Sunday, 15 December 2019

Ghostly Encounters

When I was walking on the stair
I met a man who wasn't there,
He wasn't there again today,
I wish that man would go away!

When most people speak of 'ghosts' they mean a remnant or a remainder of a human spirit. But there are many different sorts of ghosts - and not all of them are human!
     Anyone who has attended a spiritualist meeting, or a demonstration by a medium, will know that although the medium is passing on messages from various spirits, the audience rarely, if ever, sees or hears anything other than the medium speaking. The medium may be hearing, and sometimes seeing the spirits as well, but it is very rare for anyone else to see these 'ghosts'.
     In his book 'The Power of the Pendulum', Tom Lethbridge put forward the idea that some ghostly activities are the result of a kind of spirit recording. That rocks, landscape and atmosphere, or weather conditions, can combine to act as a way of recording a traumatic or highly emotionally charged scene. This is a way of explaining sighting of ghosts that seem to always act in the same manner, for example: The ghost of Queen Katherine Howard is said to run screaming along certain corridors of Hampton Court Palace, her spirit eternally trying to reach King Henry VIII and protest her innocence.
    Some ghosts appear to be 'bound' to a certain area, a house or garden perhaps. This may be because they loved this place while living, or because they do not realise they are dead, or simply do not know how to move on from the physical world to the spirit plane.
    There are many tales of ghosts appearing to loved ones, often miles away from their physical body, either at the time of their death or shortly after.
     Not long after my dad had died, I was alone in the house and began crying. I distinctly heard my dad say, 'It's alright, love.' in a comforting way. And I was comforted, I certainly was not frightened.
     But ghosts are illusive creatures, there is no guarantee when or if they will appear.
     These days you get TV programmes where people stay over night in a dark 'haunted' house, with the express purpose (it seems to me) of scaring themselves and their audience witless.
     I can honestly say that no true ghostly encounter that I have had, has ever been scary.
     In fact it is possible to have a ghostly encounter and not realise it at the time.
     Because of film and TV  depictions of ghosts, we expect them to be shadowy and transparent, but very often true ghosts look perfectly normal. They look like anyone you could meet on the street, perfectly solid and definitely not see through - and I have never ever come across any ghost that looks like a floaty sheet with a face!
    It is often only an anomaly which makes you realise that what you have seen could not have been a living person.
     In York it is said that a ghostly column of Roman soldiers marches through the cellars of some buildings. They are walking along the original Roman Roads of the city, but because the road level was much lower than the present surface, they only seem to appear from the knees upwards.
     In some cases it is what a person is wearing which gives the clue as their clothes are obviously from an era before the present - but with the modern passion for 'vintage' fashions, that may be the clue it once was. Or they may be performing an activity or action that we no longer do, or may walk through a door that no longer exists.
     They may even greet you quite naturally when passing in the street, although a man tipping his hat to you, might stand out as being rather old fashioned.
     So it is quite possible that you have had ghostly encounters, without realising it.




Thursday, 5 December 2019

Doggy Sleepover 2

Last Saturday we had a phone call asking if we would like a doggy visit from Charlie (I nearly wrote that as a 'dodgy visit').
     In fact, would we be ok with a doggy visit that lasted overnight? (Definitely a dodgy visit then!)
     Our son had persuaded his missus to go out for the evening and didn't want to leave small pooch on its own for several hours.
     Of course we said we'd be happy to have Charlie. She is no trouble, as long as you make sure anything you would rather she didn't chew is out of reach.
     Mike said that as his car was approaching our house, Charlie got more and more excited as in 'Can I get out? I know where we are going! I want to go play!' So, rather than just bring Charlie in with him at the front door, Mike popped Charlie over the fence into the back garden, to see what would happen.
     The first we knew of their arrival, was the sound of an earthquake as a small black dog burst in through the dog flap and thundered through the house. She was in the living room before Mike and Eden got in the front door! Two seconds later she had said 'Hello!' to everyone and she and Tallulah were barrelling out again, into the back garden.
     There followed much galloping in and out of the house as the two youngest members of the family attempted to tire each other out.
     Graham said he had peeped out into the garden and saw them chasing round and round with Tallulah in the lead and Charlie hanging onto her tail.
     At bedtime, all dogs were given their supper bickies and we all went to bed.
     Mike hadn't brought Charlie's bed this time, but there are plenty of places around the house for doggies to sleep. Including the sofa, floor cushions, Tallulah's dog bed, under the spare bed (special doggy cave) etc.
     We think Charlie tried them all out. Including on our bed and under it.
     Oh, and there was also the 'incident' in the night.
     Graham got up to go to the loo and found that Charlie had crapped at the top of the stairs.
     Now, unlike most dogs, Charlie does not stand still and crap all in one heap, but instead wanders around a bit, dropping nuggets here and there across the landing and into the office. Graham cleared it up and went to dispose of it.
     Meanwhile I was also now wide awake and decided I would also go to the loo (which is downstairs in our house).
    As I left the bedroom, I found a 'present' which Graham had missed - by stepping in it, barefoot, of course.
     Sunday morning was the Humber Bridge Farmer's Market, which we love to visit.
     So we had arranged to meet Mike and Cherise there, so they could retrieve small pooch and we could all have a look around (and buy many good things!)
    Charlie behaved brilliantly in the car, in fact she curled up and went to sleep on the back seat, but Graham did say to Mike and Cherise when we met up, 'Give us a couple of days before you bring Charlie again.'
    That night as we sat relaxing in front of the fire, me untangling a ball of wool which Charlie had managed to find and give a darn good shaking to, while wearing my reading specs with the well chewed side arms (Charlie again, not me), I said to Graham, 'I think we will all get a good nights sleep tonight!'




Saturday, 30 November 2019

Novenas and the Pursuit of Wool

This is a busy time of year.
    I don't think I have to tell you that, dear reader, as we are all whirling like spinning tops in preparation for the biggest blow-out of the year, christmas.
     Here are Raven I have been designing and drawing our Yule card for this year, on top of dealing with orders and trying to prepare a little flyer to go out with it.
      In my 'down time' (what the hell is that? does anyone have 'down time'?!) I have been pursuing my love of crocheting by making a variety of gifts, which means I have made a few things I am really chuffed with, and I can't blog about because I will be giving away surprises for friends and relatives!
    Incidentally I may have mentioned that it is IMPOSSIBLE to have too much WOOL, and for any friends or relatives who might be reading this, a ball or two of  (preferably) brightly coloured wool would make a very acceptable and thoughtful gift for certain people interested in crocheting.
     I must admit that when my son asked me what his father would like for christmas, I may have said WOOL. Maybe some beer too, but definitely WOOL.

    Right let's change the subject. mmmmm soft, pretty, wool......

