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Thursday, 2 April 2020

Staying home

Hi!  How are you doing?  I hope you're coping with being safe at home.  Thank you very much for all of your comments on my last couple of posts - it's been lovely to hear from you!

We're into our 2nd week of national isolation here in the UK - some people have been at home for longer thanks to their age (has there ever been a less welcome time to hear the words "at your age"?!) or health issues - and I think it's starting to hit home now that this is how life is going to be for the foreseeable future.  Both the girls are missing their friends - we all are, in fact, but I think that it's hitting small daughter harder than any of us as she is usually surrounded by them at school.  We're keeping an eye on her.

So what's new?  Well, on Sunday I sat and knitted all day.  That's pretty much unheard of as there are usually too many other things that I need to do, but we've set ourselves up with a rota for cooking and cleaning (oh yes!) which means that I am not expected to be staff and everybody else gets a turn to see that there really are no housework and cooking fairies 😀.  Anyway, I had such a lovely time faffing about with leftover yarn instead of feeling that I should be doing something else.  I started making a sock yarn blanket with my leftovers using the Tin Can Knits Vivid pattern about a hundred years ago and I have got a fair few squares done, but as pretty as they are, as a lace pattern they're a bit holey-er (no, I don't think that's a real word but I am sure you understand what I mean!) than I would like a blanket to be.  I don't think it's just the current circumstances that make me want to wrap myself up in warm, cosy, hole-free knitting, so I set about thinking about another way to use up the scraps.


Image shows two coloured knitted blanket squares.  The one on the left is pink and the one of the right is blue.  They are both made from leftover sock yarn

I've never been the biggest fan of mitred squares - I really really don't like garter stitch and so many of the patterns are knitted like that -  so I've been playing about on and off for quite some time with ways of making mitred squares that I do like.  Having said that I don't like them, I think it's the garter stitch that's always put me off; I do like see the stripes and how they turn a corner to merge together, and I like the way stocking stitch keeps the yarn looking pretty much how it did when it was knitted into socks.  That's what I wanted - a blanket that looks like the socks that the yarns were knitted into.  I like remembering who I made the socks for and which pairs they were.


I've been using the provisional cast on as it means I can decide what I want to do about a border later - that's not something that I usually use with my socks so it's been fun using a different technique.


Image shows a provisional cast on with grey yarn knitted into a length of green and yellow crochet chain

It took quite a bit of messing about and unravelling - I ended up completely ripping out one of the squares in the top picture because I wasn't happy with it (you might have spotted the - ahem - deliberate mistake of not doing enough rows of grey), but I think I've got it now.  It's probably going to take me another hundred years or so to make any size of blanket to wrap myself up in, but it's been nice to have something new to knit whilst I've been talking to people over the internet.  That's something else I've got over myself with over the last week - I never really felt very comfortable with video calling, but now I am finding that I feel much more connected to the person I am speaking to if I can see them.  We're trying to keep up with friends and family to make sure that being isolated physically doesn't mean that they feel as if they are really alone, as I'm sure you are as well - and thank goodness for technology to make it all easier!  Yes, yes, I'm late to the party as always, but if the thought of seeing yourself on the computer or phone screen has put you off using video to contact your own friends and family, then now might be the time to reconsider!  

What else?  Oh yes, the seeds that small daughter planted for me have started to show through.  I had to bring them indoors as it was just too cold for them in the greenhouse and all of a sudden they have gone from nothing to something.  First the sprouts ...


Image shows green shoots emerging from a pot

and now more of them - tomatoes, leeks and one of the cucumber seeds.  I've moved them onto a windowsill (a previous messy experience with seed trays and a cat on a windowsill had put me off until now) and hopefully they won't get too leggy, but it's getting lighter and warmer all the time so fingers crossed they'll be OK.


