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…
Hello there, can you believe it’s the last day of 2022? I can hardly believe it and am shocked I’ve been away from my little blog for so long.
Life (as always) has been rather busy of late and blogging found itself at the very end of the to-do list. This time though, blogging felt quite unattainable – I didn’t have the words to write or anything interesting to say either. So here goes, the jolt of moving from one year into a new one might just be the impetus I need to get me going again!
When I looked back I was shocked to see I hadn’t posted for so long. When I changed from Postcard from Gibraltar to Making Stitches I assumed I’d be back again very quickly but hey ho, I’m here now. Here’s a little jaunt through the past two months in my world.
The main headline I guess from the last two months is that I’ve managed to secure the impossible – paid work for my crochet. I have rather excitedly been commissioned to design some things for a craft magazine. This has taken up a LOT of my time. Solid crocheting from the moment the Little Postcards leave for school in the morning until they come home! I’ve loved it, but it has been a lot of hard work.
The old spectre of self doubt popped into my head on many occasions during this work but I’m pleased to say, the first commission was gratefully received and got a stamp of approval so I’m thrilled about that. I have 3 more projects to complete by mid January and I’m in the midst of those right now.
I wish I could tell you more and show you photos of what I’ve been working on but sadly I can’t for now – just some of the yarn I have used for one of the projects (above). I will investigate further on whether I can share them once they are published.
New article published
Within the last week the latest issue of Simply Crochet magazine popped through my letter box complete with my latest article for them. It was prompted by the outbreak of war in Ukraine and the outpouring of support I witnessed in the online craft community. The main photo is of Amoami bears. This amazing social enterprise helping Ukrainian refugees featured in one of my podcast episodes too. You can listen to it here.
Inspired by their work, I ordered my very own mini Christmas Amoami bears. They were made by Yuliia. They look gorgeous on our tree this year!
A trip to the Lakes
A very dear friend of mine and her husband moved away from our home town earlier this year and settled in beautiful Grasmere in the Lake District. It’s been something they’d been talking about for years, and this year ended up being the right time for them.
I don’t know this part of the world very well, but I have a feeling I’ll be getting to know it a whole lot better from now on!
In November we were invited for a visit to their new home – and boy what a move they have made. They have lost their old decent sized back garden but blimey with this on your doorstep, they have all the greenery they need!!
We took a walk from their front door up to Easedale Tarn. There were butties and crisps at the top to give us the energy to walk back down… what a picturesque picnic spot!
The weather was so kind to us!
It was wonderful to be able to share this with the two Littlest Postcards – unfortunately Eldest missed out by being away at University but hopefully he will be able to join us another time. It was remarkable to see a real change in the youngest two though, from their usual slightly grumpy teenagerish (11 & 15) demeanor to being full of life and scrambling over rocks as we undertook our walk.
We had one whole day of sunshine before the weather turned a bit grey and damp. We were so lucky to be able to truly see the beauty of their surroundings. We most definitely will be back!
November in a nutshell
Throughout November I took part in an excellent daily photo challenge on Instagram run by The Yarn Whisperer and The Pigeon’s Nest. It was called ‘Yarnovember’ and was lots of fun. That kept me rather busy on social media and reminded me just how much crochet has been in my life for the past few years which was such fun.
Also in November I competed my second pair of knitted socks. I picked up the ‘Hope’ yarn from Yarndale in September and used the Winwick Mum basic sock pattern to knit them. I love the colours – they are so autumnal.
I also had a lovely morning walk with Eldest to see the deer at Dunham Massey National Trust park early in the month. He managed to get home for a few days during his University reading week, and we headed out for a walk one day, coffee cups in hand to enjoy the greenery.
The big painting challenge
At the start of December I set myself a tough challenge – to redecorate our lounge in time for a surprise birthday party just over a week later. It was a tough one, but I managed it, despite 4 coats of paint to kill the pattern of the patterned wallpaper on the feature wall.