Novenas

     I sometimes mention on my Facebook page that it would be a good time to start a spell novena, and I was asked the other day what a novena is.
    A novena is a set or series of spells, usually carried out daily over a number of days. It comes from a traditional form of petitioning prayer, where the same prayer is repeated over a number of days. The 'nov' bit in 'novena' is the Latin for 'nine', so originally the spell or prayer would be repeated over nine consecutive days or weeks, but your novena can be as long or short as you prefer, or as makes sense for your particular working.
     There is a saying in Witchcraft that 'three times is the charm' and in many traditional spells or magical workings you will find that it is recommended that the spell, or a phrase within the spell, is repeated three times. These repetitions are used to strengthen the spell, to add to its power and thus to ensure that you have a successful outcome.
    I was told that we use repetitions of three as the first time we are working with the conscious mind, the second repetition awakens the subconscious, and the third repetition sends the power through into the magical realms. So it is the third repetition which activates the spell and really gets it going. An alternative idea is that we use the number three as this is sacred to the Goddess.
     Novenas are particularly helpful for pursuing long-term goals, or for dealing with an on-going situation. For example, if trying to lose weight then a novena will help keep you focused on your long term goal of losing weight, you can use it to help you find a new home or job, or to get a business started and encourage growth.
     A novena does not have to be complicated. Light a candle and simply ask the gods for help with whatever you need, but remember to do this a certain number of times.
     As I said earlier, you can choose how many repetitions you do, you might choose a sacred number such as three, five, seven or nine. Or you might choose to do your novena every night while the Moon is waxing, to help something grow and flourish, or while the Moon is waning to get rid of something or diminish the influence of a person in your life, or even to diminish your own weight!
     Novenas are a very simple yet effective way of making magic.
     And they also encourage you to work magic regularly, which will increase your effectiveness, and thus the success of all your magical workings.
     I think it was Aleister Crowley who said: 'Conjure often!'









Friday, 15 November 2019

Frankincense and Myrrh

This is an article which appeared in the latest Raven Newsletter:

I can remember the first time I smelt Frankincense.
     I had opened an envelope from an occult supplier, Margaret Bruce (now that is going back some years) and there was a waft of an exotic, magical perfume, and out of the envelope dropped a tiny nugget of resin.
     I didn't know what it was, so I asked my dad and he said that it was Frankincense and he thought he had a tin of it somewhere. He had been an altar boy at his local Roman Catholic church in his youth, and one of his jobs had been to swing the incense censer and top it up with the fragrant resin, to fill the sanctuary with an odour pleasing to God.
     When he found the tin, and happily some charcoal, he showed me how to light the charcoal and blow on one edge to get it going, then dropped a teaspoonful of the resin onto the glowing coal. The house filled with smoke at an alarming rate and we ended up having to open all the doors and windows to get rid of it.
     'Yes, well,' said my dad, 'I did have to use enough to fill the church, which is a bit bigger area than this.'
     We had another go, using just a few grains of the resin and the smell was amazing.
     I love the ceremony of using this natural resin, the lighting of the disc, positioning it on the sand in my burner, then the dropping of the first few grains on the coal. All of these preparations help to start building the atmosphere, ready for magic or ritual.
     I had, of course, heard of Frankincense. Every christmas we were told the story of the birth of Jesus and how the Magi had brought him gifts of gold, Frankincense and Myrrh. And having experienced Frankincense, I was now eager to try its sister resin, Myrrh.
     Whereas Frankincense is a bright, soft amber colour, Myrrh is a darker resin in every way. It is dark brown, and its perfume is darker and more sensual. The two resins together harmonise and enhance one another, and make a very powerful perfume for spells and rituals.
     Myrrh is known as the perfume of the Underworld, or death and spirits. It smells earthy and sexual, and is a perfume for rituals of seduction and sexuality, or to awaken demons and spirits.
     Both of these resins were well known and highly valued in ancient rituals. The ancient Egyptians wrote their incense and perfume recipes on the walls of their temples and these recipes included Frankincense and Myrrh.
     Now a days we tend to use joss sticks and cones for our rituals. They are easier and more convenient to use, and come in a wide variety of flavours.
     But when I want to make a special ceremony, where the air tingles with magic, and you can feel the powers ramping up, I go back to the natural resins of Frankincense and Myrrh.

Incidentally, we did pop a pinch or two of Frankincense and Myrrh resins in with our latest Mail Shot, so I hope our customers liked it.


Wednesday, 30 October 2019

Doggy Sleepover

This last weekend we were looking after Charlie.

     Charlie is our son's family dog. She is a very new addition to the family as they have only had her a month and she is only four months old. She is known as a Double Doodle as she is a cross poodle and cocker spaniel, crossed with another the same. Our daughter in law is allergic to dogs, but they thought it would be good for our grandson, Eden, if they had a dog, and as poodles and poodle crosses do not shed hair, they would be a safer bet to not bring on Cherise's asthma.
     So Charlie was added to the family.
     She is a sweet little thing, but INCREDIBLY energetic, she is constantly on the go .... or asleep! There is no in-between state. The other slight problem with Charlie is that she is not fully house-trained yet. If there is a newspaper on the floor, she will generally try to aim for it, but hasn't fully got the idea that dogs go outside to have a wee etc.
     Anyway Mike and his family were off for a long weekend break near Blackpool, and the caravan they had booked, looooong before they had even thought of having a dog, did not take dogs, so they asked if we would mind looking after Charlie, and we (of course) said 'No, problem!'
     Charlie had visited before, and we know that Tallulah, in particular loves chasing round the garden with her - and Bridie does occasionally join in too. So Charlie was dropped off on Friday afternoon and the fun began.
      Imagine a houseful of overexcited children - now quadruple that - and remember that one child has toileting issues.
     Actually they spent most of the afternoon in the garden even thought it was raining on and off all day. Eventually Tallulah was so knackered she came in, followed by Charlie who was not in the slightest tired out. Tallulah collapsed on the living room floor and Charlie bounced all over her. When she realised there was no joy there, she tried getting a rise out of Bridie. But Bridie is an older dog, and has dealt with puppies before so she snapped at Charlie and Charlie decided to play with a squeaky ball instead.


   Eventually bedtime came and Charlie's bed was put near the open door in our bedroom, as we'd been told she was used to sleeping in Mike and Cherise's bedroom. The lights were put out and all was quiet for at least thirty seconds, then we heard the sounds of small doodle galloping down the stairs. There was a yap from the living room, then silence and we fell asleep. We were woken about half eleven by the sound of something bumping about underneath the bed, the bumping continued until a small dog emerged at Graham's side of the bed and began raiding the waste paper basket for tissues.
      Small dog was retrieved and removed to the other side of the bed again.
      Most of the rest of the night was fairly peaceful apart from the galloping up and down stairs of various dogs in various combinations.
     Actually the rest of the weekend was a lot more peaceful. They got over their excitement and Charlie calmed down a lot. She also quickly got the hang of the dog flap, especially with Tallulah helping her. Tallulah would go through, Charlie would bark 'Where have you gone?', so Tallulah would pop her head back through the flap as if to say, 'Here I am! Come on!' and Charlie would push at the flap.
     It wasn't long until she was barreling through it at full speed and at every opportunity.
     We didn't get the toileting issue sorted completely, but it was obvious that Charlie was doing at least some of it outside, although she would still gallop downstairs, have a quick pee in the living room (hopefully on the strategically placed newspaper) then shoot outside.
     Charlie has been attending training classes, so she does 'sit' very nicely and waits to be given a treat. And she is a very good natured dog, if occasionally noisy - but so is Tallulah so we can't complain.
     Charlies visit also gave both of our two a good lot of extra exercise, which can't be bad.
     So all in all, we would be happy to doggy-sit again (especially when Charlie has figured out that outside is where the doggy toilet is!)


