Check out my Finished Items on the second page

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

last post of the year........

I'm not one to wish a minute of my life away - i truly believe every moment of breath is precious, but if I'm honest I won't be sorry to see the back of this year.

Both mine and MrNoo's family have been hit by the most extraordinary string of bad news in the last 6 months. 4 funerals, 2 serious health scares, broken bones, an exceptionally poorly baby (fingers are still crossed on that one :( ) and just to polish it off - 11 hens to the fox and the poorly dog. (Spot-dog does seem a lot better tho' so we're on the up and up!)

So, in lieu of all that, there'll be no more posts on the blog until the New Year when I will return full of vim and vigour (well I hope I do cos just now I don't even seem capable of completing a thought, let alone a task!) and positive and smiley thoughts.

We're ok - we're just riding the storm, it'll be over soon (it must be surely!) we're just using all our energy to be strong and hold each other up. - Knitting and crochet is still happening (it appears you don't need complete thoughts for that) as are dog-walking and other day to day activities.

I wish you all the very best for 2012 - a year full of love, laughter, peace and light.

'Til soon xx

Monday, December 05, 2011

Just one photo for now

It's dull here today, grey, blustery and not very exciting at all. This has made it particularly difficult to photograph my latest finished object!! (yep, ladies and gentlemen, the blanket is finished)

So in the interests of not keeping you waiting here is a not very artistic shot of it.  Hopefully I will manage to get some nicer ones before it's all parcelled up.  There are a few ends that need sewing in tonight, but other than that it's good to go!

I've totally loved making this, the pattern is easy but not as boring as stocking stitch! I am somewhat disappointed in Rowan's technical editing though. The pattern had more mistakes than I would consider acceptable. Made worse by the fact that the mistakes were in the second and third panels which were obviously then copied and pasted down for the other panel instructions.  At one point the pattern said to repeat the last 8 rows when it meant the last 12, and at another point it said to knit rows 46-48 of pattern B, but pattern B finishes on row 40! it's not rocket science and whilst I appreciate that errata are totally understandable in something that doesn't actually make sense unless you knit it, I really think a company the size of Rowan should be able to do a bit better than this. It was an incredibly simple pattern so there shouldn't really have been any errors.

Anyway details as folllows
Pattern: Tweed Throw from Rowan Purelife Home book.
Yarn: Rowan Renew
Colours as pattern.

Knit on 6mm Knitpro interchangeable circs (longest cord I had!)
No mods made to pattern other than where it needed correcting!

Hopefully some more arty shots but this little beauty needs to be parcelled up and sent on her way.

D, I really hope you have cold winters where you are, my heating bill is likely to go up considerably now I've finished knitting this! ;)

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Been over a week since I posted?! Gosh lots has happened.

Time can fly by so quickly can't it.

Firstly an update on the gorgeous blanket. It's now big enough to keep my knees warm as I knit it, always a good thing.

It's also now big enough to drape over my rocking chair (and it looks very nice there I must say! LOL)

So that has been consuming a lot of my time. Other than that I've had a bit of a week with Spot who needed the emergency vet on Saturday as she couldn't stand up, and has since been on anti-inflammatories and bed rest - she's not impressed!  Huge improvement though and seems ok again now, although the vet has today said there is definitely impaired mobility around her spine/hind legs, but seemingly no pain, so difficult to locate the exact problem.  We don't know what happened and are now going to get her off the meds to see if it happens again or what the situation is.  Trouble with Spot is she only has two speeds:- Asleep and 100mph! there's nothing in the middle for her.  We're trying to learn the command "steady" but I'm not having a lot of success .  She's 9 years old, so not ancient by any stretch but also it could just be the beginnng of old age arthritis.  I kind of hope it is rather than a nerve problem........ Oh well best just not to think about the possibilities until we know more.

So, there's been that to keep me busy (I've insisted on lots of spaniel cuddles!), a quick trip to London to see TJ Johnson and The Fallen Heroes  on Sunday (that was fun :D) and a bit of house tidying as I have 11 knitters, spinners and sewers round on Saturday for a craft day. (Sewers as in with a sewing machine, not sewers as in underground pipework!)  Not that the house tidying has got very far - I keep getting waylaid by dog cuddling. Oh well, I'm afraid I'm very much a "Take as you find" kind of girl, if none of them turn up to the next one I'll know the state of the house was a step too far! (it's not really that bad, just winter with a dog on house arrest and piles of yarn and fabric all over the place)

Right well it's getting dark here, so time to pull the curtains and get the knitting out........ 'Til soon xx

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Arghhh! ground to a halt

There's an error in the pattern. I am fairly sure I know what it should say (but doesn't) but you know if i carry on then I will be wrong. If I stop and wait I will be right! - This is what's known as S*d's law! ;)

In the meantime, if you fancy perusing handcrafted items. Handmade For You UK is holding an online craft fair on facebook. The crafters' Barn has a few items in amongst it. It has taken the form of a series of facebook photo albums separated into gift categories. - Go have a look, you may just find what Granny wants for Christmas! ;)

I'll be back with more progress photos as soon as I can!