I’d been living with wallpaper I disliked for 2 years, and the surprise party was the kick up the behind I needed to get busy. I’m very pleased to say I managed it (with a bit of help from the unsuspecting party recipient). We were all ready in time to welcome party guests to my lovely Dad’s 80th birthday party!
Whilst it’s been rather mild recently, earlier this month, it was decidedly nippy. We had a proper cold snap in mid December which made the early morning school runs a bit on the cold side. I believe it was minus 9 one morning when my friend’s husband left for work. I walked with Littlest to the bus stop that day to keep him company as his friend was ill and I can confirm it was COLD! It had warmed up slightly when I drove son Number 2 to school (see below)…. It’s so hard to comprehend that a few months ago, parts of the UK were burning in the heatwave!
Back at Old Trafford
I managed to get back to Old Trafford to watch the Manchester United Women’s team play against Aston Villa. I went with my youngest two and my Dad. It was brilliant – the atmosphere is so lovely in women’s football. As you can see, the sun shone and they got a win too – a perfect trip out!
This year I’m taking part in the Betwixtmas Makealong by Black Sheep Wools. I have had a skein of Yarn Whisperer hand dyed yarn waiting for the right project to come along and I think this is it. I took it along to Black Sheep wools and picked out two contrasting colours to make up this ‘knitted’ – yes – knitted shawl. It’s pushing my abilities and a bit of a challenge but I have enjoyed putting my hook down for a while over the last few days. I wonder if it will be finished before next Betwixtmas?!!
That’s all I have for you this time, but it’s been lovely to be back and sharing my comings and going’s with you. I hope you have had a restful Christmas – I know it’s very difficult for so many people. I wish you a new year filled with joy and creativity.
Hello there! I hope this finds you well. It’s November – eek! How did that happen??
Here’s what I’ve been up to over the past month…
October began and ended in a blaze of orange! The first photo is of one of my little Acers which took on a great colour at the beginning of the month, we also enjoyed this sky of fire at the start of October (below) – the second sunset was taken on Saturday evening before the clocks went back to put us on Winter time….. the last hurrah of the summer that was…
Last month, you may have noticed that there were some changes on this blog from Postcard from Gibraltar to Making Stitches Blog. I won’t go into all the reasons behind it, as you may well have already read the previous post, but if you have just landed here and are wondering why Postcard from Gibraltar is no more, you can read why here.
Last month I decided the time had come to finally dig out my knitting needles and have another go at knitting some socks! About a year ago, I was inspired by Christine Perry of Winwick Mum, to have a go at knitting socks for the first time. Now I learned to knit well before I learned to crochet, but apart from an odd cardigan here and there over the years I haven’t done too much so the prospect of knitting in the round, turning a heel and using double pointed needles sent me running for the hills. (It turns out you don’t need to used DPNs after all – hurrah!) After interviewing Christine for Making Stitches Podcast, we got together for a brew and with her help I actually managed to knit a pair!
At Yarndale this year, I picked up a ball of Yarndale sock yarn called Hope (I have admired this colourway for a while). I have done non-stop crochet for so long, I fancied a change and early in October I cast on the first sock. Determined that it wouldn’t take me months to complete this project (as happened last time) I powered on through and had my first sock finished in less than a week!! I’m very pleased to say that on Monday (31st) (with the help of Christine’s fabulous book “Super Socks“) I Kitchener Stitched the toes of my second sock and I own a second pair of hand knitted socks made by me!
Up the Garden Path friends
Two new friends joined the Up the Garden Path gang in October, Oakley the Acorn Tree Sprite and Agatha the Fly Agaric Mushroom. I had loads of fun making these – they had both been in my head since last autumn, and finally I was able to complete the patterns in time to get them out for this autumn. Oakley and Agatha should actually have a couple of other autumnal companions but I’m afraid other things got in the way of getting to the finishing line with them, so they will need to stay under wraps (or maybe that should be hibernation) until next autumn.
