Patterns are fun …eventually

Hello All

The sun has got its hat on. Hip hip hip hooray! Yesterday was a wonderful day for a train journey to my favourite city, Carlisle. A day when all my bus train bus connections came together and travel was an absolute pleasure.

As you know there is little chance of finding me on a train without wool and a project. Yesterday was no exception.

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In truth however I was running scared. I thought after the bauble success of last week I would try another pattern from the colourful “Boho Crochet” book edited by Merenke Slump. My knees turned to jelly when I realised I was moving from a two star to a THREE star skill rating. What was I thinking?! FPtrs and FPdtrs awaited along with surface crochet and sl st into blo (don’t ask, spare yourselves).

But before I could hook my way through a new crocheting learning curve my train had pulled in at Carlisle station. I had a little time before meeting with my friends at Tullie House Museum. Time for a visit to the library to pick up some light reading and settle down with a cup of tea.

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And yes that is brilliant sunlight casting shadows! Apologies for getting so excited but we don’t get a lot of sunshine in Cumbria. Infact like Nosferatu caught out by dawn we squinted, we fidgeted, we MOVED to get out of the rays. We may not get much sun but when we do it is stunning. Our eyes need time to adjust.

It was lovely meeting up with my friends but all too soon I was time to go our separate ways. A beautiful train ride later and I was back home and it was time to face my ‘Star Fruit Pattern Rug’ fears. Gulp.

Things didn’t get off to the best of starts.  I discovered I didn’t know my WS from my RS!

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Oops!

But having discovered this fundamental I started to get to grips with the lingo and enjoy myself.

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The Star Fruit shape began to form as I worked in the surface crochet. And the motif came together with the addition of the third colour edging.

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In no time at all I had three motifs completed. Only another 67 to go and I’ll have a rustic new rug!

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In case you were wondering I am using a 4mm hook and these chunky rough dyed rug yarns from Farfield Mill.

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Patterns. Pah! Nothing to fear after all. Next time 4 stars. Bring it on.

Until next we meet, Moke x

Seagulls and Sewing

Hello All

Does anyone else have a problem with seagulls? Not in the sense that they sky dive to eat your cornet of melty ice cream or worse bomb you with an unhealthy dollop of  guano (if you don’t know don’t ask … spare yourself) but in the fact that they are dastardly difficult to draw. For reasons unbeknownst even to me I have taken it into my head that our work space needs to have its own seagull.

Before needle felting I like to do a little drawing. Things did not start well.

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Think my pencilled comments speak for themselves.

Time to take another tack. I felt like I needed to dissect a gull. Not literally of course but photographically. Nothing for it but to take my camera off to Barrow the home to many a European Herring Gull.

As I sat at the bus stop

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I geared myself up to tackle these monstrous birds. No joking they are HUGE. They make the pavement shudder when they come in to land. Boom. But Hitchcock would not be impressed. They turned camera shy.

They either came over all coy

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and turned their backs leaving me with a rather fuzzy picture of a bundle of feathers or

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they sat down on the job! Obviously they are after Equity rates darlings.

Anyhoo as sitting was the best I was going to get time to move on with the lying down gull drawing prep.

DSCI0011At least I won’t have to worry about those pesky fronty-backy knees … watch this space.

The other small fascination for the week has been brought about by a new book purchase.

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I y-e-a-r-n for some new clothes but find it hard to buy the right shape and style for me. Time to revisit my teenage years and make clothes for myself. Luckily I have no photo evidence of any of those wonderful (!) teen creations – if I did would I show them?! Habibe Acikgoz’ book ‘Bold and Beautiful Easy-Sew Clothes’ is filled with stylish asymmetrical patterns and clear instructions and advice.  Appetite suitably whetted let’s have a go.

First job will be scaling up the pattern (gulp) so I needed dot and cross paper (or a lot of sellotape to join together A4 sheets of graph paper). I had been told that there is a very good dress-making fabric shop in Ulverston so off I set.

What a lovely find. Unique Image in Market Street, Ulverston is a proper dress-making shop and yay! it sells dot and cross paper by the metre.

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This is dot and cross paper in case you didn’t know and let’s face it I didn’t until about two days ago. Now its time for a little maths (eeek) and let scaling commence.

If all else fails Unique Image also run project led courses so I may be investing in a full day workshop in their lovely airy sewing room learning how to dress-make from a professional …. I’ll keep you posted.

