Here goes nothing….

Hello All

I am presently trying to simplify my life and in the process empty my house ready for a move. But letting go sees me clinging to my stuff like a barnacle to a ship’s hull. Time for some fresh thinking and by a useful piece of serendipity into my consciousness came a wonderful blog written by Joshua Fields Millburn & Ryan Nicodemus with a helpful game to play. The blog is called The Minimalists and the game is a 30 day challenge to dispose of a rising number of items everyday. Sounds easy but as you have to increase the number of things you get rid of each day – Day 1 one item, Day 2 two items … Day 30 thirty items – I reckon it could get quite tough.

I need to get cracking with house clearing so I am setting 1 June 2014 as my start date. My good friend JG has taken up the challenge with me but it is definitely a case of the more the merrier so let us know if you are joining in.

What counts as an item is up to the disposer. Let your conscience be your guide. To be ‘rid of’ an item it has to leave your home before midnight of the day you count it. It can go in the bin, be recycled, given away or sold. A bit of planning may therefore be required.

No beating yourselves up here. Let’s see how many days we can manage. I’ll keep you posted on progress hopefully with photos of what has gone….

Until next time. Moke


Hello All

Who-hoo what I great day I had on Friday thanks to AW who kindly gave me a lift to the marvellous Farfield Mill on her way to work at Sedbergh Library.

Farfield is a restored Victorian woollen mill with four floors of displays and exhibitions. It houses a history of the local woollen industry – from the Terrible Knitters of Dent through to the restoration of the mill as an arts and heritage centre – and arts and crafts exhibitions. I of course started downstairs in the Weavers’ Cafe! One toastie and tea later I worked my way up through the building. But sorry folks no photos as I respected their policy of no photography inside the centre.

Leaving the cafe (noting the sign for their regular weekly Knit and Natter sessions) I tootled through the building passing the HUGE warping mill – my old warping board seeming very puny – and took a peak at the Dobcross Power Loom which came to Farfield in 1965. The centre is  lucky enough to have a weaver to operate the looms, if you want to see him and the loom in action I think he is there at weekends, and the mill sells beautiful blankets woven on site.

Scuttling upstairs I headed for the first temporary exhibition PagePaperStitch – Fold beautifully sculpted paper and books created by three textile artists – Annwyn Dean, Joan Newall and Elizabeth Shorrock – who love bookbinding.

Next door was a stunning exhibition Working The View created by brother and sister team Mark (photographer) and Sarah Butler (writer). Through photographs and interviews they have brought together something like 40 Yorkshire Dales landscapes chosen by locals along with the stories behind those selections. In amongst the names of the participants were two I know (so I got very excited!): Annie Hamilton Gibney Community Archaeology Project and Development Officer who chose Mallerstang Edge Ruin and said that she felt these views “take over a little of your soul” and Jan Hicks Textile Artist and small-holder whose choice was Howgill Fells from above Raisbeck where she likes to take her sandwiches to eat her tea and look at the view.

Finally visiting the Howgill Gallery I enjoyed a luscious selection of weaving entitled Metamorphosis by The British Tapestry Group (Scottish Branch). I loved these tapestries: the rich colours, textures and individual takes on the theme of change.

Of course one of the best features at Farfield are the artist workshops where you can watch artisan felters, weavers, knitters, sewers, furniture makers and more making their wares and selling them too. Many beautiful things to drool over.

Time for a walk and what a lovely stroll I had.

Following the path, passing pretty cottages, admiring the delicate hawthorn and looking down to the fast flowing river it was refreshing to be able to stride and trip (I am the most clumsy walker) along the short cut to Sedbergh. I looked out for the packhorse bridge DSCI0150

and with a backward glance to Farfield DSCI0154

and the fast flowing river that once turned its waterwheel DSCI0157

set off between hedgerows DSCI0166

remembering all the nettle stings of childhood and the cool relief of the dock leaf DSCI0161

tracing the beautiful patterns of the dry stone walls DSCI0162
and snapping quick shots of the ever present sheep (don’t these two look like they have just shared a joke?) DSCI0158
some of whom are starting to look ready for a haircut…baaaaaa!DSCI0167

All was going well until….I took it into my head to turn right when I should have turned left. I probably added about a mile to my perambulation. But I’m glad I missed my way as look what greeted me, DSCI0168

I was quite startled by suddenly coming upon this field of alpacas – further up the road I saw a sign saying they belong to Why Not Alpacas – and couldn’t help but laugh with glee at their beautiful faces especially when they all trotted towards me. Not I suspect my charm but rather the thought that I might be bringing treats. DSCI0169

What gorgeous animals they are. DSCI0173Having realised – I swear I was at least half way to Kirkby Stephen – the error of my way only the alpacas saw me retrace my steps. DSCI0174

Lining the hillside like the ‘Indians’ in an old fashioned Western I’m sure I heard them sniggering.

