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

Knitting together

Hello All

Spending much of Friday with a crafting friend was a real treat. We enjoyed a few uninterrupted hours of tea, food and (yahoo!) knitting. Friend KS is working on a beautiful project but I can’t reveal what she is up to ‘cos it is a gift for another of our friends. Sorry to disappoint but I hope you will be satisfied with my own wee offering.

As it looks like Winter is creeping up on us – not in a tantalising (can creeping ever be tantalising?) way but with cold snaps nippy enough to engender weather warnings – what better than to knit a chunky wool hat to keep Granddaughter Peanut warm?

I am eternally thankful to AJ for this really useful book. Over the years my Big Book of Knitting has rescued me from many a knitting calamity and has provided me with some great patterns.

The Chulla Earflap Hat was exactly what I had in mind to keep little Peanut’s ears warm. It used less than a 100g ball of chunky wool and was finished in an afternoon. There was virtually no sewing up as the hat is knitted on double pointed needles and the ear flaps are incorporated into the casting on for the body of the hat. Oh joy! Win, win, win.

And yet I felt something was missing.

Aah, that’s better!

Keep warm … or cool depending on your season.

Until next we meet,

Moke x

Dog Days

Hello All

It has been an activity mish-mash at Casa Moke over the last couple of weeks. No matter how hard I try my poor old pea-brain can’t come up with a coherent single theme for this post. Dear reader be prepared for the confused Cornucopia of everyday life here in the brr-is-it-me-but-is-Winter-coming-to-the-fffff-reezing-North-?.

First to the ‘Dog Days’. No 1 Daughter frequently travels with her job and last weekend she had the chance to combine work and a family trip while visiting some wonderful Animals Asia supporters in Glasgow. Only two small ‘problems’ her furry friends, George and Buddy. Yahoo! chance for me to enjoy the company of the boys for a couple of days dog-sitting.

George and Buddy would probably call it human-sitting and to be frank they would be right. Their time here does seem to entail a lot of sitting on me!

George takes the lap…

… and Buddy purloins the feet! My doggy visitors certainly make themselves at home. Bless ’em.

And while we relaxing, look what dropped through my door:

It is always exciting to see what classes are happening locally but this year I found it even more exciting. If you have a look under Arts and Crafts you might notice a few entries for ‘Introduction to Needle Felting’, guess who is responsible for them????

Yup that will be me! I am lucky enough to be running a few short courses over the Spring for Cumbria County Council’s Community Learning and Skills Programme in South Lakeland. It was such fun to micro-teach the interview panel that I am really looking forward to sharing one of my favourite crafts with new needle felters.

[Clears throat and takes on serious tone] Better keep up my crafty credentials in case any of my students-to-be are looking (can’t wait to meet you by the way). I have done a little more work on the wall art. The character on the right seems to be sending out some star-dust to cheer up the rather drab lettering:

I think she has done a good job and may need to be rewarded with a tiara or floral tribute…watch this space.

I have also been patch-working my way through several cushions:

I think almost all the fabric was from Reticule in Kendal. They have a huge range of beautiful and stylish fabrics and quarters. I chose these to coordinate with particular colour schemes. I can’t help but chuckle when I look at the blue birds: they seem to be on a see-saw. Have you spotted them? Hope they don’t get sea-sick!

Finally as ‘Winter is Coming’ a wee bit of sock knitting was called for.

Just knitting socks makes you feel warmer doesn’t it? Or is it trying to keep all the stitches on the needles and the counters in the right places that keeps me warm? Well done to Crafty friend KS who has launched herself into the world of sock knitting on circular needles with great results. I think I just like the suspense of working on double pointed needles, will the stitches stay on for another round ….

As you see I have a few projects to keep me busy and snug. And there are those courses to plan. Can’t wait.

Until next we meet,

Moke x

Happy Fortnight

Hello All

Apologies for last week’s lapse. Things are all good here at Casa Moke just a lot of to-ing and fro-ing. I warn you this is a l-o-n-g post. You will be rewarded with a cuppa if you make it to the end.

What have I been up to?

Cooking.

Delicious Beetroot, Mushroom and Dulse Seaweed Burgers. Grating beetroot always makes the kitchen look like a crime scene but the consequent mopping up was worth it for these tasty burgers packed with yummy goodness.

I love seaweed however often forget how scrumptious and beneficial it is. Thanks to Kate Humble’s BBC series ‘Back to the Land with Kate Humble’ I was reminded and have found some fabulous producers. For this recipe and the Seaweed Cookbook I turned to The Cornish Seaweed Company. The book is a wonderful resource: along with plentiful recipes for everyone (vegans, veggies, omnivores and more) it profiles a huge variety of seaweeds and gives a guide to foraging.

Crafting.

Simple patchwork and a teeny-weeny amount of quilting are helping me gain more and more confidence on my sewing machine (sorry Snail of Happiness I have still not tried stretchy fabrics!). I am also rather pleased with the results if I do say so myself. No 1 Daughter has put in an order for cushions to coordinate with her soon to be decorated living room. Praise indeed.

Hot off the press…

Another cushion made almost entirely from scraps from earlier makes including at least two outfits for my granddaughter. I am smiling looking at it.

Some of you may remember my HUGE over purchase of wool for the simple Fair Isle jumper for Peanut.

Well I have found the perfect project to use the surplus. A Guernsey Wrap.

The pattern by Jared Flood is on Ravelry here. Versions of it can also be seen on one of my favourite blogs ‘Foxs Lane‘ … but I can’t remember where! It is a fabulous blog well worth a visit and you may even stumble on the wrap along your way.

Walking.

Walking buddies JG and JF set off clutching maps (OS Explorer OL7 – The English Lakes, South Eastern area) and compasses – they are part way through learning about navigation – with me their hill-loathing chum (how am I Cumbrian?!) in tow to complete the Kentmere walk we attempted last year when snow and ice made us/me decide to turn back. With the weather much improved – a DRY yet windy day – we set off in high hopes of sitting by a beautiful reservoir to eat our lunches.

Our day started with a charming easy stroll based on No. 3 in Norman Buckley’s book “Lakeland Walking: on the Level”. However as the hills of The Kentmere Horseshoe loomed in front of us it did look as if we were walking into Mordor. But hey! We had that attractive ‘lake’ to look forward to.

With a very flat valley floor and glacial moraines it was easy to see how the Ice Age sculpted this landscape. Ice now a thing of the past…things warmed up around end of April this year…lunch was calling and thoughts of dipping my tootsies in the lapping waters of the man-made tarn were becoming increasingly pleasing.

But what’s this?!

Or should that be what is it not?!!! Where has our reservoir gone? A couple of fellow walkers seeing our dropped jaws told us, it’s the result of a leak! In the past I have had small garden ponds and yes they have suffered the odd pond lining incident but a whole vanished reservoir? That is something.

Abandoning our visions of picnicking on a beautiful shoreline we crossed the spillway. Having watched much too much Nordic Noir I confess I was looking out at the wasteland for a skeleton or two at least. Happily I have nothing untoward to report but it was a very eerie setting…movie location hunters take note.

So being a bit agile (it says so in Buckley’s book) we followed a rough and narrow path back along the opposite bank of the River Kent until the going became easy again and we could stop out of the wind for sandwiches (hummus, peppers and celery if you were wondering) and have a short rest.

The walk back was idyllic. We couldn’t help but laugh at the adventurous and frolicking lambs (I thanked their mums for the wool) some of whom had perched themselves all over this glacial ‘dustbin’.

We admired the bridges.

And held our breath waiting for the bluebells to bloom.

All this and we barely got wet. A rare occasion in them thar hills.

Marching … Women of Cumbria

JG and I managed another tick on our ‘Women of Cumbria’ spreadsheet. We boarded the 505 Stagecoach bus to Coniston and had a wonderful time at the Ruskin Museum looking at all the displays and the exhibition dedicated to Annie Garnett a nineteenth century community entrepreneur who founded a textile industry in Lakeland.

Annie was one of six siblings and while her brothers went to school she was lucky enough to learn autonomously at home and particularly through her love of gardening. Taking her vision from Ruskin’s linen ‘industry’ Garnett founded The Spinnery in Windermere which gave women homebased work spinning yarns which were then woven at the spinnery. Many of the designs were created around plant forms.

Annie Garnett’s knowledge of weaving and textile history enabled her to create new fabrics and dye swatches that reflect her love of Lakeland’s colours.

Beautiful.

Garnett was not only a knowledgeable, inspired artisan she was also an astute businesswoman. By 1899 over 90 women worked as home spinners and embroiders. These workers were given training and also loaned their equipment for free. Annie clearly saw The Spinnery as a business and not a charity and she worked hard to promote it. Her management style was most certainly hands-on!

Lastly we could not leave Coniston without a ratch around a graveyard. We were looking for two gravestones.

Ruskin’s.

And W.G. Collingwood’s. Mission completed.

Are you ready for that drink? You’ve done really well to get here.

Tea drinking.

With a lack of dairy I have missed a delicious cuppa so I went to the Mecca of tea and coffee drinking which we are lucky enough to have here in Kendal, Farrer’s. I went experimental and by serendipity discovered a delicious brew.

And here I sit supping. Time you got the kettle on too. You have certainly earned it.

Until next we meet,

Moke xxx

PS I receive no freebies (I can dream) nor payment (does that happen?) for anything recommended in my blog. Mx

Lochinvar

Hello All

Having lain down in a darkened room for a couple of weeks after the over-exertion of 3 posts in one week (three posts!) I thought it was about time I bobbed back up to pester you all with a quick post about a knit that I have been working on…for longer than I care to say.

Thankfully the old Lister pattern for the Lochinvar children’s jumper ( a snip at ninepence ) is aimed at children over three years old as Peanut has just about grown into it while I have been knitting.

I started out full of enthusiasm to have a go at very very very basic Fair Isle and everything was going so well.

Until I realised that my ‘Fair Isle’ looked nothing like that in the picture on the front of the pattern. I knew it would mean a whole load of pulling back and so I stalled. From then on it was snail’s pace. But eventually a front and back – with matching panels of ‘Fair Isle’ – emerged.

And there it could have stopped if a visit from a couple of crafty friends hadn’t nudged me to finish the sleeves (long enough for an orangutan I swear). And now I have block pressed

Sewn up and … finished!

I confess I don’t think it anything special, my seams do not bear too much scrutiny and I have had offers on eBay from parky orangutans who love the sleeves. BUT as Spring does not appear to have sprung it will certainly give Peanut a cosy warm layer and I have the satisfaction in knowing I worked through my woolly ‘Wall’ and finally got my ‘Fair Isle’ right and even – sort of – lined up.

Have you ever had those projects that feel like pulling teeth? Time to take up my crochet hook again I’d say!

Until next we meet

Moke xxx

Keeping crafty

Hello All

Inspiration has struck! Thank you Women of Cumbria.

Having seen several local suffrage stories I felt (no pun intended…) the time had come for me to make a small homage to the suffragettes. What better way for me to do this than …. needle felting! Ok it’s not chaining myself to Parliament nor enduring any kind of hardship for the cause (although those needles really..really smart when they stab a finger or three) but a little Suffragette Roundel was just the reminder I wanted.

Here’s what I did:

1. Gathered together my needle felting goodies: merino wool tops, foam mat, needles (36 worked best), pastry cutters for shaping and preserving my fingers (although not always!) and a cup of tea…of course.

2. Pressed merino tops into the pastry cutter and got felting to make flowers in the Suffragette colours of white, purple and green. I turned the woolly flowers over regularly so they didn’t stick to the mat as I stabbed away with the barbed needle (oooch ! ouch!) and then I finished them off free-hand in order to tidy the edges, give them definition and add a central dot of black (a friend says my flowers always remind her of liquorice all sorts…I know what she means).

3. Using the same method as the flowers (but with a different template) I made enough leaves to insert between each flower.

4. Played about with the layout of my six flowers and leaves.

5. Fired up the old glue gun (Kendal Cousin don’t get excited!).

6. Completed my Suffragette Roundel by attaching the felting to an embroidery hoop.

The Roundel is now a cheery but a 2018-relevant welcome to our home.

All in all it has been a satisfying crafty week. Invigorated by last Saturday’s visit to the Edinburgh Yarn Festival with the Crafty Ladies and the lovely goodies bought there for future projects

I realised I had better get a move on with some old projects. Those last seen tucked away in cloth bags that whisper to your conscience every time you try and scootle past.

With the companionship of a couple of crafty friends and a day set aside to get cracking with those dreaded works in progress I managed yesterday to get moving with a jumper for Peanut (lucky it is massive as I was seriously worried she would have outgrown it by several years before it got finished…).

BRD and KS it was great to be crafting together and also see your wonderful projects blossoming. Thanks for spurring me on. Keep crafting.

Until next we meet,

Moke xxx

Hunkered

Hello All

Brrr. The cold and snow and frrreeeeezing wind has kept my walking to a minimum i.e. off bus in shop in cafe back on bus. I have instead hunkered down at home and been busy crafting.

Project one: cable hat. Using the second ball of the lovely wool gifted me by No 1 ‘daughter-in-law’ – the softest and cosiest yarn to work – I again used the Anna Hat free pattern at Margo Knits which is a small enough to sustain my enthusiasm and challenging enough to keep me on my toes …. or DPNs ….

