A little poetic mystery

Out with Marjorie the other week, pootling to the Post Office which is two miles away. On the way back, I spotted a notice pinned to a gate post and, as one does, stopped to investigate.

However, it wasn't a planning application for a new housing estate (although that is in the pipeline for this area). It was a Thomas Hardy poem. Rather random, but lovely. 

 The Walk

You did not walk with me

Of late to the hill-top tree

By the gated ways,

As in earlier days;

You were weak and lame,

So you never came,

And I went alone, and I did not mind,

Not thinking of you as left behind.

I walked up there to-day

Just in the former way;

Surveyed around

The familiar ground

By myself again:

What difference, then?

Only that underlying sense

Of the look of a room on returning thence.

Pondering this and wondering 'who, what why and when?', I cycled on. And came then stopped.

Another country poem, pinned to another gatepost, with the brooding Wrekin just showing in the background.

A sonnet, by John Clare.

A Spring Morning

THE Spring comes in with all her hues and smells,
In freshness breathing over hills and dells;
O’er woods where May her gorgeous drapery flings, 
And meads washed fragrant by their laughing springs.
Fresh are new opened flowers, untouched and free
From the bold rifling of the amorous bee.
The happy time of singing birds is come,
And Love’s lone pilgrimage now finds a home;
Among the mossy oaks now coos the dove,
And the hoarse crow finds softer notes for love.                        
The foxes play around their dens, and bark
In joy’s excess, ’mid woodland shadows dark.
The flowers join lips below; the leaves above;
And every sound that meets the ear is Love.


Viking Hoard and a spectacular dress

A visit to the Museum of Lancashire, principally to see the Silverdale Viking hoard while it is still on display. Buried for more than a thousand years, it's an amazing find - and the painstaking conservation work done is incredible.

Yes, I do seem to have taken mostly photos of jewellery! Well, an ingot is just an ingot, isn't it?

The museum is dedicated to local history, in all aspects. Joe was particularly interested in the First World War memorabilia. 

I always find the little personal details almost unbearably poignant and wonder how many of the card senders made it home.

Even I was taken with the Hussars jackets, delightfully glamorous - how hearts must have fluttered upon seeing an officer in one of these uniforms!

My favourite bits? Well, the entertainment section and the vintage Punch and Judy set - 

My lovely neighbour Jean, confessed recently that she used to find Punch and Judy terrifying when she was a little girl. Brought up a sheltered country child, and in the days before mass entertainment, she found the whole thing a bit too much on the occasional visit to the seaside.

And my other top pick, this spectacular 'roller skating costume' dating from 1910, entirely made from sewn together cigar bands, cigar box labels and stamps. 

It was designed by a cleaner, Charles Hamer, for his wife Anne; he saved the bits and bobs he found at work - both Charles and Anne took part in skating contest in the Burnley (Lancashire) area. 

How wonderful that other people's rubbish was turned into such an object of beauty - and undoubtedly worn with great pride. 

Kings and Queens will always have their place at the top of the history hall of fame, but I find the history of the humble 'common' people just as much - if not more - fascinating.


In print and on the cover!

It's been quite a year so far for magazine appearances - a few weeks ago, my ever popular pattern for doglets were featured in the Comic Relief/Mollie Makes Crafternoon bookazine. This was the first pattern I ever wrote, over three years ago and people still seem to love it! You can still buy the digital version of this from Amazon UK via this link.

I've also started writing patterns for the UK's best selling craft magazine, 'Craftseller' - my first contribution was in last month's issue, number 48, a set of three tropical bird brooches. This is a copyright free pattern, which means that people can make and sell their versions of it. You can buy the back copy of this issue directly from the Craftseller site here.

This month's issue, number 49, sees me on the cover, with a cute trio of pet shop sweeties. These designs are also copyright free and they hit the selves on April 4th, so there's plenty of time to grab a copy and start making.

Craftseller is a UK based publication and on sale at WHSmith, good newsagents, large supermarkets and some craft shops. I'm really thrilled to have been asked to work for them and also to have snagged my fourth magazine cover.  Bottoms up!

In non-needle felting news - lovely Joe has mended the shed roof after a couple of large chunks were torn off in recent gales. It's good not to be alone anymore, in so many ways.


Alpaca birds workshop p-Lush 2015

My first creations with alpaca wool - I was thrilled to be asked to host a workshop at the p-Lush Alpaca Show on March 27th. So I chose to make little birds, which are ideal for beginners.

Rather different to my normal merino - bizarrely, the fibres seemed finer and yet at the same time, more 'hairy'.

So although I strived for my usual smooth finish, they did come out looking a little fuzzy. But I rather liked the natural effect. There are only 12 places on this workshop and they are booking already - details and registration can be found on the p-Lush booking page here. Join in, it'll be fun!


Remembering Andy today

Two years ago today, my lovely Andy chose to leave this life. Today, I and all his many friends and family remember him with love. It is a bleak, rainy winter's day and the trees are bare, but I have picked all the colour in the garden for him and hold his memory close in my heart. Always.


A pictorial visit to Chetham's Library

At the end of last year, I paid a flying visit to Manchester, to see my dear friend. Sue of 'Mouse Notebook'. Apart from catching up with news, I was also treated to a grand tour of her 'workplace' - the magnificent Chetham's Library

Shall we?

I admit, that at the top of the stairs, when this Paradise of books opened up before me, I stood still and had a little weep. Only a true bibliophile will understand why. 

Visiting is free, but donations are always very welcome (indeed, needed). Visiting times and details can be found here.

And as the lucky guest of a Chetham's librarian, I was treated to a quick tour behind the scenes - what we might call 'the staff room'. I will let the books speak for themselves, they will do it more eloquently than I.

Another insight into the life behind the shelves - inside the inner sanctum of the office, where a colleague was examining a beautiful antique book of real (and very much imaginary) marine life. I think the publication date was the 1500's, I was too lost in the engravings to pay much attention.

My friend's colleague, who had been browsing the book on our arrival, tried to find a particularly spectacular creature he had spotted earlier. Sadly, like so many mythological beasts, it remained elusive, despite much searching.

On the way out, still breathless from the presence of soaring shelves of antique books, I spotted this -  as my long time friends and readers will know,  anything letter press catches my attention.

Here are small enclosed areas, rather like individual shrines to the blessed book.

There was a distinctly cathedral-like atmosphere throughout - a hushed reverence and the way the fragile winter light filtered through the windows.

Partially drunk on the rapture of books, I emerged into bright winter sunshine and braved the Christmas crowds and the train journey home.