Eventually back in Sedbergh DSCI0176

I toddled along the narrow street DSCI0179

purchasing some cinder toffee en route to the library where I met up with AW and one of her regular patrons local author Jean Briggs (JC Briggs to her readers). JC’s latest book The Murder of Patience Brooke will be published in paperback by The History Press in August 2014 and features Charles Dickens as author turned detective. Talking to her was a real insight into the novelist’s craft and her impressive passion for her subject was inspiring. You always meet the most wonderful people in libraries.

Before I go, a t-arn update. I have finished all the lovely balls of t-arn B cut and wound for meDSCI0130

and made a start on my rug DSCI0133

its not gi-normous (this is a dinner plate)

but it has the makings… although a bit of rummaging through the airing cupboard looking for old t-shirts is called for.

Until we meet again. Moke


Hello All

Cushion-making was high on my agenda when I went on leave and three cushions later my cushion needs are fulfilled. As you’ll recall I already had a flower petal cushion underway. That little flowery beauty is now cosily sitting on my sofa

One down two to go.

I originally thought I’d use the same pattern with the Herdwick from the Wool Clip DSCI0070

but in all its rough, hardwearing splendor it didn’t seem right for something as delicate and transient as a flower. I decided to look through my books for inspiration. I found it here the encyclopedia of knitting and crochet

Published in 2008 (I think there is a new version) this gem of a book gives so many knitting and crochet patterns for blocks that overwhelmed I had to sleep on it before finally deciding to use the Log Cabin from the Centre  chart to create the front of cushion number two.

I am not used to using a chart – I normally rely on a pattern – you can perhaps tell from the centre of the block that I got off to a wobbly start DSCI0075

yet once I got the hang of it I appreciated being able to play with the length of the ‘logs’ and the ordering of the colours. I was pleased with the result DSCI0108

and had as much fun making the back of the cushion by carrying through the colour blocks, edging in double crochet with the apple green and adding a bit of fun with a hodge-podge of buttons from my store.

Having costed up cushion inserts (up to £5!!!!) I decided to make my own from my (small) fabric stash and some donated kapok (thanks again JG) DSCI0105

and hey presto another plump cushion

That makes two.

Just before Easter one of my little old Cavalier Spaniels, Thomas, sadly died. Thomas was over thirteen and very frail but a great character always eager to be in the middle of things. In his last few weeks I used to wrap him in one of my old chunky jumpers ‘Big Purp’ to keep him warm at night. After he died I hadn’t the heart to throw out Thomas’ beloved sweater yet its days of being worn were over. Time for Big Purp to get the cushion treatment.

First I felted my trusty old pully. The results were ermmmmm …

…… not that promising. But after attacking it with the vacuum cleaner (it was in need of heavy duty de-fluffing) I cut out two rectangles, one larger than the other, then sewed them together with blanket stitch

The addition of a filling and a toggle made for a huggable pillow

A cuddly, cosy homage to my little old friend Thomas.

All in all a happy few days and cushions I am proud of.. is that an excuse for sit on the sofa?

NO! another project beckons….

Fan that I am of public transport I set off to see friends B and JK in Windermere.

Here comes the bus…. DSCI0090

to take me to another platform (i.e. not Oxenholme)

to sit in the brilliant sunshine admiring the views

before hopping on a train bound for Windermere DSCI0097

Although I was in a bit of a rush to meet my friends I still had time to grab a few snaps of my favourite bookshop

pop my head inside the door to say hello to B’s husband R before arriving at Cafe Italia where me, B and JK happily put the world to rights before it was time to part. Here’s where the next project comes in. I did not leave Windermere empty handed.

B had been busy cutting up old t-shirts and swapped me balls of wonderful stretchy t-arn (if plastic yarn is plarn?……) for a little trinket basket I’d crocheted her. Aren’t they fabulous?

Now what to make?  I am thinking rug. KC I know would suggest cat cave but I don’t think the t-arn will go than far.

What do you think? Ideas gratefully received.

Until next we meet. Moke


Hello All – I know it seems like only yesterday since my last blog….

It’s been a week of redemption. On Tuesday I was redeeming the Wool Clip voucher and today JeO a colleague and friend from my current workplace was happily spending her leaving present, a gift voucher from a special little shop in Kendal, ABC Lloyd’s in Stramongate,

Through this portal you enter a unique world of penmanship where there are fascinating displays of pens and inkwells old and new together with a glimpse into a bygone age of writing accessories: nibs for all purposes, anthropomorphic nib cleaners and so much more.

JeO always impressed me with her beautiful handwritten notes and cards so it was a real privilege to watch her select a new pen with the knowledgeable and helpful advice of Mr Lloyd. What a beauty she chose. Are you ready… DSCI0042

here it is, DSCI0043


It wrote beautifully and the nib (wish I’d got a picture of it!) allowed the ink to run thick or thin and the writer to be creative in their lettering. One little tip Mr Lloyd gave JeO was to write out a favourite poem with her new pen then  pop the verse away in a drawer and after 3 months have a look at it again and see how much her writing has changed as she becomes familiar with her fountain pen. A lovely idea.

But the goodi-ness did not stop there as JeO also invested in a new ink colour, DSCI0049

a rich Violet which you get a little peek of on the lid of the box, and a purpose made pen holder from Trieste DSCI0046

Fabulous. What a pleasure to watch this process unfold and I am sure JeO will enjoy using her exceptionally crafted pen for many years to come.

Our morning finished with lunch shared with work mates who brought JeO the most delicate lace shawl and stylish brooch


and gave us a look at a pair of amazing earrings from local shop, Room 19DSCI0053

It was a lovely morning and lunch together and as we went our separate ways I toddled home eager to dig out my own fountain pen…

Oh dear….bless!

Never know we might get lucky and make the hat-trick tomorrow.

Toodle-ooo. Moke



A diverting sort of a day

Hello All

Yesterday was wonderful. Cast your mind back…way…way back and you might recall me leaving the library and the lovely gifts my kind and thoughtful colleagues gave me. Amongst those presents was one I have long anticipated using Wool Clip Voucher

and May 13 was earmarked as the day! But when my good friend JG offered to take me I don’t think either of us anticipated what a diverting sort of a day it would be.

It all started well. Straight up the M6 and turn off at Junction 41 but then… images

we were diverted all the way up to Junction 44. Now that’s some diversion. Infact if we hadn’t seen the signs

(there were plenty of them) we would have doubted ourselves. But after a few worrying moments and turnabouts we arrived at Caldbeck DownloadedFile-5

in time for a much needed relaxing cuppa in the Priest’s Mill cafe. Eldorado awaited. DSCI0007

But not for long Wool Clip here we come…. DSCI0014

Oooooooh the joy of wool…….what a pleasurable time looking around and selecting my purchases, what a staunch friend JG keeping tally and what thankfulness to everyone at the library that allowed me this deferred delight. Sooooo what did I get….

I got two sets of needle felting needles, Herdwick and Ronaldsay fleece for felting, Herdwick rug wools both natural and dyed, buttons and sheepy notelets. I bought the latter because No 1 daughter lives away and we are pen ‘friends’. These pretty little cards will remind her of home.

My head is still buzzing with what I can do with these goodies… needle felted sculpture, rugs, cushion covers….. that should keep me out of mischief….

Having spent up my voucher and stored everything safely in the boot of JG’s car it was time to explore the beautiful village of Caldbeck.

The Wool Clip is based in an old water mill and running next to it is the picturesque Cald Beck river,

further along there are picture postcard cottages and a babbling brook,

But no self respecting village would be complete without it’s church and antiquarian graveyard. Caldbeck did not disappoint.

Infact it even provided JG and I with a guide, an elderly gentleman who in his gentle Cumbrian accent regaled us with tales of the tombs and ghostly goings on in the village pub where of course he had found himself by accident… he left us with a smile and a warning not to lean on the tombstones because they would probably fall over!

Famously the churchyard of St Kentigern in Caldbeck houses the grave of farmer and huntsman John Peel. It has been said that the song which immortalises him,

D’ye ken John Peel with his coat so gay? D’ye ken John Peel at the break o’ day? D’ye ken John Peel when he’s far, far a-way. With his hounds and his horn in the morning?

is the Lakelanders’ anthem,

perhaps not so good for a veggie Lakelander…..but hey the times they are a changin’.

Leaving the churchyard to go for a bite to eat we passed the Roughton Stone

which our ‘guide’ had informed us is extremely rare so I thought I had better snap it for posterity and your better knowledge…..

Feeling educated? quick bring on the wooly stuff for a short crochet intermission. In case you thought I was just expanding my wool stash never fear I have been striving to use up some of my oddments. Thanks to Lucy at Attic 24‘s idea to make a Blooming Flower Cushion I turned to the 1946 Pretty Petals Potholder pattern a couple of days ago and started practicing the stitches I want to use with my Herdwick wools,

it was very addictive and now I have a round large enough to make a cushion in it’s own right. All I need to make is a plain circular back,

and in a day or two I should have a colourful cushion gracing my rather staid sofa.

