Free As A Bird

Hello All

As a much appreciated long weekend – thank you Sir John Lubbock and your Bank Holidays Act of 1871 – stretches before me it is lovely to feel free as a bird … for the next three days at least. I have earmarked this time to get on with some crafting. But first the delightful task of getting in some supplies.

Sadly the last dedicated wool shop in Kendal has closed so I was up early yesterday morning for a trip to Ulverston on the Furness Peninsula.

Ulverston could never be dull when you are greeted by these fellows.

And who is this little chap chewing on Oliver Hardy’s trouser-leg?

Ulverston has thrived not only because of it’s connection to Stan Laurel and its wonderful people but also because of its plethora (thanks V for reminding about that word) of Indies. It is home to a cornucopia of small ‘one off’ shops. All picturesquely jolly and in keeping with this quirky festival town. They have fab names like Tantrum – a baby and toddler shop – and Squirrel, an emporium of many delights situated in an old pub. As you can see the Ulverstonians invest in making things fun and welcoming.

And who can resist this logo:

I certainly didn’t manage to!

But before I could concentrate on shopping for supplies I needed a pit stop for breakfast. Ulverston has many fabulous eateries and is a vegetarians’ haven. I made straight for one of my favourite spots, Gillam’s.

Tofu BLT …. magic. Energised by calories and tea I am off to one of Ulverston’s lovely wool shops. I embarked on my journey … all the way across the road to Loopy… exhausting.

Having regained my breath from my huge exertions I had a very happy time browsing. Back and forth around the displays of wonderful yarns I went (good grief this is sounding positively aerobic!) until I found the perfect yarn and even more importantly the right number of balls. Joy unbounded. But that is a big project for a later reveal. This weekend is about making samples for a local co-operative. So time to smell the roses and get my bus home.

OK not roses exactly – rather worryingly poppies! – but you get my drift.

Now it’s Sunday and I have sorted out what I need let’s have a look in the craft house …

Time to get cracking. First let’s finish off an easy job (or two). A wee bit of ribbon and hey presto!

One sample pair and one pair a gift for a new mother. Smiley face.

Now for those colourful tops of Merino wool. Needle felting calls.

Fingers protected by pastry cutters I can choose the colours I want and obtain a degree of uniformity to create a mini- Roundel of blooms.

That is two samples ready to present to the cooperative’s committee. Next to the yarns …. sorry teatime calls and I have some food to rustle up so those next makings will have to wait…. I will keep you (literally) posted. After all I still have day left of my long weekend!

Until next we meet,

Moke xxx

Bags are packed

Hello All

All packed and ready to go

I have been on one of my regular jaunts to Yorkshire to see No 1 Daughter and little granddaughter Peanut.

I have configured what for me is the perfect route. Now this is not for those that want to get anywhere fast. In fact it is definitely one for the proponents of slow living and those that enjoy the journey more than the destination. All aboard.

As with most of my journeys this one starts with a bus. On this occasion the 555 traveling towards Lancaster easily caught from the end of the road. Apologies if you get travel sickness but here is a snippet of what I can see atop the double decker as it bumps its way between Milnethorpe and Holme crossing the River Bela. GCW grab your paper bag.

I show you this particular section of my trip because in a way this is where all my journeys start. See those low buildings just before we cross the river? They are on the site of a World War Two prisoner of war camp. This is were my father spent his first weeks in Britain.

And while we are traveling memory lane, anyone a fan of ‘Brief Encounter’? Here is it’s iconic location and the next stage in my travels, Carnforth Station.

Which comes complete – thanks to the magic of movies – with its own heritage centre.

It certainly feels like going back to a time when travel was a more leisurely affair. While there are high speed trains that pass through the station they do so at such speed that they almost whip your eyebrows off. Our transport is a two carriage rickety sort of affair which hopefully will get me to Leeds in time to meet No 1 for lunch.

Fast(ish) forward a couple of hours. Hey not so presto and here we are in Leeds basking in the city sunshine and enjoying an al fresco lunch at Bill’s.

Complete with complimentary Pimms.

Well while I am out of my normal comfort zone I might as well go all the way. Thanks to a gift from a friend – GCW got your head out of that bucket yet? – No 1 and I were off to enjoy a hand and arm massage at the freshly fragranced Jo Malone emporium of scented delights. All kinds of ungents were laid before us.

What to choose? Hanging on just about to my old hippy credentials I went for something earthy ‘Oud and Bergamot ‘. Oud ? I hear you ask. Or at least I hope you do because I did. Oud – I was reliably informed by the helpful assistant – is a resin that forms in trees. On further research (wonderful thing this interweb) I discovered that this type of resin is particular to the tropical agar tree. Well you learn something new ….

