Wool, Wiltshire and All Manner of Wonderful Things!

Author Archive

Scrap Happy, Jan. 22

I quite surprised myself last year when I stitched all 52 #hannemade tags.

52 tags
Starting with the White one for a New Year, and ending with the Christmas tree at the end.

About six months ago I shared my favourites, and it seems like a good plan to share my favourites from the rest of the year.

Beads and tassels.

This was great fun to make and I love the exuberance of it in its blinginess.

This was couching textiles.

Not only my favourite colours , but incredibly tactile to boot.

Invoking a memory.
Week 51, A Christmas wreath, and possibly my favourite, lots of stitching and beads.

Anne Brookes whose inspiration and you tube videos was behind this endeavour suggested that we could use the back of the tags as a journal. I used mine as a mix if dedications to family, friends and events, Captain Tom and the Duke of Edinburgh both got a mention, and as a journal to important family events. They are lovely to look back on.

When I started this project I determined to only use scraps of fabric, lace, threads and haberdashery I owned. I bought the tags and the ring that holds them, and that was all. I assembled a box of scraps,leftover embroidery floss from kits and various pieces of pretties. You can’t tell I have used anything, there seems to be just as much now as there was a year ago. In the course of 2021 , the only fabric I bought was for a toy elephant. Quite simply I don’t understand it.

So what to do with the box of scrapy fabric. Well a rummage around unearthed another pack of plastic canvas, and since I have scraps of wadding and calico I decided to make another vintage fabric box.

Work in progress.

I thought it would be the ideal project to take along to a new craft group I joined. It should have been yesterday, but it’s fallen victim to Covid fears of the participants. Oh well, maybe in a fortnight’s time.

Meantime do pop over to Kate’s to see what others have been doing with their scraps to make them happy. Link here- https://talltalesfromchiconia.wordpress.com/2022/01/15/scraphappy-january-6/

One Word

I was reminded the other day that I used to set goals every year. 16 for 2016, 17 for 2017 etc. They got increasingly hard to think up let alone fulfill. Last year I became aware of other bloggers who would choose a word to guide them or focus on during the year, and how it would keep them grounded.

A wise lady , who is the friend of a friend, of a friend, and on Facebook, whom I have followed for a year or so and helped me through these months puts up occasional prompts. Earlier this week she suggested people choose a number from 1-16 and she would give us a corresponding word to help us through the year.

So I did, and my word is Balance to help me build a new life. I had just started to think about balance and what I needed to balance, when wallop, Covid gave me a bash on the nose. All of a sudden my life required immediate action, I needed to rebalance and quickly. No use at all planning knitting projects and trips to wherever, when I needed to just get through the next few hours. Top priority all of a sudden was food, what to eat based on what I had , and how to make sure I had the energy to prepare it. Complete days turned upside down. Yes family would shop for me gladly, but they have enough to do already.

First thought was that the bread would run out, and I have a bread based light meal at lunch time. So I did a quick reccy , I had home made soup in the freezer and the ingredients to make cheese scones. Enough to last me several days.

It took me all morning.

But it was worth it. The point of this is I realised that often I gave little thought to meals until the last minute, and even if I did then I left it till I was too tired to be bothered by cooking what I planned, and I would scratch some sustenance together.

Exercise is the same. I would start a day thinking I might go for a walk or a swim, but then wouldn’t go.

And then crafting, Oh I love the new project, the shopping the choosing, the starting, the thinking about starting…tomorrow.

I knew after I lost Mr E I needed to meet new people, do new things, and I might, or it might feel too scary, and I’d get cold feet or start too many. I looked at my bookcase, my life was just like if.

Higgely Piggely

Or Topsy Turvey , out of balance, failing to think of the basic building blocks of life in favour of the scatter cushions.

Food and exercise have to come First. Nothing like having to be indoors and not allowed out to make one realise that outside is pretty important. In fact I quickly realised that I needed to be outside to get better. The one single thing,the need for fresh clean air to cleanse this thing out of my system was prohibited. I got up at 4.30am just to stand in the garden and breathe. Yes it was bloomin cold, but five hours later I got that negative first test.

Then I thought about how procrastinating about basic household stuff actually made things worse. All from fear, of what I don’t know. My enormous list now over 30 things that at sometime need attending too.

So my rebalance, would be food, exercise, household maintenance. What else needs to be here? Feeling useful perhaps? I have volunteered to take on Safeguarding for my local church. It’s a commitment, requires some work being quite new to the parish. I try to be useful to my family, supporting them however I can, getting the balance right, leaving them their own space too.

So I have Food, Exercise, Household matters, Being useful.

Mental well being. Well all of the above helps, but we are social beings. The phone calls, text messages, emails, blogs have been invaluable, shouting at the Royal mail delivery driver to leave a parcel in the porch because I had Covid and couldn’t take it from her was not nice. Necessary but not pleasant. I have never seen a delivery driver shift so fast.

Seeing people then, being with others, even if only fleetingly. I had already had a hint of this need through the last few months. Days when I stop in all day long leave me feeling yuk, down in the dumps, blah. Getting out and seeing people then.

Which leads me to that bookcase. The contents of which reflect all the things I am interested in, and would ideally like to spend my days doing. And there the books are in a bit of a muddle. And when I don’t do all the things , again I feel well blah or meh if you prefer.

So Balance will be my word for the year, as suggested. Prioritising the basics before I put the cherry on the top, but never forgetting that the scatter cushions and the cherry on the top are important too.

I’d love to know your thoughts on what I just wrote. I don’t like pretentious b…sh.., so hopefully it doesn’t sound like that. How do you achieve balance? Sorry about the mixed metaphores too, blame the cotton wool covid brain. I do. I am now officially not infectious with Covid. I just need to get over this thing, it was exhausting even with the vaccines. Tessa is coming shortly, to see what trees to get and where to put them. Bit excited. Lot excited, who do I think I am kidding.

Take care, xx

#12 Wild Days of Christmas

Getting Covid was certainly not on the agenda, nor on my list of good ideas for participation in 12 Days Wild at Christmas. But you can’t put a good woman down and I was blowed if this was going to stop me doing something.

So after all that thinking we had done on bug hotels, compost bins and electric car chargers, something practical was in order, and outside.

First of all I cleaned out, and even threw away some garden pots. Then I planted up some violas in one I freed from weeds, and the urn at the top of the garden.

Next I thought about my ideas of planting an orchard, and many thanks to everyone who had commented on that post last year. I then got in touch with Tessa who helped Mr E in 2020, and we have planned my fruit tree grove, which will also provide me with shade. Hoping to place an order for them soon.

I firmly believe that planting trees will help the environment.The National Trust offers the chance to buy a sapling and dedicate it as a memorial or as a celebration. Something I could do without going out, so I have done just that as a memorial to Mr E. Five in fact.

I have been really upset not to be able to use my bird table here, because of pesky rodents. However I am able to watch the birds in the trees that I can see from the house, as at this time of year they are really searching everywhere for food. I have seen a Robin, blackbirds, blue tits, great tits, pigeons, magpies and I think this is a wren visiting my containers on the steps.

To the left of the second pot and about to jump right in.

My sleep pattern has gone out if the window. I have been waking early before the traffic gets going, and I can hear bird song. I have been shocked to hear it at 4.15am, I assume the effect of light pollution.

I talked to Tessa about not being able to feed the birds and how I would like to get rid of the artificial grass in front of the house, and plant flowers and shrubs for the bees and butterflies. She thinks it is doable , I am so excited.

She has suggested I plant a crab apple tree especially for the birds.

I was upset last year not to participate in the British Bird Count at the end of January. I noticed that for people without gardens they suggest counting in a park. I thought of Moulden Hill near me, and the lovely Lake with swans, ducks , geese, coots and moorhens. I will be out of isolation by then. I have ordered some special duck food, can’t wait for it to come.

