Just about bordering on odd, I see things through different eyes.The heading says it all - I live, I love, I craft, I am me...

29/09/2022

small moments in an unsettled world

 

I am very grateful (and extremely lucky) that I work in an environment (pun fully intended) which is healing. There are instants which make me gently hold my breath as I watch or see or notice a small precious moment. This week was no different but I thought that I would share just a few of these gems with you. Like going back to pick up my chilly mug (Jayne) and discover I had plonked it down just moments before in a nest of Erigeron Karvensis (Mexican fleabane) daisies and seeing the combination made my heart sing.
Spotting a very dark ladybird pupae on a richly purple dahlia leaf in the cutting garden, hopefully it will emerge before the frosts so that it will be able to overwinter as an adult. If not, we will carefully put the cut off foliage in one of the sheds so the pupae (there were dozens) can mature in safety.
Sharing my lemon shortbread biscuit with a Robin whilst working in one of the private gardens I maintain.
Ravelling 400gm balls of wool blend into 100gm yarn cakes before starting my next project - my sense of smell is rather random at the moment but I could catch a delicious scent of lanolin when I buried my nose deep into the huge and squishy balls of wool 
This idiot. 

Who drives me both crazy and fills my heart with equal measure - she has not been coming to work regularly recently as she 'looks after' who ever happens to be at home at the moment, so on the odd days that she puts on her 'work clothes', the dog harness, she is beyond excited. Her day is filled with rounding up wheelbarrows, collecting up sticks, herding volunteers and supervising our work - by the time we get home she is ready for her food and a well deserved nap!

And the princess. Pan. Still aloof and occasionally cranky but then who isn't? She has definitely mellowed and decided humans are not that dreadful. She has her favourites (makes that very obvious!) however, she is definitely the hairy heart of our home.

It is little moments like these which keep me grounded. I need to get myself ready for work, another private garden, a moorland wild meadow where Moss can come and play whilst I am there. She will be delighted......!

Thank you every one for your lovely and encouraging comments regarding my attempt at Kaketsugi mending - it is on hold at the moment as I am waiting for a packet of needle threaders to land in the post then I can get on with the final few threads - hardly any left to weave in. Then I will tidy away the remaining threads and hand it back to its owner😊

Enjoy the rest of your week, hope you too find small moments that fill your heart xxxx

22/09/2022

Weaving on a tiny scale

 With rain falling outside and this morning's work completed just in time (despite bumping into an acquaintance I'd not seen to talk to in nearly a decade making me run 45 minutes late) I am now sitting at the table with the radio quietly singing to the kitchen and a mug of tea which - if I am honest - I am not enjoying as much as I would like. Covid has left me with a distaste for dairy......

I thought I would use this quiet time to get started on another mending request. However - this one is not all about the show and tell but the invisibility of the patch. A form of Kaketsugi (because my version will never be as amazing as the Japanese artform) which entails finding a piece of fabric which matches, then gently unravelling enough thread on all four sides to weave in to make the original pattern.... easy right? Nope. It is a wonderful form of meditation and frustration in equal measure. I will get it done, I am determined to do so but I am on hold at the moment as I need a new needle threader - I just can not find mine. 


Fortunately these trousers have a pocket on the back which had been stitched shut which meant I could 'harvest' a decent sized patch. The hole was tatty and shredded so I neatened the edges and cut off the surplus threads.


Then began the enjoyably mindful task of gently' un-weaving' a row at a time until there was enough fabric to cover the hole but sufficient thread to weave back into the main body of the trousers.
Lining up the weave turned out to be a little problematic when I discovered that within the plaid patterning there were further smaller weave stitches which are different in each block, I knew the patch could only go one way otherwise it would not match - eek.

All the photos I have taken through my magnifying crafting light - something I sigh a sigh of relief each time I use it as it make dealing with the teeny tiny so so very much easier!

My biggest hiccup was the size of my needle. I had the perfect super slender bead needle which slipped through the weave with ease, the problem was threading it - even with a needle threader it was nigh on impossible. The next size up was also too difficult to thread so I finally settled on a slightly thicker one again and finally managed not only to thread up but to weave through.
I have just woven the cream and mustard threads (where my snippers are pointing) and I am pleased with the effect. Time to slurp a mug of tea with the barest of drops of milk and get on with it!