Image shows a green seed tray containing some pots of seedlings.  The seedlings are showing through in four of the pots

I was out early with the dog the other day.  He's dropped down from four walks a day to two as the walks are getting longer and the poor boy is looking more and more tired.  The good news is that he's lost those extra kilos that he had piled on over Christmas (ha! too many tasty leftovers!) and the vet nurse had commented on last time I took him to be weighed.  Someone in a vet practice told me once that overweight dogs with joint problems were their bread and butter and I refuse to let our dog be part of that demographic - as far as I can.  He really is very greedy!

The reason for me being out early was that I wanted to make sure he got a good run off-lead with no one else about.  He's been so good walking on his lead recently, but dogs need to run and sniff for themselves when they can.  I'm trying to make sure that we don't take him on the same route every day as that's when he gets a bit naughty and there aren't many places where a dog with no road sense can go off-lead in Winwick, but he was overjoyed to be able to properly stretch his legs.  He leaps about like a Spring lamb and - like a little boy faced with a shiny church hall floor - he runs and skids, then rolls about on his back in sheer delight (actually, I'm not sure about little boys rolling on their backs, but you get the idea!).  It makes me laugh and lifts my heart every time I see him do it.

The Winwick roads were empty, apart from the odd car.  It's very strange to see our familiar places like this, isn't it?  I'm used to seeing these roads full of cars, either travelling along or sitting at the traffic lights, hearing music from the car radios or phone conversations from hands-free speakers.  (Have you noticed that you can hear these conversations really well from outside the car?  They're not very private!)


Image shows an empty road

Image shows an empty road

Image shows a traffic junction with traffic lights and no traffic

Image shows an empty road

The open space where the dog could run was empty too.  We don't usually see many people there anyway, but there was no one around at all.  

Image shows an open landscape area with trees and a large willow tree in the centre

Image shows bare trees showing hints of green leaves in the sunshine

It's unusual to see our church standing high on its hill without passing traffic too.  I like this view, it reminds me that I'm nearly home.


Image shows St Oswald's Church, Winwick, to the left and The Swan pub to the right.  The road in the centre of the picture is empty of traffic

Image shows St Oswald's Church, Winwick, with the public fountain (now disused) in the foreground to the right.  The roads are empty of traffic

Image shows St Oswald's Church, Winwick, from Newton Road

Image shows St Oswald's Church, Winwick, in morning sunlight

I like that the church is still lit up at night, too.  It gives a sense of familiarity at an unfamiliar time.



Image shows St Oswald's Church, Winwick, lit up at night

Back home, I've been making an effort to do some tidying up in my study room.  We've suddenly all got time to tackle those jobs that we (conveniently, sometimes!) never had time to do before.  One of things that I needed to do is to file away all the patterns and articles that I cut out of the magazines I cleared out months and months ago.  Lots of people have told me that they photograph them and get rid of the paper altogether, but for now I like to have the patterns in a folder so that I can look through them if I want to, rather than in a computer file.  I might never make any of them - I think I'll have to live till I'm about nine hundred and seventy-three to get through all the knitting I've got planned! - but you never know.  And in the meantime, I like to look at them every now and again  😀.

Image shows a lever arch file with a sock pattern filed in it.  Above is a labelling machine and more file inserts

This photo was taken quite early into the process when I was still feeling optimistic about it all.  Finishing off the next day, I was beyond feeling anything except relief when I ran out of plastic inserts and had to tidy everything away!  Still, I've made a massive impact on the pile of patterns that I had, and I have found more than a few that I'm very glad I've kept.  It's quite different looking through patterns on paper rather than on a computer screen on Ravelry or somewhere like that - I really should do this more often!

On the knitting front, I've actually not done as much this week as I thought I might do, apart from the binge knitting on Sunday.  Perhaps like many of us, I thought that being safe at home would mean spare hours to work my way through my stash but it's not really worked like that.  There's still washing to be done, pets (and daughters) to be cleaned up after despite our rota, and lots of cups of tea to be made.  It's probably just as well, as wall-to-wall knitting isn't good for my shoulders and having the stability of some kind of normal routine keeps me feeling grateful that we are all currently well, so I'll just keep on with the knitting that I've got and not worry about what I've not done.

