Patience

This is where I’d quite like to spend today with a constant supply of tea or coffee, I’m not fussy. Crochet and a Netflix series would do just fine while it’s cold outside. The trouble is I have two eager faces and wagging tails reminding me that it’s also a good day for walking. There is indeed sunshine as well as a nippy wind. If I very slowly and very quietly open my sock drawer… nope, they’re onto me.

I snapped off this little twig of pussy willow from the chopped down trunks near to that mini log cabin at the weekend. If I’d had the right snipping tool I think I might have taken a whole bunch. It seemed such a waste, I hope they had a good reason for chopping down perfectly healthy trees. The pussy willow buds were pale and velvety at first and now they’ve gone to seed they are  fluffy and yellow. I’m grateful for all those nature walks my school took us on, it fostered a lifelong fascination for thing like pussy willow, catkins, conkers, beech nuts, pine cones, acorns. The ‘treasure’ we took back for the nature table truly felt like valuable finds.

I once met a mother when our daughters were both about seven and suggested a picnic outing. She arrived in high heels for a vertical climb to a stunning viewpoint with a huge meadow and insisted that she walked everywhere in them so they’d be fine. Clearly not the outdoor or picnic type she hadn’t so much as packed a ball or a kite for her sons so I sent my two and her three children off on a hunt for as many different tree leaves as they could find. It was such a surprise to me that not one of her children could name any of the trees whose leaves they had collected (along with dandelion leaves and other random weeds). When I’d identified the trees and they’d run off for their next challenge she asked me if I’d done a university degree in trees (as if) and I simply told her that it was a primary school subject for me.

On a different subject entirely. We had a bit of a drama yesterday. Let’s just say that it’s never a good idea to take more than 24 hours to remove your bedroom door, shave the bottom of it and refit it when you have dogs. Have you seen the advert…

It’s the one with the rather muddy dog who decides to jump up on a pure white duvet and have a little shake. Well, think Riley and think brand new duvet cover only not quite as sludgy as the dog in the advert thank goodness. Nothing the washing machine couldn’t put right. Pretty relieved I went for the charcoal grey cover and not the white one.

Advertisements

Exploring

Gosh, Sunday’s are coming round rather quickly these days. Is it really time to shut myself away from the rowdy football again? I don’t mind though, it’s been a good Sunday. The weather has been a steady and mild eleven degrees with only a slight breeze, just perfect for dog walking.

The mood at home this week, on my part anyway, has been a bit ‘cheesed off’ and irrationally blaming the entire county. It kind of sums it up if I tell you that I put into google ‘what the f*** is there to do in Lincolnshire?’ Google cheerfully replied with the top ten attractions but in well behaved language. It has taken a while but the penny has finally dropped with M and he now understands that I cannot cope with doing the same things week in and week out and part of my childhood is to blame because we went on big long hikes with our black cocker spaniel, somewhere different every weekend. His suggestions for places to take the dogs, bearing in mind he has lived here all his life and has had a dog for a lot of those years, have been uninspiring to say the least but today he totally made up for it with a new location and I was amazed that we didn’t even have to travel far.

This new to us place has been created along an old railway route, it is absolutely miles long in both directions from the free car park and you can even hire a bike for a fiver a day because the route is also a cycle path. It was ideal for M who struggles on uneven ground due to his back injury and pretty good for me with my recovering knee. The dogs soon went off course into ditches, fields and woodland so they were impressed too. Everyone seemed cheerful and friendly except for two grumpy Lycra clad cyclists who didn’t ring a bell (according to M who would have heard one) and yet expected us to know they were behind us. Presumably we were also required to immediately jump into the hedge for them too. Don’t you just hate grumpy people? The path isn’t marked into two lanes either, just in case you were thinking we had strayed!

Isn’t that mini log cabin awesome? I really wanted to have a closer look but it was down a steep six foot bank and I didn’t trust my dodgy knee to get me back up again! The dogs went and had a sniff round on my behalf.

