Three Things Thursday: 28 September 2017

My weekly exercise in gratitude – three things that are making me smile – feel free to steal this idea with wild abandon and fill your blog [or Twitter account or Facebook page or diary or life in general] with happiness.

First, an evening of indulgence. In my work in progress post yesterday I mentioned my sudden need for fingerless mittens. As the rain fell and the wind howled last night, I settled down with an audiobook, a glass of wine and got busy with my crochet hook. Before the end of the evening I’d finished my mittens. I’m not sure that the yarn is something I would have bought, but it will certainly keep my hands cosy and I do like the colours… and I woke up to sunshine this morning, so I won’t need them at least for today.

Second, baby carnivores. I’m really delighted to have had a some success with producing new carnivorous plants. The seeds of pitcher plants require cold treatment before they will germinate and they don’t grow quickly, but it’s very satisfying once they do. Here is one of my babies:

IMGP4248

Sarracenia hybrid

Third, winter food. This year I’m hoping to harvest at least a few things from the limery. There should be some citrus fruits (lemons and limes) and I’ve got some pots of lettuce growing well. Although winter isn’t a time when we crave lots of salad, it will be lovely to have fresh lettuce leaves available as well as the stronger oriental leaves that are often the mainstay of winter salads.

So, that’s what’s making me happy this week. How about you?

-oOo-

Emily of Nerd in the Brain originally created Three Things Thursday, but it’s now being hosted by Natalie of There She Goes.

Working Wednesday #2

This is my weekly post as I work through the yarn in my “collection” (not stash – thank you Sue) . This is the current state of play with the projects I’ve worked on this week:

  • Golden spikes jumper: back and front complete, sleeves nearly done.
  • Skeleton hat: finished, but I’m not sure it’s quite how I envisaged it, so I’ve started making another one in 4-ply yarn rather than double knit.
  • Fingerless mittens: I seem to have lost my everyday pair, so I’ve just started making some new ones. These should be finished very quickly. I’m using a little Cambrian Wool for the edging plus some fluffy stuff that was given to me by Katy the Night Owl.
  • Bird roosts: all six felted and in my etsy shop.

I haven’t done any sock-knitting this week. I had intended to get the second one of the pair I’m working on finished before the end of the month, but I’ve been so busy with other things it probably won’t happen.

I am finding focusing on getting projects done really enjoyable and I’m determined not to put work aside when it comes to the bits I don’t enjoy (sewing together and picking up stitches for necks/button bands, for example). I’m also happy to be flexible and start new small projects that make use of yarn I already have, as long as I don’t loose momentum with the bigger things.

 

Happy Birthday Demark Farm

This year marks the 30th birthday of my favourite local conservation charity: Denmark Farm Conservation Centre. So, yesterday we went there to celebrate…

As well as the birthday party, there was the official opening of the new Wildlife Discovery Room, which has views over the reserve, links to nest box cameras, and footage from the trail cameras that have been recording wildlife in secret around the reserve in recent weeks (all under the supervision of Mr Snail). Our local MP, Ben Lake, came along to officially open the new facility. He’s actually younger than Denmark Farm and visited with his primary school to make nest boxes and plant trees when he was about eight. Over the years, many children have visited the site and it’s good to hear that they remember it fondly once they are adults – some even visiting with their own children now.

All the people who attended the celebration – staff members and volunteers old and new – seemed to have a good time, and we were also joined by some of the wildlife:

IMGP4223

Exploding hens and wobbly eggs

OK, before you start to worry, let me assure you that no hens were harmed in the production of this post.

One of the joys of being a gardener is watching the seasons change and savouring the different produce. However, keeping animals adds an extra dimension to this connection with nature. I know, for example, that there will be fewer eggs from the hens in the winter, which makes them all the more precious in the summer. But hens do other stuff than lay eggs and perhaps the most spectacular is the autumn moult. Now, not all hens moult and not all moult completely, and those that do moult don’t always do it in the autumn. However, every so often one of the hens embarks on a complete change of feathers…

and so, Tiffany has gone from being fully-feathered last week to well on her way to oven-ready today. There are feathers all over the garden and in the hen house… to look at it, you really would think one of them had exploded (or been got by a fox).

Anna had a much more gentle moult over the summer and you can see her beautiful blue-grey plumage in one of the pictures above. Anna has always been rather rubbish at laying eggs, but having got over her moult, she is doing her best now. The other day she produced the egg on the right in the picture below (the middle one is ‘normal’ sized and the one on the left is from Aliss our smallest hen):

3 eggs

well, that’s not very impressive, Anna

Yesterday, however, she did manage to lay a normal sized egg:

IMGP4153

well, that’s a better size

However, all that effort that went into making a white and a yolk left no energy for a shell:

We’re hoping that the next one is full-size and fully formed!

