Sunday, December 31, 2017

That sock magic

Hand knitting sock with Sensation Knitted Socks

I felt the flickers of an old impetus and I cast on some socks just before the Christmas break began and have been cosied up with them whenever possible. They are so delicious. I had to get my Sensational Knitted Socks out to have a clue where to start. I thought I might be in trouble when I need to look up what SSK meant but my hands remembered the long tail cast on, the needles sit just right in my hands and it is so pleasing to watch it grow. Top down, my old favourite construction, there is a rhythm here that is deeply satisfying.

I'd forgotten the comments and conversations that knitting socks in particular seem to draw. Can you make me some? (Mostly no, only the most beloveds get hand knits). How long will they take? Followed up by "HOW LONG? and then one of the classics - "You do know you can get a five pack from xxx (insert their favourite shop) for just £x" (always good to know what people spend on socks!)  It's an insight in to how fixated so many people are on having things quickly and cheaply rather than having something special, or exploring the enjoyment of the process of making them. These are the same people I'm sat chatting with. Their time has passed without making anything so you'd think they'd be in awe at my multi-tasking efficiency!

I turned the heel last night and went to bed puzzling over what I used to do to tighten up the picked up stitches around the heel flap. Overnight my brain offered up the old trick of knitting through the back to twist the stitch. It's been so long that there's this funny sensation of doing something new that I am mysteriously talented at. I can't deny it's a enjoyable phenomenon. Years of practice make you a natural when you get back on the bike!

I'd like to see more craft magic sprinkled through 2018 so I'm going to set myself a little project of finishing something each month. Let's see whether that little challenge helps to keep these fingers busy.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Today I love...

... AUTUMN! Once upon a time I forgot about how delicious autumn was because I was dreading winter, I must be growing up because now I love them both! But especially autumn. Oh the colours. Today the sun is shining and the sky is vibrantly blue, blue in a way you can stare at and fall in to. Blue in a way it doesn't seem in summer because the sun is so strong. So I love the softer sun, the deeper blue, the myriad of colours in the leaves, the lichens, the hedgerow bounty. I love how alive I'm feeling, wrapped in mischief and magic and my new glorious cardigan/coat/garment never to be removed. Happy October! For sure, this is the most magical time of the year.

Saturday, September 09, 2017


Yesterday I was introduced to the work of Sharon McErlane and Net of Light by my lovely Sas, it resonated with me so powerfully and the timing! I am working with Meghan circled with women Returning to the Fire, and it was one of the moments when you just have absolute faith that you are exactly where you are supposed to be. A moment that I could feel through every cell my connection to the Divine, my oneness with that energy. Purest magic.
Sunlight flare through lime trees - with a sparkle on a messenger from the Morrigan

This morning, out there under my trees, I was thinking about how we shine our lights.... or not. Wondering how we find the beacons among the tides of sleepwalkers. Thinking that if we shy away from showing our true selves we are short changing ourselves and the world. I believe one of the gifts of navigating through darkness is that you can see the closest light to move towards. No matter how small. So here I am being that little light, writing on a blog that not even my Mum reads any more :) .

It would be so easy not to post this, to just feel like writing something here is shining about as bright as a failing bulb in a cheap torch. Yet, what harm can I do? I release the pressure of reaching anyone but me and bring levity to this gentle little action. I am a light bearer in any way that I feel able and empowered to be. Who am I not to be? It is a strange kind of arrogance, living ego led, to not allow the Divine to shine through me. In the darkness even a tiny, flickering, light is so welcome. Even if I am the only person who reads this I have helped myself by a tiny act of courage and have a light here to come back to when it is feeling dark again. If not, then I hope that whoever you are reading this, you can find a similar tiny way to bring a little more light and love to the world. No-one can deny how much it is needed, and I am committed to not letting the enormity of that feeling overwhelm simple, tiny, joyful things.

I am sharing a poem I read for the first time this morning, shared by a wonderful woman in the Returning to the Fire circle. It feels like an essential part of everything that I am feeling right now.

The Laughter Of Women 
by Lisel Mueller

The laughter of women sets fire
to the Halls of Injustice
and the false evidence burns
to a beautiful white lightness
It rattles the Chambers of Congress
and forces the windows wide open
so the fatuous speeches can fly out
The laughter of women wipes the mist
from the spectacles of the old;
it infects them with a happy flu
and they laugh as if they were young again
Prisoners held in underground cells
imagine that they see daylight
when they remember the laughter of women
It runs across water that divides,
and reconciles two unfriendly shores
like flares that signal the news to each other
What a language it is, the laughter of women,
high-flying and subversive.
Long before law and scripture
we heard the laughter, we understood freedom.

