Thursday, 19 May 2022

When Covid came a calling

The photo is of flowers and a card from my eldest for Mother's day which seems such a long time ago now.

So it feels like ages since I visited my little blog space.  For a while now we have been saying when we get covid and not if as it seemed inevitable that at some stage it would find its way to our door and that is exactly what happened. Thankfully we were all able to ride the storm without anyone becoming really poorly but like so many it has left us fatigued and I think those effects will be with us for a while. 

I have however got through a further three Ann Cleeves Vera Stanhope novels.  I think I have just one or two more until I am up to date and ready for the release of the next Vera story due out in the autumn.

The Glass Room is book 5 in the Vera Stanhope series 

DI Vera Stanhope is not one to make friends easily, but her neighbours keep her well-supplied in homebrew and conversation. But when one of them goes missing, her path leads her to more than a missing friend . . .

Vera tracks the young woman down to the Writer’s House, a country retreat for aspiring authors. Things get complicated when a body is discovered and Vera’s neighbour is found with a knife in her hand. Calling in the team, Vera knows that she should hand the case over. She’s too close to the main suspect. But the investigation is too tempting and she’s never been one to follow the rules. Vera must find a killer who has taken murder off the page and is making it real . . .

Silent Voices is book 4 of the Vera Stanhope series

No murder is ever simple . . .

When DI Vera Stanhope finds the body of a woman in the sauna room of her local gym, at first, she thinks it is a death from natural causes. But then Vera spots ligature marks around the victim’s throat and has another murder case on her hands.

The victim is Jenny Lister, who was an experienced social worker, but her neighbours are quick to inform Vera about Jenny’s involvement in a notorious case. A young child tragically died and a member of Jenny’s team was subsequently fired and vilified by the media.

As Vera tries to pry information from the secretive community another body is found, and Vera finds herself in a race against time to stop the killer.

Hidden Depths is book 3 of the Vera Standhope series

A killer who is making an art out of murder . . .

A hot summer on the Northumberland coast and Julie Armstrong arrives home from a night out to find her son strangled, laid out in a bath of water and covered with wild flowers.

This stylized murder scene has captured Inspector Vera Stanhope’s attention. And then another body is discovered in a rock pool, the corpse again strewn with flowers. Vera must work quickly to find this killer who is making art out of death.

As local residents are forced to share their deepest, darkest secrets, the killer watches, waits and plans to prepare another beautiful, watery grave . . .

 I enjoy the Vera Stanhope series, although the TV series is very close to the original novels you can read them out of sequence.

I also read the last ever in the Shetland series. 

An English family moves to the islands in order to give their autistic son a better life. A young nanny is found dead in their barn and suspicion is raised as to whether she was having an affair  with husband, 

DI Perex is brought into investigate but he knows this will mean working with his on/off lover DI Willow Reeves. 

 I still have two of the Shetland books to read and probably should have read these in order  but I really enjoyed it all the same.  Unlike the Vera Stanhope books these novels are not exactly the same as the TV series.  Whilst some of the characters are the same DI Perez's step daughter is still only a young girl in the books.   The storylines in the TV are very different to those of the novels they were based on but that has made the novels all the more enjoyable for me.   Not quite as fast pace as the other novels in the series but still a fitting end and probably the right time to say goodbye to this beloved character. 

It's not that single mum Charlotte Newman is completely and utterly obsessed with crafting, necessarily.

Sure, she has balls of wool stashed everywhere like a squirrel stores nuts and more needles than a tattoo parlour. But that doesn't mean she has a problem, right?

Finding herself between jobs, Charlotte fills her time teaching crafting skills at the local nursing home. Encouraged by how positively the residents respond, the possibility of a career doing what she adores fills her mind.

The first step towards that ambition is creating a crafting hub for the community – The Crafternoon Sewcial Club.

When a local charity announces a major knitting-themed fundraiser, Charlotte sees the ideal stage to put her new club firmly on the crafting map and drum up new members in the process.

Unfortunately, not everybody is on board with her vision for a crafting club, as it turns out. Indeed, some are even hoping to see Charlotte's dream come crashing down around her.

Still, she won't let a minor issue like that derail her plans…

To ensure victory, then, she'll need to rally her new members and ask her friends from the nursing home to get those needles clicking faster than a hummingbird's wings!

