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Start of the journey.

Hi,

Let me first say thank you for popping over, it is always fun to have visitors.

As the title says, I am a crafty (or rather crafting) Druid living in the beautiful Welsh Borders. This year is a big new start for me, my husband and 3 sort of grown up kids. My eldest has started university and my other two are pretty independent so hubby and I have some independence for the first time in over two decades. What did we decide to do with that freedom? Buy a house, that needs extensive renovations, on a tight budget.

I have always lived in rented accomodation where magnolia walls, white bathroom tiles, generic kitchens and beige carpets are a standard feature. You can’t do anything,  change anything, it is so frustrating to live in a monochrome box when you want to splash the rainbow across the ceiling.

So we have moved in, having knocked down a couple of walls and removed some doors ( I dislike doors!) and now I want to make it ours. I want to do as much of the work as possible myself using crafting and diy skills I have developed over the years. I want my first owned home to be a reflection of us rather than a national retail chain. I also want it to work in harmony with my Druid beliefs and lifestyle. I want a haven.

Beltane is just a couple of days away and that seemed a good time to begin this journey of development and personalisation. Our first project, a herb wheel in the garden, but that will be another post!

I hope you will join me on this journey, please feel free to contact me, advice and comments are always welcome.

Helen

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Manners

I don’t often rant. I prefer trying to get along with people, trying to see things from their side but recently both personally and in the news there seems to be a deplorable lack of manners.

I am not talking about politicians, reality stars, bored teens on the street and the like. These people never seem to be polite and I don’t expect it but the person standing at the bus stop who you say good morning too, the shop assistant who is packaging your new clothes, even the community policeman walking down the street. These types of people, everyday people like you and I. These people I expect to have some basic manners.

When as a society did it become ok to swear at someone for say good morning, when did it become ok to use swear words that even sailors rarely use, why is it now acceptable to not say please and thank you when someone helps you or holds a door open for you.

This lack of manners may seem trivial but it is an outward sign of lack of respect. So many have no respect for other people, other living things, the world we live in and ultimately themselves.

At the heart of Druidry is respect and it is a quality that I love. To ask not take, to say thank you, to be humble and to appreciate others efforts, to respect others point of view and beliefs.

Yes the person who tried to talk to you at the bus stop intruded on your thoughts but it may be the only conversation that person has today and they are lonely. Yes the person who telephoned you at work interrupted you but they have their job to do too and it is no less important to them than yours is to you. Yes you have been asked that question a thousand times but not by this person and to them the answer may be important.

I am always polite, sometimes after taking a deep breath but it really costs me nothing and makes life far more pleasant. Maybe if I am polite then it will rub off on the people I interact with. Maybe I am just naïve but maybe, just maybe, things could get a little better one please or thank you at a time.

Bright Blessings,

Helen

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note – the image above came from Pixabay, a royalty free image website however if the image has been used wrongly, let me know and I will remove it.

Another blanket!!

So, sometimes you just can’t resist. We are partway through renovating the kitchen, having got a quote, I picked myself up off the floor when I looked at the installation charges (£93 to erect a cupboard) and then decided to do it ourselves. It is a lot of work and a steep learning curve but the internet and You Tube are great resources. Anyway I told myself “no more crafty projects until the kitchen is done”, yes I can hear you laughing too!

Well browsing round the internet one evening after mastering how to level a cupboard I came across a beautiful CAL (crochet along), it is the Seaside Stash Busting Blanket run by Eleonora from Coastal Crochet – http://www.coastalcrochet.com .

I am a bit late to the party but it is so lovely and easy to stitch that I am flying along. I started on the red and blue blanket using aran wool, I had loads left over from a project I was going to start but never quite did. It is a lovely heavy blanket that will be perfect for cold winter days. As I was working on it one of my sons started taking an interest, eventually asking if he could have it when it was finished. Of course he can, I was quite emotional that he liked it that much he wanted it for his room. It means so much more when someone asks for something you have made rather than just politely saying thank you when you gift them something. I am not always sure whether they are just being polite or whether they really like it.

Thing is I also really like the blanket, so what is a girl to do but make another one! So I am now making a second blanket alongside the first one though this one is a much more colourful one as I am using up odds and ends of left over wool. I love this one just as much and I am still loving the pattern. It is one of those easy flowing ones that you can do whilst watching TV, currently watching the re-runs of Game Of Thrones. Well I might have missed something the first 3 times I watched it.

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So, I will keep you updated on the blanket,

Bright Blessings,

Helen

Winter Solstice

I hate being cold, I hate waking up in the dark, I hate that at this time of year when I leave the house to go to work it is dark and when I come home it is dark. I feel like hibernating. However this time of year is good for us. It is a time of rest, a time to gather the energy needed for the year ahead. It is a time of healing, as the Danish would say it is a time for “Hygge”.

I use this time to evaluate the previous year, to look at my success and my fails. I make lists, lots of lists. Lists of things I would like to accomplish in the coming year, lists of plants I would like to grow, lists of things I would like to make. These are not New Year’s Resolutions but plans that I will put into action as we emerge from the dark time of year.

The Winter Solstice or Alban Arthan as Druid’s call it or Yule for most Pagan’s, is not the end of winter, in fact the coldest time of year is yet to come, it is the point when light starts to return to the earth. We pay respects to the spirits at the setting of the sun on the shortest day and welcome the longest night. There are usually bonfires involved and mulled wine. Mistletoe is a must and should not ever touch the ground from the moment it is cut until it is hung in your house. A sacred circle and drumming feature in our rites too.