Until next we meet, Moke x

Book not on a train – ‘Lamentation’ by C J Sansom

Hi All Gosh how I have missed you. But in case you have not missed me I am starting small … a book review. No more train journeys now but buses instead and I am sorry but the bumps and corners mean there is no chance of any “Book on the Bus”…. baarf alert. Anyhoo in case you are eating back to the book. I have been a fan of C.J. Sansom’s Tudor lawyer Shardlake since … well since ‘Dissolution’ the first novel in the series (there are now 6). So no way would I be skipping the latest Shardlake offering from this accomplished writer. Set in the Summer of 1546 and the last months of Henry VIII’s life “Lamentation” re-unites the reader with Lincoln’s Inn lawyer Matthew Shardlake.

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Drawn into the deadly intrigues of the Court in order to protect Queen Katherine Parr Shardlake soon puts his life and those of his friends and household in peril. Matthew seeks the stolen ‘Lamentations of a Sinner’ a confessional tract written by the Queen. Shardlake knows he must find ‘Lamentations’ before it is revealed to the King and the Queen is arrested for treason or even heresy. The gruesome punishment for heresy opens the book when the tortured ‘heretic’ Anne Askew suffers a grisly death by burning. Sansom leaves us in no doubt about the dangers facing our reluctant hero. A tale of religious extremism and intolerance – sadly some things never change – in which the author brings to life terrifying times of intrigue and betrayal. However … I confess there was a lot of to-ing and fro-ing as Matthew relays information to the Parrs. A bit of judicious editing would have helped the flow of the narrative I feel. Nonetheless a good read that leaves me awaiting the next in the series. Until next we meet, Moke.

Happy 2015 and welcome to new projects

Hello All and a very Happy New Year

Well here we are 2015. Flying along through the new millennium. I wonder how they felt in 1015? Muddy? Worried about the way Cnut The Great was looking at our monasteries? Thank goodness times have changed, now we look forward to the latest Nordic Noir (especially Sarah Lund’s Faroe Isle knitwear), love the way some of us have names that end in  -son thanks to our Viking ancestors and admire the beautiful wool crafts the Norse created then and now.

If I’d any sense (and ability) I’d have lined up a wonderful Scandinavian knitwear project. You know the sort: a highly patterned cardigan with ornamental metal clasp fastenings…drool…. Although that day may come for now I recognize my limitations and present you with (fanfare) the first socks of 2015 on the DPNs.

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As you can see the going is slow due to all the little twisty cables. Nonetheless the knitting is tactile-y pleasing as the yarn is Rowan’s ‘felted tweed’ a beautifully soft mix of Merino and Alpaca (I get no payment for saying this!).

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Holidays finished and it is back to work. But it also back to one of my favourite haunts, the library. Good friend BS recommended a book by Jacquetta Hawkes and with a little help from the wonderful, knowledgeable, helpful, hardworking staff (you know who you are!) I was soon excitedly clutching a copy to take home.

‘A Land’ is a revelation. A history of the formation of Britain and its people written by a brilliantly gifted woman who brought to her writing such rich poetic humanity. Her use of Isaac Newton buried under a deluge of apples is typical of her ability to convey information – in this case stratification – memorably and with humour. Thanks B, as always a superb recommendation.

Plenty to keep me inspired and busy through the still dark evenings of January.

I wish you all the best for a happy and healthy 2015.

Until next we meet, Moke x

PS Thanks to my friend Jackie at ‘Knitting With Heart’ I am reliably informed that 2015 is The Year of The Sheep. An excuse (if one were needed) for twelve months of woolly wonderfulness. Yippee! Mx

 

 

Book on a train – ‘The Time Keeper’ by Mitch Albom

Hello All

A short post for a short read with great depth: “The Time Keeper” by Mitch Albom (2012, Sphere, London. ISBN 9781847442253). DSCI0171

This is the story of Dor the man who invented the measurement of time and thereby condemned mankind to clock-watching and himself to thousands of years as a hermit doomed to hear the pleas of humanity to give them more time, make time pass….

It is also the story of two of those that cried out to him, awkward teenager Sarah Lemon and terminally ill business man Victor Delamonte. Dor is finally released from his cave because only he can make them understand the fundamental truth about existence.