Finally last night, there were clear skies and I did some star gazing from my porch, delighted that Orion was overhead.

So without leaving my house, I have done some planting, planned an orchard, enabled five saplings to be planted, planned a flower bed for bees and butterflies, watched birds, heard bird song, looked at night skies, signed up for the Bird count and ordered some duck food.Not done too badly after all. Still giving serious thought to Green Johannas too.

Links here, if you are interested. https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/features/plant-a-tree

https://www.rspb.org.uk/get-involved/activities/birdwatch

I don’t get sponsorship from any of this in case you are wondering.

Finally , I have my first negative Covid test today, beyond excited, the big wide world beckons. I still feel as if a ten ton truck hit me, Monday afternoon was horrible, but maybe the vaccines work!!

From the forlorn patch soon to be an apple grove come nature reserve,

With love, and thanks for being out there in bloggers world,

Cathyx

Favourite reads of 2021

And a covid update at the end.

Just couldn’t limit myself to a top five this year, here instead is my top 7, of which Penguin Lessons is probably my favouritist.

Fredrik Backman- A Man Called Ove- Ove is fifty nine, a grumpy Swede who like things to be done properly. It is a totally wonderful book, a love story which will make you laugh and cry. ‘ Warm, funny and unbearably moving’ Daily Mail.

Jenny Blackhurst- Before I let you in A great psychological thriller. Mind games!

JP Delaney- Playing Nice– One of the best psychological thrillers I have read. Stayed up to 1 am reading it and then finished it by 10 am the following day. Miles turns up on Pete’s and Maddie’s doorstep claiming that their son Theo was mis- tagged by the hospital, he was swapped therefore for their real son David. What ensues totally gripped me.

Andrea Levy- Small Island – Thoroughly enjoyable story of life in post war England, and the Windrush generation.

Tom Michell- Penguin Lessons– Utterly charming. Tom becomes an assistant school master in Argentina. Over the holidays he travels and thus encounters Juan Salvado, a penguin , covered in oil and barely alive. Tom cleans him up and smuggles him back to school where he becomes rugby team mascot, confidant of the lonely and troubled and much loved by staff and pupils. Laugh out loud lots and lots of times, and I still need to go and see some penguins.

Liane Moriarty- Big Little Lies– the build up of menace in this book scared me- school bullying and domestic violence- compelling reading and thought provoking.

Zadie Smith- White Teeth – set in multi-cultural London- three families- love war, ethics,and a mouse.

Have you read any of these, did you like them. What has been your favourite book this year?

Covid Update.

So, my son tested positive for Covid on Boxing Day, 26 December, and in due course I was pinged to do home testing. As the week progressed I began to feel as if I was fighting something, the odd cough, the odd sneeze, the not quite right feeling. No temperature, no loss of taste or smell, no continuous cough. Day after day of negative tests, till yesterday, faint line indicating positive. So down I go to a drive through test centre, and take the PCR test. Hurrah result came through negative, but I still have to do a home test as a recent contact. Once again it’s positive, so I have done another test at the drive through centre. I await the result and continue to self isolate. Now I feel OK, maybe 98% totally normal, so I just urge everyone to be really cautious, look after yourselves, and be aware of how mild this can be in someone like me with two+ a booster inoculation, but how dreadful it would be to infect a vulnerable person.

I sincerely hope you and your families and friends are well, and that we can all have a Happy and Healthy 2022. As for me, thank goodness for all my preplanning and the lovely stack of books I got from the library.

December books- 2021

I went to the library in search of happy books and there on the stand labelled New Titles at the entrance I spotted this book.

