I saw this as I was coming home this afternoon… it’s good to enjoy the loveliness in this world…

The colours were even better in real life.

Snug birds

I didn’t mention yesterday the other finished objects from the past few weeks. I have been sorting out my crochet pattern for bird roosts, and during the testing phase I made lots of the things. The final pattern will include versions in wool to felt and in various sorts of twine… every version I had to make at least once, and so there’s rather a collection…

I’m planning to publish the pattern in the autumn, before running a workshop on making them at Denmark Farm, here in Ceredigion on 27 November. I’m also running a beginners crochet course at the same venue on 30 October.

D is for…

… my 500th post!

Someone make a cake – we need to celebrate. Actually I should make a cake as all four chickens are in lay and so there are plenty of eggs.

I thought I would mark it with a list. So, D is for:

Dogs… lots of my posts mention them. They are my constant companions, encouraging me to go out for a walk and testing out all my knitted and crochet items.

Darning… oh how I hate it, but still it’s a good way to make things last so I do it anyway.

Digging… especially keen on unearthing all those lovely potatoes from the garden.

Dani… and a host of other bloggers who inspire me.

Denmark Farm… where we conserve biodiversity and support community projects.

Dangler… and all the other ‘friendship’ projects that I have been part of in the blogosphere

Dad… I lost my dad nearly a year ago. Not a day goes by when I don’t think about him… and I’m still using the cork board he made for me all those years ago (it often appears in posts)

Dark evenings… spent with hook or needles to create lovely woolly things.

Dairy… even though I’m lactose intolerant, I’m busy making cheese.

Dyson… thanks to secondhand spares from ebay, it’s been mended twice in the past three years.

Diploma… my Diploma in Applied Permaculture design was the inspiration for ‘The Masterpiece‘… my amazing friendship blanket.

Dehydrating.. and my many other experiments in food preserving.

Drinking tea and coffee

… well, I could go on, but you get the idea. So, here’s to another 500 posts… thank you all for dropping by.


Just in case you are wondering what I’m wittering on about, D is the Roman numeral representing 500



Festive magic

You never know what you might find when you’re out for a walk…

I think they may all be new records for Denmark Farm!

And so, I wish you festive magic in the coming days!

Out of the kiln

Yesterday I had a lovely surprise… I was doing some voluntary work in the office over at Denmark Farm when Joanna turned up with the little sculptures we had made in her paper porcelain workshops back in October.

I’m really delighted with the results. One of them never even got home to be photographed: I immediately gave it to Mara (who, amongst other things, organises the courses at Denmark Farm) because she admired it when we opened the box. She is going to hang it on her Christmas tree. I have recipients in mind for several of the others, but I am going to keep a few for myself, as I am delighted by the way they have come out.

Just as a reminder, this is what they looked like as they were made:

And here are my creations after glazing:

Not bad for a first attempt, I think!

Take a chance

Would you like to own a masterpiece? Not mine, but one inspired by it. Well, here is your chance… at least if you live in the UK.

Sociable and creative

Sociable and creative

Early on in 2014 I had the idea to start some sort of ‘knit and natter’ or ‘stitch and bitch’ group up at my beloved Denmark Farm. However, I didn’t like either of these titles… partly because I wanted to open the group up to all sorts of crafters, partly because I didn’t like the gossipy negativity, and partly because I wanted to build in the idea of afternoon tea! I really wish at the time I’d come across the word ‘crafternoons’, but that didn’t appear in my lexicon until about July this year and so I came up with Cake and Craft (or possibly Craft and Cake, depending on your emphasis!). Originally my idea was just to have a social group with lots of creativity, but my dear friend Linda suggested the idea of fundraising as part of it and so, we created a project entitled Everything is Connected … and started making connections through eating cake and crafting.

An evening spread

An evening spread

Over the months we’ve spent some lovely afternoons, and a few evenings (we call those Cawl* and Craft) with hooks and needles, creating beautiful blankets inspired by my masterpiece.

We’ve made four lovely blankets so far, plus a number of smaller items and I’m working on a fifth blanket, and now we are raffling them off. So… buy a ticket or two (they are £1 each) and you might have a masterpiece of your very own! I’ll do you a deal… if you live in the UK**, buy some tickets and I’ll cover the postage to send them to you and I’ll also pay to have the blanket delivered if you win one (make sure you tell me if you have a preference – first drawn gets the choice). How can you resist?

In fact, the blankets aren’t the first prize – that’s a long weekend for two in our beautiful ecolodge… just 12 miles from where I live – you could come round for a cuppa!

So, if you fancy your chances, send me an e-mail to my snailofhappiness address that you can find on my ‘about’ page and we’ll make arrangements.


* Welsh soup

** If you’re overseas I’m afraid I can’t afford to cover the cost of sending a blanket… but if you really want one, I’ll make the arrangements if you cover the cost should you win!

Rays of sunshine

This week has been very grey. Despite temperatures around 17ºC, we’ve hardly seen the sun. That combined with the hour changing and thus it being dark so early in the evenings has made me rather gloomy. It’s great, therefore, that I have such lovely friends to bring some metaphorical sunshine into my life.

Beauty from New Zealand

Beauty from New Zealand

First, I received the first contribution to the ‘lap blanket of late-comers‘. All the way from New Zealand (my most distant square ever) from Mrs P, the Contented Crafter, came this lovely square. And not just a square, but some of her beautiful cards… which I think I’m going to put in a frame… possibly with a crochet border. If you like her cards (and really my photo does not do them justice), do check out her etsy shop.

An abundance of friendship!

An abundance of friendship!

Now that was something to make me smile straight away, but on the same morning I also received a parcel of knitted squares from a dear friend in Yorkshire. These are squares that she had intended to make into a blanket for herself, but she’s got distracted by quilting and decided to contribute them to the friendship blankets that we are making to support Denmark Farm, the conservation charity I am a trustee for. I may be naughty and divert one of these squares (and perhaps one of the ones below) to my lap blanket, even though this will mean that Nia has contributed to both that and the Masterpiece.

And another lot

And another lot

But that was not the end. Yesterday I went to my regular learning guild meeting and was presented with yet more squares for the Denmark Farm friendship blankets. Again, another friend who was planning to make use of these squares for herself, but decided that she had enough projects and that we could give them a better home. In fact Ann has made the most wonderful bedspread out of squares in some of those rich colours that you can see… I must get a photograph of it sometime, I’m sure you’d be impressed. The squares were not her only gift, though. She also presented me with something for the chickens. Originally grown for popping, this colourful corn just didn’t want to cooperate, so it has been consigned to being chicken feed. I tried it out on the girls this morning and they weren’t sure whilst it was in the tin, but soon tucked in once I’d scattered some on the ground:

So, even though the sun hardly showed its face this week, there were many bright moments. Many thanks to everyone who acted as a sunbeam!

PS You may notice that Esme is looking rather the worse for wear… on Monday about half her feathers fell out, but the reason is now clear… she had a whole batch of new ones just ready to burst forth! I have never understood why chickens moult in the autumn, but this year she’s certainly not getting chilled!

It started with a post…

A square representing many permaculture principles

The first square and letter

On 18 December 2013 I wrote post entitled My Masterpiece, inviting my blog readers to contribute to a knitted and crocheted blanket. I really didn’t dream that this would result in contributions arriving from around the world… North America, Africa, Asia and especially Australia. The very first square arrived before Christmas, in fact the letter that came with is was dated 19 December! That one was from Jennie… who came on one of my introduction to permaculture courses about three years ago. After that they just kept coming… I had weeks and weeks of getting little packages containing a square or two (Willow), or three (Nia) or even nine (Flo); I also received some lovely gifts – several of these from Australia, which must have added significantly to the postage. The whole experience was like having one long birthday!