Funny how you often meet woolly people isn’t it? Turned out the young lady expertly lathering our arms with all kinds of wonderfulness

is about to become a fashion student in London and she creates artwork using yarn. Hopefully she is reading this and will be soon letting us know all about her Etsy shop. Good luck with your studies and your modern twist on wool craft. Can’t wait to see it.

Gloriously perfumed we made a quick dash to Leeds station and boarded the 5 o’clock commuter train to No1’s village. No 1 frequently averted her eyes/exclaimed/pretended she wasn’t with me as I swung my new backbag over my shoulders with such gusto that I should really travel with a Government Health Warning. But we couldn’t be late.

This little bundle of impish joy was waiting to see us.

Doesn’t she just wear the look that says “Get me. I have just graduated from the Baby Room. I am officially a toddler. Watch out world”?

It’s great being a Grandma (Omi) and even better when despite a few weeks apart your granddaughter immediately recognises you with cries of “Ommmmmeeeeee “, hugs, kisses and an introduction to all the toys in nursery.

Back home No 1 gets little one safely strapped into her carrier and we are off for an early evening walk to the river with their two hounds G (the Chihuahua) and B (a rescued Pooley cross). Now that’s what I call getting a wiggle on.

Oh the wonders of modern technology. Anyone else remember the delights of the Box Brownie?

Turns out this was quite a doggy weekend. No 1 was off first thing to help set up the village dog show while Peanut and I enjoyed a gentle start to the day watching the Jungle Book … amazing how you remember all the songs. If I say so myself I do a mean impression of Balloo the bear … I was never destined to be cool nor glamorous… you guessed? however did you do that?

After a lie down to recover from an over energetic rendition of “I want to be like you” we took the newest of No1’s doggy additions with us to spend the afternoon at the Dog Show. So many marvellous dogs so many waggy tails and what dog show would be complete without terrier racing?! The idea is that the terriers race to the end of the course and through the hole in the centre of the hay bales. Some of them had other ideas and the chaos at the end. Hilarious.

B was an absolute star. Despite a rough start in life he was as good as gold enjoying meeting new friends and even having a go at sausage bobbing. Well done to the new pup on the block.

Too soon the time came to return home. Armed with a new book to read – very promising – thanks to No1’s partner RP I was again packed and ready to leave.

One quick look at the roundel I made for Peanut’s door as bright and jolly as ever.

Then back home for work and next weekend’s crafting to build up a range of samples…more on that then.

And that was where I was going to end today’s post but life is full of little surprises. I had just said my goodbyes to No 1 Daughter and Peanut and walked to my platform at Skipton. I was thinking that there were a lot of folk awaiting the Morecombe train when this reminder of another era chugged into the station.

And revealed itself to be the world famous.

Who’d have thunk?!

Now unless anything else happens ….

Until next we meet,

Moke xxx

Bookshop Bunnies

Hello All

Still here! Miracles will never cease. Good job too as I have a trio of little chums to introduce you to. Back in March my very good friend B and her husband re-located their home and wonderful bookshop, Fireside Bookshop, from the Lakes down to Littlehampton on the south coast.

I was on my blogging ‘sabbatical’ when B moved but shortly after they had established their new shop I sent them a little fellow to remind them of their days in Windermere. DSCI0451 Meet Gerald the first of the Bookshop Bunnies to leave the shelter of the Old Sycamore (handily situated in my garden) and travel to their favourite bookshop.

An opportunity for Gerald to be joined by some of his nearest and dearest has now arisen as B is paying a visit. And a couple of Gerald’s kin decided they would hitch a lift back with her – think the Post Office does not offer the comfort they would like – to join him at Fireside Bookshop.

Nancy has been waiting some time. Counting the days until B’s visit.
DSCI0468But with a little needlefelting on this wonderful Gotland fleece (a purchase from this year’s Woolfest),
DSCI0132she has now been joined by a traveling companion –
DSCI0133wearing a rather natty crochet shawl –
DSCI0135her grandmother Marigold.
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Today – with a small lump in my throat – it is time to say ‘bon voyage’ as they set off on their journey to West Sussex and their new home at Fireside Bookshop.

Good luck Bookshop Bunnies.

Until next we meet, Moke x

Seagulls and Sewing

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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

Do not open before Christmas…

Hello All

I’ve hit a snag. Everything I make at the moment is earmarked as a gift for friends and family. I can’t show anything I’ve made in case pressies are revealed prematurely.

Will you be satisfied with a label?

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A wrapped present?

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A small clutch of parcels?

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No? Baubles will have to save the day.

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Guard Robin is looking after a slowly growing clutch of Christmas Tree decorations. Latest addition a blue ball with yellow spots.

Before I go CONGRATULATIONS to L and D on your wedding yesterday. It was brilliant to be able to join you in your celebrations. All my best wishes for a wonderful future together.

