Pampered pooches

I regularly support Knit for Peace (a wonderful charity) with donations or entering their regular raffles. I’m not generally lucky, but a couple of months ago I was the winner of their British Wool raffle and very quickly the recipient of this box of delights:

I really, really don’t NEED more wool, but it was such fun to receive, and I will probably give some of it away; however I did want to use some of it. As you can see, Sam and Daisy were very interested, so I decided that they could benefit from this unexpected bonus.

Years ago, when we first got a second dog, we bought a big soft bed for them to share, comprising an inner cushion and an outer squishy surround. Over the years it’s got more and more tatty and the filling had clumped together, so that is was extremely lumpy. Neither Sam nor Daisy was interested in using it, preferring the sofa, the carpet or whatever thing I’m knitting or crocheting. I was thinking about this, and realised that the pooches clearly like to snooze on woolly things, so would probably appreciate a woolly bed. Not wanting to entirely discard the original bed I decided to re-cover it, but first I pulled all the stuffing out of both pieces, fluffed it up and put it all back into the cushion part, supplemented with some extra stuffing and a whole load of tiny wool scraps that I have been saving for just such a project. The outer piece went into the fabric recycling bag because it really wasn’t salvageable.

Then I set to work making some squares, which Daisy kept safe for me:

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MY squares

Interestingly, when turned the re-stuffed cushion over, so that the cotton side was upwards rather than the artificial fleece, both dogs became more interested in sleeping on it (as demonstrated by Daisy below right). However, soon it will have a whole new woolly cover and may be even more tempting. I have completed the first side and it has been tested and approved:

The other half is well underway in slightly different colours, so that we can ring the changes simply by turning it over.

I realise that Sam hasn’t had much of a look-in in this post, despite it being about dog beds, so here she is having fun on the beach the other day:

I’m hoping I will have the completed doggy bed ready to show you later in the month.

Stirring things up

At the age of eighteen I went off to university with a trunk full of stuff – but not necessarily the stuff I needed. Indeed, I quickly discovered that I was going to have to do a bit of my own cooking (no food was provided in halls of residence on a Saturday night… goodness only knows why). And so, I made my way to Woolworths and purchased some essentials – a plate, a bowl, some cutlery, a small saucepan and a wooden spoon. Over the years the crockery got broken, the handle fell off the saucepan (although only about four years ago) and the cutlery disappeared into anonymity amongst all the knives, forks and spoons in the kitchen. But the wooden spoon survived.

For 33 years I have used that wooden spoon regularly – it has stirred sauces, beaten butter and sugar to make cakes, pressed fruit through sieves, agitated baked beans as they heat (often in that original little pan) and been played like a tiny fake guitar by Mr Snail. Its colour changed over the years and recently flaws had stated to show. I’ve certainly had my money’s worth out of it and its environmental footprint has been tiny. So, I was sad but unsurprised when It finally split into two as I was washing it the other day.

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oh dear

 

So farewell old faithful spoon… when I bought you I could never have envisaged you (or me) getting so old. Your final contribution to our household will be that your cremation will provide energy to heat the water for a cup of tea.

And hello brand new spoon – not wooden this time, but bamboo. I wonder how long you will last.

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do you think it will outlast me?

That difficult age

You may have been wondering about my lack of blogging this year… in fact I have been too. I started the year with grand plans for book writing, but these didn’t actually come to fruition until the last month and even then my writing is a bit erratic. To begin with I thought that I was just feeling uninspired and then Max died and I was feeling sad, but as the year progressed I realised that I was suffering from what I can only describe as brain fog, sometimes accompanied by poor sleep and lethargy and sometimes accompanied by feelings of stress. I bimbled along for a while before realising that these were symptoms of the menopause. It’s a funny old thing – if you are pregnant, you can talk about the effects of your hormones on your body and your brain quite freely (and get support and sympathy), but if (like 100% of women will be at some stage in their life) you are menopausal, you keep quiet. This means that you don’t know what to expect; I was beginning to think I was going bonkers.

The really strange thing was, as soon as I realised and started chatting to my friends of a similar age, it all seemed much more manageable and normal. Mr Snail was worried about me too, and finding out that what I am going through is normal has helped him immensely. Everybody has different experiences, but I found some common threads – often mental rather than physical. The classic symptom is the hot flush, which I started having these about six years ago. They are rare for me now and I assumed that their gradual disappearance meant that is was all over – I was wrong. Brain fog, however, seems to be something most women I have talked to experience.

Anyway, this is the real reason why I haven’t been writing much. It seems to have adversely affected my creativity too and so I haven’t produced so many fun/lovely/quirky things to show you. However, I’m hoping that my newfound honesty and support network (including Sister of Snail, Mrs Robinson and The Great Creator) will buoy me up and help me find a new perspective.

