Hi, I’ve been thinking about how I could find the words to write this post for months. Life has been incredibly difficult since New Year for us as a family. At times it’s felt like we’d slipped into a parallel universe thinking at some point I’d wake up and be back in my ‘old’ life.
I don’t want to go into details about what’s happened, suffice to say it’s been health related and we have lost a very special person in our lives. Grief is a tricky thing to navigate and I’m on that road now with my boys. Life will never be the same for us but we have to look to the future now.
I have always been a passionate advocate for creativity helping me in tough times, and it truly has in the past. This time though, perhaps my feelings were too big so my creativity and need to make just slipped away. I ‘had’ to make a few crochet items for a commission I was working on and that forced me to get lost (temporarily) in the mindless rhythm of crocheting, but I can honestly say that in the past six months I have probably crocheted for pleasure a couple of times – the most recent of which was last night, which got my thinking about my blog & podcast.
I had big plans for the podcast this year – which haven’t happened. In fact there is still an episode which was due to be published in early January just as our difficulties first arose. I have felt a bit guilty at times because I have a lovely audience out there (some of whom have contacted me directly to check on me – which is lovely) and I always prided myself on being reliable and regular in my podcast episodes. I don’t like to let people down.
In addition to what we’ve been dealing with emotionally, I have had to take on more paying work recently to support my family and that has eaten into my spare time which in the past would have been spent having lovely chats with fabulous creative people about their lives for the podcast. The impact this additional pressure would have on the podcast going forwards has worried me, as it’s a big part of who I am, but the podcast doesn’t bring any financial reward – only emotional and in fact, it actually costs me money to make.
With this in mind, I think the time has come to face up to the future of Making Stitches. The plain facts are that my time is a lot more limited nowadays and will be for the foreseeable future but I would like to continue with my podcast and blogging adventures albeit in a reduced manner. So hopefully, in the next few days, that outstanding episode of Making Stitches Podcast due out in January will make a late appearance and some more ‘stand alone’ episodes will follow later in the year.
If there is still anyone out there still following my blog who hasn’t disappeared since I hung up my blogging hat in January, thank you for hanging on. And to everyone who has been checking on me in my absence – thank you, it’s nice to know I wasn’t forgotten. Please bear with me, and I will pop back again from time to time, hopefully with happier news and some colorful crochet…
I found myself in London today as I took Eldest to begin his University adventure. Once he was settled in, I had the chance to soak up some of the atmosphere of a capital city preparing for the funeral of our Queen tomorrow.
Normally I wouldn’t be in a position to hop on a train specifically for an occasion like this, but today, I found myself in the right place at the right time.
The famous queue of people waiting to see the Queen lying-in-state was inescapable as we were based on the south bank of the Thames – right next to it. After settling my son into his new home, I was free to wander and experience the atmosphere.
As the sun set and the rain came, I followed the queue along the South Bank…
By the British Film Institute there was a huge screen showing footage from the Queen’s 70 year-long reign…
The atmosphere was remarkable, amicable chats amongst those in the queue. Not one raised voice. Just patient shuffling along the side of the Thames.
As 8 o’clock approached, I wanted to be somewhere significant for the National minute’s silence. I was hoping to make it to Buckingham Palace but was warned roads nearby were closed because of the reception for world leaders so I opted to stay close to the Palace of Westminster.
Road closures meant pedestrians could spill into the road over Westminster bridge. However, those same closures meant a diversion for pedestrians back along the Embankment and then on to Whitehall, where people were already camping – some with tents – to have front row seats for tomorrow’s events.
Parliament Square was a hive of activity as contractors removed all the traffic lights and many police officers and army personnel were involved in preparations.
I found a perfect vantage spot to wait for half an hour or so ready for the silence. I even spotted the Castle & Key of the Gibraltar flag hanging opposite the Houses of Parliament.
Tannoy announcements told the gathering crowds that the silence was imminent and slowly the noise levels fell. Work came to a halt. People stood still and you could hear a pin drop. The silence was impeccably marked and was really quite moving. Being so close to where the Queen was lying in state felt right.
I’m so glad I went. The silence was ended with a round of applause and a spontaneous rendition of the National Anthem.
Then it was time to head back across the river..
The queue continued to move slowly along the South Bank and nightfall meant a projection onto the front of the British Film Institute had appeared.
I stood for a while to watch black and white footage of the Queen at important moments in her life.
It was lovely to see all the different ways her passing had been commemorated at different locations.
There was a beautiful and huge light & sound sculpture at Tate Modern – an unexpected surprise.
At the Globe Theatre there were wreaths of Rosemary for remembrance and photos of the Queen & Prince Philip from the official opening of the venue.
And then, unlike those hardy folk in the queue or camped out on the funeral procession route, I returned to my hotel by following the queue back to where I’d started. I am unlikely to be able to watch the Queen’s funeral tomorrow because of travel back up north but I’m glad I was able to spend some time in London at this particular moment in history.
Hello there! I hope you’re well. It’s the very last day of the school summer holidays for us today… tomorrow Youngest heads off to Secondary school for the first time -eek! Also, since my last postcard post, we have had A-Level results which means that Eldest will soon fly the nest to University… not sure how I feel about that.
In the meantime here’s a little look at what we’ve been up to this last month beginning with something I completely forgot to mention which happened in July … I went to ABBA Voyage!!! How could I possibly forget to mention that?!!
