Thursday, 30 October 2008

Some Christmas ornament finishes, and sea coal!

I thought I would begin today by sharing some finished Christmas ornaments and the Forest Canopy shoulder shawl.

Here are the fronts - Prairie Schooler 'Old World Santas II'.

You can see the ink blue shawl underneath. I used Sirdar ' Blur' with kid mohair, 50 gram balls. I knitted this one on the needle size recommended by Sirdar (5.5mm) and it blocked out to the exact size, but the next one I have started on 4mm needles which will make it a little bigger and lacier. The pattern calls for 100 grams of wool, which will be easily achievable from the 2 balls of Blur.

And now....the reverse of the ornaments.

I chose to back the first one with fabric, but then preferred a cross stitch backing. So much for 'making them simple and keeping them quick'. The cross stitching is fast, but I find the finishing more time-consuming, but - definitely worth it. I just sit down and resign myself to the detail.

The beaded edge and back of one ornament.

This not-very-good photo shows the edge and mixed stitch snowflakes on the back of the candy-cane Santa.

So what were yesterday's photos all about???

Well, here on the North East coast of England we still have teams of men who go down to the beach every day to collect sea-coal.

There are different theories about where the name 'sea-coal' comes from - some say it is the discarded fragments left over from the many coal mines in this part of the world, especially the Durham fields, all now sadly closed, others say it is coal washed into the sea from exposed seams along the coast, some say it is because this coal was an easy harvest from the beach, some that it was because coal was carried to the whole of England and beyond, by sea. It was gathered by the Romans and the Anglo Saxons, so there is a long and noble history.

It is not lumps of coal, but more a gritty dust which is washed in by the tide. The men who gather it walk along the beach with a rake, making circles in the sand as they go to gauge how deep the coal is, and then when deep enough, they rake and shovel it into the heaps shown on the photo.

Years ago, in harder times, men from the villages would bag it up in sacks and balancing it on the cross-bar of their pedal bikes, they would walk it home for domestic burning. I can just remember my Dad doing this.

Now small, very old, wagons follow the men and the coal is shovelled up onto them and taken, dripping, for burning to Power Stations. The price per tonne is tiny, it hardly seems worth all the mind-bending effort on freezing cold Winter mornings.

But men do it.

We are hardy people, we North-Easterners!

Thanks for visiting

Wednesday, 29 October 2008

What is happening here??

I have decided today to show you a couple of photographs that I took on the beach just last week.

You can see that I have posed a question for you too. No prizes for the answer, as I know for sure that people living along the North East coast of England will know immediately what is happening here.

Here are the photos.

I will reveal all tomorrow.

I finished the Forest Canopy shawl. It was really quick and fun to knit up so I decided to start a second one in a variegated silver grey shade.

I intend to finish another Christmas ornament today so with luck and a following wind I will show pics of completed items later.

Meghan is desperate to go out, she is standing with her feet on the chair and her warm (and sweet) breath on my neck as I write. OK Meg, I can take a hint - let's button up our overcoats and brave the weather.

Thanks for visiting.

Tuesday, 21 October 2008

I do what I do.....

I am not a great cook!

I do what I can do - often.

This is mostly basic English cooking, roast dinners, Shepherd's Pie, spaghetti bolognese (English??). That kind of thing.

But my 'signature' dish is ...... pasties. Cornish Pasties.

And because I think I am so good at them I make a lot and share them out with family and friends. It may be that they say 'Oh no, she's made pasties again' but I don't care.

So on Friday I made pasties.

How many?

Forty-two. Yes - 42!

I had too much pastry, so made more filling - then had too much filling, so made more pastry.
So then I had 42.


For those of you who will count (gotcha!) there are only 30 something here - the rest are cooling.But they look pretty good don't they?

I have done some stitching too, I am continuing to work on the Christmas ornaments. The firstone is completed, and I have another stitched but not finished, and one in the process of being stitched.

But oh how easily I have been diverted into knitting.