I took them with me to the gorgeous Dunham Massey National Trust parkland for a photo shoot a couple of weeks ago on a bright sunny morning. It was so lovely to have the perfect excuse to get out of the house and enjoy nature for a few hours. It was great fun finding suitable spots for them to pose with the gorgeous natural backdrop. The only issue is that as it is a deer park, there are lots of lovely areas you can’t go into because they are exclusively for the deer. Any parts where you are allowed to stray a little from the path are generally rather well populated so there’s a ready made audience for a crazy middle aged lady arranging crocheted little people on tree stumps or next to fungi.
I tried to keep my head down and not make too much of a spectacle of myself but I was sniffed out by a rather lovely little spaniel on a super long lead at one point, and at another, I was asked by an amateur photographer if he could photograph my little people too. Those were just the passers-by I engaged with – with many others I just ducked down behind the ferns and tree stumps and hoped for the best! I think most people were just glad to give me a wide berth as I was clearly barmy.
Downloadable PDF patterns for Agatha and Oakley are available now in my Etsy Shop if you fancy making either of them and if you would like to make both, you can buy the pair as a bundle with a bit of a saving.
As you can see below, it was a truly stunning morning at Dunham Massey when I went for my photo shoot….
The first Great Northern Textile Show
A week or so ago it was the first ever Great Northern Textile Show, just down the road from where I live in Manchester. I stumbled across the event on Instagram and reached out to the show’s organiser Tracy Fox to ask for more details. Once I’d spoken to Tracy it became apparent that not only did I have to go to the show, but that I also had to go to meet Tracy and hear more about her story. Tracy is an artist working with textiles, she dyes fabric to create art cloth for art quilts and can use anything from leaves from her back garden to rusty saw blades to create the most amazing patterns. I interviewed Tracy for Episode 52 of Making Stitches Podcast which you can listen to below. Then, on 23rd October I found myself at my second big show in a month by going to the Great Northern Textile Show. It was fab – I met some really lovely people. I shared my experience of the day in the latest episode of the podcast which went out last week – you can also listen to that below too.
In other podcast news, I got a rather lovely surprise at the weekend. I noticed that there had been a rather big upward surge in my listener figures so thought I’d check on the Apple Podcast charts to see if the numbers had had an impact there – and they did! I found Making Stitches Podcast at the Number 1 spot in the craft podcast charts in the UK, Canada and New Zealand, at Number 2 (then up to Number 1) in Australia and at Number 5 in the USA!! What a thrill! The podcast has made it to number 1 several times in the past but never in so many places at once or for so long. Thank you to everyone who has listened to it, recommended it to a friend or left a review – I am a very happy podcaster!
A return to ABBA Voyage!
If you read my August Postcard, you may remember that I made the trip down to London with a couple of school friends to see Abba Voyage. The trip had originally been meant to be for my parents to join me but their holiday which had been booked for 2020 and had been rearranged so many times ended up clashing with the ticket dates. I was able to return to London this month with my lovely Mum, the person responsible for introducing me to ABBA in the first place. It was super to be able to share the experience with her. (It also meant that I was able to meet up with Eldest – who is now a London based Uni student – for the briefest of times for a quick cuddle before hopping onto the train back home).
Half term football fun
Last week was half term week for the two youngest Little Postcards. Youngest is back in love with football after breaking his thumb and really enjoyed being able to take part in the local soccer school for the week. There was some rain, but they were really very lucky with the weather. The pitches, despite appearances, were rather muddy so I spent a week with the washing machine going almost constantly!
After a busy half term week and a weekend grass roots football match, it was rather nice to have some time at home on Sunday. Sunday afternoon meant there was time for a session of pumpkin carving and pumpkin soup making with the innards. I may have been a little heavy handed with the chilli flakes – the soup is in need of yogurt to make it palatable but never mind. It was fun to do.
And that, is that. October ticked off. It’s been a pretty good month all in all and the icing on my cake was the arrival of Eldest home late on Halloween night for a reading week break from Uni. It was so lovely to be able to get him back home again and look after him. He has been very sorely missed these last six weeks.