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Guess what?

Yep!!! It's that throw again ;)

I don't care if you're bored tho' (and I bet all you knitters out there aren't bored one bit) But I so want D to have an idea of the journey of this, and also........ well you know I like memories!

I've just started using the blue.  One thing that I love about the process of knitting is "Colour". As those yarns are slipping through your fingers you notice (if you're looking!) every nupp and tweed and thread and fibre. These yarns have been incredibly cleverly designed. You can just about see in that photo above that in the brown yarn (It's called Trailer) there is the very occasional blue bobble (tweedy bit, nupp? - what would you call it?) which is almost exactly the overall colour of the blue I have just started using. I doubt you'd ever notice if you just picked up the knitting, but to have handled the yarn and seen every stitch wrap around the needle....... well you notice all sorts (fairies/pixies?!).  The Blue is deeper than this photo shows. Very slightly green - I suppose the overall colour i would call a deep petrol blue, but again it is made of so many strands and fibres of different colours. - I think I have only seen this colour once before - and it was in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean! ;)

Back to the knitting. x

Sunday, November 06, 2011

Week 1 of the Tweed Throw

This week has gone in a blur of knitting. I can't deny I am LOVING knitting the throw. The colours are deep and mirror the amazing Autumness (ok i know that's not a word) that we are experiencing here in the uk at the moment.
Spot wanted to show you what I mean by Autumness!

I've finished the first tweed panel, and started the second.  The photos don't really do the colour or texture justice. The colours are deeper and warmer. My camera seems to want to brighten the whole thing so I've taken down the exposure level in picnik, but that's changed the intensity a bit. These are the best representations I can get tho'

I've managed to knit quite a bit this week, but I think progress will slow a little now. It's beginning to get that wonderful heaviness that only a wool blanket can have but it does mean I can't knit for more than about an hour and a half at a time without needing to give my shoulders a break.  This will be the case for about another 2 weeks, then it will magically become big enough to sit in my lap without the need to lift and turn every row. I already miss the warmth of it when I stop knitting and get up tho' as it sits on my thigh keeping the chill off.

There are other things going on Chez Noo, but they are drifting into the background as I just love making this.......... Bonfire night has been and gone, and Spot spent the night in usual terror. In the end I took her out for a drive which seemed to work rather well.

Right I really must get on - I'm wasting valuable knitting time!

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Sunday, October 30, 2011

A commission.

So, as well as knitting self designed odds and sodds accessories for sale in The Crafters' Barn. I also knit as "a service". So either someone sees a pattern that they fall in love with but are unable to make themselves, or they want something specific designed and made.

A commission has come about in the former of the above circumstances. A lovely lady (who I will refer to as D) came from the USA to visit her daughter this summer and happened upon the Rowan Tweed Throw  while perusing John Lewis.

Now, one of my very favourite things to make are blankets/throws. For a whole bunch of reasons really:-  Firstly, because there is enough knitting to get your teeth into, and because of the general lack of shaping etc you can be so much more experimental with patterns, stitches etc.  Secondly, because they always fit! (and no I'm not joking there, there is nothing worse than making a garment for someone and the sleeves being too short, or the chest being too small (or large)  I truly have difficulty enough making things fit me, so knitting garments for someone else is always a challenge).  And thirdly and most importantly - because blankets become such an important part of a home life. They share moments with us. We snuggle under them on the sofa, we hide behind them in the scary parts of films, we cry into them, and laugh under them, we are ill under them and we just sit and hold hands under them. They share Sunday films on wet weekends, and afternoon naps when we're under the weather. In short they become one of the family. And if they are treated right, and made out of good quality yarn, they will last us many many years. (It is due to that last point that I now find  I have to make them for other people, because as the proud owner of 4 blankets, i have nowhere else left to keep them!)  So you see it is an honour and a privilege to be able to make something for a home that will become so much part of that home as time goes on. (well i surely hope that is the case anyway)

So, D has ordered the yarn and pattern to be delivered straight to me, and hopefully they will be here soon. I promise photos as soon as they are. And about 10 minutes after that, I will begin knitting (I'm allowing 10 minutes for finding the right needles but in all honesty I won't be able to wait even that long) and I have promised to blog my progress so that she can follow the journey of the throw, because as much as it will become part of her home in time, for the first 6 odd weeks of its life it will become a huge part of mine. And that my friends, is why I love to craft and why making things for people is so amazing.  When I started the Crafters' Barn I put the tagline as "Put a little handmade love in your home" and I really hope that that will never be more true than for this commission.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Some shameless plugging (or showing you my knits!)

Well now that I'm a business I kinda felt weird thinking about showing you all my finished items, because they're for sale and i didn't want to plug tooo shamelessly (!) But then I thought that as this is a knitting blog it seems daft not to really, so here are my latest finished objects! (I feel as if I am permantly attached to Barbara Walker's Treasury at the moment!)