A. J. Pearce- Yours Cheerfully. Well it was meant. It’s the follow on from Dear Mrs Bird. Emmeline Lake continues her career at Woman’s Friend, taking up the challenge to encourage women into war work. It was perfect and just the book I needed. I’m not going to say anything about the plot as it would be very easy to spoil it. The author gets the tone just right, reflecting how people thought and spoke during WW2. Not that I have first hand experience, but my parents did for sure. If you enjoyed Mrs Bird then you will like this, and if you’ve not read Dear Mrs Bird, why ever not? It certainly puts life into perspective, well mine anyway.

Gervase Phinn- Secrets at the Little Village School– This one was on the Christmas Display Stand at the library, I suspect because it depicts a snowy scene on the cover, it’s actually set in the January to April school term, but snow does feature. Anyway… This is the epitome of a cosy novel, reminds me of Maeve Binchey or Lilian Beckwith. Gervase Phinn was a school inspector in North Yorkshire for many years. I often wonder if he ever inspected my Mum when she taught in a tiny village school. His earliest books were very much reminisces of his time as an inspector. This book is more fiction and set in more modern times, but the odd little story rings true. I especially love the names he gives his characters, like Dickens they are used as short hand to tell you something of the characters. How about Major C.J. Neville-Gravitas, chair of the school governors, Lady Helen Wadsworth, local big wig, or Mr Nettles, pedantic education advisor with a downer on every idea. Some of his local characters speak in the North Yorkshire dialect , it could be patronising but he spells the words in such a way the pronunciation is true to life. There is not a lot of this, so don’t let it put you off. Anyway if you a need a cosier than cosy read this is perfect.

I won’t finish my current book this year, but it’s a smashing one, which I have been saving and saving for the right time…. Kate Morton The Lake House.

I have read 54 book this year, and some really really good ones. It’s going to be hard to pick my five best ones in my year end review.

Love to know if you have a favourite cosy read.

#12 Wild Days of Christmas

On Monday the sun came out, so I pootled off to the church to have a little explore.

You may have heard of bug hotels, but did you ever see a bug church before?

I fell to wondering if bugs do actually use them, and then to wonder if anyone had built one, did you make your own or buy one ready made? This I gather was made by a member of the congregation.

I optimistically looked for signs of snowdrops but there weren’t any. But I did notice

Two very splendid compost bins.

When I downloaded these pictures I wondered about compost, as you do. We had two green ones which Mr E Had put behind the summerhouse, and which I found very hard to use, and then when I spotted a rat nearby last January I refused to go anywhere near them again. Richard rat man kindly looked in them and pronounced them rat free, but that set me wondering about how to have rat free compost. Any hints please?

My son whom I spent Christmas with has tested positive for covid. I have been negative every day since Christmas Eve when I started testing just to be sure, but have today been imagining I was a bit coughy and a bit sneezy, so who knows. But the upshot has been that I have stayed away from people since my walk on Monday, and done thinking instead.

Today’s topic is electric cars and more importantly chargers. Apparently there is a grant you can get which is about to stop( This is in the UK). So I looked them up, and immediately my mind got tied in knots. I mean how do I know what I might want/ need further down the line. Has anyone got an electric car or charge point at home, how can you get one, how do you find someone who knows how to do it safely. I had a conversation with the electrician who did an electrical survey on our last house for our purchaser, he was full of the “cowboys” who install them dangerously. I’m not in the market yet for an electric car, I love my little red car which is only 5 years old and done less than 20,000, why would I replace it yet, but if I have too…..

I would love to know your thoughts please on bug hotels, compost bins that rats don’t go near and electric chargers/cars please.

#12 Days Wild of Christmas- day 2

I recently came across a new to me magazine.

This is the December edition. The February one is now available.

Various crafty projects are shown, some with full instructions and some just ideas. It also has some delicious looking recipes.

One idea shown was for a table decoration, and although this had no instructions , it looked simple enough.

I assembled

Illustration in magazine shows the idea.

Three tins, I used tomato tins, no time to rust them so mine were shiny silver colour. Three candles, two I had , one I bought on Thursday from a garden centre, some red ribbon, left over from card making, and more greenery from the overgrown hedge.

