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Category — birthday

Breathing Space

I don’t know about you, but I find that the beginning of April to be the breathing time. That has a nice ring to it, doesn’t it? Winter is sleepy and deep and quiet, while the Equinox is a bit turbulent – all that pulling into balance – its a cross between a menopausal woman and a bad hair day. well it is in my world. Which is a worry. 

But April, ah, that new unfolding time, the breathing time. you lovely month (yeah, I know, short memory, it snowed this time last year) – the month when I think “oh yes baby, the sunshine is here, the blossoms are around the corner, dust down your shorts, we are nearly there”. I take full responsibility if my premature enthusiasm tempts that pesky fate into sending us blizzards next week.

Enough talk of weather, enough I say. Let me talk stitching. Oh let me…..well, you see. It goes like this. When you are feeling completely overwhelmed with emails, and parcels of pink knitting, and your hormones, and housework, and illness and life – well, here’s what you do. You make sure you discover a new obsession, in this case English piecing, and spend literally hours peering through your spectacles like some crazy cat lady, at the tiniest stitches on little wee pieces of fabric. It’s a winner.

You can lose literally days of work, to this timeless art; meanwhile the little work pixies take pity on you, hop up onto your laptop and take over the management of your to-do list, like those cute little elves who made shoes at night. Only this lot are a highly trained crack team of admin specialists, and they have sorted your life out in a nano second. O.K, I’m getting a bit weird. It’s all that April fresh air.

Truly though, stitching is the very best. And my friend Cindy knows her way around fabric, let me tell you. She is responsible for me haring down this quilty road when I have so, so much else to do. You Queen of Badness. Those of you who are local, check out this fabric shop to end all others.

And seriously, going slowly, making tiny stitches in a way our grandmothers would’ve done, quietly, slowly by hand, is my way of breathing out, slowing down, getting out of my busy head. It’s got to be good.

Breathing space means that you slow down, and suddenly take a look at the moments you find yourself in. You may be surprised to find that your little boys turn very big, that celebrations with a houseful of teenagers and other family is actually quite enjoyable. (note to self: even the most incompetent adolescent can be taught to knit when the pressure is on – don’t let them fool you for one minute into thinking that those little pinkies can only work iPhones, oh no sireee)

Lucky girl that I am, I am about to journey to both of my oceans – first the ocean of the west, and then all the way across the land by train, to my ocean of the east. I am feeling very lucky that my work can travel with me, and my needles and thread, and camera. I am set. I have dear and lovely friends to see at both ends too, salty air to walk in, and pebbles to collect. I love you April, there is much to breathe in.

With apologies for the ridiculous number of photos this week, here are some outtakes, incase you are tempted to think this is all a bit Mary Poppins……





April 4, 2014   2 Comments

Simple…..

Martha Tilston – Simple

I remember how simple simplicity used to be, before I tried too hard and chased it away,

It would float in, flow through and out of me, complication – well I rue the day.

I’m gonna get right, right to the heart of it, I was bigger when I was nothing at all,

Just another pilgrim marching to the sunset, and it didn’t matter if I got there, it’s the journey of it all.

It didn’t matter if I got there, it didn’t matter if I got there, it never matters if you get there, it’s the journey of it all.

Well I’m gonna get back there, back to the heart of things, I knew everything when nothing at all,

Just another pilgrim marching to the sunset, and it didn’t matter if I got there, there’s power in being small.

Listen to Simple here

How much do I love this favourite song of mine, sang by the wonderful Martha Tilston. Why do I let simplicity float in and around me and then chase it away again? Here is my week of simple, or my attempt at a week of simple. Loving what is right around me, around my home, directly around my neighbourhood. I haven’t travelled more than a few hundred meters to find it.

The first flowers opening in my back garden.

A birthday present for my favourite wee boy three doors along

Linens drying gently in the breeze in my neighbour’s garden.

Lunch, eaten in the sunshine

Looking at treasure in Jilly’s cabin, and celebrating her latest find for Delight.

Showing Harry how to see if you like butter, just as my grandmother showed me when I was a little girl

A small crocheted distraction from the 7 mile long pink peace scarf

An early morning walk with Herb.

Learning to share, in the park

My daughter’s handwritten letters to each of her special friends, as they celebrated their last day of school

I’m not sure why I find ‘simple’ so very hard to find sometimes. Thank you Martha for the lovely reminder….

June 7, 2013   3 Comments

Because I Am A Girl

Here’s the thing. There doesn’t need to be much of an excuse for a party around these parts. Especially if it’s going to be a girly, stitchy cake party (yes, these things really do exist, particularly in Stroud)

In my experience, the girls round here will rock up to the opening of an envelope (harsh but fair) – so you can imagine the frisson felt when Woodchester village hall started filling up with fabric and frolicking….

Sewing machines were lined up, cake was laid out, and we were on our starting blocks…because of course we were on a mission…..

We were invited there by Bad Jo, whose birthday had rolled around again (they do that, birthdays) – and asked to each make a piece of quilt for her, to remind her of the fantastic community that we have and how loved she is within it. Yay to that!