Three Things Thursday: 21 September 2017

My weekly exercise in gratitude – three things that are making me smile – feel free to steal this idea with wild abandon and fill your blog [or Twitter account or Facebook page or diary or life in general] with happiness.

First, African butterflies. Whilst I was away over the weekend, I noticed one of the ladies wearing a beautiful hair slide and I couldn’t resist asking her about it. And, thus, I was introduced the African butterfly – a grip that actually grips, even my very fine straight hair. The are “made in the Gauteng region of South Africa and are fairly traded. The company provides employment, skills, training and sustainable work for many people in a region with high levels of poverty and unemployment” (web site here)… so I couldn’t resist ordering a few as soon as I returned home.

Second, Sea slugs. For ages I have been thinking about sea slugs and what interesting creatures they are visually. I’d really like to have a go at recreating them in fibre(crochet? felt?), but what I wanted was a book with lots of pictures (somehow browsing the internet just isn’t the same for me). It was a bit too specialist for our county library, so I’ve bought myself Nudibranchs of the World… I could be some time…

Third, a roof. Hair grips and nudibranchs are frivolous and fun, but what’s really important in life is being safe, warm and dry. As the rain hammers down, I can look out of the window and be grateful that I don’t have to be out in it. So many people round the world are not so lucky – those affected by floods, earthquakes and hurricanes, those who are displaced and far away from home. Perhaps we should all take a moment to consider how fortunate we are not to be affected by such problems… and then maybe we should do something to help…

So, that’s what’s making me happy (and very grateful) this week. How about you?

-oOo-

Emily of Nerd in the Brain originally created Three Things Thursday, but it’s now being hosted by Natalie of There She Goes.

Working Wednesday #1

As I work through the yarn in my “collection” (not stash – thank you Sue) I want to keep track of my progress, so I’m planning to post pictures on (some) Wednesdays of my week’s creations/progress. This is the current state of play with the projects I’m working on at the moment:

  • Honeycomb cables socks: one complete, the second getting bigger after some on-train knitting over the weekend.
  • Golden spikes jumper: back complete, front in progress.
  • Skeleton hat: no progress this week.
  • Bird roosts: six crocheted and ready for felting, before being added to my etsy shop.

It has been brought home to me today just one reason why it’s good to use the wool/fabric/craft supplies that we have collected. Poor ItWasJudith has just lost most of her huge collection of beautiful yarn in a fire – how tragic that she never got to turn it into lovely things and how determined I am that mine will be used not lost (to fire, moths, damp or ennui).

About that ‘yarn diet’

As you may have gathered, I am on a ‘yarn diet’. This means that over the next few months (at least until the end of the year) I am not going to buy any more yarn. This may sound like imposing unnecessary suffering on myself, but the intention is to encourage me to enjoy the beautiful yarn I already have rather than leaving it languishing in various drawers and cupboards, unappreciated. Many crafters have the habit of accumulating lots of materials (whatever their preference). I do this and, whilst it’s fun to have stuff available to use when inspired, it feels very wasteful to have loads of untouched yarn, plus it does take up a lot of space.

In general I buy yarn for particular projects, but sometimes I never get round to starting them, and by the time I am ready, I have had a change of heart (or even shape!) and so I need to find an alternative. I’m also a bit over-enthusiastic about sock yarn and have ended up with rather a lot of the stuff… more than I need for sock making. As I don’t want to build up an enormous collection of shawls, I have been wondering what else I might do with the sock yarn and inspiration arrived on Saturday. One of the organisers of the 60MT get-together was wearing a beautiful short-sleeved, asymmetrical top, clearly knitted in 4-ply. I asked her about the pattern and now I’ve bought a copy and will use some of my yarn to make Sugar Maple.

Despite the diet, some new yarn has come my way, but I did not buy it. At the event on Saturday, we had a ‘secret Santa’… everyone brought a ball of yarn wrapped up and they all went in a big box, before each person selected a different package to take away. So, I gave a ball of mottled sock yarn (which I entirely failed to photograph), but came home with two balls (yes, there were two balls in the parcel I picked) of Rowan Lima, an interesting aran yarn that looks like it has been crocheted into a chain already:

The two balls add up to the same weight as the donated ball (and, in fact, contain similar colours), so I have made no net gain, and, indeed, a loss, if I consider length of yarn rather than weight. I really am beginning to think like someone on a diet! Not sure what I’m going to use this yarn for – it’s very soft, so maybe a cowl.