I've finally got as far as the heel flap with my Yarn Badger stripey sock ...


Image shows a stripey knitted sock with a ball of sock yarn

and I was well-prepared for the queue at the supermarket.  I was even going to take a brew with me until my husband pointed out that the store toilets would probably be closed - which is always an instant guarantee that you really don't want to have to wait until you get home! 😀

Image shows a close up of knitting on needles.  In the background are supermarket shoppers waiting in a queue

Just before I leave you, something that I heard recently that made me laugh - apparently we're all about 2 weeks away from our natural hair colour ... I don't colour my hair but I do have it cut short so goodness knows what it's going to look like by the time I eventually get to see my hairdresser again - it's wavy when it gets longer and those months of growing it out from short to long and seeing it grow in all kinds of mad directions were something that I hadn't planned to visit again!  Small daughter has offered to cut it for me (a bit too enthusiastically, I thought, she obviously thinks I'm an easy target!) but I have politely declined.

And one more thing - big daughter has a subscription to The Happy Newspaper and I spotted an item in there that says that this song has been proven to reduce anxiety by 65%.  It's called Weightless by Marconi Union and was developed with the British Academy of Sound Therapy.  I don't know if the facts around reducing anxiety are true, but you could always give it a listen and see what you think.  If it's a sound that helps you, then that's what's important!

That's me for today!  I can hear my family starting to wonder about dinner and I've promised to watch Howl's Moving Castle with small daughter (our favourite film to watch together is Spirited Away and this is from the same studio - currently both available on Netflix but also available through Amazon here and here) although it might be getting a bit late tonight.  I hope you and your families are all safe and well.

Until next time! xx


31 comments:

  1. Thanks for another positive 'normal' post Christine. I always enjoy your blog chats but these most recent ones have really touched my heart as you share your thoughts and encourage us with your positivity. Thank you and keep safe Julie xx

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    1. Thank you, that's really kind of you to say! It's not easy staying "normal" at the moment, is it, whilst there is so much to worry about? I'm doing my best to keep my worries off these pages, it's nice for me too to be distracted by seedlings and yarn! :) xx

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  2. Hi Christine, my thoughts exactly about everyone’s hair. It would be interesting to see before and after shots. I like you, keep mine short but I do have a hint of colour. Goodness knows what we will like when we all emerge out the other side 😆😆. Thank you for taking us for a walk around your neighbourhood. It is so pretty. Thinking of you all. Lenore

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    1. I think the world will be a very different place when we all emerge - and not just because of our hairstyles! :) Hope you are staying well on the other side of the world xx

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  3. So good to hear that you and your family are doing well. I'm Richard and across the Pond in the States - Southeast North Carolina if you are aware of that area in our South. I'm 64 and quite concerned about this Corona virus as I have 3 strikes against me - I am a heart patient, a Type II Diabetic and my age. Otherwise, my health is pretty good as long as I can stay away from Pork Barbecue and sweets. I have a deadly sweet tooth with roots all the way down to my big toe and it is very hard for me to watch my sugar! I trust that the Lord will let me live through this tribulation as I have volumes of knitting patterns similar to you and a yarn stash that needs to be used. Give my regards to all within ear-shot.

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    1. Hi Richard, thank you for your comment! I think that it must be an extra-worrying time for you and all those with underlying health conditions, but if you can be distracted with yarn and stay safely indoors then hopefully you'll get through it all OK. Your deadly sweet tooth with extra long roots made me laugh - I hope you can tame it over the next few weeks! xx

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  4. What a lovely long post, thank you for taking the time to write. The roads are really quiet aren't they, I am thinking that I might dust my road bike off and go out on that once or twice a week. I too have been doing those jobs that I never quite have time for usually but I agree that I do seem to be busy as ever because much of what I do still needs to be done.

