then, it's time to do some catching up on what's been going on around here, and I've got plenty to tell you - and something rather exciting to share too!

First up ... this!




Woohoo!  I am beyond thrilled to tell you that More Super Socks was highly commended in the British Knitting and Crochet Awards so a MASSIVE thank you to everyone who took the time to vote for me - and also for everyone else who was nominated.   Whether you're a blogger or designer working (mostly alone) at home, a yarn shop owner or a company that strives to provide the best in yarn and accessories, knowing that what you do is appreciated is a wonderful thing!  

Monday, 14 October 2019

Yarndale 2019

It was a wild and blustery Friday morning at the end of September that I set off from Winwick to drive to Skipton for the seventh annual Yarndale festival.  Seven years of Yarndale, can you believe that?  And I've been involved for five of those years with the Yarndale Sock Line - it's been fabulous!

The last six years have been beautiful Autumn weekends, the leaves just turning from green to shades of brown, orange and red, but this year the leaves were blowing off the trees before they could even change colour and the rain was coming in sideways ... we were all keeping our fingers crossed for some last-minute sunshine!

There's a certain irony about the sign above these sheep but we won't mention that :)

It's become a tradition now for me to meet Lucy at Coopers Cafe Bar where she's been at the Friday morning knit n natter session (always a busy session with so many visitors able to drop in to knit and chat) and then we head on up to the Auction Mart, where the preparations for Yarndale have been in full swing for a couple of days.  Here's the bunting in the Hub going up ...

Source: Attic24

and if you look at the photo above, you'll see there's a blank yellow wall on the left.  Not long after this photo was taken, there was something else there ...

Monday, 30 September 2019

Monthly Musing - September 2019 - Finding the "why"

I’ve got a spare few minutes and I’m scrolling through Instagram on my phone.  Every other post is an advert, the current theme of which seem to be about “finding my niche”, “my purpose” or “my why”, all of which I can do with the help of a self-proclaimed expert who will help me to work out exactly why I am here on Planet Earth – as long as I hand over my credit card details and my email address.

I might mutter at the adverts, but actually, isn’t the reason that we are here something that we’d all like to know?  What purpose do we have, other than doing the 9-5, the washing, the cleaning, the lawnmowing … surely in the great scheme of things, whatever or whoever created the Universe didn’t imagine that the sum total of our existence would be down to the amount that we put into the recycling bins each week!

Wednesday, 25 September 2019

Opening the Yarndale Sock Line socks 2019

Well, here we are again, just a few days until this year's Yarndale festival and I have so many socks to show you!

I say this every year but it's quite true - I always worry that this year, people might be too busy or too charity-d out or have too many other demands on their budgets to knit socks for the Yarndale Sock Line - and every year you show me that your generosity really knows no bounds.  

We ask for the socks to be sent to Lucy in Skipton so that if anyone wants to join in with the Yarndale creative project as well, it saves on the postage to post only one parcel.  That means that I need to go and see Lucy to pick the socks up (oh, such hardship to spend the day with your friend!) and they tend to arrive like this ... 



Lucy's postie has to deliver them all in a van and this year, with the teddies as the creative project, he's been staggering up to her door with a fair few sacks like these!

Monday, 23 September 2019

Socks ... and more socks

Hello hello, how are you doing?  The days are speeding towards Yarndale - it's less than a week away now - and I'm busy getting myself organised (it does happen every now and again! πŸ˜€). 

This post is all about my favourite subject ... socks!  First up - 

πŸ’œ Yarndale Sock Line socks

Well, what can I say?!  Once again you have stunned me with the number of socks that have arrived to be shown off at Yarndale and then given away.  I was going to write about them on this post but decided that they should have a post of their very own, so that's coming up in a day or two.




Friday, 20 September 2019

Off plan

Yesterday, I did something that I don't do very often and I ditched the to-do list.  Sometimes, when the list starts to get longer than an elephant's trunk and even if I had 72 hours in the day instead of 24 then I'd never get everything finished, the best thing for me to do is to ignore it all. 

I may not have ticked much off my planned list ...