All I can say is .... watch this space (I won't say hold your breath - I may be quite some time weaving in those threads) this is super slow sewing at it's best!


19/09/2022

The 'hole' weekend

It appears that a three day weekend seems to go as quickly as a two day one. Today, being a bank holiday, was a quiet one. There had been a palpable sombre tension in the air, although now mid afternoon, life seems to be returning with cars driving through the village and dog walkers scattered on every path and lane.

Himself's jeans before (with massive knee tear) and after with the Ganzezashi pattern also known as the sea urchin stitch

Having finished Himself's pullover and with a serious crafting/sewing itch, I tackled a pile of jeans with various holes and tears.  I am still inspired by Sashiko and used motifs from a book which Eldest and his lovely girl gave me a little while ago.

Eldest's jeans with a simple concentric circle pattern and a Jujitsunagi named after the kanji character for ten which suggests prosperity with ever increasing tens - I left one character unfinished to imply future prosperity still to come

Eldest had managed to tear holes in a couple of pairs of fairly new jeans so they too were reinforced with supporting fabric and more Sashiko inspired stitching. We'll be seeing them this weekend and I will happily hand over two pairs of hole-free jeans.

Himself knocking holes in the lounge chimney breast, and in the attic wall, 
Eldest and Himself up on our roof - manhandling the  flue into the chimney

Speaking of holes, Himself has been mending holes too. Our woodburner flue - the liner running up our chimney came to the end of it's life - which entailed removing the degrading pipe and replacing it with a new and substantially better version. The original plan was Youngest, Himself and I would do it several weekends ago before the weather turned.  Himself had already demolished sections of the chimney to be able to reach and remove the offending flue then covid hit us and we could not continue. Neither of us felt well enough to lift and pull over 12 meters of metal piping up on to the roof and feed it down the chimney - we had to wait until we felt less rubbish. Fortunately last weekend Eldest came and with the three of us - I tried my best limp wristed help when ever possible - hoisted the piping up and fed it down. They were fantastic but it did take all day and they both came away with bruises and grazes.

Holes everywhere! But definitely being filled back in!

Now this weekend, Himself filled the holes, cementing the bricks back in. We then tidied and cleaned up the construction mess - it felt really good (read exhausting) to get the attic room looking nice again.

Who could resist?
Whilst we were having lunch, a little furry face appeared around my knee and asked if we could go for a walk - so we did. Via the 'dog lead-o' (lido) and that little furry face was so happy (and wet!) It is a while since we visited the neighbouring village well.  It is a year round dog favourite (hence calling it the dog lead-o). The water is bone cold even in summer but it does not seem to deter a certain dog!
Water dripping off her face as she had been trying to get her frisbee out of a rather deep hole in the 'lead-o'

Himself has lived in his new pullover and mended jeans (which I am secretly rather pleased about) and even let me take photos of him modelling them on our walk this afternoon.

I may have been looking on the internet to find another pullover for him - a simple Guernsey - I shall blame my need to knit!



And, does the fire work now the flue has been replaced? Well, it seems that it does and someone is rather pleased it has been lit.
The final note - the swallows have gone. So has summer. I am trying not to let it get to me. Bring on the knitting!

Have a good week xxxxxx

13/09/2022

Take it easy Tuesday

There is definitely more than a hint of autumn in the air today. I can taste that metallic toffee tang which curls around the garden at this time of year. I am having a quiet day, first day back to work on Monday and despite all good intentions of being gentle with myself and allowing the garden team to continue with their fantastic efforts - I ended up walking nearly five miles (I have just checked my tracker) which goes someway to explain when I returned home last night I could barely move off the settee! So today's private gardens will have to wait another week - fortunately I have a very understanding client and it was she who suggested I take it a bit easier today.