    I am glad you have been knitting in the supermarket queue, I did that last week too and in the queue for the till!

    I love the sound of the Happy Newspaper, that sounds like the sort of read we need right now.

    I hope you love Howls Moving Castle, we love the films that studio makes. Spirited Away is a bit strange and not one of my favourites they have made. We love Arietty and When Marnie was There. If you like anime then Mary and the Witches Flower is also good. it is made by a different studio.

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    1. We've watched a few of the Studio Ghibli films since they've been on Netflix and some of them are very peculiar! Thanks for the recommendations - I'll pass them onto small daughter so she can line them up for us to watch. We ran out of time to watch Howl's Moving Castle last night but she did watch Ponyo whilst I was buzzing about doing jobs and she enjoyed that one. Have a great time on your bike! :) xx

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  5. What a lovely post to read and gorgeous new sock knitting! Beautiful photos. I admit i have bought a hair dye to apply once we are all allowed out again!

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    1. I think that dyeing hair would fall into the same category as dyeing yarn for me - best left to the experts! I'm embracing the grey that is starting to make itself known ... :) xx

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  6. Your comment about being two weeks away from your natural hair colour really resonated with me. I started colouring my hair when I was 35 and people asked me where I had my hilights done. Fast forward nearly 40years and I have lost my hair due to chemotherapy and now it's growing back my natural colour, white! It's still only about 1/4" long but it's a shock every time I look in the mirror. I'm isolated for at least 12 weeks so when I emerge it's going to be a huge shock to my friend s and family. I can see my wig being in use for a very long time!

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    1. I always think that white hair looks very elegant so I'm hoping that mine goes white rather than grey eventually. And then I might dye it purple - I had a Scottish aunt who always had a different shade of blue/purple rinse when we went to see her and I thought it looked fabulous! :) Glad you have made it safely through your chemo, here's to you being back to full health soon xx

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  7. Thanks Christine for your very uplifting posts in these uncertain times. I am now on my second pair of socks using your patterns ��

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    1. That's brilliant to hear - you'll have a full sock drawer by the time we're all allowed out again! :) xx

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  8. Slowly working my way through a 4 ply cardigan for me. I figure I've got plenty of time to make it, so no hurry! I gave up dyeing my hair years ago, it's now a salt and pepper colour. I've cut my own hair for years too. Short, and I can only do one style! You made me laugh about living to 973 to get through all the patterns. I think I'll be there with you. Still, as vices go, pattern and yarn collecting is fairly innocuous! xx

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  9. Another lovely musing! Love the photos of Winwick and your beautiful church!

    So glad the dog can have offf lead time - so important for them!

    Also love the socks!! Such pretty wool.

    I have four friends who dye their hair and are getting very worried about what it will look like in a few weeks - I have to say that their families (daughters particularly) are very keen for their mothers to go natural!!

    Mine is just going to grow and look more and more like a Brillo pad as it gets longer! A slightly stripy brown with grey shimmers is my natural colour so at least I don't have to worry about that.

    And I am also tidying and cleaning and decluttering - it is wonderful to get up in the morning and have no feeling of having to rush anywhere - and we have been retired for ten years this summer but the hectic pace never did let up!

    Looking forward to the next Winwick Mum blog/musing etc.

    Keep well everyone and keep safe!

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  10. Lovely to read your post , stay safe ❤️️

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  11. Such a lovely post to read this evening, a real tonic. Thank you.
    I've made a note of that music and will have a listen tomorrow.
    Enjoy your weekend, a little gardening in the sunshine they promise? That would be most welcome here (and a little outside knitting?)
    take care

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  12. Yes Christine - i ensemble a badger at the moment, an ever growing grey stripe in my blond hair. Help! I missed my regular appointment as my hairdresser was on holiday and then I was poorly and so self isolating. Now another appointment has come and gone. I cut my husbands hair (with one of those shaver type things) so he carries on as usual. He has offered to return the favour. It doesn’t bear thinking about!
    It does make you appreciate the everyday life more when it’s not there.
    Take care and keep safe

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  13. The early dog walk resonated, I waited until late evening just before dark so I could let her run, I think some dogs must think they have won the lottery!as I have seen dogs I have never spied before let's hope there won't be too much separation anxiety when people go back to work.

