Overwhelmed

I’ve been thinking about writing here recently. Right now, I could write this exact post all over again – Knit therapy

Life is all just a bit overwhelming right now. Mostly it’s good, very good, but very full and busy.

Last week we were on holiday in Cornwall, which was honestly the best holiday I’ve had in a long while and the most relaxed I’ve been for ages. We enjoyed seeing a different part of the country, and Cornwall is truly beautiful.

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The boys being that little bit older now, we were able to get out and do some slightly more adventurous things together – long walks, a 20 mile bike ride and even a spot of parkrun tourism. We spent lazy afternoons crabbing in the harbours and eating fish and chips and fudge at the beach.

We nosed around craft shops and art galleries. I even found a yarn shop, though it was closed when we got there. The cottage we stayed in was lovely, spacious yet cosy, in a beautiful location. I really felt like I had space and time to breathe and relax. I read a whole book while we were there – Jamaica Inn by Daphne du Maurier.

Coming home, with a return to clutter and chaos and a busy week of work and activities felt overwhelming and oppressive. I forget how therapeutic crafting can be, yet somehow it’s also part of the heavy weight of physical and mental clutter. I have so many projects half done, half abandoned, half intended, waiting in the wings for the right time or the right tools or the right space. I end up in a brain fog where I can’t get motivated to do anything at all, but just waste any free moments scrolling idly, uselessly through my phone instead, finding inspiration without motivation, ideas but no decisions. But yesterday I picked up some knitting that I hadn’t touched in months. I only added a few rows, but it felt good.

In search of sheepy

This year’s Big Family Holiday took place in Scotland. For those that don’t remember, or haven’t been around that long, every couple of years we gather together with all of my mum’s side of the family, for a week’s holiday together. There’s usually around 40 of us though we were missing a few this time, so it was closer to 30, although one cousin did manage to make it all the way from Australia especially!

We had a great week together as we always do, cooking meals in teams, venturing out in smaller groups on day trips around the local area and further afield and playing games, drinking wine and sharing stories in the evenings. We even had a mad circus-themed morning with lots of great costumes and silly games.

The biting midges were awful and I shall be spotty from their nasty bites for a good week to come, I think. The midges and the ticks were a major downside, but we still managed to have fun walking the hills and building dens in the woods. The boys had a great time with their cousins and second-cousins and were sad to leave them all at the end of the week.

Being Scotland, I was hoping to find something suitably sheepy to bring home with me. Sadly, the closest I got was a long walk led by my uncle, consisting of bog-snorkelling, ditch-vaulting and electric fence hopping during which the sheep stood eyeing us all suspiciously from a safe distance. Wise sheep. Seriously. I got very muddy, and managed to electrocute myself! Despite which, it was still strangely enjoyable!

Even a day trip to the Isle of Arran was a bust on the sheepy stakes as there wasn’t time for mooching and browsing even had I spotted a promising looking shop.

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I did stumble across some gorgeous crocheted jewellery made by Red Squirrel Crafts. I especially loved her leaf designs, but, not really being one to wear much jewellery, I reluctantly refrained from purchasing anything.

I consoled myself with the prospect of visiting the Yorkshire town of Skipton on our rather indirect journey home. Skipton is the home of Lucy of Attic24. I don’t follow her blog particularly closely these days, yet it remains one of my favourite blogs. I love Lucy’s designs and am in awe of her sense for colour. Her Neat Ripple pattern was the one I chose to use for Pickle’s special baby blanket, and it’s my go-to design for baby blankets generally.

One of her most recent blog posts was about Yarn Shop Day, back at the start of May and so from that, I knew there was a great yarn shop in Skipton and I was looking forward to having a browse and had warned my husband that I may well emerge with some form of yarny purchase.

We had limited time in Skipton, so we parked up right next to the canal and wandered into town, only to find that the aforementioned yarn shop was closed. Waahhh!

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So the consolation to the consolation prize, was to find the little cafe ‘Coopers’ where Lucy has her studio upstairs. It was a good choice for lunch as the food was excellent and the staff friendly, and though I didn’t bump into Lucy herself, it was nice to see her surroundings.

I wish we could have stayed longer in Skipton – it seems like a lovely town- but alas we had to drive on, and I remained empty- handed.

Clearly, the Crazy Stripes must be finished before any further yarn purchases can be permitted.

On the plus side though, I have learnt how to solve a Rubik’s cube. I can’t say it was ever a strong ambition to do so, yet it feels like a great accomplishment to have done so!

 

And relax…

There’s nothing better than curling up in a comfy armchair in front of a roaring log fire, pj’s on, glass of wine to hand and the time to knit for however long you want to.

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I got to do quite a lot of that this weekend. My folks offered to have the boys for a few days so we took the opportunity for a quiet child-free, post-moving-house de-stressing weekend away.

We stayed in a fabulous folly on a large country estate, which has been beautifully restored by The Landmark Trust and is now available as a holiday let.

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We slept in late, had leisurely breakfasts, went for long countryside walks and ate pub lunches. The rest of the time we lazed about in the folly, chatting, reading and of course, knitting.

I have now passed the point where I had to rip back a couple of weeks ago and it’s good to see it growing again. It was so nice to have some time to dedicate to it. I need a weekend like that more often. I definitely think we’ll be heading back there at some point!

Woolly Welsh wonders

We have just returned from our mega family gathering over in west Wales. It’s usually an every-other-year holiday, but we all enjoyed it so much last year that we decided to do it again sooner this time. There were nearly forty of us this year, and we just had a fabulous week. The boys absolutely loved it! We have a great site that we use, with several houses grouped together, as well as grounds to explore. Pumpkin, being a little older, was granted freedom to roam the site with other cousins his age and older. There was a playhouse in the woods, a climbing frame and swings, woodland dens and trees to climb. Pickle mostly stayed within the courtyard garden, playing with younger cousins and a variety of bikes, balls, frisbees and pushalong toys. Every so often, he would sidle slowly towards the gate, wanting nothing more than someone to accompany him simply to throw stones in the small stream.

Day trips were had, to beaches and gardens, houses and museums. We went off for coastal walks and train rides, picnics, ice cream, and of course Fish and Chips for tea on the best little beach on the last day. Bliss!

Our first day trip of the week was to Llanerchaeron, a National Trust property, which had a sheep shearing demonstration on, as part of their May Half Term activities. The man demonstrating was very interesting to listen to – before beginning the shearing, he showed various tools and items traditionally used in sheep farming and shearing. He had great knowledge and a witty style – I could have listened to him for hours.

Sheepses awaiting shearing

Sheepses awaiting shearing

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Trussing the sheep up ready to be shorn.

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Mid-shear

The full fleece

The full fleece

As well as the shearing, there were also members of the Ceredigion Guild of Weavers Spinners and Dyers on hand, demonstrating just about everything involved in taking the fleece from sheep to yarn to finished object.

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I quite fancied having a go on a spinning wheel, but the closest I got was a drop spindle. Pumpkin wanted to try it, so I helped him. He found the drop spindle a bit tricky, but loved vigorously twirling a different, sort of helicopter style one, while the lady drew out the fibre. He was very pleased with his little bag of wool straight from the sheep, and ball of hand-spun yarn, and excited to take it to school with him to show his teacher.

I also got a little bag of freshly-shorn wool, and was given a beautiful handful of fluff by one of the ladies.

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Natural, and indigo-dyed Wensleydale wool

This is apparently from a Wensleydale sheep, and the blue was hand dyed using home grown indigo from the lady’s own garden. The picture doesn’t really do it justice – it’s pretty and shiny and wiggly! I want to know what to do with it!
I’ve just weighed it, and there are just over 25 grams there. Not much, but useable. I’m going to have to go off and investigate exactly what I need to do with it so I can knit it into something small but nice. Unless any of you lovely readers have any clue or suggestions?

Distractions

Knitting, and well, crafting generally has gone on the back burner recently. We were away on holiday last week during the May half term, with all of my extended family on my mum’s side. There were around thirty-five of us all together, spanning four generations, gathered for a week in West Wales. Every time I talk to anyone about it and see their reaction, I’m reminded what a rarity and privilege it is to be part of such a large family group who enjoy meeting up and spending time together. Spread as we are across all corners of England and Scotland, we don’t meet up often, and doing so is a large undertaking with plenty of challenges – not least finding somewhere that can accommodate us all in one place – but it is so much fun and very much a treasured time and experience.

Pumpkin and Pickle especially loved being away, with freedom to explore, cousins to adventure with and plenty of adults to help entertain them and keep them occupied, not to mention day trips out to castles and gardens, topped off with fish and chips and ice cream all together on the most gorgeous little tucked away beach at the end of the week. Coming home has been quite a let down to be honest!

On the upside, this week has seen the start of our small building project, so the boys have enjoyed watching proceedings from the excellent vantage point of the front room window. Pickle is on the verge of walking and has just learned how to pull himself up on to the sofa so he can make his own way onto the large windowsill to watch the builders with his brother.

Tomorrow are the auditions for the musical that I am hoping to do. I’ve had to dust off my dancing feet and rediscover my singing voice in the last couple of weeks of workshops, but it’s been good fun and I’m looking forward to getting stuck into the rehearsal process.

My knitting is still sitting in exactly the same position as it was when I took a photo for my previous post, so it’s definitely feeling neglected and sorry for itself. I’ve been browsing patterns though and have found one that I think I will line up as my next project, so I ought to get cracking really. Too many things to do, and certainly not enough hours in the day.