Wednesday, 4 September 2019

Back to school

Small daughter went back to school today.  It's always one of those days that I look forward to with a mixture of relief and disappointment, and despite my good intentions of getting So Much Done that I didn't do over the holidays, I'm finding myself missing her being around and checking the clock to see when she's going to be home again.  And not actually doing that much at all.

It seemed like a good idea to remind myself of what we've been up to over the last couple of weeks.  It's ended up as a much longer post than I intended to write, but I hope that you'll forgive that in the name of distraction!  

Small daughter has reached that age where she's not really impressed with the idea of helping with tidying up in the garden (not that she ever really was, to be honest), but she did like the idea of "tidying up" the raspberry bushes by picking the fruit so that we could make jam.  The nice thing about the holidays has been that, apart from a few days here and there and our family holiday, we didn't really have any plans so we could do spontaneous things like make jam without too much thought.  I use a jam maker to make the jam - yes, it could be classed as cheating by traditionalists, but it makes a good jar of jam!  It's a Tefal one and it's years old - I think it may have been discontinued now - but it still works just fine.  Small daughter mixed the raspberries with some blackcurrants we picked earlier to make up the weight, added a bag of jam sugar which happened to be in the cupboard (don't you just love it when that happens?!) and we left it to do it's thing for an hour or so.  

Saturday, 31 August 2019

Monthly Musing - August 2019 - Late summer

I'm watching the house martins on the electricity wires by our house.  They visit every year, at first just one or two, and by the end of the summer there is a whole flock of them – over thirty as best as I could count this morning.  They line up, chattering loudly, then suddenly they all fly into the air, swooping around and then rearrange themselves on the wires, as if to change conversational partners.  They have so much to say, and they are very noisy!  I love this time of year when I can hear them all from early in the morning, and it always makes me a little sad when, one day, they have all gone without warning, flying off to sunny climes for the winter.  It’s usually about the same time that small daughter goes back to school, when everything feels just that little bit different and there’s a smell in the air that heralds the turn of the season.

I don’t think it’s any coincidence that this time of year feels like the start of a new year for me, and I’ve written about this before.  Despite our reliance on calendars, schedules and routines, I think there is something inside all of us that is still governed by long-distant rhythms connected with the seasons – not necessarily religious in any way – but just part of who we are and how we connect to the earth.  The climate might be changing but Nature still dances to the beat of her own drum and as inhabitants of the earth, I think it is impossible for us to ignore this, however much we might try.

Tuesday, 20 August 2019

Wellies and yoga pants - Soul Circus 2019

Hello!  How was your weekend?

I spent mine with big daughter at Soul Circus, a yoga and well-being festival held in Gloucester.  Not content with doing her degree, her part-time bar job and volunteering at a national counselling helpline, big daughter is also training to be a yoga teacher (this is how I know she's my daughter - she wants to do All The Things! πŸ˜€) and this was an opportunity to meet up with her course buddies and also try out different aspects of yoga and wellness that we don't usually get to experience.  (Warning - this is a long post with lots of photos!)

The festival didn't start until the Friday but we wanted to go to one of the earlier workshops so we set off on Thursday evening, albeit a bit later than we intended.  Big daughter drove, I sat in the passenger seat and knitted (two and a half hours of gifted knitting time - bliss!) and we chatted about this and that.  By the time we arrived, there was a beautiful, huge golden moon in the sky - and we set to work putting our tent up in the dark.  


Wednesday, 7 August 2019

Plastic-free update

I thought it was about time that I wrote about how we were getting on with reducing single use plastic in our house.  It's something that we're conscious of all the time, but we've not found it not as easy as you might think to just stop using all plastics as there are so many of them in everyday use.  We've decided that rather than try to change everything wholesale (which might mean creating more plastic waste as we just throw things away), we'll change what we can when we reach a point that something needs replacing.

You can see what we've been up to so far here and here, but here's a short recap.  So far, we've replaced tea bags with loose leaf tea ...