Of course, because it was Jo, in all her brilliant-ness and cunning, she had got us there for something else too. And this something else was called Because I Am A Girl.

…which is the name of a campaign run by an organisation called The Plan, supporting girl’s rights to quality education. Here is what they say: At least one in five adolescent girls around the world is denied an education by the daily realities of poverty, conflict and discrimination. Every day, girls are taken out of school and forced into work, or married off to strangers where they risk isolation and abuse. Missing out on school can mark the end of a girl having any choice over her own future. This isn’t fair, it isn’t right and it’s also a huge waste of potential.

So Jo got us there to tell us all about it, and to make a commitment to help in some way. Which we agreed to do, because, hey, this is a plan that makes sense for all of us, right?

So in amongst the busy needles and lovely things to eat, there was chatter too about how lucky we are in this country to have the choices we do when it comes to education; to home educate, or state educate and all that it means for our daughters. With One Billion Rising still fresh in our minds, we got inspired to carry on and fight for all the daughters in this wonderful world of ours

And this we will do, together, in communities, and wherever it is needed and however long it takes. Stitch by stitch, plan by plan, word by word, because these children are not only our future, it’s vital to invest in their education properly and fairly. Women hold up half the sky. Thanks Jo. 

April 17, 2013   No Comments

Week

:: Saturday ::

Stroud’s rag market…always so fab, rummaging around offcuts of hand dyed french linens, buttons, quilts, beads…such a good distraction on a difficult day

:: Sunday ::

An Equinox gathering on Kesty and Martin’s land – hot tea and some community theatre which made me laugh and cheered me up

:: Monday ::

Sewing together some pink pieces of scarf, and really loving the moving stories being sent to me along with them….there are some wonderful people out there

:: Tuesday ::

A Twitter tutorial – trying to get my middle aged brain around something really simple – slightly edgy when teenagers arent the most patient of teachers

:: Wednesday ::

A good old fashioned day at the seaside with Grandma and Grandpa – eating ice cream in a near blizzard – March – you’ve got to love springtime….

:: Thursday ::

A truly mad, crazy two hours with Pixie-Bee, the Hotpants and Saskia-pie – playing trains, stitching lavender bags, nappy changing, song singing, biscuit eating and other fun stuff

:: Friday ::

Back to big kids – a chocolate fudge birthday cake for my youngest teenager

:: Saturday ::

Stroud Farmers Market essential – olives from the Olive Ladies – seriously good, guaranteed happiness

My birthday boy – gotta love a 15 year old in a furry owl onesy

So this is my funny old week – week one of the school holidays – and still feeling like midwinter. Not an especially easy one, but there are pieces of loveliness and colour to be found if I look hard enough. And as always, my camera is around my neck, ready and waiting.

March 30, 2013   2 Comments

The Quilt of Terror….

There’s nothing like a bit of leaf blowing and single figure temperatures to have me wistfully wandering back to the light, bright days of late summer….and so it is back to early September that I am journeying to today.

And more specifically to my daughter Holly’s 16th birthday, oh and my 44th! We share! Pretty cool, huh? Well, I had decided about 8 months before that to make her a quilt, something really special, that she would treasure (did you ever meet a 16 year old that fantasised about home-made family heirlooms? No, that would be a 44 year old) No worries.

I had forgotten to remind myself that I had never actually made a proper quilt. Even better, I had decided in my very non-virgo way to leave it all to about 3 weeks before her actual birthday. Of course, we all know, denial is not a river in Egypt….

Don’t be fooled by this happy, confidant woman laying out the pieces. I had the ‘dummie guide to quilt making’ stuffed up my jumper, and a rising feeling of terror at those squares of pinkness. Worse still, quilt making best friend had selfishly hoofed off to Cornwall, leaving me QUITE ALONE……

But one thing led to another, and I found myself actually just doing it…zipping up those babies, stitching one row to another, keeping going, ironing, keeping going. I had pieces of dresses that Holly wore as a little girl, favourite pyjamas, things that I have worn over the years, and most specially pieces from her grandmother and great grandmother. Lots of stories, all joined up.

It got a little crazy quilting it with my Husquavarna machine…she’s a very accommodating old lady when she’s in the mood. Bought the softest batting and brushed cotton piece for the back – how very technical of me…. and this is what it finished up looking like:

The last bit of backstitching went in the night before…so right up to the wire, but hey…I did it!! And even more perfect, she loved it.

My sweet girl, with a ring in her nose, and an attitude to match, quietly listening to the stories of the fabric, and still agreeing to wear the birthday crown. My happy heart.

There was cake, lots. And sunshine, and wonderment that sixteen years had whooshed by in a naughty nano-second.

And it is true that she loved and appreciated all the work I had done on her surprise quilt. But do you know what totally rocked my baby-girls birthday world?

That would be the pair of kick-ass purple Doc Martens that I bought her….


November 1, 2012   3 Comments