So from the top: Merino Viscose cowl knitted in ICE yarns.
Second: Alpaca cowl in Garnstudio/Drops alpaca (mmmmm gorgeous)
Third: Baby blanket wonderfully modelled by Teddy Anne (noseless Teddy Anne as it happens, but I think noseless is the very least you can be at 43 years old eh?) Knitted in DROPS/Garnstudio Delight. Very nice yarn and machine washable.
Fourth: Merino/Cashmere Gentleman's keyhole scarf. Yarn is from Kingcraig in Brora. Quite a sturdy yarn, not soft like the baby merinos but lovely nonetheless and will at least stand up to a little 5 o'clock shadow!
Fifth: Alpaca/Merino/Silk Infinity scarf in Araucania Azapa. OMiGoodness this yarn is totally gorgeous. soft as anything. (and absolutely not suitable for the 5o'clock shadow - would be totally wasted on a bloke!)

So there you have it.  There are a couple more finishes but i haven't taken the photos yet.

In other news life is much as normal. Chickens, dog walks, hoovering (ok I lied about the last one) And generally totally enjoying this amazing October sunshine we're having.

Hope you are too?

Monday, October 10, 2011

Sad News & Ally Pally 2011

I'm sorry everyone, I've been AWOL again. It's been a bit of a fortnight if I'm honest, and although writing about it may well have actually been a good thing, i just didn't feel the love for blogging during it.

All you blog-readers should know, though, that my beautiful Silkie-mama was taken by a fox last week. So no more pictures of her. Super-sad as she was brooding 6 new silkie eggs for me. I had left the door to the house open as i was away for the day, and the fox must've found a way in. Tbh i do leave the house open often and have never had an issue, but there you have it, it's happened, and I'm gutted (and have to admit to bawling my eyes out at the time - especially as it was a bit of a raw day for me anyway)  So the fox has not only denied me my chicken cuddle, but has possibly cost me £120 in lost chicken sales (silkies sell well as they are such good mums), assuming a 50% female hatch rate. Plus it'll cost me every bit of £30-£40 to replace her possibly,( and that's money I haven't got at the moment). Although i won't do that yet as having such a little bird hasn't always been easy. She was way too small to be in with the big girls - plus she was broody every other fortnight, so she spent most of her life in her own house and run, but alongside the big girls so she could see them. But it wasn't always the most convenient of situations. So I need to consider carefully what to do next.  She was a wonderful mum though and she did me proud with around 6 hatches.

If she had already hatched the chicks i really wouldn't have felt as badly about it. She was getting old, and i s;pose the fox needs to eat as much as the next animal. And she would never have been worth plucking and dealing with for a human meal. And if they die naturally you are not supposed to bury them any more, so that would have meant a huge fire (a cremation service if you will)  So, another 6 months down the line and I'd have taken it much more pragmatically. But the timing sucks both financially and emotionally and I'm heartbroken to have lost the only chicken that would actually be cuddled! - She really was a little snuggler.

Anyway, moving swiftly on.......

Last Thursday Mum and i made our annual pilgrimmage to Ally Pally for the Knitting and Stitching show.  I took a certain amount of cash (and no credit cards so I couldn't be tempted to abandon my budget!) and am very happy with my purchases:

I got a 3 month subscription to The Knitter, and Molly Makes (not hugely impressed with the latter, but that's the beauty of a cheap 3 month sub!) I got a thread box (no an ice cream tub is not a suitable substitute).  "Crochet lace innovations" by Doris Chan. And three lots of yarn:  3 Skeins of pure silk, 10 Skeins of green Mirasol Sulka and 4 skeins of Subliime Kid Mohair blend.

We had a really lovely day, it wasn't overly crowded and we had plenty of time to amble around and decide how to spend our money. The highlight of my day was very definitely meeting Doris Chan, especially as i was wearing my Jewel jumper at the time. At this time of the year it is one of my most wearable jumpers, and i think I may have helped boost her book sales just a little! *blushes*.  So amazing to be noticed by the designer of something you are wearing though - especially if it's a make that you are happy with. It was definitely one of those Big Grin moments!

So there you go, a mixed week. But we are now starting a new one, and I have a smile on my face and a skip in my step, because life is too short not to have.  I have lots of ideas for the yarn I bought at Ally pally - all of which is destined for The Crafters' Barn. - So if you fancy any of it, - keep a look out in my shop.

Have a great week, and I'll be back soon xx

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

And so to the next stage.....

Job2 has finished today. I'm all wrapped up there and as a celebration I am meeting Franney for a lovely dog walk and probably cake!

The Crafters' Barn will be opening its (virtual) doors on Saturday 1st October and I have a few things for sale in it (in the Noo's Knits category in case that wasn't obvious!) and now have time to up the production level a little. Plus I have several other irons in the fire so to speak.

Next door garden is also coming along, the chickens are doing a great job of weeding!

So, hopefully i'll be updating this a little more often, but in the meantime I'm off for CAKE!

'Til soon x

Thursday, September 15, 2011

My world has gone just a little bit crazy!

I'll be back properly soon I promise. But in the meantime - the chicks have moved next door. The fence has a lovely new trellis top. My boiler has been fixed. The crafters barn is coming on in leaps and bounds, Spot is lovely. I have 4 new hens who are all seemingly laying, Job2 finishes 26 Sept and I'm happy about that cos i want to move on now.  My neighbour is 90 tomorrow! (which seems quite an achievement to me) I have this week made 14 portions of bolognese and 12 portions of pulse chilli for the freezer - the house smells mostly of garlic!

'Til soon friends xx

Saturday, September 03, 2011

New Fence!

So, MrNoo and i worked hard this week on our new garden extension! The most important thing was to get a new fence up as the old one was ....... well it almost wasn't really! We wanted something taller and sturdier before we put the chickens over there.  So 140 featheredge boards. 5 fence posts. 10 bags of post mix, 3 gravel boards and 5 arris rails. Plus associated screws nails and brackets and this is what we ended up with:

We've left the posts long as we are hoping to get a little bit of flimsy trellis to run along the top - just to make climbing over a little more difficult until the weeds/ivy/brambles grow up on the outside as we back on to a car park. So a bit of trellis and some lovely thorny roses will suffice for now I think! ;)

So now the actual gardening starts!  We need to get some old timbers to make some raised beds as the ground is quite stoney and it's not like we don't have an entire chicken run of good compost to fill them with. We'll probably try recycled scaffold boards again as they have worked quite well in my garden, although we would line them with some plastic this time to stop the damp earth actually touching the boards as they have begun to rot.  I've already bought a few seeds for autumn planting too!

In other news my July challenge which slipped into August has now been completed thanks to a good weekend of F1 at Spa last week (and consequently quite a bit of sofa time for me.

I haven't chosen a September challenge yet. I'm not sure if I will as I really need to get some stuff made up for the Crafters' barn, otherwise my shop will be empty! The website is coming along nicely, so it would be good if I had stuff to list on it.

Right, that's us all about caught up now - what have you been up to?

Sunday, August 21, 2011

A weekend!

So, here's the garden extension:
I spent 4 hours in it yesterday afternoon, and it doesn't look much different...... although I did find 2 paths! LOL

before I got out there tho' it had rained quite heavily, so whilst waiting for that to ease,  I made a notebook:

Very slap-dash but kind of fun. It's 4 signatures (which I sewed together on a sewing machine cos I was in a rush and couldn't find a needle <<< I'm soo bad)  but it'll do for my purpose for now! And by the time I was placing a book on it to hold it while the PVA dried, the rain had stopped.

Other than that, life has been fairly normal:
We walked and Spot got hot, so we stopped for a sit:
But evidently for just a bit too long:

Right, time to go and see what Sunday has to offer.

Have a great weekend and week everyone x

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Wow, so much excitement

So, the plans are coming along nicely! - well nicely in that there's loads of enthusiasm & interest, but as with all new ventures it takes a while to get everything in place and work out how things will work.  But
The Crafters' Barn  is a very real project all of a sudden, and not just an idea in my head! - Watch this space!

We've also measured up next door garden for her new fence. Now we just need it to stop raining! ;

It's all so exciting, but I have to admit I don't know which way is up at the moment.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

A few changes Chez noo

So, a few changes are afoot chez noo soon - d'you want to hear about them?

(Please say yes otherwise this post is done already!)

Firstly, my lovely neighbour, who is a spritely 89 and 11 months, has recently hurt her shoulder very badly. It has somewhat incapacitated her and I've been doing what I can to make sure that she gets to the shops and has plenty of food in, and mowing her lawn etc. - She has been paying me for my "services" which has been hard to accept but I know that it is about keeping Independence and I am helping her do that so I've got used to it a bit. however, last week MrNoo and I had a bit of a brainwave. We wondered if she would allow us to use the rear half of her garden, in payment for the odd chores and taking to shops. It would give me more space for the more roaming veg (potatoes, squash) and also those veg that you need loads of - onions and carrots for example. Plus i could put some extra chickens in there which would help with the weeding, and allow me to repair the extreme damage the littlies have done to my lawn.  Now of course I could do a lot of this in my garden, but i like having enough lawn for Spot to play tail-chase, and to get my hammock out, and all those kind of things, so this would be perfect.  Well I broached the subject on Saturday, - and the lady - she say "Yes".  I nearly squealed with excitement.  We have said that we will replace her rear fence as part of the deal, as i think I'm generally doing better out of it than she is, and anyway it is as much to my benefit as hers as it will help with privacy and security for both of us. - it's all very overgrown at the moment, and there are rocks and bricks. But the chickens will soon help us clear it and then we can get planning.  We are hoping to get the fence done before winter and start to clear. We might not get much planted this year - although you never know the length of autumns we have had in the last few years there's always a possibility.