That’s all from me for this time, thanks so much for stopping by and reading my October ramble!
Way back in the summer of 2015, I set off on a blogging adventure. Inspired by the likes of Lucy at Attic24 and several other craft bloggers, I decided that I would have a go at sharing a few snap shots of my life on the Rock. At the time, I had a the unique selling point that I was based in Gibraltar, and at that time, there were no other craft bloggers active on the Rock. I thought that even if no one was interested in what I was making, at least I could share beautiful photos of my sunny surroundings way down in the south of Europe.
I felt compelled to share some of the quirks and beauty of where I was living at the time – a much misunderstood place from the outside. There is so much more to Gibraltar than the day trips from cruise ships and bus tours from along the Costa would have you believe. There’s much more than red phone boxes and fish & chips, British bobbies and Marks and Spencer in the sun. It’s home to a diverse group of people with origins from far and wide, the fortunate byproduct of it’s geographical location at the southern tip of the Iberian Peninsular and just a short distance across the Strait of Gibraltar from Morocco and the African continent beyond.
Soon I began sharing a series of blog posts called ‘A stroll around Gibraltar’ as I took my camera and later my phone along on walks around the narrow streets and back alleys of Upper Town and into the Nature Reserve of the Upper Rock – in fact my post about the ‘facts and figures of the Med Steps’ remains my most read post to date. I posted more than 200 Sunday Sevens posts and hosted a Friday Photo Challenge on Instagram one year as well.
I also used Postcard from Gibraltar to share what I was making, from the dressmaking and watercolour classes which I was able to attend once all three Little Postcards (my three sons) were old enough to all go to school, as well as a number of community crochet projects I joined in with from Yarndale worldwide appeals for crocheted bunting and mandalas to Eleonora from Coastal Crochet‘s Seaside Stashbusting blanket and Changing Tides blanket crochet-alongs.
As our family went on trips around the place I would blog about our travels in my ‘A Postcard from…’ posts which included Rome, The Algarve, Carcassonne, and skiing in the Dolomites, as well as UK destinations like Manchester, Cheshire, and Suffolk.
Postcard from Gibraltar also opened doors for me and I began writing for an online parenting magazine in Gibraltar which now no longer exists sadly, I also got articles published in print for the Calentita! Gibraltarian food festival magazine. In short, Postcard from Gibraltar gave me the confidence to venture back out of my domestic set-up after many years being a stay-at-home Mum.
In 2020, along with everything else which was happening in the world, close to home for us, change was afoot. We found ourselves moving back to the UK after 11 very happy years in Gibraltar. It was a big adjustment, which wasn’t made any easier by the pandemic, but we survived! At the time, I wondered whether I should continue with Postcard from Gibraltar as it would no longer be ‘from Gibraltar’. I had begun my new podcast project ‘Making Stitches Podcast’ by then, and whilst it brought me very welcome creative distraction – especially during lockdown, I felt I would miss Postcard too much if I just finished it, so I kept it going in a slightly less regular, less sunny and blue skies kind of a way!
More than 2 years on from our move though, I think the time is right to say goodbye to Postcard from Gibraltar. I won’t be saying goodbye to it completely though. This blog and all of the previous posts will still be available to read and if you should search for Postcard from Gibraltar online, it will still lead you here. Postcard from Gibraltar is evolving, just as I have, and from now on, will be known as Making Stitches.
It felt right to adapt what I’m already doing to compliment what I have been working on with Making Stitches Podcast. In the last two years, that has gone from strength to strength and is now in it’s 6th Series with more than 50 episodes featuring interviews with creative people from many different disciplines including crochet and knitting (including my old friend Eleonora Tully from Coastal Crochet), dressmaking, embroidery, textile art, weaving, yarn dying and more. In addition to this, I have made a foray into crochet design myself with the launch of my amigurumi crochet patterns. My life has changed quite a bit from what I was doing back in Gibraltar and it’s time this blog caught up with me.
I will still post my monthly Postcards (because I would miss writing them too much) although I can’t guarantee I’ll be any more prompt with posting them (!) and I’m pretty sure I will have another go at a Summer Craft Challenge again next year, so in a way nothing has changed, just the name.
Thank you to everyone who has read my posts, liked them or commented through the years and a special thank you to those of you who have become friends through this medium too. Your support, although virtual, has been very much appreciated over the years and it’s that which has kept me going. Who knows what lies ahead?
Sorry for the lack of postcard from June – it was a very hectic month with exams and school stuff in our house – very little of it photo worthy so I opted to tag a bit of June in with July’s postcard. So here goes…
One of the joys of having a postcard from two months is that I can share the progress of my garden in that time. Last month I set about planting up two new pots to live either side of my front door – they looked a little sparse to begin with but blimey look how they’re doing now!
Also I love agapanthus, I have tried many times over the years, both in the UK and Gibraltar, to grow them but with rather lack lustre results. This year though, I was given some established plants by my parents who were thinning out their substantial agapanthus patch. Just look at these beauties – I didn’t expect them to flower after being disturbed and moved to my garden!
Football, football, football…
June was super busy for us with football. Our local club hosted two weekends of tournaments, youngest played in one of the home tournaments then another elsewhere the next week. The money raised from staging the tournaments, to which teams from across the North West of England come, means that they are able to keep the joining fee for young players affordable – some teams I have heard of charging literally hundreds for kids to join!
I was on bacon butty duty for some of it. I could still smell the bacon days later 😂.
From grass roots to top of the tree! Earlier this month I was lucky enough to take number 2 and number 3 sons to Old Trafford to watch the opening game of the Womens Euros – England against Austria.
Wow! What an atmosphere and their first game at Old Trafford. I’m so pleased I was able to do this and now they can say they were there at the start of the Lionesses Euros journey!
And then down to earth with a bump!
Nothing like sitting in a puddle on a deckchair on a very wet Sunday afternoon watching your 11 year old play! Utterly saturated!! We dried out eventually!
Youngest’s school were able to put on their first school production in 3 years this year. Someone caught wind that I could sew so I was drafted in on the costume making. It was gorgeous fabric – rather like the type you would use for a wedding dress or bridesmaids dress which the school had been gifted. It was lovely to sew but not quite big enough for what they wanted… two cloaks with hoods. Sadly there wasn’t enough for the hoods and one sleeve was made of a patchwork of 5 different pieces but I got there in the end!
We have a few neighbourhood foxes and they are so cheeky! Since we moved here 2 years ago I have encountered one or more on my evening strolls but blimey this one was cheeky. I was walking home one evening and stopped in my tracks when I caught sight of this cheeky money stretched out at my neighbour’s driveway! He / she sat there quite happily looking straight at me as I took photos and then vanished!
There have been a couple of crochet pattern releases since my last monthly postcard. Daisy (above) is my most recent floral inspired pattern and the pattern has yet again been illustrated by my very talented childhood friend Emma Jackson. She was inspired by the daisies popping up on my lawn!
It’s been a busy couple of months for Making Stitches Podcast. There have been 5 episodes released in June & July. Clockwise from the top left of the photo above there was Joanne Scrace from The Crochet Project, Kitey aka The Yarn Whisperer, Sally Wilson from Caterpillar Cross Stitch, Emma Munn from Emma Knitty and finally Christine Perry aka Winwick Mum and Juey from Juey Jumbo Craft Tools.
You can listen back to any of the episodes by searching for Making Stitches on your favourite podcast app or via this link.
And that just about brings this latest postcard to a close. I hope June & July we’re kind to you and your August is going well too. The tension levels are rising in our house as the dreaded A-Level results day draws nearer…. Eek!
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 everyone, happy New Year! I know it’s a bit late but you know how it is, post Christmas and New Year business got in the way of planning this post. Better late than never – at least I managed this while it’s still January…….just!
I hope your festive period was ok. I know it’s still not completely how it used to be and for many people in particular it will have been difficult.
