Hunkered

Hello All

Brrr. The cold and snow and frrreeeeezing wind has kept my walking to a minimum i.e. off bus in shop in cafe back on bus. I have instead hunkered down at home and been busy crafting.

Project one: cable hat. Using the second ball of the lovely wool gifted me by No 1 ‘daughter-in-law’ – the softest and cosiest yarn to work – I again used the Anna Hat free pattern at Margo Knits which is a small enough to sustain my enthusiasm and challenging enough to keep me on my toes …. or DPNs ….

Project two: patchwork cushion. At Christmas I promised that I would make No 1 Daughter some ‘Boho’ style cushions having failed to find any I liked and could afford. The fulfilment of my promise had to await the purchase of a new sewing machine. Now the proud owner of Jolly Janome and having practised on a patchwork pillow of my own it was time to get cracking.

The colours were ready and I had great fun deciding the layout. It was even more fun for Jolly and me to sew the strips. I even enjoyed all the pressing…am I weird?

The final result was pleasingly luxurious. Front and back.

Most importantly No1 Daughter loved it but here’s the rub …. she wants more! Looks like Jolly and I will be kept busy.

Project three: dress for me. For some time I have wanted to make myself something new to wear. I had spotted a couple of those lovely Merchant and Mills patterns that looked right up my street. Meeting up with No 1 to deliver the cushion I took the opportunity to nip into Cool Crafting in Skipton (they also have a shop in Kirby Lonsdale) and pick up a pattern … or two.

All I needed was fabric. While lying awake, head busy with crafting projects, I pictured the dress in stripes. So with No1 and granddaughter Peanut we went next day to Ilkley and the lovely ‘Eme Cloth & Yarn‘ emporium run by the friendly and really helpful Emma Garry. I loved this fabric and couldn’t resist getting enough for my frock and an outfit for Peanut. I shall just have to check with Peanut (she’s advanced for two) so that we don’t wear them at the same time!

Emma drew my attention to a rather special feature of this cloth. The selvedge.

Isn’t it beautiful? On Emma’s advice I carefully snipped it from the post-pattern-cutting cloth and plan to use it as edging in future makings. Waste not want not.

Cutting done – the Merchant and Mills pattern paper is super quality – Jolly and I were ready to roll. The instructions were pretty good although I found the diagram showing the insertion of the front bib a little confusing. None of the reviews mentions this so probably just me. Common sense, a bit of experimenting and some tacking (got to love a bit of tacking I say) soon overcame my muddle. And voila I have a new cotton dress-tunic.

Apologies for this photo but I couldn’t find a good spot to ‘pose’ the finished dress. I am loathed to model it myself but despite it’s slight nurse-like appearance – I didn’t notice this echo of Call The Midwife while working on it – please take it from me that it looks great and not at all like I have arrived to administer an enema.

And see what has been delivered while I have been tapping out this post. A new adventure beckons…

Hope you are having happy adventures and crafting time of your own.

Until next we meet,

Moke xxx

Bussing it – Two visit Herstory

Hello All

Had a fab day yesterday following the quest for this year. Quest? You say. Is this a great endeavour aimed at bringing about world peace? ending inequality? famine? Well…errr…. no. While these are definitely laudable aims me and walking buddy J have set our sights a wee bit lower….

Our target for 2018 is …. to visit all 11 of the exhibits at the Cumbrian museums taking part in events ‘Celebrating the Women of Cumbria’. Yahoo!

Humming ‘The March of The Women’ (could just have been me) we boarded the good old 555 Stagecoach Bus at Kendal and set off for Keswick and Herstory. In case you want to hum along* here are the words of this rousing suffrage anthem written by Cicely Hamilton with music by Ethel Smyth.

The March of the Women

Shout, shout, up with your song!

Cry with the wind for the dawn is breaking.

March, march, swing you along,

Wide blows our banner and hope is waking.

Song with its story, dreams with their glory,

Lo! They call and glad is their word.