I’ve toyed with writing this post for the past few weeks and wondered whether it was just too much to share, but then I watched a programme on the BBC the other day about the subject, which highlighted the need to talk about this and not to feel ashamed or embarrassed.  So, here I am. Sorry gents if you find this uncomfortable, but if you ever encounter women, this is something that is relevant to you too and which it would be useful to understand. So, lets start some conversations and accept that we all go through changes in our lives during which we need support and understanding.

I’ll just finish with two of my favourite songs from the wonderful Henry Priestman both about getting older… listen to the lyrics, they are wonderful.

 

 

ScrapHappy November 2018

Finally the blanket from the scraps left over from Sophie is finished (originally featured in ScrapHappy September). Actually, it also includes some other scraps and a few new balls just to get it up to size, along with some of the abundant Cambrian Mountains wool that I had squirreled away and which was perfect to frame the blanket.

As you can see, it’s got cute bobbles on the end edges and is currently being road bed tested by Sam and Daisy (it turns out that Daisy LOVES wool). Here they are modeling it along with the original Sophie:

The pattern suggested just joining the hexagons at the corners, and this is what I originally did, But I wasn’t happy with how loose this made the blanket, so I have crocheted each row of hexagons together, leaving only the adjacent hexagons in each row unattached. This gives it more strength and means it’s less likely to get accidentally damaged because of something getting caught through one of the many gaps.

There were about a million ends to weave in, but I have plans for all the little left-over bits… watch this space.

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just a few ends

And now it’s off to Reading to make Mr Snail’s flat feel a bit more like home and provide a virtual hug from me when he’s there all on his own.

-oOo-

I’ve been inspired to write this (and future) ScrapHappy posts by Kate, who provides links to other (mostly sewing) ScrapHappy bloggers at Tall Tales from Chiconia on the fifteenth of every month… do check them out.

 

 

 

 

 

 

ScrapHappy October 2018

Several years ago I came across a maker who I greatly admired. I looked at her work and I pondered whether I could emulate it, but in the end I decided that it was beyond me and that, therefore, if I got the opportunity, I would buy one of her creations. So, unusually, this month’s ScrapHappy post features a creation that is not my own.

Fwo weeks ago I managed to get to Yarndale (more on this in a future post) and finally to see the wonderful creations of  Sue Reed, The Woolly Pedlar for real. I was so captivated, that I completely forgot to take any pictures of her stall, so it you want to see more of her work, you’ll have to follow the link. Sue uses old knitwear as the raw material to make amazing dresses, shawls, ponchos, coats, hats and more. In Sue’s own words:

I take waste knitwear and create new pieces from it, saving it from landfill. Textile waste is a huge problem, and landfill sites are full of discarded textiles that could be upcycled into new things.

And this is the poncho I bought:

One of the things I love about Sue’s creations is that she can use damaged knitwear. Elbows of a sweater worn through? No problem, just use the bits that are still intact. Moths got your cardigan? Cut out the squares from between the holes. Her eye for colour is amazing, as are her quirky designs. What an inspirational ScrapHappy business she has created.

-oOo-

I’ve been inspired to write this (and future) ScrapHappy posts by Kate, who provides links to other (mostly sewing) ScrapHappy bloggers at Tall Tales from Chiconia on the fifteenth of every month… do check them out.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Finding Sanctuary

One thing leads to another…

Last autumn I decided to participate in Sewchet‘s Secret Stitching Santa – an exchange of gifts between crafty bloggers. I chose, as you will not be surprised, to get involved with the knitting/crochet version. I was allocated a person to send my gifts to and I immediately checked out as many blog posts as I could on Julia’s Creative Year. I had great fun putting together Julia’s parcel and I have continued to follow her blog. In February she wrote a post about a crochet retreat that she had attended called The Crochet Sanctuary and I immediately wanted to go. I checked out their web site and booked a place…

And so, last weekend I set off for my weekend of crochet bliss… and what a lovely weekend it was. My journey was a little more stressful than I would have liked, but the venue is promising from the moment you arrive, with a grand façade and sheep and cattle lined up at the front door:

We were greeted by Lisa and Lynda (creators of the experience) and a glass of bubbly (not standard, but compensation for weekend being in the “wrong” room). After this there was the goody bag containing the first project and introductions conducted with the aid of the Hogwarts’ sorting hat! It turns out that I am in Gryffyndor (I was really hoping for Ravenclaw)

There were happy people, cakes, sweets and hot drinks in abundance and projects aplenty… starting off with Mabel the rabbit and progressing on to hot water bottle covers (with the hot water bottle included in the goody bag), a lavender pillow and an amigurumi workshop with Heather Gibbs of Keep Calm and Crochet On UK, with whom we made Relaxing Ralph (a laid-back amigurumi kitty).

Although I probably wouldn’t have chosen any of the projects if I had been sitting at home, it was inspiring to have a go at some different things and use some different yarns. The atmosphere of the weekend is lovely – an abundance of friendship, laughter, food, drink and yarn. There’s someone on hand to help if you get stuck with your crochet and all the materials and equipment are provided. But perhaps the most valuable thing is time: it’s so rare to be able to dedicate a whole weekend to creativity.