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  14. Christine, your blog is like a warm and cosy blanket all of its own! Thank you for your calm words and lovely photos.

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  15. Reading your post this morning over here on the other side of the pond was a real encouragement. The sensible and cheerful attitude is one I want to carry with me through out my day. I love the outdoor photos, and I'm going to look up mitred squares. Thanks for the positive outlook.

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  16. I really enjoyed your Blog post. So well written and very entertaining. I feel like I experienced those moments with you.

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  17. Hi Christine

    Love Studio Ghibli ❤️ if crafts are my first love (after hound and Mister) then Anime is my second. I adore both Howls Moving Castle & Spirited Away. I find it so strange in the west that some people still see animation as purely the preserve of children whereas in the East its very much accepted for adults to read Manga and watch Anime. I haven't yet learned how to read subtitles, look at the beautiful painted animation and knit/ crochet so I like the movies dubbed into English for that. Netflix has brought the rights to screen Studio Ghibli certainly for the UK, so if they aren't all on there they soon will be. I'm sure you and your daughter watching and appreciating those films is like my "baby" brother (age 29) and I. It's our favourite thing to do together when my Mister goes fishing, brother comes to do those things to help me and then we sit with a special tea we've cooked together and watch Anime. His favourite is Porco Rosso and mine is My Neighbour Tortoro. Both recommended 😁 is quiet here too, it went a bit nuts outside Saturday, my neighbours and I have never seen so many people walking/ cycling... I only hope they keep it up after the restrictions are lifted.
    Take care everyone. I've been socially distanced for a lot of years and you will be ok, I promise! Us people are stronger and more resilient than we give ourselves credit for. Stay safe and stay happy, T x

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  18. Had to laugh about the two weeks to your regular color hair. I went gray years ago but if I hadn't would be true for me. I love reading your posts. It makes me feel happy to see what you and your family are up to across the pond. Spring is finally here in NC USA and I am spending much of our stay at home time in the yard pulling weeds and planting early crops of lettuce, spinach, carrots, radishes, and onions. Truth be told, I am enjoying my time at home. Going to make some masks today. Got my socks nearly done too. Loving my 9 inch sock knitting.

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  19. Really enjoy reading ur blogs especially now xxx

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  20. No dog at Walters Towers unfortunately, the bungalow is way too small. Soooo this morning I took my Toft donkey Dynamo with me on my morning walk, he sat quite happily in my shoulder bag guarding my brand new mobile phone. Tomorrow it will be Poppy my Toft palomino pony. Well donkeys and ponies need their exercise don't they? I will take my camera tomorrow as I don't rate the one on my mobile.

    Six people spotted on Saturday, one with a dog. Five yesterday, two with dogs, though as one was a delivery person I am not sure he counts. All were well over the required 2 metres away, more like twenty, well ten at least. Spotted four and a dog this morning, none within hailing distance, not even with a fog horn. More cars on the A61 though, but at seven in the morning I assume they were on their way to work.

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  21. Hi Christine, Thank you for being so positive in these trying times, I am on my own and am finding the isolation from family and friends difficult, so look forward to your musings. Here's to getting to 'the other side'. Best wishes to you and all your followers.

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  22. Your blog is a very cheery spot to my day. Thank you so much. You have made such a difference in so many lives with your blogs and socks!! Bravo. I have now knit 3 socks thanks to you. I framed my first sock and hung it in my little craft room. The pair is a surprise for my daughter.

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