A bird in the hand

It was a traumatic start to the weekend because I am a lucky mum to still have No1 daughter, her boyfriend and grand dog. They were driving in the near-side lane of the M6 on Thursday evening when they were side swiped by a lorry, pushed along the carriage-way by the same HGV, spun around 360 degrees across the motorway and ricocheted onto the barrier of the hard shoulder. They are battered and bruised, suffering whiplash and shock but otherwise unharmed. I shiver to think how different it could have been and was most relieved to see No1 daughter yesterday afternoon and give her a hug.

Thankfully I have good friends to rant to, weep on (sorry JG, B and RS) and keep me diverted from thinking about what might have happened.

Its 2014 and time to begin a new Latin book with AHDSCN1152

it’s the last book in the series and from the length of the first translation alone we can tell it will be somewhat taxing.DSCN1148

On a Roman theme I have been asked to share a workshop I attended sometime ago with AH when we spent a couple of days with book binder extraordinaire Michael Burke (of Dominic Riley and Michael Burke fame) making a facsimile of a Vindolanda wax tablet. DSCN1124

It was quite a struggle. There was chiseling ( I have never before or since chiseled!) which meant  CAREFULLY working the beautiful tulip wood to hollow out a very thin recess or pocket in each sheet without piercing the other side of the ‘page’, especially the double-sided leavesDSCN1120

and being EXTREMELY CAREFUL to keep intact the fragile little wooden bars at the centre of each page that act – once the sheets are filled with soot-dyed beeswax (don’t ask me about working with soot and molten wax…) – as a means of separating the leaves (aaarghhhhh, they all have to LINE UP!!!!!). DSCN1121

Once you have wrestled with the problem of getting sooty hot beeswax – I’ve told you, don’t ask me about working with soot and molten wax – on two sides of the three centre pages you finally get to put the waxed cord through the teeny tiny holes that you drilled (yes…DRILLED!) after CAREFUL MEASUREMENT to hold your Roman book together. Phew. DSCN1119

You’ll have gathered it was not the most relaxing craft project that I have undertaken. Infact I seem to remember rushing home to pick up my crochet hook and work a curly-wurly wreath just to calm down. BUT I hope you agree that the finished item is a thing of beauty and for experimental archaeologists a real eye opener. ALSO spending a couple of days in Michael and Dominic’s wonderful home and bindery with such expert bookbinders was a privilege. And do you know I still have the ‘book’ but have no idea what happened to the wreath.

Talking of book binders my two very good friends B and JG – who were taught by Michael and Dominic – are accomplished binders in their own right and today I joined them as they discussed their current project, creating beautiful bindings for ‘Letting Go’ by Angela Topping published by Mother’s Milk Books.

Of course we talked about  interesting books to read. B and RS have the wonderful Fireside Bookshop in Windermere so we were spoilt for choice, I also notice that a library book has crept in too… DSCN1163

and the afternoon would not have been complete without putting the world to rights over a tasty lunch and a slice of B’s latest gluten free baking. Today it was delicious pineapple and banana spiced Hummingbird Cake, DSCN1161

What about the bird in the hand I hear you ask? In the midst of this week’s highs and lows I have been busy creating a needle felted Guinea Fowl for a friend of Bs. Infact it became a bit of a welcome obsession. I doodled him in my craft book (remember the one B made and swapped for a pair of my fingerless mittens)…

I drew him on shopping lists…DSCN1128

I even sketched him in my diary…DSCN1131

He began life as a shaggy pile of wool tops …DSCN1134 then began to take shape…

something like a pheasant/hen/turkey…vulture?!(unkind)…cross…started to look like a down at heel Jemima Puddleduck …DSCN1138 but then found his feet ….

lost them again…DSCN1143

and erm…blossomed into a Ghanaian Crested Guinea Fowl a la Moke….DSCN1159

a bird in the hand.

The weekend shawl

Hello me dears

Its been  a mild winter* (so far – don’t want to tempt fate!) but I am still feeling  a bit chilly. Trouble is that when I walk to the station of an early morning if I wear too many layers of jumpers and cardigans I soon overheat – think its my age – scarves are pretty good at keeping my neck and ears warm so I thought an extension of this would be perfect hence the weekend shawl!

I started by  combining two strands of random stash yarns and putting a slip knot on a 8mm hook, DSCN1113

and then created a triangle: DSCN1112

Here’s how:

1st row: Chain(ch) x4, treble crochet (tr) twice in 4th chain from hook. Chain x2, treble crochet 3 in same (4th) chain. Chain x2 and turn.

2nd row: Work 3 trs  in first stitch. Ch 1, 3 trs in the 2nd ch space in the previous row. Ch x2, work 3 trs in same 2 ch space. Chn 1, work 3 trs in last stitch of row. Ch x2, turn.

3rd row: Work 3 trs in first stitch. Ch 1. Work 3 trs in ch 1 space of previous row, ch 1. Work 3 trs in 2 ch space of previous row, ch x2, work 3 more trs in same 2 ch space, ch 1. Work 3 trs in next 1 ch space of previous row. Ch 1. Work 3 trs in last stitch of row. Ch x2 and turn.

I then continued with Granny style clusters along two sides: working 3 trs in last stitch of the row followed by x2 chains and turning to start with 3 trs in first stitch of new row. I made x1 ch between each cluster of 3 trs as I worked along the sides and made x2 chs at the appex of the triangle between two clusters of 3trs in the 2 ch space of the previous row,


amazing how quickly it grows. DSCN1114

Hopefully it’ll keep me warm and snuggly until Spring has sprung.

If I get it finished before I post today’s blog I will pop a photo at the end.

In a very hectic week one thought kept me going: Saturday tea at AW’s! and then I went and forgot the camera. I had looked forward to taking pickies of AWs mouth-watering cooking but I made the mistake of lying down to read and nodded off (surprise, surprise) waking with only 8 minutes to get changed, sort doggies and get to AW’s. Consequently I rushed out of house leaving my trusty Nikon Coolpix in the scruffy room I grandly call my study.  Typical. But I have an appetizing mental picture of the delicious food she made and will endeavor to describe the wonderful meal I shared with KC and FT at AW’s last night.

We started with a cheese terrine. A couple of Christmases ago AW made me this scrumptious terrine, it was a real winner. AW’s version of a Delia recipe creates a light terrine made with a variety of  luscious cheeses – including cottage cheese and stilton. A perfect dish for hungry guests especially when accompanied by AW’s homemade coleslaw – crunchy shreds of cabbage and carrot lightly dressed in a rich mayonnaise – and her tasty Waldorf salad together with crusty breads, a green leaf salad and boiled potatoes. Mmmmm, if I shut my eyes I can almost savour it all again.

Of course we all knew to keep a little room for AW’s puddings and we were right to ‘cos there were two to choose from! Marmalade Bread and Butter Pudding and a Banana tart. Truthfully there wasn’t much choosing involved  as we all opted for a portion of both! ….drizzled with cream naturally.

With the added extra of orange marmalade AW’s dessert was a delightful twist on the traditional bread and butter pudding. It’s crunchy top and contrasting soft fluffiness inside made it srumdidilly.

Full though we were nothing was stopping us cutting into the Banana tart. Homemade pie crust filled with custard and topped with bananas…how could be say no?! YUMMMM……MMMEEEEEEEE.

Thank you AW for the exquisite meal and AW, KC and FT for your wonderful friendship and company.

As for the shawl, almost there… DSCN1117

Cheerio for now.

*While it has been mild we must spare a thought for all those who have been suffering awful flooding because of the heavy rainfall.

T-whit t-whoo – hoo

Excellent few days. Busy at work. Pulling up what must be called a whiffy old carpet at home. Ouch my aching shoulders…oh sorry that’s not part of the excellent….and a bit of hooky time.

It all started with an owl. Hence T-whit t-whoo-hoo…apologies, stating the obvious…. Thanks to Lorene for her wonderful pattern for this little fellow DSCN1101

Apart from converting to UK stitches I made a couple of alterations: I used a smaller hook 4mm instead of 5.5; and began with 4 chains joined by a slip stitch rather than a magic circle. Don’t really know why, it just felt more secure.

He was quick and fun to crochet and filled with lavender he has a soothing scent.

Yesterday was a beautiful crisp winter’s day and was made even better by a quick visit into our local craft emporium Reticulefront of shop

Inspired by a mouth watering selection of crafty goodies I brought home some pretty beads and started work on an idea for a crochet bangle which would incorporate them.

I began by stringing the beads I bought onto purple hemp yarn, tied a long craft pipe cleaner into a circle (making sure it would fit over my ‘daughter of a blacksmith’s hand’) and  then covered it by crocheting around the resulting pipe-cleaner circlet.

Once that was done I used an old favourite from Lucy at Attic 24 her simple Teeny Tiny Flower pattern.  Small, quick to crochet but very effective especially with either a button or bead sitting at its center. I made 8 Teeny Tiny Flowers with the silver beads and then evenly spaced them around the bangle. I think (and I hope you do too) that my efforts yielded a pretty little bracelet…

Now before my restful Sunday evaporates I’m off to read a book. George R.R. Martin’s  “A Feast for Crows” is certainly not a gentle (genteel?) read! DownloadedFile

But it is a great page-turner.

All the best. I’ll write again soon.

The Patchwork Hen

I have so enjoyed myself with Wool Buddies that I thought I’d branch out and create something of my own. Now my Latin learning friend AH has a birthday coming up. As well as enjoying the classics she is also the proud owner of some rescued hens. This gave me an idea. I had basic materials….DSCN1082

and after sketching out some ideas I used them to needle-felt a simple hen shape.

All I needed to do then was add a bit of colour and hey presto a patchwork hen!

Happy Birthday AH.

A circle we make

Happy New Year!

2013 ended perfectly with crafts

(are Wool Buddies addictive?)

a table groaning with a Jacob’s Join-full of food

and best of all a gathering of close friends.

As the ‘Bongs’ of Big Ben heralded the New Year we joined hands and sang  The Woodcraft Folk ‘anthem’ –

Link your hands together
A circle we make;
This bond of our friendship
No power can break.
Let’s all sing together
In one merry throng;
Should any be weary
We’ll help them along;
Should any be weary
We’ll help them along.

The words say it all and ushered in 2014 wonderfully.

Have the happiest of New Years.