I managed to get a brief video clip of just one of the muddy streams that the dogs jumped into and surprised myself by being able to get it onto my instagram feed (simplenaturalhandmade72). Woah, there’s no stopping me now!. Harvey is an expert at the bellyflop. I must try and get one his more dramatic launches from the lakeside into the lake, he gets a good run up for that one! He’s not a ‘look before you leap’ type guy.

Naturally we needed coffee at the end of our ‘hike’ and M needed his daily fix of crosswords. I always say that I prefer to read the newspapers but without fail I end up finishing off the clues he’s left, it’s the competitive side of me! This place is one of our local cafe nero’s. We always gravitate towards cafes with urban rustic decor. Love those stools!

So, I’m avoiding the football once more and I’ve been sitting at my bureau with this rubber stamp set. I recently bought two of these along with two ready to paint wooden boxes and made up two kits for making tags and labels. I sent one to a very good friend who also knits and crochets and makes things and I’ve kept one. I decided not to stamp as I go with mine but rather just stamp a batch of random designs from the selection ready to use at a moments notice. I made the actual tags with my Sissix Big Shot die cutter which I’ve had for years and has been a really useful thing to own. I used parcel string but of course ribbon or yarn would also be nice.

I’ve written pattern and yarn details on a couple of the larger tags and attached them to two projects I’ve been working on so that I don’t forget what hook size I’ve been using or where the pattern is. This has become a bit more important since my iPad doesn’t seem to want me to use bookmarks anymore and a lot of the patterns are online. I’ll be choosing a tag and replacing the string with leftover yarn for posting the Ermeline cardigan soon too. I feel incredibly organised on that score but my actual yarn stash and wips are all over the place while M still has a yarn storage solution to build for me. We are thinking wooden crates at the moment since he’s made several that we use around the house and for camping and it’s easy to make them look old and battered. All the lovely old metal or wooden pigeon hole pieces of furniture I’ve seen lately cost the absolute earth!

It’s telling that Harvey, although technically mine, has decided to hang out with the men whilst Riley very rarely leaves my side. Harvey is a man’s man whereas Riley seems to know that loyalty is due to the chief dog walker in the family and the one who warms their towels after a cold, wet walk!

Abstract

Along with crochet I can highly recommend weaving as a therapeutic activity. I view this first piece as something of a novice sampler because I’ve thrown everything at it in terms of techniques and methods, at least everything that I could find in my book and online. I’m sure there is plenty more to discover.

In the final half I added rya knots, tried the soumak technique (the charcoal grey seams that look like stocking stitch) and unworked loops. I wasn’t that taken with the unworked loops but perhaps there are other ways to do this. I knew my bottom tassels would reveal a bit of warp and I haven’t rectified this yet. I could just weave a couple of extra rows of the yarn I started with or I could pull each warp through the back of the tassel, but that would be tricky because there isn’t enough to tie it off or knot it. Next time I will attach those differently. For now though I shall just leave it and enjoy having the thing on the wall for a while.

The photo’s are the best I could do in the poor light we had available today. Storm Doris made coastal or woodland walks out of the question yesterday and in fact Sherwood Forest which was high on my list of options was closed to visitors on that extremely windy day. Even night lights and fairy lights haven’t improved the lighting.

I must have enjoyed the process of weaving because M asked if I was finished with weaving now that I’d made a piece for the wall. I told him certainly not! I already feel like rigging up the warps again (tighter this time) and maybe having a vague plan of what to do this time. It feels like just the beginning of something and it’s such a good way of using up all those random yarns I was attracted to for their unique and interesting textures but which are an absolute devil to crochet with. Not to mention the perfect excuse to rummage through the wool baskets in charity shops without worrying whether anything I like the colour or texture of is actually a useful amount to make anything with.

