Christmas Bear Quilt No.1 – Polar Bear

Hi All

It’s a very breezy day here in the Auld Grey Town so a good one to keep away from tree branches, roof tiles, signage … etc …. and hunker down to finish the Polar Bear panel for Peanut’s Christmas quilt. You might remember me mentioning Christmas 2022 back at the beginning of January. Oh the madness. But I have at least twelve bear panels to make so never to early to start, right?

This is a quick post to keep you up to date on Christmas Bear Quilt stage No. 1 the polar bear.

I had a scale drawing and an idea of the colours I would use.

If you look back to the first post and the drawing I did then you can see a dramatic change of style!

With the help of good old Bondaweb – which allows you to cut out pieces and then stick them to another fabric – it was really a task of cutting, sticking, zig-zag stitching and layering.

And hey presto! One finished (bar the quilting) polar bear panel.

Okay, okay my zig zag went a little wild at times but I like that it suits the bear and gives a fuzzy furry-ness to her.

One down, eleven and extras to go … I am thinking the Peruvian Spectacled Bear will be next in honour of the Paddington Bear exhibition that has been held at Tullie House Museum in Carlisle.

Mx

PS where are the marmalade sandwiches?!

Cat’s Tale

Hello all – I am about to relate the story of a small stray cat. Some of the pictures may be a little upsetting (just to warn you) but there is a very happy outcome. Do not be afraid …. read on …

My daughter and her family live in a large village in Yorkshire. The front of their house is on to the main street and quite busy. But to the back they have a small pretty garden which they can look on to when they are washing up at the kitchen sink.

Along the outside of the kitchen window runs a wide ledge. A few weeks ago my daughter realised she had company. Sitting on the ledge was a small, scrawny bundle of black and white fur which was plaintively ‘meow-ing’ at her. And so Pearl came into their lives – although the name and the happy ending are a little ways off.

My daughter went out to investigate the little scrap of a being that had come to her back door but couldn’t get close enough to check how she was. The window ledge visits and meowing continued for several days without No1 Daughter being able to get close but she could see the kitten-cat that was this furry bundle was getting weaker. Thankfully No1’s partner R was the hero of the hour and managed to gently corral the cat and bring her into the house. Then they could really see how poorly and injured she was.

Their hairy visitor was oh-so friendly but just skin and bone with a badly injured eye. She was incredibly weak yet obviously glad to have been taken in and cared for. No1 D and R took their new little friend to the local vet. Admittedly they went in trepidation in case there was nothing that could be done to help the little mite who had come to them for help.

No1 phoned the vets’ surgery every day to check on the kitten’s progress and thankfully the vets worked their magic and although they could not save the cat’s eye they could save her. After almost two weeks with the vet and being fed by drip and carefully reintroduced to food she was ready to leave. She was not micro-chipped and no one in their small-ish community had posted her missing.

I know I look sad but really I am on the mend.

Where could she go? No1 D already has two dogs – one of whom is an anxious rescue. What to do? After much discussion and consultation with the vets about their circumstances …. Guess what? She came back to No1 D’s! None of them could bear the thought that she might never be re-homed and after all it was as if she had originally come to them because she knew they would help her.

No1 Granddaughter Peanut and her father vied for who should name the new kitty. Peanut came up with the best name ever (sorry R), Pearl. And so Pearl has joined the slightly chaotic household loosely presided over by my daughter and her partner.

Really getting better and loving my new safe haven.

She has taken up residence underneath Peanut’s bed – although she does have an all singing all dancing cat bed of her own. And loves nothing better than greeting anyone that comes upstairs with purrs and leg cat-rubs.

Peanut has risen to the challenge of caring for her room-mate. Perfect timing for P – there is a fairly new baby in the house (I did say it was slightly chaotic) – to have a fur-friend to look after.

I love my best buddy.

Pearl has really taken to her new domain. She eats well and is continually gaining in strength. She is coping with the dogs by avoiding them but gradually I think an entente cordiale is being reached. To be honest the older dog a feisty chihuahua called George takes no notice of her (we always suspected that he was part cat!) while their anxious rescue Buddy is more bemused by the meowing than agitated.

I think those …. eeek …. Dogs….aaargh …. are friendly but I am keeping my one eye on them just in case.

It now seems as if Pearl has always been a member of the family.

Think I will stay!

I asked No1 D for a new photo but she hasn’t been able to oblige as Pearl is busy being a kitten and always on the move or asleep in her bolt hole under P’s bed.