I have finally (after how many attempts? over how many years?) finished Himself's North Ronaldsay Aran  light grey jumper. I bought a bumper pack of the wool when it was still affordable (just) and it sat in the stash cupboard until I was ready for it. I have just been on the website and see that the price has more than tripled, very glad I purchased it when I did. 
As a bit of an aside - with all the knitting and unpicked the various attempts, it meant that I ended up with several pieces of wool which needed joining together. Years ago, I used to knot the wool together until I learnt to splice - which I find give a far better finish. I might be showing 'how to' do it to those who already know but if you don't - hope this mini tutorial helps 


  • Make sure you have a nice length to work with - about 5cm on each piece of wool to make the splice
  • Untwist the ply - I used a large tapestry needle
  • Splay the individual strands
  • Combine the two pieces together by alternating the strands then ensure they lie against the opposite piece of wool
  • Dampen your free hand slightly and begin to roll gently between your palms, checking to see if the strands are still in place
  • Finally roll quite vigorously back and forth to 'felt' the fibres together until you are happy with the join.
  • You can - if you fancy being brave - tug reasonably firmly to check if your splicing has worked.

The splice I made is in this bit of knitting - about half way up on the left. So all that remains is to gently soak the finished jumper and block into shape, Himself and Youngest have both tried it on and considering what it had to go through to get to this point - it looks good 😊🧶The only problem now is I have caught up with all my wips ....hmm so what to do now?

Fortunately Eldest has supplied the perfect antidote to my 'Down Time Stress Syndrome' (yes it is a thing!) by producing two sets of jeans which need a little first aid here and there .... watch this space👖👖🪡🪡🧵


09/09/2022

Soothing the not so savage beast

Friday - hopefully my last day home from work, I should be - all things being equal - back on Monday but I am definitely going to being gentle on myself. 

I popped in on Wednesday for a meeting (I say 'popped in' - that makes it sound rather cheerful and bouncy, I should have written ... I shuffled in or I dragged myself in ... to a meeting) and after just over two hours I wobbled my way back to the car and drove home. I can't remember much after that, apart from appreciating the back of my eyelids beneath a duvet. 

Now today, Friday, although not fully fit - I feel alive, actually feel positive and even though I am not full of my normal bounce - I am getting there.

I spent most of Thursday knitting - it certainly made me feel as if I was mending. Then, reports regarding Queen Elizabeth's death hit the news and swamped every form of media from edge to edge. I found I was watching from that edge, an outsider, observing how the country was being engulfed. Knitting and observing.

Then a little later J from Winters End Rambler said this ...

  1. Home alone and having just turned off the telly. Sad news, but on repeat was just making me feel awful. I think this could be the winter to get more reacquainted with my knitting needles and crochet hook. I used to wing many a knitting project...not sure I'm brave enough any more. x

    ReplyDelete

I thought carefully and replied with ....

  1. knit - even if it is only one row - knit - it soothes an awful lot of things. Anxiety, lack of mojo, over active mojo, sadness, frustrations, knit and if it doesn't come out right, rip it back. The beauty of knitting is that you can remake it again and again and again. Knit xxx


I then realised that is exactly what I was doing - knitting for my wellbeing. The comfort, the feel of being 'busy' when in reality I was washed out and languishing beneath a duvet. Knitting to keep an increasingly busy brain and a want-to-be-entertained set of fingers satisfied. Having had fairly long separation from knitting made me appreciate it that whole much more.

And - if a little guilt was to slip in and say that the jumper I am knitting is one which I'd retrieved from the naughty bin. For the third time. I sheepishly dragged it out and unceremoniously flung it on the carpet to see how much more was to do ..... to find that all that was required was to complete the raglan decreases on the back and the neck shaping on the front ... then to stitch it together. The sleeves are done, finished and waiting..... ? why had I not completed it?? I don't honestly know.

So - today between gently pottering around the house tidying it after 12 days of neglect - I am knitting. 

So knit, even if it is only one row - knit - it soothes an awful lot of things.


And it feels rather empowering. 

06/09/2022

mitt knitting for winter fingers

With less than twenty minutes or so to us setting off in the van I suddenly realised that I had an urge to knit. Something I'd not felt for some time - probably since pre the lockdown year so it was rather a surprise although not one I was going to ignore.