Forward! Hark how it swells

Thunder of freedom, the voice of the Lord.

Long, long, we in the past,

Cower’d in dread from the light of Heaven;

Strong, strong, stand we at last;

Fearless in faith and with sight new given.

Strength with its beauty, life with its duty

(Hear the voice, oh, hear and obey).

These, these beckon us on,

Open your eyes to the blaze of day!

Comrades, ye who have dared,

First in the battle to strive and sorrow;

Scorned, spurned, naught ye have cared,

Raising your eyes to a wider morrow,

Ways that are weary, days that are dreay,

Toil and pain by faith ye have borne.

Hail, hail, victors ye stand,

Wearing the wreath that the brave have worn!

Life, strife, these two are one!

Naught can ye win but by faith and daring;

On, on that ye have done,

But for the work of today preparing.

Firm in reliance, laugh a defiance

(Laugh in hope for sure is the end)

March, march, many as one,

Shoulder to shoulder and friend to friend!

Keswick Museum certainly did not disappoint. The staff were super helpful and friendly (even after I changed their knitting example from garter to stocking stitch … sorry) and for the sum of £4.50 we each purchased a 12 month ticket for this delightful museum.

We first had a quick tootle around the ‘old’ museum where I couldn’t resist playing (or attempting to) the huge slate ‘xylophones’ housed there. These amazing instruments have a fascinating history dating back to the discovery by Peter Crosthwaite in 1785 of his first 6 ‘music stones’ (sic). He produced a further 10 musical stones over the next six months and in later years his achievements were built on by Joseph Richardson of Keswick who spent 13 years (!!!) scouring the slopes of Skiddaw for rocks with the best tone in order to produce an extraordinary instrument which comes complete with candle holders and an 8-octave range. So popular was this instrument of percussive delights that in 1848 the ‘Richardson & Sons, Rock, Bell and Steel Band’ performed at Buckingham Palace for Queen Victoria. The instrument was donated to Keswick Museum in 1917.

I am lucky enough to have heard a selection of these stones (35 rather than the full 61) during a performance at Kendal Library some years ago. They were played by composer Brian Dewan and Jamie Barnes who performed (in 2005, I think) seven new movements for the musical stones written by Brian Dewan with the assistance of Jamie Barnes. Atmospheric indeed. But I digress…. what were we here for? Ah yes, ‘Herstory’.

We had a marvellous time learning more about this famous Lakeland town through the stories of its women. What I think absorbed us most in this mountainous area so beloved of climbers were the brave women who scaled the local peaks often dressed in long heavy skirts, heeled boots and an ever present tipfer pinned to their copious coiffured locks. It reminded me of a description of Ginger Rogers: “sure he [Fred Astaire] was great, but don’t forget that Ginger Rogers did everything he did, … backwards and in high heels”.

Glad to say that some of these bold lasses donned knickerbockers under their skirts and when up in them thar hills took off their voluminous skirts and carried them (annoying enough) in their knapsacks.

My cartoon was inspired by the photograph we saw of Pauline Ranken and Lucy Smith of the Ladies Scottish Climbing Club ascending Salisbury Crags, Edinburgh in June 1908. Unlike my swinging lady above they were doing the job properly despite their attire and being suspended by what looked remarkably like string. Gutsy women.

We had a whale of a time and I would thoroughly recommend a visit to Keswick and its friendly museum post-haste.

We have now visited two of the eleven exhibitions. We tripped over the trail in the Museum of Lakeland Life (MoLLi) at Abbot Hall where we had gone to view the Folk Art exhibit. The MoLLi definitely set us on our quest as their exhibition was so cleverly woven into the museum’s existing artifacts giving us a taste of the struggles which both suffragists and suffragettes – didn’t know about the difference till then – faced in pursuing women’s suffrage.

Next on our list is the Beacon Museum in Whitehaven where they are exploring the life of Whitehaven’s Edith Brown a trailblazer in women’s healthcare and education. Watch this space….

In any event I am sure that I will be back in Keswick soon. Not only is it – to my mind – the best bus journey in England but I have a new walking book to add to my small collection.

Happy days.

Until next we meet,

Moke xxx

* Warning!!! Don’t listen to ‘The March of the Women’ unless you want it in your head all day … Shout, shout up with your song… aaaaargh!

Short walks and flying visits

Hello All

Funny little week this one with a veritable variety of small delights. The weather and remnants of the ever-lasting flu bug has limited my walking recently. With yet another forecast of f-f-f-f-reeezing high winds accompanied by a deluge (think BBC Weather marks it with charming two raindrops under a too fluffy cloud, its a deluge to me) the intrepid three J, JF and me decided that perhaps meeting for a cuppa would be enough for this week’s walk day. But we are not intrepid for nothing and decided on a short walk before the luxury of a warm coffee shop.

When I say short I mean short. Today’s walk was along one side of Kendal’s main shopping street Stricklandgate. For a Kendal walk we of course turned to Mr Nicholls and in this instance his Exploration No.1 Around Stricklandgate. To reduce the need to refer to Arthur Nicholls’ book in the everlasting downpour I made a quick (ie not very good) sketch of our half-a-street walk with all the highlights jotted down which I could preserve in a waterproof ‘envelope’.

For such a diminutive amble Stricklandgate (one half) packs a historical punch. Kendal Town Hall is presently being restored after the damage wrought by Storm Desmond (2016) so a little interior shot is all I have to give to an idea of its grandeur.

Passing up the opportunity to burst Maria-like into song we girded ourselves for a walk on the wild side of Cumbrian weather (I begin to wonder if there is any other type!).

We quickly trotted to the top of Finkle Street.

There has been much conjecture about the name Finkle. I like the old Kendalian story that it is from the Norse word meaning elbow as it does have a dog-leg as you walk downbank. My extensive research (I Googled it) is not entirely supportive of this theory and whatever you do don’t look up the definition of ‘finkle’ in the urban dictionary …. you have been warned.

Moving on. What has always intrigued me is the fact that Stricklandgate was lined with buildings on both sides (remember we are only looking at one half…) and the Pump Inn which lay across the top of Finkle Street fascinated me. I was imagining something grand like the Pump Rooms in Bath but the reality appears to have been a far cry from this. The fact that a fish market ran down Finkle Street behind it should have given me a clue. We are lucky that there are archive photographs of the Pump Inn. Here is my representation of one of them. I am afraid as it was all grey even my grey-heavy palette gave up.

Doesn’t that fish-wife look familiar?!

Tootling on we wistfully wandered on past Farrers Tea and Coffee. Ahhhh the smell of freshly roasted coffee that comes from this old coffee house is amazing. If you are up this way it is a must to visit Farrers with its wobbly timber floors and stairways. The coffee and tea are tasty as are all the home baked treats. You can also pick up Farrers’ goodies to take home. The building is fronted by the iron doorway which was put in when the building was refronted in the 18th century. Prior to this Farrers was a hostelry called the Waggon and Horses Inn.

Farrers had whetted our appetites but we carried on paying our respects to Kendal’s historic past: the buildings that survive – like the Working Men’s Institute and Globe Inn – and those long gone – like the Corn Market Hall with its grim prison named the Black Hole underneath. Further down the road (but not much further) we gave a nod to the old yards and burgage plots that now lie long forgotten under the modern Westmorland Shopping Centre which at least has hung on to our old County name.

Almost at our destination we skirted Blackhall Yard which originally housed a 16th century mansion for the first mayor of Kendal Henry Wilson and later became Hodgson’s Black Hall Brush Factory. There is a replica of the hog with bristles sign still hanging near the yard but one of the original wooden hogs can be seen at the Museum of Lakeland Life at Abbot Hall.