In the (almost) words of the famous Ellie Brooks’ song: Pearls a Winner!

Mx

Hello Dear!

A quick post to cheer up a rather cold, winter’s Monday. Yesterday I was surprised to see a large sculpture has been put up close to Oxenholme railway station. A rather spectacular stag.

On closer inspection I could see it is made from old flattened oil cans and scrap metal. Ironic as it stands at the entrance to a car park, n’est-ce pas?

After a quick search on t’internet I have discovered it is the work of artist Stewart Williams and was one of four sculptures used in last year’s Kendal Torchlight Parade. Apparently the stag and other sculptures (including another of Stewart’s) were lit up for the annual night time procession . It must have looked incredible.

Before I go here’s one last look at Stewart’s wonderful sculpture.

Have a happy Monday.

Mx

Cosy Crafts

Hello All

It is still winter here and Spring is some way off so a cosy craft is needed for the cold evenings spent sitting as close to a radiator as possible without suffering third degree burns . Remember the cowl I recently knitted using Stylecraft Batik yarn? Aaah all those subdued yet luscious colours…

I may not be a swan-neck, more of a narwhal-neck, but I still had quite a lot of yarn left. Something better than a stash buster was needed for this wonderful colourful yarn. Then along came Lucy at Attic 24 with the perfect project, her Harbour Blanket CAL (crochet along for the uninitiated).

See how the wool is going down.

Every week Lucy gives the colours for the next 15 stripes (30 rows) for this gently rippled blanket. I didn’t have the right yarn and colours – the pack for Lucy’s yarn selection is available from Wool Warehouse in their Attic 24 shop – so a little re-jigging was involved although I tried to keep to a similar colour palette.

I have only just completed Week 1 of the CAL – pesky work just gets in the way – but Lucy is incredibly generous with her patterns which are free and all remain on her blog … f-o-r-e-v-e-r. So I can chug along at my own pace. By the by having said my yarns called for something better than a stash buster please have a look at Lucy’s Attic 24 blog as there are some FABULOUS ‘Harbour’ blankets being made to reduce those sneaky little piles of yarn we definitely NEED to keep. It’s good for the environment don’t you know? Shhhh yes we could buy less ….

I may be running/crawling behind the CAL pack – thankfully a very safe place with no need to look over my shoulder like an impala watching for large cats with big teeth! – but I am pleased with results so far.

Happy hooking all.

Mx

On the verge

Evening all

What a beautiful day it has been. The weather here in Cumbria was crisp but dry and clear. The early morning sun gave the view from my office window a rosy hue.

As the day went on and the weather held I looked forward to my homeward walk. Even tho’ almost a mile of it is along ‘The Verge’!

I enjoyed the wonderful views to my right

and left.

The light was glorious. I could almost forget the cars whizzing along the road next to me. But you know Kendal there is always a hill to climb, and here is the slowest but longest I encounter on my way back.

Just think of the calories… pufff … the strength and stamina building … oxygen please!

Oh the joy of those downhill horizons with home in sight.

Journey complete it was great to see my veg box had arrived. Now it is kettle on and recipe books out for things to make with those fantastic veggies.

Have a good evening and if you have super weather like us at the moment I hope you have chance to enjoy it.

Mx

Toddling into town

Hello all,

I hope your New Year is getting off to a good start. For me it is back to the normal run of things. This no criticism it is the mundane that allows some occasions to be cherished as special and there is also comfort to be had in the routine. I am happy to be ‘bored’ it gives me chance to reflect, look ahead or just switch off.

Off course not all reflections are helpful. Yesterday as I toddled into town to get some chores done I pondered: how come I am Cumbrian yet I hate walking up hills? Who said that?! I will have you know I am r-e-l-a-t-i-v-e-l-y fit and only just on the cuddly side.

My walk starts with a short uphill section, puff wheeze:

I am half way up here

Followed by a quick stroll across a field with a long (dare I say it dull) walk UP the next road …. can….n’t….sp…ea…ck …gasp:

Mmmm, not looking that much of an uphill struggle

Obviously to my Cumbrian kith and kin I don’t know a steep road when I climb one:

Anyhoo after pondering the imponderable (you at the back again! I said ‘cuddly’), and feeling much warmer than when I set off, I arrived in town. Food shopping out of the way I wended my way to my favourite store, Reticule.

