Friday 11 December 2015

The Carlisle Floods

Well, unless you have been hibernating I am pretty sure you will have heard about the horrible flooding we have had in Cumbria this last week, and in my home City of Carlisle.

In 2005 we were hit with a massive shock when we got up one Sunday morning to find the City had flooded.  And I mean, THE CITY.... the Police Station, The Fire Station, Debenhams, the Civic Centre, leisure centres, restaurants, petrol stations, public houses, factories, supermarkets and of course homes.  Lots of homes.

Luckily, we live on a hill.  I had a puddle in my garden, that was it.

We were stranded at that point, one of my sons was at my parents house on a sleepover, so I didn't see him for three days as there was a lake of water between their house and mine.  Using the motorway was an option, going from one end of the City to another, to sit in queues and queues of traffic just to get a couple of miles.  We also had no electric, no mobile phone signal, no heating, no landlines.  We all sat in our houses for 2-3 days, stunned by what had happened, no-one quite sure what to do.

I remember last time my sister got stuck on her estate, having abandoned her car somewhere she throught was safe, she waded home, through a burst river.  Sounds stupid now, I know, but people didn't really know what to do back then.  We had no contact for a day, then the mobile signals started to work again. She was still stranded 3 days later when our electric came back on and we could get online to see what was going on.  I went onto the BBC website and found a photo of where she had left her car. I called her.....

ME: I can get online, I have good news and bad news.
HER:  What's the good news?
ME:  I can see your car on the BBC website.
HER:  What's the bad news?
ME: I can only see it's roof!

I bought the souvenir book... it feels so wrong to call it a souvenir book, a souvenir is something you buy after you have had a nice day out, or a holiday you wish to remember, not some tragedy.  Anyway, I thought that my children, who were 11, 13 and 14 then, would not really appreciate the enormity of the floods, and how much it affected their City, how awful it all was seeing iconic Cumbrian buildings knee deep in water. I was pretty sure they would never see it again in their lifetime.

How wrong was I?   Only 11 years later and it happens again.  Not just that, but happens bigger.  The water was higher, it reached streets that had been unaffected the previous time.   In the years in-between there had been flood barriers built - big ones, all over the place, the water still breached.  At least we went to bed this time expecting to get up and see it all happen again.  At least people were not blind to the fact that this was happening so could move belongings up stairs, at least this time they could move their cars to higher grounds.  At least the power engineers could make a start and try to avoid the big power outages we had last time. At least.....  Sad to say a lot of people were now facing their 2nd time of getting their houses totally dried out, gutted and re-plastered.  New kitchens, new living rooms, new bedrooms (as one area was 'bedsit' land), new cars, new gardens.... and to top it all off a good long stay in alternative accommodation!

But still, the Prime Minister visited, which was good of him.  He didn't read his auto-cue properly so got his little speech wrong, and he looked very odd in his North Face jacket.... I don't think he did any mucking out though, that would have been good to see, him bringing his suited colleagues, with wellies and bin-bags.  (We got Prince Charles last time, he didn't muck out either)

There are marked differences this time, we have a bypass , which has made getting around a bit easier.  A four minute journey to work suddenly turned into a 37 minute journey due to the fact that there was no traffic moving through the City at all.  But, shouldn't grumble, at least we could move about.

We have Facebook and Twitter, and due to the fabulous work of many many organisations, we had very little power outage - unless you were one of the unfortunately flooded of course - so could keep an up to date check on what was occurring in real time.

The community rallied, with donations of clothing, food, support and more.  Businesses jumped in with massive donations, pizza making vans making free pizzas for the workers, coffee vans pouring endless cups to keep people warm.  Carlisle United footballers came out to help move debris.  Then there was the negative ones that put prices up, cashed in on people's misfortune - those ones that shall be boycotted from here on in.

Thanks to Facebook I was able to put a 'shout out' on my Facebook business page to see if anyone had a boat to go and rescue my sisters partner, who was upstairs in his daughter's house (having gone to help move things) and was stuck, along with his daughter and 3yr old granddaughter.   The kitchen was underwater, which meant no food, no clean water - the river had burst and came in that quick that it just happened.  They were rescued by a lifeboat.  I wonder if the little one will remember, maybe we should buy her a book...

Now the water has gone, the streets are tinged brown with the mud and silt left behind and the pavements are piled high with sofas, carpets, furniture.   Soon the debris will be gone.   The memories, I fear, will always be there.

It's raining as I type this. Sigh.

Thursday 10 December 2015

Broomstick Crochet Scarf - Free Tutorial

Broomstick crochet looks very impressive, but it may seem a little scary.  It's not!  There are only two rows to learn, and one of them you will already know if you crochet.

Instructions are given in two sizes, regular adult and teen size in brackets.

Stitches explained:

Chain Stitch (CH) - Yarn around hook (from the back) and pull the new yarn through the loop on your hook.  This is ONE chain.  Repeat as needed.
Double Crochet (DC) - Put hook through work, draw yarn back through (2 loops on hook) yarn around hook (from the back) draw yarn through the 2 loops on the hook.

Slip Stitch (SS) - Put hook through work, draw yarn back through work and the stitch on your hook.

I used James C Brett Monsoon yarn, which is an Aran Weight, and a 4.5mm hook.

Lets start.  Chain 26 stitches.

Row 1. DC (Double Crochet) into the 2nd chain from the hook and all the chains following. (25 stitches)

Row 2. The loop you have on your crochet hook, pull it large and pop it over the dowel rod.  

You may wish to wrap the elastic band around the end of the dowel to prevent lost stitches.
Now working in a manner that will be odd to the regular crocheter, you will be working back across the chain stitch, from left to right.
*** Put your hook through the next stitch, bring the yarn through, pull the loop large and slide it onto the dowel.

You now have two stitches on the dowel.

Repeat from  *** until you have 25 loops on your dowel.

Row 3.  Slide your crochet hook into the first FIVE loops, making sure it is at the TOP of the dowel, opposite the DC row.

Pull your yarn through these five stitches and make a chain stitch  (this is your turning chain and is used at the beginning of every row, just like this.)
Now for the really scary bit!
Slide all of your stitches off the dowel, don't worry, they won't go anywhere as you have knotted your first one in place.

With your fingers, fiddle with those first FIVE loops that you made a stitch into, until you can see the hole running through them all.
Then make 5 DC's into that hole.

Now pick up the next five loops and make 5 DC's into them as you have just done, but no chain stitch this time, that is only ever in the first one.

Work across, working 5 DC's into each set of 5 loops.

Row 4.  The last loop you have on your crochet hook - pull it up and place it on your dowel.
For each DC you will pull through a new loop as in Row 2.  .  You should count 5 loops for each set of 5 DC's.

And basically, that is the pattern!
Repeat Rows 3 & 4 until your yarn runs out!

Wear and enjoy!

Tuesday 1 December 2015

Crocheted Felted Robin

A wee while ago I picked up some 100% Yorkshire wool, part of the W.I range at Hobbycraft.  The idea was to make one of my Robin Baubles that I designed last year, but instead of a Styrofoam ball in the middle, it would just be stuffing, then I would wash and felt the wool to make a super-cute robin.

So, Robin made, I asked Hubster to "chuck it in the wash" with his darks.  He did.   A few hours later he came sheepishly up the stairs with my felted Robin and said "I am so sorry, I think I ruined it".

I could have made him suffer I suppose, but it did exactly what I wanted it to do, it felted and shrunk perfectly.

With the addition of eyes and a beak, he was complete, and very cute, even if I do say so myself.

If you would like the pattern and instructions, you can find them HERE :

Monday 30 November 2015

Extending Baby James' blanket

Way back in May I made a baby blanket for my great-nephew James, you can find that post HERE.

This was the result.

But, as babies do, James grew, and consequently outgrew his blanket, so it needed to be made bigger.
 I unpicked the fluted fan edging and luckily found some of the same W.I Soft & Cuddly Yarn and just added more rounds in clusters of three Treble Crochets.

Round and round and round I went, six extra balls in total, until it was small bed size.

Hopefully this will last the little chap a good while longer now   :)

Saturday 28 November 2015

The Mucky Ducky open evening

I was recently invited to an open evening of a quirky new establishment names The Mucky Ducky - now how is that for a superb name?

Situated in Corporation Road in Carlisle (near the Civic Centre), it is upstairs in a almost barn like building, full of character, raw bricks and wooden beams.  Very atmospheric.

There was an amazing spread laid on, of which we didn't participate as we had a table booked for dinner later on, but it did look delicious.  And of course a glass of bubbles, which we did participate in  :)

The sales offerings are quirky, vintage, or vintage style, and up-cycled, which is so "in" at the moment.  I will pause here and let you have a look around.....

Isn't that dresser above just divine?  I just wish I had room for that in my house, it really is beautiful.

If you would like to follow the going ons at The Mucky Duck, then you can find the Facebook page here...

Wednesday 25 November 2015

Festive Rum Butter Recipe

Now that we’re heading into December it’s now acceptable to get in the festive spirit!

Personal touches are what makes Christmas so special, and so with this in mind, Wren Kitchens have asked a range of food, craft & interior bloggers to help them put together their #24DaysOfWren interactive advent calendar – which showcases a variety of Christmas inspiration behind each window! With everything from mince pies…to handmade nativity outfits it aims to get everyone in the festive spirit!  I was thrilled to be asked, so here is my Christmas offering.

RUM BUTTER.  Is there anything more perfect to spread on your toast on Christmas morning?  I think not.

Now, for those who do not know, there are two types of Rum Butter - Cumberland and Westmorland.

The Westmorland recipe requires the butter to be creamed into the sugar, whereas in the Cumberland recipe you melt the butter then stir it in.

So basically you need 1lb of soft brown sugar to half a pound of butter and a "glass" of rum.  My glass was rather large, but there's no point having a weak rum butter is there?  :)

Here is how you make it:

First, find a jar (or jars).  I picked this cute little hexagonal one from Hobbycraft.

Sterilize the jars by washing thoroughly in boiling water then popping in a hot oven to dry off. Don't forget to do the lids too.

Then, slug a generous splash (be quite generous, you do want to taste it) of Rum into the sugar and stir to mix.

Melt the butter.

Mix the butter into the sugar, this will take a little while as the sugar dissolves.  You will need a good beating arm.

When it is totally mixed through, leave it to cool for about half an hour, then go back and give it a really good beat.  At this point I use the electric mixer to make it a little easier.

It makes the Rum Butter creamier if you repeat this step - leave it for another half hour, then go back and beat it again.  You will see at this point that the colour changes and it becomes lighter.

I leave it another 15 minutes and give it another whisk to make it light and fluffy.

Next you need to pop it into the jars, I thought a spoon would be too tricky so I filled up a piping bag and piped it in.

(Lots of little jars all full to the brim with delicious Rum Butter)

To give as gift I added a little material circle to make the lid prettier, and an ingredient label.

If you want to see the rest of the crafty Advent calender, then please visit: