Wool, Wiltshire and All Manner of Wonderful Things!

Archive for December, 2018

Knit and Natter Friday

Welcome to the last Knit and Natter for 2018. Thanks go to everyone who has read one of these posts and especially to those who joined in with the natter. Without you these posts would be nothing, as I know the natter is the best bit.

So did everyone have a Happy Christmas? I was reminded the other day that whilst every day may not be a good day, every day has a good part. So true, if we just stop a while and think.

Our Christmas was lovely. It started out hectic, with the baking of the chocolate mince pies.

And then there was the stollen I made on Christmas Eve. Let’s just say there was a bit of an issue with the yeast, and the whole procedure ended up taking twelve hours.

Mr Humbug loved making up a stocking for me. He was positively beaming with the thrill of it, and I am now the happy owner of a fairy glider, a large glitter balloon and some unicorn chocolate currency! If I had known all these years that Mr Grumpy would become Mr Happy just by filling a stocking, well it would have happened ages ago.

Boxing Day was the chance for a walk. The fog lifted and the sun came out. I spotted a mug tree in a garden, I kid you not.

I would just love to know the story behind that.

As for knitting, there has been none. Bit of crochet, little bit of stitching, but mostly not.

I fell to wondering what my favourite piece of knitting for this year had been.

Maybe the dragon, who went to school with Little Miss F on St George’s Day, with the comment that her Nana can knit anything.

Or maybe the Unicorn?

And who can forget Morgana?

The jumper for Master T or

Yes this, maybe not the most fun, the grey(groan) jumper for Toddler J, but oh the compliment from his Mama, worthy of a baby boutique in Wimbledon! Indeed.

Changed my mind. Morgana wins!

Did you have a favourite project you made in 2018, what was it?

So, that’s the last Knit and Natter for this year. Do so hope you enjoyed this one.

Have a very Happy New Year, and see you in 2019.






December Books- 2018

Another good month in books for me, here’s my December list, enjoy.

Christopher Brookmyre- Quite Ugly One Morning- A crime novel set in Edinburgh. A lot of humour, some of the toilet and gallows variety, and  some rather gruesome scenes, treated to a bit of Lock Stock type humour. It made me laugh, but not sure I want more.

Erin Morgenstern- The Night Circus- Thank you everyone who gave this book the heads up. Well outside my usual taste in books and very enjoyable. Proper magic, a deadly contest, a love story, and a wonderful circus we would all adore to see. Pity it had animals but never mind. I loved it but I did think it a tad overlong, maybe some of the tents could have been missed out. Maybe not.

Margaret Atwood- The Handmaid’s Tale- Gosh. I didn’t watch the TV series, so I came to this fresh not really knowing what to expect. Not knowing now what to think. Kept having to remind myself that it was written in 1985. Almost believable that it could happen. Clamp down on society under the pretext of protecting us from radical Islam, believable. Preventing access to books and not letting women have access to education and books, believable. Infertility caused by nuclear accidents, chemicals, earthquakes, believable. Women behaving as the Aunts do towards other women, thinking of the Nuns and the Magdalene laundries, believable. A cashless society that enables women to have their bank accounts forcibly frozen, believable. This will take a lot of digesting I can see. I have also found out that Margaret Atwood is publishing a follow-up book next year. Well constructed and since the blurb on the back calls it a modern classic from the start, I am not arguing. Certainly one of my top five books read this year, and one from my 109 authors list ( see page).

Patricia Highsmith- Edith’s Diary- Patricia Highsmith is an author I had heard of, one I knew was  said to be good, and one I associated with crime. I came across this book whilst shelving books at the library, and it wasn’t categorised as a crime novel. I really enjoyed the book which written n the 1970s, but the action takes place from the 50’s to the 70’s. Edith does keep a diary, but maybe her written version of life takes on too rosy a glow. I don’t want to give you any spoilers as this is well written and thought-provoking. People don’t write quite so many diaries, but in these days of social media, there is a tendency to over emphasise the positive. I like that the book takes time to develop characters, it’s well written and highly enjoyable for what is actually quite a sad book.

Benjamin Markovits- You Don’t Have To Live Like This- This is set in Detroit. In case you didn’t know this city has become very rundown, the epitome of the malaise in the US that enabled the election of the President. Whole neighbourhoods have become derelict. The Snail of Happiness in her comment on my post regarding nature and the Nissan Hut left me a wonderful link to show how nature can reclaim buildings-here. They are worth looking at and made useful background for this novel. Greg Marnier is goes to a college reunion and meets an old friend Robert James. Robert James has made a fortune from his hedge fund and wants to get into politics as a democrat. He has a brilliant scheme to buy up properties in Detroit , and rent them out to companies for business, and individuals to regenerate the city, artists, academics, medics, restaurant owners. He holds fund-raising events and Obama attends one. But the scheme ignores the people who remained and the incomers were not really welcome. The book is interesting and takes a nice steady pace, which I realise now that I like care taken by an author to build a plot. My only slightly negative comment is that there are a lot of characters and I did lose track of  who everyone was. It was a good read.

David Nicholls- One Day. Emma and Dexter spend the night of their graduation ceremony together, having been mere friends throughout their years of studies. They go their separate ways. We catch up with them on the  same day- 15 July- for the next twenty years. Sometimes they spend the day together, sometimes we read a letter one or other wrote, sometimes it’s just a phone call, and occasionally they are too busy leading their own life to bother with the other. About 2/3rds of the way through the ending seemed inevitable to me, and it was. However, it was handled rather well I felt, and so I didn’t feel let down. It was a good, but not a great read.

And that I think is my last book for 2018. Have you read any of these, what did you think to them? I’m not certain yet how many I have read this year but I think it is marginally less than the last two years. Not that quantity matters a fig. I’ll review my top five books of this year in another post.

Meantime I hope you all had a peaceful and contented Christmas break. Were you gifted any books, if so do tell, were they surprises or ones you asked for and are itching to read. I reserved rather a lot of library books to tide me over the Winter and I look forward to sharing my thoughts on them over 2019.

Knit and Natter Friday!

Hello, and Merry Christmas. I am literally just popping my head round the door to wish you all Season’s Greetings. I realise I have been far too chilled this week. The tree is not decorated, the mince pies and stollen not made and there is a small matter of going to a football match on Saturday. The things I do to spend time with two sons and a grandson.

But I have finished the cardigan for Toddler J , which was Sirdar pattern 1426, yarn is Tiny Tots. ( It may have been discontinued in this colour way).

It has rather a nice collar. The buttons are red toggles but on the sleeves are little caterpillars.

Big AAH please.

So how are your clever plans and secret tricks progressing?

I just want to thank you for popping in week in week out, more or less to my Knit and Natter posts, without you the natter doesn’t happen.

Have a very Happy Christmas.

Be Happy,


Kirkbymoorside, a short Winter’s walk.

I am leading a walk this morning and thought you might like to join us. I took the pictures a month ago when I was planning it.

First stop the Market Cross, and onto the church.


Then into the millennium garden and the Peace Pole

With wonderful views over the Vale of Pickering.

Can you spot the windmill in the distance, it has no sails. In fact it never had sails as the neighbours complained it was an eye sore so it was never completed. NIMBYism is not a new phenomena.

I love the mosaic created by the local school children as  we leave the garden and head up a field.

Up we go

There’s the church in the distance. And now we have arrived at the site of a castle.

Long since demolished.

All that remains is this pond which used to have fish in it to feed the castle inhabitants.

Now a favourite picnic spot in the summer. Back down the way we came.

Pub any one for some coffee, mulled wine or cider? Hope you enjoyed the little stroll, a welcome relief from the frenetic preparations for Christmas.



Scrap Happy December-2018

One thing I love about Christmas is the chance to get out my leftover, red, green, white and black yarn for some Christmas knitting.

The UK Hand Knitting Association had asked for some little stockings for them to distribute to care homes etc, and you could drop them off at the Harrogate Knitting and Stitching show.

So I did. Then the library was putting together a hamper to raffle, so I just kept going.

One little stocking and a Father Christmas with a jar of homemade chutney. Kathy asked for the recipe for the chutney, so here it is.

