Now we are 10

Apparently today is my 10 year anniversary of starting this blog… how far we have come. From an idea to write about sustainability and sharing some of the projects for my Diploma in Applied Permaculture Design to opening a shop – who would have thought? Along the way, I’ve got to know some truly amazing bloggers and found some firm friends. I’ve mourned the passing of some important people in my life – my dad, my PhD supervisor, my statistics mentor, and dear Pauline, who blogged as The Contented Crafter – and I’ve celebrated successes – being awarded my Diploma, learning to crochet and, most recently, opening the shop.

Thank you for reading my random musings, and for joining me on this journey. So, to celebrate, here are a few pictures from the past 10 years.

I hope I’ll be here for the next 10 years.

Patricia Collins

I’m very sorry to tell you that Patricia Collins has died.

Patricia, as you may recall, wrote a number of guest posts for me and regularly commented, joining in with our discussions of everything from recycling to charity knitting. She had mentioned to me that she wasn’t well, but I had no idea how ill she was. In fact, Patricia was the person I wrote a letter to last Thursday whilst I sat in the pub with Sam… sadly she never received it… and now I wish I’d sent her an email instead.

The last gift that Patricia sent me

I never met Patricia. She found my blog via a mutual friend, but I now have no idea who that was. She first contacted me towards the end of 2017 and I wrote about her getting in touch here. What a kind person she was: she loved the interaction on the blog, but was concerned about the pressure it put on me to write and respond, so she offered guest blog posts to help things along. I never had to edit what she had written – it always fitted so easily into The Snail of Happiness ethos. In addition, she sent me little gifts and we communicated via email and she inspired me. If I hadn’t written a post for a while she would always drop me a line to check that I was ok and write encouraging words.

I will miss those emails SO much. I will miss my friend who I never met. And I will mourn the fact that we never had the chance to chat over tea and cake and talk about yarn and dogs and saving the planet.

Goodbye, Patricia, and thank you for being such a lovely person


You can read Patricia’s posts here, here, here, here, here and this one, which is a combined one from the two of us.

Write off

It’s a strange thing, writer’s block. I’m not sure why, but somehow I just haven’t been able to bring myself to write anything much for weeks – no letters, no work on the book and (as you may have noticed) no blog posts. It’s not that I didn’t have anything to share, it just felt incredibly reluctant to put fingers to keyboard. I’ve been quite busy – the root canal work is finally completed, I’ve finally finished a series of doctor’s appointments and I’ve spent two weekends away with two different sets of lovely ladies (hello to The Crochet Sanctuary Crowd and the Fabulous Fifties). I have stitched, hooked, knitted and sorted. Three boxes of books have gone to the Oxfam book shop, a box of craft materials has gone to be sold at an Emmaus shop that has a specialist craft section and a bag of bras has gone for recycling/reuse. I have had a great harvest of chillies and sweet peppers and a mediocre harvest of courgettes, peas and potatoes. There has been a new member of the household – Mimi the dressmakers dummy and I have learnt to do macrame. So, all-in-all, a busy time. It’s just that I wasn’t inspired to write, or even take many photographs. However, here is a little selection of what I’ve been making, doing and growing, with the hope that the next blog post will come more easily and sooner…

Life and death

I haven’t written a proper post for ages and the longer I leave it, the more difficult it is to get going again. It’s not that I don’t have anything to write – quite the opposite. The real problem is deciding what to write about… soap dishes or lovely British wool, clothes pegs or plants,  knitting or crochet, a new home or hens on holiday… I seem to have been so busy the past few weeks. Eventually, I’m sure I’ll get round to telling you about some or all of these things, but in the mean time, here’s a little collection of photographs…


My busy weeks ended on a sad note. Quite a significant part of Saturday was spent remembering our lost knitting friend, Pauline Bambrey. The funeral was held at the crematorium in Aberystwyth. If anyone ever writes a ‘good crematorium guide’, this must come out as one of the most beautiful settings. The room where the celebrations are held has a huge window at the end, so those gathering to remember their loved ones look out over the most beautiful view. I don’t think I’ve ever been when there wasn’t a red kite swooping over the wooded valley, and Saturday was no exception. The sheer beauty of the place is always poignant:

And this was the music that the family had chosen to close proceedings…



Another pond

I mentioned at the beginning of the year that I would be writing less here because I would be doing other writing intended for publication elsewhere. This included fulfilling a promise to make some contributions to the Plastic is Rubbish web site/blog, which provides resources for those looking to cut down their use of various plastics (below are pictures of some of my alternatives).