At the moment it is quite hard to imagine spring like weather let alone summer. Our slightly wild garden is a black soggy decaying mess for the most part. At the end of every summer I never quite manage to ‘winterise’ the garden and so we tend to look out on dead stuff all winter. Now that I’ve committed those words to print it might be something I will remember to do this year. Somehow it all bounces back, especially with a little bit of effort and a big bonfire. I’m looking forward to setting up my loom outside with the dogs by my feet. Harvey’s frequent offerings of sticks and branches may just end up getting woven into a piece!

Lemons

Alas the trip was not meant to be. J is on the mend but looking after the dogs and cooking would have been something he’d have needed a hand with. Turns out that wasn’t available. Even with M staying behind to hold the fort I can’t manage the 4-5 hours of driving with my neck and shoulder problem. The equivalent train journey is long with several changes and expensive, not to mention inconvenient whilst I’m down there. My last trip’home’ was a year ago and not with M, I think it’s been at least five years since we visited together so it’s not surprising that I was looking forward to it.

Although I was extremely disappointed last night I’m always practical in the cold light of day. M wanted to spend his three days off doing bedroom diy. There are smaller jobs to finish off now including sanding and painting the skirting boards, fitting a couple of new pieces of skirting board, rehanging the door, shelves to put up etc. He is tired and has a hectic schedule from next week onwards so not having a break at all didn’t really make a lot of sense to me. I finally got him to see the logic in having a few excursions from home instead. We only ever have an odd morning or an afternoon here and there which means we tend to stay local. So, with much moaning and fuss M agreed to drive out to Horncastle which is yet another small market town in Lincolnshire. It’s nothing special but has quite a few junk and antique places, a river running through the town, a few half decent places to have coffee, the best hardware shop ever and a great, meandering old book shop called Jabberwock Books. There are two or three sewing/haberdashery/yarn shops too but I wasn’t going to push my luck and have a look at those!

The church in the photo’s above is an easy antique place to miss if you don’t know it’s there. It’s packed to the rafters inside and M finally started enjoying himself when he came across an old, hand carved wooden bucket, I’m not sure whether it’s an old milk pail or for butter making but it has come home with us, along with a big old wooden scoop. I think we might end up using it for dog mixer, I’m all for using old stuff!

I’m a sucker for pottery so my purchases were both in this line. The bowls are hand thrown and marked Sandwich and the green stem vase is a by a potter with a mark (Hy) I keep coming across but have no idea who or where they are based. Total cost five pounds for the bowls and the vase. I think the latter might be classed as a second on account of its wonky top but that’s precisely what I like about hand thrown pottery, nothing needs to be too perfect.

So, it certainly wasn’t an antique/junk hunt in the ancient cinque port town of Rye, with a take out coffee overlooking a windswept Rye Harbour and maybe a bit of yarn gathering in ‘Penny Royal’ and it’s probably done nothing towards me liking this part of the country anymore than I did before but it was marginally better than moping at home.

Goodness only knows what I will dream up for tomorrow but it will probably be met with more man moaning and end up with the comment, ‘that was a really good idea of yours, what a lovely day we had’. My tactic is always to start with the threat of IKEA and quite honestly anything I suggest after that is usually met with approval because he has escaped the very place he hates most in the world. It goes something like this… ‘so, IKEA tomorrow then?’. He says, ‘Oh you’re so funny!’. I say, with a serious look on my face, ‘well actually we haven’t been for a while and I could do with some shelf brackets, a few plants, maybe a throw and some cushions for the bed.’ He then turns a deathly shade of white and says nothing. I then seal the deal to get him to go somewhere else without so much fuss by saying, ‘oh and we could do with a few new kitchen utensils and another one of those glass storage jars’. It’s so specific it’s convincing. Then I suggest freezing our backsides off with a cold and blustery walk at a coastal nature reserve with no shops for miles, which is much more my kind of thing, but probably not his, and he’ll say, yeah, great idea.