Incidentally Charlie has black eyes, but the flash made them come out luminous yellow - well at least you can see them!


Friday, 25 October 2019

Greeting the Spirits

The main event of Samhain (Hallowe'en) is the opening of the doors between the Worlds, so that inhabitants of all the spirit planes can get together.
     It could be said that all the doors between the various worlds are in their best alignment at this time, so we can anticipate visitors from the lands of the dead, the various tribes of Fairy, from the deities, the Wild Hunt, or the Ladies of the Night (I am writing another article about these night visitors) from spirits incarnate or not. In fact anyone who fancies turning up.
     On the night of Samhain our ritual welcomes all spirits, from wherever  they might be, and from all stages of incarnation.
     So how do we ensure that we have a welcoming space for our visitors?
     Most spirits do not like bright lights (although there are exceptions to every rule) so firelight and candle light give a gentler, warm light. If you are not happy using naked flames, then use shaded lamps instead, and strings of fairy lights. You can find some smashing strings of lights in the shops at this time of year, and, of course, you cal always carve a pumpkin lantern or two.
     We usually spend some time out in the garden and have a small bonfire. There is a fashion for garden fire bowls at the moment and these are a lovely way of making a small, contained fire. We hang candle lanterns in the garden too.
     Incense is always attractive to the spirits, particularly perfumes such as copal, frankincense, sandalwood and Nag Champa. Sometimes the spirits will use the smoke to create a temporary form, or to send a message. Watching the incense smoke can be a relaxing form of meditation too.
     There must be a feast! This is a festival after all.
     Spirits will partake of the essence of any food or drink, while the incarnate guests can enjoy the material substance.
     If you are hoping for a visit from a special spirit friend or relative, you can always make sure that a dish of their favourite food is included.
     If you are having a meal at a table, do set places for your spirit guests. These can be miniature place settings, but it is only polite to give them a place of honour at your table. I know my mum would like a good pot of tea in a nice china cup and saucer, with salmon and cucumber sandwiches.
     The Celts sometimes called Samhain the Feast of Apples, so a dish or two incorporating these fruit would be a nice idea. This was also the time when animals would be butchered, so meat dishes are appropriate. Especially sausages. Most bonfire parties will feature a sausage in a bun, or other food which can be held and eaten.
     There are also traditional games to be played with apples, such as apple bobbing. Or peeling an apple in one strip and throwing the peel over your shoulder. The peel should for the initial letter of a future spouse or lover's name. And, of course, eating an apple by candle light as you gaze into a mirror, when the face of your lover will peer over your shoulder into the mirror.
     You can also formally invite your guests from many realms. The words you use do not have to be part of a set ritual, they can be spontaneous words of welcome.
     You could say something very simple like:
     We welcome all spirits to our home,
     Come and visit us!
     Merry meet, merry part and merry met again.

     You could also drink a toast to all your visitors, seen and unseen.
     Above all this should be a lighthearted fun evening, and a bit spooky!
    One that you and the spirits look forward to all year.




I was aiming for a picture high on Halloween decor and low on crap and dust - in our house?

Sorry we don't do tasteful minimalist.




Thursday, 10 October 2019

The Bedspread - a Witch's Craft

After three months filled with the excitement of crocheting, my HUGE project is finished.
     And it really did turn out to be HUGE!
     I have really enjoyed it, not only making the background shapes, but finding out how to do new shapes and new stitches, how to make flowers, trees, mountains and lots of other stuff. How to join pieces or make beautiful textures.
     I already have MORE stuff planned to do - well, I tell a lie, I have already started my next project.
    But first here are a few piccies of the finished bedspread. It is soooo HUGE that I couldn't manage to get it all in at once.









   
It has taken me just under three months from start to finish, and I am really chuffed with it, and so is Graham. To be honest I expected it to take me a lot longer to make.
     There is a Witch's cottage in the deep, dark pine wood at the left, and yes there is a little Witch to live in it. There is also a blue dragon which lives in the mountains at the bottom.
     There is a black field of stars and Moon, and a little boat in the boat house at the top, which can carry you on your journeys. There is a colour wheel, made up of triangular fields joined by little streams and a pool with a spiral in it at the centre. The colour wheel is all the colours of the rainbow and also represents the seven classical planets and colours used in different types of magic.
     There are fields of clover, daisies and of sunflowers.
     The yellow field with the poppy surrounded by a circle of leaves represents the cycle of the year. The colours of the leaves from fresh green in spring, through to the more mature deeper greens of summer, then the bright changing colours of Autumn and the brown fallen leaves of Winter, to the start of Spring again.
     You may also notice that in the sea at the bottom of the bedspread is a whirlpool. The spiral is the simplest form of unicursal maze, a symbol that goes back into pre-history and can be found on our most ancient stone monuments including Newgrange in Ireland. It represents a spiritual journey, or the journey through life, or the magical transformation from child to adult. It can also be the conduit or passage between one world and the next, like the black hole which leads from one universe to another, from waking conscious to dreams, or from this material world, to the spirit worlds.
     This whirlpool is also made up of four interlocked spirals in white and shades of blue, so this also represents the four directions, or the four quarters of a magic circle.
     This is more than just a bedspread, this is also a magical artefact for dreaming and spirit journeys.

     This is a Witch's Craft.


     Magic is everywhere.



Monday, 7 October 2019

Haunting Bunting

We always put decorations up for Samhain.
     We have collected quite a variety of  bits and pieces over the years, and inevitably some of them are getting a little past their best.
     One of our main decorations are some orange and black paper chains, although they are rather faded now and have the occasional tear - well they must be 30 years old.... But I have not seen anything to replace them to my satisfaction in the shops. Many of the decorations these days seem to be cartoony or cute and I wanted something a bit more ..... I dunno really.
     Anyway, I had an idea. I could make some special Samhain/Halloween bunting!
     But first of all we needed some suitable fabric. So off we went to our local Boyes store, which is a department store selling everything from discount clothes to kitchen ware and wallpaper, to craft supplies, fabric and wool!
     I love looking at all the bolts of fabric on the shelves, there is so much to choose from. And we found four different coloured netting fabrics printed with spiders webs, stars and moons and pumpkins, just right for this project. So we bought a metre of each and carried them home in triumph. - I may also have bought some wool ....
       The first step was cutting out the bunting shapes. I didn't want plain triangles, I wanted them to have spooky, wiggly edges. I also wanted the shapes to be fairly large, so I needed to make sure I got as many as I could out of each metre of fabric.
   I did this by cutting the shapes alternately from one side of the fabric to the other, so they made interlocking wavy triangles. Also I couldn't figure out how many I would need for a string of bunting, so I made as many as I could from each piece.


As you can see the concept of 'triangular' is rather a loose one, but you can see how the shapes fit together, the top of one becoming the bottom of the next.
      Once I'd got them all cut out, I sewed across the top of each to make a channel we could thread some cord through. And on Sunday morning, Graham and I sat and threaded them onto long cords, with a knot between each piece to help keep them spaced out.
     It turned out I had made loads too many - there were certainly well over a hundred in total. It took me a few hours sewing away with my ancient hand sewing machine - I have tried electric machines, but they go too fast for me, and my old Singer machine can sew anything from silk to leather, so it suits me.




So here are the finished strings of bunting, all hung up in the living room.
     I have actually got some shapes left over, so I could make another couple of strings if I want to.

     It will soon be Samhain!



Friday, 4 October 2019

Sea Sides

Now, just because I haven't mentioned The Bedspread for a little while, doesn't mean that crocheting has not been going on.
     I have now got the main central section together, decorated and complete (I think), so now is the time to concentrate on the sides and bottom edges, which will be the sea surrounding my central magic island.
     You know that I had been crocheting many pieces of ripple stitch, with bands of dark blue, light blue and white. To me these represent the waves breaking on the sea shore, and when you look at these, the waves break at different times, not all together. So to try and represent this I made these first pieces in different lengths and with the coloured bands in different positions within each piece.




     I then fastened these together end to end in a long piece for each side and the bottom.
     When I had done this, I decided two things, these strips were not wide enough in proportion to the main bedspread, and to the majesty of the sea I wanted it to look like. Also, when you look at the sea further out, it appears more uniform than the breaking waves at the shore.
     So rather than make more small pieces to match the inshore sea area, I decided to try and make special larger pieces to represent the wide almost infinite nature of the sea.
     Also I thought it would be easier to make the sides before fixing them to the main bedspread, as it is sooooo huge and quite heavy and difficult to keep manouvering about.
     So, here is Graham modelling one of the finished sides:



As you can see, this is still ripplestitch, which seems very appropriate for the sea, but I have used some thicker wool. This means that the 'ripples' are larger and wider, which to me represents the strength and depth of the sea and the larger ocean waves. You may also be able to see that the larger waves don't always match up with the smaller, inshore ones, and that was also a conscious decision as the sea does change its waves as it becomes shallower and hits underground rocks or features which change the shapes of the waves and how and when they break.
      The mixed, smaller ripples will be attached to the bedspread sides, allowing the sea to drape and hang down the sides of the bed.
      I have completed both of the sides and am now working on the bottom edge. Then all I need to do is fasten them all together and the bedspread will be finished.
 
     And I shall show you the finished result.

     I think ripple stitch might be one of my favourite crochet stitches.




Wednesday, 2 October 2019

First World Problems

My son has been having trouble with his waterworks.
     Well, I mean his house has.
      This has meant that his dishwasher has been out of action for over a fortnight now.
     He told me at the weekend that he was looking at the mountain of dirty dishes piling up in the sink, and wondering what to do about them, seeing as the dishwasher is broken.
     'Bin them and buy some more?' I said
      And from the look on his face, I believe this was something he had considered, until his wife sighed and said, 'Well I suppose I shall have to do the washing up!'
     At which point the lightbulb went on in his head and he had his Eureka moment, 'Oh yes!' he thought, 'That's what we used to do before dishwashers!'


     To be honest we have never had a dishwasher and never wanted one either - besides which I don't think you could fit one in our little kitchen.
     Graham has just pointed out that we do have a dishwasher and it is him!




 

Tuesday, 24 September 2019

Nuts, Hazel Nuts

Autumn Equinox is not just a time of plenty for humans.
     We have a large hazel tree in our back garden. It wasn't meant to be a large hazel tree, it was meant to be a small, ornamental corkscrew hazel. But the small ornamental corkscrew hazel was grafted onto a normal hazel rootstock, and suddenly - ta da! - there is a large hazel tree with a small twisty bit near its base.
     Anyway, our hazel tree is a prolific and bountiful tree and at this time of year it drops hazel nuts all over the garden. We try and gather up as many as we can, as otherwise they root and we have small hazel trees coming up all over the place.
     Actually, a little while ago, Graham went round the garden finding these hazel seedlings and potting them up for some friends of ours. They have a large hilly paddock with a wild corner in it, where they want to create a hazel grove. I think Graham found around fifty or so small seedlings, without any difficulty.
     On Saturday, which was a lovely day, mild and warm, we had the back door wide open as we like to do whenever we can, and through the back door, Graham spotted a squirrel on the back lawn. It was stuffing the fallen hazel nuts into its cheek pouches, which looked to be full to bursting, and yet in went another hazel nut, and another.
     We were glad to know that the nuts are not going to waste.
     The hazel tree is known as the Tree of Knowledge in Celtic myth, and there is a story of an otherworldly pool overlooked by a hazel tree. In the branches of the tree slither serpents, the guardians of the tree and its special fruit.
     In the pool beneath the tree swim speckled fish and as they feed on the hazel nuts which fall into the waters, the fish have become wise, and anyone who eats one of them will also gain wisdom and magical knowledge.
     In some Witch traditions, a symbolic journey to this otherworld place is a part of the initiation ceremony. You must brave the serpent guardians and ask for the right to learn the magic and wisdom the tree and its fruits have to offer.





Friday, 13 September 2019

The Emergency Crochet Kit !

When Graham and I go to do our weekly grocery shopping, very often I wait in the car while Graham goes round the shops with a list.
     We have found that it is usually quicker and easier for him to do this alone, rather than having to manouver me and my wheelchair about at the same time. Graham says that I am doing remote control shopping - although he does sometimes go 'off piste', which may involve beer, and one time he came back with a pair of strappy sandals he thought I might like (they were the wrong size, and will be lovely if I do decide to take up the oldest profession, but I was touched that he had thought of buying me something - actually one of the other (male) shoppers did say to Graham 'You're brave, I wouldn't dare buy my missus something like that!'.).
     What used to happen while he was in the supermarket was that I would have a Sudoku book and do a few puzzles while I waited, get bored, get very bored, try to stop myself falling asleep - because I was BORED!
    But now...... I crochet!
    I have a special crochet kit I take with me and I can get little bits and bobs done while he is in the shops, and I really enjoy it.



As you can see, my kit is quite simple, a few balls of yarn, my book of crochet recipes, a pair of scissors a pen and a bone crochet hook (which has two different sized hooks, one carved at either end). The phial has a few blunt needles for sewing in ends.
      As I have been learning to crochet, I would scribble down instructions from the online video's on scraps of paper, I then decided to write them down properly in this book, so they are all together. The book has the basic stitches written down, as well as recipes in very detailed form - including the 'yarn over hook and push through, yarn over and pull back, yarn over and pull through two loops' etc.
     Actually the bone crochet hook is there because one Sunday when we were going to a Boot Sale, when we arrived I realised I had all my kit, but no crochet hook. Luckily the very first stall Graham visited had this crochet hook which he bought and carried back in triumph to me.
     So this has become part of our routine. Before we set off, I grab my bag of crochet kit, so I can amuse myself while Graham is shopping.
     But this morning there was a crocheting emergency!
     For some reason I had taken the grip seal bag containing scissors and crochet hook out of the bag (I needed some blunt needles to sew on some of the elements of The Bedspread!) and I'd forgotten to put it back in. I just assumed that it was in there and it wasn't until Graham had gone off to the shops, that I picked up my bag to start crocheting and realised ....... Oh No! No crochet hook!
     Ye gods how bored was I? No crochet hook, no crocheting. I hadn't even got a pen either so I couldn't write about how BORED I was!
     When Graham got back I told him the problem and we drove into Hessle so that he could go and visit the little haberdashery/craft shop. He bought an emergency crochet hook and scissors and put them in the glove box, so now if I do happen to forget my kit, I can still crochet! yay!