I often say that my blogging is like throwing a stone into a pond and letting the ripples spread out. I am hoping that having my writing appear elsewhere is like throwing stones into another pond. If you fancy a dip in that pond, you can read my first contribution here, and I do encourage you to have a look round the site as it does contain all sorts of useful ideas, resources and products. Don’t worry, though, it’s not a preachy site, for example, they say…

We shop at supermarkets when we have to, eat meat and drink alcohol. Giving up is not in nature. We want to do everything just without creating a huge pile of non-biodegradable, possibly carcinogenic, animal-killing rubbish that future generations will have to clean up.

We dont  cut plastic completely, you will only get the Dyson when you pry it from my cold, dead hands, but we aim to stop abusing plastic and encourage the discussion on how and when it should be used.

It is a British-based site, but a lot of the content is relevant wherever you are in the world.

My Kind of People


The Masterpiece in all its glory (picture: Alan Charlton)

When I first started blogging, I wasn’t really sure where it would lead or what to expect. I was originally inspired by Hedvig Murray, a permaculture practitioner I met on a course about seven years ago. I thought that I would share information relating to my Diploma in Applied Permaculture Design and maybe keep in touch with other like-minded people. Well, I did that… and we made a blanket known as “The Masterpiece” to represent my permaculture diploma (thanks to all those of you who contributed all those years ago – I’m still sitting on it every day as I work and blog). I think I’ll put together the story of the blanket in a post soon because so many of you weren’t around for it… and I also want to include the story as a chapter in one of my planned books.

Anyway, I finished my diploma, but by that time the blog had become a record of all sorts of stuff that I do and a place where I had met and made friends with amazing, talented, enthusiastic people from around the world. And this is really what I hadn’t expected – that my blog would become one aspect of a community; that I would follow other blogs; that I would write to, Skype and even meet fellow bloggers face-to-face. That we would send each other gifts, that we would swap our creations, that we would share ideas and give support, and that we would feel part of a safe and caring ‘space’ were all totally unexpected outcomes.

The time and effort invested in blogging is always worthwhile. At one point I thought that I might have to give up replying to comments, but what’s the fun in that? The comments and responses make a blog the dynamic and responsive space that it is – if I just wanted to tell you stuff I’d write a book or set up an ordinary web site. Both have their place, but they serve different purposes. And so, the blog carries on and people continue to be immensely kind.

Not long ago I gained a new reader, Patricia. She came to the blog via a personal recommendation… actually someone who I know through permaculture and who was there when I did my diploma presentation with the blanket. I hope that she’s going to write a guest blog post soon and stimulate some discussion but in the mean time we’ve communicated by email and via the blog. Anyway, the other day I mentioned that I thought I’d get myself a new notebook and make a start on writing one of those books I have in mind. Immediately Patricia said she had just the thing and today I received this:

With this explanation:IMGP4864Oh, I’m so touched. What a wonderful gift – what wonderful history. Thank you, Patricia, I hope that one day we can meet up and talk fabric and yarn ans sustainability over tea and cake.

So, that sums up my experience of blogging – you really are my kind* of people – thank you all for being here.


* According to the OED, ‘kind’ has several meanings, including:

A natural quality, property, or characteristic; a distinctive feature of a person or thing


A class, sort, or type of people or things


the people with whom a specific individual has a great deal in common

and, my favourite

Having or showing a benevolent, friendly, or warm-hearted nature or disposition; ready to assist, or show consideration for, others; sympathetic, obliging, considerate.



Santa Snail

Now it’s over, I can reveal what I sent in my role as Santa. One of the down sides of not doing Christmas presents in general is that I do miss the joy of giving. It’s not that I don’t give presents, but usually I just wait for inspiration and buy/make and give things somewhat at random. For Stitching Santa I had the pleasure of stalking reading lots of posts from a blogger I had not encountered before.