Until next we meet, Moke x

This year’s new baubles

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Every year we have a happy little family tradition. We each get a new bauble for the Christmas tree. Consequently we never have a particular colour or style instead we have a hotch potch of all sorts on our tree. Every little trinket telling a story or recalling a memory.

This year I was thinking of buying (eeek!) our 3 new decorations for the tree. Then I got to wondering whether a shop bought  what-not would quite capture the spirit of randomness our annual tree embodies. Don’t get me wrong there are many shop purchases swinging gaily from the needly branches. But most were donated by family or chosen when our small tribe of three were together to select them. From these I remember the people that gifted them or times when my big people were little folk and insistent that a blue elephant fairy would sit comfortably next to Piglet on a peg (what were the school thinking?!).

Rather than battle through the Black Friday…Pink Tuesday…..Lemon Thurdsay…..whatever…..crowds and pick up anything that would get me out of there fast I had a little think. And when I had thunk the idea of needle felted baubles was born. I already had my needle-felting goodies out for the wreath-making-needle-felting-styrofoam adventure (don’t ask!) and was glad to put them to a happier use (I said…don’t ask).

Combining the idea of needle-felted baubles with Wool Buddies I set off. First a Herdwick body DSCI0292 then a little red tummy (you can see where this is going)

a pair of wild Marty Feldman eyes

and there we have him. The scourge of the Christmas garden that feisty little chappy Robin Redbreast. I can’t wait to see him staring out from the branches of our tree. Ok ok he is a bit scary – lucky my children are grown up – but I like to think he’ll make us chuckle. He will dangle perfectly next to the glass painted acetate Santa (we were hard up that year). By the by he is very light which is perfect for hanging from delicate branches.

Next I worked on a scrap of hand-dyed fleece, DSCI0306 and as it reminded me of a stormy sky I added a few stars.

In time honoured fashion I have saved the best for last,

colourful merino tops felted into a ball and then randomly covered with a swirly pattern. Definitely my favourite. I think I have certainly upheld the tree tradition of quirky-ness. Only problem is they are sort of addictive. Can I stop? or will we need a bigger tree?

Before I go. I went to a wonderful leaving ‘do’ at the library on Friday night and as you have had an occasional glimpse of AW’s sugar-craft I thought you might like a peek at her latest creation made for HWh who was leaving the library after an amazing 44 years!

I think you’ll agree it is beautiful. Sweet dreams.

Until next we meet. Moke x

The wreath-making-needle-felting-styrofoam adventure

Hello All

Now if I’d been clever I would have done this logically and kicked off “On the first day of Christmas ….. ” but if I know anything about myself its that I’m not that clever! So here is the start of the wreath-making-needle-felting-styrofoam adventure and it doesn’t begin with (sing along if you want) “A Partridge In a Pear Tree”.

You’ll have guessed that the theme for my wreath is the Twelve Days of Christmas. I was inspired by finding Diane Stretcher’s blog ‘Diane Again’ about the Twelve Days (bring them back!) and the beautiful drawings on the Christmas card produced for Hammersmith Hospital Kidney Patients’ Association (unfortunately I can’t trace the artist!).

I would love to say that I had perfectly emulated the artist’s quirky yet elegant style. We may have to be satisfied with quirky. You’ll see why.

Materials ready,

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equipment to hand.

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Off we go…..

In my innumerate way I started with one of the two turtle doves.

I needle felted this little fellow from the loose tops straight on to the styrofoam ring. It was not as easy as I thought. It was a struggle to concentrate on the bird’s shape while also trying to fix it to the wreath. For my next ‘rough’ – a swan a-swimming – I shaped the swan on my usual foam pad first and then ‘fixed’ it to the ring (sorry for fuzzy felty photo ),

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once the swan was on the wreath I started to add a bit of detail, some wing feathers.

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I used a similar technique to add  a geese (goose!!!)-a-laying.

Don’t ask about the Christmas Tree! it was a moment of madness that I hope I can improve when I add more texture to the piece.

So far so (sort of) good. But I see trouble ahead…..I wish I’d bought a bigger ring because I think I may struggle to fit all twelve symbols on, already my Lord-a-leaping is taking more space than he ought. Ain’t that always the way?! I may have to revert to applying the figures straight onto the styrofoam so I can use up every teeny tiny nook and cranny. Let’s wait and see.

Now it is time to rest my needle-felter’s wrist (that styrofoam is tougher than you’d imagine) and perch my embryo wreath ready for it’s picture being taken.

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Before I go it was a social Saturday yesterday. Thanks to my cousins P and A for a delicious lunch and a small family gathering. It was lovely to see them and their son my Godson with his gorgeous daughter NF. It was very special to have some time together.

One friend is not faring so well. AJ sorry to hear about your broken leg get fixed up with that plate and mend soon. Thinking of you.

Until next we meet, Moke x