I know I’m not alone in the fact I grew up with Abba as the soundtrack to my life, so when I saw last year that the new show was coming to London, I applied for tickets. I was hoping to take my parents with me but unfortunately a holiday they were meant to go on in 2020 got rescheduled to the same weekend so I ended up going with a couple of school friends – which was really nice. It was an utterly amazing experience and unexpectedly emotional. I would highly recommend it to anyone who likes ABBA, and thanks to the rescheduled holiday, I’m going back to see it again with my Mum later this year too!
It was always a tradition when we lived in Gibraltar, that on our annual summer holiday back to the UK we would take a picnic to Marbury Country Park near Northwich in Cheshire and have a walk, play some football or frisbee and then call in for ice cream at the Great Budworth ice cream farm on the way home – sounds like a perfect summer’s day out don’t you think? Well, this year was no different, although we were down to just 2 Little Postcards as Eldest has had a job this summer and wasn’t able to join us for our outing. It’s such a lovely place – which I treasured for the Vitamin Tree I got when I visited.
There’s something about a British summer and the way the world looks here which you don’t get in the Med. I think it’s the way the sun shines through the deciduous leaves maybe. Anyway, it’s not something I really appreciated before we moved to Gibraltar and I wondered whether I would begin to take it for granted again now we are back in the UK full time. I can tell you that I don’t! It’s just gorgeous. I didn’t take any photos of the ice cream farm this time – but I did snap the sunflower maze which had been planted for kids to wander through. Don’t those sunflowers look so bright and jolly?
Exam results day
Exam results day. 30 years ago I came to this very same building to learn my fate and find out my exam results. This year I went along with Eldest. I never could have imagined at the age of 18 that I would be back again one day with one of my children to find out how they had done. I’m relieved to say the exams went well and he’s now preparing to head off to his first choice of university later this month.
I had an amazing long weekend away in Paris with Eldest to celebrate his birthday (belatedly) and his exam success. We went on the Eurostar (which was amazing) and packed such a lot into our few days. There will be a blog post to follow with some of our adventures in, so I won’t tell you all about it now. Suffice to say it was amazing to get away for a few days (as we didn’t have a big family trip away this year) although I was ready for a holiday when I got back after all the walking and fun we packed in!
And so it begins… back to the old routine!
And so it begins…. back at football training again last week and a pre season friendly match at the weekend ready for the new season beginning next week. And just like that we were back to normal.
I began writing this post yesterday, and am finishing it off this morning (Monday morning) after having waved Youngest off on the school bus for the first time to take him to secondary. I have two still at home today, but will have a quiet house again tomorrow. I’m off on a shopping trip now to get things for Uni – wish me luck!
I hope August was kind to you! Thanks for stopping by,
Hello there! Happy new month to you. I’m just dropping in for a quick post today as, when I looked back at my photos for May, they seemed very dull and not post worthy.
So here’s a very quick round up of what I’ve been up to lately…
Well, I seem to have been crocheting non-stop lately but I’ve not been able to settle on anyone thing for long! I began the month crocheting a rainbow hat for a future ‘Up the garden path’ character but got distracted by another project which you can see below…
Youngest’s school is holding its first summer fair in 3 years this year and I was racking my brains as to what to do to support it… I hit on an idea and will hopefully be able to share it with you next month!
One of the highlights of designing my own patterns is seeing someone else’s interpretation of what I’ve created. My fundraising Sophia the Sunflower for Ukraine is still available in my Etsy shop and I was thrilled to spot this Sophia made in the Ukrainian national colours – she is to be gifted to a Ukrainian girl who recently arrived in the UK. What a lovely thing to do.
Early in the month we had a very big game – well when I say we, I mean Youngest! I have been a football Mum for many years and never before have I seen one of my offspring play in a final…. Until this year. And guess what? They only went and won! Cue: boundless joy in our house for a few days as we all floated about on cloud 9!!!
One day while I was alone at home getting on with jobs I heard a racket coming from the back garden, when I went to investigate I found it full of starlings. I counted over 30. There were parents and chicks and all sorts of squabbles and shenanigans going on! The photos don’t do it justice. Suffice to say, the bird feeders took a battering that day!
Messing about on the water
Last weekend we had an invitation to join some very good friends for a kids sailing session at a nearby reservoir. Youngest had never been sailing before but he’s always up for something new and jumped at the chance. It was absolutely fabulous. They were given brilliant instruction by the leaders, monitored at all times, got full use of wetsuits etc and were on the water for a few hours – all for £10!!! We will definitely be going back!
The added bonus was a bit of peace & quiet for waterside alfresco crochet…
That was on Saturday, then on Sunday we spent most of the day on a local playing field having an impromptu football session with other families from his team. Another opportunity for alfresco crochet, however I did find myself being roped in to play. I am rubbish in goal – I let 5 in, but I was told I’m pretty good in defence, so I’ll take that. My aching muscles though, haven’t forgiven me. I’m still stiff as a board today! 😂
May saw two episodes of Making Stitches Podcast released. The first being a chat I had with knit and crochet designer Lynne Rowe from Knit Crochet Create & The Woolnest. The second episode last month featured a trip I made to the Peoples History Museum in Manchester where they have the biggest collection of Trades Union banners in the world. I was lucky enough to get a behind the scenes peek at the fabric conservation work they do there. It was fascinating.
You can listen to all Making Stitches episodes by searching for Making Stitches Podcast on your favourite podcast app or via this link.
And that just about brings this quick post to an end. I do hope May has been a good month for you, and whatever you’re up to this long Platinum Jubilee weekend, I hope the sun shines for you!
Until next time, thanks for stopping by & take care!
Hello there and welcome to this latest Postcard from April – if a little late! It’s a teeny look back at what I got up to in April and as spring has sprung well and truly round here, it meant spending a lot of time out in my little garden.