My recipient was Julia over at Julia’s Creative Year. I may have given myself away by following her blog immediately I got the email saying she was “my person”, so I didn’t post much about what I was including in her parcel. I spent ages looking at her blog to get a feel for what she likes and I made a list to use as inspiration (including her fondness for flamingoes). As you know I have lots of yarn, so I selected some interesting British wool from my stash (some produced by friends of mine), made a work basket and added some trimmings, vintage mother of pearl buttons, a badge, a crochet hook with a handle and specially bought stitch markers and voila:

I hope she didn’t mind that the wrapping paper was reused, but hopefully she knows what I’m like by now!

Since Julia is also a card-maker and I have piles of card-making supplies that I’m never going to get through, I included a few of those too:


cards, envelopes and handmade paper

I just hope that the parcel reached her, because, being ‘secret’ Santa, your recipient doesn’t know who to send an email to, to say they received it.

I really want to thank Sheila over at Sewchet for organising all this. It gave me great pleasure to put these gifts together and I am loving reading about all the other parcels that have been winging their way around the world. Since there is a strict limit on the spend, most of the gifts are about creative use of what we have in our stashes, and what creativity there has been. I really hope to manage to read all the Stitching Santa posts, but it might take a while to track them down!








My resistance is low

As Oscar Wilde said “I can resist everything but temptation”. And so it was yesterday that I decided not to keep my Secret Stitching Santa until my birthday, but to enjoy opening the presents on the 25th. The idea behind this present-giving, organised by Sewchet, is to send gifts to another crafty person that you are sure they will enjoy. There were two options – a sewing one and a yarny one and I took part in the latter. Tomorrow I’ll show you what I sent, but today is all about what I received.


The parcel for me arrived last week and, as you can see, I couldn’t even open the card because of the warning!


a box of delights

However, yesterday afternoon, I launched into the unwrapping, to find all these lovely things:

Pattern weights, a pin cushion, a cute monkey tape measure, a stitch counter, a tin, stitch markers and more. But the pièce de résistance was a pair of socks. In my whole life, the only person who has ever taken the time to knit me socks, until now, was my nan. But look what was in my parcel:


these are beautiful

And they fit perfectly:IMGP4843So thank you, thank you, Kim The Material Lady – your generosity is greatly appreciated, I absolutely love your gifts.


Winning ways

Thank you to everyone who commented here on the blog or Facebook or Twitter in response to my 1001 posts post. I turned off commenting this morning, wrote everyone’s name on a piece of paper, cut them out put them all into a (hand felted) bag


note the use of an old diary for the paper… nothing wasted here!

Then I drew out two.


So, the winners are …. drum roll please…





If you would each like to send me your postal address, I will send you a surprise… once I’ve chosen/made something that I think you will really like.

Thank you to everyone else who commented… I’d really like to send you all a gift, but there are only so many hours in the day!



One thousand and one – That’s now many stories Scheherazade told and, with this post, that’s how many I have told you. Do you think they have been interesting enough for Shahryār to keep me alive?

I’m not sure whether Scheherazade kept telling her tales after the 1001, but I plan to, although I’m having a bit of a think about how I want to go forward with my blogging. There are going to be changes in the new year, but more on that next month.cheers

For now, it’s time to have a celebration… and I have a plan. I’d love to invite you all round for some fizz and home made cheese, but sadly we can’t all fit in the limery and I’m sure getting a date when everyone was free would be just impossible… although I still have 3.7kg of cheese to eat! So instead I’ve decided to do a give away. I spent ages racking my brain about what to offer you lovely readers, but I simply couldn’t think of something that everyone would want. So, here’s the deal… leave a comment on this post (or on my Facebook page or Twitter account) by midnight GMT on Friday 1 December 2017, telling me something that will make me smile, and I’ll enter you into my draw. I will pick two people at random and send each a gift I think they would like. Many of you I know reasonably well from your comments or blogs and so you have a chance of getting something tailored to you; if I don’t know much about you, you’ll get something I think will bring a smile to your face. This is open to you wherever you live in the world.

Thank you for keeping on reading and for all the comments over the last 1000 + 1 posts, here’s to 1000 more!

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