Here’s what I got up to at the end of last year…
New pattern releases
Following on from my patterns for Flora the Gardener and Hope the Snowdrop, in December I published the next two patterns in my Up the Garden Path collection. They are ‘Holly’ and ‘Ivy’.
They are both available to buy from my ETSY shop….
… and feature more beautiful illustrations by my very talented friend Emma – aren’t they adorable?!
I think Ivy has a look of Rula Lenska don’t you think?
Start as you mean to go on…
Last year’s New Year’s resolution was to try and design my own crochet patterns for the first time – which I’m thrilled that I managed to see through.
This time though, I don’t want to risk failing or setting the bar too high, so I haven’t made any resolutions as such. However, in late November I reacquainted myself with my Couch to 5K app. Throughout December I carried on with my thrice weekly runs, and was lucky enough to enjoy some beautiful, sunny mornings.
I’ve now (in January) completed all 9 weeks and am running 30 mins without stopping, which I’m thrilled about – I was built for crochet not speed!!
December also meant booster time for me. The previous time I visited this vaccination Centre, there were daffodils around the place. It was funny to be back again with the leaves which had just begun appearing last time now on the floor.
Podcast Christmas Special
My guests for the first Making Stitches Christmas Special (Clockwise from top left: Heather Griffith from HG Designs Crochet, Sara Huntington, Editor at Simply Crochet Magazine, some of the staff from Black Sheep Wools in Warrington, Kate Blackburn from WhatKatieDidUK, Louise Armitage aka Gini from Gini’s Dorset Buttons, Adam Brooks from Great British Sewing Bee & Louise Murray from Hooked by Lou.
You can find the podcast episode webpage here if you want to find out more.
Christmas crochet makes
As always it was a busy time for my hooks in the run up to Christmas… I made a couple of gifts and a new top for myself.
And… you know when you set yourself a slightly unrealistic target and have to burn the midnight oil to get it done? Well I decided at the last minute to make a Christmassy tank top…. I did get it finished in time, but the ends weren’t woven in in time for the day in question…. I hope no one noticed!
Tank Top modelled on the Vintage Granny Stripe cardigan by Fran Morgan from Simply Crochet Magazine.
I bought myself a little early Christmas present in the form of this gorgeous book by Sarah Corbett all about the Canary Craftivist movement which got under way last summer. It even includes a photo I took of the Manchester Flock working on crafting their canaries sitting next to the statue of Emmeline Pankhurst in the centre of Manchester back in July.
A Festive Walk
It was lovely to be able to return to Dunham Massey National Trust park and gardens over Christmas. It’s a fab place and just a short drive from where we live. It’s a place which instantly takes me back to my childhood and I love taking the Little Postcards there for a walk on a weekend or during the school holidays.
We got a great view of the resident deer and even spotted a couple of pure white ones.
Podcast New Year Special
I ended the year podcast-wise with a second Christmas Special which was released on New Year’s Eve. It featured my chats with Sarah Corbett from the Craftivist Collective, as well as Gemma and Evie from the Manchester Flock of Canary Craftivists, Mary Jane Baxter also made an appearance speaking about her epic trip around Europe in a camper van called Bambi stitching as she went. I looked back at my visit to the Crochet Sanctuary in Spring and to Yarndale in September last year, and heard from some of the staff at Black Sheep Wools in Warrington. I also included chats with two new friends of mine who I met last year; Christine Perry aka Winwick Mum who helped me on my sock-making adventure and Amanada from Mrs G Makes.
You can find the podcast web page here if you want to take a listen.
New Year’s Eve walk
We were treated to a stunningly beautiful and warm day on New Years’ Eve, and made the trip to Wigan to visit my brother and his wife. Just a short walk from their home is open countryside and it made for a very picturesque walk.
It was just the perfect way to end the year. In lovely company and enjoying lovely weather in the fresh air.
And that brings this rather late December round-up to an end. I promise I won’t be as tardy with my January post!
Thank you so much for stopping by and making it to the end of this rather epic post. I promise I’ll be back again soon!
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!!