My Sock Knitting Progress

There a a few things that stand out for helping me deal with the past year, one of those things has now become a bit of a passion. I’m now a sock knitting addict.

I’ve knitted one pair of socks in the past, on 4 needles but I wanted to try one of the small circular sock needles. It seemed strange at first but well worth persevering with. I love it, you can pick up and put down whenever you want, it’s on of those things you could easily do if you were out somewhere.

I have a beginners tip, If you use self patterning yarn, wind off half the ball( I weigh it ) then lay both ends out and find the same point in both yarns and cut it. Now make your cast on loop both at the same point. Now when you knit the second sock they should match up. I discovered if you knit matching socks it’s easy to know where you are up to on the second sock without counting rows. I check the rows when I think I’m there.

The pattern came from Winwick Mum Blog the site has full clear instructions and videos on all aspects of sock knitting.

This is the first pair that I knit in December, I was pleased with the fit.

Then I knit a pair as a gift. I love the the way the heel is knit, it grips and it’s cushioned too.

I knit myself another pair, this time matching the colours.

Now I’m knitting OH a pair, I really can’t put these down as I love the way the random pattern is working out. I had to measure his foot and follow the instructions to size the sock up. I did decrease the toe on every row on the last few rows as I thought the sock would be too long, it fits perfectly.

Updated to say they are now finished and he loves them.

More sock yarn has arrived but there’s no rush to knit it up yet, I’ve a crochet blanket to finish..

So what to do with all the oddments of wool?

I have just discovered scrappy socks 🙂

Happy Mother’s Day And Signs Of Spring

Today many Mums will be spending their day at home without their offspring around them and like me you might be wondering how to spend your day.

It’s bitterly cold out there and quite windy so no walk today but I ventured out for some exercise yesterday looking for signs of Spring. There are lambs in the fields, they bring me so much pleasure seeing them skipping around. There were some new lambs, with little raincoats on but I was surprised how big some of them were already. It occurred to me that some of you might not be able to get out to see the lambs so here they are.

Celandines are in flower along the lane but as the sun was hiding they weren’t open so no photos.

I didn’t stay out long as it was so cold and looking like rain, just as I got back it started but I managed a couple of quick photo’s.

Daffodils always make me smile and remind me that Spring is just about here, someone please tell the weather.

The pulmonaria and brunnera are flowering, as are the primroses so hopefully I will be doing some clay work next week. You can’t put it off when you work with the seasons.

I’m intending on having a lazy Mother’s Day today, I might get my watercolours out or read my book, and I need to finish the border on my crochet blanket. It’s good to chill a bit now and then.

I will leave you with some more lambs.

Enjoy your Mother’s Day whatever you are doing, I hope you give yourself a bit of ‘me time’ and relax . xx

Oban and the Inner Hebrides

Come with me on an adventure to Oban and the Inner Hebrides. I would love to be here right now but I have my memories and I hope to return soon.

Kiln Fired Art Blog

We had a lovely break in Oban at the start of the month, the sun shone all week and fortunately there weren’t many midges about.

We stay in Oban quite often, then island hop, taking ferries of all shapes and sizes to different isles.

As you know I love wildlife, every time I come to this area I hope that I will see otters in the wild, but alas once again they evaded me. I did see quite a lot of wildlife though, including these very comical black guillemot, they were fun to watch in the harbour right outside our apartment.

black guillemotWhile we were having our picnic on a deserted beach this roe deer yearling came strolling right past us

IMG_1182As I said we go island hopping, the first trip was to Tobermory on Mull, which is the setting for the childrens TV show Balamory.
IMG_1259The next day was my…

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Another Great Raku Day!

This week we braved to weather, which was cold but still, to do our first raku firing of the year. It’s always exciting and unpredictable, hopefully in a good way. This time things started off really badly but we sorted the issues and re-fired the first couple of pieces. We also had a few breakages but you come to expect that it’s the nature of raku work.

Here are some leaves that have made it into my Etsy shop, I had a few customers waiting for new stock to arrive so they are going quite quickly.

colourful wall sculpture
hanging ceramic leaf
raku leaf wall art

I have restocked the small raku fish and there are a few larger fish as well, these ones have a lot of copper, the others are turquoise and blue.

ceramic fish for wall

I have a few moon gazing hares too, these would be great Easter gifts to let someone know you miss them.

Here’s a closer look.

moon gazing hare ceramic hanging

The snowdrop trinket dishes and hearts that I showed you a few weeks ago are in the kiln now, I can’t wait to open it up but it’s still cooling down, patience pays off in the end.

I am watching things growing in the garden, soon the bluebells will be out, I have some pulmonaria flowering but no sign of the brunnera flowers yet. It’s going to be a busy time in a week or two, watch this space. I like working with the seasons.

Scafell Pike via the easy route

Hello blog readers, as I’m not getting out fell walking these days I’ve been enjoying looking back at some of my past walks with fond memories. Come with me up Scafell Pike, England’s highest mountain.

Kiln Fired Art Blog

I thought you might like to take a walk with me up Scafell Pike, the highest mountain in England, but I warn you this is a picture heavy blog post.

The weather was perfect during the week for a walk up Scafell Pike. I have been planning to do this for so long but I think I had something of a mental blockage about going up Scafell. I’m not sure why, maybe it’s because I hear so many stories on the local news about people getting in trouble and calling out the Mountain Rescue.

This wasn’t the most demanding, or dangerous walk I’ve done but it certainly is challenging, and in bad weather it could be very dangerous indeed, it’s not a walk to be taken lightly.

We chose the easy route setting off early in the morning from the car park at Wasdale Head heading up Lingmell Beck.

P1430893

That’s…

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Finding inspiration on my daily walk

Hello blog readers, it’s been a while since my last post, I seem to be getting less done these days. I thought a lockdown would mean prolific work but it doesn’t seem to be the case.

I am enjoying the cold but bright weather, getting out on my daily walks. As we are all walking the same or similar path each day (following the rules) I like to shake things up a bit by looking out for something to make each walk special. Most often it’s birds or plants but a few days ago I decided to look more closely at trees, especially bark textures.

On my way home I remembered I’d planned to make some wall pockets for air plants but I never got round to making them. Out came the clay and I set to work on the idea in my head. There were some design issues to work out, how to contain the plants, how to hang the piece etc.

Here they are drying nicely, I made a few pebbles as well as plant wall pockets.

They are in the kiln now as I type, fingers crossed they survive the first firing and then I can get decorating. My air plants have arrived and I need to get them displayed on the wall.

Self Care And Getting Back Into The Zone

In March I decided the best way for me to get through the situation we found ourselves in was to indulge in small pleasures, holidays at home, virtual tours on Youtube whilst clocking up some miles on the exercise bike, good food, wine, lots of reading and craft projects of course. However once the days got shorter I didn’t feel much like working.

December was mostly about self indulgence, so January had to be about ‘my body is a temple’ to make up for the December excesses.

We have followed a healthy eating plan, mostly vegetarian, we have done dry January, we’ve walked locally when weather has permitted otherwise there’s the exercise bike and more virtual tours. I’m still allowing myself the luxury of taking breakfast back to bed and reading until it’s light , as well as little treats such as online art and craft courses. I’ve lost the weight I’d gained in December but it’s more than that, after 2 weeks I felt noticeably different, bouncing with energy, I actually wanted to get back to work.

The snowdrops were still not quite ready so I started making some leaves and fish which will be raku fired on a warmer sunny day.

Now the snowdrops were starting to bloom so I brought some indoors to enjoy for a day before taking them out to the studio for some clay work. It was only 5C out there but I soon got into the zone and the time flew by.

I am feeling quite pleased with myself for finally getting back to work and you know what, I enjoyed every minute.

Spring really is just around the corner 🙂

Comfort Food – Quick Cock-a-leekie In The Soup Maker!

Hi, how are you doing?

If you are outside the UK you may not know we are now in our third lockdown.

Thank goodness for modern technology so we can stay in touch with friends and family. I’m taking each day as it comes; I’m lucky as I have my crafts to keep me occupied, (nothing different there). I like to get out into the countryside, nature is very important to my wellbeing. There are some lovely walks on my doorstep so I can get my daily exercise. I have especially enjoyed walking in the snow, it’s a winter wonderland out there.