     I love crocheting .









Friday, 6 September 2019

Stage Two : Filling In

Stage One of the bedspread is just about complete now - I know I have ends to fasten in and bits of finishing off to do. But all the 'fields' and other elements are now together as you can see here:



Although I am leaving the edge of 'sea' to the last as this is plenty heavy enough to manouver while I am working on the flowers, trees etc to go in the fields.
     I have also already positioned a couple of my extra pieces, but there are lots more to go in or on.
I wanted the bedspread to not only have lots of interest when you look at it, but also lots of textures, so if you are laying in bed in the dark, or with your eyes closed, you can feel different things, maybe tell where you are in the landscape from its feel as well as the picture it makes. So I deliberately made the 'watery' parts lumpy or ridged, and also the edges of the 'fields' are mainly raised also.
     Also because of the weird and wonderful selection of yarns Graham accumulated for me, there are some very different textures there too. There is the ultra-soft 'Teddy Bear' corn field, and there is a pink strip which has sparkly but scratchy feeling lurex. And of course the different stitches I've used also give different textures.
     To be honest, this is turning out even better in reality than it was in my head.
     I had no real plan, just a rough idea about what I was hoping to achieve - and it is getting there!

     Incidentally there is already one hidden pocket in the bedspread. You see the little house in the corner of the green field, next to the corn field? Just by the poppies? That is a boat house, and inside it is a little yacht which you can take out and sail down the river to the sea, or up into the sky and visit the moon.


Sunday, 1 September 2019

Fun With Crochet

As I mentioned in my post on Crocheter's Cramp, I have been having fun piecing together the various 'fields' and other large pieces which will form the background and basic structure of  my bedspread.
    This has not been easy as some of the pieces I've made are not in the least square or even triangular.
     For a start I couldn't help looking at some of the gorgeous pieces of freeform crochet on the internet and I found a lovely instructional video from Sheru Knitting on making a swirly element. It struck me that this would make a beautiful base for my pond and river so I copied down the instructions and had a go at it.



I did add a bit extra too it and made the 'tail' a bit longer - actually I have since made it even longer as I wanted the 'river' to reach to the edge of the bedspread and therefore reach the 'sea' edging.
      One of the things I really liked about this tutor was that she said things like 'I have done 'x' number of these stitches, but you can do as many as you like.'
     All through this project, I have been experimenting, making shapes or  little pieces which may be hidden in pockets, or fastened in place. Such as these:


All of these are bits I just had a go at - I think the little couple may end up living inside the pavilion building.
     One of the balls of wool Graham found was a soft golden-orange tinsel-like yarn called 'Teddy Bear' and I thought straight away what a beautiful field it would make, very like a ripe wheat field. I t also felt lovely and soft and cuddly.




     As you can see from the second picture, as it was called 'Teddy Bear' yarn, I just had to have a go at making a little bear. I know it isn't perfect, but I did not use a pattern, I just had a go.

     Amazing what you can do when you are having fun with crochet!

Wednesday, 28 August 2019

Havering About

I don't think there was ever a time when my mum was 'just' a housewife.
     I remember being told when I started work (45 years ago) that men got higher wages than women doing the same work, because men supported the family. The attitude was that women only worked for 'pin' money, for money for luxuries to supplement the family income and not through necessity.
     And yet I knew that in my family, as in many others, there were times when the only money coming in was whatever my mother earned.
     My dad was a self-employed builder/decorator/plumber/handyman and also suffered several long periods of physical and mental illness as I was growing up.
     Both of my parents did whatever work they could find and living in a Lincolnshire village, the main work available to women was land work. This was usually as part of a 'gang', a group of women who went from farm to farm usually picking vegetables, or whatever was ready for harvesting, and very often potatoe picking. This was 'piece' work, so you were paid by how many sacks of potatoes you filled, so the quicker you could pick, the better.
     But there were some jobs which were solitary, such as collecting eggs from the battery hens, or havering.
     Havering was a job for high Summer, when the corn had turned golden and was almost ready for harvesting.
     When the grain was harvested, the farmer was paid by the quality of the grain, and one of the criteria was how many non-wheat/barley/oat seeds were counted in a sample. So the job of the haverer was to walk through the cornfield with a haver-sack pulling out weeds, by hand, that is: any plant growing in the field which is not wheat etc.
    It is not until you begin walking through a field of wheat that you really find out just how many other grasses and weeds are growing in there.
     This was not a job where you walked up and down the rows, you zig-zagged across the field, sweltering under the hot sun, wearing heavy gloves and thick clothes to fend off the prickly and stinging weeds and also the surprisingly sharp heads of grain. You pulled out the weeds wherever you found them, and stuffed them into your sack.
     So this rural work gives us two words which we use without thinking: the haversack, literally the sack you stuff the haver into and also the phrase 'havering about', which means dithering and acting uncertainly, and comes from the way the haverers would wander seemingly randomly across the fields instead of walking straight across.
      It can also refer to a rambling story which starts off in one place and finishes somewhere completely different.
     Rather like this article.

Friday, 23 August 2019

Crocheter's Cramp

Now, you know that I have only relatively recently taken up crocheting again - and I am REALLY enjoying it!
     Which does mean that I have been doing rather a lot of it.
     A month or so back I suddenly found myself in extreme pain if I took a deep breath, laughed, coughed, sneezed or got vaguely out of breath in any way.
     Relaxed, I was ok, but whenever I took a deep breath there would be a pain in my belly and side.
     I was a bit worried (to put it mildly) but between us, Graham and I worked out that I was suffering a sort of muscle cramp.
     The same sort of thing you get in the gym if you do too many stomach crunches.
     The way I'd been sitting, hunched over a low table while I put together pieces of crochet meant I had been unconsciously holding myself in a very still, set position for an hour or maybe (probably) more. And eventually the body decides it has had enough of that!
     So I had to take it easy. Make sure I sat up and back and didn't hold any position for too long. And after a few days the pain eased up and went away.
     Well, now I am getting to another fun part of the bedspread and am fastening together all the 'fields'. There are some interesting, odd shaped gaps to fill in and then I will get to add the decorations of flowers, trees etc.
     So I am getting quite excited about it.
     And also maybe doing a little tiny bit more of sitting hunched over the table than I ought to.
     Actually I noticed it last night. But, hey, I felt ok! (Well, maybe a little twinge) And I was being more careful, making sure I sat up and back whenever I could.
     Then this morning, things had seized up.
     Damn it!
     So I had to admit to Graham that I've got crocheter's cramp again.....


     Wonder if I could just do a few little pieces?
     I should be ok!





Tuesday, 20 August 2019

Getting Creative

Ok, so once you have a few basic stitches and shapes you are ok with, you can start to make other things.
     For a start the Basic Five Petal Flower pattern lends itself to several variations. Put two together on top of one another and you have a more 3d, ten petalled flower, or make a bright red four petalled version, give it a black middle and you have a lovely field poppy.



     The same pattern in green gives a three lobed clover leaf, especially if you add a bit of chain stitching to make a stem. I liked this one a lot, and decided one of my 'fields' would be full of clover. So off I went, crocheting a batch of three lobed clover leaves, and just one four lobed clover leaf.




     I liked the leaves. So I decided to try and make some more different shaped ones.
     Back to the internet and the wide world of simple crocheting tutorial videos!
     I found a lovely simple leaf https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mfpPjetFIyE  Made one, liked it, made lots more in shades of green. Then suddenly realised that I could also make them in Autumnal shades which meant I could make even more in lots of bright colours.
     Also I realised that if I added a little chain stitched 'stem' to the leaf, I could keep crocheting and add another leaf at the end of the 'stem'. Then I could join more and more and make a long stem of leaves - I did get a bit carried away.



     Meanwhile I was also having a go at making some trees.
     These were all simply improvised, trying my hand at various shapes, and some were devised to make use of a particular ball of wool I happened to have.



     These stylised 'lolipop' trees were created because I have some beautiful rich green wool, but it is very thick. It reminds me of the rich green used in medieval clothes or Pre-Raphaelite paintings, so I had to find a way of incorporating some of it.
     Meanwhile I had come across 'scumble' crocheting which is another or alternate name for freeform crocheting. You make various decorative elements or motifs, then work these together into a larger piece.
     I had no idea what I was doing, but I fiddled about crochetting a bubbly green piece and realised it could be a bush, or the top of a tree. So the first piece became an oak tree (well that's what I think it looks like).




     I may make some longer thinner pieces for some of the wilder 'hedge rows' but I haven't decided yet.
     There is so much I want to try and so much I want to incorporate, you may need a crane to lift the finished bedspread!



Saturday, 17 August 2019

Tutorials

One thing you find with the Internet, is that if is discovers that you have an interest in something, whether that be model railways, porn or crocheting, whenever you are looking for stuff online, it will show you lots to do with your particular interest.
     So when I started looking for crochet flower tutorials, I got LOTS of them for me to choose from.
     I soon found that you have to use a tutorial that suits you.
     I also found that what people mean by a certain term can vary from person to person, let alone from country to country.
     For example in the UK, what we call a treble crochet, in the US is called a double crochet. So I would have to watch carefully and make intricate notes about individual stitches (yarn over, push through, yarn over, pull back, yarn over pull through two loops on the hook etc) to be sure I was using the exact same stitch as the tutor.
     I also know that although I need exact and precise instructions to follow, I am quickly going to get fed up if the same thing is continually repeated.
     So the best video's for me are where one or two petals are explained in detail, then the tutor says something like, 'Repeat that three more times and I'll meet you at the end.'
     Great! I can do that!.
     Some videos are designed for you to crochet along with the tutor, which sounds like a great idea. But I don't want to sit in front of my pc crocheting, I want to sit in front of the TV. So I need to be able to make detailed notes of instructions in a form I can understand, not just while watching the video, but while sitting on the sofa in a month or so from now.
     Something else you need on a video is a voice that you can get along with. No matter how good the instructions are, if they are given in a high pitched, squeaky voice that is more suitable for bat's hearing and makes your ears bleed, that is no good for me.
     Neither is a slow, ponderous monotone that will give you a row of 50 stitches, all exactly the same and delivered in the same words and voice. This is crocheting for insomniacs - it certainly puts me to sleep.
     I may be a beginner, and an elderly one at that, but just skip to the chase and say: 'Do the rest of the row in the same way and I'll meet you at the end.' These are videos after all! You can pause them, backtrack and go over the same piece as many times as you need to - and believe me, I did!


     OOOOOoooooh! Freeform Crochet! Now that makes my heart leap with joy!
     I had never heard of it, never seen any of it, but suddenly there it was, amongst these tutorial videos there appeared these beautiful, intricate concoctions of colour and pattern.
     This was crocheting off piste!
     This was Creative with a capital 'C'.
     This was definitely something I want to learn!


Saturday, 10 August 2019

Crocheting Fields and Flowers

Once I had made enough 'sea' to go around three sides of the finished bedspread (I'm aiming on a size that will suit a double bed), I could now start on the fields.
     Well, to be honest that isn't strictly true as I had already done a few squares and triangles as light relief from the 'sea'. But now I could concentrate on making lots of different 'fields'.
     I had a vague idea of how many I might need, but I also knew I didn't want them all to be exactly the same size, as I wanted them to reflect the randomness of fields in the countryside. So I couldn't say exactly how many I would need.
     Never mind, I now had LOTS of wool, and I was enjoying myself. It didn't matter if I made too many as I could then pick and choose the ones I liked best, or which fitted nicely together. I also knew that as they were different shapes and sizes I was going to have odd shaped holes, which I would have to create special shaped pieces to fill.
     Also as I had managed the Ripplestitch pieces ok, this had built my confidence and I could have a go at being more creative with the stitches I used.
     One of my problems is that I have a brain that flits from thing to thing. If I do too much of one thing I will get bored, and I wanted to make this enjoyable, creative fun all the way through. So I knew I would have to allow myself diversions rather than grinding out field after field.


     Off I went, back to the internet to find a pattern for a SIMPLE flower I could have a go at.
      It needed to be a video for absolute beginners, so that I could pause it, take notes and back track several times to see how it was done, and make it go into my head and stick.
     What I found is that there are HUNDREDS, maybe THOUSANDS of of tutorial video's out there.
     And as for 'Simple' flowers .... wow! there were loads.
     Before my head exploded and I got overwhelmed by the vast amount of info I now had access to, I found a tutorial for a Simple Five Petal Flower from Bella Coco again. Just what I wanted. It looked easy, the lady spoke clearly, explained it simply and showed you exactly what she was doing.
     I took notes, watched it several times until I was sure I understood what she meant, then went off to have a go.
     I was going to need lots of flowers in lots of colours. Yay!
     But it didn't matter if they weren't all exactly alike, or if they were a bit wonky, nature is wonky in parts so it would be ok.


