Thursday, 28 February 2013

Red Nose Day Dolls

There has been an extremely exciting project doing the rounds in blogland lately, the Red Nose Day Dolls, being made to auction on ebay for Red Nose Day.  Not only do Maisie, Mac, Blossom and Poppy have outfits, they also have blankets, teddies, books, pets, jewellery, picnic baskets, bags, capes and of course red noses.  They truly are the toys of every child's dreams.

The project was thought up by Emma Mitchell of Silver Pebble and Ros Badger and has now grown to include bloggers from all over the globe.  It's a fantastic fundraiser but it's also a great celebration of the hand made and of craft in general.
There is more information on the Red Nose Day Dolls' blog or on facebook and you can sponsor the project here

P.S. also check out this sweet video of Mac going camping:

Monday, 25 February 2013

Time to look up

When you cannot sleep for at least two hours after going to bed
And then wake up over an hour early,
After bad sleep, so tense you are almost rigid
And then a concrete cutter starts up in the street outside

When you feel worse than usual
And life seems bleak, painful and pointless
Problems overwhelming
The past haunting and shifting

When you want to cry but you cannot

Then it's time to look up; I am so glad of music, of the reminder to turn again to God, who does not shift or change, in whom there are no shadows, who understands and cares, who listens and grants peace, who is all powerful, strong and loving.

Then for a while I can focus on the truth and on how loved I am and how one day all things will be new, no tears, no pain, then everything falls back into its proper perspective.

Then I am so glad that I put the worship CD in the kitchen yesterday, so it was there when I needed it most, when the music broke the blow as the newspaper headlines hit.

Thank you Father, help me not to lose your perspective and your love.

This is a simple song, but it never fails to remind me of what matters.

Come on my soul... let down the walls... it's time to look up.

Saturday, 23 February 2013

52 Weeks of Happy - Week 8

Posting a day late this week because I have been a little (more) under the weather (than usual), nothing major, just a low level virus I think but enough to be annoying and make me even more tired.  It is also increasing my brain fog so that I am finding it hard to think clearly or focus on things at times and I have felt a bit down about it at times.  However, I am trying not to let this take over, so I am writing this post for a start, although I do not appear to have taken many or any photographs this week so you will have to excuse the blog's dull appearance for a bit.

1. Talking - talking to someone wise with whom you feel safe to say how you really feel and who makes you feel like you are not doing so badly after all.  The sort of conversation that leaves you with a lot to take in, think about and pray over.  Oh that there were more people like this in the world and oh that I could help others in the same way one day.  Such a precious opportunity.

From a previous year but still delightfully sunny.

2. Potato farls - where have these been all my life?  They feel like the perfect food for this grimly cold weather.  I got the recipe from this brilliant feature in The Observer by Miss South of the blog North/South Food, not only is the recipe simple and effective, there are a number of the other recipes on my "to try" list and the piece is thoughtful, thought-provoking and well written.  Do go and read it, then try the recipes.

3. A gentle, silly film - this time a 1970s film-of-a-sitcom: Bless this House starring Sid James (who also came up last week), which was on Film 4 this week and is bound to be on again.  It was just right for an afternoon on the sofa knitting.  I am considering checking out the original sitcom.

Again not this year's, but I am beginning to see snowdrops and crocuses and must get some photos of the primroses.

4. Friends - I have been lucky enough this week to have a couple of social engagements, which I managed to fulfil despite feeling under par, and there really is nothing like sitting around a table eating and talking.  I can see why Jesus is so often found eating with people in the Gospels, be it up mountains, beside lakes or after inviting himself to someone's house, it can be one of the best ways of getting to know people and deepening relationships.  There is a special warmth and vulnerability to sitting down to eat together, like the Vikings leaving their weapons at the door when they sat down to eat or King Priam going to eat with Achilles when he goes to him to ask for Hector's body back in the Iliad.  What made this dinner even nicer was that it was utterly unexpected, my neighbour called around and invited me that afternoon.

