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: 4 May 2017

*three things that make me smile: an exercise in gratitude – 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 the happy*

Inspired by Emily of Nerd in the Brain here are my Three Things Thursday.

First, apple blossom. We returned from our holiday to find our tiny apple tree laden with blossom. The cold north winds in our absence had not damaged it and there is the promise of a good crop again this year.


in the pink

Second, making vaarks. The Sixty Million Trebles group is currently raising funds for the charity Hand in Hand for Syria. Lots of the ladies have admired the little sock creatures designed by Danielle (pattern available here) and so I have made a few that have been snapped up very quickly in exchange for a donation to the charity. Not only is this raising money, it’s also helping me deplete my stash of old socks! I’m going to have a break from making them for now, as I don’t want it to be a chore, but these were fun to do.

Third, (more) stash-busting. I had a big bag of cotton yarn that I bought a couple of years ago for making Knitted Knockers (at the time the knitters bought all the yarn; now they have the funds to purchase yarn to supply their knitters). For logistical reasons I’ve stopped knitting for this particular charity, but still had lots of yarn. I sent KK some whole balls of yarn a little while ago, but I still had many part-balls and a couple of full balls left in my stash. So, I decided to use this for a charity blanket. I’ve made a dent, but there’s probably going to be enough for a second blanket!


stripy charity blanket

So, those are three things making me smile and for which I am grateful. What has made you happy this week?

Three Things Thursday: 16 February 2017

*three things that make me smile: an exercise in gratitude – feel free to steal this idea with wild abandon and fill your blog with the happy*

Inspired by Emily of Nerd in the Brain here are my Three Things Thursday…

First, a little bit of snow. On Saturday it snowed in Birmingham – it was lovely to open my curtains and see a dusting of white. I find snow a bit stressful if I have places to drive, but since I just had a short walk from my hotel to the meeting venue, I really enjoyed the sight. In fact it didn’t last long, but it was beautiful whilst it was there.

Morning snow

Morning snow

Second, a good night’s sleep. I’m always a bit concerned about the comfort of a strange bed. At home we sleep on a natural latex and wool mattress, so normal sprung mattresses feel a bit odd in comparison. However, I need not have feared: the hotel I chose for the weekend had lovely comfy beds… and snailvaark and Iolanthe agreed…

Nothing like a comfortable place to nap

Nothing like a comfortable place to nap

Third, coming home. It’s enjoyable to have a trip away, but it’s always good to be back home. After two consecutive weekends on my travels, it was lovely to return home to Mr Snail and the pups.

Mr Snail and the pups at our own front door

Mr Snail and the pups at our own front door

So, those are three things making me smile this week – what about you?

A little vaarkery

The world has been feeling rather bleak recently, so today I decided to do something frivolous.

Arnoldo has been feeling rather down-in-the-nose recently:


oh no

So, this morning he had surgery, including temporary storage of his inners in a jug (eek!)

I’m delighted to say that insertion of some garden wire has perked him right up and he’s already been showing off his newly prehensile nose to his friends:

There is so much fun to be had with an old sock, some rice and a few random craft supplies.

If you want to make your own vaark, like Arnoldo, the pattern is in a book by my friend Danielle, which you can buy and download here.


Three Things Thursday: 9 June 2016

*three things that make me smile: an exercise in gratitude – feel free to steal this idea with wild abandon and fill your blog with the happy*

First this week, I’m delighted that the raw Jersey milk arrived in tact on Tuesday (second time lucky). I’d also ordered some cream and so, although the cheese-making has to wait a day or two, I have made some lovely vanilla ice cream… and we have perfect weather for it. This is all the more special for me because I can’t eat ‘normal’ ice cream because I’m lactose intolerant. However, if I make my own I can pre-treat the dairy with lactase enzyme and then I can eat it.


This picture doesn’t do it justice – it’s much yellower than this

Second, I’m delighted with the germination of some seeds we bought at the Eden Project. I have always been rather taken with Sensitive Plants (a sort of Mimosa, the leaves of which close up when you touch them) and when we saw packets of seeds of them at Eden, we thought it would be fun to grow some as a living souvenir. I sowed the seeds just over a week ago, and we’ve had lots of germination.

Third, I’ve been particularly amused by the antics of my vaark friends on Twitter recently… yesterday they were being very naughty and it genuinely made me laugh, and the day before they sent a picture of The Rosalind Franklin Building at Wolverhampton University (because my purple stripy varrk is named after the great lady). There’s nothing like a bit of social media silliness, is there?

So, what is making you happy this week?

Introducing… Snailvaark

Despite initial reservations, it’s turned out that I really rather like Twitter. I set up an account last April and, although making connections has been slow, it’s been great for finding like-minded people… especially folks recycling, reusing, repairing and repurposing. In addition, on days when I don’t want to embark on reading long posts, it keeps me connected with the world.

Anyway, through a regular weekly discussion via Twitter – Make do and mend Hour – I also encountered a large family of critters, The ‘Vaarks. Originally created by Danielle Lowy of The Make it Shop in Manchester, and featured in her booklet How to Make Monsters & Monkeys, the ‘vaarks have taken on a life of their own. Various ‘vaarks have their own Twitter feeds – @Ratvaark, @Mousevaark, @Bendivaark and @Phileas_Vaark – sharing their adventures in gardening, repairing, reusing objects and eating cake.

And, so I hankered after my own ‘vaark. The originals are each stitched from an old sock, but being me, I didn’t fancy sewing and kept looking at the spare knitted snail shell and some left-over sock yarn I had to hand. Then I mentioned on Twitter my desire to make a snail version of a ‘vaark, and thus the seed was sown. I just had to make a snailvaark. Not only did I have to make a snailvaark, however, I had to make one (at the request of Alfred, one of Ratvaark’s guardians) that was able to retreat into his shell. I thought about it long and hard and didn’t make any progress, and then I heard that Ratvaark and his folks are coming to west Wales in May, and want to meet up for cake… hopefully with snailvaark too.

So, this week, I picked up my crochet hook and set to. And I’m pleased to introduce Snailvaark:


This is Snailvaark!

As you can see, he can be a bit shy:



But he can be persuaded to come out again:


Oh, hello

Snailvaark has been very well-received. Danielle-creator-of-vaarks has already asked if she can have one (it’s on my list) and he got a good reception from some of his cousins on-line:

Snailvaark makes his internet debut

Snailvaark makes his internet début (courtesy of @Ratvaark)

In May, there will be a grand ‘vaark gathering (the crowd above plus Bendivaark who lives locally), with tea and cake… who says we can’t develop meaningful relationships via the internet?

If you want to follow Snailvaark’s adventures on Twitter, he has his own fledgeling account: @snailvaark (what else?)

And if you want to follow me, I’m @thesnailofhappy (happiness was, apparently, too much for it to cope with!)

Ready for some adventures

Ready for some adventures

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