Secondly, i think  a few months ago I mentioned that Job2 were making me redundant (sort of) as they want someone full time and office based and it's not a position i was interested in (especially having read this week that ladies are not allowed to wear sandals in the office in summer due to H&S risks of dropping things on toes and scalding from kettles; are they serious? is this normal?  What about the slippers I wear at home, will they soon be outlawed - anyway I digress............)  So I have been thinking of jobs/businesses which could be predominantly home based. Obviously there is my crafting obsession hobby, and i will soon(ish) be setting up a website to sell some handmade items.  I've outlined a brief business and marketing plan and think that, although it would never make me a living on its own, I can turn a bit of profit for just padding out the income a bit.

I've also been investigating copywriting & SEO (search engine optimisation).  I love writing, and when i read back over my blog I am sometimes surprised that I do actually make sense (it doesn't always in my head! LOL) So with a bit of study and reading, I am hoping I may be able to do that in a self employed or part time capacity, and if nothing else it should mean I can build a really good website for my crafted bits..  And of course there's always the book-keeping for MrNoo's business, which keeps me quite busy, and I have been neglecting lately in favour of job2 a bit.  Plus with the possibility of extra chickens next door I should have more eggs to sell, and maybe even spare veg and plants? - None of them alone would make enough to call a living, but hopefully a little of all of it put together will keep baked beans on the table and the mortgage paid.  Anything more than that is a bonus!

So it's all very exciting, and my to-do list has grown to pages and pages. But I'm up for the challenge (all of them) and have loads of ideas and plans.  Hopefully the blogging won't suffer, cos it'd be lovely if you all came on the journey with me.

I'll try to start with pics of my new back garden extension later in the week! ;)

'Til soon x

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Update on lace sleeves sweater

Just wanted to share how this is turning out - i am loving it! - obviously being 4ply it's slow progress (and I'll never make it again in 4ply ;) ) but it's gorgeous so far:

I need to add more length then there is a lace panel that goes on the bottom, and the sleeves need to be knitted (they're lace, but given the name of the sweater that shouldn't be a surprise!).  I'm knitting this in Twilley's Freedom Gorgeous 4ply

Also i wanted to show you this finished Cami, I had forgotten to take a photo of it finished. it's stretched a bit on the straps so i need to stitch some ribbon or binding in them to hold them a bit tighter, but i love it and wear it loads.

pattern: Beaded Cami, heavily modified though with help from other knitters notes on ravelry! (and without the beads!) Knitted in King Cole Bamboo Cotton, colour Opal.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Knitting update

Right back to business eh?  The July challenge has taken a bit of a battering in the past few weeks so I'm not quite going to finish it. - It's close though, and won't be too far behind. i always find knitting harder in the summer - it's hot to handle wool for a start, and there are so many other things to do in the extended daylight hours. But anyway enough of the excuses - here they are in their present state:

The pattern is Leyburn and the yarn is Opal Snake.

I am also making a gorgeous top-down lace-sleeved, 4 ply top. The pattern is here (Ravelry link) and I am using freedom gorgeous 4 ply which is a bamboo mix.  it's coming out really nicely, but i seem to have far more stitches on the front than the back - no idea what I have done - I've not been concentrating as well as normal obviously. But I'm plodding on anyway as I have a fairly decent bust to fill the extra frontage (!) and will try to bodge the waist shaping to even it all out. - We will wait and see what happens.

That photo isn't a good colour likeness at all - the colour is fennel and it's a lot brighter "in the real" !

Everything else is plodding along as normal Chez Noo, the weeds seem to be growing at 4 times the rate of any flowers or veggies, as is the lawn (I say lawn but actually that's really just weeds too)  Spot is enjoying being a bit more restful in the hotter weather and the chickens are laying well. I do have some red-mite in the biggest house so house-painting/disinfecting/blowtorching will be happening this weekend. - As I say - all normal!

2 days til August!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Chicks are growing up!

These are the little chicks that were hatched 27-5-11.  They're in the run with Dad, who's had to be separated from the hens as he gets picked on, and really we should cull him cos he's got a bad leg - but he eats and drinks and does the business if we put him in with the ladies, so we're keeping him until this little boy grows up (and I have grown emotionally attached, which should never have happened!!).  Dad has been looking after these little ones so well. We've given them a separate box to sleep in (Dad is BIG!) but he fusses over them, and protects them fiercely if something new enters the garden (as my Mum & Dad's weimaraner found out the other week)

All three chicks:
When I grow up I'm going to be big and strong like Daddy, but right now I'm just a little bit scared of you:-
Daddy and three tails:-
That dark brown one is soooo pretty:-

They're all just "mongrels" bred from my own hens and Dad there in the photo (he was also a mongrel) I honestly have no idea what I've got now, but in my time there have been Sussex/Sasso crosses, Sussex/Rhode Island Red crosses, Welsummer pure breeds, (and a silkie, but I'm not mating her with that cockerel!!! He'd break her!)