Homeward

It’s tough being a grown up sometimes when you just want to jump, skip and generally bounce off the walls. There’s just a tiddly chance of travelling in a southerly direction, with a tiddly chance of me singing Take Me Home Country Roads, much to M’s dismay. It’s not exactly West Virginia but it’s home and it’s where I feel I belong. We wouldn’t travel down by train despite the train timetable. M brought that home recently after a Croydon job and noticed that the line linked up to Bexhill and Hastings. There seems to be a lot of court work there lately so I could tag along and then hop on a train at some stage in the future. It’s always difficult trying to shoe horn a few days away. Currently the issue is whether J is over the worst of his man flu or not. After this small work free slot for M things get ridiculously busy so it would be me travelling solo after that or not at all. Just the thought of seeing proper hills is exciting enough, then there’s the sea, hearing familiar accents. Fingers well and truly crossed.

I am packed and ready to go, just in case. As always the crucial part of packing is choosing the right crochet project. I don’t feel as though my concentration levels will be very high and it may well be cold by the coast so I’m going to take the tweed yarn and make a tailored pair of fingerless gloves for myself, or for M if he expresses an interest in owning a pair. E and I had a great time on our visit last February and the project bag on top of my suitcases was from Yak in Brighton. It has been in constant use since then, it is surprising how much it can hold.

Riley has been eyeing the suitcases with suspicion. If there’s one thing he hates in life (because of his early years elsewhere) it is being left, or someone leaving the house. It’s noticeable how much happier he is when we are all home. He stops pacing and growling at every slight noise outside.

I’ve started reading Villette by Charlotte Bronte. I like these old pocket editions and I’ve got quite a few. I’ve read the Jane Eyre copy several times but Villette is new to me. I loved the programme that was on earlier in the year ‘To Walk Invisible’. I find I have to be in the mood for this kind of reading, just the same as I wait until I’m in the mood for other types of novel. One I never tire of is Larkrise to Candleford. I loved the television series but the book is so much richer in detail. I will always prefer the depiction of simple living in a book like this than I ever would something like Downton Abbey. I’ve enjoyed Downton Abbey, but I prefer the tales of hardship.

Simple rustic crochet, good literature, the sea, hills, leisurely coffee and visiting family. My idea of a restorative break!

Random

A random selection of photographs today. One uber cool t shirt for my little niece. Bunny was one of the buzz words over Christmas and although she’s probably moved on linguistically since then who can resist a bunny with a red nose and heart shades? Not me. In aid of Red Nose Day too so it’s a win win.

Secondly, the state of my favourite Birkenstocks. Aarggghh! I knew it was a mistake to gift the dogs an old slipper each, now they think that all footwear is up for grabs. I’ve had these for years and I think they would have lasted quite a bit longer had they not been helped along by the adorable, but mischievous Riley. E said just recently, ‘I’ve never known a dog with so much personality’. Just a little bit too much personality for my liking! M, ever helpful, told Riley he’d be docking Β£50 from his pocket money. So helpful.

Love my little camping pan even more now that I realise it’s a left or right handed pourer. Pretty darn handy since M is left handed and I am right handed. If it wasn’t gale force wind here today we could have brewed hot coffee using our Kelly kettle in a little tucked away woodland walk spot we found last year. We drove around for quite a while (I made M drive around for quite a while) before we found a quiet spot with a space for the car, a woodland walk for the dogs and even a big old fallen tree trunk to sit on. All for the sake of trying out the new gadget. Coffee definitely tastes better when you’re sitting on a rotten log in the middle of a forest in my opinion!

Finally, an update on my weaving progress. I’m still making it up as I go along and it’s supposed to be abstract despite each family member in turn asking if it’s a mountain, or a temple or a pyramid. No, I say patiently, it’s abstract. I’m annoyed that the sides are gathering inwards. It’s not because I’m weaving too tightly, it’s because I didn’t set the warps taut enough. Lesson learnt for next time. There are two joining methods on this piece, the ‘mountain’ uses the interlocking method I believe, where the two colours are wrapped on the same warp thread. Forgive my lack of technical jargon. The other random shape uses a front and back warp where the colours meet, I have no idea what that’s called. I must look these things up! I actually prefer the fuzzy look of the interlocking method even though my counting was a bit off. I need to be brave next and dig out some roving or add some more tassels or something. I’m better at symmetry so this is a little outside my comfort zone!

