Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Friendship.......

............. knowing what size needle she needs to get gauge

Monday, December 29, 2008

Seize the Year

Inspired by a thread over on the Creative Living forum this is my 2009 list - not resolutions but a focus for the year.

outside-
Set the raised veg beds
Dig out the raised flower bed and prep for veggies
Plant an apple tree
Plant brambles along wall at back of garden
Plant rhubarb
CHICKENS – where, when, how
Spend more time outside.

indoors-
Paint kitchen ceiling
Repair skirting in dining room (sand, fill and paint)
Repair walls in dining room (previous house bunny ate wallpaper and plaster!!!)
Get and fit new carpet for dining room (old carpet taken up on Saturday)
Declutter – one drawer/cupboard per week
Clean windows (14 old sash windows with small panes that I’ve been ignoring for EVER)

Creatively-
Prepare portfolio to enter the Lace Guild’s Intermediate Assessment – this is a whole year task as need to make another couple of pieces.
Spin more – preparing fleece from scratch.
Knit
Attend basket-making course (inspired by hen and encouraged by DH)
Make Christmas decorations/cards for next year in plenty of time.
Make bags
Remember how to make clothes and make some skirts for me
Write

Personally-
Spend less, budget more
Up my fitness levels
Catch bus to new job so that I can walk up and down hill to bus stop (see above)
Be consistent, efficient and effective in my studies and move forward significantly
Be a good friend

Being prepared-
Go to car boots to get some kitchen items that I’m missing
Preserve, can, pickle
Build store cupboard up
Manifest woodburner (DH is a carpenter so plenty of free wood)
Baby steps towards going off grid
Self-sufficiency here we come

Thursday, December 25, 2008

A Dales Christmas

We are well fed - turkey with all the trimmings
We are well watered - a very, very nice bottle of red wine from our landlord
We are well rested - all is calm and peaceful here in the Dale

I'm just going to pick up the knitting and sit with a glass of Bailey's and watch the Christmas special of Dr Who.

I had one of those moments today - I went to the garden to get some greenery for the table. I decided to walk all around the garden and actually look at what is growing ..........why I haven't done this before I do not know. We've only lived here for 4 years. I found four holly bushes, lots of ivy, plenty of unidentifiable shrubs and trees and there at the bottom of the garden what I think will be a good supply of elderberries next autumn. For the past couple of years I've harvested elderberries from work but as I'm moving on in January I needed to find a new supply and it would appear that it is under my nose!!!! Just need to find a good supply of sloes and I'm sorted.

Festive greetings to one and all

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Sloe Day

Few words are needed........





Looks like ribena, tastes gorgeous - raise a glass to Festive Sloe Gin

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Mince Pies

If I'd used the flash the picture would have been better but the mince pies couldn't taste any better.

This batch is for the girls at knit night tomorrow evening.

I made another four dozen today, some for home and some for work. I first made mince pies with my Granny when I was 6 or 7 and I've made them every year since - that's over 30 years of mince pie making. Granny used to make so many for church, work, home, neighbours and relatives that they would be stacked on cooling racks all over the kitchen.

As I precariously balanced a rack of cooling mince pies on the windowsill Dalesman suggested it might fall and I should move it. At that same moment I felt as if Granny was with me and I laughed with her remembering all the times her husband had said the same to her. I love making mince pies.

Friday, December 12, 2008

The Magic Apple Tree

This post could result in impulsive clicky finger syndrome

I hang out on several forums on the internet. I get to chat with like minded people about the things that are important to us.

Our grandmothers chatted over the garden fence putting the world to rights. For many of us those days are long gone. Perhaps we don't know our neighbours. Perhaps we work outside of the home. Lots of people don't hang their washing on the line, or sweep their front path, or scrub the door step like our grandmothers did. Opportunities for general chit chat about life, the universe or 'her over the road' and her latest fella have gone. Coincidentally at the same time as the lifestyle of our grandmothers has disappeared there has been a significant increase in mild to moderate mental health illness - depression and anxiety are skyrocketing. It's possible to get a short course of counseling through your GP - to talk about life, the universe or how you feel about 'her over the road' and her latest fella.

I digress.

One of the most dangerous things about chatting with like minded people is the book reviews. I have bought many books recently - fortunately all second hand. This is a review of my current favourite......

The Magic Apple Tree - A Country Year by Susan Hill



I have read four chapters of this book and it is truly magical. She starts the year as winter descends on Moon Cottage. She has a snow day!!! She tells the story of Mr Ash the eccentric woodsman and her erratic supply of wood for the stove. There are recipes. Let me repeat that - there are recipes. This book may just be perfect.

Written in the eighties Susan Hill, a bestselling author, playwright, wife and mother, moved to Moon Cottage and began living the simple life. Slap bang in the middle of the Thatcher years, the years of 'you can have it all' Susan Hill was living with the seasons, in a village where ritual and festivals marked the turning of the year.

If you are in anyway interested in living a simple life, downsizing, self sufficiency, village life then I cannot recommend this book highly enough.