A very special square

The final square to arrive

Of course all good things must end and so it was with slight sadness that I received my final square… hand delivered by Lorraine in June. I had a schedule to meet and so it couldn’t go on forever, how ever much I would have liked it to. It was bad timing, really… I had to crochet the edging of the blanket during a very warm summer, wearing shorts and t-shirt but swaddled in a cosy blanket. I managed to avoid passing out from heat exhaustion, and it was all finished in time for my diploma accreditation presentation as planned. Over the past few weeks, I’ve been taking it with me to visit all sorts of people and be duly admired, frequently with the comment “Oh I wish I could have contributed”. So, I have some good news… at the suggestion of the lovely Hannah from The Inkpot, I am (or rather you are) going to make a “Late-comers lap blanket”. Now is your chance to contribute if you didn’t before (or even if you did and want to again), but this time I’m not going to tell you what size square or rectangle to make… this is going to be a much more free-form creation and we’ll see what comes from it. It’s probably best to aim for something between 6 and 9 inches/15-22cm, but I will be able to accommodate anything… oh dear, famous last words! And, even better, I’m not on a deadline with this one, so you can take your time.

Of course, you start something like this and it makes ripples. The idea of this sort of crafty community creation was the inspiration for the blankets we’re making at Denmark Farm, three of which are now finished:

These (and more) are going to be raffled off to raise funds to support the work of the charity. I’ve just applied for the licence to run this ‘lottery’ as it’s legally termed and then I can get tickets printed up and start selling them.

But that isn’t the only ripple. Last night I had dinner with Jennie who made the first square. She’s recently had a a baby boy and she has decided that if people want to give him something, she’s going to ask for squares to make a friendship blanket – how great is that? I love the idea of marking a birth with this sort of creative project – so much more special than plastic toys, clothes or silver bracelets.

If my project has inspired you, perhaps you can use the idea yourself… if so, I’d love to hear about it.

Blanket #1

Blanket #1

It’s all for charity..

I felt compelled to make some bunting to decorate the cake table with

I felt compelled to make some bunting to decorate the cake table with

I did mention a little while ago that once the Masterpiece was finished, I would be moving on to another community craft project and you may have read my earlier post describing it. Basically, in order to raise funds for Denmark Farm, the educational charity that I am a trustee for, we have organised a series of ‘Cake and Craft’ events, at which we eat cake, knit and crochet. The plan is that our creations will be raffled off later in the year to raise funds. In the mean time, every few weeks, we have a wonderful, sociable get-together.

The first project is about making squares (like the ones for the masterpiece) with the intention of turning these into one or more blankets. As you can see, we are getting a good collection:

We have decided to make a traditional granny squares blanket with some of them and these are being edged in black to be stitched together soon. After that we’ll put together a more eclectic mix (more like the masterpiece) for a second blanket. We also plan to needle felt a large tree onto a cream-coloured wool blanket to make a tree of life, with appliquéd leaves, flowers, birds, bugs that have been sewn, knitted or crocheted.

Katy's hexagons

Katy’s hexagons

Then the other day I went to visit Katy the Night Owl and she donated a big pile of crochet hexagons to the project… I think these are going to be made into a baby blanket  or a lap blanket. Obviously, for a raffle, the more prizes we have the better, so I’m really hoping that there will be even more creations. in fact, I have noticed that we some squares that are bigger than 15cm/6 inches, and I’d love to use these (with additions) to produce a much more random blanket, with squares of all sorts of sizes.

If you are in the area, we’d be delighted to welcome you to any of the sessions (you can check details on our Facebook Page) and if not, we’d love donations of squares, additions to the tree of life or completed crafted items that we could include in the raffle. Is anyone up for it… I know you are all so generous!

If you come along, I can promise deliciousness!

If you come along, I can promise deliciousness!

A roof for all seasons

Denmark Farm, where I teach and am a trustee, has had new accommodation constructed. The building was designed to be ecologically friendly, use natural and local materials and it has a Sedum roof

The plants arrived on rolls:

sedum rollTo be laid on the prepared roof like a carpet

under constructionAnd become established over the spring

new green roof establishingBefore being covered with snow

in the snow

And then flowering prolifically in the summer

summer sun

Over the months I have enjoyed seeing how this beautiful feature changes and complements the turning of the seasons:

winter branchessummer branchesflowering branchAnd even now, towards the end of the year, it continues to enhance the building. In the mist

hazy autumnAnd reflecting the light on a clear autumn night (that isn’t snow)

autumn night

Many thanks to Tamara Morris and Denmark Farm Conservation Centre for allowing me to use their stunning photographs. If you’d like to, you can stay under the turf roof in the Eco Lodge, just click here.

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