You will know how much I enjoyed it, when I tell you I have booked to go again next year.

ScrapHappy September 2018

You may remember Sophie… which took up quite a bit of my time last year:

I bought new wool to make her, but there was rather a lot left over: perfect for a ScrapHappy project. So, with Mr Snail living away from home during the week (more on that in a future post) and him commenting that the flat he’s renting doesn’t entirely feel like home, I decided that a snuggly sofa blanket was needed. It’s not finished yet, but this is progress so far.

As well as the left-overs from Sophie there are a few balls from my stash. It’s all wool (with the exception of a tiny bit of silk in on blend) and almost all British; any that isn’t is old balls that I have no idea anymore of the origin. I’m planning to work on it until I have used up as much of the wool as possible and then edge it in the cream wool (Cambrian Mountains), of which I have quite a lot left on the cone I bought to make Sophie.

I think it will make Mr Snail’s flat feel a bit more like home and keep him warm on those cold winter nights… if I can just get it finished!

-oOo-

I’ve been inspired to write this (and future) ScrapHappy posts by Kate, who provides links to other (mostly sewing) ScrapHappy bloggers at Tall Tales from Chiconia on the fifteenth of every month… do check them out.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The three Rs

I’m taking a little time off from paid work to get some things sorted out around the house. Originally I planned to do some decorating this week, but somehow I got diverted and the week ended up being all about the three Rs: Repair. Repair, Repair! Yes, I know it’s usually Repair, Reuse, Recycle, but there was so much of the first that it seems worth repeating.

I reattached the rufflette tape to the heavy curtain over the front door, darned two pairs of crochet slippers (one of which I had nearly convinced myself to throw away, but which turned out to be repairable), sewed a button onto some trousers, repaired a hole in a dress, made a new waist band for a pair of leggings and mended a cap that the dog had chewed.

Several of these jobs turned out to be quite time-consuming, but in all cases I’m happy with the results and the work extends the life of all the items involved. Plus, the curtain should be more efficient at keeping the heat in now it hangs properly.

I often collect repairs and then can’t summon up the energy to do them, but this week the motivation was there and I think that I have now worked my way through all of my mending pile. Maybe I will do some decorating next week… maybe…

Shame

It seems to me that large manufacturers and retailers are genuinely out of touch with the public. As environmental awareness increases and there are more and more demands for reductions in packaging, ditching unnecessary single-use containers and abandoning built-in obsolescence, it’s time that big corporations made some changes. Now I know that it takes dinosaurs a long time to respond, but I can’t help feeling that some of the reluctance to change is because it’s simply easier not to. However, it is not impossible – specifications can be amended, processes can be modified, expectations can be altered. Making the excuse that it’s because of economics just does not wash (economics are a fiction – plastic in the sea killing marine life is a reality).

So, I have decided that I will take action. I already vote with my money, but that’s a rather private action and, whilst it is important, is not going to make a huge difference in isolation. I am, therefore, taking to social media with direct, public messages to companies that I have issues with. Today, via Twitter, I targeted Seasalt, who make lovely organic clothes, claim to be environmentally responsible and pack all their goods in plastic.2018-08-21 (2)They did respond, which is at least something, but obviously it’s easier to blame someone else:2018-08-21 (3)

They haven’t responded further, but I hope that other people will join in and we might be able to persuade them to make the change.

I would like to think that shaming companies publicly might have some effect, because after all social media is a key part of their marketing strategy. Perhaps you’d like to join me? Do tell me about any companies that you have contacted and how they have responded. Perhaps we can support each other and make our ripples into waves.

ScrapHappy August 2018

For some time now, I have been collecting old t-shirts. I would really like to do something with the designs on them because so many of them are associated with special places and memories. However, that still leaves rather a lot of fabric available for other projects. So, this month I thought I would have a go at making some “yarn”. Helped by Sam and Daisy (the speedy spaniel), I cut up the bottom parts of a few old t-shirts into long strips:

There are lots of instructions for doing this on the internet, so I won’t bore you with the details. None of them, however, cover working around canine friends, but I think I managed to avoid any loss of whiskers or tail hair. I decided to start with something simple: a round rug. The joy of this is that I can just keep working round and round until I run out of t-shirts (or possibly patience). I have learned not to cut the strips too wide as it makes it very hard to work with (the white was a bit too thick for comfort).

As you can see from the latest picture, it’s currently about 14 inches across and that has used up all the yarn that I made from three large t-shirts. As a truly scrappy project, I am just going to make use of all the colours that I have, so it may not be the most aesthetically pleasing creation, but it is becoming a lovely thick mat and should provide good insulation on a cold floor, plus it feels like a very positive use of fabric that would been of little use for anything else (I really have enough dusters and cleaning cloths for now).

-oOo-

I’ve been inspired to write this (and future) ScrapHappy posts by Kate, who provides links to other (mostly sewing) ScrapHappy bloggers at Tall Tales from Chiconia on the fifteenth of every month… do check them out.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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