One of the traditions with my family involves the Yule Log. We get our local tree surgeon to drop off a large piece of wood, either a round or a log about 50cm long. This is then decorated for the Solstice period. You can go mad with ribbons and tea lights. Part of this is burnt in the Yule fire, then at each of the eight festivals of the year another piece of this log is cut off and burnt in the festival fire. The final bit being burnt at the following Yule. This means that you are connecting each celebration, creating a web that goes throughout the year.

I was lucky enough this year to celebrate the Solstice at Stonehenge. It is so peaceful there. You can connect to the earth and the environment at a fundamental level. You come away feeling nurtured and re-energised. If you ever get the chance to visit this ancient landscape then please leap at the opportunity.

I hope you had a peaceful Yule and are looking forward to Imbolc.

Bright Blessings,

Sophie’s Universe Crochet Blanket

I love wool, thread, textiles and all crafts associated with them. I love the feel and the different textures. I cross-stitch, embroider, sew, knit and crochet.

Well for the last while I have been working on Sophie’s Universe, a great Cal (Crochet Along) by Dedri Uys. I finished it this weekend after a mammoth sewing in the ends session. Yes I know you should sew in as you go but I get so caught up with seeing the pattern develop that I rush ahead, leave the ends and then kick myself later.

I have to say I love the pattern, it was really easy to follow and a delight to crochet. I just picked colours I liked from my stash as I went along but I am very pleased with the result. I did change the border as although I liked the recommended Betty’s Beautiful Border, I didn’t feel that it finished the blanket off as it was so similar to the rest of the blanket. I used a border that I saw on Pinterest, a beautiful lily style flower border. What do you think?

border

I have done a couple of Dedri’s patterns now, the first one I tackled was her Flower Cushion. I had an old wool blanket with a couple of holes in it due to an over excited puppy that I thought would look lovely re-crafted into a cushion, so I unwound all the blanket and made the cushion.

cushion

I love CAL’s, it gives you so much motivation to work alongside so many other crochet lovers. You can see their work, you get pushed into working hard to keep up and there is always help available when you need it. Some time ago I completed the Lily Pond Blanket Cal by Jane Crowfoot. I liked this one because it was stitched in pieces so it was possible to alter the size or shape if you felt you wanted a bigger blanket. The colours are lovely and the Stylecraft wool was nice to work with and easy to source.

lily

There is nothing better than curling up under a lovely warm blanket you have made yourself, drinking a glass of white wine and reading a good book. The good book of the moment in case you were interested is Outlander by Diana Gabaldon.

I hope you like it, please send me pictures of your Sophie’s as I love to see all of the different colours and styles.

Bright Blessings and thank you for stopping by,

 

Finished Herb Wheel

Well it’s done, the wheel has developed more than I imagined but I am so pleased with it.

I have the 8 compass lines in giving me 8 segments, one for each festival.

Imbolc, the first festival of the year is in the North/North-West segment with the other festivals following round clockwise.

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The herbs in each section so far are:

  • Imbolc – basil, chive.
  • Ostara – curry, coriander, oregano.
  • Beltane – sorrel, spearmint.
  • Litha – thyme, chamomile.
  • Lughnasadh – verbena, fennel.
  • Mabon – parsley, sage.
  • Samhain – chocolate mint.
  • Yule – rosemary, sage, eau de cologne mint.

My middle son kindly made me some plant markers by stamping old spoons, some of the plants are quite small and new so needed some identification. I have also planted some lobelia around the edge of the wheel to give it some pretty colour.

 

However I still felt something was missing. The center was empty and crying out for something special. I thought of planting a bay tree or olive tree there but instead decided to let my creative juices flow and go with and idea I had seen on Pinterest. A sign post!! Well doesn’t every garden need one?

So began a weekend of cutting arrow shapes, sanding them smooth (courtesy of second son again), choosing places from my favourite novels, drawing the names onto the arrows, painting them, varnishing and finally attaching the arrows to a post in the center of the wheel. It is amazing what you can do with some old pallets.

We now have directions to Winterfell, Narnia, Hogwarts, Avonlea, Wonderland, Hundred Acre Wood, Rivendell, Pemberley, Ankh Morpork and Magrathea, I love it. A small bit of whimsy in a restful space.

I am so pleased with how my herb wheel has turned out and fresh herbs just outside the kitchen is pure luxury. I still have a herb wish list but that will have to wait until the spring seed planting I think.

Thank you for stopping by,

Bright Blessings,

Helen.

 

And rain stops play!

So work has started on the herb wheel but we have had four seasons in one weekend with rain, sun, sleet and hail.

I managed to get the wheel dug (well I supervised and hubby did the actual digging!) and then the 4 main quarter lines in. I am using old bricks that I found using Freecycle. I love Freecycle, I get things I need for free, I rehome items I no longer use to other people who will use them and less rubbish ends up in the landfill sites. It’s a win/win situation. Big thanks to all the volunteers who run the various sites up and down the country.

Anyway I digress,  the 4 cross lines you can see in the picture below are pointing to the 4 main quarters, north/south/east/west. Looking at the  pictures the circle looks a lot smaller than it actually is, 300cm across. Hubby was concerned that the photographs do not fully represent the amount of physical labour that actually went into the task and to be fair he did work very hard.

We managed to finish the center to east line just as the rain turned to a torrent and decided enough was enough. I want to get 4 more dividing lines in so that I have 8 sections, 1 for each festival of the year, with the herbs panted in each section as appropriate for that festival.

Just to explain, the 8 festivals in the Druid calendar are the 4 solar festivals of the  summer and winter solstice, the spring and autumn equinox, then there are the 4 fire festivals of Imbolc, Beltane, Lughnasadh and Samhain.

Any thoughts on which herbs fit best with which festival are more than welcome, please just pop me over an email.

Thanks for stopping by, Bright Blessings,

Helen.

Herb Wheel