And finally I went for a complete departure from Ann Cleeves and read The Crafternoon Sewcial Club by J C Williams.  It kept popping up as a recommended read and whist I wanted something that was a light read I wouldn't necessarily have gone for this book ordinarily.   I'm glad I did and it would make a great holiday read for anyone lucky enough to be escaping to somewhere hot or not as the case may be. 

On the good old telebox when I managed to stay a wake I did watch a whole range of things that I had either missed or didn't know about until I happen to come across them,

The Fall starring Gillian Anderson and Jamie Dornan was absolutely fantastic and I don't know how I missed it when it was on originally.  The story of a serial killer is told over three series and if you are looking for something to watch on a wet and windy day I would definitely recommend you watch this series.  There aren't may things I can get the bearded one to watch in succession but so grip were we that we spent an entire day watching all three series. I believe it is still available on BBC iPlayer

The Tower shown on ITV in 2021 was also on my radar of things to watch.  Set in London the story begins with a young girl and a policeman falling from the roof of  a high rise block of flats. No one knows how the accident happened except for three people and two of them are now dead.  Anti-corruption officer Sarah Collins is tasked with finding out what happened prior to finding themselves on the roof and what lead to the death of police officer and a young teenage girl.  Based on the Kate London novels Postmortem the series is definitely worth watching if you didn't catch it first time around and still available on ITV hub. 

My last offering for today is the series Hidden starring Sian Reese-Williams.  She plays the character of DI Cadi John.  This is a  series from BBC Wales,  predominantly English speaking with some subtitles for the parts spoken in welsh but easily able to follow in either language.  Set over 3 series you follow Cadi's return home to Wales to help her sisters look after her terminally ill father.  During this time she learns a lot about her family, the place she grew up and herself.  

Again not normally I would of chosen to watch but I am so glad I did and thoroughly enjoyed the series. 

Well I think I have rambled on enough for one sitting, hopefully won't be away so long next time at which time I will catch you up on my crafty endeavors.  Until then take care everyone. 


Saturday, 26 March 2022

A box full of surprises


Does anyone remember the program Camblewick Green from their childhood.  It started with the saying 'Here is a box a musical box wound up and ready to play, but this box can hide a secret inside can you guess what is in it today?'

The video shows my fist attempt at creating a box known as an Etui or exploding box and I was so proud of myself and it that I wanted to share it with you. It very much reminds me of that time when I watched Camblewick Green as a child and then again whilst reliving my childhood through my own children waiting with anticipation as to what would be the secret inside.  I have seen many Etui  kits for sale where you spend the afternoon gluing all the components together but I wanted to create something with an element of machine/hand sewing to it which could evolve over time to create a versatile and useful little box, that could sit on a shelf out of the way but be to hand when needed.   And do I use it? Yes I do.  

This is one that I recently made for a friends 50th Birthday and she absolutely loved it and is the envy of her colleagues and family,  so much so that her daughter has tasked her with making her one for her birthday in July. To say there was an element of panic on her face at the thought would be an under statement but I'm sure with a little guidance she will be able to make her one. 

This one was for a friend with a camper van so limited space and it sits on a shelf in case an emergency repair is needed. 

They have evolved overtime and each one is a little different and totally unique to the person it is being made for including one in Harry Potter fabric. 

In fact I have gone on to make many more as commissions and gifts as Christmas and Birthday   One of my sewing ladies from our group tells people she has box envy and wants to learn how to make a box and  I have now been asked to run a workshop which  is equally as exciting and nerve racking in equal measure  as I have never done anything like that before, but with retirement less than 10 years away now may be I need to start and diversify and start to consider running workshops on achievable items to make.  Watch this space. 


I have two offerings from my March reads 

The first of which is Book 6 of Ann Cleeves Shetland series.  I have read a number of the Shetland books now and although there a number of differences between the books and the TV series they are equally as good.  

A group of university friends come up to the islands to celebrate the wedding of one of their number. . Polly is not the most confident within their close knit group.  She has recently started dating Marcus who is her complete opposite. Eleanor and Ian are married and have desperately been trying for a family the last pregnancy resulted in a late miscarriage.  |After Lowrie and Caroline's wedding one of their number is reported missing and the following morning a body is found.  It soon becomes clear that this is a murder and Perez is called into investigate.  