That was an easy change to make and we're still enjoying our tea from Brew Tea Company*

Wednesday, 31 July 2019

Monthly Musing - July 2019 - Circle of life

There’s nothing like a funeral to bring a bit of perspective to life, is there?  One day you’re grumbling about the heat and whether small daughter is going to any tidying up at all in her bedroom over the holidays, the next you’re travelling on a train to the other side of the country to say a final goodbye to Uncle Mick, my husband’s cousin.  

Being the laid-back kind of person that he was, he would probably just shrug his shoulders and say, “Everything happens for a reason”.  He was a retired firefighter so I can imagine that he had his own perspective on life and mortality, and he also had time to make plans for his own funeral – something which must surely be a bit scary as well as being a comfort - which is why we all wore sports shirts instead of something black (but not for the football team that we support as they are arch-rivals of the one that he supported and he didn’t want that at all!).

Wednesday, 24 July 2019

Phew!

It's been hot, hot, HOT here in the UK this week and we're just not good at extremes of weather here as we're used to seasons that generally (and gently) blur into each other through the rain showers.  

This week, though, the competitive weather reports have been in full force and we're set to be hotter than Ibiza (Metro newspaper), hotter than Morocco (Evening Standard) and hotter than Sicily (Heart Radio).  I don't know why we have to be hotter than everywhere else, or why it really matters that people think we are, but that's what the media like to tell us.


Wednesday, 17 July 2019

Circular needle organiser

I've had it in my mind for a long time now that I need a better way to store my knitting needles, especially now that I have commission projects on the go as well as my own knitting and can never find needles when I want them.  This is what I've made - and I'm so pleased with the result!


Thursday, 11 July 2019

Blooming garden!

Another week speeding past!  I hope you've had a good one!  No trips on trains for me this week, although I have been out and about in the car quite a bit - sadly, no knitting on the move for me this week, though, as I've been driving! 

One of my out-and-about trips was to meet up with one of my oldest friends (oldest as in I've known her a long time, not that she's ancient!) and we always end up talking gardens; we took our gardening qualifications at the same time many years ago and both set up our own businesses at a similar time so we have a close gardening connection as well as having been close friends for many years.  This particular visit saw us both be-moaning the fact that our gardens are not as beautifully kept these days as we would like and making plans to do something about it.  

I've come home full of inspiration and good intentions, and found these dahlias flowering in the textured pot that I bought specially to foil the snails.  Hooray, it looks like it's worked!  I haven't grown dahlias for years and I am so happy to see these.  It looks like there are some smaller ones coming through at the bottom so it'll be interesting to see if anything comes of those too. 


Friday, 5 July 2019

Breakfast, trains and walks in the woods

Hello!  How are you doing?  It's lovely to see you! 

I've had a busy week as per usual (well, I would be bored otherwise), which got off to a splendid start as I spent it with my best bloggy friends.  We get together a couple of times a year to chat, share ideas and generally check in to make sure that we're doing OK; it's as close to a "work's do" that we get and it suits us very well.  We met up in Manchester on Saturday and found ourselves at this smashing place for breakfast on Sunday morning, with a table big enough to spread our yarn and projects out on and still have room for poached eggs on toast.

You might recognise this bloggy friend in the picture as she's taking a photo for her own blog ...



No?  She's doing a bit of crochet in this photo ...


It's Lucy, of course, working on her lamp post wraps for Yarndale!  And Emma (who is actually knitting socks, not whizzing up some fantastically quirky crochet cacti).  We were very spoilt with the weather and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves sitting outside until it was time to say goodbye and head off for our respective trains.


You'll see in the top photo that I've been working on the grey and pink socks.  I was on a mission to get them finished.  Do you find sometimes that you just want to get a project off your needles, not because you're not enjoying it but because it's starting to feel that it's outstaying it's welcome?  These socks needed to be on their new owner's feet, not languishing on my needles, so I decided to make a concerted effort to get them done over the weekend.

I didn't quite manage it over the weekend, but I took the train on Monday morning to an appointment that I needed to go to and made the most of the knitting time.  




By the time I reached my stop, I had finished the toes and finished my tea.  Hooray!  

Back home, the socks were soon blocking on the Aga (so many uses for this oven!) ...



and finally they were finished and now they are on their way to their brand new sock drawer.