I follow the Cote Passion blog ( and saw there the lovely Forest Canopy shawl. So I paid for and downloaded the pattern ( and bought the wool from my LNS - In2Stitches - and rushed home to put away my Christmas ornaments in order to brandish much bigger needles. The instructions are excellent and the pattern - after one false start - is easy and quick to knit. I will show a picture when I have completed a little more.


Sunday, 12 October 2008

Baa Baa Black sheep

OK. So I have taken my camera out with me every day since last Wednesday, but no cryptic writing to be seen. However, I did take a few pics of Meghan on the beach.

I am going to call this a 3D photo

Meghan is:-

Disgruntled - I stopped her crazy careering to take this photo.

Determined - not to give up the ball.

Disgusting - she is covered in sand, sea water and (sorry) saliva!

Now, I have finished Black Sheep Sampler. I would usually be pleased with a finish, but I really enjoyed this one and I will look out for other similar ones I think.

And.......I have begun my Christmas ornaments - and not before time some might say!

This one is from the Prairie Schooler 'Old World Santas II' chart. I used the recommended DMC colours for the smaller areas, the sack, beard and parcels, but Vikki Clayton's Gandy Tango (red) and Willow Withies 3227 (green) for the larger areas. The fabrics are possible choices for the backing fabric and ribbon for finishing. I think I will go with the green which has tiny holly sprigs and berries.

And an apology - I have only just begun blogging and my photos are not too good yet. If you look closely at the sewing ones you can see my shadow as I took the photo. David Bailey I am not!

Wednesday, 8 October 2008

The finding of a poignant text.

I always intend to take my camera out with me, especially when I walk on the beach, but this morning, as usual, I forgot.

Therefore, I was, maybe, the only person, other than the author, to read the amazing text written in the sand.

To say it was scratched in the sand belies its beauty - it was as intricately carved as a medieval stonemason's finest work, I feel I cannot do it justice here.

It looked like a manuscript, with such an elaborate variety of font style, with sometimes a word written sideways too. There were individual words such as Helios, Alpha, Ocean, Delta, along with some sentences, all in incredible calligraphy, with letters sitting inside others or in the space left between two complex letters.

There were drawings too – the head and shoulders of an angel, four or five metres wide, a half face, three meters high.

All drawn with a seemingly certainty of stroke, there were no mistakes, no re-writing.
It was fabulous, in the truest sense of that word.

But as I carried on along the beach, it was not the beauty of the written words which bothered me, but the significance of them.

Part of one message read –

‘Help me. My mind, body and soul bleeds yet I lack nothing’

There were some names there too.

When I returned, the incoming tide had washed most of the text away, but I fear that the troubles of this haunted soul will not be so easily erased.

Sunday, 5 October 2008

Thread stash addition and work in progress update

Vikki Clayton's hand-dyed silks
- my delightful double delivery!

This is an update of Black Sheep Sampler showing the house completed with another (sadly legless at the moment) sheep added.

Black Sheep Sampler

I have finished the house and another sheep on my Black Sheep Sampler by Chessie & Me. I must say I am really enjoying this project.

I used Sampler Threads 'Soot' in long-armed cross stitch for the roof which in the chart is felted wool. I am considering using this colour for the black sheep too.

I have a monthly delivery of Vikki Clayton's beautiful silks ( but sadly last month's colours went astray somewhere in the postal system. I asked Vikki about possibly tracing them she kindly added them to this month's delivery.
Lucky me!! Double Delight.

When I first started to receive these silks I thought they were almost too pretty to use but took great delight in sorting and arranging them. They are still as pretty - but I do actually use them now. I especially love the variagated colours which make lovely fobs and ornaments.

Wednesday, 1 October 2008

Seasons of the Trees and Black Sheep Sampler

I have attempted to take some pics of the finished 'Seasons of the Trees' and also of some smalls which I completed recently. Friends tend to like the scissor fobs so I gave some of those away without taking any photos.

I am continuing with Black Sheep sampler and late late yesterday (it was a just-got-to-house-clean day), finished the first group of trees and began the Shaker threads Gold Leaf house. The door is Elongated Smyrna cross which was fun to do.

I have walked Meghan on the beach and so the rest of the day I am devoting to cross stitch! After all, I deserve it!!