Thursday, December 04, 2008

Lots of pictures

Our village has the cutest church:

This bus is responsible for our enforced snow day it was stuck on the hill until noon and effectively cut the village off from civilization:
Somehow our postie managed to get through - he was seen driving his van backwards up the hill. Not only this but he did it all with a smile:
I love this picture:
Off a sledging we go:
Our lane:

The village children having fun:

Now I'm sat by the fire eating warm mince pies and knitting.

Snow Day


We are snowed in!!!! The cars can't get out of the drive, the lane hasn't been cleared and it's still snowing!!!!

We are all going sledging later : )

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Be careful what you wish for

Several years ago I wished I lived somewhere there was a group of people I could knit with on a regular basis. I wished I could find a workshop/class locally where I could learn to spin.

Well now four years later thanks to Ravelry I have a group of friends who I sit and knit with all the time. Take last week for example we were sit in front of a woodburning stove, drinking red wine, eating gooey chocolate cake straight out of the oven, chatting, laughing and knitting.

This weekend I hosted a spindle spinning workshop. There were eleven of us, two teachers, three husbands and an adorable toddler. We sat in my lounge and tired with various amounts of success to spin. Some had a go and decided pretty quickly spinning wasn't for them, some decided they are definitely wheel spinners, spindle spinners or both. There was a yummy pot luck lunch - I love that somehow when everyone brings something you never have too many deserts or too many quiches - it always seems to work out right.

Just be careful what you wish for you never know where you'll end up.
I like rituals - not routine but ritual. I think there is a significant difference. Having a cup of tea at 10.30am every day may be routine but if done mindfully with purpose I think it's a ritual.

When I warm the pot and pour the tea at 10.30am everyday I think of Dalesman who is doing the same wherever he's working that day. I think of Dalesboy stuck in a school lesson 'not allowed' to have a drink. I think of my friends and the visitors at Findhorn where the whole community stops at 10.30am for tea and biscuits. I think of people all over the world not able to have the luxuary of choosing to take a break. I drink my tea and think of peace, pray for forgiveness and mindfulness.

I am not alone at work with my 10.30 ritual. Matilda makes a pot of real coffee every morning - it is also a ritual for her. I find that ritual is even more significant with nice things - a china tea pot and handthrown mug, a handknitted cozy...............


I hope Matilda likes it.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Barter Time

With my first wage 20 years ago I bought this..................

In the past 20 years it's survived 10 house moves, had three remote controls, consolled me when my heart was broken, kept me distracted when in early labour, coped with the introduction of Channel 5, played endless episodes of Thomas the Tank Engine when Dalesboy was recovering from (numerious) operations. Lately it's got a little forgetful. I think it's down to age as it keeps forgetting where the channels are and needs frequent retuning.

This week Dalesman did a little bartering - hanging two doors for a brand new unused TV. I've had my old TV longer than I've had Dalesman (and therefore Dalesboy) we've been through a lot together. I know it's only a TV but the memories are very real....................farewell little black box.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Sometimes life is kind

This week has been kind.

Once I'd got over my maudlin moment (and thank you to everyone for their kind words) last week I had a birthday. It was a lovely day spent with family and friends. Dalesman and Dalesboy treated me to a book and a CD........


Dalesman also found this beautiful cantilever wooden sewing box from a charity shop. Isn't she gorgeous - really old and well used. It needs a small repair but that's no problem for Dalesman.


In the evening we went to a saxophone concert and then on to a party given by some of the musicians. A really nice way to end a special day.

I know some really creative and gifted people. People who share their creativity with lucky, lucky people. My beautiful friend Colly came to visit for on Sunday and look what she has made for me..................


Isn't it gorgeous? A perfect match in my lounge its perfect for days like this - cold and chilly, sat in my chair with my knitting. I'm still gobsmacked that Colly made this for me - I know we shall share many snuggly hours together.

Monday I had a first appointment with a medical herbalist. That was lovely also and left me feeling very positive and upbeat.

I found out when I got home on Tuesday that I had been invited to an interview for a job I'd applied for a couple of weeks ago. Slightly short notice as the interview was on Wednesday morning. Lovely people, lovely location and lovley job and now it's mine all mine.

I am very fortunate to live in North Yorkshire in Nidderdale. It's a beautiful place almost untouched by much of the madness that you see in towns and cities in the UK these days. There are 15,500 people and 200,000 sheep - perfect. I feel a huge sense of belonging to the Dale and try to coexist in harmony with the rhythm of nature and pull of the seasons. Now I will be working for the Dale.

Nidderdale is a designated 'Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty' which means that it is protected from over development and other activities that would damage the geographical and historical significance of the Dale. However, there is a danger that such protection may lead to economic and social deprivation as landowners, famers, business, homeowners etc struggle to maintain a viable livihood within the confines of the regulations. In order to support economic and social development there is an ANOB office that does all sorts of wonderful work to support all these people and keep the Dale 'alive'. I have been offered a job as the Admin Officer for the ANOB office and I am thrilled.

More beautiful presents came my way during the week. Look how cute these are................


Made by nlpgirl they are filled with Lavender and are just the cutest thing. The last of the pressies arrived Saturday morning from my Mother-in-Law.........


