….shame you can’t bottle it!

This afternoon I have been teaching my grandson Collin how to sew mini owl key rings. His Aunty cut out the shapes and explained about adding the features. And together they came up with several unique owlets. You could almost grasp the patience emanating from the two of them, as they helped each other to with useful advice. I think Collin made a great job of them for his first attempt at sewing. And he is so enthusiastic, you can’t teach or buy that so I’ll be encouraging him to try other things over the weekend.

From the look on his face when he was sitting at the table,  my sewing machine in front of him, I could see in his face the desire to have a try at using it.  Maybe one day next week when I have the time needed to talk him through the mechanics of using the machine. But until then he will have to be content to use the old needle and thread.

And content he was.  He is a very able learner and after being shown just once how to do something he had the confidence to carry out the instructions correctly.  I must admit I was surprised at how quickly he picked up the different techniques, but there again I have found some of the more able children I have worked have tended to be of the male sex when it comes to crafts and needlework.

And Collin wasn’t no different, but I couldn’t get him to leave it till later and go up to bed.  “I’ll just sew this side Grandma”, he said, his little fingers flying back and forth as he worked his way round the miniature felt shapes. So keen was he, it was hard to be firm and insist it was too late to still be sewing. If only I could bottle all that enthusiasm, he would make his Grandma a very rich woman.

Not a battery in sight, no TV, no technology, and no moaning or complaining he was bored, just overwhelming eagerness. And the look on his face when I took a photo of the finished product, was a testament to the level of enjoyment he’d gained from our time together

During the time we were discussing how successful the outcome, I asked what he wanted to do with these little critters.  He asked could he give his mum one as a present.  Of course I said that would be fine, I’m sure mum will be very pleased with the finished product and will proudly show it off to her friends.   Then I suggested he carry on making key rings and he can sell them to make himself a bit pocket-money. I’m sure people would happily give a pound or so for his little owls.

I am so proud of my grandson, he reminds me so much of my late Dad who was also very clever with his hands.  When he wasn’t building a new cupboard or a bookcase, you’d find my Dad removing screws, and nuts and bolts all  in the name of ‘repairing’ some household appliance or other.  And it was never fixed properly if there wasn’t at least one screw left over., or so I was told.

My dad had a knitting machine on which he knitted our jumpers. He was a competent needleworker  having been raised in a family where the talents of all, boys and girls were valued and encouraged.  His stint doing national Service ensured he honed his repair skills using a needle and thread.  He taught me how to darn his socks when I was about nine years old.  I still have his old mushroom should the fashion for  darning  socks return I’ll be more than prepared to take up where I left off.

The thing my dad made that had the greatest effect on me was the Valentines cake he made for my mother.  Three layers high, it was decorated with pink marzipan and icing sugar hearts.  I remember coming home from school to find it sitting in the middle of the dining room table like a little pink palace of loveliness.  I was so envious, I wanted to learn how to do the same, but had to wait a couple of days for him to teach me how to make the cake, minus the pink hearts.

There wasn’t much my dad couldn’t accomplish, and he passed his abilities to me.   He taught me so much, he was always encouraging me to try different things to stretch my abilities.  I tried to pass on what I know to my children and in turn those of my grandchildren who have shown an interest.

I am looking forward to introducing Collin to other areas of creativity that I suspect he’ll thoroughly enjoy.


A summer’s day…

Being July in Britain, especially here in the north east the weather is very mixed.  But our summers would not be proper British summers without the cold wet days, the dark stormy overcast weekends and our traditional waterlogged bank holidays.

This year we have been spoiled,  the hot sunny days, have outnumbered the cold rainy ones so there have been ample opportunities to spend quality time lazing in the garden.

And I just  love sitting in the sun, reading a book on my Kindle ( much easier on my poor old eyes)  or finishing off the odd bits of hand sewing I need to do. And that is what I’ve been able to do these past two weeks.  I’m sure the heat from the sun helps my stiff fingers move easier, and it certainly makes the time go faster.  The pleasure I get from watching a variety of birds popping for a meal is priceless; such calm and beautiful afternoons away from all the madness of the outside world.  It’s incredible how peaceful my garden is, so difficult to believe we are only a few hundred yards away from two busy main roads and a nearby motorway bustling with vehicles of all description.

Once farm land the houses were apparently built around the then existing trees, so I’m surrounded by a copper beech, several oak trees, numerous apple and plums trees.  But sadly for the first time in over a hundred years there is a space where our elm tree grew until last summer.  Finally succumbing to disease,  sadly the sturdy old tree had to be removed. It was like losing an old friend. Watching it’s demise I had several flecks of sawdust blow into my eyes causing them to water profusely, much to the amusement of the male members of my family.