My other social occasion this week was having coffee with a knitting friend, a form of socialising I enjoy very much and we had a good chat about stranded colour work and other knitterly topics of conversation.

So, on with the rest I think.

Friday, 15 February 2013

52 Weeks of Happy - Week 7

Another week has somehow rolled by, rather fast too and yet I do not feel that I have done anything definite with it.  This continues to be a good exercise, to find things to be positive about.

1. Classic Comedy - this week's Hancock's Half Hour episode on BBC Radio 4 Extra was a true classic, the first ever of the series, with Bill Kerr and Moira Lister in particular being given more of the jokes.  In this episode they often act as a double act and a faster foil to Hancock's slower style, it is a great pity that his jealousy and insecurity later got in the way of this.  Already various hallmarks of the show are in place, from the stutter at the beginning, through the incredible music, ending with Sid James being at the root of most of the trouble as ever!  A must-listen.


2. Blue skies and sunshine - it was properly warm for the first time this year today, only two days after being so cold it made my fingers cold.  I could tell it must be warm when I looked out of my window this morning and saw next door's cat sitting in the sun!  Spring is unmistakeably beginning, as I was walking home today I was stopped dead in my tracks by the first of the blossom on the trees in the street.  I will try to keep taking photos of it as it opens because it is always beautiful when the street is full of blossom.


3. Smooshy alpaca - I have resurrected a cardigan I began last year and have been putting in lots of work on it this week.  Despite the hours there has been only a small amount of growth as being in sport weight there are rather a lot of stitches involved.  But I have loved Drops Alpaca for a while now and this colour in particular (7240m since you ask, no I did not have to look that up, yes I do need to get out more), so I am thoroughly looking forward to wrapping myself up in soft clouds of alpaca.


4. A charity shop bargain - a 1970s Patons book of bazaar makes, there are all the classics in here including the tea cosy that looks like a gypsy caravan.  There are quite a few things that are actually makeable too, so it is not just amusing, though I am quite taken by the parrot.


Sunday, 10 February 2013

Knee Highs

I did it - I actually managed to knit a pair of knee high socks!  Admittedly they are in sport weight yarn, Knit Picks Stroll Sport if you are interested in such things, bought on sale at Great British Yarns.  They used just under four balls of yarn and being that bit thicker went rather fast.  The decreases down the leg helped me get along as I kept knitting on "just to the next decrease" and so on.  I came up with the pattern myself so I could custom make them to fit me, but I will try to gather my notes and write up what I did, it might help someone else?  And help me remember what I did for future reference.  Hopefully these will keep me warm in any cold weather we get, though given the weather today I think making my own galoshes might have been more helpful.


They look rather old fashioned to me, in a good way, like something a Victorian woman might have worn under her many petticoats maybe?  Only time will tell whether or not they will stay up effectively, if need be I will channel my inner Miss Mattie (in Cranford) and try knitting some garters to keep them up.

Naturally within minutes of finishing these I was planning the next sock and I am on the first leg chart of Elm socks by Cookie.a from The Knitter's Book of Socks in the most gorgeous green yarn from Countess Ablaze (alas her shop is currently closed due to illness).


Is there such a thing as an addiction to sock knitting?

Saturday, 9 February 2013

52 Weeks of Happy - week 6

Six weeks into this 52 weeks of happy, goodness me, never thought I'd last this far.  It has not been a bad week, not too bad anyhow, although I have been struggling to relax and sleep.  I keep meaning to write other blog posts and they keep not happening.  Today I do not feel especially positive, so coming up with four things to be positive about is a good exercise, hopefully it will help my head see that there are positive things going on, help me not to miss them.

1. A kind thought and a great quotation - a kind friend sent me a lovely cotton bag she had got on a weekend away in Sheffield, with the following quotation on it "It is impossible to be angry when looking at a penguin", from of all people, John Ruskin.  I would love to know what the origin is of this statement, I had always associated Mr Ruskin with serious matters, not penguins.  The bag has two rather gorgeous penguins following in one another's footsteps and it put a big smile on my face.  Naturally it already has some knitting in it.


2. Cabin Pressure - the radio 4 show, which each week keeps me in stitches, laughing so hard the whole house can hear, if not next door as well.  John Finnemore is a brilliant writer, mixing wordplay, situation and plain silliness into a superb and closely packed half hour.  Go and listen on iplayer while you can - the last in the series is next Wednesday at 6.30.  I realise now that I should have mentioned this sooner, before the series was nearly over, however, you can catch up with the previous series on audible most reasonably.

3. Continuing promise of spring - the buds on our wild cherry twigs are breaking and gorgeous green leaves emerging, hopefully there will soon be flowers.  They are rather hard to photograph though.


4. Prayer - I would not have made it through the week without prayer, both mine and other people's.  Sometimes it is talking things over, sometimes sitting in peace, with some liturgy in between.  Prayer helps me to keep my stress and anxiety levels manageable, my mood more stable, and helps me and others in so many ways.  I am so grateful to God for this gift and that He cares about us and our daily lives, that He is interested and wants to hear from us, no matter how small or big the problem.  Through prayer God is teaching me to rely on Him and how infinitely gracious He is.  For example, if I cannot find something I try to remember to pray, before tearing the house apart looking, as I find searching for things so tiring and they do generally appear after I have prayed, sometimes almost at once, sometimes a little while later, but they do.  Through watching Him answer prayers on a small scale I find I can learn to trust Him more for the big things.

Prayer also helps me to feel less useless within the church - I may not be able to do much else for my church and for the wider church, but I can pray.  It is so good to have others pray for me too, sometimes it is easier to pray for someone else than it is for yourself and in the past a good friend and I have arranged to pray for one another that day rather than struggle with prayer for ourselves.  I love how God equips us to help one another and love one another.

Time to try to relax and get some sleep now I suppose.

Saturday, 2 February 2013

52 weeks of happy - week 5

A steadier week thankfully, once I had recovered from the "alarums and excursions" at the end of last week and was able to sleep again.  There was even a good day, which is a rare thing indeed.  I do keep meaning to blog in between these posts but keep not getting around to it,  hopefully tomorrow I can remedy this as I have a couple of finished objects to post about if nothing else.

1. Blue sky - a rare commodity over this past year and so much appreciated on the occasions that it has appeared.  I spent time sitting simply looking at it, drinking it in.  At times it was accompanied by sunshine which was lovely, even the feeble warmth of winter sunshine was wonderful and a hint of the spring to come.  I truly am praying and hoping that this year will be less overcast than last, after a while it just starts to drag you down, especially during the summer when it is supposed to be better weather - oh how British, going on and on about the weather!


2. Unexpected early buds - my dad had used some prunings from the wild cherry tree to stake some hyacinths we had in a pot in the kitchen and being in the warmth, with the water from the pot, they have started to bud.  Some are almost out, when they are I shall try to get photos and get them up here.  We have collected up some more of the prunings and put them in a vase to see if similar happens to them.  I never like seeing branches indoors like that if they've been cut off the tree just to look at, it seems mean to all the birds and insects who would benefit from them, but since the tree needed pruning anyway it is not so bad.


3. A lovely pub breakfast with knitters last Saturday morning, good food, friendly chatter and laughter and knitting, a good way to spend any morning in my opinion.

4. Having a good day - not a dramatically good day, just a calmly, nothing getting to me, not feeling too awful day, which is better than wild excitement or overwhelmingly happy in my book.  A walk in the sunshine, reading on the sofa in the sunshine, seeing two police horses go past the house (they appear to have been past our house every day this week at exactly the same time, looking very handsome but rather bored), some peace and quiet and noticing that some snow drops had come out.  Unfortunately the photograph I managed to get is not very good because there was an incredibly high wind so all the plants kept moving about wildly.


Here's to more good days in future.