This unusually constructed novel is both gripping and thought provoking. I couldn’t put it down. It questions our modern obsession with time and contrasts it with an era when people were more concerned with survival in the moment. Exquisite.

Happy reading.

Until next we meet. Moke x

Book on a train – “The Lady’s Slipper” by Deborah Swift

Hello All

Time for a book review methinks. So if thou wilt follow me let me introduce thee to the wonderful debut novel of Deborah Swift “The Lady’s Slipper” (2010, Macmillan New writing, London. ISBN 9780230746879).

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In 1660 Alice Ibbotson of Westmorland risks everything to collect for propagation the rarest of British orchids the Lady’s Slipper. By stealing onto the property of ex-soldier turned Quaker Richard Wheeler to lift the plant Alice sets herself on a path from which there is no going back.

Through this one act Alice is estranged from Thomas her husband, becomes disenchanted with her botanical patron Sir Geoffrey Fisk and through the machinations of housemaid Ella could forfeit her life for the murder of herbalist and wise woman Margaret Poulter.

The story is largely set in Westmorland against the backdrop of a country struggling to heal the wounds of civil war. It is an era of suspicion, fear and intolerance.

I never met either of my grandmothers they both died when my parents were young. My mother’s mum had been a Quaker and I have always been interested in this thoughtful and peaceful religion. Deborah captures the early days of Quakerism when this radical pacifist movement was considered a dangerous hotbed of dissent needing to be stamped out and ridiculed. In times of political and religious violence a belief in peaceful resolution is a brave stance, where fear is coupled with bigotry it is a dangerous one.

It’s exciting to read a story set in your home county. Even more so when that county is called by its old name of Westmorland – rather than the bland Cumbria by which it is known today. Deborah has an incredible eye for detail enabling the reader to visualise, smell, hear and touch, the heady mix that was turbulent seventeenth century life.

Eager to follow the adventures of Alice and Richard through this atmospheric and cracking tale the pages turned all too quickly. With relief I am glad to see that Swift has published more books so it won’t be long before I immerse myself in “The Gilded Lily” and then “A Divided Inheritance”.

Happy reading.

Until next we meet, Moke x

PS To read Deborah Swift’s blog follow this link https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/3297217.Deborah_Swift/blog

Bank Holidays are for relaxing….

Hello All

I could be cleaning paintwork….I could be cutting the garden back (first dry day for a while)…I could be re-grouting the bathroom … dusting … washing …. ironing ….. BUT its a Bank Holiday and I am relaxing. Luverly.

Instead of being a domestic goddess (never going to happen) I’ve been spending time catching up with friends and escaping the dust-bunnies by putting my feet up with a couple of glossy magazines. What a treat.

One is an old favourite

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with wonderful articles, gorgeous photographs and witty columnists, including newbie Caz Graham whose voice will be familiar to anyone who listens to Farming Today.

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Caz once recommended a book to me, Michael Morpurgo’s “I Believe in Unicorns”. DownloadedFile

It is one of the most moving books I have read. Set in a war zone where the local library comes under threat “I Believe in Unicorns” reveals the power of story-telling to move humanity.

My other glossy was a lucky find amongst the racks of our local supermarket Booths.

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‘Landscape – Life at Nature’s Pace’ appears every three months and I picked up the latest Autumnal edition. It is absolutely crammed with arts and crafts, kitchen goodies, gardening, country matters, history and heritage and regular columns. Brilliant.

In this edition I was drawn to the article on farriers.

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My father was a blacksmith – as was his father before him – in the days when the village blacksmith turned his hand to all kinds of metal work: hoops for kegs, iron work for gates and fences and of course shoeing horses. ‘With Hammer and Anvil’ celebrates the work of today’s farrier a real fusion of ancient and modern.

I used to love hearing my father’s tales of working with horses. This well written and researched piece brought those stories back.

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Believe it or not there was also a useful article on darning! Something some of my older hand knitted socks could do with before winter. Talking of socks….

I’ve been wondering what to use my super new notebook for

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It suggests sewing I know …. wonder why?!

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But as my old pattern/row counting book is almost full a perfect use was obvious …. and with a new pair of socks beckoning my notebook was soon fulfilling its destiny.

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Do you know No1 son bought that wool and I wasn’t at all sure I was a brown sock sort of person yet it’s knitting up most pleasingly and has a touch of Fair Isle about it. Can’t wait to see the full effect.

Until next we meet. Moke x