Last week I looked after my grandson who was poorly.  He’s a little dear who can always make me laugh, as he makes the most silly but often honest comments and observations.  Last week he informed me that I’m not old, aw bless him I thought.  Then he added, ” you’re just very, very old”.

He is always fascinated when I’m sewing and he asked if he could make something. So out came the felt and the thread and my large dressing making shears,  we proceeded to cut out a little felt car.  We both struggled to thread the needle, I couldn’t see and he couldn’t hit the eye of the needle.  A sad pair we turned out to be. But eventually after several attempts we were finally ready to start sewing.

I explained to him about tacking, how it would keep the fabric secure until we had finished sewing the car together. After demonstrating how to tack, he finished off very quickly. And then we started. I thought over-sewing would be most appropriate for him to start with, it’s quick and uncomplicated and is easily unstitched if it goes wrong.

And so we sat together side be side in the sunshine surrounded by nature, the young and not so young sharing quality time together.

Being his first attempt at sewing I expected him to need quite a bit of help. I couldn’t have been more wrong. He handled the needle like a professional, holding it and manoeuvring it exactly as I had shown him. And before I had time to thread my own needle he had reached the corner of his work and was asking for help to move on. Not once did he ask for his sewing to be undo, nor did he complain he had done it wrong, he sat silently, his whole attention and concentration focused on the job at hand.

I reminded him to leave an opening for the stuffing. He started to push the stuffing inside but he struggled for quite a while, refusing help when I offered. Then I realised I’d forgotten to instruct him to remove the tacking stitches. Oops. Nevertheless, he never gave up. His little index finger worked like magic and all the stuffing was eventually inside the little car.

He was so proud of what he had achieved, his little face beamed. The wheels were added quickly so he could go off to play with the car, after we had taken a photo to show his mum. image


Now there was no stopping this creative little man. Out came the sewing kits for animal puppets his Aunty had bought. Apart from threading the needle and starting him off he managed all the sewing himself. Then together we glued on the features and I had one extremely delighted little grandson.


My Little Hero

The last couple of days have been very busy, one of our grandsons has been staying with us whilst his mum has been at work.  Six year old  Chris suffers from quite severe asthma that can flare up in a very short time and often results in him being admitted into hospital.  Last weekend he had a bad attack and over the last week has had two more bad episodes. His temperature has been fluctuating rapidly and the usual steroids and his inhalers have had very little effect on his condition, and he’s been so tired and lethargic. But that hasn’t prevented him from telling me how to make his thermometer work.  My technical expertise is limited to the toaster and my laptop.


It’s so hard to watch Chris  struggling for his breath, to feel his little heart beating so fast you could almost imagine it exploding, and being utterly powerless to stop it.  Two nights this week he’s had next to no sleep, napped for short times throughout the day and had little energy to do anything except watch cartoons on the television. His grandad took Chris for a walk to the park, but he didn’t have the energy to play, and asked to be brought back home.

He misses so much of his schooling, which is worrying.   He  could get some work from school to do whilst he’s  off school, but he wouldn’t have the energy to do it.  Consequently,  he has to work twice as hard at school when he goes back.  There are so many children who suffer from this debilitating illness. Some children however do outgrow this condition, but sadly Chris is not one of them.  But despite all this, he is a happy, amusing young man, who loves to chat to people, who never complains no matter how bad his day, and who is so  cuddly and loving, you just can’t help but love him back.

Mind you, when he stays with us he works hard for his keep. He’s my little tester for the busy books and activities I make. He loves to try them all and tell me what he thinks is good or bad about each one, and helps me decide how and what changes I may need to make. Which is one if the reasons why I rarely make two things exactly the same.

He’s also keeps an eye on his Grandad, monitoring his driving and telling me if he says any naughty words. Only yesterday he told me his grandad had said the the ‘s’ word. My friend and I thought for ages but couldn’t think what he meant. Then Chris whispered, “it starts with s and it has a h next to it, but if you put them together it makes sh. And there is it at the end.” He then proceeded to sound out the word, quicker and quicker till he was saying it. You can’t get angry with him he is so funny. He’s a special little boy, unique in so many ways.

When his mum came to collect him tonight he just wanted loads of cuddles from his big brother whom he’d missed so much. Together,  they laid out an Easter egg hunt,  round my house, using the baskets Chris had made earlier on in the day with his grandad.  Chris really enjoys making things, solving problems and adapting things so they work the way he wants them to.  He loves nothing better than getting in a mess  whilst creating something, the messier the better.

He  never moans about how hard his life can be, or how poorly he feels.   He manages his condition so well, he’s able to tell me and his grandad what we need to do to assist him, how many puffs of each inhaler he needs and  when he needs them.

Chris is my little hero, an inspiration.