Finally Charlies and that long (er-hum) awaited cuppa but before we could enjoy the delights of an Earl Grey tea or three there was one last historic footnote. Charlies cafe is sited in the old house that Bonnie Prince Charlie is reputed to have stayed in on his retreat from Derby in 1745 and is where he was cared for by the Misses Thompson (make of that what you will). Ironically the house is said to have provided the same bed to the Bonnie Prince’s pursuer the Duke of Cumberland the very next night. Hope they changed the sheets … were there sheets…?

Amazing what a short walk can reveal. The same is true for a flying visit.

Yesterday I was in Carlisle to meet up with friends at Tullie House museum. I love this museum and the fact that I picked up a season ticket for £6.50 on my last trip has helped me appreciate it even more.

Having had a super catch up and lunch in the museum cafe I enjoyed an hour looking at the Percy Kelly retrospective. The work of this amazing artist is right up my street. Driven to draw everyday he generally had a linear and angular style with all those clean lined edges I find so satisfying. In addition to the drawings, paintings and prints I discovered textile prints and multi-media examples of his work. All wonderful but for me the most beautiful exhibits are his letters. He was an inveterate letter writer writing in a clear copperplate hand around the drawings he incorporated into his correspondence. His letters are erudite and incredibly illustrated how fortunate were his friends to receive them. No wonder so many survive they must have been treasured. If you have a chance to see this exhibition (which I hear is now staying in Tullie House until mid-February) I would thoroughly recommend going.

Understandably no photos were allowed of the Percy Kelly exhibition however elsewhere in Tullie House you are generally allowed to take snaps and I grabbed one of Tullie House’s latest acquisition, Driggsby.

Sadly Driggsby a rare Fin Whale was found in 2014 by a dog walker at Drigg in West Cumbria. The young whale had already perished but has been kept in the county to illustrate the wonderful sea life we have around our shores and to act as a reminder to care for the environment that sustains these amazing creatures.

Lest I leave you on a sad note here is something that made me smile. Having completed our walk down Stricklandgate J, JF and myself trotted into Kendal Library and popped our heads into the colourful children’s library where we were bowled over by our talented friend AW’s fabulous display.

Hope her hard work leaves you smiling too.

Until next we meet,

Moke xxx

Spuds

Hello All

Since my return from inter-railing around Germany last autumn I have been craving the delicious potato pancakes that my cousin RP made. Perfect fodder for these cold days. Mouth already watering I quickly checked out the recipe. And away I went.

I confess the thought of hand grating numerous potatoes was off putting but modern technology came to the aid of this lazy cook.

Whizz…whizz and hey presto grated potatoes!

Egg, breadcrumbs and seasoning added, frying pan of delight do your stuff.

After several singed efforts and working in a smoke filled room while wafting the smoke alarm the pancakes were rewardingly delicious. I have not managed to replicate the wonderfulness of RPs latkes but with lashings of maple syrup they were pretty good and perfect pancake day practice. I will be re-visiting these little beauties for sure.

Until next we meet.

Moke xxx

Keeping Warm

Hello All

Remember the lovely Christmas wools I received from No 1 ‘Daughter In Law’?

Which I had started working into a hat?

I am pleased to report that said cable hat is now complete and ready (when weather stops being so foul) for walks in them thar hills.

Hardy Herdy bear has been called in to model as I didn’t want to scare the children with a photo of myself! I love the colours of the yarn and it has made up into a beautiful cosy head snuggler.

The forecast up here (Lake District, England) is for snow and colder weather so what’s a girl/lady/woman/person to do but make use of a trip into town to stock up on the necessaries for a keeping warm and snug at home project.

Kettle’s boiled. Tea is made. Thick socks adorn feet. Chunky jumper insulates my already ample frame. Jolly Janome here I come. I may be some time.

Until next we meet,

Moke xxx

Cushioned

Hello All

I have a confession. In the crafting carnage that was Christmas 2016 I ‘killed’ two sewing machines (in my defence one was pretty vintage). I have staggered on without one ever since. I couldn’t believe how often I thought or more boringly for friends said ‘If only I had a machine ….’. Yet I procrastinated thinking I would move on – after all I am a woolly craft person – but no. Eventually I cracked. So here I am introducing my new acquisition:

My jolly Janome more formally known as Janome Decor Computer DC3050. But what is a sewing machine without a project? And with lots of scraps of fabric I thought a patchwork cushion would make a good ‘getting to know your machine’ project. Who knew how difficult patchwork is?! Well I am sure you do. Yet someone not a million miles from this keyboard rushed in very much in the tradition of fools everywhere.

It all started well. I found a fabulous blog at Very Berry Handmade telling you step by step how to make a beautiful cushion. Off I set ignoring the advice about High and Low Value fabrics but somehow stumbling upon a happy combination of squares despite my chaotic methodology:

Soon I was sewing together my squares…too soon. First off I misjudged the size of the seams. Gosh half an inch is much narrower than you think. I did manage to press the sewn strips in alternate directions let’s go with that:

Then I was rather gung-ho about sewing up the strips although as you can see I was beginning to follow the instructions and line up the seams by the last couple.

Oh well I was after shabby chic heavy emphasis on the shabby and in any event I was having a whale of a time. Soon I was adding borders.

And … wonders will never cease …. quilting!

In next to no time I was whizzing up an envelope back with a contrast binding and (fanfare please) even a cheeky buttonhole.

Voila a finished cushion!

Thanks to Jolly Janome I am now snuggled up with a very plumptious shabby and perhaps not too chic cushion. I think Jolly and I are going to get on.

Until next we meet,

Moke xxx

P.S. Just in case you were wondering I will be getting my two old machines looked at. No 1 Daughter wants the old machine and as I have discovered it is always good to have a spare or one to hand for group sewing projects. Mx

Big and Boho

Hello All

Crafty winter projects are at the forefront of my mind after a week of very cold temperatures. When the thermometer shows that Shropshire is colder than Moscow you know there is a nip in the air. To sate my need for warmth and busy work I took a trip to the wonderful Loopy wool shop in Ulverston yesterday and stocked up with yarn for knitting projects to cheer the chilly nights.

Sadly – as I am sure I will have bewailed before – despite Kendal’s motto being ‘Wool is my Bread’ there are no longer any dedicated wool shops here. Sob! Good job Ulverston is a bustling cheery town delightful to visit and Loopy’s proprietor Andrea is everything you could wish for: helpful, knowledgeable, friendly, creative and with a marvellous stock. So what goodies did I get?

I am hoping to use the Lister pattern – which I picked up a while ago – to make my granddaughter little Peanut a Fair Isle jumper. Wish me luck this is my first attempt at Fair Isle…..gulp……

As to the fabulous ‘Fusions’ wool …. we shall have to wait and see….

The eagle eyed knitters amongst you will already have spotted my big blunder. Can you see what I did wrong? Taking only a list of what I needed (or thought I needed) into the shop rather than the patterns meant that Andrea couldn’t spot my mistake. I thought the pattern asked for 9 balls. What it actually meant was 9 ounces. By the by the pattern is pre-metrication no one report me to Trading Standards. I am such a dope. I didn’t even twig when I required less of the ‘Fusion’ wool for what is a bigger project. Peanut’s mum may end up with a matching waistcoat!

To assuage my guilt at such an oversight. I turned my mind to a request from No 1 Daughter for some Boho cushions. It gave me the opportunity to return to the selvedge yarn I used for the rug. One selvedge ball later and voila a big Boho cushion for beloved offspring.

Using my giant needles I knitted up two ‘squares’ in next to no time then using thick contrast wool crocheted the two halves together around a cushion pad. The selvedge fabric make for an even cosier cushion than usual, very snuggly. Even better the cushion was so quickly made that I have had time to get cracking on Peanut’s Fair Isle jumper

Oh goodness just remembered all that wool… I had better be off.

Until next we meet,

Moke xxx