Cosy, snug and full of crafty promise

I am about to embark on a new quilt which I am sewing for granddaughter Peanut for … wait for it … next Christmas! Do I get a prize for being the first person you know to mention the C word this year?!

Peanut is the only one of my three granddaughters not to have a quilt. Here are Munchkin and Shrub’s:

I had not embraced my inner quilter when Peanut was born. I am making up for lost time. Peanut is a keen supporter of Animals Asia so I decided her quilt should be dedicated to bears. As there are 8 species of bear to which I can add a few sub-species I am going to create twelve panels each devoted to a different type of bear. Ursus Ianuarii is the polar bear.

I had made a small sketch:

How do you spell ‘grey’ Moke?

I had then checked my fabric stash but came up with only one useful piece … erm dark grey/gray. But with this visit to Reticule, a chat with the super helpful owner Jane, I am polar bear fabric ready.

The loveliness of a walk into the ‘Auld grey (flippin’ heck not that word again!) town’ of Kendal – hills not withstanding – did not end there. Friend ACk had given me the gift of a book token for Christmas and it was burning a hole in my imagination, what new book would be joining the shelves, tables or other flat surfaces at Casa Moke?

Missing our independent bookshops though I am, it is still enjoyable to visit Waterstones (the UK’s ubiquitous seller of tomes) and browse their two floors of stock. Having cried at the beauty of Madeline Miller’s love story ‘Song of Achilles’ last year and loving Natalie Haynes BBC radio classical comedy ‘Natalie Haynes Stands up for the Classics’ I went for a Natalie Haynes’ novel “The Children of Jocasta” which was recommended by Madeline Miller. Win win.

Adding a 2022 diary to my purchases rounded off my sortie onto the high street. Bearing two bags of veg and other essentials I walked home to enjoy a relaxing read and contemplative updating of the new diary… but with arms at least a few inches longer, blast those hills!

Keep safe and well in 2022,

Moke x

Walk in the woods – two go to Craggy Wood Staveley, Cumbria

Hello All

While the Mexican Tinga (spicy lentil sauce) simmers on the hob I will relate a lovely day out walking with friend JG.

As you know we are attempting all the Cumbria Wildlife Trust nature reserves by public transport. Last time we visited Foulshaw Moss and today we went to visit Craggy Woods in Staveley by the 555 Stagecoach bus from Kendal.

Staveley is a friendly large village and behind it lies some beautiful native woodlands. I have recently sponsored three trees there – for my granddaughters – through Cumbria Wildlife Trust as part of a project extending Craggy Woods through some newly acquired land to join with Dorothy Farrer’s Spring Wood and create a larger Staveley Woodland. It is a rare opportunity and well thought through. If you want to join in the fun here is the link.

We started well by catching the 555 Stagecoach bus at our respective stops and after I got over the news that Craggy Woods is hilly (the clue I suppose is in the name) we arrived at the Wood.

Initially we walked up the road that skirted Craggy (it looked steep and muddy in there) and reached the top of the hill to look across the woodland. However we thought we were missing out on the full Craggy Wood experience so retraced our steps and went back to the gate. I think the map that JG created captured our rather strange back-and-forth route.

Through the gate we went and .. it was mud-gate meets fallen tree-gate! Storms Arwen and Barra had certainly wreaked havoc. Broken branches littered the paths and yesterday’s heavy rainfall added the hazard of slippy slidey mud. But as the book – ‘We Are Going On A Bear Hunt’ – says ‘We can’t go over it. We can’t go under it. We have to go through it’. And so through it we went. To me it looked like the battle of the Somme thankfully without the tragic loss of life, although there were times when I thought I might be a gone-r.

Friend JG is like a mountain goat so I knew we were in trouble when she was clutching tree stumps and grasping on to rocks as we made our way up, across and down. Thanks to all the fallen branches I managed to use one as a make-shift staff and steadied my wobbly self through the descent.

It did afford many a laugh (the hysterical sort) as we descended from the top of the wood and I am really glad we did it. Craggy Wood is beautiful even if damaged at present. Sadly none of my pictures captured the muddiness of our walk, but they do show some of the storm damage and the magnificent – if misty views – from the hilltop.

It also revealed some glorious moss and bracket fungi (possibly Birch Polypore … but I am no expert) who just seemed to scream ‘photo opportunity’.

We had a fabulous if slippery walk and it was good to see where the new saplings will be planted in 2022. I think we can say that we covered Craggy Wood. Satellites don’t lie.