The candles would need anchoring so I used some dry oasis also from garden centre.

You can tell which candles had made an appearance before.
Table Decoration from the garden.

I actually might prefer my shiny tins to the rusty ones. The Good thing about this is that everything can either be composted or used again next year. Zero waste.

I wondered if you made table decorations, are they zero waste? Love to know. Happy Boxing Day.

#12 Wild Days of Christmas

Merry Christmas Everyone. I hope you have a wonderful day. I will be with my family later , but for now let me tell you about 12 Wild Days of Christmas. In the UK , June is the month in which you try to do something connected to the natural world. 12 Days Wild at Christmas is organised by the Wildlife Trust, and as you might guess the idea is similiar ; either to go out and about in nature for the 12 days of Christmas, or do something for the environment. I have drawn up some ideas, and whilst I very much hope to go for a nice post Christmas Dinner walk this afternoon, I thought I would begin today with looking back at 2021 and my encounters with the natural world.

The idea for this post was inspired by Shazza who blogs here https://sunshineandcelandines.wordpress.com/ and Christine who blogs here https://redpanda08.wordpress.com/2021/12/20/my-wildlife-moments-of-2021/

Both of whom had some terrific experiences this year. Due to my personal circumstances I knew I wouldn’t have much to write about, but who says the every day can’t be wonderful too.

January snow, at home in Swindon.
February snowdrops at Lydiard Park
March, the ugly ducklings are nearly beautiful swans.
April blossom at Royal Wootton Bassett.
May Bluebells at Badbury Hill.
June Yellow Flag Irises at my favourite lake- Moulden Hill Swindon
July , an unwelcome visitor. If only he didn’t look so sweet. I tried very hard not to think evil thoughts about him, my nature books told me that he was doing a great job tidying up after humans, when actually he was eating my tulip bulbs. Richard the Ratman had to help.
August, my own little bit of the natural world . Baby P
September-Using the bounty from the garden for chutney
October- visiting the butterfly house at Blenheim Palace
Novemmber- Autumn Colours
December sunset, the view from my home

I can’t wait to go out and about over the 12 Wild Days of Christmas. More info here-https://www.wildlifetrusts.org/12dayswild

Back at some point with an update or two. Have a wonderful day, and if you go for a walk today I’d love to know about it, and what you may see.

Cathy x

Knit and Natter

First of all, a big thank you for all the wonderful kind messages I had in response to my last Knit and Natter. They helped me get through all the domestic maintenance issues. I have to give shout out to Facebook which has a lot of bad press, but gave a platform for my local community, to recommend good trades people. The recommendations provided me with a plumber who fixed a dripping tap, bled the radiators,diagnosed the problem with the shower and talked me through the Nest system, again; a handyman who put new covers over the air bricks to deter rodents, and an electrician who charged me nothing over a flickering light ( Mr E had assured me that the bulbs would last forever and any issues would be down to the fitting). It was a duff light bulb. Josh the electrician then went onto say if I was ever worried about something to do with the house or even just needed something from the attic to just ring him. Now that is being a good neighbour. He then went onto check that I wouldn’t be alone at Christmas. I cried after he left, such kindness. I am lucky, I will be with my family.

Once again Covid has reared its head, will we , won’t we, enter a kind of lockdown? At the moment Christmas family gatherings are on. Hurrah! I have a real Christmas tree this year. I took myself to a farm shop, with the help of the tree lady we got it in the car, back home I hefted it into the porch all by myself and with the help of son Mr T got it in the house in a stand, and decorated it.

Father Christmas is 47 years old and has witnessed all my married Christmases’. Still has pride of place.

So onto the knitting. I have to say that the cardigan I am now knitting Baby P is the prettiest yarn I have ever used.

Hayfield Blossom.

The back and fronts are knitted in one piece, bottom to top.