Boxing Day Chutney ( spicy fruit chutney)

2lb/900g onions sliced
2lb cooking apples chopped
1 pkt/340g cranberries
2pints cider vinegar
2oz/50g fresh root ginger(before peeling) finely diced
1tbsp coarse sea salt
tsp mixed spice
zest of 2 oranges

2lb naturally dried apricots chopped
1 pkt dates (175g/60z) pitted and chopped
1lb raisins
Juice of 8 oranges/1 pint orange juice

2lb white sugar.

Place all the first ingredients in a saucepan gently bring to the boil.

The object is to let the onions go transparent, the cranberries start to pop and the apple break down. You don’t want to lose all texture so a 5 min simmer once at boiling point should do. Remember to stir.
In a separate bowl mix the dried fruit and pour over the orange juice. Stir well. The mixture should absorb all the orange juice in approx 20 mins
The dried fruit can be done before the ingredients for cooking to save time.
Add the marinated fruit to the saucepan with the sugar.
Stir well and bring back to boiling point, stirring all the time. Don’t leave the saucepan at this time or the contents will catch and taint the chutney. The free liquid will start to thicken quite quickly and the chutney can then be bottled. Lid immediately.

Please pop over to Kate’s for some more scrap happiness Here



Knit and Natter Friday.

I am rather ashamed of myself. There was hardly any knitting left to do on the black/white cardigan for Toddler J but I have only just done it and it still needs sewing up and buttons adding. I think I was  somewhat reluctant to do it because I don’t like the yarn, which is an important lesson for me. I bought the yarn, a whole pack of 10 balls, because it was being sold off at a bargain price. I wonder why!! Note to self , do not buy whole packs of bargain yarn and don’t start a project with yarn you don’t like. There are four balls left, enough for another jumper, but I have packed it up and it shall go to a charity shop this weekend.

There has been some other knitting but that it for sharing tomorrow on Scrap Happy Day.

Christmas preparations are well in hand, cards have been written and posted. Mr M&S delivery person has delivered the hampers I choose for the family for Christmas presents this year. Which leads me on nicely to a conversation I had with Mr Humbug E this week. It goes something like this.

Me “I love getting ready for Christmas”.

Mr Humbug E ” It’s all commercialism and the shops are full of c**p”.

Me ” So how does that affect us getting ready for Christmas?”

Long story short we talked about what we liked about Christmas when we were children.

Mr Humbug” Christmas was ok till the boys wanted plimsolls for £100!”

Short altercation while I reminded him of the stories he told about the Christmases he had as a child , which included Mr Humbug Senior choosing Christmas Eve to varnish their cork floor.

My Mum bless her worked herself into the ground for Christmas, homemade everything to eat, homemade decorations, homemade Christmas stockings for goodness sake, made each year from wrapping paper. I guess I carried on with the homemade everything for our children.

So then we started to think about what we had really enjoyed the most about Christmas and it boiled down to

Christmas Carols.

Board Games with the whole family.

Fruit and Nuts to nibble.

Christmas stockings.

A winter walk.

Simples to quote a meerkat. It was then but a short leap to deciding to make Christmas stocking up for each other. I had a rummage through the cupboards and came up with two of the three stockings I had made for our sons. I think I gave Mr J his for Master Harry years ago.

Now undoubtably  they have seen better days but they are 30+ years old, but they are still stockings. So my only problem is what to fill one of them with for Mr Humbug, apart  from the obvious.

Board Games we have, carols we can listen too or I could sing ( maybe not). Walk and nibbles easy peasy.

I expect he will still moan but it should be fun. Not the moaning, that’s just tedious, the stocking etc.

So I wonder what aspect of Christmas did you enjoy the most as a child? And what would you put in a stocking for a Mr Humbug type of person?

I’ll be back tomorrow to show what I have been knitting …..

Be Happy,




Nunnington Hall at Christmas

We visited The National Trust property near us this weekend. Nunnington Hall was decorated for Christmas through the ages.

You approach the house from the side , the great hall is to the right of the door where that enormous chimney is , and was probably a medieval hall. There was a lovely Christmas tree in the hall but my picture came out all blurred. From the hall you go into the dining room which featured a Georgian feast.

To keep children engaged with the tour little snowmen had been hidden for them to find. I have to admit I enjoyed looking for them too.

The hall is not a stately home but an old manor house, and was very much lived in. The sitting room upstairs was decorated for post war 1940s and 1950s.

The volunteer guide said they had to stop the Grandads playing with the meccano. I certainly checked Mr E when he left the room. The tree in this room had paper lanterns on it. Hands up everyone who made paper lanterns as a child. ME!

Oh look another one in a bedroom drawer.

On a writing desk too.

How did the ghost of Christmas Past get in here?

Lurking in a private chapel.

The bedrooms weren’t decorated for Christmas apart from Scrooge and the ghost. Father Christmas was lurking upstairs too but I didn’t see him.

However there is now an art gallery on the top floor in what must have been staff bedrooms. Whoopee. Look what was on show.

It was inspired by rust, well who isn’t and I thought of Margaret with the next one.

Rather splendid, but way out of my price range.

Afterwards we had a stroll round the grounds. Well after a coffee we did. Nearly mid day but look at the length of the shadows.

Course we always have to visit the veg garden. I am sure there must have been something about visiting veg gardens in our marriage ceremony, maybe I should have paid closer attention.

A rather handsome chap  taking his ease, note the on trend mustard trousers, Tialys.

A land girl digging for victory. Rather splendid scarecrows.

And how about this handsome chap, who just would not open his tail, meanie.

Time to wave goodbye to the current occupier then. Thanks for letting us visit.

I am thinking I could knit snowmen to hide about the house….



Knit and Natter Friday.

Running a little late today. I have been baking more peanut biscuits for Mr E, and doing my online Christmas shopping, so easy! And what remains will be shopped for locally.

We went to York last week.

And after a lovely Christmas lunch we went for a stroll along the river and the sun came out just as we reached Clifford’s Tower.  From there we went to the Christmas market which was heaving with folk.

This jolly elf was dancing while he worked, and I did get to sample some mulled wine.

As the weather was alright on Sunday I bestirred myself and had a woodland walk.

Which just so happens takes me right past my Dad’s old house so I had a good old nose at what the new owners had done. New roof, new windows, whopping great extension, moved the greenhouse. Suffice to say. made it their own and it no longer looks like Dad’s home. So my memories are my own now.

Does that make sense?

Tuesday I made my Boxing Day Spicy Fruit Chutney.

The instructions read to heat till the cranberries pop then add the rest of the ingredients and I have to say they made a jolly good pop, and the house was filled with a lovely smell of spicy fruit, whereas I smelted of vinegar and needed a good wash.

The rest of the week has been about tidying and cleaning, not my favourite way to spend a couple of days but needs must occasionally.

Now I dare say many of you read Tialys post about the fund-raising she did for the twilight home for elderly dogs and that some of her lovely crochet dogs had not sold. I just knew that the French bulldog had to come to England and I asked Tialys if he was for sale, and she said she would just send him to me, she normally just asks for a donation to the dogs home. Here he is, and isn’t he so cute?

Currently living on the dressing table in our bedroom. Look carefully and you can what I look like when concentrating, oh dear.

Anyway Pierre, did I tell you he said his name was Pierre, is settling in just nicely. And of course I have made a donation to the Twilight dog’s home.

And I have discovered that I can knit donkeys for a donkey rescue centre.

As to the black/white cardigan for Toddler J , I am on the right front border and collar now. There may be a finish this month.

I am hoping that the weather is ok this weekend and we can visit a beautiful house decked for Christmas.

So have you plans for treats this weekend. Do tell, please.

Be Happy,




Yarn Along!

So what I should be doing is making a quilt top for Little Miss F and knitting a sleeve for the cardigan for Toddler J. What I am actually doing is crocheting a blanket with that leftover yarn and reading. This is a funny crime novel but a little gruesome in a Lock Stock kind of way.

So I wonder what you are doing as opposed to what you should be doing?

Linking with Ginny for Yarn Along

Crochet Cushions.

I simply had to make a second cushion from the the Eastern Jewels left over yarn.



And now I have more winter colour in the house with two cushions

And still there is yarn leftover. Another cushion?

No, this time I shall add some leftover yarn I had from other projects and will make a blanket for charity as suggested by Dr Snail.

Linking with the Ginx Craft Woolly Linx party

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