Anyway they're all very lovely, although have just got to that very skittish age where they jump at the sight of everything. - I need to make a shorter smaller run so I can handle chick more as they always become impossible to catch at this age! - I'm sure they'll settle down later tho'

So fingers crossed there's no Coccidiosis this year, and that these little beauties grow up to start my next generation.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Bishop Michael Evans - RIP 1951 - 2011

Oh dear, I have no idea how to write this, but know that I must. I need to write for me, to begin to put all my thoughts in some kind of comprehensive order (there's a first time for everything)

Firstly, the photo. I have chosen this photo specifically of my dear friend. Because, although he was a Bishop, a priest, a vice-rector, a school chaplain, He was to me, a friend. I can't say just an ordinary friend because there was nothing ordinary about this man. But he was a friend.

(Here's one that's not quite so ordinary)

(Now half an hour later as I got side-tracked reading old emails between us whilst looking for those photos! - memo to self: Back up those emails!!)

So whilst all the other obituaries are about a Bishop (which is as it should be) this one is about a friend.  Fr Evans was our school chaplain in my senior school, and although I was not (and am not still) a Catholic, i was welcomed, as were all pupils, to participate in Mass as much as possible. Fr Evans wanted us all to feel so much part of the family that he had permission to bless loaves of bread for those of us who were not Catholic to be able to share some of the meaning of Mass. He joined the school the year after I started in the senior school, and i can remember a shift in the way the masses felt (with no disrespect meant to Fr Watts who had preceeded him) He brought the warmth of TaizĂ© with him, and a way of connecting with young people and trying to make them part of the mass. He changed the focus from something we watched happen, to something we became part of - all of us, Catholics and non Catholics alike. The name of our denomination didn't matter, what mattered was whether we wanted to be part of celebrating God in our lives.

I played the guitar at school, and as there were not many of us that did, I was soon made encouraged to join the folk group (which i ended up leading for 2 years - not bad for someone that can't sing!)  This musical interlude gave me reason to have many meetings with Father Evans, and we soon became firm friends (despite his annoyance at my desire to massacre play "Answer me this mystery" at every mass and assembly possible)  His office door was always open, his kettle was always on (although we had to find our own milk!) and he even had biscuits. Particularly in my 6th form years it became a haven, a peaceful room to get away from teachers and noise (and work!). Filled with floor cushions and a tiny desk in the corner. And a tape player which always had Shostakovitch on when you entered and Chris de Burgh or Meatloaf on by the time you left! (Although there were sometimes compromises with John Michael Talbot, or Rondo Veneziano, or Barber's Adagio for Strings, which still sends goosebumps up my arms!) There was always (well ok "almost always") a smile waiting, and if you wanted to talk, pray, sit in silence, or just rant.... all were acceptable.  There was never any pressure. Father Evans brought the love of God to us, but it was placed before us, as if on a plate, it was up to us to take it and devour it if we chose.

As time went on and i left school we stayed in touch. Meeting as often as work allowed for pub meals or visiting him at St Johns Seminary where he was Vice-rector. He then moved to South London as a University Chaplain, then back to Wonersh seminary then to Tunbridge Wells, and finally to East Anglia. So visits became fewer, but we have written regularly (in fact when i was looking for those photos earlier I realised we have written I'd say every 8 weeks or so, for all those last 25 odd years (I'm not counting the years at school, I don't want to give away my age too closely! :-)  )  Despite his illness in the last 6 years, and his unbelievable schedule. He has still written regularly, and remembered birthdays, and sent Christmas cards with handwritten personal messages and "words of wisdom" And i've been for a couple of visits up to Norwich to see him in his proper surroundings!  For his ordination as Bishop, I bought him a small digital camera, and was suitably rewarded with so many photos and shared memories. That was another thing about Fr M, whatever you gave, you got back in abundance!

I read this back and it's so little of the memories I have. I cannot begin to summarise them, . - Rain dances in the sixth form garden and going and covering FrM's office in tiny bits of white blossom (it looked like someone has shaken three boxes of confetti over the room), he wasn't impressed (although we did see a smile or two hiding behind the stern look!) The hottest most garliciest (is that a word?!) Chille con carne in a pub in Bramley during a retreat weekend.  Someone trying to escape the retreat weekend out of the window to go to the aforementioned pub, and every time her feet hit the ground a torch light would come on, and that slow unmistakeable voice "Yes?". (Seriously, how DID he know?!)  Our first culinary experiences/experiments at Maryvale on retreat as we 16 year olds tried to cook for 10 or so people (not always terribly successfully, but always with enthusiasm). The films, and candlelit masses,TaizĂ© chants, the pansy, the broken guitar strings and bad harmonies, the wrong songs in the wrong places, signed retreat books (they must've taken an age to compile in a Pre-PC age!), folk group practices, Wednesday evening healing Masses, stroppy teenagers, curries and afternoon teas, his little blue ford fiesta (often laden with 6th formers and a distinct smoke filled interior). But always, always that twinkling smile in his eyes. That deeply peaceful persona.