Saturday, 3 August 2019

Landscape Planning

OK, so I knew this bedspread was going to be made up of various crocheted elements, which would have to be connected together in different ways.
    There would be similarities to patchwork, applique and embroidery, but first the basic background had to be constructed. Here I was on fairly safe ground with my squares and triangles, although I didn't want the 'fields' to all be the same size and shape or even texture. I wanted there to be a random element in there, as there is in a landscape of fields.
     When you look at fields, they may be vaguely square or oblong, but there are always odd corners or boundaries which run alongside a river or road which can make edges strange shapes. Or maybe a copse of trees has been left in the middle, or a pond in a corner, or a wide margin and high hedge left wild for small birds and creatures.
     I wanted to reflect these things in my design. Also this bedspread is not intended to be a photo of a real place, but a landscape of imagination and magic, so I could use colours for the 'fields' which you would never see in this world.
     As for the outside edge .... Well, I wanted this to represent the sea surrounding my magical island, so blue, or a variety of blues seemed obvious. Then a friend who does a lot of crafts and needlework told me she was crocheting a tablecloth for one of her daughter's dolls and was using a kind of wavy stitch and sent me a picture to look at.
     Wow! That was just what I needed for my wavy sea!
     Oh heck! This looked exotic and scary - but I would have to have a go at it.
     I found a tutorial video on Ripplestitch and with much pausing, backtracking and taking notes, I managed to write a recipe in terms that I could understand, and would be able to follow (I hoped).
     I decided I wanted my 'sea' to be dark and light blue, but also include white for the froth on the breaking waves. Also when you look at waves, they don't all break at the same time, a chunk of wave will break, then a few seconds later another piece further along will break, so it is not an even pattern.
     To try and evoke the feeling of these moving, randomly breaking waves, I made the edge pieces in various lengths, moving the colours around from piece to piece, so that no two adjacent sections would have the same colours matching up.
     Now I know that people who are experienced at this kind of thing would probably have just made the whole thing in one continuous strip and just kept swapping from one colour to another. But as a complete novice I had to do this in chunks I could get my head around, and as one who up to this point had only known the most basic of stitches (chain, English Treble crochet and slip stitch) trying Ripplestitch was one heck of a step up for me.
       So off I went, crocheting piece after piece of blue and white rippling sections of 'sea'.



A piece of ripplestitch sea


Several pieces if ripplestitch sea



Lots and LOTS of pieces of ripplestitch sea! Phew!

The video I used was by Bella Coco on You Tube


Friday, 2 August 2019

In Silence

The culmination of the Mysteries of the Earth and Grain Goddess, Demeter, better known as the Eleusinian Mysteries, was the decent into a subterranean temple where, in the darkness, an ear of harvested corn was revealed.
     According to Hipplytus 'at these Mysteries, the Mighty and Marvelous and most Perfect Secret suitable for one initiated into the highest mystic truths: an ear of grain in silence reaped.'
     This has also been translated as 'In silence is the seed of wisdom gained.'
     An ear of grain, silence, wisdom.
     Why should these be connected in any way? Let alone as such a great spiritual Mystery that it has endured over three thousand years and is still known today.
     The Eleusinian Mysteries took place at harvest time, which is bracketed by the Pagan festivals of Lughnassadh and the Autumn Equinox.
     These two festivals celebrate the beginning of the harvesting season, the first grain, the first new bread, the end of the hungry Summer season when there is nothing to harvest. And at the Autumn Equinox the climax of the harvest, not just of grains, but leaf and root crops, berries, nuts, grapes and olives are all ready to be harvested.
     This is a time of plenty, when we can feast and celebrate the fact that we have food to feed us through the next year.
     But this is also the beginning of Autumn. The cooling of the year heralding the harshness of Winter.
     Yes this is the bounty of Demeter, but it also marks the death of the Earth, the retreat of the Summer Maiden into her Winter, Underworld Kingdom, where she becomes the barren Queen of the Dead.
     In folk songs it is John Barleycorn who dies, cut off at the knees. Yet he will stick his head up again in Spring, appearing as the new shoots in the fields - and in the meantime his lively spirit inhabits the foaming brewing beer, and the daily loaf of bread.
     This is a Mystery of life and death, of death and the promise of re-birth.
     But why 'silence'? What is so special about silence?
     In our modern world we rarely experience silence. In fact some people find silence unnerving or even frightening. If silence threatens they feel compelled to fill it with something: music, TV, computer games, phone fiddling or any kind of chatter. Yet in religious orders from all cultures there is an emphasis on silence. There is time put aside to be quiet.
     We have all heard of meditation and many people will quickly say, 'Oh, I can't meditate!' as if it is a great skill they have to learn.
     There is no trick to meditation. It is simply allowing yourself a time to be quiet. To separate yourself, for a short time, from the everyday world.
     Many people use a meditation focus. Something for them to think about while they are being quiet, so that everyday thoughts, cares and worries can be put aside for a time.
     In the case of the Eleusinian Mysteries, the meditation focus is an ear of ripe grain.
     If you can't get hold of an actual ear of wheat or barley, there are lots of pictures on the internet. Find one and just sit quietly and look at it.
     Don't try to think about anything, but if you find thoughts of the school run or what you should cook for tea start to intrude, just re-focus on the picture.
     It doesn't matter if you have a divine revelation, or just think what a pretty colour it is.
     This is a time for you and your brain to chill.

    In silence, is the seed of wisdom gained.





Saturday, 27 July 2019

WOOL!

I was so excited by my ideas, for my crocheted bedspread, that I had to try and explain to Graham what I wanted to do.
     He was also full of enthusiasm for the Project and could see the possibilities also.
     However, for what I had in mind I was going to need a whole lot more wool!
     And not only in the bold, rich colours I had already selected, but in lots of shades, dark and light, deep and pale. But also, unlike a straight forward item like my poncho or shawl, I was not restricted to using lots of a single colour needing many balls of wool all the same, I could use odds and ends. Odd balls of wool, or even little bits and pieces left over from other work.
     The obvious places to look for odds and ends of wool, especially on a restricted budget, were charity shops and Boot Sales.
     Graham was a man on a mission!
     In my wheelchair it is very difficult for me to go round Boot Sales as these are often in fields or other surfaces where my wheels simply dig in. So Graham was going to have to be my eyes, and go in search of wool.
     Now, when Graham is fired up and pointed in a particular direction, that is where he goes.
     Forget everything else, nothing exists for him but the search for wool!
    So after several Sundays visiting various Boot Sales, we now had three huge bags full of various kinds of wool, in a very wide variety of fibres and thicknesses.
     I was delighted - even though a lot of the stuff I had no idea how it could be used.
     Tallulah was also delighted, as I have already written about in my post 'What Tallulah Did Next', and her joy in demolishing any unattended balls of wool resulted in us buying some huge lidded storage boxes just to keep her nose out of it.



The most worrying buy were three large coils of very thick rope, which looked like they would be used for tethering a ship. I had no idea how I was supposed to incorporate these in my work.
     'No, No!' said Graham, 'These are for battling ropes!'
     Ah! Something for his home gym - you grab the ends of the ropes and try to make waves along their length (I think)
     Phew! That's a relief.





Sunday, 21 July 2019

Crocheting - The Project!

So, last time I told you that I am now the proud possessor of quite a few large balls of brightly coloured wool* So what was I going to do with it?


     I wanted to make something big, bold, bright and colourful.
     And the obvious choice was - a bedspread!
     So far, so yawn.
     I could make squares, triangles and circles - with exciting forays into wonky hexagons and an experimental oblong. So my first thought was a bedspread made of random squares and triangles.
     Then I realised that when you looked down on this patchwork of squares and triangles it was like looking down on a patchwork of fields.
     Suddenly the bedspread became a landscape!
     The joins between the fields were obviously walls and hedges. And if this was a landscape, then it could be an island surrounded by the sea, with shades of blue squares around the edges.
     And in the fields could be flowers and trees.
     Then I took another leap into the world of magic and realised that as I was crocheting, I could be working magic into the bedspread too. So that when finished the bedspread would not only be (hopefully) beautiful, but also a magical object which could help you with magical dreaming, spell work and astral travel.
     I wanted this bedspread to have many layers.
     Layers of crochet, crochet on crochet, but also layers of meaning, symbolism and use.
     It would be a warm and practical (ish) bed cover, but then you could enter into its magical landscape. You could explore the scenery, visit a particular place, swim in the sea. Maybe meet creatures who inhabit the landscape. The bedspread was going to have to have secret pockets in it with hidden objects or creatures.
     Suddenly it had become a wonderful and exciting Project, full of amazing possibilities. It could be as interesting and elaborate as my skills would allow.
     I wanted things not to be in proportion or scale. so you might have a field with huge flowers or trees. Some things would be flat, others three dimensional.
     So for a person who up to this point could only crochet circles, triangles and squares, this was going to be quite an undertaking.
     But one I couldn't wait to get started on.





* I know technically these should be referred to as 'yarn' as this covers all forms of fibre used in creating these balls of thread whether it be wool, polyester, viscose or whatever. But in the UK these are always called balls of wool, because wool was the stuff we used for thousands of years. So rather than putting wool (yarn) I shall just use whichever term appeals to me at the time, and I'm afraid you, dear reader, will have to make your own mental arrangements.



Sunday, 14 July 2019

Crocheting

I have mentioned that I have been doing a bit of crocheting recently.
     I haven't done any for years. The last thing I made was a throw, which was basically a spiral square, where you just add another colour in and go round and round and round until you either run out of wool, or the square is big enough.
    And crocheting squares was really the extent of my crocheting knowledge and expertise.
    Then a few months back I had the opportunity to buy some very cheap wool - a local shop was closing down and selling off all their stock. Now the colours were limited, the choice was purple, black and white, so I bought all the purple and black I could and carried it home in triumph.
     I had fancied a poncho, but couldn't find one I liked for sale, so thought this was an ideal opportunity to have a go at making one. The only problem was: I could make squares, making two triangles to fit together was way out there! This was quantum crocheting, as far as I was concerned.
    So I had a look on the internet and found a lovely tutorial on how to make a simple triangle. I watched carefully, took notes and had a go, and found that this was as easy as making squares.
     I had more black yarn than purple, so I used the purple to make pattern elements, and I am very pleased with the result.  (Graham decided to help me display my finished stuff)


I felt so chuffed with the result that I wondered if I could make other shapes based on the same simple principles, and decided to try hexagons for a start. These are a bit more complicated and were more fiddly than I expected. But I was having a bit of a play and an experiment - and basically using up the remaining wool.  (Man, the Mighty Hunter modelling hexagon wrap)



I really enjoyed the crocheting, and was pleased with the results too, so I thought I would like to carry on and make more stuff.
     So when we went to the Humber Bridge Farmer's Market, there was a stall selling all sorts of big balls of brightly coloured wool (yarn) and I fell upon it like a starving chocoholic on a box of Mars Bars. I bought one of lots of different colours, then Graham picked out a few more. So we ended up with a bag full of brightly coloured yarn.
     'What are you going to make?' asked the lady on the stall.
     'I don't know.' I replied truthfully

     The crocheting world is my oyster!

     And as for coloured wool (yarn).... More! I want MORE!

I also made a shawl, which I wasn't going to mention, but my lovely assistant insisted on displaying it for me



The bottom pic shows off the tassle ....


Next time - The Project!







Thursday, 4 July 2019

Life Death and the Universe

I heard somebody on TV disparaging the 'Cosmic Ordering' system, because it made people think they were 'some kind of magical being'.
     Well, of course we are magical beings!
       For people who do not believe in magic I will just say three things:
1) Life
2) Death
3) The Big Bang

    Let me explain a little.
     When you hear scientists talking about the evolution of our planet, Earth, they will often say something like 'And around 3 billion years ago, life appeared.'
     Hang on a tick. Where from? What made inanimate minerals and chemicals suddenly decide to 'come alive'?
     One explanation I have heard bandied about is that the Earth was 'seeded' with life from outer space. Fair enough, but we return to my original question - where did that original 'life' come from? What is the difference between inanimate rocks and minerals and animate bacteria, algae and ultimately us?
    How can minerals be inert, dead, matter at one instance and 'alive' the next?
   The answer is easy - Magic!

     And if we are talking about the transition from inert matter to living organism, then there is its opposite occurrence:
     Death: there is no actual scientific explanation for what makes a body alive one second and dead the next. Neither is there even a consensus of opinion amongst doctors over when a body is actually dead or alive. There are clues about when a body is dead, eg. not breathing, no heartbeat, we can even check that there is no brain activity. But even with all these checks there are occasions when beyond all logic and expectation the body will decide to live again, even after it has been declared dead.
      But the most magical part of all is: what makes this packet of flesh and bones alive? What is the fundamental difference between a live body and a dead one? A body can appear to be fully functional, in the prime of its physical manifestation and yet there is no life in it.
      In religions and magical philosophies the answer is simple: The body is a material vehicle which is used by a non material entity in order to interact with the physical universe. Or in simpler terms our true nature is as non-physical beings, we are all spirits using bodies to live for a while in this physical universe. At death our true self, our spirit or personality, will leave the physical sheath it has been inhabiting and will return to its immortal life on the spirit planes. This is much the same as how we use a car to get from one place to the next, and then get out an leave it when we get to our destination.

      And thirdly: The Big Bang. Most scientists believe these days that our universe appeared spontaneously in an event known as The Big Bang. Now what this means is: once upon a time there was nothing. Then this 'nothing' exploded, and not only did it explode, but from nothing there was suddenly an almost infinite amount of Mass (a vast quantity of which (ie most of it), the scientists tell us, should be there but apparently is not!)
     Now what any physicist will tell you is that energy and matter cannot be created from nothing. This is why (in theory) infinity machines cannot work. An infinity machine is a machine which generates more energy than it consumes. According to the 'Law of Entropy' if you use energy, you will always end up getting less back than you put in. So according to this Law, eventually the Universe will end because it will run out of material to make new stars, all the stars will go out, and that will be the end.
     However, the other day on TV I heard a scientist say. 'Of course, we don't know what is outside the Universe, but we know there is something.'
     Hang on another cotton-picking moment! Where did that come from? Why is that never mentioned? It is like there are secrets within science that are known about and not mentioned to 'outsiders' possibly because our tiny brains would explode if we knew about these amazing possibilities.

      We always come back to Magic.
     There are certain questions to which the only possible answer is 'Magic'.
      And as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (himself a believer in spirits, fairies and the supernatural) said through his detective Sherlock Holmes: if you have discounted all other possibilities, then what is left must be the true explanation.

Oh and as someone once said:
'You are a ghost, driving a meat coated skeleton, made from stardust,
what do you have to be scared of?'