Project two: patchwork cushion. At Christmas I promised that I would make No 1 Daughter some ‘Boho’ style cushions having failed to find any I liked and could afford. The fulfilment of my promise had to await the purchase of a new sewing machine. Now the proud owner of Jolly Janome and having practised on a patchwork pillow of my own it was time to get cracking.

The colours were ready and I had great fun deciding the layout. It was even more fun for Jolly and me to sew the strips. I even enjoyed all the pressing…am I weird?

The final result was pleasingly luxurious. Front and back.

Most importantly No1 Daughter loved it but here’s the rub …. she wants more! Looks like Jolly and I will be kept busy.

Project three: dress for me. For some time I have wanted to make myself something new to wear. I had spotted a couple of those lovely Merchant and Mills patterns that looked right up my street. Meeting up with No 1 to deliver the cushion I took the opportunity to nip into Cool Crafting in Skipton (they also have a shop in Kirby Lonsdale) and pick up a pattern … or two.

All I needed was fabric. While lying awake, head busy with crafting projects, I pictured the dress in stripes. So with No1 and granddaughter Peanut we went next day to Ilkley and the lovely ‘Eme Cloth & Yarn‘ emporium run by the friendly and really helpful Emma Garry. I loved this fabric and couldn’t resist getting enough for my frock and an outfit for Peanut. I shall just have to check with Peanut (she’s advanced for two) so that we don’t wear them at the same time!

Emma drew my attention to a rather special feature of this cloth. The selvedge.

Isn’t it beautiful? On Emma’s advice I carefully snipped it from the post-pattern-cutting cloth and plan to use it as edging in future makings. Waste not want not.

Cutting done – the Merchant and Mills pattern paper is super quality – Jolly and I were ready to roll. The instructions were pretty good although I found the diagram showing the insertion of the front bib a little confusing. None of the reviews mentions this so probably just me. Common sense, a bit of experimenting and some tacking (got to love a bit of tacking I say) soon overcame my muddle. And voila I have a new cotton dress-tunic.

Apologies for this photo but I couldn’t find a good spot to ‘pose’ the finished dress. I am loathed to model it myself but despite it’s slight nurse-like appearance – I didn’t notice this echo of Call The Midwife while working on it – please take it from me that it looks great and not at all like I have arrived to administer an enema.

And see what has been delivered while I have been tapping out this post. A new adventure beckons…

Hope you are having happy adventures and crafting time of your own.

Until next we meet,

Moke xxx

Keeping Warm

Hello All

Remember the lovely Christmas wools I received from No 1 ‘Daughter In Law’?

Which I had started working into a hat?

I am pleased to report that said cable hat is now complete and ready (when weather stops being so foul) for walks in them thar hills.

Hardy Herdy bear has been called in to model as I didn’t want to scare the children with a photo of myself! I love the colours of the yarn and it has made up into a beautiful cosy head snuggler.

The forecast up here (Lake District, England) is for snow and colder weather so what’s a girl/lady/woman/person to do but make use of a trip into town to stock up on the necessaries for a keeping warm and snug at home project.

Kettle’s boiled. Tea is made. Thick socks adorn feet. Chunky jumper insulates my already ample frame. Jolly Janome here I come. I may be some time.

Until next we meet,

Moke xxx

Heights, Hats and New Year

Hello All

Hope its not too late to wish you all HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!!! What is the protocol? I usually go with wishing Happy New Year to people I have not seen – since hearing the fading strains of Auld Lang Syne – until the end of January. What do you do?

Protocols aside a bit of housekeeping is needed on this here blog. I don’t feel I have finished 2017 off properly as I was smitten by a fluey bug at the tail end of the Christmas festivities and didn’t complete a post for the last walk of the old year. It was a Bussing It walk and everything!!! So here goes.

Somewhere in the mists of time … December 2017! …. J unleashed our first walk from Robert Swain’s “55 555 Walks” Bolton Le Sands to Lancaster. For me it is a particular pleasure to combine public transport with a walk, no worries about driving, parking, individually polluting the universe … that sort of thing. But little did I know as we set off that by the end of the day I would be facing one of my greatest fears. Eeek.

Innocently we tootled off on a very pleasant stroll through the Lancashire countryside chuckling at the punishments meted out to ne’er do wells of yesteryore.

The stocks at Slyne give a hint of a raucous past in this now ‘butter wouldn’t melt’ little village. Oh how I was chuckling … then.

The next stretch of the walk took us part-way along the Lancaster canal. My favourite: a really flat walk.