(I have, since I originally wrote this, been reminded of August 10 2009, Fr M's 58th birthday. - I asked him if he would please spend 10 minutes at a particular spot in his garden, which is a place we had sat together a few weeks earlier, and that I in turn would sit on Newlands Corner, looking out over Wonersh (ish) and we would be together at evening prayer, sort of! - He wrote to me that evening that he had indeed done my bidding but had been sidetracked on his return indoors by some weeds in the lawn which he had taken objection to, and had spent the best part of an hour hand-picking out! - Much as the title of this post is Rest in Peace, I'm thinking strictly between he and I that resting is the last thing Fr M would want heaven to be - and he probably already has it organised in alphabetical order sub-divided by height or some such)

Someone who must have known Fr M very well, wrote on Twitter "May he rest in peace, in the prescence of his Aslan."

The Last Battle: C.S.Lewis
 And as He spoke He no longer looked to them like a lion; but the things that began to happen after that were so great and so beautiful that I cannot write them.  And for us this is the end of all the stories, and we can most truly say that they all lived happily ever after. But for them it was only the beginning of the real story. All their life in this world and all the adventures in Narnia had only been the cover and the title page: now at last the were beginning Chapter One of the Great Story which no one on earth has read: which goes on forever: in which every chapter is better than the one before.

I maintain that Fr M gave me my smile. He taught me how to be peaceful and happy in the very heart of myself, and there is no greater gift.

Enjoy your next journey my dear, dear friend, it deserves to be an amazing one. xx

Monday, July 11, 2011

July Challenge

Just a quick note to say that my July sock yarn challenge has been chosen and is well underway.

The yarn is Opal rainforest in Snake, and the pattern is Leyburn (Ravelry link).

Here it is all reading and waiting for me to start:
 And here is a little progress shot:
It's way further than that now, as I have completed the foot and am halfway or so up the leg.  I modded the pattern a little to have a bigger foot (pattern says 50 sts around)  I have 30 on the sole and 34 on the top. I am also doing a gusset heel, as i find short row heels a bit tight around my instep/ankle area.

Should get these done on time! ;)

Sunday, July 03, 2011


Today I have finished two blankets (like buses, none for ages then two at a time)

First there is my nephew's sockyarn blanket. It was made originally when he was born, but he's now nearly 4 and it needed lengthening, so here is a Big Boy's Blanket!

Made from sock yarn scraps, it's just mitred squares of 31 stitches, with a slipped stitch edging so once the first row is done you can pick up and knit on.  It's about 5ft long now, should last him a couple of years!

Secondly I have finished my blanket of sunshine:
It is the Willow Block from Jan Eaton's book 200 crochet squares. Made in Rico cotton in 15 colours. Each colour took each position in the square twice, so there are 30 squares, and 4 rows of DC around the edge.  I have more yarn to do more edging and I may well at some point, but for now it's finished!  I haven't measured it but I'd say it's around 4ft x 3ft 6.

 The garden is also really colourful at the moment, with the marigolds particularly showing their form:

There they are above, bordering my rampaging vegetable bed. Any minute now those yellow flowers will be joined by red runner bean flowers and ripening tomatoes, and the yellow courgette flowers.

The petunias are also pretty awesome now, they have a gentle fragrance, and a neon colouring - fantastic:
The photo doesn't do them any justice at all, they are deep and bright, like a perfect velvet. Amazing colouring.

I'd have taken photos of the Gazanias too as they are also beautiful colours, but they have not deemed it sunny enough today to open fully - I love how they open what they consider a sensible amount for the day - rain, and they stay tightly closed, cloudy - and they open just a tad, full on burn your bits sun - and they turn their faces up to the sun as wide open as they can be and enjoy the warmth on their petals. - It's all very clever.

I have also chosen my July challenge, but it's tucked away in my Lovely sock project bag. (Mine has meeces on, it's super cute and awesome!) and quite frankly I'm too lazy to get it out to photo - especially as I haven't even cast on yet. It's waiting for me tho'!

So there you have it, colour on a Sunday. And now the evening sun has come out and is at the best it has been all day - I feel a little garden knitting coming on, while I listen to the blackbird staking his claim to his territory!  Hope you all had a great weekend.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

May Challenge, which became June Challenge. Now Finished!

Got in a bit of a state with these - for no reason other than I'm a bit lazy,and knitting needs to be "in front of the tv" type stuff really.  These had two pattern charts, one 24 rows and one 20 rows, plus I re-wrote the pattern to be toe-up instead of cuff-down.

But once all the moaning was over with I got on with them, and now have a fab pair of socks to show for it!