As well as working on various existing projects, I’m also trying to restock my etsy shop a bit, as I’ve sold quite a few of the bird roosts. The train journeys over the weekend were split between sock-knitting and bird roost crochet, and I’ve now got several roosts ready to felt:

IMGP4085

three done, one in progress

So, the stash is slowly being used and I’m not feeling deprived because I can’t shop for yarn… it’s a good result so far.

Did we do it?

Yesterday I was in Birmingham, celebrating the end of the 60 Million Trebles Project. Although all the folks involved are likely to carry on clicking and hooking for charity, this project has come to an end.

The aim was to make a world record breaking blanket, with each stitch representing one displaced person in the world. At the time the project started, 13 months ago, the figure was 60 million people; by the end of 2016, this figure had risen to 65 million.

Earlier this year, Ellen Roche, who started the project, realised that if we were going to go for the world record, the blankets would not be out to the charities for many extra months. And so everyone agreed that we’d give up on this idea (sad though we all were, because it would have been great publicity) and just get the blankets done and distributed.

So, the big question yesterday was had we reached the target of sixty million trebles (stitches)? And the answer was…

we completed 7940 blankets,
using the equivalent of 27,083 balls of double knitting yarn,
totalling 271kg of yarn
equivalent to 8125km of yarn (enough to go from London to Beijing)
with an average of 7951 trebles per blanket, making…


67,707,940 trebles

smt complete

So a big thank-you to everyone who donated yarn or squares to the blankets I made, and especially to Sandra, Wild Daffodil for the autumnal squares – the blanket that contained these  received an honourable mention as one of Ellen’s favourite blankets.

Many of the blankets have gone to Hand in Hand for Syria, others to St Mungos, Help for the Homeless and Let’s Feed Brum. I’m very proud to have been involved, plus I’ve made lots of new friends – what a result.

ScrapHappy September

This month’s use of scraps is small, but long-awaited.

May I introduce Arthur C. Vaark, companion to Mr Snail.

He is a scientific vaark with an interest in writing and teleportation, so I’m told.

He was made from one of my old socks and some small felt scraps. Who knows what adventures he will get up to…IMGP4057If you’d like to make your own vaark, the booklet containing the pattern, designed by my friend Danielle, is available for download from here. What better use can you think of for an old sock?

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.

 

Three Things Thursday: 14 September 2017

My weekly exercise in gratitude – three things that are making me smile – feel free to steal this idea with wild abandon and fill your blog [or Twitter account or Facebook page or diary or life in general] with happiness.

IMGP4031

Roo will be featuring in Sue’s blog

First, new blogs. Two dear friends – both of whom I originally met on-line, but both of whom I now know ‘in the flesh’ – have recently launched blogs. Sue, is writing at Going Batty in Wales about her life, land and dogs Roo and Orchid. She has a very slow internet connection, but fingers crossed she will manage to post despite this challenge. Kt (who guest blogged here a while ago about her Creative Dying project) is charting her achievements following a recent diagnosis of myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME) at Today I Can Blog. She is living with severe health challenges, so fingers crossed she will be able to write about her achievements and find support online in our lovely blogging community. Both of them are new WordPress bloggers and I’m looking forward to reading their posts.

IMGP4016

an unlikely place to find an old friend

Second, an old friend. In the box of old photos I wrote about the other day, I came across a picture of a friend who I hadn’t seen for many years. We each had a little flat in a house on the seafront in Aberystwyth when we were studying for our PhDs – there we drank gallons of tea and talked for hours. When we were done, we went our separate ways – she to work in the BBC archives in Reading and me to work for the local wildlife trust here in west Wales. We kept in touch, but somehow it slipped and finally we lost contact. And then I saw the picture and decided to try again… and there she was on Twitter! A quick message and we are back in touch. I got a long email from her this morning and feel incredibly emotional reading it – it brought back so many great memories.

2017-09-14Third, anticipation. This Saturday is the grand, final get-together of the Sixty Million Trebles project. On Saturday, in Birmingham, a large number of the ladies who have contributed to the project will be meeting for the first and last time (at least as a group). The final number of trebles created will be announced (will we have reached the magic figure of 60,000,000?), there will be representatives of Hand in Hand for Syria present and we will celebrate what we have, collectively, achieved. I’m so looking forward to the event. I’m going tomorrow (Friday) and staying overnight with a few others, so we’ll also have a sociable evening in advance. I’m sure I’m going to be telling you all about it next week…

So, that’s what’s making me happy this week. How about you?

-oOo-

Emily of Nerd in the Brain originally created Three Things Thursday, but it’s now being hosted by Natalie of There She Goes.

%d bloggers like this: