Thursday, 27 November 2014

Oh, how the Roses Cro(chet)...

Somewhere, in the distant past, I had a wedding brainwave. I decided that I did not want traditional wedding flowers of any kind. I felt that, for us and the thrifted wedding we had planned, they were a terrible waste of money. I didn't like the idea of them being in the photo's forever, but rotting on a compost heap somewhere. I debated the idea of having them freeze-dried, but figured I would always be worrying about breaking them and then they would be gone forever on account of my cackness. 


So I decided against them. They were not to be real bloom. Not for myself, the bridesmaids (my Aunt and the Marvellous M), or the wedding party button holes. Or all 85+ guests button holes. Oh no. I was going to save us money. 

This was the driving force. 

I spent a time staring longingly at immense Pintrest boards, stuffed full of knitted bouquets and and their ilk. Oh, they were so pretty and unique. I looked into having something made, but it stretched way outside my smidge of a budget. I even tried to learn how to knit for the occasion (hey, Rebecka, it's over a year on and I am still!!! ~ but thank you so much for your patience on that cold January afternoon). 

I thought about giving up. 

And then I remembered how much, slightly , it only has one stick marginally better at crochet I was when I had given it a bash. I had mastered making a chain (I have some very nice red "tinsel" to prove it and my friend Lisa to thank for bringing this craft into my life) and I would jolly well learn how to do the rest. By crook or by hook.

Now then, I learn a lot faster by watching than by reading, so I knew a kindly video'd tutorial would be in order. Little did I know I would find a whole Crochet School just sitting there waiting for me. I decided to find a rose pattern that I liked and learn how to do all the stitches that it mentioned. It was a long slog -  and some of my first ones were floral abominations in woolen form. But, slowly, I got it and one day it clicked. I was ready to move on to the wedding wool.

I had decided on pink, white and green flowers for the bouquets, pink for the wedding party and yellow roses for all the guests. With the Pagan/Edwardian/Vintageness of the whole thing, I wanted everything to have meaning. We chose yellow on account of their symbolism of Friendship, New Beginnings, Joy and Happiness. Over 200 roses, a 6 month stint of making them at every possible moment (for reals -  on the bus, in my lunch brake, on the train) they were all ready and bagged. I drew the line at making the leaves, mostly because I found them cheaper than the wool online and The Beard is a dab hand with a needle and thread. 

They truly were a team effort.

After many a panic of "do they even look like roses? you think they look like roses?... look at this.. what does it look like to you? Does it look like...a...rose??..." they were bundled into an old suitcase and given to guests on the day.

They formed part of the wedding favours and it warmed my soul to look out across the congregation to a sea of smiles and yellow dots. It was well worth every moment of effort and guests still make mention of them now. Every guest kept them, and the ones that were over-made shall be added to a wedding blanket I am working on.

Which is lucky, as I can no longer remember how to make them.

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Land Girls & Lumber Jills Remembered

The National Memorial Arboretum is set in 150 acres of woodland in stunning Staffordshire. I had been expecting it to, mostly, be a lot of dedicated trees. However, alongside the boughs and branches there are a whole heap of other memorials. To the ATS. To the Post Office. To the Navy. So many groups are represented with permanent memorials. It is well worth a visit if you are in the area. I would recommend a sturdy pair of shoes. The place is vast.

And a few short weeks ago, as Blighty was battered by some pretty hefty winds, the Beard and I headed there for a very special unveiling. As the winds howled and the clouds rolled over us in hues of white, gunmetal, purple,and deepest grey, dumping stinging rain on us at regular intervals, a gathering of very awesome ladies had arrived to finally see a memorial to their personal contribution.

Although I was hovering somewhere near that back for the official bits, with a camera that was just about to give up the ghost (6 years of being flung around the bottom of various bags will do that to a photosnapper), I did manage to grab some pictures of the statue. I have followed the progress of this artwork and was thrilled to see it in person. 

With arms linked, axe and pitchfork in hand and a dead rat at their feet, the Land Girl and the Lumber Jill stand proud for many more generations to come. 

Despite the weather and the Royal wait of 45 minutes due to the winds and helicopters not being the best of friends, there was laughter and smiles all round when the memorial was dedicated.

Seeing the statue reminded me of one special former Land Girl I met on VE Day 2010. I had a brief chat with Iris Halfpenny on that day, but had not seen her since at any other events. Sadly, I missed her at this one.

So, imagine my surprise when, looking through photos of the day on the WLA Tribute FaceBook page, I spied a familiar face. I am sad to have missed her, but am so pleased that she and her friends wore a full uniform. 

Copyright Express & Star

A very special thank you to Susan Crawford and her wonderous Wartime Pullover that has raised a whole heap so far and is still available for purchase. 

A massive merci buckets to all those social media savvy friends who helped promote the charity via their own blogs & Twitter feeds. You rock.

The WLA Tribute fundraising was promoted here ~ and still is as funds for maintenance are still needed ~ and I am thankful to all of you who spared what you could to make this memorial a reality. 

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Return of the Chill.

Finally. It is here. The Autumn. The chill. The damp. The dark. I have been waiting for it to arrive for a long while now. It has been very warm here in Blightly for far too long. Samhain was more like Summer and for the week leading up to it, I was in a spin. Not sleeping properly and generally feeling a bit.... confused. It took me a while to figure out why. Off kilter winds coming in from the South, that's what. By Samhain, it should be crisp and cool. Not muggy.

As well you know, I am a Winter girl. We have a deep and involved love affair each year and the warmth that lingered equated to me feeling stood up. But, come  the second day of the eleventh month, there had been a break, a return to normality. I opened the curtains to rain and gloom and felt a leap in my soul. I lit candles and listened to the spit-spotting. I cooked pancakes and made tea. I decided on a day indoors, cocooned and nestled.

And then, all of a sudden,with a break in the rain, I felt the need to be outside. To feel all this change on my skin. We made our way to the woods and, in the dusk and the damp, pootled around feeling the chill. It felt like a massive hug from an old friend.


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