Junk

M had the floor laying completely under control today (I spent the whole morning prepping the space by way of a contribution) so I escaped to do a bit of junk browsing with Mum and E. We are totally spoilt for choice when it comes to this kind of thing with a huge centre about fifteen minutes away, converted military quarters full of antiques and collectibles of every kind. It’s where we used to be sellers too until a big variety of television programmes took away the mystery of auctions and it became much more difficult to get a good deal for resale. It’s fun to be just buyers now and in particular laugh at some of the valuations.

Take this ‘wall hanging’ for example. It’s no more than a tea towel on two thin wooden rods. A little bit pricey at Β£60! I love the retro style and the subject but even so, I’d rather draw one myself onto calico than part with that large sum!

I was tempted by a tall narrow mirror with a lovely old frame but I’ve really got to wait until our bedroom is totally finished and we are sure about where things are going to go. Likewise with light shades, it looks like the room will need something more adventurous than the metal pendent style I originally liked.

I came home with just one bargain purchase, a falcon ware style enamel pan in great condition for our teardrop trailer for the grand sum of Β£4. I’ve been buying bits of this here and there whilst the project is slowly being built. M has promised to have it finished by the start of the cricket season in April (which is looking ambitious) and I will probably have found everything we need by then. Picnic blankets, towels, linen and vintage cooking utensils and coffee pot are all stashed away in a large vintage suitcase. If all else fails we will at least be able to have a stylish cricket boundary picnic!

Tweed

These Saturday photo’s should be of big bonfires, raked leaves, snowdrops and crocuses. That’s much more reflective of the day I’ve had so far. There’s no hard and fast rule about lighting bonfires after a certain time of day. I checked to see if anyone had washing out or windows open and didn’t see either so much to M’s horror I lit the biggest bonfire we’ve ever had! It licked the tallest trees at one point but that would only improve the light for what little grass we have so it’s all good! Parts of the old wardrobes got burnt, a lot of fallen branches from the trees, leaves, left over split wood from our various recycled wood projects. It’s still burning steadily now and less smokey thank goodness. This year we seem to have more snowdrops and crocuses than ever, at least the ones that haven’t been trampled to death by the dogs.

We have an old neighbour who has a collection of ‘shanty sheds’ and burns wood all day every day in one of them and quite often stuff that gives off a rather toxic smell. We’ve often joked that he’s burning body parts but of course that joke isn’t very funny. We are relieved when we see his wife gardening. They were both ‘gardening’ today (patching up their shanty sheds) and I do believe I may have seen out of the corner of my eye a beckoning arm. I confess to playing the deaf card and pretending I didn’t see or hear them. Believe me, whole afternoons have been spent trying desperately to end a chat with ‘well I must get on but it was lovely to chat’. If it was summer and I was pottering I wouldn’t mind so much, but it’s winter and I need to keep moving out there, get things done and get back inside for hot coffee.

I recently had a FaceTime chat with someone very special. In the course of conversation I was asked if I crocheted mittens. Yes I certainly do, would you like a pair Grandad? It’s great when there is a genuine need for a woolly project. I googled, browsed my books, looked on ravelry and then decided to rely on my trusty sideways constructed rib stitch; the method I often use for hats. For this particular requirement I didn’t want to make the cuff too long because they’d be worn with a shirt and jumper. We agreed on open fingerless gloves, so no finger holes as such. I decided to use a five stitch taper at the finger end and a ten stitch narrower rib for the cuff with fifteen stitches in between. Thirty stitches altogether using chunky yarn and a 5mm hook for a nice thick fabric.