The weather has been cold, I don’t think the frost has entirely given since Boxing Day so I’m making lots of heart warming comfort food.

Yesterday I made sourdough rolls and a fruit and nut bread, also rye bread but somehow I mixed up the rye and fruit loaf dough so the fruit one became a loaf and I’ve made rye rolls for the first time 🙂

They were left to prove overnight by the log burner so they were ready for the oven this morning. I wish you could smell them.

We look forward to our cold wintery walk each day, with soup and bread to come home to. The great thing about the soup maker is that you can come home to a lovely bowl of heart warming soup.

The soup of the day today is my quick cock-a-leekie. If I have some leftover chicken I make it with that, and boil the bones to make stock. Today I don’t have any so I chopped up half a chicken breast and microwaved it for a few minutes to cook it off.

Here’s my version, it’s maybe not the recipe you find online but I don’t know anyone who puts prunes in soup.

Quick Soup Maker Cock-a-leekie

Leftover chicken meat, or some chicken cooked as above.

Chicken stock, or one chicken cube and one vegetable cube.

2 tablespoons of barley I use flaked barley in the soup maker, or alternatively I boil pearl barley in a pan of water for a few minutes while prepping the veg.

I medium carrot, 1 parsnip, 1 small onion, 1 small leek chopped small.

1 tablespoon of red lentils, not traditional but I love lentils in soup as they help thicken it.

Pepper.

Everything goes in the soup maker, fill to the line with stock or hot water, cook on chunky setting.

Then I go for a walk and come back to a steaming bowl of goodness.

Delicious 🙂

2020 What A Year!

It goes without saying that most of us have never experienced a year like 2020. I have tried to remain positive with the help of my family, my garden, taking pleasure from small things and by making the most of this down time to make things for myself.

I started with my waffle blanket.

Comfort blanket is finished

Then there were masks, lots of masks for family and friends.

The weather was so good in spring we spent a lot of time in my garden, we grew vegetables which were a disaster, and we made a pond which has been a triumph. The garden became a large part of staying positive, the VE Day celebration was probably the highlight of my year.

pond

I learned punch needle technique and made some cushions.

Punch needle cushions

I haven’t yet mentioned sourdough. I resisted for a while but it was futile, in the end I caved in and I’ve been baking all my own bread since.

Sourdough

Channelling my inner hippie I did some tie dye.

Tie dye T shirts

Being in the garden so much was such an influence, I did an awful lot of eco printing, I made a book called “My Garden Sanctuary 2020 “ as a memory of this year and finding pleasure in the small things. I wrote haiku and learned some new techniques while working on this book, I didn’t rush it so it kept me involved for months. The garden seemed to be the extent of my world. I feel incredibly connected to this little book in a way that’s deeply emotional. I am planning more ecoprinting this coming year, I have dyers plants and seeds on order and I have a plan 🙂

During the dark winter months knitting and crochet have kept me busy in the evenings I started another waffle blanket, knit a jumper, a cardigan and some socks. I made a couple of dresses in spring, but they still haven’t been worn.

I’ve taken a few online painting courses this year, I particularly enjoyed getting back into watercolours with Dena Adams and Sarah Stokes. I regret having such a long break from watercolour but it’s all coming back to me.

I noticed the bulbs are shooting up when I was in the garden yesterday, in some ways this year has gone so fast but in other ways it seems to have gone on for ever, time does that when each day is the same, don’t you think?

So here I am, I’ve come full circle, I am making a list of stock needed to replenish my shop, I am making plans of where I want to go with my work, new makes, new techniques to try, a new year brings optimism, we really need that now.

And so I wait and watch for the first snowdrops to bloom so I can smile, then get to work on making my snowdrop ceramics, just as I did in January last year, and years before……… the more things change the more they stay the same.

I’m making ceramic snowdrop hearts today in time for Mother’s Day

Here’s wishing you a happy and healthy 2021.

Stay Safe And Well This Christmas

For most of us this Christmas is like no other we have experienced, but there’s light at the end of the tunnel. I hope everyone stays safe and well this Christmas, and now we have hope for 2021 so here’s to better things for us all next year.

Have a peaceful Christmas

Jill

Christmas card