Where we live we are surrounded by streets and roads filled with trees. I believe the local town planner back in the 1930s believed that there should be a tree planted for every person who lived in the district, so we have him to thank for all the lush greenery around here.
One of the side effects of having so many trees about is that they drop their seeds in autumn and as I discovered last spring (our first in this house) those seeds produce dozens and dozens of tiny seedlings in our pebble driveway. This is just one handful of seedlings picked during about 10 minutes one afternoon – there are approximately 124 seedlings there. I reckon in total I’ve pulled up at least 200 – which would have left me with a jungle or even a forest between our front door and the pavement! It’s no trouble really and rather therapeutic, although they can be hard to spot against the pebbles, and are easy to miss.
Also in the garden, I decided that this year, it was time to give the fence panels a treat. Thankfully the previous owner had left a partially used pot of fence paint, so I was able to set to work straight away once the mood took me. Once I ran out of the original stuff, a quick trip to the local DIY shop had me back to work. One day over Easter weekend I managed to paint 15 fence panels. I was a little tired that evening!
I also thought the shed could do with a treat, despite painting it last year, it was looking a little tired. So that got a coat of paint too along with a new trellis and a new honeysuckle which I bought from the local allotment which was having a plant sale. It’s more than doubled in size since this picture was taken!
There were two birthdays in the household in April. One was a big one as Eldest turned 18 – eek! I have no idea how that happened. I’m just mentally preparing myself for the fact he’s going to be leaving home (all being well) in September to go off to University. Not sure how I’ll feel when the time comes….
Another birthday I celebrated last month was the 2nd birthday of Making Stitches Podcast – but more on that later….
I was invited to a special 21st birthday party last month too. Special in that it was 2 years late. A very good friend of mine has a lovely son who turned 21 in April of 2020, at the time a party had been planned and of course lockdown happened so he had no celebration at all. In fact his parents only managed to deliver a cake to the driveway of where he was living and sang happy birthday from the car, before driving home.
Unlike certain other people, he didn’t have a party….. that was until this year, when, two years later than planned, family and friends were able to get together for a better-late-than-never celebration. Oh, and the amigurumi I’m holding above is Psyduck (a Pokémon character – in case you didn’t know). This young man was a huge fan of Psyduck when he was younger, so I made him one – albeit with out the tuft of hair he’s supposed to have because I left it to the last minute and forgot to in the rush! But the recipient was happy and the party was a great night.
Easter holiday trip out
We are very fortunate to have a few really great National Trust properties close to where we live. One of those is Styal Mill near Manchester Airport. Our great friends and neighbours across the road were going for the day, so I took youngest along with me (the other two were otherwise engaged) for an Easter treasure trail and picnic on a lovely warm and, at times, sunny day.
We hadn’t been for a few years – it’s so easy forget what’s down the road isn’t it? But I’m so glad we had the invitation to join our friends. The kids had fun and ran off some energy whilst learning about the industrial revolution and leeches (on the tour of the apprentice house). It had particular resonance for my young man because the mill was actually used as a location for the filming of the new CBBC drama Dodger, which he had very much enjoyed watching.
The grounds were looking gorgeous and the picture of spring with tulips galore and azaleas too – the rhododendrons were just about to explode into colour too.
A trip down to London
As mentioned before, Eldest has his sights set on University for later this year, and last month was invited for a look around one of the Unis on his list. I tagged along so I could see where he might be disappearing off to. Blimey, universities have moved on a lot since I was at one! The services and support are so much more sophisticated than I can remember, which certainly put my mind at rest as a slightly anxious parent. Another positive of the day trip was plenty of time for hooky on the train!
In podcast news, as well as celebrating 2 years of Making Stitches Podcast, I released a couple of new episodes. Episode 42 was ‘Crochet-tastic’ and packed full of crochet chatter featuring a conversation I had with Hannah Cross of Hanjan Crochet and another with Amanda Bloom formerly of Little Box of Crochet and now from Cosy Life Boxes about her amazing fundraising efforts for Ukraine with her ‘Blanket of Hugs’ for Ukraine appeal. You can find a link to the episode here.
Episode 43 was bright and colourful (if you can do that with sound) and featured the lovely Clare Albans from Hello Hooray Blog about her creative journey from music teacher to hand-embroidery designer and small business owner. Last year, Clare was able to open her own bricks and mortar studio and haberdashery shop thanks to a Kick-starter campaign. You can find a link to that episode here.
And that’s just about it from me for this month. I have been working on a few crochet projects behind the scenes but I hope to be able to share them with you very soon, and I’m still working on up-coming episodes of Making Stitches too.
I hope you have enjoyed this little look back at April in my world and that it hasn’t been too boring for you! I hope you’ve had a good month too.
Thanks so much for stopping by, and until next time, bye for now!
Hello, hello, hello! Only one week into April, and here’s my Postcard from March. I’m feeling rather pleased with myself that I managed to pull this one off before the end of the month!
How are you doing? I hope you are ok. It’s a worrying world we are living in at the moment, and the over-riding feelings of being utterly helpless to make a difference is something I think a lot of us are feeling at the moment. Whilst this postcard focuses on the more frivolous aspects of life for me, I hope you are ok with that. I feel I have to look at the positives whilst being all to aware of what’s going on in the world too.
Here’s what I’ve been getting up to recently then…
At the beginning of March, to mark St David’s Day, I launched the next of my series of Up the Garden Path amigurumi crochet patterns on my Etsy shop. Again, fabulously assisted by my childhood friend and super-talented artist, Emma Jackson, the pattern looks lovely, full of process photos and the most gorgeous illustrations of Cariad & Dave the Daffodils.