So the pattern, in loose terms requires a 31 st starting chain using one stitch to turn and working tbl at all times, working 10 stitches of dc, 15 stitches of htr and 5 stitches of dc. Chain one to turn and the next row will involve dc’s into all previous dc’s and htr’s into all previous htr’s. If you have the hand it needs to fit, to hand, haha, you can check for sizing. I used my own hand as a guide even though the recipient is a man, because I have quite big hands and I just added a bit extra and took note of how much ‘give’ the fabric had. Here’s hoping I can take them down to the South Coast in person! It’s been far too long since I was on home turf.

There’s something about tweedy yarns that really make me tick. It reminds me of an Aran jumper my Nan knitted when I was a child. I used to spend most of my time climbing trees and literally doing what I was always accused of, ‘you look like you’ve been through a hedge backwards’. I was always careful not to catch my hand knitted masterpiece on thorns but I did eventually go home with moss, bits of twig, grass, straw, all interwoven in my jumper. That’s what tweedy yarns remind me of, little bits of caught plant material.

The yarn I used for the fingerless mitts is Harrap Tweed by Sirdar. It’s a chunky yarn and I’ve just noticed that the label suggests a 6.5mm hook size which is surprising because it doesn’t seem to be a very bulky chunky yarn. It worked up fine with a 5mm hook using tbl rib. I absolutely love the deep orange and mustard flecks and I’ve got enough of it left over to make myself a slightly longer, slightly smaller pair since all the fingerless mitts in the entire house have vanished into thin air. I suspect there are a few pairs in a certain little car. E has a habit of leaving hats, gloves and scarves in her car when she’s become warm enough to shed them and then gathers a new set on her way to the car the next morning. It’s nice to know that when she takes her class on a nature walk and they don’t have hats or mittens she will often retrieve one of my crocheted items from her car to make sure they are warm. I’d love to be a fly on the wall so to speak. I can only imagine a walking line of little six year olds all with assorted hats I’ve crocheted!

As for the finishing line with the baby knits… the end is finally in sight! I’ll be glad to get it in the post at last. Four leg warmers is rather repetitive, and knitting is never going to be as much fun since I got so addicted to crochet! Riley has quite spindly legs for a Springer and I know that these leg warmers would fit him quite nicely but obviously I can’t try them on him just for a laugh because they need to stay hygienic for little babies. As a rule I don’t go in for dressing up dogs but this would have been extremely funny, just for a minute or two, and that precisely how long it would take him to chew them up too!

Flowers

About a month ago there were slightly odd conversations about flowers. If it had been my birthday I’d have twigged but Valentines Day was a million miles from my thoughts. I tactfully said that when it comes to flowers I prefer bunches of the same flower rather than a mixed bouquet. I’m astounded that piece of information got stored and saved for today. It was a lovely surprise, especially since M is away this week on a court job in London. If he’d been home I might well have received a mixed bouquet since our local florist seems to specialise in these. I probably sound ungrateful but there’s something about them that reminds me of funerals.

I was under strict orders not to take the dogs out until the special delivery had been made. They were beside themselves with excitement when I finally set about changing into my muddy jeans and thick socks. Just putting a jumper on in front of them causes them to start break dancing. Today’s walk was absolutely fantastic! Nothing new, nowhere different, but the big blue sky and sunshine, happy days! About half way round it felt like t shirt weather. On the way there I spotted several sets of grandparents with primary school age grandchildren just taking a countryside walk. Sticks were being swished, horses being pointed out, puddles being splashed in. I would have bribed J into coming out with me today but his hacking cough shows no signs of letting up. He’s managed long lie ins so far this week which can only be good for him.

I drive to a quiet spot just outside our village, through a couple of hamlets. There’s no need for leads and we rarely meet a soul. The downside is that Riley finds fox poo nearly every time. A quick dip in that small stream didn’t get to the back of his neck today so it was hot showers all round when we got back. Riley first, and then I thought I might as well have two dogs smelling of Sanex for Men shower gel rather than one and the other smelling of stagnant pond. They smell wonderful and they know it! It makes a nice change to have them smelling pleasant while I crochet this afternoon.