Definitely worth a read if you are a fan of Ann Cleeves ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

My second March read is the novel Too Close by Natalie Daniels.  The story tells you about the life of Constance before the accident that led to her being a  resident of a psychiatric unit. Constance is a  young mother who has no recollection of the accident that brought her here. She is accused of driving  her car off a bridge and into water with her daughter and her daughter's friend in the back.  Dr Emma Robinson  is assigned to Constance as her Forensic Psychologist who has to work with Constance to establish whether she will be fit for trial.  Emma Robinson has her own demons with the loss of her daughter in a terrible accident. The two women become very close during the time they are working together and at times Emma questions whether she has crossed the professional boundaries but at the same time she doesn't think that Constance intentionally wanted to harm the children in her care. 

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this novel and it is definitely well worth reading ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

What have I been watching on the telebox of late. 

Having read the Natalie Daniels novel I went on to re-watch the drama series of the same name starring Emily Watson as Dr Robinson. Is is still available to watch on ITV hub and is equally well worth a watch and kept very close to the original story. 

Hollingford Drive is set on a modern housing estate. Two sisters live their with their respective partners and children.  When a young boy goes missing and later found dead suspicion falls on the local residents and in particular two school children who parents would do anything to protect them and themselves. 

A bit predictable in places but still worth a watch and is currently available on ITV hub ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Lastly is a film I have wanted to see for a long time and finally found it by accident whilst looking for a film to watch on Netflix,

August in Osage County is set in Oklahoma. A death in the family brings Bev and Violets dysfunctional family back together.  Following the funeral dinner family secrets are revealed causing yet more pain to Violet's three daughters who in turn have their own issues that they are trying to deal with.  Starring Meryl Streep. Julia Roberts, Ewan McGregor and Benedict Cumberpatch and definitively worth watching ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ 


I think that brings us up to date for now.  Don't forget that the clocks go back this weekend and here in the UK we will be celebrating Mothers Day so what ever you are doing to celebrate I hope all the mum's and to be mum's have a great day.


Wednesday, 2 March 2022

Learning of new skills another book review and other ramblings

I would like you to meet little Nellie Sheep.  She is a bit of looker as you can see and likes nothing better than donning her new hat and handbag for all to see, she is in fact a bit of  of a fashion icon πŸ˜€

My local knit & knatter group hasn't been able to meet up as regularly as we did pre covid restrictions and the place we met before is not now really suitable.  During our covid lockdown we have all continued with our busy lives and some have learnt new skills along the way.  One of our group received a felting kit for Christmas a couple of years ago and has become quite an expert and spent a lot of lockdown perfecting her new skill.  On one of the rare occasions we have been able to meet up as a group she offered to show us how to make a felted sheep.  I had never undertaken felting before but enjoyed our session and it was quite satisfying getting all my frustrations out whilst stabbing the wool with the needle but  was also quite amazed how quickly my little Nellie came into shape.  Whilst I enjoyed our session I'm not sure felting is something I would take up as a regular hobby and as the lady from our group has found you end up with lots of projects which end up being gifted to friends and family or adorning every surface in your house πŸ˜„  Nellie now sits quite happily on my cupboard in my sewing room .

Last summer I attended my first ever sewing retreat also known as Christmas in July as they hadn't been able to hold any retreats due to covid.   To say I was nervous about going was an understatement.  One thing I don't do well is taking myself out of my comfort zone or setting myself up for failure.  At this point I had only been sewing just over a year and my understanding of all things sewing machine related was still very limited.  Although I went with my sewing guru friend we picked two separate workshops and sometimes even at my age I kind find meeting new people daunting.  I needn't have worried as the group of ladies were lovely and I now see some of them regularly at a monthly sewing group and new friendships have been formed   I must admit I wasn't sure that my skills would be up to muster to make a box from scratch and I did look at you tube before signing up to see what it would entail.  Having done so I felt a lot more relaxed about it and I have to say the tutor Sue Austin was so patient with us all especially when she went on to explain the math behind the designing of a box which probably wasn't the best idea after a belated Christmas dinner and two glasses of wine. 

Unlike felting I have become rather addicted in making these boxes and have made several since 

including this one for my friend and work colleague who is a bit of a fan of a Nelly elephant

and the thing is not only is the box a fabulous gift but the possibilities are endless as to what you can put inside.  On this occasion I think I chose handcream and a manicure set, but equally they lend themselves to candles or even chocolates and all have gone on to find a use for the box afterwards.

Having purchased my embroidery machine I've recently joined a Brother embroidery group based in Sheffield.  It was my first time attending last month and as with most things crafty I met a lovely group of ladies all at different levels of experience and it was lovely to spend the day with like minded people. The tutors were lovely and very down to earth and nothing was too much trouble, but I wouldn't expect anything else from a Yorkshire lass.  On this occasion they taught us how to make a mug rug

a  placement mat 

and how to add a name to a cubby and I have already practiced my new learnt skills on my machine at home.   

I think I will certainly learn al lot in attending this group and next time we are learning how to create a quilt block from scratch which we will then turn into a cushion. 



We quite often have books in the office that one of us have read and happy to pass on.  I recently picked up  Perfect by Rachel Joyce as my February read.   Not an author I have read before but had heard great reviews

In the Summer, 1972: In the claustrophobic heat, eleven-year-old Byron and his friend begin ‘Operation Perfect’, a hapless mission to rescue Byron’s mother from impending crisis.

Winter, present day: As frost creeps across the moor, Jim cleans tables in the local cafΓ©, a solitary figure struggling with OCD. His job is a relief from the rituals that govern his nights.

Little would seem to connect them except that two seconds can change everything. And if your world can be shattered in an instant, can time also put it right?


In a very subtle way Rachel Joyce explores the effects of OCD and mental health and how both of these things can be all consuming of a person's life.  The book is effortlessly split between the past and the present.  At times I wasn't sure what direction the story was heading in but there is a twist to the story which then puts everything else into perspective.  

It was a bit of a slow burner for me but would definitely recommend for those who like an easy paced read and I would go on to read other books by this author, ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Last year I embarked on reading Ann Cleeves novels which include the series of books of Vera Stanhope and Shetland. The TV series based on her books are amongst my favourites and I like nothing better than re watching them on a cold and wet afternoon with whatever project I am working on at the time. Usually knitting or crocheting as I can watch the tv and do that without looking so I don't miss the plot, although having watched them several times you'd think I would remember the plot wouldn't you.  I haven't read all the books yet I am still steadfastly working my way through them. There are subtle differences between the books and tv series but unlike some dramatisations they haven't completely rewritten the storyline. This series of short stories popped up on my kindle deals this week.  It is a series of short stories from her novels which includes those of DI Jimmy Perez and Willow Reeves and DI Vera Stanhope and a couple from her lesser known novels.  The last story of was the first chapter of  one of the Shetland novels Thin Air which is the 6th book in the series and I have now downloaded this as my March read. 


What have I been catching up on, on the old tele box?

Over the last week I have caught up with the Channel 5 drama series The Teacher starring Sheridan Smith.

Jenna is a teacher whose life unravels after being accused of having a drunken sexual encounter with one of her students. With no memory of the night, Jenna's only hope of redemption lies in uncovering the truth about a dark event in her past.

To be accused of inappropriate behaviour with a pupil must be every teachers nightmare and in the case of Jenna to not be able to remember anything of the event you have been accused of must be even worse. 

As ever Sheridan Smith was absolutely brilliant and I would definitely recommend a watch if you are at a loose end and looking for something to while a way a few hours ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

If there is nothing on we will quite often look at BBC iPlayer as there is quite often a documentary that we've not seen.  It was one such time that we came across Stacey Dooley's Stalker series.  It wasn't something I thought would necessarily be of interest to D but he went a long with my choice.  Stacey meets both victims of stalking, the police force who look into stalking and an ex partner of a women who stalked her for two years after their marriage failed.  The program revealed that in most cases the victim knows their stalker usually an ex partner but there is an increasing number of cases where the stalker is a complete stranger.   I don't know which is worse to know that someone you once loved is capable of stalking or to be stalked by someone you have never met.  One of the participants of the program has never met her stalker and has no idea what he looks like and wouldn't know him if she passed him in the street.  She has even moved house but they still manage to find out where she has moved to.   It was definitely an eye opener of a program for me and I would definitely recommend a watch ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Take care & stay safe everyone


