Sunday, 1 March 2015

Under the Beech Tree - March

Wow.. February went by really fast!

1st of March and the
beech tree is bathed in morning sunshine :)
Bare branches now..  the fierce winds
have stripped the last hangers on
Beyond the beech tree.. the first snowdrops

Gemstone - Bloodstone

Flower - Jonquil

According to the old adage March 'comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb'.

In Anglo-Saxon times this third month was called Hyld monath - stormy month, or Hraed monath - rugged month.

Spring Equinox - March 15th

Solar Eclipse - 20th March 2015.  Starts at 7.41 UTC and ends at 11.50 UTC. 

In Norway and the Faroe it will be a total eclipse.. where I am in the UK it will be a partial eclipse follow this link to find out whether you can see it where you are.

Some Folkloric Traditions and their origins..

11th March - Penny Loaf Day - Newark, Nottinghamshire

For three nights Hercules Clay dreamed that he saw his house on fire. So convinced was he of impending doom that he moved his family out. They had no sooner left the property, when a bomb fired by Parliamentary forces during the English Civil War, destroyed the house. As thanks for his lucky escape, Hercules left £100 in trust, to provide penny loaves for the poor of the town.

25th March - Trichborne Dole - Trichborne, Hampshire

This custom dates back to the twelfth century when Lady Mabella Tichborne lay sick and dying. She asked her husband Sir Roger to establish a gift (dole) of bread in her memory for those who arrived in Tichborne for the Feast of the Annunciation. Not thrilled at this prospect, Sir Roger said he would provide flour for the bread from as much land as his wife could encompass. A determined lady, she managed to crawl round 23 acres, an area still know today as The Crawls

Well.. that's my March musings.. hope you all have a lovely month xx

Thursday, 26 February 2015


I forgot to post my owls!  I got a bit obsessed with them again in January.. I started out making cosies

3 Tea / Coffee Pot Cosies
Don't they make a funny line-up?!
And liked the look of them all together I decided to felt a picture panel featuring all 3..

Yet again something I don't want to part with..  Guess I'll just have to make another, one for me and one for my shop :)
I'd originally planned to applique the centres of their eyes on, but I actually like them as they are.. lamp like, and decided to leave them alone.

Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Allow me to introduce..

Long Tall Short Fat Sally.. or Sally for short :)  L.T.S.F. Sally is a character from Terry Pratchett's Discworld.. a young witch who's allergic to tides.. she changes shape with the tide.

This is me :)... well my measurements anyway
I've wanted a dressmakers dummy for ages and the Lady Valet has always been the dream model that I thought I would never own.. but now I have one :) yay.  I'm stupidly excited about her.. thinking of all the wearables that I can make so much easier now :)

Setting her measurements to match mine was a funny moment.. I seemed to be turning the wheels endlessly for the hips and waist lol.  It had been years since I bothered measuring.. last time I did I was 36-26-36.. and before that I was 34-24-34. NOW it's 36-30-40.. gravity is definitely taking hold :)

I could do with getting a nice cover so I can hide the gaps and mechanics, and use her for taking listing pics too..


Sunday, 15 February 2015

Olive Oil Soap - a useful tip

For many years now I have been buying the big 600g bars of olive oil soap from Wingham, but I only used them grated.. whenever I tried to cut a chunk off to use they just crack and crumble.  Which was a pain 'cos it's useful having a hand sized piece.  But it was a bit on the pricey side for me though to buy small bars of olive soap..  the big bars are much better value, just not so convenient.  So I just used vegetable soap from the supermarket.  Which was fine, but I'd of preferred to use Olive soap

WELL.  A little while back I was reading a listing for this soap on and they actually had cutting advice from the manufacturer in their listing!  Brilliant!  I'd also read about using a hot knife to cut soap so I decided to combine the 2..  tried it out and it works like a charm :)

Oliva brand soap - 600g bar
You need a pretty big knife, I found that I needed to push on the point end too to go through the soap evenly, so it needs to be plenty long enough.