Having walked down the last few steep fields while wishing we had sheep hooves we reached the River Kent and Barley Bridge. The river was in full spate and quite stunning.

We briefly sojourned in the pretty church of St James’s with it’s William Morris east window

before reaching the Elderado of any walk around Staveley, Wilf’s!

Wilf’s is famous among locals, it is a friend to cyclists and walkers and serves hearty fare. We felt we had earned our veggie burgers, mine with vegan ‘cheese’, and we tucked in with relish. Yummy. Perfect end to a perfect New Year’s eve. Thanks JG for being in charge of maps and statistics: we walked 3.62 miles with 520’ of elevation.

Happy New Year to all. I hope 2022 is a good one for you.

Moke x

Something to keep me warm

Brrr. There is a nip in the air. Thicker jumpers, scarves and gloves have been taken out of mothballs and I need a woolly project to keep me warm with the click click of busy needles in the evening. It must be the start of Winter.

A couple of weeks ago after running out (yes running out!) of knitting and craft projects I cracked, visited one of my favourite bloggers, Phil at ‘The Twisted Yarn’ and downloaded one of her free patterns. Soon I was happily working my way through a colourful stranded cowl called ‘All that Jazz’. Pattern link here.

With my wool and pattern in my hot sweaty mitts I couldn’t resist getting started. I had meant to snap the yarns before I cast on. But who could combat the lure of the mouth watering range of Stylecraft Batik yarns? They called to me like Sirens. Listen carefully, can you hear them?

Come knit with us, you know you want to.

The pattern was beautifully explained. I am newish to stranded knitting and this was the perfect project to get my teeth into. At only 88 rows a few days of after work knitting meant I had a snug, cosy, colourful and finished cowl. Soooo warm and comforting …

One job that I find a chore is sewing in – and this gorgeous cowl creates many end threads with the frequent changes of colour – so I made notes on the pattern as to when would be a good row to sew in the cut threads and joining tails. By my last casting off row all I had was one strand to sew in, bliss.

I admit my cowl is not perfect. I couldn’t get hold of a few of the colours I needed and don’t think I placed the substitutes to best show the Fair Isle patterns. Never mind Winter has shown a really ugly face up here in Cumbria: trees are down, paths are slippery and it is cold. Time to have more fun and start playing with colours. All That Jazz Mark 2 here I come.

Keep warm and safe – if you are in the Southern Hemisphere keep safe and sun screened.

Moke x

PS Phil at ‘The Twisted Yarn’ will be bringing a pattern book out soon-ish. I am sure it will be full of do-able and wonderful knits. I cannot wait! Mx

Call of the wild – two go to Foulshaw Moss

It is time for a new quest. Some of you may remember back in 2018 friend JG and I attempted to visit all the Herstory exhibitions held in the museums around Cumbria by public transport. Can’t remember? have a look here if you want a reminder. It was a great reason to travel around the county, we went to museums I had never visited before and learnt a lot about the women of this corner of north west England.

Now its edging into winter what do we decide to do? Go outdoors, ‘cos we are sensible sorts…, and start a new quest to visit all 37 of the Cumbria Wildlife Trust nature reserves by public transport! Crickey, where are my thermals?!

When I sat at this bus stop in June 2018 en route to baby-sit in Yorkshire

there was a field opposite but now – one pandemic and many missed bus trips later – it has become an ‘executive’ housing estate.

Skimming over that – stop sobbing M! – as you can see the weather is glorious and I have a bus to look out for, the 11:08 am Stagecoach X6 Kendal to Barrow which should already have JG on board. She was there and ticket bought I settled down for the short hop to our stop next to the entrance to Foulshaw Moss nature reserve.

The Cumbria Wildlife Trust guidebook tells us why lowland raised mires like Foulshaw Moss are so important, they are one of Europe’s most threatened habitats. In the UK 94% of this habitat has been destroyed. To go to Foulshaw is to visit a rare landscape and feel thankful to see it being restored.

We were the only humans visiting the reserve but we were not alone. Although from my photography from the first ‘hide’ you would think we were!

Honestly this was teeming with birds until I tried to take a photo!

Wait, who’s this little fellow?

“Darn it she snapped me. Worms are on me guys!”

Not sure what s\he is, answers on a postcard please. Sparrow? Reed bunting? But truly there were SO SO many birds. We saw all sorts including a couple of pheasants … or maybe corncrakes (you can tell our bird watching skills are honed, cough)… and a magnificent Great Spotted Woodpecker that settled briefly on a feeder. I am afraid my rendering of this bird in pencil and Biro does not do it justice.

Oh dear …

We could have happily stayed in this ‘hide’ all day watching the comings and goings. It was hard to tear ourselves away but the moss called. And what a call it is when you start out along the boardwalks.

The moss is wet and small pools of water show that it is soaking up the water and keeping wet just as it should be. In addition to the surviving mire Cumbria Wildlife Trust are restoring the moss lands into the area that had been planted over with trees for the war effort back in the mid-twentieth century.

Thankfully nowadays there is a lot of talk about protecting and planting trees for their carbon capturing qualities but much less is said about the carbon munching qualities of mires like Foulshaw Moss. I have read that Cumbrian peatland stores five times as much carbon as all of Cumbria’s trees put together. This habitat not only sustains a myriad of amazing plant and wildlife it helps keep us alive too! Gotta love it.

One word of warning, The decay of the plant life – like the famous sphaghnum moss – is what creates peat. It is a slow process and it can take 1,000 years to create 1m of peat so please please use peat-free composts like Dalefoot wool composts (other brands are available) for your gardens.

The board walks make this a wonderful habitat for everyone to visit and enjoy. There is also a fantastically (deliberately) wobbly bridge that I know my granddaughters will love.

As we walked around the reserve it was so beautifully sunny and dare I say warm that we even saw a couple of common darter dragonflies. Yes you know it, they were here and gone before I had wrestled my iPad from my backpack (time to start thinking about a smart phone with a good camera function).

While the moss is reclaiming its home the dying trees give it an eerie yet photogenic feel. Nature however abhors waste and the tree stumps play host to amazing fungi.

We had such a super time exploring the moss I was sad to leave but the days are shorter and we needed to try and find the elusive A590 underpass so that we wouldn’t have to cross the scary, busy and fast road. I was empathising with hedgehogs at the mere prospect of this. But hey! Those little spiny mammals much loved by readers of Beatrix Potter’s “Mrs Tiggywinkle” do have an underpass! Good stuff.

We however were not so lucky. After following what I thought might be a path on the map but wasn’t – it turned out to be the dash-dot line for electricity pylons (shocking) – we had to re-trace our steps. This left only one course of action – other than dive headlong across the road – we had to navigate the verge (you know how much I l-urve a verge).

We shouted over the traffic and I wrestled with several hawthorns – why did I think putting a crash barrier between myself and the cars would be safer? – much to the amusement of JG who had been bolder and walked traffic side of the barrier. But finally, trying not to trip over the detritus thrown from passing vehicles, we made it to the underpass. Yeah!

It was worth being entangled by those hawthorns. Safely on the other side of the road we enjoyed a throughly lovely walk in the golden autumnal light following the cycle-way to our bus stop for home at Gilpin Bridge.

Aaaaaah, breathe in the calm.

What a splendid day. We walked 5.5 miles, JG measured it. A very short walk for JG but perfect for me, I am done at about 6! Here’s where we walked … I think!

Have happy outdoors days all.

Mx

Green Santa

Having bemoaned the amount of rain guess what? The sun came out. Enough for me to don my welly bobs (told you that they would not be neglected) and start tidying the garden.

“Good to be back!

Every year at this time one of the biggest jobs outside is sweeping up the leaves. I always feel guilty that I am not gathering these leaves to make leaf mould mulch or compost. Because I am not much of one for hammering in posts and circling them with chicken wire to stop the leaves blowing away I merely add the leaf harvest to my green waste bin. Oh but not this year. This year I have a secret weapon.

Say hello to my little friend. The compostable leaf mould bag!

All these handy bags require is that you fill them with fallen leaves – no shortage around here – then pop them out of the way and one year later you will have super wonderful leaf mould for mulching your garden. Leave them two years and wow! compost.

I thoroughly enjoyed sweeping up the first fall of leaves and filling my bag. I felt rather like a green reverse-Santa, filling the sack with soil enriching goodness rather than emptying it with less sustainable goodies (the sort much loved by the Tribe of Doris granddaughters … don’t worry girls Omi is talking to the real Santa and he assures me you will not be forgotten).

Bag one done. I have a feeling this will be the first of many, the sycamore has plenty more leaves to share.

I have not even started ….”

Our North American cousins have it right when they call it Fall!

Mx