Although the trees are currently still skeletal and bare-branched, there are a few more signs that spring is just around the corner. Last summer the old plum tree in our garden had to have a heavy pruning because some of the branches were creaking badly and cracking under the weight of the plum harvest, but even so it is currently delighting both me and the bumble bees that are emerging from hibernation with it’s blossom. It is such a beautiful herald of the change in seasons. There are catkins everywhere and daffodils too and I’m looking forward to going out with my camera next week in search of those, and hopefully the first of the blackthorn blossom.
Thanks for all of the comments on my winter mice giveaway post. I’ve notified the winners and the mice are both packaged up and currently travelling to their new homes, one in the North of England and the other a little further away in Tasmania! I will be having more giveaways later in the year so I better get on with making some more animals and also finishing off my horse pattern, can’t wait to share that with you in the spring 🙂
Hope you have a good weekend coming up. See you soon, J x
I had fun making the scarf for the mouse in a sweater and thought I’d share how I did so in case you’d like to make one too:
I used two 4mm DPNs (double pointed needles) and bulky yarn to knit a 4 stitch i-cord (i-cord tutorials are easily found on your tube) to a length of around 35cms / 14 inches (enough to fit around the neck of your animal with sufficient dangle left over). Then I made 2 small pom-poms using a fork – it’s handy as you can thread a strong cord through the tines to tightly tie the middle of the pom-pom before cutting the edges and freeing it from the fork. After cutting I trimmed them to make neat balls, then lightly steamed them over a pan of water to encourage them to full poufiness.
Firstly, thank you so much for all the kindness in your messages from my previous post, the words you have gifted to me have been like a big warm hug.
In my journal of happy things Kit is still featuring, not daily, but every 2 or 3 days she’s arrived for snacks and without a doubt she is pregnant. Twice her mate has accompanied her but he’s very shy and has bolted for the bushes as soon as he’s seen us. I’ve also jotted about the early evening sky, made beautiful by the planets Venus and Jupiter being so very bright and visible low in the sky to the west just after sunset. I am hoping that we get clear skies on March 1st when they come close together, I love a bit of star and planet gazing – search ‘Venus Jupiter conjunction’ if you’re interested in seeing the spectacle in your part of the world.
Out on my own in the woods I’ve been paying attention and noticing the tiniest details that show the shift in the seasons from winter to spring. Despite the recent sharp frosts there are tree buds swelling on the branches and the first emergence of catkins, but a carpet of snowdrops in a local wood is the most emphatic sign of change. These hardy little plants are such a hopeful sight, pushing their blunt tipped leaves through frosted soil throughout January to produce such delicate bell-like flowers each February. They’re beautiful en masse and when they tremble in the cold wind on a breezy day it looks like the whole woodland floor is shimmering. And drifting down from the bare branches overhead come symphonies sung by small birds – being in a snowdrop carpeted wood is one of my favourite natural pleasures.
It’s been a cold winter this year, so spring will be a while yet but it’s been nice to embrace the last weeks of winter by curling up in the warm to work on new patterns. The horse pattern is coming along nicely and I’m now working on a cow pattern too. I will show you some pictures when I’ve ironed out some of the wrinkles. I’m also putting the finishing touches to a couple of mice that I’ll be giving away. I’ve been holding off on this because of the disarray of the international post (Royal mail has suspended international deliveries throughout January) but now it looks like the situation is resolved I’ll post about the giveaway soon. See you again when they’re ready.
January is often a quiet month for me and I’m grateful to be able to be able to slow right down and take everything as calmly as possible as I make my plans for the year. Especially so this year, because for a little while now I have been been feeling rather down and becoming at times overwhelmed with anxiety, so as a way of trying to cope with that I’ve decided to start a 5 year journal and record all of the positive and beautiful things to remember from each passing day. I think that I am very lucky because it is so often the smallest of things that do lift my mood and bring me joy, and once you start to actively look for these moments you find there are actually quite a few in every day. But such moments can often get forgotten and overshadowed by everyday life, so recording them is a good way to bring them to mind when I need to feel brighter.
So far I’ve jotted about red kites soaring over the house, goldfinches and robins in the garden, Toby’s laughter, Amy’s smile, H’s hugs, the taste of a good cake, the delicious feeling of sitting in bed and knitting away a weekend morning, the quiet calm of a gently flickering candle, the glory of sunrises, the delicacy of frost, the gentle balm of music *, and the delight in deciding to finally use a much loved skein of yarn from my stash – this one has been treasured for almost 10 years and is irreplaceable as Asti of Juno fibre arts is no longer creating her beautiful yarns, so I’m enjoying some very careful pondering of what project to cast on.
But above all else there is has been one totally unexpected, unbelievable and utterly delightful moment – the return of Kit the fox!!
It has been over a year since she was last here and I had written here on the blog that she might have died – I secretly feared she had been run over on the main road as there have been a few fox corpses at the roadside in the intervening months. But no, we were joyfully so very wrong because on Jan 13th she sauntered nonchalantly into the garden, as though she had just been here a day ago, sat down by the garden table and looked expectantly at me through the kitchen door. I have never had a jaw-dropping moment before, but I did then. A snack of Toby’s cocktail sausages was swiftly found and as I approached her to put them down, still slightly disbelieving that it really was her, she stood up and approached me, confirming without any doubt that it was. You can see from the pictures below that she’s a little more scarred about the muzzle than when she was last here but otherwise is looking well nourished and cosy in her thick growth winter coat. I suspect that she is pregnant and has come back because it’s been especially cold recently and she’s has difficulty finding enough food. She’s arrived every evening since, just after darkness has fallen and I am so utterly overjoyed to see her again, and she’s featuring heavily in my new journal of happy things 🙂
I hope she sticks around for a while longer and I’ll be sure to bring you further news of her if she does stay around. If you are interested you can see the story of how we became friends and see my previous blog posts of her visits over the last four years here.
The 5 year journal was purchased from Mål Paper with some of my Christmas money, (thanks M & D xxx)
* my music of choice at the moment is ‘Found’ by Martin Gauffin which is playing in the background at the moment and I find especially uplifting
Hello and wow! I am completely humbled by the response to the first giveaway of my anniversary year. Thank you so much for all the wonderful comments and outpouring of kindness on the previous post. I admit that I’ve not yet managed to read all of the comments and hope to do so by the end of this week, though with 2,179 of them I hope you can understand why I’ll not be replying.
Yesterday evening I used the random number generator to pick the winning numbers and these are now posted on the previous post. I’ve emailed each of the winners and will be sending over the first of the pattern prizes shortly.
My three newest patterns are all ready so I’ve just uploaded them to Ravelry and Etsy.
There is a small (7 inch) bear/panda, a small (7 inch) mouse and some small sweaters with panel designs on the front. Both the bear/ panda and the mouse come with a variety of outfits including dresses, sweaters and shorts and the existing extra patterns for the small size animals (dresses, sweaters and removable shoes) will fit them too.
I really hope that everyone has fun with these new patterns and as always I’m so excited to see what everyone makes. If you do give any of them a go it would be lovely to see your project uploaded to either the Ravelry or Facebook groups.
Thanks again for all the wonderfully kind comments. I look forward to sharing more give-aways with you as the year progresses and am off now to finish a couple of wintery themed regular-sized mice ready for my next giveaway, hopefully sometime in February if all goes to plan,
Winter is decidedly here. We’ve had a few days of sub-zero temperatures and the early morning frosts have been beautifully sharp and sparkly. Yesterday Toby and I bundled up and went for a long walk at Panshanger. The ice crystals adorning every blade of grass, twig and seedhead made for a very beautiful landscape and even the barbed wire fences were prettified by the decoration of frost.
And then this morning we’ve woken to around 15cms of snow!
I’m glad to have lots of cosy woolly jumpers, scarves and mittens and will be wearing my wrist-warmers constantly now until the weather warms. It looks like the rest of this week is continuing to be freezing, so there will be a little more knitting by the fire going on here. I’m now in the final stages of laying out the three new patterns and am lucky to have some lovely people helping me to error check them. Though it will still be a few weeks before they’ve been thoroughly checked, so I’m aiming to be able to share them in the new year.
Hope you have a good week doing a little of what you love, J x
Julie!! Beautiful photos that give me hope that the carpets of green will soon be with us. We (🇨🇦) have just had a taste of Fools Spring & are currently back in a frigid snow squall. Buses cancelled & road covered with blowing snow. I actually breath a sigh of relief that I might get to just stay home. Suits my sorrowful state with my Mom’s Celebration of Life scheduled for this Saturday . My energy is depleted. Thanks for a little mental holiday. 🇨🇦🌬️🥰
You are such a great photographer! ( and we’ll with words too..)
I visited the Van Gogh museum this week and your pictures remind me of his paintings. Your words have the spirit of his letters too when he wrote to his brother about the beautifull French landscape and what it did to his soul.
Thank you for this post; it made my day a bit better..
I meant well with words, not we’ll….. 😬
Lovely post! I hope you’ll be able to snap a few photos of Kit’s mate. The snowdrops are so beautiful. All is covered in a blanket of sleet, snow and ice here. A great day to stay inside and knit!
Such beautiful pictures! I am waiting for some flowers to pop up here in Norway as well but last night there was more snow! So I will enjoy your pictures while we wait!
Pictures that are as uplifting as always. And adorable mice in such sweet colours! So inspiring. xxx
Beautiful photos and a lovely blog to go with it. I just love snowdrops! I’m looking forward to seeing the horse and cow.
Another Cdn comment here. It’s –29ºC right now, and no hope for it getting better today, so thank you for holding up a promise of spring to come. (I’ve been tired of winter since Nov, so it won’t come too soon.) And little mice. How lovely, all of it!
Love to read your lovely blog and see your wonderful photos. Such beauty in nature!!
Lori, so sorry to hear about your mother. My mother-in-law is heading that way. Reminds me of Millay’s Dirge without Music:
“Gently they go, the beautiful, the tender, the kind;
Quietly they go, the intelligent, the witty, the brave.
I know. But I do not approve. And I am not resigned.”
I hope you have happy memories to help when things are hard.
I have never seen such a beautiful site as the snowdrops. Thank you for sharing. I am so excited to see the new patterns.
The snowdrops are stunning! Thank you for sharing. You bring so much joy to so many. I hope you realize what a blessing you are to all of us who are lucky enough to see your posts.
Thank you for a moment of joy today. Your posts always make me smile. You live in a beautiful place and you have eyes to see it too. I loved the photos as always and the little mice are adorable: your photos are the best.
So glad Kit is now a regular visitor. I look forward to hearing more.
Thank you for sharing your joy.
Such beautiful snowdrop images Julie, they certainly do lift the spirits!
I’m so pleased to hear that little Kit is still visiting, I hope she brings her babies to see you too.
Love the little mice. 🙂
Hi Julie, LOVE the snowdrops. I wish I had some in my yard. Thanks for the video. Nice extra touch. Can’t wait to see the new patterns. We are to be be pretty warm here in Maryland (US) today – near 80, but then back to the 40’s this weekend. It’s been a roller coaster here for sure. Hope spring arrives soon, for all of us. Take care.
Snowdrops en masse are lovely aren’t they. I was waiting for them here on my morning dog walks and suddenly one day, there they were. The churchyard has lots and is always beautiful. So glad Kit is a regular visitor. I hope Toby doesn’t mind sharing his cocktail sausages! The moon and the planets were beautiful tonight, it was so clear. Cold too though! CJ xx
I love your photos Julie. It brings back memories of my childhood when I lived in the UK.