Which means, of course, that I've got a set of needles free to start something else.  Well c'mon, don't you ever cast on something new and ignore all the WIPS shouting in the background?  I'm very good at doing that!


This bright blue is Bubblegum, another West Yorkshire Spinners yarn, and I had a lovely time sitting in the sunshine with my cup of tea and listening to the bees as they buzzed in the foxglove flowers.

I've also got an update on the Something in the peas.  I mentioned before that I was going to try digging over the patch to try to discourage whatever it is and I did that.  I also put down some cat repellent granules (just in case it didn't like those) and dumped a load of grass cuttings into the hole.  


They haven't moved and it's been a week now, so whatever made the big hole underneath the grass hasn't come back (or come out) and there are some other signs of digging but nothing like the holes of before.  I suspect it might be the gardening cat that has finished re-arranging my beans and is now looking for a handy toilet - urgh.

This morning, the dog and I went for a walk around Winwick village.  There aren't too many places that I can let him off for a run here as he's got no road sense whatsoever despite my best efforts, so I tend to alternate where we go for our walks so that sometimes he can go off his lead and other times, such as this morning, he has to stay on it for longer.

I've lived in this village for nearly 16 years and I don't think I've ever stopped to look at this view from this angle before.  It's surprising what you can see when you're not in a car, sometimes, isn't it?


I like this view too, of all the flowers growing over the stone walls with the church spire in the background.  This is one of my favourites, and I love to see the flowers change with the seasons.


I never get tired of seeing our church.  I love the colour of the stone, the carvings, the fact that it has it's very own legend of a pig, and that it's so old it's mentioned in the Domesday book.  I like history, I like walking in the footsteps of people long gone and I like that there is so many years of continuity of life in our village.



Just next to the church is our local pub, The Swan.  It's had a re-furb recently and all of those blue umbrellas that you can see are new.  Now we just need the sunshine so that people can sit outside!


It was too early for a pint so the dog and I carried on walking and went to Winwick Park this morning.  It used to be the site of Winwick Hospital, at one point one of the largest psychiatric hospitals in Europe and a military hospital in both World Wars, but is now a housing estate with a wide swathe of grass around the outside edge.  It's a reasonably safe place for a dog with no road sense to run (although he has caught me out and doubled back to dance in front of the cars before now; never a fun game), and he was very pleased to be able to explore all the smells before it was too warm for us to be out.


There's a wood at one part of the park where we can take a detour off the grass and into the lush greenery of the trees.  This morning, we saw horses being walked past to another field.  Winwick's a funny place; on the one hand you could be miles away from anywhere out in the middle of country with horses and corn fields, and yet we're only a couple of miles from both the M6 and M62 motorways and the traffic noise is a constant backdrop to our walk.  For us, it's the best of both worlds and we love living here. 


By the time we reached the wood, the sun had broken through the clouds and was filtering through the leaves.



There's something so inviting about a sun-dappled path, isn't there?  The dog was getting impatient at me admiring the patches of light so I followed him along the path and back out of the wood so that we could start for home.  It was already getting very warm so I was glad that we had set out early.  The only hot dogs should be ones cooked on a BBQ!

Back home, I've been working on the two at a time sock tutorial that I promised you in my last post about this year's Yarndale Sock Line.  It's been wonderful to know that so many of you are planning to join in - thank you very much!  Creating tutorials is slow going, especially when you're taking pictures as well as trying to record video, but I'll get it done as quickly as I can.

This is the result of a pretty much a whole day's work - it really doesn't look much, does it?  I'd love to tell you that I did all of this in about 20 minutes then spent the rest of the day lolling about with my feet up, but sadly, that wouldn't be true.  Anyway, I'll get on with as soon as I can and let you know when there's something to see πŸ˜€.


Right then, I think that's everything for now - oh no, wait, there's one more thing.  I did another video at Black Sheep Wools the other week with my friend Lynne Rowe - it's a conversation about mindful knitting and crochet and it's up on YouTube now if you'd like to take a look.


Have a lovely week, I'll see you soon!