Also the oven is finally mended it took three weeks and three oven engineers to decide that it wasn't the fan or the microchip but the lightbulb had blown - I'm sure there's a joke in there somewhere ; )

Friday, November 14, 2008

Dear Mummy

I was wondering today if it's hard for you? Do you have to decide every day not to call me? Do you walk past the telephone and make a conscious effort not to dial my number.

By going away you made it easy for me. I don't know where you are. I can't make the decision to call you. I don't get the opportunity to regret putting a letter in the box or to drive past your house in case I see you.

I've tried to understand I really have. But you know what I don't think I ever will. My child is the most important thing in my life. I hate it when he goes away without me - or if I go away without him. He comes first. That's before me. Before my husband. Before anything or anybody. I'll always be there for him.

You know what that's like. Your Mother was an angel here on earth. She was always there for you. It didn't matter what you did she was just there. That's the kind of Mother I want to be.

This week I've been thinking about you a lot. Partly because of my courageous and wonderful friend Anne. For the first time in my life I feel as if somebody understands how I feel. Partly because it's 39 years since we first met - mother and daughter.

You taught me to knit and as I sit tonight knitting the tears rolling down my cheeks I wonder if we shall knit together again - daughter and mother.

Lots of Love
Samantha

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Made by hand


Hand made socks in hand made shoes - I have happy, happy feet.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Simply Easier

I read a great book a couple of years ago called the Lilypad List: Seven Steps to the Simple Life: Seven Steps to Simplicity.

There was one thing in that book that really resonated with me. Leading a simple life is not about wearing a hair shirt. The example she gave was her ipod. At the touch of a button she had immediate access to thousands of records, audiobooks and podcasts on a device that would slip in her bag or pocket - simple.

I like to invest or spend as Dalesman calls it in things that make live simpler - I'm typing on a MacBook cos for me that's easy (I did have to save up for a few years though), I have a set of Knit Picks Options for my knitting and a Moleskine notebook for notes - these are things that make me happy and I justify them on the basis that they make my life easier - until yesterday an uproved theory.

In August I cast on for a baby blanket - a cute blanket which has cables and different stitch patterns. There's no memorable pattern repeat and the pattern is written up in a really confuddling way that involes the continual turning of pages. Each of the first 7 rows was ripped out at least once and eventually it was thrown in a corner to hibernate.



Yesterday the Nutty Knitters end of year KAL challenge was thrown down - to finish UFOs/WIPs. I recklessly put the baby blanket into the challenge and picked it up, found my place on the pattern (miracles do happen) and started knitting. After an hour my hands hurt, I'd ripped back each of the rows at least once and I had opened the red wine.

I know I think I'll use my beautiful esty stitch markers that were a gift from Tina to mark each pattern. Duh that's better I can see immediately that I'm at the right point much easier but my hand still hurts and it's getting heavy on the needles. I know I'll use my Knit Picks Options rather than the wooden needles. Duh that's better - easier to hold, easier to move the yarn. So now it's simply easier.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Saturday Kitchen 10am


I love Saturday mornings. Today I was up at 6am and spent a quiet couple of hours drinking tea, knitting and catching up on my favourite blogs and podcasts.


Then it's into the kitchen. 'Throw it all in' soup for lunch on the go and a quick shake of the sloe gin.

Normally I'd get the bread for lunch on the go but I broke the oven yesterday. After baking hob nobs, a loaf of bread and slow roasting elderberries in cider vinegar for 5 hours it 'exploded'. Good job there's some bread left from yesterday.

The elderberries are turning into Pontack Sauce in the preserving pan on the hob.

There's laundry in the machine and in a minute I'm going to do a big pot of chilie for supper tonight - only I would have guests for supper the day after the oven blows up!!!!!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Just Singing

Bye, bye Miss American Pie
Drove my Chevy to the levee but the levee was dry
Them good ol' boys were drinkin' whiskey 'n' rye
Singin this will be the day that I die.
This will be the day that I die

This evening Dalesboy and I were driving through the Dale in the van. The music was turned up and we were singing loud and singing proud.

Just singing - Mother and Son
- just being.


Thursday, October 23, 2008

I realised I never told you about the second week of my holiday in August - well this is where I went.......



It's not the first time we've been and it certainly wont be the last - maybe one day we'll live there.

Our week was called Family Living in Community and as well as working at Cluny Gardens each morning we had group activities in the afternoons that included going into the forest and making environmental art from found materials and a trip up the river to swim and then drinks around the campfire. The children went off and did their own things whilst the parents spent time in reflection. We laughed, we cried, we baked apple crumble and drank tea. It is the place in the world where I feel most able to be me, where all our ideals and values are the norm. It's also a challenging place to be but it's the place where I feel most alive.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Thatchers Child

I am what sociologists have come to call a child of the Thatcher Generation. I grew up being told I could have it all - career, possessions, wealth, children. What's more I was told that I could have it on my terms. For a while I lived that life. I was suited and booted in designer labels, made up and coiffed accompanied by expensive accessories. I spent Christmas's in St Moritz and summers on Lake Como. I had access to a private plane for trips to Paris and Milan. I have eaten at some of the most renowned restaurants and stayed at the most spectacular of hotels. I attended glitzy charity events and more than the occaisional film premier.

For those of you who know me now - yes it's true for a while that really was my life.

There are reminders now - at the back of my wardrobe there lurks a Prada bag and a pair of Chanel killer heels.