Fill a bowl/jug with very hot water and stand the blade of the knife in it to warm up.

Unwrap the soap and stand the block on a microwave safe plate.  Pop it in the microwave and heat it up a little.  The instructions I read said to heat it for approx 20 seconds...  I found that it still cracked and crumbled after 20, so I popped it back in for another couple of 15 second bouts (I did it in 2 go's so I could check it wasn't heating up too much).  

Dry the blade of the knife, and cut straight downwards through the soap (being careful of your fingers!)  If it still crumbled I popped it back in for a few seconds, being careful not to go too far - Google 'soap in microwave' to see what happens if you do there are loads of videos.  

Working swiftly so the soap & blade don't cool down cut your big block into smaller bars. 

approx 100g per bar
I did have one failure with this method however.  I found a block of soap at the back of the cupboard that must of been there for a few years. Turns out really old soap is too dry for this method to work on.  The photos below show old and new soaps for comparison.

New olive oil soap..  moist and creamy with
an even olive green colour right the way through
Old dry olive soap.. you can see the difference in texture and colour,
it's only the very centre that is still the usual green, the outside
 is more of a pale brown
The old one was no good for cutting up, but as it's still fine for grating at least it shan't be wasted.

I was so happy to of found this tip, now I have lots of bars of olive oil handsoap :)  Perfect for felting with.  I'm sure there are many felters who have known to do this for years.. but I didn't and wanted to pass it on incase any of you don't. 


Thursday, 12 February 2015

Doodling :)

A few weeks back I received a beautiful gift from my dear friend Heather  - a gorgeous pair of socks :) and this beautiful leather journal that she made..

Leather journal handmade by Heather Karlheim
Which was really lovely because I had been wanting a nice journal for a couple of months, fancying having somewhere special to doodle when the mood strikes.

I didn't start on it right away.. but this weekend I used the first page (and really enjoyed it :)

After enjoying my pen and paper doodling so much I decided to free motion machine doodle onto a couple of felt pebbles..
2 new brooches
It's such a lovely journal that I would really like to fill the pages with lovely doodles.. shame Ruthie lives so very far away.. I could do with going to one of her workshops!   Hopefully some more of my doodles will be suitable for translating into freemotion on felt. :)

Monday, 9 February 2015

Jacobs Project Update... all finished :)

Wooo Hooooooo!  I finished my waistcoat.. and I'm really pleased with the result, I'm sure I will wear this a lot :)

I decided to felt a panel for the back using the last 3rd of the fleece.. the dark fibre.  And I'm going to break from tradition by showing you the finished photos first :) cos I'm so excited that it's done.

Happy twirl with Gary snapping away :)

I haven't used a closure..  I tried branch buttons but they didn't look right, and I tried belting it but wasn't keen on the look.  I rather like it left open.. Though my brother in law has suggested a zip, which I may think more on.  I'll see how I feel after wearing it a few times.

I have to say I found felting Jacobs to be hard work..  It was fine once it 'got going' just seemed to take forever to get past the soft spongy stage.  I'd been thinking of felting a pair of boots to use up the last of the fleece and yarn (it would be nice to co-ordinate) but I'm not sure whether I can face it..  we shall see.

Laying out batts.
Thank goodness I didn;t have to do this all on paddles anymore!
After wetting I added prefelt circles roughly where
I expected my shoulder blades to be
Adding lovely Wendleydale Locks
from WensleydaleLongwoolSheepShop
Almost finished felting..
Using tailors chalk to work out my cutting lines
from a paper pattern I'd cobbled together
Both washed and left to dry..
Pinned together along the edges.  I overlapped them with the felt outside.
I hand stitched along the inside then the outside edges.
Then did the same at the shoulders.
I really must get an adjustable tailors dummy.. I would love to be felting more tunics, jackets and other wearables and I'm sure it would be a HUGE help.

Saturday, 7 February 2015

Under the Beech Tree - February

Under the Beech Tree
February 2015
Gemstone - Amethyst
Flower -  Primrose

Earlier names for the 2nd month in the UK..
* Anglo-Saxons had 2 names; sol-monath (cake-month) because cakes were offered to the Gods during this month.. and sproutkale from the sprouting of cabbage or kale.
* Was known in Wales as 'y mis bach' - the little month 
* In the days of William Shakespear (around 400 years) it was known as Feverell - I like this one, it sounds lovely.

The modern name of February has only been in use about 100 years.

The snowdrops will be showing their faces soon.. 


1st/2nd Feb - Imbolc
Pagan / Gaelic celebration of the lengthening days and beginning of Spring.  Traditionally a fire festival.

2nd Feb - Candlemas Day.  Related weather-lore..

If Candlemas Day be fair and bright 
      winter will have another fight
But if it be dark with clouds and rain
      winter is gone, and will not come again.

14th Feb - Valentines Day 
St. Valentine was a pagan priest in third century Rome who converted to Christianity.. funny that he became patron saint of lovers since he was famed for his chastity :)

Tuesday 17th February is Pancake Day :) 
We shall be having stacks of American Pancakes with maple syrup, Greek yogurt and fresh fruit YUMMY.  I never bothered about pancakes before.. I'd only had our British ones and didn't really like them.  For my last birthday, in December, a dear friend cooked me brunch.. with American pancakes - I loved 'em and I've made them for the family 4 times since!  

If you have never tried them.. I use this really easy recipe from SomewhatSimple  - it makes lots of totally delicious, fluffy, American Pancakes.

And of course every 4th year we get an extra day :)
Leap years day tradition: Women could, on this one day every 4 years, propose marriage to men.
Apparently it was once law in Scotland that men proposed to on Leap Years Day were forbidden to refuse.. if they did they had to pay a hefty fine.

Well.. that's all the February trivia.. hope you have a good month!

Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Sale.. and workshop update

I may not of mentioned it here.. but I'm having a January sale over on my Etsy shop (to make a little more room in my storage boxes :)

Also, the Spinning and Felting Workshops at Oak House in February are cancelled.. we didn't get enough bookings.  BUT there will be another felting session very soon.. more to follow!

Sunday, 25 January 2015

Rude Mans Best Friend..

I recently sold my Rude Man Bag to a male knitter in the US :)  In case you can't remember that bag it's the 2nd one down on this post.  Well, I'm pleased to say that he was delighted with the bag and commissioned me to make a pouch to fit inside, that he can keep stitch markers and small scissors etc in.  And luckily for me he had great ideas for that pouch!  It was to have Rude Mans Best Friend on the front flap.. and a Nantucket Lightship Basket closure with bone shaped peg :)  Both, I think, brilliant ideas and I was really rather excited to make this pouch :)

I made the pouch from natural oatmeal coloured BFL and drew the design in dark grey, filling the dog in with mid grey Shetland.

The dog was to be based on Keith Haring's Barking Dog..

Rubbing through soapy net 
I cut a hole for the closure loop to pass through..
I ended up getting it wet again now 'cos I wanted to 'heal' the edges of the hole :)
I hand stitched a trim from the same fuled Harris Tweed wool fabric as
I used in the Rude Man bag.
Whittled wood for the first time!

Showing all the trims :)
Finished :)
Measures 15cm x 21cm
This really was a fun little project.. I LOVE commissions like this, and the opportunity to work with such lovely people!

Thursday, 22 January 2015

Jacobs Project Update

Just a quicky.. wanted to show you where I have gotten to with the Jacobs project..

I've knitted the 2 front panels :) Really pleased with myself.. I know they're dead simple, but I don't knit (I get bored and give up usually), so I'm chuffed to of finished these so quickly.. mind you it is nice thick wool , and I did use big needles :)

They're really curly round the edges at the moment, but I think washing and blocking them will sort that out.

Just the back to go now..