However, Dave and Cariad aren’t the only new patterns to appear in my shop. I decided I simply had to do something to raise funds for Ukraine, so sticking with the floral theme I set to work creating a sunflower doll seeing as sunflowers are the national flower of Ukraine.
Meet Sophia the Sunflower, named after St Sophia’s Cathedral in Kyiv.
The PDF pattern to make Sophia the Sunflower is available in my Etsy shop here . All the profits from the sale of this pattern are being donated to the UNHCR appeal to support refugees affected by the war in Ukraine. So far £65 has been sent to the appeal thanks to sales of Sophia. Thank you to everyone who has bought one!
In other crochet news I joined in with an appeal to make crochet squares for blankets to raise funds for Ukraine through the DEC appeal. The Blanket of Hugs Ukraine is the brain child of lovely Amanda Bloom from Little Box of Crochet. She’s asking for crocheted squares to be sent to her and then she’s joining them into blankets which are being ‘raffled off’ to raise funds. The last time I checked there had been donations of £3,500 already! Well done Amanda. You can find all the information for the appeal here if you would like to get involved too.
Also can you spot my Ukraine button badge too? Made by the lovely Mrs G Makes.
There’s been quite a lot of yellow yarn on my hooks this month… an appeal locally for crocheters to make sunflowers came my way so I made some as part of a charity virtual bike ride from where I live in Manchester to Kyiv last Saturday. Those amazing cyclists managed to ride the distance between the cities raising £8,000+ at the last count. Well done everyone!
In other news, I had a lovely day trip to Skipton in March to celebrate my Mum’s birthday. The weather was exceptionally kind to us and we had a lovely wander around the town.
It was such a lovely treat to leave the usual jobs for the day and jump into the car to go somewhere different. It felt like a mini holiday!
And thanks to the lovely Cathy at Dear Emma Designs we had a tip off of where to avoid the crowds and enjoy a lovely lunch. Thank you Cathy!
Spring in the garden
Garden-wise, spring has definitely sprung, although as I’m writing this there are hail stones battering the window next to me and I had to rescue my little green house which had broken free from it’s moorings and was half way up the garden along with a pot of compost!
The prunus (above) which looked like a stick when we moved in in October 2020 has been covered in beautiful pale pink blossom for a couple of weeks now – I just hope the current weather doesn’t bash it to bits.
And this Pieris (below) was destined for the compost bin as it was a wash out last year. It may well have redeemed itself!
One day a couple of weeks ago I was able to hop on a train into the city centre in order to record an interview for a forthcoming episode of Making Stitches. It was a stunningly sunny day.
It was such a joy to be able to mooch about in the city after the interview was done. It felt like a window into another world watching the office workers sitting out on any patch of grass or bench to eat their lunches! I’m really looking forward to being able to share the interview with you soon – it was truly fascinating!
My guest for the latest episode of Making Stitches and the first of the new 5th series was Ukrainian textile artist Olesya Lebedenko. Olesya, who is now based in Canada, makes the most beautiful quilt blocks and appliquéd pieces.
It was a joy to get to know her a little over the last few weeks. In the episode as well as talking about her craft, she spoke about her fears for her friends and family back at home in Ukraine and the online abuse she and other Ukrainian artists are facing since the war began.
I’m thrilled that another of my articles have appeared in Simply Crochet Magazine. This one looks at how designers can get their designs in print and featured in books and magazines. It was a fascinating piece to work on and a thrill to be able to speak to so many truly inspirational designers. Thank you Simply Crochet for giving me the opportunity to write again!
And that’s just about it for my Postcard from March. I hope you enjoyed it. I’m off now to finish getting my next podcast episode sorted in time for tomorrow – and in keeping with the last month I’ve had it’s crochet-tastic! If you haven’t already subscribed to or followed Making Stitches Podcast on your podcast app of choice, please do – it means you’ll be able to hear the latest episodes as soon as they are released.
Hello there! I hope you’re doing ok. I kept meaning to post my postcard from January throughout the beginning of February but there seemed to be so many other things which needed my attention, so I was rubbish and let things slide. We are now on the cusp of another month though, and I’ve decided that it’s time to take the bull by the horns and stop procrastinating. So here you go, two for the price of one, a postcard from January AND February rolled into one.
I deliberated about whether I should even post at all, there is so much going on in the world at the moment that things like this seem very frivolous, but I think it’s important to keep going, as burying my head in the sand and veering between trying to block the outside world out and being glued to the news updates and fretting about the helplessness I feel about the plight of so many innocent people isn’t actually helping anyone. I thought it better to try to put some sunshine and positivity out into the world, so here goes, and if you have been affected by the terrible actions taken against Ukraine, please know that you are very much in my thoughts.
A New Year and a continued fitness quest…
Back in November I began my quest to get my weight down to a healthy number and get a bit fitter and began the Couch to 5K programme for the third time in the last couple of years. This time though, I managed to see it through. I am now over a stone lighter and I managed to complete the whole Couch to 5K programme. Not only that, I’ve kept going and am now running just over 5K in 35 minutes. I don’t want to sound like I’m blowing my own trumpet too much or that I’m building myself up for a fall, but I’m really rather proud of how far I have come.
I haven’t found the process too arduous and in fact have quite enjoyed getting out and pounding the streets and enjoying the beauty of sunshine and nature on my way around the neighbourhood. Who knows where it might lead me?