I've been thinking about my previous life for the past couple of days.

This weekend Dalesboy was part of a recital for outstanding young muscians - he played for almost 30 minutes solo - it was amazing.

Afterwards as I stood talking with one of the organisers I suddenly realised that I was being treated like the poor relation. I had been listening to a lively conversation between her and some other parents earlier and was intrigued so was looking forward to a similar chat. I found she was not so patiently explaining some of the classical music to me as if to a child - amusing as my favourite radio station is Classic FM. There were references to a conservatoire in Paris which she apologised for and then explained just what one is and tried to 'dumb down' Paris.

For a moment I wanted to stop time and show her the sum of my experiences. Put on all my old airs and graces, speak with the posh voice and drop names until she was buried under them. I wanted to tell her (teacher at a private school) which boarding school I went to and where I was 'finished'.

Instead I thanked her for her skills in organising the event and walked to my beautiful old car, drove to my rented house in the middle of nowhere, toasted home made bread to have with home made jam and spent the evening knitting socks and listening to Sibelius.

This post started out as one on living a simple life and turned into something completley different. I don't for a moment wish for my old life and yet I am irritated by how I felt and the fact that my fingers have typed this when I wanted to be all mindful about simplicity - what's that about?

Monday, October 20, 2008

Seasonal Gifts

I love Autumn. It is absolutely my favourite season.

I love the way the weather changes and the way the light is different.

I love the colours of the trees and the way the leaves let go to allow the tree to store energy and prepare for new growth next spring.

I love sweeping my path with a hazel broom.

I love dark nights by the fire with my knitting. I love wearing my knitting and being all snuggly.

I love roast dinners and casseroles with hot sticky puddings.

I love pots of coffee with home made biscuits for elevenses.


I've been poorly. In the past 5 weeks I've had two colds (one I think may have been closer to the flu), a chest infection, a cough and my asthma has made it challenging to talk, move and of course breath. I've been off work and slept a lot. I've managed to knit and read books. I've not been out of the house much.

Last weekend as I walked into a petrol station I had a horrible coughing fit. The beautiful, serene and wise young woman behind the counter gave me a huge nurturing and understanding smile and said:

"I see you are blessed with a seasonal gift"

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Thingmas

About this time of year many people who knit or embroider start to turn their crafty fingers toward Thingmas (you know the big Christian holiday that takes place in December).

On the internet most of the forums I chat on talk has already turned to what they are going to be knitting for whom or whether that stocking they are embroidering will get finished for this year or next.

There are ornament exchanges, swaps and advent exchanges. All over the world friends who have often never met in real life are making gifts for others.

This is on top of the usual gift preparation, house decorating, shopping, cooking, baking etc that they will be doing.

I think it’s a wonderful expression of friendship, of family, of community but it also makes me sad.

Sad that so many of us can’t pace ourselves, sad that so many of my friends run themselves ragged, sleep less, spend more than they can afford, argue with their family and have such high expectations. Sad that their gift to another comes with expectations. Expectations of what they are going to receive in return.

So whatever your choice please do it wisely, with no guilt or anxiety and no expectation. Enjoy every minute of every day for the right reasons – whatever they may be.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

T'was a perfect day

At 8.30 this morning I waved the boys off to a football match - father/son bonding so I stay at home.

Leek and Potato soup was bubbling on the stove and water, yeast and honey was performing some kind of alchemy in the pot and a load of laundry was drying on the line.

I went up to my study - which I had spent over four hours tidying last weekend - it looks good!!! I wrote a blog post about beachcombing, checked my emails and hung out on Ravelry for a wee while.

Returning to the kitchen I turned the now frothy yeast potion into dough for Foccacia bread. I must say a great big thank you to Green Twins Mummy and her fantastic blog - In Search of a Simple Life. She writes a fantastic blog - go read it - she recently recommended a receipe book - Apples for Jam - so far everything I've cooked from it has been amazing, loved by the whole family and real adventure with good family meals.

Whilst the bread was proving for an hour and a half I went and wrote an essay - well actually I fine tuned an essay - sorted out the references and added a few poignent paragraphs. Phew it's ready to send off for marking - it's only taken almost two years!!!

A pot of Tangerine Sage tea and a good book joined me in the garden - where I had a bolt of inspiration for a presentation I have to do - YAY.

Then this happened...............


......for some reason the inner door of my oven decided to explode. Dalesman cleaned it out and it cooked the bread perfectly. Lunch was yummy.

A lovely couple of hours sat on the sofa watching fantasy drama on the TV whilst knitting on Lady Eleanor - I'm really please with how she's looking. I've set myself a target - two tiers a day and I should finish it in a fortnight - just in time for the cooler weather.


It's been a lovely September day and we decided to build a fire this evening to burn some wood offcuts (did you know Dalesman is a Carpenter).


We sat around the fire singing songs and chatting. Some times perfection takes a little work but it was so worth it.

Beachcombing

Yesterday was a beautiful September day - the sun shone and there was a gentle breeze - glorious.

We abandoned the Dale and drove to the coast for the afternoon. We expected it to be really busy - it wasn't. There were a few families enjoying the weather - children playing in the waves, dads trying to sleep and mothers sat watching.