Friday, March 03, 2017

More trunk

Not so much progress with the stitching this week. A little more filling in of the bark, a lot of not actually stitching. I've been so tired that making space for even ten minutes of daily craft time has been a stretch. Inspiration required, luckily it's literally on my doorstep! I took a few moments out there with the source today. Through the rain and cold spring is coming. The branches are full of pointy blossom buds, progress with the start of building work is slower than expected so I may yet see this beauty bloom again. I won't be hustling this project along. This makes me notice that though I often bemoan the pace of life I then also often drive things along. I can't bear inefficiency, maybe my definition of efficient just needs a little tweaking.

Friday, February 24, 2017


Tree embroidery with scissors

Stitched tree trunk
My beautiful tree has had her branches tossed around by storm Doris this week but is soaking up the sunshine out there today. Such a joyful "after the storm, spring is coming, soon, promise" kind of a day.

All of my daily ten minutes craft prescription time plus a fair bit more has been dedicated to tree stitching. On Sunday I just parked my tired, achey little body by the door and stitched until I felt a whole lot better. That restful absorption is the craft therapy magic I think.

I love that the trunk is emerging, and is feeling really true to life. She's looking a little more silver birch than plum right now, but the choice of the sideways stitch to reflect the striations of the bark makes me happy.

Friday, February 17, 2017

One small stitch for man...

Starting an embroidered portrait of a tree
I have embarked on an epic project. I want to caption this photo "can you tell what it is yet?" with Aussie inflection but that phrase from my childhood is out of bounds these days. Anyway it's a trunk. Of a tree. I'm stitching a portrait of my most beloved plum tree. Everyday companion for the last twelve or so years, we haven't got long left together. I don't think I will see her blossom again. Sob.

We're most likely having an extension built. It will be amazing to have more space but I wish, I wish, I WISH I could keep my plum tree too. It won't work. If anything it's too close to the house already and should long ago have been dispatched to the great orchard in the sky. I feel like a sentimental ole fool, what a palaver over a tree. Then I think about how many memories are wrapped around that trunk and nestled in the crook of her branches and it makes a little more sense. I love that tree and enjoy it every single day. I am lucky to have shared this space with the tree and grateful for the new beginnings that are part of the ending. My family tree is a bit like this at the moment too. Ah stitchy stitching, you create space to hold so many feelings.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Making Winter and finding a little spring

Sun shining up like God behind the clouds
Though the silence here might suggest it, I haven't actually been hibernating all winter. It's kind of been like my summer but colder, greyer and damper. A bit like Eeyore in a puddle. As soon as I work out which country has only spring and autumn, I'm there, till then I seek coping strategies.

So far this year I've found three great ones -

No.1: a day long yoga retreat with my regular class teacher. It was such a gentle day I felt lovely and mellow that evening, full of the kindness that I had been cultivating in the practice and then I spent the next four days in bed! It had been coming a while in all honesty, I think the work we did just unlocked a wave of exhaustion and made me face where I really was. The only way is through.
Journalling on wisdom from Mara Glatzel
No.2:  A seasonal virtual retreat with that bodhisattva of self-care Mara. Happily a shade less dramatic physically but it has really helped me pick my heart up from the lows of that crash. I signed up for Cycle about two seconds after resolving to stop trying to buy myself 'better' through books and courses and Stuff. Thank goodness for my contrariness because a few hours of virtual retreating with a lovely circle of women was just the catalyst I needed to clarify what I am craving this year and to gently ease me back towards helpful practices that had become increasingly fragmented. I see how that old rascal - practice - is so key to everything but I feel like I need a constant reminder that just a little can still make a difference. Stitching together little pockets of care creates a very different outlook.
 Knitting and blankets, cosy craft time
No.3: The Making Winter retreat and its after effects are a testament to exactly that. A little of what you fancy does you the power of good. Emma drew together four fabulous craft workshops over two days to allow a little dabbling in what all crafters can testify are serotonin boosting activities. Of course the laughing and laughing and chatting and laughing in beautiful surroundings didn't hurt one iota either. I've come home with a well of inspiration and written myself a daily craft prescription for the rest of February. I'm thinking that might be one practice that lasts out these last cold days of winter.
Willow weaving lanterns or bird feeders
Emma Mitchell, Silver Pebble's teaching collection
Hand holding seedheadBlossom peeping over a wall against a blue sky
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