A New Year and a new hedge
You might remember last year that I said goodbye to our old ‘fake’ plastic hedge which we inherited when we moved into our home the year before. Well, the intention was always to replace it with something else, of a more natural variety. It took me a while to decide what to do for the best, but in December I realised that winter was the perfect time to plant a hedge, so I did my research and ordered my new privet hedge which arrived early in January. Then came the hard work…
Our front garden is more of a carpark than a garden, we inherited an area covered in small stones which lie on top of black weed suppressing fabric. After a lot of scraping away of stones, and the lifting of not one, but two layers of fabric which had several inches of compacted dirt between them I was ready to dig the holes ready for the baby hedge plants.
It was quite a job. Fortunately the weather was favourable – it was cold, but the ground wasn’t frozen, and it stayed dry for most of the two days it took for me to plant these 22 specimens. Plus my very helpful neighbour offered me the use of this rather nifty device (on the right of the picture below) for digging holes.
They are in, and I’m really chuffed that I managed to do this – single-handedly! How many years it will be before it’s an actual hedge is anyone’s guess but it’s a vast improvement on what we had before! My next project is a flower bed out front, but I may wait a while before beginning that.
A lovely walk and coffee by the river
In the middle of January, the weather was being very kind to us indeed, so a really good friend and I decided to leave the jobs which needed doing one afternoon and put our muddy hiking boots on for a wander along the River Mersey and a coffee at the Riverside Café. It was such fun, and just what we both needed to have a chat and mull over stuff which was going on before heading back home in time for the school run.
Getting the garden kickstarted
I so enjoyed having sweet peas in my back garden last summer, so decided to have a go at planting them again. I had quite a few seeds left over from last year’s attempts so I went ahead and planted them up in loo rolls again like last year. Fingers crossed this year’s crop will be as successful!
A Sunday walk
I don’t know if it’s because of memories of lockdown and being restricted on where we can go, but I often find that it’s suddenly Sunday afternoon and apart from going to Littlest’s football match and perhaps the shops, our weekends are passing without heading out of the house as a family. I decided to change that and am trying to get us out and about if the weather & teenagers allow!
Fortunately, the lovely National Trust property; Dunham Massey is a short drive from our home and once the youths are corralled into the car, we can be in amongst the deer within half an hour. As long as there’s the promise of ice cream or hot chocolate involved in the outing, it’s generally a goer!
Another WIP begun…
Back in September last year, you may remember that I made the trip across the Pennines to the Yarndale festival in Skipton – it was a truly amazing day which you can read about here. While I was there I bought some lovely hand dyed yarn from Michelle at Woolly Wumpkins. I’ve been debating what to make with it; another pair of hand-knitted socks? A bobble hat? I settled on a shawl/scarf as that is the item of woolly clothing I wear most of all.
Unlike in my previous experience of winding a skein, this time it was a painless experience (perhaps because It hadn’t been sitting in my stash for years first) and I got to work on this pattern for a one skein crochet shawl which I bought from Annie Design on Etsy. I’m rather happy with the colours and look forward to enjoying wearing it when I eventually finish it. I have a feeling it will be something I dip in and out of while working on other things.
Llanita’s Travels continue…
Long time readers of Postcard from Gibraltar may remember my little friend Llanita the Yarndale Sheep. I made her back in 2016 for that year’s Yarndale charity appeal. You can read all about Llanita’s adventures with me here.
Well when Llanita arrived at Yarndale back in 2016, she was bought by Karen (aka WakeyMakes on Instagram). Karen’s sisters have recently been to Gibraltar on holiday and they took Llanita back to her homeland for a visit!
I had a lovely treat when I logged into Instagram one day to see that Llanita was back in the sun!!
We got off rather lightly when Storms Eunice and Franklin came to town. Just a couple of wobbly fence panels which are rather worse for wear and this one almost bit the dust. Thankfully my lovely Dad came round with his bag of tricks and some timber to patch it up until it can be replaced.
A sunny seaside walk
Crosby beach beckoned on Sunday when the sun came out and I found myself with an empty diary. The ironing and housework could wait, living back in Manchester makes you realise that you need to grab sunny days by the hand and make the most of them. I got the Little Postcards in the car and headed off west to Crosby on the Merseyside Coast.
We first visited Crosby last year after it was recommended to me by my lovely friend across the road. It’s pretty much the nearest beach to where we live and it takes under an hour to drive there. Plus the beach is home to a load of Antony Gormley statues so that makes it even more special. It’s a favourite with the Little Postcards – as is the ice cream reward at the end of the walk.
And that just about brings this postcard to an end. Thank you so much for stopping by. Where ever you are in the world and whatever you are facing, I hope that you can find some positivity in the days ahead.
Hello there! It’s the last day of November already eek! I’m not ready for December!!
It’s been a busy old month – perhaps that’s why it’s gone so quickly. It’s only now I look back at what we’ve been up that I’ve realised it’s been quite a lot.
In the latest twist of the Covid story it’s also been a month of regular trips to our local testing centre every time anyone gets a cough or sniffle or we are alerted about a close contact. I think we may have been about 10 times lately – I’m thinking of asking for loyalty points!! Fortunately all tests have come back negative.
Here’s what we’ve been up to this month…
A golden tree at the end of the rainbow
Yet again this year, after over a decade away from the UK I have loved seeing the beautiful colours of autumn this month. I may no longer have little people at home who like to make pictures out of autumn treasure, but I can’t help but pick up pretty leaves when I see them!
No it’s not Christmas yet!!
Eek – am I the only one who gets freaked out by early Christmas decorations? I took Littlest out for hot chocolate on 1st November to a local café and they had a huge tree, giant baubles… the works! On the first of November!!! Maybe I’m just a Scrooge but it’s seems a bit early to me. This photo was of the Trafford Centre on the first Saturday of November…. Christmas lights galore!
Meeting real people in real life!