The pattern is pretty too.

I am loving this project.

In case of lockdown and non essential shops shutting I have ensured that crafting wise I will be ok. Hopefully we all have a healthy stash! It’s not hoarding, it’s pre-planning!

I heard this Carol on the radio, it makes me cry. It’s just beautiful, and there are many recordings, but this one by Burl Ives is unexpected. His voice was the voice of my childhood, with songs such as There was an Old Lady, and his version of “I wonder as I wander is magical.” Life is mysterious, I could have heard it at any time in my life, but it was saved for me until now. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZH2JzZOKEWU

I would like to wish you all a very Merry Christmas, and to say thank you for being out there, from Australia to Canada, South Africa to Ireland, France to England, Germany to Wales. You are all Fab U Lous, to quote a certain judge on Strictly Come Dancing.

Be Happy,

Cathyx

December Scrap Happy- 2021.

Two for the price of one today, Bargain!

I had rather a lot of blue yarn left over from the Father Christmas jumper, which I am pleased to say was a hit and worn to Christmas Jumper day. Anyway it occured to me that the blue was just the right colour for a stocking, and it so happens there is a babe in need of her own Christmas bits and bobs, and it so happened I had time enough to make one and that I was seeing her before the day! Result!

One stocking.
One mini Santa

So then I needed something to go in it and it so happened I had been to a needlefelting workshop to make a mini polar bear.

This is a mini polar bear.

For a long time he looked like a snow coloured well, let’s say something a bit smelly and rude.

And there was still space for more. And it so happened that I had been gifted some ceramic blanks, and that I had been to a craft fair and met a nice lady who talked me through the art of decorating them. You Tube had already shown me that I could paint them with acrylic paint and of course it so happens that I had some leftover.

Not too shabby for first attempt.

Now I also went to a workshop to make a Christmas wreath. I have been to such things before, but hey they are a fun and get one into the mood. The only thing that surprised me was no oasis ring for the base, instead we used newspaper. This will be rubbish I thought, it won’t last. But it has.

The one I madeat the workshop, after a week, looking ok still.

So I thought, make another, to fix it in my brain. Things need fixing in my brain. Winnie the Pooh and I have quite a lot in common. And it so happens that although I don’t actually get a newspaper these days, a neigbour a couple of weeks ago had offered her newspapers to the community before she recycled them and I had by now realised that newspaper is very useful for painting ceramic ornaments on and not getting paint everywhere, so I had taken some.

Plaited newspaper ring, made from 6 concertina folded pieces of red top shaped newspaper. This is the Swindon Advertiser, other tabloid sized newspapers are available. Two plaits held together with selotape, other sticky backed tapes …

Then take a black bin liner. Now it so happened that Mr E had bought some rather large and very flimsy ones last year for the making of leaf compost, it didn’t work and so I have been left with some unwanted bin liners. Anyway cut them into long strips about 2 inches wide and wrap round the ring.

I can hear you thinking now that this will never work, but it does, trust me.

Next plunder your overgrown hedge for greenery. Hedge cutting is on the to do list, quite near the bottom, so plenty to plunder. Then just wedge the cuttings between the liner and the newspaper. Surprisingly easy, add fir cones, cinamon sticks, baubles. These are all from leftover projects, even the florist wire I needed. (Too many crafts, maybe?)

So there we are, one wreath made from scraps.

For more Scrap Happy posts go here. http://Kate, Gun, Eva, Sue, Lynn, Lynda, Birthe, Turid, Susan, Cathy, Tracy, Jill, Claire, Jan, Moira, Sandra, Chris, Alys, Claire, Jean, Jon, Dawn, Jule, Gwen, Bekki, Sunny, Kjerstin, Sue L, Vera, Nanette, Ann, Dawn 2, Bear, Carol, Preeti, Edith, Debbierose

Hopefully that worked.

Thanks for reading my scrap happy post, the last for this year.

Tag Cloud