This sleeve looks enormous doesn’t it? I’m thinking that maybe this pattern was written in the eighties when batwings were all the rage. Mind you, it doesn’t look too bad once folded in half and held up against the rest of the jumper. If I were to make another one of these I would definitely use a slightly fluffier yarn. Stylecraft does an alpaca mix in dk which isn’t at all awkward to work with and would probably create a garment with less prominent stitch definition. I think that would be a bonus for this jumper and might fluff over some of the holes round the cable areas too. I might give that a go if this currrent one works out ok. I’ve got a short break coming up, nowhere exotic, it would be a good travel project since the pattern is easy to remember after setting up the first few rows.

Weaving/2

The weaving book is only two days away but I can’t help but sit down for a brief session today. It’s a little bit addictive. It has occurred to me today whilst sitting at a seventies bureau, sipping coffee from a seventies mug and weaving a wall hanging in neutral tones (not to mention a few seventies tracks on in the background) that I have stepped back in time! Remind me to buy a cheese plant as a finishing touch for our bedroom!

I was born in 69 so I can remember having cheese plants. I also have fond memories of a very cuddly superchunky long belted cardigan my Mum wore. I thought she was far more stylish and glamorous than most other Mums and looking back I was right. She would have definitely been called a yummy mummy in these times. There was a lot of texture in household furnishings too. When we were very small we had a sofa in off white which was somewhere between cordrouy and boucle, next to a large deep pile off white rug which we spent some considerable time lying on, just because. A bit later we had a hessian textured wallpaper. It was obviously a very tactile era.

I can’t tell you how much faff that little grey wedge shape was! I’ve since discovered that I could have butted shapes up like this with the need for front and back warps but with closer warps instead. That way the wool kind of bridges the gap. That might be applicable when I set up the vintage loom. For now though I am really pleased with the way the colours meet without any gaps. It was a relief to get back to doing a full width stripe after that. With the small amount of flecked grey yarn I had I decided to make it up as I went along and wrapped it round every other warp to create a sort of lump. I also used the yarn doubled up so it’s turned out a little bit uneven which I quite like. I have no idea what colour or shape or texture I am going to do next. I am kicking myself for throwing out a selection of superchunky yarn leftovers which I thought would have no use whatsoever. Doh!

The temperature has improved enormously today. There was even sunshine! The dogs swam very gracefully, Riley reaching the island in the middle of the lake where the duck nests are located. He has a quick sniff round and plunges back in. It’s a bit strange. I had a Springer when I was in my twenties, called Bertie and he would have brought a dead duck back for me. Not a gift I would have wanted, believe me. He once escaped from my parent’s back garden, trotted into the neighbouring field, gently tapped a cockerel round the head with his paw, which unfortunately broke its neck and then came casually trotting back, without the bird thank goodness! Come to think of it there were quite a few neighbours who were glad not to have the five a.m. wake up call after that. Bertie eventually showed promise as a proper working dog and my partner at the time trained him, I’ve never seen a dog so happy, he was simply doing what the breed was designed to do. It broke my heart but it was kinder to let him stay working on that estate in the New Forest than have him living with me in Oxford.

Sitting on the lakeside bench it did occur to me (daydreaming about weaving!) that I could use the colours of the lake and countryside for a future wall hanging. It’s definitely a favourite spot and I’ve photographed it quite a lot, mostly with the dogs in the water at the time. It changes colour dramatically according to season, and one side has a huge area of bullrushes so there’s plenty of colour and texture inspiration.

It’s the first day of half term here. J is suffering from the nastiest hacking cough. I’ve dosed him up with everything imaginable. He’s drinking oj for vitamins and iced water and ice cream to soothe his throat, as well as the usual cough mixture and paracetamol for his temperature. He might be sixteen now but as his Mother I am feeling just the same as if he were four years old again and had some kind of cold or injury and wishing I could take it on instead. He’s a trooper though, he isn’t complaining, he just looks and sounds awful. Roll on Spring!