Meanwhile back in Caldbeck refreshed by more tea and victuals JG and I thought we had better start the return journey. You would think that having survived the diversions to arrive in Caldbeck unscathed getting back to Kendal would be a doddle. Think again. It seemed like our destination was getting further and further away and losing track of where the interminable signs were sending us I couldn’t tell whether we were just going around in circles…

then, at last, the hum of traffic… I have never been so glad to see a motorway in my life! and all seemed well as we neared home in south Kendal but then what is that I see NOOOOooooooooo, images

the last turn off was CLOSED!!!!!  We just had to laugh!

I’m off to dream sweet dreams of Herdwick wooliness without a diversion in sight.

All the best Moke.

Orange Box – 1940s

After the delay caused by my slight technical hitch (i.e. no camera) I couldn’t wait to delve into the Orange Box again. It covers so many years that as I promised before I thought I would give you a quick run through the decades. Today the 1940s.

Let’s kick off with hairstyles …I mean crochet to be amazed by, Crochet Book 1940s

Beware this look requires good upholstery!

but the patterns are lovely, very finely detailed crochet for a time when ladies wore day gloves

Plain gloves - 1940s

and had lace gloves for special occasions. Lace Gloves -1940s

On the back page a word from our sponsor

Lux Ad - 1940s

The fact that it helped ‘Stockings Ladder less’ was important when we made things last. Something we are doing more of today. All this for the princely sum of one shilling and sixpence.

JG gave me this basket pattern when I was looking for a method for stiffening crochet. The answer my friends is hot sugar water. I do think they are delightful and I am tempted to give them a go perhaps jazzed up a bit colourwise.

Crochet Vases - 1940s


Doilies, lacy tablecloths, antimacassars and tray mats were very much in vogue. In fact I can remember my own mum making them. Slipping doilies under anything that stood still and making sure my father popped his head back on the chair rests not on the couch. To be fair it was the days of heavy Brylcream use.

I have only just discovered this pattern for necklets Necklets - 1940s

they are beautiful and I really want to have a go at the flowery one but don’t know if I have the skill…well nothing ventured nothing gained.

With one last glimpse I stumbled upon a wonderful surprise Tablecloth -1940s

this marvelous motif … with a beautifully crocheted sample made by JG’s mum. What a treat.

Back to earth with a chunky bump. New case for new camera

new camera…new case…. New and old together

old and new together. A somewhat different style to the elegant motifs of  a seemingly gentler age.

Thank you JG for letting me share your mum’s collection. Watch out the trendy 70s and 80s are just around the corner.



I’m back!

Phew pay day came and work was such a rush that I couldn’t get out to purchase a new camera. Disgruntled face. But today is Saturday. Hint of a grin. I scuttled to AH’s for Latin and didn’t we do well. Total agreement over the answers means we must have been 100% right….mustn’t we?! Broad grin face.

Beaming smile as I drop off JG’s specsaver mat (sorry no photo, you know why). Scuttle down Stoney Lane, remember it? Stoney Lane

Whizz into library to drop off recent read and say a quick hello to my friends before – now fit to burst – rushing over the road to the shopping centre to pick up my new camera!!!!!!! Yessssssssssssssss I’M BACK!

A few purchases on the market and straight to Waterside Cafe to unpack my new digital optimal zoom whatsa-macall it. Excited (if a little alarmed) ‘Quick Start Guide’ scanned, batteries in and hey presto the first picture Buckwheat Burgers

buckwheat burgers! part eaten….

After this less than auspicious start I decided on a mini-project. Here then is my walk home: along the River Kent passing a herd (apparently) of swans, Swans on River Kent


Abbot Hall Art Gallery, Abbot Hall

the Parish Church,Parish Church, Kendal

and taking a look at a reminder of an erstwhile Kendalian resident. Gravestone, Kendal

A little bit of river left on my walk and I saw my friend the lone swan,

posing beautifully don’t you think? (“Which is my best side?”). I also tried to capture (digitally of course) two ducklings. They proved too quick…

At the end of the river a sign to remind us that Kendal is worth mooching around. Explore Kendal sign at Kirkland

Not far now. Past Kendal College, Kendal College

up the lane, pausing to admire the bluebells,

almost home,

Home sweet home. Loving this plant in the front garden but what is it? Home

The troughs are looking jolly this year, Home - troughs

and I have my own (small) stash of bluebells on the doorstep to welcome me. Pot of bluebells

For those of you who are not photographically challenged (like me) and want to know what camera I am now using ‘ere ’tis:

Now I’ve had a little practice I will return to the Orange Box of secrets so look out for another post in a day or so.

Glad to be back amongst you. Have good one.

Moke xx