I stood for ages looking at these beautiful beach huts -

Apparently there are 48 and they are so cute. Some people had personalised the inside with lovely curtains, shelves and crockery. We were walking past at supper time and there were bbqs, sleeping babies, grandmothers reading and wet towels drying. I would love one of these. There are three tiers and the ones at the top had more grass outside and caught the evening sun - fantastic.

We carried on walking around the bay - Dalesboy wanted to go off exploring the rock pools so he went one way and Dalesman and I walked along the front chatting and keeping a parental eye on the explorer.

Slowly we meandered around the front and then decided to head back and get an ice cream. As we reached the point where we had left the beach I realised the tide had come in so much that the rock pools were now cut off. Rethinking my hatred of mobile phones I quickly phoned Dalesboy and suggested that he make his way back - NOW.

I couldn't see him from where I was but decided to stay calm - he's a resourceful chap and I was sure he would be fine. Dalesman walked back along the front to keep an eye on him. I sat down on the steps to the now submerged beach and took out the knitting. I find it impossible to panic when I'm turning the heel on a sock.

I really wish I'd remembered to take my camera as eventually walking around the corner of the sea wall along a narrow ledge came a pretty teenage girl followed by Dalesboy - safe and sound. Apparently they had been the only two people on the rock pools and Dalesboy had 'helped' her to safety.

Dalesboy wants to go beach combing next weekend - I can't think why?

Friday, September 05, 2008

One more sleep

The day is nearly here - tomorrow morning at 7.30am I'll be meeting my friends at the train station to get on the train to London. (1st class!!!!)

Tomorrow is IKnits day. Tomorrow the Yarn Harlot is giving her first talk in the UK.

Tomorrow I'm shopping, laughing and having fun.

My bag is packed.......


............with lots of space to put my shopping.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Reflections on Motherhood

This morning I read my friend Kelly's blog and all day I’ve been thinking about Motherhood and what it means to me.

I remember the day I became a Mother – my son was 3 years old. I walked down the garden path after a stressful day at work pursing my career and as I did so a thick fog lifted and I walked into the house as a Mother.

I don’t know what caused the shift or why it took 3 years after my son was born. I do know that for some people it happens shortly after their baby is born, for some many years later and for some not at all – even when their own children are parents they still don’t embrace the role of Mother. I don’t even think you have to have children to be a good Mother. I have friends who don’t have children who have the same attributes as many Mothers I know.

I also know that we all do it differently and it is so easy to judge each other, criticise and be unsupportive.

As a Mother I………..

Feed and water
Clothe and bathe
Kiss and cuddle
Worry and fret
Laugh and cry
Shout and scream
Set rules and boundaries
Choose my battles
Always love even when I don’t always like
Am vulnerable and anxious
Provide shelter and warmth

So Kelly you’re a great Mother – we all are – and if I ever doubt it I just have to take a look at the results of my mothering……….


Monday, August 25, 2008

A six inch hoop

During week one of my holiday I stitched a small project. It was a rainy afternoon and it was wonderful to sit in the tent listening to the rain.

When I'm at home I stitch using a Lowery Stand and a wooden frame.



I have a tendency to stitch large projects so this combination works for me. However for some reason Dalesman said I couldn't take the stand/frame combination and was 'allowed' one bag!!!!!

Bestest stitchy friend Colly who does some beautiful work only ever uses a six inch hoop as does Athalie and some other good needlewomen I know!!!!! I have always resisted this option as I wasn't sure that I would be able to do it.

There I was sat in the tent with a six inch hoop and a little piece of stitching. I threaded the needle, adjusted the head torch and consulted the chart.

Three hours later the piece was finished, it had stopped raining and I had had a lovely afternoon. I normally stitch using both hands so it felt strange to be holding the hoop with the left hand and only use the right hand for stitching. My tension was different but consistent so that was OK.

I can't really imagine using a six inch hoop for everything but I will definitely add it to the stitching bag.

I'm going to be working on Pretty in Pink...........


.........for the next 10 years and when I next pick it up I'm going to try the hoop instead of the sit on frame that I have been using when working on it. The good news for me is that if this works I can stitch in bed!!!!!

Maybe I should listen to my friends more often.............

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Back

Back to a real bed
Back to four walls that don't move in the wind
Back to electricity
Back to indoor plumbing
Back to Stuff

Week one of this year's holiday was spent in a tent at the very north of Scotland. We were a 2 minute (if that) walk from the beach. The weather was kind - beautifully sunny most days.

Normally I over plan our family trips knowing exactly what, where, when and how and I fret if we don't run to (my) schedule. This year I tried something new - no planning.

We left home at 5pm on a Friday evening for a 500 mile journey. We had no bed booked for the night - we had no campsite booked for the week. Actually that's not as foolhardy as it sounds. The campsite at which we wanted to stay doesn't take bookings and is really a caravan site with four tent pitches. So I crossed my fingers and toes that it would be OK.

The journey was long and by about 11pm we were tired, cramped, hungry and really wanted a bed. However, there was no room at the Travel Inn, Premier Lodge or Thistle Hotel (Perth Highland Games).

We pressed on to Inverness and ended up spending a couple of hours trying to sleep in the car park of a full hotel. Able to sleep no longer Dalesman drove onward and upward. There isn't much after Inverness - but it was very early in the morning and the roads were empty. Sleeping in the car for another couple of hours left us grumpy and achey. It was worth it when we arrived at the campsite of choice and got a pitch!!!!!!!

Armed with Rough Guide to Scotland, Cool Camping - Scotland and the relevant OS map we had some great adventures.

There were fantastic forest walks, a sand sculpture competition, surfing, a tea shop where I got to talk about spinning and washing fleece and sign the visitors book with a Get Knitted pen (theirs not mine). We walked to the most northerly point of mainland Britain (not John O'Groats) Dunnet Head.


The weather was gloriously sunny and we had some amazing bedtime walks along the beach.....


The one day it rained I sat in the tent all cosy listening to the rain and stitching on a small project I'd taken with me - it was actually perfect. Even though we were in the middle of nowhere I managed to find a wonderful needlework/quilting/knitting shop just 10 minutes from the campsite - what could be more perfect!!!!


I managed to do a wee bit of knitting each day also - see the bag a Namaste Laguana the perfect vacation project bag - especially when Dalesman said I could only take ONE bag with me!!!

So that was week one - for week two we drove 3 hours south to the Findhorn Foundation..........but that's another blog entry.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

It's a secret

I'd really like to share some of the wonderful things I'm creating at the moment.

There's a gorgeous piece of knitting, it's in a really beautiful colour with the most fantastic yarn. It's almost done and is going to look amazing.

Then there's a piece of needlework. It's a fun stitch - really cute.

However, there's a catch - they are both secret projects.

One of the great things about being part of an internet community is that there are frequent opportunities to create things for other people. The bad thing is that while you are creating them you can't talk about them cos they are a secret.

Sometimes the person will know they are getting a gift but not know what it is or who it will be from. The piece of knitting is part of the the Summer Swap on the At Home in Harrogate. We will be exchanging gifts in September and until then I must knit in Secret.

I am able to tell you even less about the piece of needlework - that is so secret I may have to turn the 'puter off while I stitch - just in case you can see it!!!!

What I can share with you is the progress on The November Topaz Fairie by Mirabilia


I had a terrible shock at the weekend. I had ordered the beads for this piece from my local needlework shop. The bill was £56.00!!!!! I am sure she will be stunningly beautiful and that the beads will add a whole new dimension to the piece of work. However, I am so pleased that my Husband doesn't read my blog. Son if you're reading this please remember sometimes a Secret is a good thing (see above).

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Once upon a time there were two friends....

......bestest stitching friends they shopped for stash together, planned projects together and laughed till they cried together.

One day Colly decided to visit Samantha and bring lots of stitching with her. On the day Colly came to visit the village that Samantha lived in was celebrating Summer by hosting a Village Show.

People came from far and wide to enter vegetables, flowers, breads, scones, jams, sponge cakes, knitting and embroidery into the exhibition.

Colly and Samantha chose some of their favourite pieces of stitching and took them down to the large marquee.

It was a hot, hot day in July when Colly and Samantha nervously entered the Marquee to see what the judges thought of their work. The two friends walked towards the table each hoping the other had won a prize.

As they approached Samantha saw a yellow ticket by Colly's stunning piece of Hardanger.............



Samantha's bell pull was proudly sporting a blue ticket......


And then they saw a pink ticket by Colly's beautiful sampler ............


A masterpiece by Colly.

The two friends hugged each other happy that they had both won a prize. Later that day when Samantha and Colly's lover Richard went down to collect the prize money (£4.50 to share) there was a surprise.

The Mrs S B Ward Cup, for best embroidery, knitting or sewing in Show was awarded to Mrs C Robinson of Nottingham, England............


Colly was so excited as it was the first time she had won a cup and Samantha was happy because the name of her bestest stitchy friend was going to be next to hers.

The two friends decided that every year they would both enter stitching into the Birstwith Village Show...........................in fact I've got to go and work on my entry for next year!!!!!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

UFO Night - Week 2

Last night was the second week of UFO night hosted by Moll on A Crafty Natter.

I pulled out Alpine Seasons and the universe arranged for both DH and DS to be out all evening.

My aim was to place a ring of single cross stitch in the correct postion. The ring has four diagonal rows in one colour and four straight ones in another.

I was starting each row by checking placement against one of the rhodes stitches in the body of the work.

I have a version of the pattern that had been released monthly - this is part 4 & 5. I also bought a version of the pattern as a whole when Martina released it a couple of years after the online class finished (it has been a UFO for a long time!!!!).

I used a combination of those two pattern to cross reference positioning - I knew it would take a while but I really wanted to get this spot on.

Three hours later I was almost in tears. Sometimes it just doesn't go right does it? No matter how many times I tried I would get one row positioned spot on then work the next two - check the position and I would be way off!!!! The more I checked against the patterns the worse it got.

Can you guess where this is going?

The patterns are different - the earlier version has 30 stitches on the diagonal and the newer one 34!!!! I was counting from the earlier version as it's on paper and a good size, the newer version is on the computer. As I stared in disbelief at the patterns I did some counting on the piece and that was it - those four stitches on each diagonal were having an interesting effect on the positioning of the straights.

I guess that's why they call it counted embroidery.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

The Internet

Have I mentioned the internet recently? I spent a LOT of time on the internet - I've not timed it but it must be 3 to 4 hours a day - off and on whilst I'm doing other things.

Yesterday looked something like this:

6.30am Check a Crafty Natter forum, Ravelry, Mirabilia Stitchers forums

9.00am Check a Crafty Natter
Read some blogs
Order some stash pressies from Jaynes Attic for the Advent Exchange

12noon Check Yahoo Groups - Châtelaine Designs - Celtic Mystery and Design Support Group
Check Ravelry
Spend some time on the Châtelaine Designs YUKU group deciding if I'm going to do the next Christmas Mystery and sign up for the Online Class number 25
Check a Crafty Natter

2pmish Read some blogs
Check a Crafty Natter
Order a chart online from the Silver Needle
Check out The Gift of Stitching Yahoo Group

5pm Check a Crafty Natter
Try to source some threads for the BAP that is the embroidered bag project (I will share soon I promise)
Update my blog
Check Ravelry
Check the Silver Needle again to see if they've uploaded their What's New page today
Read some more blogs

9pm Check a Crafty Natter
Start looking for fabric for the Celtic Mystery have a look at Silkweaver - I love their fabric
Try and choose a Biscornu from the Gift of Stitching Biscornu issue

10pm Check a Crafty Natter
Turn off the computer


In addition I've checked what motorbike Steve McQueen rode in the Great Escape, booked a campsite in Thurso, Scotland, checked my bank account and sourced some stairs for a loft extension that DH is building.

I've never analysed my computer use before and I can't decide if it's good or bad. I read and type quickly so although I've done a lot I've done it efficiently and quickly. I love the internet - I've made some excellent friends, done some really exciting things and discovered some of my favourite designers.

I love the way Martina Weber of Châtelaine designs uses the internet to release her patterns. I love the way the Silver Needle features it's products and inspires me to try new and challenging things. I've only recently found Papillion Creations - I love that the world is literally at my fingertips.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Moosie

It always amazes me when I realise all over the globe there are individual cratfspeople making unique handcrafted things.

.......the embroiderers are stitching heirlooms
.......the knitters are creating with sticks and string
.......the lace makers are weaving intricate webs of thread
.......the photographers are capturing memories
.......the woodworkers are sculpting with nature
.......the painters are inspired by colour

The beauty of these things created is often a joy to behold and demand for them can be huge.

Almost three years ago while hanging out on the Internet I discovered the Moosie Spindle. Made by Jonathan Bosworth out of the antlers of Moose there is a waiting list as only a few are made each year. This summer has been exciting because it was the turn of the herd my Moosie belonged to.

When you order from the Journeys Wheel you don't just click buy and pay your money. The whole experience is almost magical. Sheila has a most wonderful way with words and a fantastic imagination - every email I received was a treasure. Choosing my spindle from those created this year and requesting the custom made shaft was simple and fun. Waiting for my Moosie to cross the pond was exciting................................


It spins like a dream - balanced and steady it goes forever. I've never met a Moose but I think they are solid, stable creatures who get on with life in a steadfast way - that's exactly what this spindle feels like to spin with.

I love the way it's got marks on it from adventures past - to me this looks like teeth marks - some small animal nibbling on the antlers................


It came with a wee bit of pink sparky roving to keep it happy on the journey - I think I need more to keep it happy on our forthcoming holiday.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

About Me

What do you say?

I'm taking part in an Advent Exchange on one of the forums I chat on - 24 small pressies and one bigger one. I have a partner....ssshhhhh it's a secret and I hope a partner has me!!!

To make it easier for our partners we have been asked to have a wish list - that's easy - but also to do an About Me post - likes, dislikes etc. I'm finding it quite hard.

What do you say about yourself -

"Hi I'm Samantha and I like children, puppies and hope to achieve world peace"

or the more realistic

"arrrghhh what.....er........in a minute....................yes it's lovely........................where did I put it............chocolate, wine, cake and snogging.........."

There are the basics - I like natural, earthy tones. I don't do cute, Disney or cartoons in general. I love accessories, notions and bits and bobs in general. I knit, stitch, make bobbin lace like reading and folk music. Please don't send chocolate/food with nuts in cos DS has a nut allergy so no nuts in our house - and yes I have heard all the jokes prompted by that statement.

Or do I get more philosophical - as I look towards 40 I realise that life is about simplicity, nurturing and enjoyment. Being a mother and a wife is the most fulfilling thing I have ever done and it defines who I am. I have a very strong spiritual/moral/ethical compass and don't appreciate 'cruel' humour, violence or nastiness of any type. I live one moment at a time - now - not in the past or in the future. I'm not a complicated person - what you see is what you get.

Actually I think what I might say is:

Dear Advent Exchange partner - thank you very much for taking the time and trouble to think of me and my likes and dislikes. Could I ask that at least 4 of my presents aren't sent to me but to a charity of your choice. I'm sure I'll love every one of my gifts because you have chosen them (but I may like the chocolate ones best of all).

Can you believe I'm thinking about Christmas in July?!?!?!?!?!?!

Friday, July 18, 2008

It's taken a while

I started this piece of bobbin lace 18 months ago.......


It's been the hardest piece I've ever done and I'm really proud of it. I'm working towards the intermediate lace guild assessment and I've still really a long way to go before my portfolio is ready - at least a year.

Every Thursday evening I have a 2 hour lesson - well it's more of a chat, cup of tea and a lesson.
I really enjoy the challenge of making lace - although it's easier that you might think it's can still be quite challenging. I don't need to spend much money either. Bobbins can be expensive if you want them to be but once you're set up with a pillow and bobbins there isn't much else to get. Each year there are several lace fairs and I'm lucky enough to live close to two. Anything I need I can get there - patterns, threads odds and ends.

It's so sad that since the introduction of machine lace there really isn't any need to make lace - but then when has need had anything to do with it. Cross stitch, knitting, quilting always seem to have times when they are really popular - lace making just doesn't seem to get that popularity.

If you've ever thought you'd like to have a go - see if you can find a teacher nearby and try it. In about 20 years I think there will be very few people making bobbin lace and that would be a great shame.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

UFO Night

Thanks to Moll on A Crafty Natter I now have the motivation and inspiration to pick up those unfinished objects and give them a few hours attention each week.  From now on Wednesday night is UFO Night.  My choice for this week is Alpine Seasons.  This piece has had an interesting history since I started it a couple of years ago and it is already full of memories - both good and bad.

At the start of UFO Night it looked like this.......


I'm working on the wildflowers around the edge.

The wildflowers are stunning but they are a real challenge - placing them is difficult, choosing the right thread/colour to use is a challenge and some of the effects are hard work.  But I am so proud when I look at them.  I think they have been one of the hardest things I have stitched for a long time.  

At the end of UFO Night it looked like this............


I got enormous satisfaction that despite the challenge, or perhaps because of it when I got to the beginning I was at exactly the right place, not a hole off, not a stitch too high but EXACTLY where I was supposed to be.

I really enjoyed UFO Night.  Across the world my friends who I've met on the internet are sat in their homes working on those pieces that they find challenging, boring, sad - the ones that stitching forgot.  I'm looking forward to next week already.


Monday, July 14, 2008

Friends

This evening I am sitting in my stitching nest working on Mirabilia November Topaz Fairie.  Living in the middle of nowhere high on a hill, I have one neighbour and  a lot of cattle and sheep in the fields.  It's peaceful and quiet but never lonely.

After dinner I sat down with a cup of tea and went for a chat on A Crafty Natter - got in a practice whipping and had a chat with a Frog and the Norwegian person.

Then the phone rings and it's my bestest stitchy friend Colly asking a question about summer colours for another one of her stunning hardanger designs - I think of the colours of bluebells, pansies and honeysuckle.

I pick up the needle again and the phone rings again - my friend Mel who lives in the next village has a harvest to share do we want some.  She popped round 10 minutes later with courgettes, radishes and redcurrants.

A quick pop onto Ravelry for a look at the At Home in Harrogate group to see what my knitting friends are up to.

Time for another cup of tea and a chat with the blog............................like I said never lonely. 



Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Well I knew that June would be chaotic – I was supposed to be away for three weekends (tutorial, conference and a cancelled camping trip) and the fourth weekend I had plans on the Saturday.  In addition I did a second job in the evenings for a couple of weeks.

Phew – it’s taken me a couple of weeks to recover, get the house back in some sort of order and enjoy some me time.  It was very kind of people to check I was OK and yes I’m fine.

I’ve been making progress on the Lady Eleanor Shawl which has become my take everywhere project and is a pleasure to work on.



I know there are some of you out there that may find the next section unpalatable – I make no apologies.  I am proud and will not be ashamed.  As well as being a knitter I do embroidery.  Those of you who have been hanging around here for a while will know that originally that was the main focus of my attention and it is only more recently that knitting has taken over.  Those of a nervous disposition who just ‘don’t get it’ may look away now – for the rest of you………………….

Last year my friend Colly bought me the beautiful November Topaz Fairie.  I have never done a Mirabilia design before but she is a beauty and November is my birthday month so it was a wonderful gift.

Two weeks ago just as life was getting back to normal I decided to make a start – this is my progress to date……………………



She is a delight to stitch – the use of shading is subtle but adds a wonderful dimension.  The colours are beautiful, charming and simply gorgeous.  It’s been a long time since I’ve done a piece of cross stitch with no speciality stitches (about 5 years I think) and I’m really enjoying it. 

There are a lot, and I mean a lot (almost £50 worth) of beads on this piece.  I’ve got them on special order from the Stitchers Garden in Harrogate.  The ones that have arrived are beautiful colours so I know they will really add beauty to the piece.

Unfortunately I have a slight injury at the moment and my right hand looks like this….


It will be fine in a couple of weeks, I’ve got tendonitis from bad computer mouse posture!!!!  I’ve found that I can’t knit but can stitch – I stitch using both hands with the frame on a stand so there is very little my right hand (which is at the back of the piece) needs to do.  Maybe I could embroider the splint and make it look prettier!!!!


Coming soon………………………………….the BAP that is the Embroidered Village Bag Project.