With no pattern in mind, no yarns to hand, no idea where my knitting pins were or what I was going to make, I hurtled upstairs into the attic resolving to grab 'something'. I was not about to let a creative impulse go to waste. 

With moments to spare and Himself hovering at the back door wanting to lock, I thundered back downstairs with three lumpy balls of yarn of similar but not exact ply, a circular knitting needle (size unknown) and a sheepish grin on my face. Himself looked at me, rolled his eyes and locked the door.

I decided by the time we'd left the village that I wanted to make some mittens for work - fingerless to be precise because, it does not matter how cold it is working out in the garden - I need my fingers out and about and not hiding somewhere snug. So I envisioned a 'roll necked' style of mitten so my fingers could be covered but still able to escape if I needed them to do delicate work.

So with a bit of trial and error I cast on the lightest colour - a soft grey - a cuff and kept myself busy as the miles passed beneath the van. Because I some times struggle absorbing a written pattern, I decided that I would just wing my own pattern and just duplicate each section as I went along.

I soon moved on to the next yarn, one which had originally caught my eye - a soft 'denim' fleck shade - this would be for the bulk of the hand, so I changed from the ribbing to do stocking stitch then in a moment of over confidence, I continued a strip of ribbing up the centre of the back of my hand. Easy I thought - I can do this...

After a couple of hours, we'd arrived and all thoughts of knitting were cast aside for a bit of coastal air and over excited dog leg-stretching.

During quiet moments I continued knitting, then came the thumb ... a bit of head scratching and some experimental increases happened here... there may have been a fair bit of unpicking - but sitting absorbing a view, drinking a mug of tea as the tide came in, or watching the sun go down was looped into each stitch making the process so much more magical.

Then on the last day - the day we were to return, I had earmarked the drive home as the perfect way to complete my mitts. Except I'd woken up with a searingly painful throat and a head that felt like molten lead and eyes that could not focus. Then time fell into a hole and vanished.

Now, over a week later, I have re-found my knitting, re-acquaintanced myself with the mitts, laid a wobbly hand on the more completed one and decided to try and finish them. I just need to stick the kettle on and begin.

Thank you everyone for your kind words and comments - I hear you - take it easy and be kind to yourself came up several times from those of you who know. Thank you sweet people I will heed your advice and I will not beat myself up about how slow I am recovering. Because, although the 'sickness' of it has gone, I still feel like a washed up lettuce leaf just not quite as green! 

I will be testing myself later (again) coz I will have to go back to work at some point - I am actually getting quite bored with my own company! 




05/09/2022

Pass me a tissue - no the whole box

I am, as I type this, late to the party nobody actually wants to attend - both Himself and I have been unceremoniously added to the 'time to get covid' guest list.  

All I can say is that I am grateful (very very grateful) that we have been jabbed.  I would not like to have been poorly without the vaccinations - I felt rough enough as it was. 

Now - starting day eight, I am still testing positive and feeling rubbish but can sense I am over the worst and am (finally) heading in the right direction.  I have had 'standard' flu before and in comparison - this was definitely ramped up however in the grand scheme of things - I know I got off lightly.

Funnily enough (I must be feeling a little more human if I can see the 'funny side') the cat has rather liked the sick bay vibe we have had recently - lots of bed time, duvets at every opportunity, dozing all day and just the minimum disruption to a cat's daily sleep pattern. However, a certain all action hero🐾, despite being such a good girl and so so patient, is about to pop!  I am almost dreading my first day back to work as Moss will surely explode and round up everything and everyone until we are all dizzy and then for good measure I am pretty sure she will do it again just to make sure she got it right the first time. But until then she lies on her bed as if she has melted and oozed off on to the carpet, tongue hanging out and eyes half closed - a coiled spring ready for action.... (you will just have to use your imagination....)

Strangely - time has both stood still and completely disappeared. I can't really recall what happened to last week yet there has been moments when I have sat and watched the clouds move, birds fly, listened to the wind in the trees, watched autumnal leaves fall and felt time stop. 
Yesterday Himself encouraged me to sit outside in the garden (swaddled in a duvet) to get some fresh air, although he was also struck down - he seemed to recover quicker although I feel he was initially hit harder.  Whereas I seem to be 'drifting' and I am well and truly fed up with it. So, today, dressed, with a mug of tea (about the only thing I've lived on this last week) I am kick starting the 'feeling more human' momentum by blogging.