One evening early in the month, I had the most wonderful time ‘out out’ in Manchester. Since February/March last year I have been a virtual member of a super community for podcasters.
After months and months of zoom virtual meet ups where we hear from real ‘professional’ podcasters and swap advice and help amongst our community, I actually got to meet everyone in real life!! What a thrill. (People were so much taller than I expected after spending so long just seeing them on my phone/laptop screen 😂! )
The occasion for this meet up was to celebrate the club’s 3rd birthday and the 30th meet up in total. There were drinks and even birthday cake!
If you are a podcaster yourself or are thinking of starting your own podcast do come along to a future zoom. The group’s called MIC’s Podcast Club and although it’s based in the North West of England, there are members from much further afield (like America) and I was still living in Gibraltar when I first joined. You can find them on Twitter @MICsPodcastClub and maybe one day you can have the thrill of seeing your own podcast up in lights on the wall of a real-life meet up!
Costa del Ship Canal
Littlest’s football match got cancelled one week and instead the team coach opted to run a team building training session in our local nature reserve.
It was a perfect morning for it – definitely worth setting the alarm for an early start on a Saturday!
Just look at those blues and the golden leaves….
That water almost looked Mediterranean – well almost – it is the Manchester Ship Canal!
Plastic hedge be gone!
In this era of everything needing to look perfect and be convenient, we end up with situations like astroturf and plastic hedges. I am not a fan at all. I’m a bit more slap dash and enjoy going with the flow with nature, plus I really enjoy gardening. So when we inherited this delightful plastic hedge at our new home last year, it’s days were numbered. It did a lot better than expected as other jobs took precedence but this month, it’s time was up.
It didn’t take long, it was so rotten inside it practically fell apart – very little force was needed at all. I’m looking forward to installing a rather more environmentally friendly replacement soon!
Yorkshire Sculpture Park
A few weeks ago I received a message from a lovely friend I used to know in Gibraltar. She, like me has moved back to the UK and is now based in the South East of England. She wanted to let me know she and her partner were having a few days up North and would I like to meet them at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park? Yes! Was my answer!!
Before we moved to Gibraltar, we lived in Wakefield just a stone’s throw from YSP and it was a regular destination for us as a family on a weekend. It was so lovely to be able to go back there – albeit briefly while the Little Postcards were at school.
The weather was so kind to us. It was very cold but it was beautifully sunny. The perfect conditions for having a wander through the beautiful park and sculptures.
We didn’t spend too long together as I was clock watching to get back across the Pennines in time for school pick up, so we didn’t get to see the whole of the park but one exhibition both myself and my friend (who’s also a crafter) enjoyed immensely was one by Joana Vasconcelos who likes to create amazing things out of everyday objects… like giant stilettos out of pots and pans…
…. Lots and lots of crochet!!! Viva crochet!
Just look at that intricate work!!
But the next fabric structure stopped us in our tracks… it was huge!
The photo doesn’t do it justice – it was giant and filled the huge exhibition space. It was a combination of patchwork, embroidery and very complicated crochet.
The photo above shows the end of one of those tentacles and was over a metre in diameter.
There were also pictures made of bulbous crochet structures…
How about this for a giant pouffe for your living room?
There was also a sculpture made purely of red plastic knives & forks..
And then more examples of intricate crochet covering everyday household items…
And a fabulous chair…
The Joana Vasconcelos exhibition is on until 9th January 2022 both in the underground gallery and with pieces in the open air too. The artist’s work is said to be “sculptures that comment with a feminist perspective on cultural identity and tradition and celebrate the creative lives of women” – YSP Guide.
It was a lovely visit to the YSP and fabulous to be able to see my friend again – who I hadn’t seen since pre-Covid times. I can highly recommend a visit if you haven’t been, I’ll certainly be back when I can spend longer there.
Sock knitting update
Remember the pair of socks I was knitting thanks to Christine Perry aka Winwick Mum’s fabulous book?
Well they’re finished!!
I now have toasty warm toes!
In other crafty news, I’m currently working on Eleonora from Coastal Crochet’s Winter Walk Scarf CAL.
It took a while to get started as my hand-dyed skein I’d been saving for the right moment got into rather a big tangle…
But I got there in the end…
And I’m on my way!
Making Stitches Podcast
In podcast news, there have been 2 new episodes this month – both of them yarn inspired.
The first was with the hugely talented and inspiring crochet designer Emma Leith. You can find that here.
The second was a real treat to record because it meant I was able to go ‘back stage’ at the fabulous Black Sheep Wools Craft Barn and speak to Sara Mulvey. What a joy it was to have a proper chat with Sara after months of watching her videos through lockdown – it was such a positive part of a rather unpleasant time. You can listen to Sara’s episode here.
My first ever crochet patterns have been launched and are available to buy from my Etsy Shop!
There’s Flora the Gardener and Hope the Snowdrop and all being well they will be joined by some more friends very soon!
And that’s just about it for this month. I hope November has been kind to you.
Thanks so much for stopping by!
Edit: I forgot to mention the snow! We also has some of the white stuff fall in the last few days – super exciting even if it was very cold!!
Well, here we are in November already. I really don’t know where the past month has gone. October has been such a busy month with day to day, nose to the grindstone kinds of things that I feel like I blinked and missed it. It’s only when I looked back at the photos on my phone that I realised what I had done and achieved – sadly I can’t share all of that with you, but before too much longer I will be able to – hurrah!
So here goes, here’s my postcard from October!