Thursday, 24 February 2022

Quilts for my grandsons


It must be 5 years or more since I first net Vikki of Shute Lane Fabrics she is an incredible artist and she has used this skill to start a business creating beautiful fabrics.  When I first met Vikki it was at the stitching for pleasure show at the NEC and it was her first show at the NEC and she was both excited and nervous in equal measure.  She had her mum there for support and they were both lovely and they chatted to us for ages and myself and my friend gave her lots of encouragement and suggested other shows that she could attend such as the Festival of Quilts and she has been attending every year since and I was even lucky enough to win tickets to the FoQ pre pandemic from Vikki's lucky draw. As soon as I saw the penguins I fell in love with them and I kept telling Vikki that if I were ever lucky enough to be blessed with a grandson I would definitely want to make this quilt. Of course at the time the other obstacle was that I had no idea how to use a sewing machine, that situation has now thankfully been resolved so when I saw Vikki at the Festival of Quilts last year I immediately said I need to make this quilt now before my grandson is too old to appreciate the love of a penguinπŸ§πŸ˜€.  The penguins come as a panel and I set about looking for a fabric to back the quilt with and I really struggled to find something I liked.  Eventually I had a little light bulb moment πŸ’‘ and asked my sewing guru friend who has made many quilts, What if I buy a duvet cover would that work?  She confirmed it would and I set about finding a seascape duvet cover and came up with one that has pebble design on one side and the sea on the other and I set about unpicking all the seams to ensure I got the most material.  I don't like to waste any fabric if I can help it.   This was my first attempt at a quilt of any description and some would say this was a cheats quilt because it came as a panel but in fact because it was pre printed if the lines were slightly off it could throw me completely and I am a bit of a perfectionist and I was trying so hard to have straight lines but in the end I decided what I needed to do was sew the panel by eye in creating the squares between each of the penguins.  Adding the border was a lot easier.  

My sewing guru friend was always on hand to help and told me about the merits of  505 spray
and,  although she made me do all the work otherwise how else do I learn, I did appreciate the fact that in doing so it meant I got to create a beautiful quilt for Freddie Bear for Christmas.

And having always been adamant  I wouldn't buy an embroidery machine I have to confess to you that I did succumb last November and brought a Brother Innovis V5 which I have named Brother Bert.

It meant I could add a personalised  label to the back of the quilt so when it is rediscovered in an attic in years to come and I am no longer on this earthly plane everyone will know who made this quilt and hopefully not have too many stories to tell about grandma Mitzi.

and look what I found a quilt panel that matches the fabric book I made for Theo.  It's part of the range of fabrics produced by Henry Glass called Whirly Gig Magic.  I added s black polka dot on red background as the border and the backing for the quilt and used navy blue cotton fabric as the bias. 

and of course I added a label with Theo's name and date of birth and another grandma label with the year it was made.   Just think in years to come when these quilts are unearthed in the attic somewhere and I am no longer on this earthly plane there will still be a little bit of me there, lets just hope that whoever comes across them they don't know all my other secrets πŸ˜€.

 For someone who was so against having an embroidery machine I have to confess I am rather in love with my Brother Bert. 


Monday, 21 February 2022

Scissor keepers a potential new obsession

Last year I went on my first sewing retreat and the one thing I was told was to make sure that all my scissors were labelled as they are the one thing that could potentially be picked up by mistake and lost in someone else's bag. 

It is   quite possible that I got a little carried away.

All these beauties were found on Pinterest 

The little bird cage you can find here
The little pink bird here
The little blue bird with the strawberry here

This little set is one of my favourites and took no time at all to stitch and you can find the chart for them here

I have two very good friends who mothers were always very good to me when I was growing up.  It has long been a tradition that each house I have ever lived in I have always planted a rose in their memory now they are no longer with us.   My mum always liked white roses the same as me or may be that should be I have always liked white roses the same as my mum, the yellow rose represents on eof of the mums and the red represents the other and when I spotted the little rose chart I  knew I would have to stitch them so that they get to come on my sewing journey with me where ever that may take me. You can find the little rose chart here

I love the Scottish thistle design it actually came up better than I expected.  The details for the thistle chart are here

Love to stitch was the first of the scissor keepers that I stitched and it grew from there you can find here 

and the Scandinavian design is from a set of four you can find here 

                        I do have a liking for Bee's and when i saw this little chart I knew I had to make them and you can find the chart here

and of course I had to have one that represents my Celtic heritage and you can find the chart  here

Not all the charts have the colours stated but that makes them all the more appealing as you can use whatever colours of your choosing or whatever you have in your stash. 

What I hadn't realised was just how many pairs of scissors I have and of course they all have their own use.  Some are for fabric, some for paper  and so on and what D has learnt is that if you are looking for a pair of scissors and the only pair you can find has a scissor keeper attached you do not use them on pain of death. 

And is now the time to confess that this isn't all of my scissors and I went on to buy  more at the retreat πŸ˜€


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