All photos are from our holiday - which seems a life time ago.



30/08/2022

The sky feels different here.

On a whim and spurred on by the fact I had one day left of my leave which needed to be used before the end of the month or I would lose it - Himself and I took last Friday off - added it to the bank holiday weekend and went feral in Dumfries and Galloway for four days!

We have some lovely memories of the area from our days when visiting with the boys and we wanted to revisit some of our old haunts as well as discover new ones, so Zeb (our van) was packed first thing on the Friday and by mid morning we were trundling up the motorway at a very sedate pace. Himself was feeling a little under the weather so despite me suggesting we stay home until he felt a 'little more human' he decided that he'd rather go and breathe in some fresh sea air and walk some gentle woodland tracks - so that is exactly what we did! Nature's curative powers are not to be sneezed at. 

We stopped a couple of places on the way up for a mug of tea and a breather, one of which Himself was incensed at the amount of litter and spent about five minutes collecting a bag full of recyclable bottles and cans - why on earth are people STILL so lazy/ignorant/awful/thoughtless????

We arrived in Kirkcudbright, and having found ourselves permissible free almost wild, off-grid parking, we wandered into the town via the estuarine coast line. Breathing in that tang that only coastal air can give you was delicious. Moss was besides herself wanting to leap into the tidal waters. We had to stop her as the tide was out and to get to the water would have entailed floundering through metres and metres of super stinky, super slippery mud - which she would have done (with such a silly grin on her face) but the thought of having to de-mud an idiot border collie had us recoiling in horror!
Wandering around a sleepy town full of quirky corners, cute cottages and narrow passageways is always a delight. I could have spent long time snapping images but Himself and Moss were both hungry so we returned to our van. There was only one other van parked up, the owner I'd spotted earlier in the local shop - a very distinctive looking bloke sporting a magnificent head of dreadlocks. His van exuded a delicious scent of incense as well as a festival vibe soundtrack - we were gently entertained by him as we ate our meal. 

The next day, Saturday, was the evening of the town's floodlit tattoo and fireworks display celebrating the last of the summer events, so we decided in the morning to visit Cally Gardens - one on our bucket list - and we were not disappointed - I may have even come home with a plant!

I could have spent all day there and even wanted to offer to volunteer an hour or two - however we had to get back for the tattoo and despite us purchasing tickets - we would not be guaranteed a good spot so had to make sure we got there in time.
Despite all good intentions, we got there a little later than planned (dog walks are serious things says Moss - not to be shortened for anything!) However, we still had a lovely evening. We watched the teeniest wee dancers doing the Highland fling (the youngest apparently was only four!) we were 'entertained' (had enough after the first ten minutes TBH) by a motorbike stunt rider, were wowed by massed pipe bands, bored by a Canadian choir (mainly because we could not hear them), amused by the gently drunk family alongside us who joined in enthusiastically with everything. We watched Scottish country dancing, flag waving, tug 'o war and a brass band. Then as the evening wore on, the lone piper played the lament high up on scaffolding - usually up in the castle but it was being renovated then the fireworks to end the evening. We all left as the tannoy was belting out Neil Diamond's 'Sweet Caroline'  Nearly everyone joined in and sang their hearts out as they melted into the darkness and up the streets and back home - once again we have fallen in love with Kirkcudbright.
On Sunday we woke up to another bright and sunny morning and with breakfast eaten, we wandered back into the town to bumble around the vintage car rally - another of our pleasures. 
Later we moved from our site - we don't like staying longer than two nights at any one point and found ourselves another quiet spot. We we arrived there were two other vans, but by night fall one had left and the other quietly - like ourselves - just watched the stars and the tide recede. 
Before we left, we managed to squeeze in walking, visiting a gallery for 'The Glasgow Girls' exhibition, swimming - Moss has developed gills, and wandering - just wandering and enjoying the gentle nothingness of wandering.

As I said before - the sky feels different here xxxx