The beginning of the month began much as September ended, with children in school and me busily trying to get my ducks in a row for a deadline of the end of the month. As the calendar flipped into October the realisation dawned that by the end of the month, we would have been living in our ‘new’ home for exactly a year. It was Halloween last year that I hired a van, and with the help of two very strong friends, we moved from our rented temporary house into our very own home. That meant that twelve months had passed and there were still quite a lot of boxes sitting around the place hiding under crochet blankets….. they have many uses! I set myself the target of getting rid of the boxes by the end of the month. Did I manage it? Well, I’ll reveal all at the end!
There has been a definite autumnal chill in the air this month, and in case the changing colours and falling leaves didn’t give us a clue about the season, our neighbourhood squirrel (or maybe even squirrels) certainly let me know as they planted my newly cleared pots with all sorts of treats to sustain them through the winter!
Stepping far outside my comfort zone!
Early in the month, I was invited to do something utterly terrifying. I was asked to speak to a my local group of the WI about my podcast and crafts in general. Blimey it was a nerve wracking thing to do. I’m very happy to speak into a microphone in a room on my own but to speak to a room with about 100 pairs of eyes staring back at you – that’s quite another thing!! I debated long and hard about whether I should do it or not, but friends encouraged me to and I’m so glad I did. The ladies were lovely and didn’t bite! Not sure I’d do it again in a hurry but it was a bit of a high to know I’d managed it!
A lovely trip out
Back in September I interviewed the lovely Christine Perry from Winwick Mum for Making Stitches Podcast (You can hear the episode here). While we were chatting online we realised that we are actually not that far apart geographically so we arranged to meet at one of my favourite places for a chat and a brew – Black Sheep Wools. It was so lovely to speak to Christine and get to know her a bit better, and she has helped me get over my fear of knitting in the round. As the ‘Queen of Socks’ (I hope she doesn’t mind me giving her that title!) she has helped thousands of people learn how to successfully knit socks with her ‘sockalong’ which you can find on her blog. At the last count, over 15,000 pairs of socks have been knitted by people using her technique and that’s just the ones she knows about. Incidentally Christine has just completed a whole month of daily blogging – phew what a feat! The above photo features in one of her posts!
Christine guided me (and another lady who happened to be in the shop at the same time) on what yarn to buy and what needles were needed to get started. So using her blog and her brilliant book, I have set off on a sock-making adventure. My initial momentum has been dulled by some necessary work on some crochet related items, but I’m back on it, and about to begin decreasing on my first toe!
In crochet news, my Making Stitches wreath which I made from a pattern in issue 96 of Simply Crochet Magazine actually got featured in the magazine itself. What a total honour! Thank you Simply Crochet!
I’ve opened a shop!
Also this month, I launched my Etsy shop called the “Making Stitches Shop’. I decided to try and see if I could sell a few bits and bobs to help support my podcast activities. Whilst I would not want to put the podcast behind a pay wall, it does cost quite a bit to keep going with hosting fees and other things and I thought that if I could raise some money via the shop, it would help me keep going. In the summer I bought a custom made screen with my podcast logo on it, and began screen printing cotton tote bags. It took a lot of trial and error and advice from others, but in the end I successfully printed enough bags to open the shop.
The wonderful Amanda from Mrs G Makes also helped me with advice on running the shop and postage etc. Then, she became not only my first ever customer, she also gave me a glowing review and showed the world her new bag in an episode of her Vlogtober YouTube series. Thanks so much Amanda!
In that first month of being open, my shop completely sold out! Thank you to everyone who supported me! I had to get my screen back out and print a load more on a sunny day just before the Little Postcards finished school for half term!
Half term holidays
Half term was a bit of an odd one for us this year, Littlest had soccer school for most of the week and Eldest was away most of the time on work experience too, so it was just me and Middle Postcard for a lot of the time. Being a teenager, most of that time was spent in his bedroom and I made the most of the peace and quiet by beavering away on something special I’m working on for this month…. (I will reveal all very soon!).
In amongst the hard work, we had a trip to the Etihad campus in Manchester for a teenaged Covid jab. So that’s all bar Littlest done. I feel a lot happier about that now.
Anniversary of moving
As we were celebrating our first anniversary in our home, I decided to have a soirée to celebrate our first year on Saturday evening with the two families who helped us with our move a year ago. As it was Halloween weekend, we had to make the house look the part, so we had a go at pumpkin carving. I think we did pretty well.
I even had a go at carving a squash myself and crocheted one too for good measure!
The innards were used along with some Butternut Squash to make some spiced soup for our soirée and the pumpkins are now out in the garden so the birds and other creatures can enjoy them.
And that pretty much brings my October ramblings to a close. Apart from those boxes. Do you think I managed to get rid of them all?
Well no, but my excuse is that I need a new cupboard to store some of this stuff in, and I can’t find the right one, in the right colour and the right dimensions to fit in the space I want it to go in…. is that a good enough excuse?! I did get rid of about 12 others though – so it wasn’t a complete failure!
I hope October was good for you and that November is even better!
Hello there, it’s been a while since I’ve sent you a postcard, so I thought our recent trip to North Yorkshire was the perfect opportunity to send one!
Last weekend we packed up the car and headed off up North from Manchester to visit the North Yorkshire coast. It’s been about 20 years since I’ve been up in this part of the world so I was very much looking forward to seeing it again.
We stayed in a modern apartment right on the side of the River Esk which meets the sea in Whitby. Not only could we see the River and the boats near by, we also had steam trains chugging past on the opposite side of the river!
We arrived on a beautifully warm and sunny Saturday and once the car was unpacked we rushed out to make the most of what was left of the day and the sunshine, knowing the good weather wasn’t expected to last for long.
Whitby looked stunning in the sunshine!
On my previous two visits, we had come out of season and I’m pretty sure it was in the depths of winter so it was lovely to see at least a few hours of summer here!
We ventured out along one of the long curving piers – something which I hadn’t done before and wasn’t entirely happy with… I’m not great with heights and despite there being railings along the side was worried I may lose a Little Postcard or even myself over the side. I was very glad to get back onto terra firma and not entirely sure I would repeat the experience!
Being a bank holiday weekend and being very sunny, pretty much everywhere in Whitby was rammed which made us feel a little uneasy after months of avoiding crowds. We did find a few spots which were quiet though…
And this made me laugh… experience told me there would be a few of these this holiday.
We woke up on Saturday morning to grey skies – as had been forecast – but wouldn’t let that stop us getting out and exploring. Our arrival in Whitby had coincided with Whitby War weekend, which was being held on a large field behind the ruins of Whitby Abbey.
On our wander about on Saturday we had spotted a number of people dressed in 1940s style clothing so my interest was piqued and I dragged the Little Postcards up the hill to discover what was going on.
We were immediately greeted by some America civil war soldiers. There were demonstrations going on in the main arena.
And lots of folk in costume from lots of different conflicts from around the world including the Spanish Civil War, Vikings, Roundheads & Cavaliers as well as World War I trenches and World War II memorabilia.
The Little Postcards found it a bit odd why the Confederate flag and Swastika were allowed to fly freely on British soil. That led to a heated debate about whether certain factions should be airbrushed from history or remembered for what they did.
In other news, they did enjoy the archery!
As we left the War Weekend event, we walked down past the atmospheric Whitby Abbey ruins which were hosting a medieval event. We didn’t go in though, opting instead for an ice cream!
The views from the cliff top were beautiful in spite of the rather dull weather.
We popped into the beautiful St Mary’s Church and saw the first of many references to craftiness we would see on our trip…
It’s a beautiful old church with ‘boxes’ for people to sit in rather than pews.
And there were more knitted & crocheted remembrance poppies inside…
Then we ‘did’ the famous 199 Steps the easy way… heading downwards!
It gave us a great vantage point to see Whitby’s rooftops from above.
Later on we climbed up the cliffs on the other side of the river to see where we had been.
Bank Holiday Monday gave us the same kind of grey weather unfortunately along with a fair amount of misty rain so we got into the car and headed south to Robin Hood’s Bay. Although I have been before, I had very few memories of the place so it was lovely to visit it again and enjoy the quaint narrow streets down to the sea.
It is so quaint it almost felt like a theme park rather than a real place where real people live!
The cottages are so lovely and well looked after although if there are any people still living there full time, they must find the invasion of tourists a bit of a drag (apologies for that!).
It can’t be easy living on such an incline – especially in winter. I know what it’s like to live on a hill after our time in Gib but at least we didn’t experience snow and ice there.
After taking a walk through the village and down to the sea, we explored the cliffs above the bay for a while.
And we happened upon a lovely mosaic on the sea walls. There’s craftiness everywhere if you know where to look… it says “A community knitted together. Woven in time”
Do you see the giant knitting needles?
I thought this was lovely.
We hopped back into the car again and set off for Scarborough next. It was a typical British bank holiday… crumby weather but still some brave souls on the beach. I believe Scarborough ‘enjoyed’ the UK’s coldest weather that day! Typical!!
Inspite of the grey skies, the beach huts were looking bright and cheerful. I am a great fan of beach huts, having had many holidays in Norfolk & Suffolk over the years but never in all my days have I seen two-storey beach huts before!!
A quick lunch & wander through Peasholm Park brought us back to our car.
We headed back to Whitby to have some dinner before heading out on a spooky ghost walk with Dr Crank!
We heard stories of a headless horseman, a hand of glory, grey ladies, terrible terrorizing black cats and of course, lots of information about Dracula and where Bram Stoker got his inspiration from. It was a super 90 minute-long walk and talk with plenty of jokes and banter. We thoroughly enjoyed it.
If you’d like more information about this Whitby ghost walk – which is suitable for families (ie – not too gruesome) please visit the Whitby Walks website.
Tuesday was our last full day in Whitby so we headed back into town and climbed up through Pannett Park to the Whitby Museum and Pannett Art Gallery, as recommended by Dr Crank the night before.
It’s very reasonably priced – it cost us just £6 to get in and that granted us a year-long season ticket! It’s filled with treasures from Whitby’s past from fossils to Whitby Jet jewelry, and antique toys to the town’s seafaring traditions.
There were beautiful examples of embroidered samplers and handicrafts from overseas brought back by the town’s sea-going explorers.
It really is worth a visit. The Little Postcards loved the huge array of model ships on display including a model of HMS Victory which, of course, was captained by Admiral Nelson in the battle of Trafalgar and had to be repaired in Gibraltar before returning to Britain with Nelson’s body. There seem to be links to Gibraltar wherever we go!!
Around Whitby itself there is a lovely collection of metallic sculptures to commemorate the town’s history. They even gave a nod to knitting too.
At first glance I thought she was knitting a sock, but upon reading the plaque you can see she is knitting a fisherman’s gansey – a sweater which would protect her fisherman husband from the elements.
And for any real life crafters visiting Whitby, I have to recommend a visit to Whitby Crafts. What an amazing Aladin’s Cave of crafty delights it is, with floor to ceiling racks of fabric in every hue of the rainbow as well as embroidery kits and yarn too.
And in the blink of an eye our holiday was over. 4 nights in Whitby gone in a flash. We’re now back home, the washer’s on and the cases are up in the loft again already! Thank you North Yorkshire for a lovely time even if the sun didn’t shine much!!