Previous month:
February 2010
Next month:
April 2010

Current goings-on

It seems an age since I last updated NM. I'm pleased to report the lace across the windows seems to be doing the trick thus far. I've witnessed more than one bird come right for the window and skate away just in time.

Said birds have ushered in spring for our household. I know spring is truly here when the Dawn Chorus wakes our children at unsociable hours.

The above image was a sort of recycled regatta we made for an upcoming GP article. Lucky we had some good friends visiting for the weekend to help out with the sailing. The children spent literally hours playing with these mini boats, even the 11 year olds.

And finally I've been working on learning more than chain stitch in crochet. I've been online, studied books and racked my brains trying to become more proficient (also unintentionally stayed up way too late.) I'm finally learning the language and a bit of pattern reading and just finding that like anything, it takes practice, practice, practice. I can tell you I am now VERY proficient at ripping out stitches.

I set myself a goal, learn how to make one of Lucy's hexagons. My sample took many other forms before reaching full hexagonal glory, still not perfect, but pleasing none-the-less. Her crochet is just so cheerful that following Lucy's tutorial was fun; the fact that she's a fairly recent self-taught hooker also inspired me.

This first hexagon will be a coaster for my desk but I'm now working on creating a scarf out of them in a solid colour for spring. I'll let you know how that goes. Now I feel prepared to tackle more tutorials, like any number of these from Margie.

A fabulous package from Pam arrived in the post for us too. Tins of chocolates for the children and loads of Kool Aid to try this tutorial of hers (we don't get Kool Aid here and my enamel deficient daughter thinks she gets to drink it all instead.) Pam also added some agates found on beaches in Oregon then polished. The frog in the hydrangea image is one of her photos - amazing. Thank you kind Pam, we loved going through your whole lovely parcel. 

Lastly, here's a little tip for making large envelopes, use newspaper.

Gracie had a double birthday party to attend yesterday so these two envelopes were made for the occasion. I'm sure there's no need to walk you through making these, but but just in case you want one, a short explanation is here.

And remember there are templates to make cards for upcoming special occasions here.

Hope you're all enjoying spring as much as we are. With a recent deluge over (hopefully) and the children now off school for Easter break we look forward to a few weeks free to immerse ourselves in the season.

Fragile life

The room where we make things has walls of glass. In the UK these rooms are called conservatories. The problem with walls of glass is that birds see right through the room to the other side; and of course being birds, they don't know what glass is. So sometimes little guys like this fly into it. 

When I found him he was barely breathing, he looked asleep on his side. I was worried another animal would get him so I brought him inside. Inside the conservatory is our craft space. The only quick thing I could find to put him in was a basket with linen scraps in it. I wanted something to prop him up with so with one hand, I unravelled my latest attempt at knitting while holding him with the other, then laid him on the yarn. 

I went and made him some sugar water and came back to find he was more awake, he drank some of the water and seemed quite calm.

I looked on the RSPB website and found that you can drop off injured birds at veterinary hospitals. While I was online he seemed to perk up even more and began trying to fly. Yay! Both wings were working, my heart skipped. I discovered then that he couldn't use his left leg so I took him to the vet. We had to wait in a waiting room with a barking dog, thought birdie would have a heart attack.

The vet took him in his huge hands and examined him, I was right, no use of the left leg. He said the leg didn't appear broken but birdie probably had brain damage and couldn't be rehabilitated. Even if he could blue tits need almost constant feeding and a bird sanctuary wouldn't have the manpower.

So the vet gave him a birdie size injection. I'm telling myself it was a nicer ending than being snapped up by a magpie or torn apart by a stoat. 

This is what I've learned. If you find an injured bird put it in a container with a lid and holes for air. Put it in a dark, quiet place and call the RSPCA to find a vet that will take the bird in. (This birdie got agitated when I tried covering him and putting him in a dark room so I left him in the basket where he seemed calm.) Also, broken wings can sometimes repair themselves but broken legs are less successful.

I forgot to ask the vet if sugar water was a good thing, but birdie seemed to improve with it. I gave it to him because blue tits are very energetic, almost like humming birds and humming bird feeders are filled with sugar water.

To warn the birds about the window I've strung across a length of lace as a temporary measure, we'll see if it works. I'd always wanted to hold a blue tit, careful what you wish for :(


On another note, last Sunday the sun came streaming through the bedroom window. It was a beautiful day for Mother's Day here in the UK and I actually slept for eight hours straight! Usually T & G are so excited on Mother's Day that they wake me up very, very early; this year they were too busy making things - sleep was bliss.

I've been busy with an upcoming article and back-and-forth to school a lot, but birdie is far sweeter to show you than anything else going on right now, think you'd agree :)


A few old things we've stumbled across

My love of old things isn't new, I've always loved to study old things. When I first moved to the UK thirteen years ago I would spend an extra long time in newly tilled fields when we went for walks. I was convinced I would spot little archaeological clues that would give up a history of the area. 

When hubby and I married we moved to a tiny village in Kent, me from Northern California, and he from Hampstead. The first week here I was convinced I'd found an ancient iron relic in a nearby field while out for a walk. We took it to the obvious place for verification, the pub.

I know it's probably only 1930's but I like it. 

The locals were very keen to see our find, many of them were collectors themselves like, Skully, a man of few words and nimble fingers. Skully was the best needleworker I've ever met, he created embroidered pictures of local houses and pubs - he also had a vast collection of skulls and he was an ex Hell's Angel. After inspecting our find the locals kindly tried to hold in their laughter as they explained it was a piece off of a plough - probably 1975 AD. 

The disappointment hasn't put me off, I still get a little too excited when I spot something old. I pick up shards of pottery all the time, I love them and have used them for projects like the one in this post. But I'd never found anything like these before.

Musket ball and cannon balls 
I think they are made of (left to right) stone 18mm, stone 35mm, iron 37mm and iron 56mm 

The two stone spheres on the left and the larger iron sphere at the end were found in the garden where we live now. The smaller ball on the left is probably a musket ball, which were apparently sometimes made of stone. My guess is a recent house extension turned over a lot of earth - everything you see in these pictures was visible above ground, heavy rain may have helped. The smaller iron sphere (third from left) is from a house we sold a few years ago, several of them were found when a pond was dug. 

My research online has not thrown much light on the subject except that cannon balls were various sizes, including these smallish spheres in the middle of the image. Also, stone cannon balls were used well into the 1600's even though iron cannon balls were brought into use during Henry VIII's reign. He invested a lot into the advancement of weaponry, especially in the expansion of the navy, much of which happened along this South Coast. Nearby Portsmouth is even home to Henry VIII's, Mary Rose

I had a look at the local library for further information but found nothing from the right era. I think a larger city library is needed, or help from archaeologist brother or archaeologist friends online, Alli? Lucy

We also found his smoky quartz, Gracie loved this best.

As the weather warms we hope to do some planting, can't wait to see what we uncover next. 
I'll keep you posted.

Thank-you kindly

Ipod-Classic I'm really grateful for the wonderful feedback I've received on the first Stitch Village Collection of patterns. I must especially thank a few people who have taken the time to give very thorough reviews online. I can't describe the lovely warm feeling their positive words have given me.

Firstly, Diane from Craftypod. I'm a huge fan of Diane's and regularly download her podcast to my iPod; but Diane has also written several ebooks and a beautiful print book called Kanzashi In Bloom. In addition, she creates fantastic tutorials on her blog and contributes to other great sites like Make + Meaning. Her review is here. Thank-you Diane.

Secondly, Pam from Gingerbread Snowflakes has a great site full of in-depth tutorials, recipes and gorgeous photographs (see her recent post about her love of hiking.) Pam puts so much into every post on her site and her friendly nature truly shines through. Her fantastic craft and recipe posts about holidays and feast days around the world will especially appeal to teachers and home schoolers out there - an amazing resource. Pam is also such a genuinely nice person; her review is here.

See_Me_on_CRAFT_green And Craft have been very generous with me again. Thank-you Natalie and Rachel. Rachel, from Average Jane Crafter reviewed Stitch Village for Craft and again, I was amazed by the time and effort put into this review, thank-you Rachel. Craft is also hosting a giveaway of this first Stitch Village pattern collection and two winners will be chosen. So for a chance to win go to Craft and see Rachel's review. Oh, and I can't forget to mention Rachel is another embroidery enthusiast - check out how she's combined her love of embroidery and her fascination with space (the final frontier kind of space) - fantastic!

It dawned on me, I don't think I've mentioned my favourite project from the book, it's the iPod case (above.) I love it because I use it all the time, and it's made from one of my favourite materials, a felted wool sweater.

I really will return soon with those garden finds. But I must first consult brother number one (the archaeologist) about a couple of details.  

Garden life and links to share

The garden here is so over-run with bunnies that I'm having a hard time envisaging growing any sort of garden this year. Still they are cute and the increase in bunny activity means spring is here. 

This pair is at least entertaining to watch but another one of our visitors is too stealthy to see and he's such a messy guest that I'd like to learn how to send him packing. 

As much as I love the visits from all these guys I'm seriously concerned I'll break an ankle falling into a hole on my way to hang the laundry. The mole(s) in this garden are very, very busy. Mole activity always seems to increase during heavy precipitation. When the snow melted dozens of new mounds were exposed and our recent heavy rain seems to have encouraged even more activity.

The huge variety of lichen of course love all the wet weather; these are on an old marble table.

As this is the first winter spent in this house we get to discover what crops up each season, like these snow drops. The several weeks of cold seemed to suppress the bulbs here but as soon as these snow drops popped up the daffodils seemed to suddenly come out of nowhere; it won't be long before they show their happy yellow faces.

I want to share a couple of inspiring links of the instructional variety. I don't get a chance to try out as many tutorials as I'd like to but here are a couple that I know I will try.

 Abby is showing just how simple it is to grow "microgreens." We eat a lot of sprouting greens but don't grow them which is silly really. Sonia is another lover of sprouting food and even has shelves for a type of sprouting station. I enjoy reading about different seeds people use and the variety of flavours.

Plush-rocks Another tutorial we will try soon is from zen crafting. Pat shows how to felt "plush" rocks, a project that is on our list for the Easter holiday, a few may even be included in an Easter "stone" hunt. Pat does inspired crewel embroidery on her stones - they're divine.

T & G have loved felting and needle felting, it will be great to show them another craft using wool roving. Lambing season is already here, so shearing season is just around the corner!

The downpours we've had have not only made the lichen happy, they have also washed away soil and unearthed a bit of treasure - I can't wait to get some photos to tell you all about it, soon, very soon.