Although major road building – the Bay Gateway: Heysham to M6 link if you wanted to know – left us with a rather strange detour (not in Swain’s book of course) serpentining our way around the pillars of the new four-lane highway rumbling above us before entering the outskirts of Lancaster through a modern housing estate. Different from the Lakeland fells and cottages for sure.

And then as we walked through Lancaster’s Ryelands Park … gulp … the realisation that the walk took us across the Lune and that this would only be managed by bridge (swimming across would be pretty radical). Those of you that followed my travels in Germany will recall an annoying vertigo that decided to visit me while I was away. The thought of a scary bridge on the horizon brought that memory back.

J being the good friend she is suggested we walk to a much less high rise footbridge. But that meant skipping some of the walk so I girded my loins and up and over Lancaster’s Carlisle (foot and rail) Bridge we went. And do you know what? despite my qualms, fear of white knuckles, passing out part way (I think that was J’s fear) it was … drum roll please …. ok. I know what an anti-climax. It really was alright.

It was worth it too as the quays along this bank of the Lune, a salt marsh tidal river, are quaint and full of architectural interest. They also end in a good end stop at the oldest pub in Lancaster. The Three Mariners is not only a grade II listed building steeped in 500 years of history – even holding prisoners in its cellar when Lancaster Castle’s dungeons were overflowing – it also serves a fine pot of tea which comes with a jug of fresh milk and a spare pot of hot water. Tea heaven. Oh yes its also a paranormal haunt!

A quick hop across the road and we were back on the 555 Stagecoach bus home. A good way to end the walking year.

As to 2018? No walks yet. Recuperating from fluey-virus thing has grounded me a wee bit. Although now the hacking cough has subsided I am rather enjoying the snug loveliness of homely pursuits and a couple of thoughtful Christmas presents especially.

In the last few years my children have introduced new folks to our teeny tiny family. Their wonderful partners are extremely welcome additions and already know me well enough to supply fodder for my New Year needs.

A selection of beautiful wools from No 1 Son’s No 1, RS

From which one ball today started a cable-knitted journey to becoming a hat:

The free pattern from Margo Knits can be found here. Big thanks RS: I will soon have a warm hat so I can again embrace walks in my chilly county.

Thanks to No 1 Daughter’s No 1 RP I am happily putting up my feet and losing myself in an era that I love

Fabulous reading especially now the thumping head has receded. Inspired pressie.

On those happy and thankful notes I will love and leave you.

May 2018 bring you everything you need.

Until next we meet,

Moke xxx

Big and Boho

Hello All

Crafty winter projects are at the forefront of my mind after a week of very cold temperatures. When the thermometer shows that Shropshire is colder than Moscow you know there is a nip in the air. To sate my need for warmth and busy work I took a trip to the wonderful Loopy wool shop in Ulverston yesterday and stocked up with yarn for knitting projects to cheer the chilly nights.

Sadly – as I am sure I will have bewailed before – despite Kendal’s motto being ‘Wool is my Bread’ there are no longer any dedicated wool shops here. Sob! Good job Ulverston is a bustling cheery town delightful to visit and Loopy’s proprietor Andrea is everything you could wish for: helpful, knowledgeable, friendly, creative and with a marvellous stock. So what goodies did I get?

I am hoping to use the Lister pattern – which I picked up a while ago – to make my granddaughter little Peanut a Fair Isle jumper. Wish me luck this is my first attempt at Fair Isle…..gulp……

As to the fabulous ‘Fusions’ wool …. we shall have to wait and see….

The eagle eyed knitters amongst you will already have spotted my big blunder. Can you see what I did wrong? Taking only a list of what I needed (or thought I needed) into the shop rather than the patterns meant that Andrea couldn’t spot my mistake. I thought the pattern asked for 9 balls. What it actually meant was 9 ounces. By the by the pattern is pre-metrication no one report me to Trading Standards. I am such a dope. I didn’t even twig when I required less of the ‘Fusion’ wool for what is a bigger project. Peanut’s mum may end up with a matching waistcoat!

To assuage my guilt at such an oversight. I turned my mind to a request from No 1 Daughter for some Boho cushions. It gave me the opportunity to return to the selvedge yarn I used for the rug. One selvedge ball later and voila a big Boho cushion for beloved offspring.

Using my giant needles I knitted up two ‘squares’ in next to no time then using thick contrast wool crocheted the two halves together around a cushion pad. The selvedge fabric make for an even cosier cushion than usual, very snuggly. Even better the cushion was so quickly made that I have had time to get cracking on Peanut’s Fair Isle jumper

Oh goodness just remembered all that wool… I had better be off.

Until next we meet,

Moke xxx