So, they took me two months instead of one, but hey - it's summer and knitting time is sorely reduced by gardening and other sunny activities.  I'm sure I'll catch up later in the year!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Friends, fun and frolicks

Last Saturday I held a forum day here (the crafty threads n yarns forum for those that don't know).  The idea was just to get together with as many people as lived close enough to make the journey, and knit and chat.

I've been trying to work out how to write about it, because I didn't take any photos and the only photos that were taken had people in, which I wouldn't put on a public blog............. so without the visual help, I need to find the words!

I'll start by saying that the incomparable MrNoo helped me sort and re-arrange the house so that the 11 expected guests could stay inside as the weather report suggested heavy rain. We Moved my kitchen table out of the conservatory, and into the kitchen, and moved the sofa from the lounge to the space now made in the conservatory. We brought all the chairs in too, and put cushions on them, and when we had finished that......... I cooked!!  beef casserole and home made ice cream (not to be eaten together you understand!)

So that was Friday, and i have to admit to being a bit nervous. You know how it is when people are coming to your home, my housekeeping skills aren't exactly awesome, and I live alone so only have myself to please when it comes to standards (and mine are pretty low). There was also the thing of it being a forum gettogether. We all (I think) know each other quite well, we banter and chat on the forum and take the mickey out of each other, and generally I feel have a really good community relationship, we work hard at it, and it works well. But, although I had met nearly everyone before, I was also nervous of how it would work as a "real life" group, and especially in my domestic setting rather than a public venue.  Anyway i went to bed and hardly slept, kept thinking of things I needed to have done, which mostly i had or had a good reason for waiting til the next morning, but you know how the mind plays games when you really need a good night's sleep!

I awoke on Saturday to a clear sky, a chilly breeze and a certain spring in my step because of them. Conservatory doors open, and although there was plenty of space inside, everyone had the choice of getting themselves a bit more space outside!! My Mum arrived early and helped me scrape the new potatoes, then lay out the table (she had also brought a very generous afternoon tea of oat cookies, chocolate muffins and blueberry muffins) and that was that, we were ready.

The day itself was so much fun, and my over-riding memory is of hearing laughter all around my home and garden. I don't think a lot of actual knitting got done, but the intention was there as most people had brought something, but chat and laughter got in the way. And I think even knitting can be left aside to make room for laughter, No?

We also  held an auction, which had been donated to by many members of the forum who were there, and who hadn't been able to make it, which Jacky handled admirably. And we had a swap table. So, in addition to the wonderful day, company, & laughter, we managed to raise £182.50 for cancer research, and everyone went home with at least as much stuff as they had brought - it was just different "stuff".  Awesome!

So as i think back on Saturday, the sun shining, a few shafts of light bouncing off needles and hooks, my heart skips a little beat. That I am so blessed to be part of such a fantastic community, and that I can count on each and every member of it as a proper, honest-to-goodness, real-life friend.

Thank you all, I am humbled by your generosity, and honoured to be your friend.


Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Summer colours

-Summer colours in the garden

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Monday, May 30, 2011

End of May already

So the May socks are going extraordinarily slowly. I think i've lost the love for them, but am nearly finished on the first one so haven't the heart to frog it and choose another pattern. Whatever happens they ain't gonna be finished for May!

We also seem to have acquired 3 new chicks.
These little lovelies have already had so much bad luck thrown at them..They were abandoned at 18 days by my broody silkie (chicks take 21 days to hatch) and the eggs had gone quite cold.  As luck would sort of have it, I had another broody - an old Welsummer (She's 5 or 6 years old and has never gone broody in her life until now) So we put them under her in the main hen house just in case.  And on day 23, just when I was going to empty the nestbox and get her sorted out, these little ones appeared from under her!  (There was a fourth but it didn't make it :( )

It all caused a bit of a dilemma, because firstly, Welsummers are renowned for being bad mothers. Secondly Silkie was in the broody coop, and she can't go in the main run cos she is so much smaller than the other girls and gets beaten up, and the cockerel is still recovering from his hen-pecked injuries in the 2nd run. So what the heck was I going to do with these. I couldn't leave them with the Welsummer, even if she had been a good mother they couldn't stay in the main run with all the other old biddies.  So, they are currently in a recycling box in my spare room, with a heat lamp for warmth. I think the poor old cockerel will have to go to the Freezer, and Silkie will go in the 2nd run. Hopefully when the chicks are a little bigger they'll go in there with her, but we'll have to see.

I have also made a couple of cushion covers. 3 down, another 3 to do at least (although I have 10 inserts as it was cheaper to buy them in 10's!)

In the meantime, I am furiously knitting and lovely the sock yarn blanket. I had forgotten how much fun it was to knit.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Return of an old friend

I made this sock yarn blanket in 2007. Finished just after my 2nd nephew was born. Well I always knew it would need making longer and the time has come. It now needs to be at least 1m50 in length cos the little man is now a wonderful 3 1/2 year old and this doesn't cover his toes any more. It's kinda nice to have it back!

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